Mayor Bloomberg Defends Not Releasing 9-1-1 Report With (Another) Newspaper Analogy


Recently, we’ve noticed that Mayor Mike Bloomberg likes to respond to reporters’ questions in a way that he thinks, perhaps, might grab their attention best: newspaper analogies.

While on the defense about a controversial issue, Bloomberg seems to enjoy taking a combative stance with reporters at press conferences by directly bringing the newspaper industry into the discussion. Last month, he defended the barricades at Zuccotti Park by telling the Voice that we should go around thanking police officers for protecting our right to ask the mayor questions. In February, he told reporters that the surveillance of Muslims is necessary to protect them and free press in general.

At a press conference today, he used this technique (maybe he wanted to make sure reporters were really listening?) to defend his administration’s position on two controversial issues: his refusal to release a 9-1-1 report and his persistence on releasing teacher evaluation data.

This morning, news broke that a Manhattan Supreme Court Justice has ruled that the mayor must hand over an analysis of 9-1-1, which allegedly concludes that the city’s emergency-dispatch system is on life support. The mayor has repeatedly said that his administration is not prepared to release it since it’s just a first “draft.” The “911 Call Processing Review” report was written by a consulting firm and commissioned by Bloomberg after the city struggled to respond to the 2010 blizzard.

The New York Post, which has said that this report is not a draft and actually has been complete for awhile, reported this morning that the judge mocked city lawyers for characterizing it as a draft when he ruled that the city has one week to turn over the document.

Questioned by a reporter today, Bloomberg said the city is reviewing the decision.

“We’re studying our options, but having said that, I don’t know how any government would be able to function if you had to put out every single paper even at the beginning of a study and all through the study,” he said.

Addressing a New York Times reporter, Bloomberg continued, “I don’t know how your paper could survive if they had to publish the first copy of your story. Now, I know you probably don’t need any editing whatsoever but nevertheless, just in case you do, it’s exactly the same thing. No company could survive, no government could survive, and that’s exactly what…if the courts say you have to publish this, you’d have to publish everything.”

He went on to discuss the challenges of being a reporter. “Just think about that. Those notes that Mr. [David] Seifman [of the New York Post] is taking would be in the public domain instantly. It’s going to stop him from taking notes. Now he can’t write anything until he’s done all the work and talked to every lawyer…You should only publish things when the management of whatever it is is satisfied that you’ve done all the appropriate research, you’ve talked to your editors…and perhaps your lawyers in the case of a controversial story in the case of a newspaper, or in a company, you want to talk to different people. And you can’t do that if everything’s up in the air…That just doesn’t function,” he said.

In the past, he’s also defended the 9-1-1 system, saying that response times are better than they’ve ever been.

When asked about reports today that the governor and state lawmakers are closing in on a deal that would give parents full access to the controversial teacher-evaluation report cards while banning their release to the general public, Bloomberg again defended his administration’s stance by using a newspaper analogy.

“I’ve talked to the governor about this. I think in the end, we should have all of the data available to everyone,” Bloomberg said. “The arguments for it are, the parents…have to make decisions as to where to send their kids…You do have to make a decision based on the quality of the teacher and the ratings are the best you have.”

“The rankings provide pressure to constantly upgrade,” he said, adding that the country needs to lead the way globally in improving education.

“You get measured everyday,” he continued, addressing reporters. “The number of newspapers that don’t get sold on the newsstand…the number of advertisers that are in your paper, the number of people that blog you or cite you or send emails in. You get measured and there’s no reason why anyone else shouldn’t get measured.”

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