January 12, 2011 1:53:10 PM PST
Redemption is theirs!

Talk about everyone going long, or swarming the field - to use football analogies. New York City, with 9 inches of snow overnight, attacked the storm as if it were a blizzard.

I will refrain from saying anything like, "Oh if only they had salted and plowed the streets like this two weeks ago."

I won't do it. We have to move ahead, and say, nice work. The mantra will now become: New York City will not have a bad snow storm reaction for years, or at least as long as Mike Bloomberg is Mayor.

Mr. Bloomberg took a full-throttled political hit over his aloofness and testiness and dismissiveness and out-of-touchness (is that a word?) during the blizzard. Two weeks later, he rode to the rescue, along with thousands of Dept. of Sanitation workers who just happened to be on the job and not on Christmas vacation for this snow storm.

In fact, there's anecdotal evidence that there was some overkill involved. We've gotten so many reports of plow after plow scraping streets that lots of peeps now worry they may have done street damage. I saw several plows pushing their steel blades over streets that were pure blacktop.

But I'm not complaining.

The decision not to close public schools in New York City was a fascinating one - and we know that it frustrated many parents that the Mayor waited so long to make the decision. They wanted to know last night whether they'd have to scramble to find child care for their kids. They found out just before sunrise instead.

But we have to assume that, given the Mayor's commitment to education, and given that for many kids the meal at school might be their best of the day, cancelling school has dire consequences. For kids and their parents.

That said, the absentee rate in New York City schools was huge today - 54% overall, with two-thirds of high school students not showing up. (That compares to last Wednesday's 10% absentee rate overall, with a 20% rate in high school). So clearly, lots of students didn't show up, despite the Mayor's keep-the-schools-open position.

As for the snow levels - lots of it in the tri-state - with the biggest measurements on the east end of Long Island and in Connecticut, where snow totals came in above 20 inches. In some cases, well above that.

As for the clean up, we'll have the latest, tonight at 11, as well as the reaction to the City's performance.

We're also keeping close tabs on developments in Tucson, where Pres. Obama is scheduled to speak at a memorial. ABC will carry the address - beginning sometime around 8:30 p.m.

There are so many side stories to this shooting massacre. Sarah Palin has once again managed to step into the limelight. She recorded a video blasting those who questioned if her harsh political rhetoric was somehow a factor in the shooting. There's no evidence that it was. But there's no denying that the tenor of the nation's political discussion is filled with venom and hate. And if this horrible shooting helps curb that, there will be many people who will be grateful.

Palin also stepped in it a bit by using the phrase "blood libel" in her Internet fireside chat. The phrase is generally viewed by many Jews as anti-Semitic - dating back centuries. The whole debate may be a sideshow, and it's unfortunate the former Governor of Alaska used the term. Doesn't she have a proofreader vetting these things?

I'm just sayin'.

There's also new information tonight about law enforcement's prior interactions with the accused gunman. Cops apparently dealt with Jared Loughner several times between 2004 and 2008, including an arrest for drug possession, and a bust for possession of alcohol as a minor (he was so drunk his high school principal turned him in and sent him to the emergency room). Cops also have been called to his home several times.

He was also pulled over by an officer for running a stop sign the morning of the shooting.

Lots of red flags, apparently, and questions about Loughner's mental state. But the hard truth is the same can be said for all sorts of people; it doesn't mean they're going to get an assault weapon and open fire on peeps.

If there's a bright spot in this whole affair - referring back to the teachable moment idea - it may come from Senator Mark Udall of Colorado. Tonight he's proposing that at the President's State of the Union speech later this month, the two political parties, rather than sit in two separate sections as they've traditionally done, instead sit together. As one.

He's just sayin'.

One more weather note: The federal government today reported that 2010 was the warmest year on record - or at least since they started tracking the global surface temperature in 1880. The temps last year tied for warmest ever with 2005, and it was the 34th consecutive year that global temps were above the 20th century average.

The severe weather - floods in Australia and in Brazil, and brutal snows in Europe and the U.S. - has some bloviators on cable television pooh-poohing once again the concept of global warming and climate change. But clearly, the evidence today from the NOAA scientists speaks volumes. Blinders are a debilitating ailment.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Jeff Smith (in for Lee Goldberg) with his AccuWeather forecast, and Rob Powers with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.


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