NEW YORK - With many streets still unplowed, New Yorkers are griping that their billionaire mayor is out of touch and has failed at the basic task of keeping the city running, while New Jersey's governor is taking heat for vacationing at Disney World during the crisis.
The fallout against two politicians who style themselves as take-charge guys is building in the aftermath of the Christmas-weekend blizzard that clobbered the Northeast, with at least one New Jersey newspaperman noting Gov. Chris Christie's absence in a column headlined: "Is Sunday's storm Christie's Katrina?"
Across New York, complaints have mounted about unplowed streets, stuck ambulances and outer-borough neighborhoods neglected by the Bloomberg administration.
"When he says New York, he means Manhattan," said Hayden Hunt, of Brooklyn, a borough of 2.6 million people where many streets were not cleared for days. "He's the man in charge. . . . It's foolishness. Come on."
Bloomberg, a third-term Republican-turned-independent who is occasionally mentioned as a long-shot presidential candidate, spent the first day after the storm on the defensive, testily dismissing complaints and insisting that the cleanup of the 2-foot snowfall was going fine.
But he adopted a more conciliatory tone yesterday, as stories began to surface about people who may have suffered serious medical problems while waiting for ambulances.
Christie, meanwhile, has not been heard from publicly since he left New Jersey on vacation with his wife and four children. His spokesman, Michael Drewniak, said that the governor - who also has been mentioned as a potential Republican presidential candidate - has been briefed while in Florida and that the emergency services have functioned well across the state.
Christie's absence at the same time that his lieutenant governor was also out of state left New Jersey's Senate president to deal with the storm, which stranded thousands of travelers and left highways dotted with stuck and abandoned cars.
"They're both entitled to a vacation, but not at the same time," said Sen. Dick Codey, a Democrat, who was acting governor for 15 months after Jim McGreevey resigned in 2004.
The complaints against Bloomberg and Christie are remarkable because of the reputations that they have cultivated.
Bloomberg, who made his fortune from the financial-news company that bears his name, has portrayed himself as adept at cutting through bureaucracy and politics-as-usual to get things done.
Christie has become a hero in the GOP for his willingness to battle with teachers and other powerful interests.
The criticism may not pose much danger to Bloomberg's future because he insists that he won't run for president in 2012 or any other public office. But he still has three years left as mayor, and it could dent his reputation as a manager.
As for Christie, it remains to be seen how his absence during a crisis could affect his political career.
As the Asbury Park Press put it in an editorial yesterday, the residents of one town where streets remained clogged "will not soon forget the days of waiting for their roadways to be cleared and should be insistent in their demands to get clear answers to the question, 'What went wrong?' "