Theodoric of Cleveland

Today the Cleveland Browns announced that they were hiring Mike Pettine to be their new head coach. He’ll be their third head coach in three years, and his resume sounds a lot like the resumes of their last two coaches. He’s a guy who has had decent experience as an NFL assistant coach but has never been the head guy — just like Pat Shurmur and Rob Chudzinski. Shurmur was overwhelmed by the job and got fired after two uninspired seasons and Chud got the boot, unfairly, in my view, after only one season at the helm.

Who’s Pettine? He’s been an assistant coach with the Baltimore Ravens, New York Jets, and the Buffalo Bills. These aren’t exactly the elite franchises in the NFL — Buffalo won just six games this past season. Pettine is a defensive guy, which could be a good fit because the Browns have some defensive talent. But who knows? He’s got a limited track record and limited experience.

I listened to some of the press conference for Pettine today and had to laugh when Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said the Browns were “thrilled” to have Pettine, who would be “tough, aggressive and innovative” and bring “a blue-collar, team-first mentality.” Who does Haslam think he’s kidding? Cleveland Browns fans may be ridiculously devoted, but we’re not blithering idiots. The Browns clearly hired Pettine because their coaching search had become an embarrassment. Cleveland was jilted and rebuffed by all of the hot coaches, who no doubt wanted to avoid a franchise that looks more like a clown show with each passing season. The Browns’ decision to can Chudzinski after only one season in which the Browns played without an NFL-caliber quarterback obviously limited the pool of people who would even consider a job.

I don’t wish Pettine ill. I hope that, against all odds and notwithstanding the obvious incompetence of the Browns organization, they found a diamond in the rough who succeeds famously. But the Browns have no credibility with me any more. Their front office is like a collective Theodoric of York, the medieval barber played by Steve Martin on Saturday Night Live in the ’70s. After Theodoric would kill or maim his patients with his quackery, Jane Curtin would confront him and say: “Why don’t you just admit it! You don’t know what you’re doing!” At the Browns’ press conference today, I was hoping Jane would make an appearance.

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Bill De Blasio’s Snow Job

New York City’s new Mayor, Bill de Blasio, is getting criticized again. This time, it’s not about daintily eating pizza with a fork, it’s about something of deeper concern to every Big Apple voter — snow removal.

New York City got clobbered by a snow storm this week, and the snow removal efforts were . . . uneven. The Upper East Side evidently got the short side of the plow, leaving the streets still snow-covered and slushy. People reported slipping and falling on the icy streets. Businesses say that they lost sales due to the plowing failure. A tractor-trailer got stuck on one of Manhattan’s streets, causing a traffic jam. Stuck taxis needed to appeal to pedestrians to push them free. Some residents of the tony Upper East Side even wondered if de Blasio’s class warfare rhetoric during the recent mayoral campaign had affected decisions on where plows would be sent.

This kind of reaction isn’t hard to understand. When you live or own a business in a city and pay your taxes, you expect the basics to be handled. That means things like prompt trash removal, dependable water, sewer, and electrical service, and — when you get hit with a winter storm — efficient and capable snow removal. These are bedrock requirements that all voters use to measure the competence of their city government. If you experience an embarrassing fall on long-unplowed streets, or are late for work because of a snow-related traffic jam, you’re going to be using the Mayor’s name in sentences that include an obscenity or two . . . and you’re not going to forget it, either.

After first saying that the City crews did a great job on snow removal, de Blasio heard the criticism and later admitted that the plowing effort will need to be improved. He’ll learn, or he won’t last long. All of the income equality speeches in the world aren’t going to make up for the failure to master the basics and get the snow plows running on time.