Having just spent a few days in the New York area, I witnessed the impact of the snow on the metro area and the subsequent fallout from the city's perceived lack of response. After three days of all-snow-all-the-time news, I returned to DC to find it didn't snow here, thankfully. I don't mean thankfully in the way that I'm dogging NY or because I hate snow. I mean thankfully as in "phew, we really dodged a bullet." The Nation's Capital is an epic failure when dealing with a flake of snow, much less a foot or more.
When DC gets a blizzard, the general sentiment is "We're not used to the snow here." I call bullshit on this statement. For nine years I have lived in DC and I've spent a lot of time on the streets, digging out my car. There were major storms in 2003, 2007, 2009 and two, back to back, in Feb 2010. Everyone needs to retire the excuse that DC isn't used to it.
The streets in DC rarely saw a plow through most of these storms. We're not talking about side streets or alleys, but main roads through the city. There were reports of (now former) Mayor Fenty enjoying a leisurely lunch at a U Street hot spot when 10 inches of snow sat piled up in the 2006 storm. Is the man allowed to eat? Sure. Could this have been work related? Sure. But appearances also become people's realities. As a Mayor of a city buried under almost a foot of snow, he chose to publicly devour a scrumptious danish instead of plowing the streets. He became the poster child for irresponsibility, our very own Wimpy from Popeye. "I'll gladly plow your street Tuesday for two hamburgers today."
Several snowstorms have come and gone where the residents of DC have to hear the same tired excuses that the manpower isn't available, or 25% of the plows are broken or out of service or the budget just doesn't allow for the snow removal. Twelve inches of snow and the District is shut down for at least three days.
I watched Mayor Bloomberg's press conference on Wednesday and was incredibly impressed. He said they were working hard to get to every single street but, he outlined the challenges. People keep getting in their cars and going places, only to get stuck. Why do people do this? Why get in the car and make more problems? People were also told to not call 911 unless it was a true emergency, and no, your cat being stuck in a tree or losing your Nuva Ring doesn't qualify. Almost 50,000 people didn't listen to this plea and called anyway. When there's an emergency situation, everyone has to pitch in and do their part. I thought New Yorkers knew this best of anyone - they taught the rest of the world about compassion and helping each other on September 11th.
New York has a Mayor out there admitting to faults, trying to fix it, asking everyone to cooperate and agreeing to analyze what went wrong after the street cleaning is complete. He's not blaming people. He's just saying, "I know you're mad and here's how you can help us do a better job." I wish he were our Mayor. DC's Mayor chose a tasty treat and waited a week to send out a Ditch Witch brigade to finally scrape up 10 days worth of packed snow and ice off the streets. That was unfortunately at 4 a.m. Beep Beep Beep Smash Beep Beep Smash Beep. It wasn't pretty. Anyone over three years old knows you have to plow snow as soon as it falls. Inconvenienced even further with a lost night of sleep, I think the residents in my neighborhood at least, would have preferred to just wait for the snow to melt.
Cheer up New York, because it could be a lot worse. You could have DC's government working for you. Perhaps my bar is just set very very low because I live in the shining example of snow removal inadequacy. But, you know what Mayor Bloomberg? You can be MY mayor any day.