Saturday, January 09, 2010

The Perfect Storm

It's been a miserable winter so far for a large part of the country: icy rain followed by snow, lots of snow, almost immediately followed by another round of icy rain followed by snow, lots of snow. Municipal snow removal agencies have been having quite a time of it in trying to keep up, and most are now at the point that they may not be able to do the job at all because they've blown through their budgets two months early.

From the NY Times:

With states and localities facing budget cuts in a time of economic crisis, the early onset of severe storms bringing heavy, wet snow is wreaking havoc on already strained resources and raising concerns about public safety.

“Each snowflake looks like a dollar sign floating down,” said Barbara Whitmore, the town clerk in Genesee, Wis., 30 miles west of Milwaukee. “We are basically now trying to just do hills, curves and intersections rather than entire roads for salting. Everything is plowed but might not get down to bare concrete. People like to see the salt so it gets down to bare concrete, but the cost is too high.”

Many other counties, cities and states across the regions are also feeling the pinch of expensive storm cleanup — rationing of salt, not plowing side roads, canceling public works projects for fear of running out of money to clear the roads.

If the roads don't get plowed, cars, trucks, buses, taxis don't get through. People can't get to work (or get home from work); kids and teachers can't get to school; emergency vehicles (police cars, ambulances, and fire trucks) can't get to emergencies. Local governments, keenly aware of the problem, are trying to do some workarounds, as described above, but that means either more indebtedness (which will be a crushing factor for next season) or the delaying of other necessary improvements (repairing the roadways after an especially brutal winter).

Maybe, just maybe, Congress and the White House should take a brief pause in their obsessions with installing full body scanners at airports (to the tune of $150,000 per machine) and funding more troops to fight more wars in the name of "security" and take some time to find ways to help out the states in this climate and economic emergency in the name of "public safety."

That would be the rational thing to do, but I am not optimistic.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congress and the White House should take a brief pause...and take some time to find ways to help out the states in this climate and economic emergency in the name of "public safety."

Brava! Well said and:

You've identified a pressure point wherein the Jane & John Q. Public can collectively throw their support behind their State's leadership. That State leadership can, in collective with other States, petition the Federal Government.

It ain't no N'awlins (and AL/MS) standing by themselves anymore.

United. States.

The Bigs in Blogistan need to jump on this. Use it as a project to get people working together & put names to faces, ultimately scoring a win together. Ultimately re-defining much to our necessity as a nation, what it means to be focused and single-minded about something vital to our interests.

Perfect storm, indeed.

Turn the Tide. Turn the Tide.

Thanks again for your astute posts, D.

9:42 AM  

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