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Seattletimes.com's lead headline declares that sand is actually worse for the environment than salt--the superior ice-buster. "That's the opinion of scientists who have studied the

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People Are Getting Pissed

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Seattletimes.com's lead headline declares that sand is actually worse for the environment than salt--the superior ice-buster. "That's the opinion of scientists who have studied the issue and officials from other cities that use salt to clear icy roads," STimes reports. The story doesn't actually quote anyone who's studied sand v. ice as it relates specifically to Puget Sound so it doesn't seem to prove much one way or the other. But Frank Blethen's paper isn't the only place city government is getting an ink-barrel full.

Over at the PI, Joel Connelly answers Mike Seely's question last week about why people aren't getting pissed at the city's handling of the snow, with hints at the what happened to former city officials after the WTO debacle and similar bungling. He concludes his column:

Instead of the mellow attitude urged by my newspaper on Tuesday

morning, I would suggest that the public adopt a demeanor that famed

economist John Kenneth Galbraith suggested in dealing with unresponsive

bureaucracies: "Cultivate a modest aspect of menace."

The criticism may be warranted, but it disturbs me that no one is even asking whether or not we should be able to handle something like this better from a cost standpoint. The city has hardly been brought to its knees--Connelly notes that UPS drivers and mail are still making it into the neighborhoods. And after the initial shock of seeing the white stuff, downtown got itself up and running again, if at half-mast. The city has 24 trucks equipped to plow and sand. Even if we got them outfitted with salt, they could only do so much clearing, especially with snow still falling. Given that we average about 13 inches of snow a year at Seatac (sayeth the all knowing Wikipedia, anyway) should we really invest in the infrastructure to do massive plowing and sanding (or salting) through a multi-day storm with serious snow accumulation, something my neighbor, a life-time Emerald City-dweller, says she's never seen? It seems like in the midst of all the ink that's being spilled bashing city government, it's a question at least worth asking.

In the meantime, while we're all getting on our high horses, let's at least earn our spot on the high road, looking down our noses at Mayor Nickels and his crew. If you moved here from Minneapolis last year and still have a couple burly snow shovels in your garage, offer to dig out the lady down the street. If you drive a Hummer, offer to carpool with the next-door neighbors, even if (especially if) they give you dirty looks as they pass by in their Prius during the summer. Tis the season, but it's also how a city gets through a natural disaster it isn't, and maybe really shouldn't be, prepared for.

 
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