The region is slowly recuperating from the horrors of Snowstorm 2008. The roads are mostly clear, garbage service is returning and public transportation is rumored to


Will Voters Just Say Snow to Mayor Nickels?

The region is slowly recuperating from the horrors of Snowstorm 2008. The roads are mostly clear, garbage service is returning and public transportation is rumored to be nearly back on schedule. More importantly, politics as usual will begin again.

Or will it?

Like a pool of water around an ice-clogged storm drain that nobody has bothered to clear, how long will the slush from this latest, frozen political fiasco last? Reading the Seattle Times - online of course - and all of the local blogs, one gets the feeling that citizens of the Emerald City aren't entirely happy with the leadership displayed by Mayor Greg Nickels in regards to clearing snow from city roadways. There's even crazy talk that people will remember December when they vote in November.

Mother of Mercy! Is this the end of Nickels?

Scryers have trotted out the 1979 Chicago Blizzard and the unfortunate tale of Mayor Michael Bilandic who lost his lost his re-election bid as an example of what Seattle's current executive has in store for 2009.

Just like no two snowflakes are exactly alike, elections have their own unique characteristics. If predicting election results a year out is your game, consider that Seattle has already had a more recent mayoral campaign centered solely on the city's inadequate response to snow storms.

The late Charlie Chong, West Seattle populist and former city councilmember, ran in 1997 against Paul Schell with a platform almost entirely about snow plows. He had tried to convince the city to purchase some relatively inexpensive used snow plow attachments that could be mounted on dump trucks. The snow plow issue was symbolic of his belief that the town fathers (and mothers) could try innovative approaches to solving problems, which didn't involve throwing away millions of dollars of taxpayer money.

The snow plow issue came up when the memories of some rather nasty blizzards in the 1990s were still frozen in people's minds. Chong tried to tap this anger and ended up receiving just 43 percent of the vote.

Fast-forward to last week.

A Times reporter interviews some flunky with the Seattle Department of Transportation who claims that the city doesn't use salt on the roads because it hurts "Puget Sound".

Not to defend idiots drawing a public paycheck but the SDOT head interviewed was probably talking about salt harming the freshwater riparian habitat in the Puget Sound basin. Who knows?

Doesn't matter anyway, because in reality, the city hasn't used salt on the roads for years. It rusts out the metal in cars. Not using salt on the roads in Seattle is nothing new. If the Seattle Times had been doing its job, and cared so much about the application of rock salt on roadways, maybe its editors would have actually sent a reporter to attend, cover and report on city council meetings when this was decided.

It's too late to make it an issue when a foot of white stuff has clogged the roads from Roxbury to Ravenna.

Complaining about salt is just chasing a red salty herring anyway because the city didn't have stockpiles to begin with. Why not focus instead on why Nickels didn't order work crews to put out enough sand and de-icer or why there weren't enough plows to clear most roads?

Or why voters in Seattle continue to vote for the same inadequate politicians to begin with?

The whole issue of salt and snow in Seattle is such small potatoes, compared to the bigger problems which face the city. Having a set of tire chains or owning a front-wheel drive car with a good pair of tires on it is the solution to any snow storm that hits Seattle.

If you're going to get upset at Mayor Nickels, why not focus on why he has spent tens of millions of taxpayer dollars on fighting "Global Warming". Or his pathetic flip-flops on the Viaduct. Or his inability to keep the Sonics as the major tenant in city-owned Key Arena. Or his refusal to deal with drug dealers and aggressive panhandlers squatting in public parks.

The list can go on.

Throwing him out on his duff, though, because of rock salt and the fact that Seattleites don't know how to drive in the snow? To quote a famous German philosopher, "Very interesting... But stupid."

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