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Well almost snowbody at any rate.

With all the howling and gnashing of teeth over the City's response to last month's two-week long snow event, you'd

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Snowbody Shows Up At Mayor's Winter Storm Town Hall Meeting

 CitizenPoints.JPG

Well almost snowbody at any rate.

With all the howling and gnashing of teeth over the City's response to last month's two-week long snow event, you'd have thought more than a dozen people would have shown up on a Tuesday night at the Green Lake Community Center to voice their grievances.

But there was no angry mob waving pitchforks and snow shovels. No bags of Morton salt or bags of trash left frozen on sidewalks for days. In a town that's prideful of its ability to gin up a protest march at the drop of a woolen beenie, there wasn't a single crudely drawn picket sign or megaphone-wielding rabble-rouser to greet the mayor as he mingled with the "crowd".

Which was curious because two weeks ago, you couldn't tune into a single talk radio show or read a news item online without being confronted by hundreds of comments about how dumb the city was for not salting the roads. Or for using snowplows with rubber tips. Or for not getting the buses to run on time.

It's far easier to be passive-aggressive by leaving angry, anomymous philipics on blogs and newspaper websites.

The Mayor talked about his decision to reverse a city moratorium using rock salt on roadways. He said during the 1990s, when Chinook salmon received federal listing on the Endangered Species List, Seattle halted the application sodium chloride. The City and Nickels have been criticized in the media and by many residents for not taking advantage of snow melting goodness of rock salt.

With the uncertainty of climate change, Nickels said that salt gives the flexibility to deal with future contingencies.

"It may be, with Global Warming, we'll have more of these snow storms," Nickels warned.

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Fifty staff members from City Hall, Police and Fire Departments, Metro and Seattle City Light stood idly around for 90 minutes, confering in small groups and glancing at watches while individual residents meekly made their circuit around the community center gym. The scene was somewhat reminiscent of a career fair at high school.

Andrew Thibault, a resident of the Maple Leaf neighborhood said he showed up not to complain about salt but rather to inquire how, in the future, a road closure sign could be put on his block. He lives on a dead end street located on a hill.

"My general attitude about the whole thing is occassionally Mother Nature gets the best of you," Thibault said, adding that he's a transplant to the area, hailing from "back east". "When you have big events, you have to learn from it. And we're here to learn too."

Mayor Nickels - assuming the politician-listening-to-constituents-stance - chatted amicably with all the citizens (as well as a trio of kids going to swimming practice at nearby Green Lake Pool) and solemnly ruminated afterwards about understanding their concerns regarding garbage service and clearing roadways. 

No Times Left For You: Every person who wrote a letter or e-mail to the city regarding Snowpacalypse 2008 received an invitation to attend one of the three Town Hall forums. Additionally the meeting notice had aired on radio, television and was also written about by some of the city's most reputable newspapers...

Reporters from five press organizations were there as well, including KOMO 4 News, KIRO 97.3 FM radio and the Ballard Tribune.

Noticeably absent, and thereby fitting the popular definition of chump-change, was any reporter from Fairview Fannie.

It was, after all, the Seattle Times which initially instigated the lynch mob against the City, in articles and editorials, begging for salt like the M-113 Creature in the Star Trek episode "The Man Trap".

Forced analogies aside, it is pretty small to not even be willing to spare even the most junior staffer when the City is (in outwards appearance at least) trying to learn from its mistakes.

If anything else, having someone there would have stopped the chortling and back-of-the hand laughter directed at the Times' expense from the city staff and journalists present.

Pass The Salt: The Seattle Department of Transportation currently has 350-tons of bagged rock salt on hand. Another shipment of bulk rock salt is being delivered this week. For those concerned about the environment, the salt will be stored under a structure which is covered and designed to prevent salt runoff into fragile riparian habitat.

Under the guidelines set down by the Mayor's office, salt will be spread on roads if four-inches or more of snow is forecast, if icy conditions are forecast, if extreme cold is expected to last for four days and on arterials, designated snow bus routes and roadways connecting emergency facilities.

One more open house is being held by Mayor Nickels on Thursday, Jan. 15, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Southwest Community Center in West Seattle. 

 
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