Snow Jam 2014 – Government In General Just Doesn’t Work

Posted by David A. Peterson on 30. January 2014 in Issues |

I was speaking to my wife last night and I mentioned that it’s not just the federal snowjam2014government that is messed up the states and the cities can’t seem to get out of their own way. She is about as “A Political” type of gal as you can find but even she quickly agreed.

From the bankruptcies of Detroit and San Bernardino to the crime in East St. Louis, IL and Flint, MI., states and their cities look as dysfunctional as the federal government.

What brought the topic up in our house was Snow Jam 2014. Atlanta and the 29 county MSA where 6 million Georgians live, work, and play just went through ANOTHER man made catastrophe. I say “another” because we all lived through this in 2011, and I say “man made” because it was just 2″ of snow.

In other words, it wasn’t the weatherman or the weather map or mother nature that caused Snow Jam 2014, it was:

  • The Governor
  • The Atlanta Mayor
  • All the Metro School District’s Superintendents
  • All the other MSA’s  Mayors and County Leaders

Front-and-center of our made made catastrophe:

I watched both Mayor Kasim Reed and Governor Deal’s press conferences yesterday (1/29/14). I like both these gentlemen, both appear to be good at governing. The hindsight questions being asked by the frustrated reporters were appropriate but to me mainly missed the point.

Many of the questions centered on why the Governor and Mayor didn’t call for a snow day in the morning. Lot’s of questions about timing. When GEMA (Georgia Emergency Management Agency) was up and running, when DOT started salting the roads, when did the Governor call out the National Guard, etc? Most of the questions centered on hindsight. Rightly so, it was a mess out there.

As of this morning fingers are pointing in all directions. Certainly the Governor should have insisted on a quicker response from DOT, they should have been working throughout the night of the 27th.

Certainly the Mayor should have been doing the same if not more; he was in office in 2011 for Snowmageddon.

The way the fingers are pointing right now shows just so how dysfunctional a government can get when a crisis arises.

Again, one more time, let me make this point, just for the sake of being clear -This crisis was completely man made.

The AJC ran a timelapes video of how quickly the roads clogged ( http://www.ajc.com/videos/news/timelapse-atlanta-traffic-maps-tell-the-story/vCPg6b/) As you can see from the video, basically what happened is that between 12 noon and 12:30pm everyone in the ATL MSA decided to go home.

Who’s to blame…

We had 2″ of snow, not 2′. The ultimate blame falls on ALL the cities, counties, and the state that collectively did not have enough salt on the road. However, basic services aside, the real blame falls on the school superintendents that sent the kids home early. That caused a panic… “who’s going to pick up little Johnny and Suzi” is a real issue for parents.

That’s how we went from the roads being free and clear to them being clogged in 1/2 an hour.

Since the area school systems + the governments at all levels within the MSA panicked the end result was predictably, the dysfunctional mess played live in front the nation.

I’m using the word predictable because long after the school buses have delivered their precious cargo, if you ever tried to get through ATL at 5pm on any weekday or worse any holiday you get the picture above, without the snow of course.

It just feels like government in general doesn’t appear to function when we most need it.

Had we all gone about our business, and left at our normal times the 5pm rush hour would have been bad, but not a catastrophic event. The panic to send the kids home early, close the governments, parents then hearing the news and rushing home – what a mess.

There is only two lessons to learn from this event:

  1. Salt early and often
  2. DON’T PANIC – it’s 2″ of snow

Governments at all levels are either A: Way to reactive and not proactive or B: Setting up grandiose plans that sound good on paper but… well you know the answer think city pensions or Obamacare – same outcome, underfunded from day one.

I see the Governor has said “the buck stops with me.” That’s all well and good, and in a few years we will be laughing about Snow Jam 2014 and the folks stuck for hours just like Snowmageddon 2011 and the 3 days of frozen hell; but today, heads need to roll. You can’t screw up that bad and say “the buck stops with me.”

And Mayor Reed… that’s strike two, if you see snow between now and November 2014…. Come on dude, you could be a Governor, Congressman, or Senator one day – 2″ of snow – Really, you can’t find a way to manage through 2″ of snow?










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