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The [Wednesday] Papers

I know everyone is frustrated about unplowed side streets, but my God, can y'all stop whining?

This is Chicago. It's winter. We just had the fifth-highest snowfall in our city's history - ever.

It might take a little time to get it cleared away.

People here like to think they're tough, but I rarely see evidence of that. Mostly, I see a city of cowards willing - and wanting - to be bullied by their mayors and taken by the rest of the political class. I see a city full of people so insecure to be here and not in New York or LA that they have to convince the planet we are "world-class." I see a city of weaklings cowering from potholes and snow drifts, unable to handle hot or cold.

Schmucks. Chumbolones.

In other words . . .

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Does that mean the city's performance clearing streets should not be evaluated? Of course not. I just don't see anything so far that indicates the city's performance is any different than it's been in the 23 years I've lived here - or really much different than I saw growing up in Minnesota, though the rules (formal and informal) are a little different there.

If the reporting comes to show that the mayor made some bad plowing decisions, so be it. I haven't seen it yet. If we come to find that the streets and san commissioner blew it somehow, great. I haven't seen that yet either.

It's hard to plow a big city quickly. There is a protocol, and I happen to believe it's the right one: Clear the main streets first and don't plow the side streets until it stops snowing.

The city owns something like 300 plows. Unless you want a massive tax hike, we can't afford a plow for every street. Be patient. People are working as hard as they can. They want their streets plowed too.

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Is that to say there aren't shenanigans going on? Of course not. It's Chicago. Shenanigans are the default here.

For example, a closer look at the streets that qualify for plowing first might show that downtown and parts of the North Side have more "main" streets than other parts of the city. The process of plowing side streets in order of the days of garbage pick-up could be re-evaluated, although it seems sound so, um, the garbage can be picked up. Ald. Bob Fioretti called on Tuesday for the city to go to plowing by grids instead of by wards - just the way garbage pick-up was changed in recent years to the opposition of a lot of aldermen.

And yes, at least some aldermen seem to have their own plow fairies who magically appear in the night - sometimes five times - to clear their streets.

But I mostly see selfishness in the complaints - not, for example, a concern over citywide inequities.

And I mostly see myopia.

For example:

* Boston Mayor Urges Patience As City Tackles Roads. (Also: Boston Side Streets Clogged.)

* Buffalo Residents Unhappy With Storm Response.

* More Snow On The Way Could Leave Cleveland Side Streets Unplowed Until End Of Week.

* Crews Continue Working To Clear Michigan's Roads.

* Davenport Side Streets To Be Plowed Last.

It's tough everywhere - just like our potholes.

Let's blame Rahm for the stuff he deserves blame for - the heavy stuff. Side streets and potholes? Believe me, he wants those inconveniences taken care of more than you do, because he knows if he does, the city will largely forgive him for the things that really matter.

That's the way a king rules a weak city.

Double Trouble
I can only think of two times the city's snow response has been genuinely horrible: The Bilandic affair, of course (and can we please get over it?), and letting all those people get stranded on Lake Shore Drive in 2011.

In fact, some aldermen were grumbling just last month that Rahm was so sensitive to election-year snow politics that he was calling out the fleet - and costing taxpayers money - any time a flake appeared anywhere in the continental U.S.

First he's pulling the trigger too soon, now he's caught with his snow pants down.

Even I have to say that sometimes you just can't win.

DIY: Punk Winter
"As Mayor Rahm Emanuel earnestly promises us that he and city crews are doing all they can to clean up after the snowstorm, he should add a reminder that many of us have shovels, snowblowers and able bodies," the Tribune's Eric Zorn writes.

I have to agree.

"If we dig out an extra spot along the street and spend a little time clearing off the alley, we can all but eliminate the tired and ugly aftermath of deep snow in Chicago."

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See also: The item "Community Spirit Whips Dibs."

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If you don't have a block club, form one and have everyone pitch in for a snowblower. Create a shovel brigade. Pay your neighborhood kids to shovel - they had a day off school. Dibs is the privatization of public property writ small. It's the Ditka and Daley part of Chicago we should leave behind.

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See also: Humboldt Park Woman, Sick Of Dibs, Shovels Entire Block.

That was from 2014 but she hasn't changed a bit.

To wit:

Jamie Lynn Ferguson, you are Today's Best Person In Chicago.

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Buy A Piece Of JBTV
Archives for sale. Plus: Hot For Rockabilly Blue Island Teacher & Local H Lives. In Local Music Notebook.

Funkmaster MLK
Cornel West in Chicago on Radical King. Plus: Tales From A Snowed-In Librarians Convention. In Local Book Notes.

David Plouffe Making Shit Up Again
This time for Uber.

Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 11
This is the story of a tiny thing that didn't work.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Dibsy doodle.



Permalink

Posted on February 4, 2015


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