Wednesday, January 28, 2009
I have to say, I stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our president on this subject:
After his daughters got a snow day Wednesday, President Barack Obama wants to see a little bit of "flinty, Chicago toughness" applied locally.
"When it comes to the weather, folks in Washington don't seem to be able to handle things," a joking Obama told reporters Wednesday morning.
"My children's school was canceled today because of what? Some ice."
Obama said his daughters -- Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7 -- pointed out that school in Chicago is never canceled.
"In fact, my 7-year-old pointed out that you'd go out for recess. You wouldn't even stay indoors," Obama says.
Bravo! Schools in New Jersey cancel classes if the relevant bureaucrat spots a slushball when he peers out his front door. This morning we had two inches of melting snow on the road and schools all over the state closed. What a joke. I'd bet my bottom dollar that virtually all of those administrators, staff, and, yes, teachers are not in the least bit concerned about driving on their day off at taxpayer expense. And the impact is not merely that the kids lose a day of "learning." School closures screw up every business that employs parents of children who will now be at home for the day instead of in class. So thank you, President Obama, for calling these bureaucrats exactly what they are: wussies.
Living in Los Angeles, I'm not sure what this "snow" thing is you speak of, but ex-Californio/current Minnesotan Ed Morrissey disagrees with you and the President: http://hotair.com/archives/2009/01/28/obama-to-washingtonians-toughen-up-pansies/
I'm going to defend some of these wussies.
It makes sense for some areas of the country to invest in the manpower and machinery to keep the roads open even in extreme conditions. It is not in others states, in NC it is fun watching the Yankee’s trying to drive thinking they can drive on snow not realizing we don’t prepare the roads like they do up North. We get one snow or ice event every other year. It makes sense just to salt the main roads and close down while the plows and sun take care of the rest.
Most of CT was cancelled today as well, althought my kids were not very excited.
In CT "snow days" are tacked on the end of the year, and being this is their second snow day, instead of getting out on June 15,it is now the 17th.
Having lived in Toronto (where they never cancel school for weather related reasons), my kids were first thrilled at their first snow day a few years ago. Their look of delight soon vanished when I told them they had to make it up in the summer. Oh the cruelty!
I laughed because Obama echoed what I always complained about in my dozen or so years living in DC. A mere flurry shuts down the DC-MD-VA metro area. People used to abandon cars on the Beltway in an inch of snow. For a Jersey girl like me this was a joke.
But ... as commenter Heather notes, the DC area didn't have the same investment in snow removal equipment as we do up North. More importantly, lots of kids ride school buses, which are tin cans on wheels. Take that safety concern, overlay the multiple layers of attorneys who live, work and parent in the DC area, and "wella" -- snow days galore.
As someone who grew up in New Jersey and now lives in Illinois, people in Illinois have no conception about how hellish winter driving can be. Illinois is defined by a nice, predictable grid of straight, flat roads where every developer likes to build as far away from the asphalt as possible. New Jersey is defined (at least where I lived) by crazy, curving roads, strange intersections, blind turns, and steep drop-offs. Illinois gets snow. New Jersey gets ice storms. Ergo: driving in New Jersey in winter is a LOT more dangerous than driving in Illinois in winter. I've almost been in several very serious accidents because we had a damn school superintendent from Colorado that didn't grasp these facts, driven past my share of the same.
A very stupid comment by the President of the United States. Many districts are closed that don't need to be, without question. But DC to NYC is an area where the precipitation changes from snow to sleet to rain to ice in a matter of hours. It ain't like Chicago. And all it takes is one School Bus fatality to make it a really bad day for those school administrators. I agree the caution exercised is disproportionate, to use the word of the week. But it is "for the children" in this case.
Sorry. I've lived in Chicago, and I've lived in New Jersey, and whether or not the president is right about DC, his remarks are totally applicable to New Jersey. I get the ice, I get the windy, curvy roads. There was no ice this morning in Princeton. It was freaking slush. It was slush more than 90 minutes before the start of the school day. I drove up and down hills in my old BMW, which is, I assure you, a crappy snow car (or it would be without the snow tires I religious put on every November), without any problems. Yes, you have to cancel school if there is actual ice everywhere. That was not the case today, and it is not the case most of the time when they cancel school. The proof is that all the parents make it to work, so why can't the teachers. It's like freaking bring your rugrats to work day in our offices because of the working parents who are in a bind because, apparently, the only institutions that cannot bear to function in this weather are the public schools. The schools need to man up and get to work like everybody else. Your nation is depending on it.
Here in Central VA we have the same phenom. The story here is not that teachers and staff cannot make it to work. The issue is that the lack of snow removal equipment makes it hazardous for the school buses to navigate, particularly on narrow, rural and sometimes unpaved roads. I scoff at them because they often cancel or delay school at a mere forecast of bad weather, which as often as not never materializes. Yesterday this was not the case, and the streets were very icy. I drove to work and to the hospital, but I'm glad the busses were not out on my very steep hill.
One effective solution for this here in VA is to open schools on a two hour delay. Our ice is usually slush by mid morning, and easier to drive on.
Like Heather, I'm in NC (Triangle area) and can only post amusement. This is an area where schools close on a forecast of snow. In the past 10 years, we've had (1) a 20-inch blizzard that the forecasters missed completely, (2) a half-inch of snow that gridlocked the entire area and trapped thousands of schoolchildren overnight in their schools, and (3) an ice storm that took down thousands of trees, resulting in blocked roads everywhere (tree removal is harder than snow removal, and there is no "solar-powered" alternative) and a complete shutdown of the power grid.
The city and state have invested in additional snow removal equipment, but that also requires that the equipment be in the right place in the right time, with adequate supplies of sand and salt, as well as an operating budget sufficient for highly unpredictable needs. In these climatic border zones, both the type and severity of winter storm weather is highly variable; in some years, there's no snow or ice at all. Being prepared for anything, with limited budgets, isn't as easy as that northern flat-lander in the White House might suppose.
Where's FEMA ?? Thay haven't called out the National Guard yet ?
Obama hates white people !! Oh wait, with the donks in charge we won't have that kind of hysteria. That leaves just one question, what the hell happened to global warming ?
Some years ago in Austin there was a freak cold snap that froze the highways with black ice in like two hours. My wife and I (who was my girlfriend at the time, I think) went into a restaurant and it was merely chilly. We came out and my truck was frozen shut.
The city stopped. There were many wrecks and the authorities had to physically block traffic on overpasses and help push cars (including mine) across some spots one at a time because there was no traction and they spun out into barriers and each other. There was no infrastructure to handle this; no salt reserves, no trucks on standby, and the kinds of paper smooth roads that are a dream to drive on most of the time, but that turn into ice skating rinks in the wrong weather. And why would there be such infrastructure? It's freaking Texas. 45 degrees in winter is a chilly day here.
So yeah, it's very cute for Yankees to be all snide and roll their eyes at the poor dumb Southerners who are afraid to drive in a little snow, but it's a stupid thing to do. I drove just fine, like everyone else, in the snow and ice of wintertime Seattle because the infrastructure there was designed to handle it. Not so, in Austin, TX. And apparently not so in Washington, DC.
Winter '96. I worked at a credit union off Mopac & Parmer. I got to work that Thursday (IIRC) morning before the rain started. They closed early that day. I didn't take Mopac home. I lived south - as is south of Slaughter. I took 360 home, but I avoided the overpasses as much as possible - they were covered in ice. I saw at least 2 accidents happen on that drive home. The next day, management decided (since we served people not just living in the Austin area) to have those who could make it report to the nearest branch location. I could hack that... We got a little bit of that winter storm here overnight. My boss at my current job told me to take my laptop home (it has VPN installed), just in case. But, for where I am, the roads weren't bad, and with how the house is situated to how the rain was falling, my car wasn't coated in ice (yeah, I've had to chip through 1-inch thick ice to get into my car, living here in Austin).
I've also lived in NW AR. More snow there than here, but still not enough to justify the kind of equipment needed to clear all the roads of snow, or ice.
I also did some growing up in Germany. It was very rare that school was cancelled for snow there. But, that was something that happened all the time, all winter long. Hell, I had to walk to school in that weather (we usually didn't live far enough away for me to be on a bus route...). So, Chicago, that gets SNOW all the time, is much different that southern cities that rarely get snow, and more often, if there is freezing precip, it's sleet or freezing rain that immediately turns to ice...
I've lived in the Cleveland area (with the "Lake effect") and other very cold environs but an ice storm in Washington D.C. is unlike anything I've experienced.
It's paralyzing. Not just because the people don't know how to handle it (mostly that) but also because the icy roads are the worst I've ever driven. Poor highway care? Dunno? Poor roads? Who knows? More ice? What?
There's just something different about DC and ice.
I'd bet my bottom dollar that virtually all of those administrators, staff, and, yes, teachers are not in the least bit concerned about driving on their day off at taxpayer expense. And the impact is not merely that the kids lose a day of "learning."
When school is canceled, any driving is not at taxpayer expense. The day is made up. At least it is in New Jersey. Law states 180 academic days minimum. If we had been off from school today, the school year would have been extended a day. No learning is lost and no taxpayer money is spent if I drive my 4x4 in the snow.
I do, however, agree that many districts are quick on the draw of closing their schools. We were open and my students learned today.
This post has been linked for the HOT5 Daily 1/29/2009, at The Unreligious Right
Here in Winnipeg (Manitoba, Canada - a couple hours' drive north of Grand Forks, ND), even the elementary schools remain open when the temperature hits -40C (same as -40F), at that is not counting the wind. The grade 5-6 kids who act as crossing guards still go out to their respective posts.
Here in Texas all the schools panic and shut down when it gets cold and rain starts to fall. Quite ridiculous, I think. Especially because there are mostly private schools here that make you pay for even the snow days! All that lost learning... At least Obama sees this!