Storm clouds

Seattle's not the only place suffering from Snowpocalypse politics.

Seattle's not the only place suffering from Snowpocalypse politics.

Seattleites have been criticized for our response to snow. Mayors Mike McGinn and Greg Nickels both hit rough patches in storm response, and residents from Back East have often laughed at Seattle's snow whimpery.

So it's rather fun to see Snowpocalypse politics making troubles for East Coast politicians.

In New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, famous for rarely conceding errors, has finally, grudgingly allowed that he is angry about the slow response to the Blizzard of '10, and shocked some in the press by acknowledging that some New Yorkers were suffering hardships. Subways were stuck, ambulances blocked by snow-clogged streets, neighborhoods like Brooklyn snowed in days after the storm. Still, smartly, the education-reform mayor has avoided giving himself a grade.

Still, it was one of the worst storms the New York metro area has ever seen. Or was it?

Over in New Jersey, tough-gov Chris Christie was off to Disneyworld for the holidays and has let his state fend for itself. So too his Lt. Governor, who was off vacationing in Mexico. The storm response was left to the acting governor, state Sen. Stephen Sweeney, a Democrat. Some have blasted Christie's absence, others have wondered why New Jersey needs a Lt. Gov if he's going to be out of state at the same time as the gov? Christie's office has responded to criticism by saying "snow in the Northeast happens often." It's apparently more macho to not be pushed around by snow than it is to man an emergency center. Christie's defense is that the storm is no big deal, yet his neighbor Bloomberg argues the storm was unprecedented.

Meanwhile, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, angry over the postponement of a football game due to snow, pronounced American a "nation of wusses." Snow response is, apparently, where manliness is defined.

It's all so familiar. In 2008, Seattle Department of Transportation director Grace Crunican was on vacation during a major storm that left city streets blocked for days. She later admitted the city "blew it," but the lingering frustration with the city's response helped Nickels lose his re-election bid.

Of course, it took a blizzard to test the competence of Northeastern mayors. One wonders how bad it would get here if we ever suffered a storm like the Blizzard of 1916. In the meantime, we're not the only ones who have experienced political fallout from too many flakes.


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About the Authors & Contributors

Knute Berger

Knute Berger

Knute “Mossback” Berger is Crosscut's Editor-at-Large.