Saturday, December 02, 2006

Spinning Tires, and Spinning Politicians

I can't help but think about the tens of thousands of residents of Springfield, and surrounding communities without power. With deadly cold temperatures hitting the area, and no way for people to heat their homes there's a critical need to restore power to those effected by Friday's ice, and snow storm.

Streets Still In A Dangerous State

Sangamon County Sheriff Neil Williamson's pronouncement on WICS newscast yesterday evening that Sangamon County's roads were "o.k."

I live just blocks from some yet to be incorporated Sangamon County. It's always amusing to see City of Springfield road crews handle their section, then the Village of Jerome handle its section, and then Sangamon County handle its section of neighborhoods in this little area.

Overall I'd say that The Village Of Jerome's Street Department does the best, followed by Sangamon County road crews, and Springfield's Street's Department performance coming in last.

Springfield Driving Was Slow Going

Despite exercising great care I almost slid through an intersection, and watched others do so. I noticed cars abandoned in the middle of the streets at strange angles (spin outs on the ice), and actual pieces of automobiles (bumpers, quarter sections) from what must have been accidents at several intersections.

Along my drive to, and from work, I noticed just one police car on patrol.

The roads I drove down were some of the most heavily used roads in the city, but all were covered with a compressed mixture of ice, and snow. I saw no snow trucks spreading salt, or cinder ash (Springfield doesn't use cinder ash anymore, but the County does).

Then Versus Now

Ozzy Langfelder was the Street's Commissioner back in the late 1970's. Year after year there would be major winter storms, and somehow the streets were kept cleaner of ice, and snow than they are today. Ozzy built a good reputation based upon how well the streets were kept in repair, and how well the Street's Department responded to winter storms. He was in fact so popular with the city's voters that when he ran for Mayor he won.

I realized that Springfield, Illinois has grown in size since the 1970s, and that due to global warming we haven't seen as many winter storms as in the past, but it seems obvious that there simply aren't enough trucks, and salt available. While I am not advocating a return to the commission form of government, it seems that handling these types of winter storms aren't taken quite as seriously as in the past.

I guess when a person's job isn't on the line, or when doing a good job can't act as a springboard into the Mayor's office, that priorities will change. Yet someone needs to be held accountable, so wouldn't that be the Mayor?

In the meantime, I believe that we need to see, and hear, fewer spinning tires before we see public officials doing their spin for the media.

Note to readers: I live in Jerome, Illinois a suburb of Springfield, Illinois. The roads in the Village of Jerome look much better than in surrounding Springfield.

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