Monday, February 15, 2010

Disenchantment Run Amok

The past 10 days has been particularly rough in my neck of the woods. Maryland has seen record snowfalls, and by record I mean, no one has seen snow like this in over 100 years. That plain fact makes the winter of 2009-2010 a memorable one for me. I shoveled so much snow my shoulder ached from where I dislocated it nearly 18 years ago and despite carrying children, heavy loads and working out, it has never hurt so much.

But as disgruntled and fatalistic about the snow as I have become, I have become increasingly disenchanted with government. I have never been a big fan of Maryland's state government, there has simply been Democratic rule for far too long. I have never like Governor Martin O'Malley, even when he was mayor of Baltimore. I have rarely had a beef with the Frederick County government, until now.

I expect my state government to do very few things, keep me safe from criminals, come running when a fire breaks out, pave roads, provide a basic public health system and a few other minor things. I don't really want government to be running a school system, but since they do, I expect them to do it efficiently. I need my state government to do those things I cannot do myself.

However, over the past ten days, I have become truly disgusted with the manner in which my state and local governments responded to the snow emergency. What particularly galls me is that everyone knew big snow storms were coming, in fact the snow started falling within about an hour of when the weather forecasters said it would start (itself a wonderous achievement). Weathermen predicted that snow several days in advance, it would hit on a weekend and I figured travel would suck on Saturday but get better on the Sunday. Boy was I wrong.

Then came the second storm, conditions that were so bad that the county actually declared a state of emergency and pulled the snow plows off the street because of blizzard conditions. But by 10:00pm or so on Wednesday, the snow had stopped falling.

Of course school was cancelled for the entire week, and I really shouldn't have expected any different nor do I think the decision was poor, the roads simply weren't passable on Thursday and parts of Friday. So why, given all this understanding am I disillusioned?

Remember when I said that it stopped snowing on Wednesday night. No a flake of snow has fallen since then and yet, there are still roads that haven't been properly plowed. Governor Chucklehead actually had the gall to be insulted that Marylanders wanted their streets plowed. By yesterday, every county road and state road should have been plowed, sidewalks cleared so people could walk and drive. But were they? No. Five days after the last flake fell on the state, some roads were still in such poor conditions that schools are being cancelled for tomorrow.

If the state and counties knew the storm was coming, they should have been prepared--they weren't and that is unacceptable. We are not talking about a random tornado or a lightening strike on a townhouse. We are talking about a storm everyone knew was coming and knew would be bad.

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