The InTowner
To receive free monthly notices advising of the availability of each new PDF issue, simply send an email request to and include name, postal mailing address and phone number. This information will not be shared with any other lists or entities.

Advertisement

From the Publisher's Desk...

DDOT AND DPW, A-PLUS — MAYOR, D-MINUS

You guessed it –these are the scores we assign to the two ends of the District’s government that were honchoing the gargantuan snow storm followed by the blizzard clean-up tasks (which look like they might continue until spring!).

Both the transportation and public works departments have thus far proven their worth; the former for its constant attention to changing developments and putting out continuous and timely condition updates and seemingly deeply involved in coordinating city-wide responses with Metro, police, fire and other agencies; and the latter, DPW, also deserves its A+ for the tireless, non-stop work performed by its crews and field managers in their valiant efforts to keep the city from an absolute total shutdown of vital streets and avenues.

Yes, we know vast numbers of side streets, especially in residential neighborhoods, not to say anything about the alleys, remain unplowed. But, given the absolutely unprecedented back-to-back major snow storm followed by blizzard events, it is truly amazing what was accomplished as we were going to press just 24 hours after the last snowflake drifted down. This writer has been in DC since 1962 and can attest that never before would our municipal government been able to have accomplished what has already been done.

It is to the directors and senior managers, as well as line workers of DDOT and DPW, to whom we tip our hat! And, they have succeeded so far to the extent that they have in spite of what appeared to us as the Mayor simply getting in the way at every turn — even to the extent of coming close to creating real chaos with his fumbling over whether the schools were to be open or closed.

Between his posturing and overall bumbling and his puppet School Chancellor Rhee it’s a miracle that there weren’t little kids put at risk attempting to get to school under the impossible conditions of no bus service, dangerous sidewalks, unplowed intersections and then the prospect of being stranded at inadequately staffed school buildings because teachers and staff were unable to get in.

So it was that when he announced that schools would be open on the Monday following the first major storm and the parents rightfully raised the alarm he and Chancellor Rhee really didn’t want to hear from them. Eventually they caved and made the correct decision but claimed it had nothing to do with the outpouring of negative reaction from parents around the city.

And it was the same with his initial demand that DC employees should all show up for work on that Monday when even the federal government had shut down! What was especially irresponsible was to refuse to follow the very same advisories that his public safety agencies were broadcasting to the citizens — that nobody should attempt to be out and about, not just because of the almost non-existent public transportation and impossibility for driving anywhere, but also so that the snow plows and emergency vehicles might at least have a chance of getting around.

And all the while, the Mayor was peppering the press with emails announcing another press briefing and photo-op at some far off site nowhere near a Metro subway station and dangerous to drive. And why would he be encouraging the press corps to be trekking to far away locations when the word was to stay put? Only one time did he call for one of these events to be at the Reeves Center at 14th and U Streets.

But even when the press event takes place, what’s the point? Instead of sending out a notice informing that there will be a briefing out at the salt dome or some off-the-beaten path rec center to provide update information on what the city crews will be doing in the ensuing hours or to announce some revised schedule, why not simply provide that information in the email first sent and do away with the need to attempt to get to wherever he had decided he wanted everyone to join him?

It should be noted that at these events he always insists in being surrounded by the very top managers and even department directors who would be more productively back at their command centers directing their own crews and dealing with ongoing complications rather than being off on a PR gambit. What a waste of managerial expertise.

In closing, we know the Mayor will probably be displeased with our views about his penchant for running here and there and wanting to be in the limelight at every turn, but we only have made a point of this because it seems to us that his manner of running things is doing more harm than good and because it is a symptom of what we see as an inherent insecurity which leads to over-reaction and bad judgments. There is still time for him to engage in some behavioral introspection and maybe start to rehabilitate his image with the voters and, hopefully, regain their trust. But this is probably a message for another day.