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Following the Seige by Nemo, Governor Patrick and Mayor Menino Deserve Praise

Boston Business Journal Speaks Out

Boston Business Journal In "A letter to Overlord Deval", George Donnelly, Executive Editor, Boston Business Journal, using a playful, funny and engaging tone, raised what he believes are serious issues with Governor Patrick's ban on driving during, and some hours following, the passage of Nemo across the Commonwealth and out to sea.
  • Calling us "knuckleheads!" at your press conference today - What faith you have in us, lifting the driving ban only six hours after the great snows of 2013 stopped falling from the sky.
  • You were protecting us from ourselves
  • We do not possess your wisdom, so you banished us, under threat of a sentence in one of your harsh prisons, to our homes
  • Without your supreme judgment, who knows how many of us would have braved the roads and risked life and limb? Indeed, we cannot think for ourselves.
  • We need government, led by men and women with superior intelligence, to tell us what to do. We are indeed blessed to have such leadership. Without you, we are lost, presumably in a snowbank.
  • Without a large and controlling government, nothing is truly possible.

Uphams Corner News Reflects

By contrast, Uphams Corner News is commending both Governor Patrick and Mayor Menino for taking steps to ensure that "knuckleheads," however few or many there might be, NOT be allowed to venture out on the roads.  Presumably the goals of those holed up or connected to the Framingham bunker were not only protecting the health and safety of the residents but also guaranteeing a post-storm road condition ready for serious snowplowing.

No cars allowed on the roads and roads clear of vehicles as far as the eye could see, ensured there were no cars caught in snow drifts, abandoned, or worse, slept in with the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning as the snow drifts rose high enough to block the tailpipe.


Car abandoned in Long Island NY Cars Abandoned in Long Island NY

Cars abandoned on various parkways in the state of New York following the massive snowstorm "Nemo."          Photos Pix11.com


Lake Grove, Suffolk County, Long Island NY

Nemo covered a wide swath, more than the interior of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  In much of easter Long Island, Nemo dropped a whopping 30 inches of snow.  With no driving ban in effect, dozens of hapless drivers remained trapped in the snow, caught by Nemo's unexpected fury.  Pix11.com reported that many drivers stayed with their cars.  One driver had to be hospitalized for hypothermia, and many others were taken to a nearby warming center.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo had asked Long Islanders to stay off the roads (pretty please).  Then as of Saturday, because of the dreadful condition of the roads, many of the parkways were shuttered.  In other locations, hundreds of drivers reportedly abandoned their cars on highways and sought shelter elsewhere according to a Newsday report.


The Differences in Approach - MA & NY

Certainly, the orders of magnitude make the issues in New York more difficult to manage than the smaller areas of MA and Boston.  New York City's population exceeds the entire state of Massachusetts by 2 million while Boston's population is 7% the size of New York City. 


Locale Population
State of New York
19 M
New York City 8.2 M
Commonwealth of MA 6.4 M
Boston
0.6 M


Establishing rules, regulations, bans and fines requires effective enforcement as well as a willingness on the part of the citizenry to comply. 

How well the ban against parking in the Commonwealth was enforced is not known. WBUR's reporters traveling on the MA Pike reported they were stopped by State Police and asked their purpose on the road.  As a member of emergency workers, they were given free pass.  "No," the State Trooper said, "I am not ticketing but I am concerned about anyone out on the roads."  Just the possibility of a $500 fine and one year in jail was enough to keep many people home.

Consider the job of the snowplower who has free access and relative speed if the road ahead is completely clear - no cars abandoned, blocking the roads or ramped on top of a snow pile or completely and invisibly buried.  The decrase in productivity under such circumstances is significant and much more than an average observer might expect, not to mention the dangerous impact on health and safety. 


Risky Behavior Becomes the Commonwealth's to Repair and the Burden to Shoulder

Snowplow drivers are (probably) paid by the hour, so the delay in plowing capacity is paid for by taxpayer dollars.  The same holds for rescue efforts necessitated by dangerous conditions when residents refuse to evacuate low-lying coastal areas and flooding occurs.

"The government needs to stay out of my business.  Don't imagine that I can't think for myself.  Don't make decisions for me as if I were a child.  Don't tell me what to do."

What are the consequences of making civic decisions that impact my ability to move around and to function as I am used to?  Feeling constrained is one, feeling put-upon and restricted - another, feeling like my personal freedom has been taken away. 

Under some circumstances, the decision in favor of the "good of all" trumps individual freedom, at least for a short while.  As of Saturday afternoon, Dudley Street, as far as you could see in both directions, was devoid of cars.  The street had been plowed and periodically, a police car drove by unencumbered by the several feet of snowdrift that had blanketed the street only hours before.


Driving / Parking Bans Create Parnership

Because of the driving and parking bans, the snow plows were able to focus on their top priority (major roads) without the need to "sneak in" a personal and politically connected sidestreet.  No one was allowed to drive anyway until 4pm on Saturday when the driving ban was lifted.

No sidewalks had yet been plowed so pedestrians walked safely in the streets. Three stores were open - CVS, Brothers Market and the liquor store.  People greeted each other warmly carrying their purchases in the direction back where they had walked from.  There were even a couple bicycles riding by.   

The quiet, calm and open emptiness, presenting starkly against the drama of white covering everything, was a needed respite after more than 24 hours of heavy snowfall. 

WIthout the danger (as in past years) of cars attempting to slide through deeply rutted residential streets while automobile owners sought hour after hour to birth their cars from the snowy wombs, the quality of adjacent conversation and snow removal efforts was dramatically improved.

As of 5pm Sunday, no plow had yet cleared Monadnock Street although multiple calls had gone into the Mayor's Hotline.  At the same time, the mound of snow in the center of Monadnock Street, fully blocking all traffic, had grown to at least six feet.  A snowplow could not have begun to tackle the "snow fortress," as some residents had named it. 

The solution?  A couple hours later, a front loader arrived.  Starting at Dudley Street, it moved slowly at first then more quickly to gain sufficient momentum to scoop up a load of snow and, reversing direction, dropped the snow on the side of Dudley Street.  There simply was no other choice.

In past years, plows have come down Monadnock Street multiple times during the storm, each time blocking the cars with even greater amounts of slush and snow and depositing "God knows" how much unnecessary rock salt onto the road way.  What a difference!  What an improvement, even though the waiting grew a bit impatient.

Were the Governor and the Mayor right in instituting the bans on parking and driving?  Under seige by Nemo, the Governor and the Mayor acted responsibly and in the best interests of the community. That is the opinion of Uphams Corner News, and they are deserving of praise.


Dear Mr. Boston Business Journal

Sometimes the need to make decisions in favor of the good of all wins over the rights of personl freedom like yours.  Consider and reflect well that you and others were safe as Nemo passed your way. 

With the driving ban lifted, you are now free to resume your active and important business life, untethered by governmental decrees - at least for a while.

Uphams Corner News

Comments

Wed, Feb 13, 2013 at 1:51 PM

Subject: "Nemo" Driving Ban

We in the United States have many reasons for giving up our personal liberties. Now we may add snow removal to that list. The authorities acted as though citizens were in the way of public services rather than having public services serve the citizens. It was all overdone, including economic impacts. Apparently all it takes for one's judgment to supersede all others is being elected to executive office. The positives do not outweigh those considerations.

Marie Isenburg


Posted: February 10, 2013     Nancy J Conrad

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