The LuLac Edition #156, Feb. 17, 2007
PICTURE INDEX: THE NEWEST TOOL AT THE CITY OF WILKES BARRE'S DISPOSAL FOR SNOW REMOVAL.
WHAT PEOPLE WANT FROM GOVERNMENT
People generally give government a pass. Political junkies like myself love the give and take of this stuff. We can tell you who ran thirty years ago and analyze the crap out of it. We furiously study position papers, land deals, partnerships, alliances, all that stuff. But your average citizen doesn't do that. They know who their Mayor is, might know a few councilmen and might give you the names of their state rep or State Senator. But for the most part, they ignore the process. Not because they are bad citizens but just because they have other interests, one of which is not the political bug. Smart, successful politicians know this fact about the average voter. They ask for their vote but will not aggressively court them because as long as they have the junkies, the partisans, the people who vote because it is in their interest or the interest of their family to vote, the officials have a majority that insures victory. Mayor Daley of Chicago knew that as did the late Senator Martin L. Murray and his handpicked County Chairman, the late Joe Tirpak. It is the "let sleeping dogs lie" theory of politics. And it usually works.
But every once in a while, Mother Nature will throw a monkey wrench into the equation. People care about their own needs and comforts. Most live in their own world, "work, school, church, home". The politics they leave to the guy up the street with the county job or the lady across the way with the daughter who does something for the city. But when nature fowls up people's lives, they look to government to provide the basics. Street plowing of snow on a storm predicted for three days and removal of such snow. Basic. They need to get to the one component of their world, work. When government, run by the politicos and junkies can't do the basics, then that detached voter awakens from their slumber and acts. It may be a knee jerk reaction but they rise up and vote. Their vote generally is emotional and usually blames someone. Three examples:
1977: Michael Bilandec, Mayor Richard Daley’s successor in Chicago is the favorite to be elected to a full term as Mayor of the Windy City. A blizzard surfaces, the city doesn’t respond as well as Mayor Daley’s administration would have and Jane Byrne becomes Mayor in response to the problems caused by the snow.
1984: People in the 11th Congressional District have to boil their water because of something found detrimental in the water supply. Congressman Frank Harrison, being groomed by House Speaker Tip O'Neill is in the tropics on a foreign policy fact finding mission not many Congressman are invited to attend. No matter, people in the district can't drink their own water and all they know is Harrison is someplace sunny and not responding to the problem. Your voters don't care if O'Neill is gong to make Harrison his successor, all they know is the water is bad. Paul Kanjorski is elected the new Congressman.
1985: Jim McNulty is coasting to re-election as Mayor of Scranton. A tropical storm hits in September of that year and many homes in Scranton are flooded. The Mayor puts on a yellow rain slicker and hops aboard a DPW truck. Too late: the perception is out there that his administration has ignored the neighborhoods. David Wentzel beats him by 121 votes.
Three examples, three basic needs of the voters, snow removal, clean water and flood protection. All of the aforementioned were acts of nature but the perception is the people in charge didn't do enough to provide the basics. Whether the Valentine's Day storm of 2007 will claim any victims on election day is still a question that is unanswered. But the fact that we are now asking the question is significant. History repeats itself.
Mr. Leighton has said that the city has moved from a snow plowing method to a snow removal mode of operation. The question needs to be asked, how can one remove snow when it is not yet cleaned up on the road surface.
RUMOR OF THE WEEK
Heard at the CityVest luncheon, some wags have indicated that the reason for the slow Penn Dot response might be the unhappiness of the rank and file workers toward the Governor. Word is the Governor seems to have shortchanged Penn Dot workers in his new budget and that someone was trying to send a message to his honor. NOTE: This is only a rumor but an interesting one anyway. In the meantime, Governor Ed and the state got national attention on NPR’s “All Things Considered”. The network interviewed various motorists stuck on the road for more than a day and suffice to say they weren’t happy with the Keystone State.
An e mailer to WYOU TV’s interactive newscast made a great point. She pointed out that Penn Dot spokes people seemed to be blaming motorists for being on the road as “sightseers”. Her point was that many local businesses did not let employees leave work because of the almighty dollar and quite frankly did not give a damn about the safety of its workers. She blamed local employers partially for the issues on the road. And she’s right. A friend of mine worked the two days for a printing firm, they weren’t busy, but by golly he had to be there. Then there was the caller to WILK who was an employee of one of the local malls. She had to report to work on Wednesday in the middle of the storm. Who was going to shop anyway? We no longer have the coal mines to contend with as we enter this new century but the treatment of the NEPA workforce isn’t any better. We’re just more comfortable than our ancestors. But most workers are treated like meat. And if you want evidence of that, look at all the people stranded trying to do one basic thing: get home.
“If this were the Governor’s election year, Lynn Swann might have a chance”.
“I’m disappointed in Rendell”.
“I hear Barney Farms and Riverside Drive is cleared and dry. The big shots from the city and the Chamber live there”.
“McGroarty might have been crazy as a shithouse rat but at least he knew enough to move the snow at night and clean things up”.
And this alluding to possible election year activity by those not even considering it before this weather event: “ I wasn't going to run, and then I thought, "What a mess. Not just the roads - the whole damn City. City Hall, the P.D., public works, everything." I had 30 people whom I had never met before sign my petition yesterday.”