Thursday, January 8, 2009

Seattle Snow, Tar, Feathers

Seattle and its snow differently, under the absolute best of circumstances. That needs to be understood to really wrap ones head around the bitterness and grim anger that most Seattleites feel towards their dysfunctional Mayor and such other failed leaders as poke their heads above the edge of the political trench.

To start out, we have topography to deal with. Rome was built on seven hills; Seattle was built on seven cliffs with seven gaping chasms between them. While, over the years, having burnt the city down once we washed a fair portion of the cliffs into the Sound and filled in most of the more spectacular chasms and tide flats...local topography rivals that of San Francisco. Steep, semi-vertical hills with level spots surrounded by merely steep long hills, with gorgeous lakes dotted here and there throughout. As a sidelight, ur industrial district is built on a firm foundation of sawmill waste and municipal garbage, and geologists tell us that when the next "big one" comes, it has all the stability of a well shaken bowl of jello - upon which chemical plants and heavy industry stand.

Improving the situation further, the urban Seattleite sees snow once every 4-5 years, and that only a dusting of an inch or so that lasts maybe three days - outside of ski expeditions on well-groomed roads up to lodges in local mountains and up at Whistler. The city panics, people run into utility poles and each other, we tip over a bus or three and a day or two later it's all over with bare roads and the usual rain and blustery conditions. Even those who grew up with snow lose skills quickly (lack of practice) and join the panic...even as they poke fun at it - after all, no matter how good YOU are...there are all those unskilled idiots out there.

Still, we have a basic expectation of our leaders. Roads that work, and garbage pick-up. We get cranky when deprived of these, particularly when it appears due to massive incompetence.

Some years ago we voted out a Mayor on discovering he'd sold all but three snowplows...the year we got a major snow dump. Perhaps 8" as I recall, and that was gone within a week.

The picture begins to shape up. This year Seattle, in the weeks before Christmas (prime revenue for retail, and in our sales'n'property tax based state, local and state gov't) got about 18" spread in three doses over hills comparable to those of San Francisco with drivers for whom snow is largely foreign concept. Add to this a dysfunctional city policy of plowing only major arterials, and those only to create compact snow and ice, and the fun begins.

Dead and ditched 4wd's all over the place, lesser vehicles scattered randomly, chained vehicles grinding through and throwing more sparks than an angle grinder on speed, busses stalled or sliding sideways towards Elliot Bay for the great bus bath...

Made for an interesting time. And through all this merry fun....our Mayor was invisible, emerging only at the end to give city response a grade of...wait for it....a "B".

I have a lovely selection of torches, pitchforks, tar, feathers, and recall petitions just down the way.....

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