There are some folk who don't see the gem inside my rough exterior who might consider me a hot head. To which I say a hearty "bite me". But let this opinion be a caution that within this blog may lurk items of a venting nature or perhaps those which might be considered a rant. So be it. Proceed with caution. You have been warned.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

More Des Moines Shenanigans

I know the second installment of the cataract adventure is due, but I need to vent. Live with it.

rant mode on/

The latest demonstration of complete fail by the Des Moines city administration has to do with snow removal. As I've mentioned elsewhere Des Moines has a long standing tradition of never starting to clear the residential streets until the end of a storm. Considering that snow storms that last for several days are not uncommon this creates ridiculously difficult conditions for residents who simply want to get to work. Complaints to the street department always result in a litany of propaganda insisting that all major streets are cleared every morning of a storm in time for the rush hour. This is completely untrue as the morning rush hour after a storm is always characterized by commuters wallowing through piles of unplowed snow, sometimes actually above their bumpers.

This year, in a new propaganda campaign, the city designated several areas within the city "snow ordinance areas". What this means is that during a storm in these residential areas, residents may not park their cars on the street until snow removal is complete. According to information available on the city government web site snow removal on "snow routes" will be complete within 24 to 36 hours after the storm and residential streets 36 hours later. So home owners and other taxpayers may not park on the streets for a minimum of 72 hours. (Bear in mind that these are the city's figures and the clearing of residential streets within 72 hours after a storm is a wildly optimistic figure rarely achieved.) To add insult to injury there is a city ordinance that residents must clear their sidewalks within 48 hours after a storm - thus requiring the resident to be more efficient than the city street department.

Snow ordinance areas were newly instituted in December and after our first snowfall hundreds of tickets were issued to motorists who dared to park their cars on the street having nowhere else to park them (they could pull them up into their yard if another ordinance with a higher fine did not prohibit that). Des Moines was very diligent in issuing the tickets as police had to drive through snow choked streets to issue them. Naturally a huge outcry from the populace arose following this deluge of penalties and the result was a media blitz intended to sooth irate townspeople by telling them how refraining from parking on the designated streets during a storm would result in faster snow removal. News anchors were actually able to deliver this information with a straight face.

So now we have had our first major snow storm and are into the second 24 hours of continuous snowfall. Of course the residential streets in the snow ordinance areas remain untouched and the only evidence of plowing is on state routes and major highways. As one slides through the piles of snow on the way to work street department trucks are occasionally seen with their blades up and their sand/salt spreaders inactive. Having lived in several other cities in my life, some in areas with much more annual snowfall than Des Moines, I would expect denizens of Des Moines to descend on city hall if not with pitchforks at least with irate demands for some improved return on their inordinately high property taxes. I remember a snowfall some years back where the tardy clearing of streets in Chicago resulted in the ouster of the mayor. Not so in Des Moines. I'm not sure whether the populace of Des Moines believes the BS that the spokespeople for the city are so skilled at disseminating or whether they think that this is the way it is everywhere. Certainly the latter is possible as Iowa is a very insular state with few outsiders immigrating from other states and few inhabitants venturing beyond Iowa's borders to return with tales of far off climes like Colorado where they actually know how to remove snow in a timely manner.

Whatever the case - Des Moines Street Department, you are inefficient, unrepentant, incompetent and hypocritical. Snow ordinance my lily white ass, smoke screen is more like it.

/ end rant

Thanks for reading.

1 comment:

homercat said...

Hi Richard, Tammie here ... this made me laugh my ass off! Seriously. On the other hand, I would totally understand if you descended on city hall with pitchfork in hand. On another note, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, they don't bother ticketing or towing ... they just plow and bury any car in sight. So it's spring before some unlucky souls drive again. I understand your frustration tho, so like I said, raise that pitchfork aloft and storm the bastions! That would give them pause! Standard bearers unite!!