Sunday, January 2, 2011

Political Doom for Mayors

The surest way to guarantee that you will not be re-elected as mayor is for your municipality to botch snow and ice removal during a winter storm.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is learning this the hard way as he is taking serious heat for lousy snow removal after last week's snowstorm.  Paul Krugman of the New York Times called the storm "Bloomberg's Katrina."  I don't like that analog given how horrible Katrina was, but Krugman argues that the New York City administration failed to take weather warnings seriously.  That's a serious mistake these days as nor'easter forecasts are generally quite good (far better than snow forecasts in Utah) and the public is not going to have much sympathy when they saw the storm coming on the nightly news.

Ultimately, perhaps an analysis will show the snow-removal problems were beyond Bloomberg's control, but New Yorkers will probably hold him responsible anyway.  Even the relatively docile citizens of Seattle skewered Mayor Greg Nickels over the city's poor response to a major snowstorm.

I've always been amazed at snow removal efforts here in Utah.  It's easy to complain about one thing or another, but in Salt Lake, life goes on during major storms remarkably well.  Nevertheless, Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker and Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Carroon need to keep it that way if they are aiming for re-election.  History shows that one poor showing in snow removal can doom a political career.

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