Snow’s Limited Judgment
By Gordon Davis
Snow, rain, freezing rain, and a flash freeze came to Worcester on December 29, 2015. As of late afternoon of December 30, 2015 many of the streets in Worcester are still ice packed and unplowed.
Worcester City Manager Edward Augustus Jr., has stated in his December 30, 2015 public letter, “Many of our streets are not in the condition our taxpayers have the right to expect.”
Augustus has admitted in his letter that the wrong decision “was made.” The use of the passive voice in the assignment of blame leaves open and unclear who is to blame for this mess. Most politicians are skilled at the use of the passive voice to shift blame.
The city manager in his letter also said the Worcester Department of Public Works (DPW) deployed salters and sanders well before the precipitation arrived. However, it did not call in the plows because the forecast was for “slush.” I suppose this makes some sense.
When it became clear to the DPW, the weather and street conditions would be more than just slush, the DPW called in the plows in the late afternoon of December 29, 2015. This does not seem to have been entirely accurate, as many of the main streets are still ice covered inn the late afternoon of December 30, 2015, especially the break down lanes.
I had not seen one plow truck on my street or anywhere in Worcester on December 30, 2015. Perhaps the city manager can say what streets were plowed.
DPW Commissioner Paul Moosey said there was a limited response to the flash freezing of snow and rain. Unfortunately, his response not only did not excuse the error in judgment, but failed to address another important issue.
The issue of pedestrians was not addressed. Because of the ice and snow, the sidewalks have to be shoveled and treated.
We pedestrians have gotten used to the failure of some property owners to shovel and treat their sidewalks.
Even the City of Worcester fails to do so on some of their properties. When a sidewalk is unshoveled or untreated pedestrians usually can walk in the break down lanes in the streets.
But this storm we could not.
The breakdown lanes were not plowed and were as bad as the unshoveled sidewalks. Plowed streets being important for pedestrians did not seem to be a concern for Augustus or Moosey of the DPW. Neither of whom mentioned us in their public communiqués.
This lack of concern seems to fit the pattern of Worcester ignoring or marginalizing pedestrians.
There seems to be about one pedestrian death per week in Worcester.
There is a perception that the police looks first to see if the pedestrian was at fault and then looks for the fault of the driver in a pedestrian motorist accident.
It is time to have a default law assuming that the motorist who hits a pedestrian is always at fault for not yielding to a pedestrian.
Getting back to the snow and ice issues, the City Manager Augustus should review how decisions are made in terms of when to do more than a “limited” response to road conditions. Augustus should take full responsibility for any and all errors of judgment and stop using the passive voice in assigning blame.
It was shameful how Governor Charlie Baker shifted blame for last season’s MBTA failures. This season’s failures clearly are the responsibility of Governor Baker.
I hope Worcester City Manager Ed Augustus does not trap himself into this shameful practice of shifting blames. He should own up to this and other errors in judgments he has made.