February 3, 2008 in City

Mayor Mary’s snow job falls on deaf ears

Doug Clark The Spokesman-Review
 

What is it about Spokane mayors?

When they’re campaigning you can’t shut them up without a court order.

Mayoral candidates live to be seen: on the tube, in debates, pressing the flesh, fleshing the press …

Then we elect one and the mayor becomes more tight-lipped than a mob accountant.

That was certainly the case with Mayor Dennis Hession, a guy who never met a controversy he wouldn’t duck, cover and roll away from.

And now it appears Mary Verner has adopted Hession’s mantle of management through reticence.

At least that was the Verner M.O. during Spokane’s recent “snowpocalypse.”

Civic heartburn over the city’s slow and spotty system of snow removal is the new mayor’s first real test of leadership.

Give Verner a big fat frigid “F.”

True, the mayor is finally communicating on the issue.

But for most of last week, when residential storm angst was highest, the mayor was more absent than a heat wave.

Calls and e-mails have come to me all week asking the question: Where’s Mayor Mary?

Aw, let’s not be too hard on the mayor. Verner had larger issues on her mind.

The newspaper, in fact, just received an invitation from the mayor asking us to join her for a meeting in the downtown library.

The purpose of said meeting? To discuss the creation of a “strategic action plan to address the ways that climate change and global oil depletion may impact our ability to continue offering top quality service to our taxpayers.”

You can’t make up stuff like this.

Climate change? Oil depletion?

Oh, Lord. We elected Alice Gore.

Sorry, mayor. The taxpayers would rather have you focus a little less on the ozone layer and a little more on, say, DIGGING OUT THE NORTH SIDE!

Some residents haven’t seen their Hondas since Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

You know, global warming doesn’t sound all that bad to me right now.

And so what if Spokane turns into a seaport? I live on high ground, so that will only increase my property value.

On Thursday, Verner finally found time to address our snowy concerns.

According to a Spokesman-Review account of her press conference, the mayor apologized for storm-related difficulties and defended the city’s efforts.

“We recognize that this has been a tremendous hardship on our citizens, businesses, our parents and our schoolchildren,” she said. “Folks, it’s just snow, and we’re doing the best we can to remove it.”

Translation: “Don’t bore me with the city’s tawdry weather woes. They are sooo beneath me.”

Look. I don’t know jack about plow deployment. For all I know, the city really has done everything it could to scrape the streets as equitably and efficiently as possibly.

And I will continue to advance that opinion as long as my street stays on the “City Official High Priority Plow List.”

But I do know mayoral baloney when it’s served up on a hoagie bun.

Maybe it was disinterest. Maybe it was good old-fashioned incompetence. But Verner missed a huge opportunity to connect with her constituents.

Back when the streets began taking on the characteristics of a frozen daiquiri, she could have become our Mayor Mary Sunshine.

She could have ventured out into the most glacial neighborhoods and – gasp – talked to residents.

She could have held earlier and multiple press conferences to prove that she felt our frostbite.

Hey, she could have taken a cue from that “report a pothole” hotline and set up a similar “please, for the love of God, send a snowplow” hotline.

With a little effort and visibility, Mary, the good citizens of Spokane would still be conned into thinking that you care.

Sorry. All this cold has made me cranky.

True story: The other day I’m getting dressed and I think I see a giant Smurf in the mirror. Turns out it’s just my freezing, blue backside.

Oh, I wish summer would hurry up.

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