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January 22, 2014 5:26 PM Speed the Plow

By Ed Kilgore

Not being a New Yorker and all, I don’t quite know what to make of the criticism of newly elected mayor Bill de Blasio for allowing some neighborhoods to go for hours without having streets cleared after yesterday’s big snowstorm.

My only experience with snow plows was in the metro Washington area during the 1990s and early 2000s. I recall my street in suburban Montgomery County, Maryland, during a big snowstorm in 1995 staying locked up for nearly a week before plows appeared. And when Marion Barry ruled Washington, snow removal was not only slow but very selective, as recalled back in 2004 by TNR’s Franklin Foer:

The Barry administration never handled snow deftly. During the storm of 1987, which dumped 21 inches on the city, Barry wasn’t around; apparently, he had collapsed after coking up in the Beverly Hills Hilton. But, after his arrest, the streets of our anti-Barry ward seemed to be part of a deliberate no-plow zone. From our homes, which turned into snow prisons, we watched TV reports showing cars moving freely around poorer neighborhoods, Barry redoubts. Interestingly, one of the mayor’s cronies lived around the corner from our house. His street and alley were immaculately cleared. But, given the impassable blocks around our neighborhood, this gesture did him little good. In the Barry era, even the distribution of graft was inept.

Going back farther in the mists of time, I recall Michael Bilandic’s deposal as mayor of Chicago for a persistently inept handling of a blizzard in 1979. By such standards, de Blasio’s record looks pretty good.

Feel free to post your own memories of snow removal issues in the comment thread.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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