snowpocalypse

It is always a good thing when our government works well

About 24 hours have passed since the massivee snow storm. 72 hours until the next one begins. I am not sure if I am surprised, or what, but in my neighborhood Philadelphia, and Philadelphia government did its just really, really well.

  • On Friday, everyone parked, and stayed off the streets on Saturday.
  • On Saturday, most people shoveled their sidewalks, and did so pretty quickly. And the plows were going pretty quickly. I walked to Center City on Saturday afternoon, and just about every sidewalk was clear, and every major street was plowed.
  • Then, at some point yesterday, even the sidestreets (except for the very small ones) saw plows rolling down, too.

When I was a kid, and we got out thirty inches of snow, the city shut down for a week. Now? Take away the snow banks, and you would never know what happened. We are in a period of recession-driven, shrinking revenues. Paying the millions it took to clean up so thoroughly like this is not simply a mandatory response, because at times in the past, we have been told that a through clean up costs too much money. Instead, it was a conscious decision made by the Mayor, which will have ramifications on the bottom line of our budget.

But, this kind of thing is worth it for two reasons. First, on a very basic level, a week of snow-misery sucks, and, it is nice to not to have to deal with it. And second, and most important, it is good for people to see city government functioning, and functioning well.

There are going to be a lot of pitched battles over the next year- from the budget to union contracts- and it will force the city into another year of our municipal budgeting nightmare- seemingly without the inclusiveness that we saw the last time. As we think about cutting services, or better targeting some taxes (like the BRT change proposed by Stan, and studied by Councilwoman Quinones Sanchez and Green), or whatever else we consider, it is heartening to head into the process with a clear demonstration that in one of its most basic functions, the city’s government can perform really, really well.

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