Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Blizzard of 2011

Well, we have survived the blizzard. It was an intense storm. Lots of blowing snow all through the night and this morning. Chicago was braced and ready for the blast of snow that came to town yesterday.

The public safety team had an excellent plan of action. Cancelling the airline activity ahead of time so travellers could make other arrangements and not be stuck in the airport for a couple of days. Which was really smart. And then they just told everybody to go home and stay home. And don't come to work or school. Leave the roads open for snow removal and people who work in hospitals and lived nearby them and police and snow removal staff were out on the street. But for a long time there was zero visibility.

They had a backup plan for people who were stranded to get them to a safe place that was warm where they could give them food. Some stayed in a hospital, or community center or schools. This was all well planned out.

And National Guard was out helping stranded motorists get to safety. Which was wonderful to see. Firemen too. Everyone who was in a position to help did. And that was truly great.

And this morning the motorists that were stranded and their cf cars were towed, have been notified as to how to get their cars back and they are not going to be ticketed or have to pay for the tows. Which again, was great.

I have had my complaints about some of the policies of the city and state. The outsourcing of parking meters and the meter boxes were a horrible idea. Parking is too expensive in the city and it discourages anyone who doesn't have a bunch of money to throw away, to go somewhere else for dinner or a movie or an evening out. Which is great for the surrounding areas but really short sighted.

Tickets, parking tickets and the lack of flexible payment arrangements that are offered are horrible. And the parking garage fees are ridiculous. People were coming to Chicago and happy to come here. Lots of young people were buying condos and enjoying city life. They didn't need a car and taxes were reasonable and they could get out and enjoy the city. The city had become dog and kid friendly and it was a robust, wonderful place to come. Museums had a free day each week, so even the poor and students were able to access the museums. And there were free events in the parks that encouraged people to get out and enjoy themselves.

Then the speculation construction, anticipating the Olympics coming to the city, kicked into high gear. And when that fell through the banks got shaky and taxes went sky high. So a condo that was affordable and public transportation that was affordable suddenly became so expensive that people who lived here couldn't afford to go out and eat or take part in city activities.

The city became a punitive glob of inconvenience and the governments hands were so deep in the pockets of its citizens and business owners that businesses closed down and people lost their homes. Their homes that they had saved for; their homes that their ancestors may have worked hard for that had been passed down to them... were taken by the banks and suddenly, it was all over. The people were crying, "Uncle," but nobody was listening.

But this blizzard was a perfect example of what city workers and our government is all about. Now, if they would just get wise that you will get more bees with honey, they would cut taxes and prohibit tax hikes higher than a small percentage of the cost of living in any given year and they would create a welcoming environment for people who want to come to the city and go to events there... then just maybe more people would work here and want to live here again.

I stayed with family during the worst of it. And thoroughly enjoyed our time together. When I came home I found out that all of my neighbors, including children, had shoveled out my driveway. This winter storm brought with it lots of snow and the next day, freezing temperatures. And then an amazing expression of love from my neighbors to fill my heart with appreciation for having the most thoughtful neighbors I could ever hope for.

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