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IN CHICAGO, EFFECTIVE SNOW REMOVAL KEY TO KEEPING POWER - AND BIG POLITICIANS KNOW IT!

REMOVAL OF SNOW - OR THE LACK THEREOF - CAN COST AN ELECTION!

Chicago - my home town!  A strange and wondrous place!

That's especially true each winter, where seemingly-never-ending snows could lead to traffic turmoil, ungodly travel times, or perhaps imprisonment in your own detached garage!

Over the years, Mayoral Elections here have been won or lost on the basis of how effectively streets are plowed.  Many of us older Chicago Residents remember back to the storied Blizzard of 1967, which kept all of our roads blocked for days afterward, prompting a Snow Ordinance Revolution from then Mayor Richard J. Daley - the "Old Man", and our current mayor's father.

Twelve years later, then Mayor Michael Bilandic decried, "(God Himself) Couldn't Plow All the Snow from Chicago Streets!" during a multi-blizzard winter.  He was dumped as Mayor in April, 1979, by the feisty Jane Byrne, who ran on an "I'll Keep The Snow Plowed" Platform - or, at least, one of the main planks in her platform.

Year, after year, the City of Chicago stockpiles tons of road salt.  And they keep dozens of ten-ton trucks at the ready at the first hint of the white stuff falling, with drivers ready to tackle and plow the piling snow to keeps our main streets, our side streets, and our labyrinth of expressways free and clear.

During the 2008-2009 Snow Season last winter, it seemed the residential side streets got the short end of the stick.  Budget cuts and layoffs - in part due to the Teamsters Union not agreeing to contract givebacks and unpaid days off - left many residential streets unplowed immediately after major snows.   The snow then froze solid, leaving the side streets in ice-rink condition for several weeks afterward.

For the coming winter, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley wanted to privatize side street snow removal - leaving the higher-priced union workers free to hit the major streets and expressways across the city.  That plan to privatize - in much the same way as Chicago's much maligned privatization of Parking Meters and the Chicago Skyway Bridge to Northwest Indiana - failed to generate adequate interest.  The proposal was shelved.

Instead, as reported in the Chicago Tribune last week by reporter John Byrne, the usual, city-blue, ten-ton Chicago Snow Removal Trucks - big dump trucks containing piles of salt and a salt spreader in the rear, and a big plow up front - will patrol all city streets - big and small - this winter.

Bowing to High Technology, the plow trucks will contain special meters measuring out how much salt was actually spread across city streets.   Cameras on the streets will monitor plow activity, and, supposedly, keep the drivers honest during their plow shifts.

Should the drivers need extra time to keep all Chicago Streets clear of snow - overtime will kick in!  However, Mayor Daley explains that some of the overtime can be completed by Plow Supervisors, not subject to the heaviest overtime rate of pay.

Will this work?  Will the City of Chicago keep all of its streets clean and free of snow this winter?

Will long-time city residents keep up the venerable Chicago tradition of saving recently-plowed parking spots with old ironing boards, patio chairs, two-by-fours,, and headless department store mannequins (crazy, but true!)?

Check with us in February, and we'll give you an update!

DEAN MOSS & DEAN'S TEAM CHICAGO

Posted: Sunday, November 15, 2009 11:23 PM by Dean's Team

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