If you live or work downtown, you probably noticed that streets around the city were a bit of a mess Wednesday afternoon and evening. Lake-effect snow buried the city, traffic was at a standstill, traveling even a few blocks took hours, and... well, you get the point. It was a cluster.
Now people are asking why. Did the city do enough to keep the streets clear? Why didn't anyone know the snow was coming? Was it everyone's fault for leaving work at the same time? Does anyone remember that we live on the lake?
Everyone seems to have an answer that puts the blame on someone else, because that's just how we roll.
Let's start with Cleveland's chief operating officer Darnell Brown, who is pleading ignorance it appears. He says no one, not even those fancy TV meteorologists (who are never wrong) knew Cleveland was about to get punched by Old Man Winter. Also, he thinks all those bosses that let their employees leave early deserve some blame too.
"I don't know that there was any news media outlet, or even our own private concern, that we get our weather reports for, that saw this storm coming," responded Cleveland's chief operating officer Darnell Brown.
Brown says the city had 55 salt trucks working on city streets since 8:00 a.m. He says the lake effect band was such a surprise, city crews had no time to prepare. He says by the time the streets were jammed with cars, snow plows were useless.
"Everybody let employees go at the same time and we had major gridlock," Brown said.
Way to take ownership there, Darnell.
The Plain Dealer wrote an editorial on the matter, taking the city to task for being incompetent and unaware that it sometimes snows heavily in the Forest City.
Wednesday's gridlock disrupted countless lives and businesses and suggested a city without an adequate plan for snow removal, without adequate leadership during a snow emergency, without an understanding of the nature of lake-effect snow and without a strategy for keeping traffic moving in any emergency.
As if to confirm that, at 4:21 p.m., City Hall reissued its news release, stating that a snow-emergency parking ban would not take effect unless accumulation exceeded 2 inches. Bizarrely, city officials seemed to think that because no significant snowfall had registered some miles away, at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, there was no snow downtown and no emergency, despite the cold, white evidence and the car-clogged streets.
That is not acceptable. Not by a long shot.
We'll blame Moses Cleaveland, mainly because no one's blamed him yet. Either way, everyone will have a chance to redeem themselves this weekend when Cleveland's slated to receive another round of heavy snow.
Someone should probably inform Darnell Brown of that.