City Desk

Snow Prompts Councilmembers to Try Armchair Mayoring

In the past five days, the District of Columbia has seen more snowfall than it has ever seen at once before. Put simply, it's about as close to a weather-related municipal crisis as any mayor could face.

Time to bring the city together? Nope—time for Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's foes to make political hay.

This morning, Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. issued a press release publicly asking Fenty to ask President Barack Obama to declare a federal emergency and possibly bring in FEMA to organize the cleanup. Minutes ago, Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry made a similar plea, to have Obama activate the National Guard and "ask all federal agencies to use their resources and equipment to help in the plowing of snow."

Bad enough for Thomas to grandstand—after all, this is a guy who spent the weekend in Miami. But Barry? A guy who's been in Fenty's position before?

"The challenges that you are facing due to insufficient resources and equipment, as well as, employee fatigue," he writes, "are very similar to those that I faced, as Mayor, during the Blizzard of 1996 and the snowstorm of 1987."

Barry, of course, got terrible review for his handling of those storms; terrible enough that to this day they're remembered as emblems of his municipal mismanagement. Now today—with another mayor facing a snow deluge, an unprecedented snow deluge—Barry has not chosen to, say, empathize. Rather, he's looking to take Hizzoner down a peg, painting him as ineffectual and too arrogant to accept federal aid (which, of course, he may very well be).

And, of course, what irony to have Barry declaring the current mayor unfit to handle tough circumstances and begging the federal government to intervene.

On slight less obnoxious level is At-Large Councilmember Kwame R. Brown, who issued a press release Sunday asking Fenty to close the District government. He gets a bit of a pass, given just how ridiculous it would have been to have the D.C. Public Schools open Monday. [UPDATE, 5:30 P.M.: Scratch that; Kwame's called for federal emergency, too—albeit just for the money, not FEMA.]

Best way for a legislator to handle a snowfall? You could do worse than Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells, who's has his constituents send him tweets about their uncleared streets, making a list and coordinating with the mayoral community relations office to actually get them plowed.

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  • Truth Hurts

    Well put, DeBonis. Keep the "grandstanding" tag up and running ... much more to come. Btw, did you check whether Barry accompanied Thomas to Florida? Could account for the coordinated releases.

    Please post Thomas' press release. Does he write like Barry?

  • BlackOmega

    Truth Hurts, do you ever take a break from the Washington City Paper blog? You think you own this paper and want to censor other comments on this blog by making threats to some. Get a life dude and stay of this blog. Take a break, because none of us would miss you. Please move to middle America with your redneck family members.

  • Skipper

    Thomas is a shameless buffoon. While he was enjoying the Super Bowl while hanging with his frat brothers, the rest of his ward was dealing with the snow just fine and dandy, without his help.

    And for Barry to talk about snow management is almost as precious as him talking about how to interact with women.

  • Downtown rez

    Which councilmember was it that went on nationally-televised Chris Matthews to ask for Federal help?

  • sedcdude

    @ TRUTH HURTS
    must suck to be you!

  • Bill

    Mike you failed to point out any of the Public Safety issues that the District is currently facing. We have 50% less trucks available than before the Blizzard started. Conditions are worse than anyone expected. We have only begun to see the uptick in medical emergencies. DC Workers are fatigued and overwhelmed by the conditions out there (swing by the 1800 blk of Lamont St in Mt. Pleasant when you get a chance, and check out the damaged cars). More people are without power, and using any means of keeping warn. It just beginning, but I don't know how many true blizzards you have covered in DC. I've seen them all since '78. Its never about if the streets are cleared, its the aftermath of the weather where the real danger lies.
    You got some truths out, but you haven't gotten into why they were asking for the Feds to declare an emergency, you only focused on the who.

    Kinda disapointed,

    -Bill

  • Truth Hurts

    Drez, was this tonight?

  • Downtown rez

    Today. I didn't see it but was told.

  • Truth Hurts

    Hard Ball's on now. Usually replays nightly on msnbc a couple times.

  • CabinFever

    Okay sorry Mike but you have missed the best quotes from the king of Grandstanding the Grahamstander himself, and from his new little Grahamstander ANC 1C Chair/ Staffer Wilson Reynolds.

    #1 In response to an email about how poorly DDOT and DPW have worked to clear Columbia Road by day 4 of this Snowgasm, and before todays snow. CM Graham wrote "I hope to see for myself soon." Where has he been he lives a block from Columbia.

    #2 His blast email that went out letting everyone know that DCUSA's White Elephant garage was open to anyone that wanted to park there....good to know. Down side? Email came out during last nights storm, maybe something that should have been offered before the FIRST 30 inches of snow!!!!!

    #3 This was posted to the Adams Morgan listserv today in response to peoples emails questioning Graham (who has oversight of DPW and DPR) about the poor snow removal ANC1C Chair/Jim Graham staffer Wilson Reynolds said "Everyone needs to back off. People are not understanding the physics of what is happening."

  • http://deleted CabinFever

    Matthews was harder on Fenty than Thomas was....Matthews begs someone to run against Fenty.

  • Five To Go

    The mayor was not on any of the local t.v. stations for no more than two minutes by my count. This seems odd to me, because usually he's hogging the limelight. The new CP team he has hired, has made him seem unavailable during two blizzards. This is the same mayor that wanted to open school on Monday, just one day after the first blizzard. This is what poor leadership looks like. My vote come September will be for anyone other than, Fenty.

  • Bernice Rink

    February 10, 2010 at 9:13 pm
    Has the Mayor considered the liability that faces the District. It is the responsibiltiy of the District of Columbia to clear the street in the District. If the District of Columbia does not close and force person to go out in the snow and they slip and fall on street that have not been plowed and not passable; has anyone thought of the money the District will lose with law suites. The Mayor is responsible for the safety of the residents of the District and sending persons out in uncleaned streets with vehicles sliding, citizens walking in the street itis a great safety issue as well as a great liability for the District.

  • proballdc

    White elitist liberals of the District are having a difficult time accepting reality. There are plenty of licensed professional psychiatrist in the District who may be of some service to you.

    If you can get your nose out of ass of Adrian Fenty for two seconds, perhaps you would be able to see the national security implications of the seat of this nation being paralyzed by snow. Just because the District government cannot deal with it, doesn't mean that there are other "big cities" that cannot. It is "appropriate" to request the president to authorize assistance from the National Guard to aid in the recovery of this story: 1. BECAUSE this is the NATION'S capital and 2. The federal government has a major stake in getting the city moving again.

    If anyone is grandstanding and playing political hay it would be one Adrian Fenty who stands before the cameras shaking hands of the hardworking snow crews who he has plans on firing due to "budget pressures" soon after this snow season is over. He has contempt for the very workers that he depends on to carry out city services, a contempt that is obviously shared by the snobbish white liberal elites in this city. They are "fair weather friends" of such.

    This man has 10 months. If you don't think Gray is gonna run after this pitiful management display of the Mayor, again, the District has plenty of professionals to help you with your mental disease.

  • Skipper

    Proballdc - If Gray does not run for Mayor, will you seek professional help?

  • hymesb

    This is a pitiful management display?
    You are nuts! Or, just stop making stuff up. What part of 54 inches don't you get?

    I grew up in Chicago. This snow is CRAZY. Everyone I know here from Chi is amazed at how much better DC is doing with it.

    Under that Bama Barry, we would still be stuck from the snow in Dec.

    I guess Gray would have called Superman and had him melt the snow with his breath. Or, maybe Harry Potter could change the snow into flowers.

    And, Yes, I am sure Gray is sitting around praying that things go horribly.He is such a class act!

  • Truth Hurts

    Proballdc is just another racist hater (ignorantly labeling all who haven't joined the anybody but Fenty club "white elitist liberals"). News flash: "One city" Gray rakes in most of his campaign dough from white business interests. And he's still not released the ethics report he commissioned his daughter's white elitist former boss to do on him and sidekick Barry. Actually, I hope Gray does run so we get a new council chair. Right now, though, it's looking like Kwame "we the people" Brown's gonna throw down first.

  • epicdcsnow

    funny how the bashers sit and always criticize the members of the Council that stand up for their Wards. Ward 5 is not getting the same attention as other wards in the city and we have the most hospitals. My Councilmember drove around checked on seniors, help identify streets that were in need and has been on all the listserves. MD & VA have declared emergencies for the funds and the help. Is it so wrong that we ask for help too?! Declare an emergency and get nuts off the street who won't stop driving yet get stuck and we have to listen to them spin out and use unnecessary city resources like fire and police to help them.

  • Downtown rez

    proballdc sounds like an embittered ex-williams appointee who was passed over by the current admin and just can't move on.

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