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Originally published Thursday, March 19, 2009 at 4:18 PM

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Editorial

Snow job: How Seattle failed itself

Seattle's response to a series of snowstorms in December was abysmal. The city put inexperienced people in charge of handling the storms at key times, individuals who purposely cleared areas near the mayor's home and route to work to make it seem like they were doing a better job. Ouch!

HERE it is the first day of spring and Seattleites are still talking about the snows of December. Rightly so. The city's response to a series of snowstorms was embarrassingly bad. Lessons must be learned.

A class should be taught in selecting qualified people to lead the city's response to a major event. That session would be followed by a second course on how to provide self-analysis of city handling of such challenges.

Remember the absurd "B" grade Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels offered himself? It never passed the smirk test to anyone living in Seattle.

The Seattle Times' Susan Kelleher Thursday reported in exhaustive detail monumental mistakes made during the storms. The most glaring blunder, and there were many, was putting two officials in charge of response who had insufficient experience in directing snow management.

That's OK if everything works out, and exactly the opposite if things go as badly, as they did for Seattle residents trying to shop and get around for several days.

Cleary, Mother Nature dealt the city a few bad blows. But that doesn't excuse the sneaky attempt to cover up the inept response.

After conducting numerous interviews and studying thousands of records, Kelleher notes city officials did extra plowing near the mayor's West Seattle neighborhood, the Admiral district. One wonders if this was to give the mayor a false impression that the plowing and sanding — no salt, please — were going smoothly.

Nearly half of the city's 27 snowplows sat idle on the iciest Christmas Day in memory. The streets were impassable or rocky in the days before. Who was minding the store?

This is an example of too many people being out of town or distracted during the holidays. Bad mistakes were made. City residents and business suffered. Seattle deserved — and deserves — better.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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