January 28, 2009

Snow job

Montreal has a new Snow Czar. Really...that's his job. The previous Czar was the brother of the mayor and he wasn't working out. First, he issues a press release high-fiving his department because 48 hours after a major storm this past December, they were 35% complete clearing the street. Uhhh....35% complete? Not a good enough figure to send out a press release. Then, when residents and businesses were complaining about the enormous amount of snow and ice on the sidewalks, he suggested everyone get some Crampons. What the?

Crampons are rubber or metal clamps that mountaineers use to scale icy surfaces, like Mount Rainier, Mount McKinley or Mount Everest, not the streets of Montreal. Kish had a pair of Yaktrax -- sort of an amateur version of a Crampon -- and while they worked quite well, they have since fallen off and are lost somewhere in the playground of Louis' school, only to be discovered when the snow melts and the playground becomes a quagmire.

But back to this Montreal debate...the old Snow Czar actually suggested this option in a press conference. He said that the city cannot guarantee safe ice-free sidewalks.

"Why not buy some?" Tremblay is quoted as saying. "I would love to have perfectly clear sidewalks, that's for sure. But with environmental change, it won't be that way. Better to spend $12 on a pair of Crampons than end up with a broken hip." (They are actually more like $24,99 Canadian and don't forget over 13% sales tax).

Blaming global warming and the environment, again. The economy is next.

Can you imagine Mayor Daley in Chicago suggesting that people schlepping through the covered sidewalks in Chicago just go buy Crampons? Well, possibly, he did call Rod Blagojevich "cuckoo." But, there's no way Chicagoans would tolerate the sidewalks here. That said, the fundamental difference is that if someone falls and breaks a hip in front of a store, it's not like they can sue because their medical bills are covered by medicare and the government. So on one hand (or foot) it's a less litigious society. But on the other hand (foot) it's still a mess. The new Snow Czar Dude is getting to the bottom of it. The old Czar has a new position handling something with cultural affairs. Perhaps he'll organize a snow sculpture exhibit.

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