Out on the East Coast, residents have been hammered by a snow storm that has left cities like New York and Newark covered with more than two feet of snow. For many of us Californians who deal with less extreme winter conditions, we may be unfamiliar with the politics and history of how elected officials’ responses to major snow storms can result in some pretty strong criticism. One New York Times writer notes: “The politics of snow removal are among the most brutal and unforgiving of them all. As my colleague, Sewell Chan, pointed out two years ago, John V. Lindsay, the mayor of New York in 1969, was nearly forced out of office after a citywide failure to respond to more than a foot of snow in the city. And people who lived in Washington in 1987 remember clearly the ridicule that was heaped on Marion Barry, the city’s mayor, who was in southern California attending the Super Bowl when a winter storm paralyzed the city.”
As for current snow-issues and criticism, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, who was off in Florida when the storm hit, did not immediately return and in response, tweets like the following were posted: “This just in: NJ Governor Chris Christie reports tanning is proceeding ‘according to plan;’” “Bloomberg’s, Christie’s reputations for effectiveness buried under snow.”
And speaking of twitter, while New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg posted little on his twitter other than a link to a government hot line, in contrast, Newark Mayor Cory Booker has been personally posting and interacting with residents through his twitter account to get responses about which streets have not been plowed and helping elderly residents stuck in their homes. The Times reports that “when a woman named Erika wrote that ‘My grandma is 82 yrs old, she can’t get out,’ Mr. Booker sent an urgent Twitter message back: ‘Where is she? I will go now.’ He even delivered diapers to a woman who said she was stuck and unable to go out to shop. ‘I’m delivering the diapers now — we will get her street soon,’ Mr. Booker wrote.”
Mayor to the rescue? The tweets are perhaps another example of the coupling of social media and governance when it comes to providing services. For more on the snow tweets, see here.
You can read Mayor Booker’s tweets here.