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  D e s e r t   E x p o s u r e  February 2011


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Editor's Notebook

Page: 2

As "Gabby" Giffords herself said in an interview after the vandalism to her office, "Look, we can't stand for this. We have to work out our problems by negotiating, working together, hopefully Democrats and Republicans."

Because now we've seen the alternative. It's a shopping center not far from where I'm writing this, still cordoned off with police tape. It's a member of Congress with a gunshot wound through her brain. It's a nine-year-old girl who will never grow up to live out her dreams.

Don't tell me this is just the isolated work of a deranged lone gunman, that it's nobody's fault. If you fill a room with dynamite and leave a box of matches where any lunatic can find them, don't pretend to be surprised when something blows up.



Snow Daze

The blizzard next time.

One of the few frustrations of publishing a monthly — rather than, say, a daily newspaper — is that when things that happen early in the month rouse our interest or ire, by the time readers can read about them in our pages, it can seem like old news.

Such, no doubt, is the case with the Great New Year's Blizzard, which paralyzed Silver City and Grant County from Thursday, Dec. 30, when the snow actually fell and blew around, over the holiday weekend and into the following week. By the time you read this, even the prodigious amount of snow that fell will (we hope!) have melted and thoughts will already be turning to the warmer and breezier days of spring just around a calendar page or two.

We guarantee, however, that it will snow again here sometime in the future. It may be awhile, true, before it snows in such volume or accompanied by so much nasty wind. But when it does, let's hope the next snowstorm — or other emergency — doesn't strike the day before a holiday weekend. Perhaps if bad weather can be scheduled on a regular workday the response from Silver City and Grant County authorities wouldn't be so hapless.

We realize that we're spoiled, having grown up and lived in places where a half-foot of blowing snow would only arguably shut down the schools and, in any case, would be plowed, scooped and sanded by the next day. It's understandable that in places like Southwest New Mexico — where "blizzard" usually refers to a Dairy Queen treat — the response would be somewhat less robust.

But shouldn't there at least be a response, especially when forecasts gave several days' warning to plan? Thursday was an all-day whiteout, but Friday came and went — into New Year's Day and then Sunday — with only a handful of roads, like Hwy. 180, getting any attention. Major streets in Silver City appeared untouched within a car length of the main drag, Hudson Street. Spots on Hwy. 90 just south of town were snowpacked and Ridge Road had only been cleared where cars had bulled through the snow. (We know this because, unlike either daily newspaper or our postal carrier, we were out delivering on Friday. Neither rain nor sleet nor even snow etc. shall keep Desert Exposure from our readers!)

County roads, at least those we encountered, were ridiculous. After slip-sliding home even in an all-wheel-drive vehicle, we saw cars strewn on the side of the road just over the hill as though scattered by an angry giant. A truck pulled into our driveway and the driver asked if he could park there overnight; he figured it was safer to walk home.



Foolishly thinking the county authorities might want to learn of this unfolding hazard to public safety — early afternoon the day after the snowstorm, please note — we tried calling the road department. The sheriff's office. The public works department. The county manager's office. The executive assistant to the county manager. No one answered.

Which brings us to a little detour in this rant: In recent years, New Year's Eve has become as much a day off as New Year's Day. The whole Christmas-New Year's week has gotten to be pretty much a lost cause in terms of getting anything done. (And we think the French are lazy!) Sure, we understand the desire to get a jump start on the holiday. But when the area has just been pummeled by bad weather, it should be all hands on deck.

OK, so then Saturday was New Year's Day. Sunday was, well, Sunday. Monday morning about 10 o'clock — more than 80 hours after the blizzard warning had expired — we saw a plow finally half-heartedly tackling Broadway just a block from downtown Silver City. The little bridge on College Avenue just before Hudson was still packed with snow, though, as were all the side streets surrounding the Public Library.

At least we now understand local authorities' snow-handling strategy: Wait until it melts.

In places up north with more wintry weather and higher expectations for snow removal, the sort of official response we saw to the Great New Year's Blizzard would have led to calls for firings and resignations — if not angry mobs armed with torches and pitchforks. (If you doubt that, just ask New York City Major Michael Bloomberg.) While recognizing the limitations of a small town and mostly rural county unused to such weather, Silver City and Grant County taxpayers nonetheless have the right to expect better.



David A. Fryxell is editor of Desert Exposure.


 


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