1.30.14 … Y’all Laughin at Us? Bless Your Hearts … Come on down, the weather is fine. Or it will be in a coupla days … But today, I must admit: this is personal …

blame game, Atlanta Snow Storm, POLITICO Magazine:  Interesting history and interesting perspective.

What happened in Atlanta this week is not a matter of Southerners blindsided by unpredictable weather. More than any event I’ve witnessed in two decades of living in and writing about this city, this snowstorm underscores the horrible history of suburban sprawl in the United States and the bad political decisions that drive it. It tells us something not just about what’s wrong with one city in America today but what can happen when disaster strikes many places across the country. As with famines in foreign lands, it’s important to understand: It’s not an act of nature or God—this fiasco is manmade from start to finish. But to truly get what’s wrong with Atlanta today, you have to look at these four factors, decades in the making.

4. Metro voters rejected transit relief in a 2012 referendum.

In a rare showing of regional allegiance, local leaders supported a referendum on a special tax for transportation improvement, known as T-SPLOST, in July 2012. But voters, suspicious of the government’s ability to carry out the plans, rejected T-SPLOST resoundingly.

Christopher Leinberger of the Brookings Institution, who has studied Atlanta congestion and development for three decades, wrote in his 2013 report “The Walk-Up Wake-Up Call: Atlanta”:

“Given that Atlanta’s primary reason for economic success over the past 175 years has been as the transportation hub of the Southeast U.S., this lack of investment is disappointing. It is as if the reason for the region’s very existence, transportation, has been forgotten. The overwhelming loss of the July 2012 transportation ballot measure is just the latest example of turning a blind eye to the reason for Atlanta’s economic success.”

And that brings us back to Atlanta’s present snowbound state. There was no coordination around school closings, because there are more than two-dozen city and county school systems in “Atlanta.” There was little coordination between highway clearance and service to city streets because “Atlanta” is comprised of dozens of municipalities connected by state and federal highway systems. In one of the most surreal episodes today, Charley English, the head of the Georgia Emergency Management Association, asserted that gridlock wasn’t severe around 3 and 4 p.m. Tuesday, never mind that traffic maps glared red and motorists had already been sitting on freeways for hours at that time. Mayor Reed claimed that the city had done its part getting motorists out of downtown Atlanta, and that getting them the rest of the way home was up to the state. Gov. Nathan Deal, who outrageously called the storm “unexpected,” never mind weather reports warning of the snowfall, at his morning press conference of the relief that will come with a thaw. An act of God might have triggered the fiasco, but wishing for another one to bring it to an end is hardly leadership.

As a Walking Dead fan, I appreciate all those jokes on social media, but as an Atlantan, I’m concerned that this storm revealed just how unprepared we are in case of real disaster. If Atlanta, the region, wants to get serious about public safety, its mayors, county officials, and state officials will need to start practicing regionalism instead of paying lip service to it. And whether threatened by a dangerous pandemic, a major catastrophe, or just two inches of snow, we need to have ways to get around—and out of—the city other than by car.

via Atlanta Snow Storm – POLITICO Magazine.

Reflections, TSPLOST, House Majority Leader Edward Lindsey:  As I said, this is personal.  Even though I have spent my adult life away from Atlanta and Georgia, I will always call it home.  Even more so I have “skin in the game.”  My brother is an elected official from Atlanta.  I immediately researched his position on the failed TSPLOST referenced above.  I knew Edward to have a regional view about Atlanta and this post confirms it.  Proud that he is on the side of solving problems.

Must keep focus on fixing traffic congestion

By Edward Lindsey

Many of us supported the T-SPLOST, but tens of thousands more opposed it. Nevertheless, our transportation problems have not and will not magically disappear, and most people on both sides of the July 31 vote understand this reality and the seriousness of the crisis we face.

Urban areas – even historically great ones like metro Atlanta – are perpetually either in a period of growth and greater prosperity or steady decline. There is no standing still. We either attack our problems head-on and make a better future for ourselves and our children today, or we sit back and watch our past successes slip away into the history books.

Metro Atlanta commuters have one of the worst commutes in the nation. This translates into more time in our cars and less time for work, home and play. It also wastes on average in fuel for each of us over $900 per year sitting in traffic. Atlanta is ranked 91st out of 100 among major metro regions for access to transit. Major business prospects rank our transportation difficulties as one of their major concerns about relocating here, and our inability to address this problem will only further aggravate their concerns.

Make no mistake, we are not spendthrifts in Georgia. We rank 49th in the nation in overall per capita state spending, and have one of the lowest overall state government tax rates in the country (45th). Over the past four years, we have further reduced our state spending by billions of dollars since the beginning of the Great Recession. These facts demonstrate our fiscal conservatism and are responsible for us having a very rare AAA state bond rating (higher than the federal government’s). Nevertheless, we must understand that while government cannot and should not ever be involved in everything, transportation — along with education and public safety — is an area where government needs to roll up its sleeves and get it right.

Therefore, there is no time to mourn or celebrate about what happened on July 31st regardless of which side you were on. Both sides now need to focus on where we go from here.

Elected officials need to hear from you and other metro residents. So start communicating. Today is for you to talk and for policymakers like me to listen. How do we overcome the extreme mistrust that divides us and come together to fix this traffic noose around our necks?

You and I must answer this question and start moving forward again together. I look forward to your suggestions.

State Rep. Edward Lindsey, R-Atlanta, is Georgia House Majority Whip.

via Reflections on TSPLOST from Governor Nathan Deal, House Majority Leader Edward Lindsey, A.J. Robinson, Shirley Franklin.

silver linings, Atlanta’s Snowpocalypse 2014, SnowedOutAtlanta:  I have friends who live near I75 who opened their homes.

For those stunned by the fact that “two inches of snow shut down Atlanta,” here’s an explanation: Schools and businesses, which normally close at the mere threat of snow, remained open until the first flakes began falling around noon, at which point everything shut down at once. Thousands upon thousands of drivers flooded the highways (Atlanta’s public transit is…inadequate to say the least) at the same time, trying to pick up kids from school or get home from work. The gridlock prevented salt trucks and plows from accessing the roads. The snow turned to ice. Vehicles were unable to get up hills due to the ice. Hundreds of accidents blocked lanes, worsening gridlock. Hours later, cars began running out of gas. It was a horrible ripple effect. These traffic maps, provided by Twitter user @a23kiki23 (Kevin O) show just how quickly things got out of hand. Twitter: @a23kiki23 / Via Twitter: @a23kiki23


Then something amazing happened… More than 46,900 Atlantans (and counting) joined the Facebook group SnowedOutAtlanta, which was created to provide info and resources to those who needed help. A map was created so that people could add their homes and show where stranded motorists could get shelter and supplies. Via Facebook: 397839673695382

via The Silver Lining Of Atlanta’s Snowpocalypse 2014.

shelter in place,  Shelter from the storm, E. Rivers Elementary School, Atlanta, APS:  This was my 1-7 school.

Ninety-four students and 31 adults — mostly teachers along with a few bus drivers and parents — hunkered down for the night.

“Our beautiful little snow flurries at 12, 12:30 turned into a fast-moving snow incident and we ended up having a lot of our kids that are bus riders and car riders stuck here at school with us,” he said. “We had a snowcation. A little, mini snow vacation overnight.”

The kids watched “Free Willy” while munching popcorn, ate pizza for dinner in the cafeteria and had a paper airplane-making contest. After breakfast Wednesday morning, they did something Georgia kids don’t usually get to enjoy — a snowball fight.

“One of my students said, ‘Mr. Rogers, it’s like a party.’ Yeah, it’s like a big slumber party,” Rogers, 41, said Wednesday morning as 61 students were still at school.

“We’ve been having a good time,” said an exhausted Rogers, principal of the 670-student school for the last four-and-a-half years.

The kids spent the night on tumbling mats in the gym, using coats and even tablecloths as blankets. “I was using my dress coat,” Rogers said. “We were using anything and everything we can find.”

Lindsay Treharne

“My teachers are the rock stars of this whole event,” said E. Rivers Elementary Principal Matt Rogers, pictured here with teacher Lindsay Treharne, as they both spent the night at school with their students stranded by the snowstorm.

After dinner, the kids finished the movie and most fell asleep by 10 p.m. Rogers said. “By that time, kids were tired and they crashed,” he said.

School officials fielded phone calls from parents all evening, and let kids call home whenever they wanted to.

A few of the youngest students were upset, likely never having spent the night away from home before, Rogers said.

“We probably had about three to four kids that were crying, so we got them up here (in the office), and they talked to their parents,” Rogers said. Some of the kids’ teachers were at school, “so they felt safe.”

“We were hugging a lot of kids and letting them know that this was an adventure they would never forget,” said fifth grade teacher Lindsay Treharne, who manned the phones most of the night.

While the kids managed to get some sleep, most of the teachers and other adults did not.

“My teachers are the rock stars of this whole event,” Rogers said. “They’ve been answering phones. They have been entertaining the kids. They’ve been playing with the kids, putting blankets on the kids.

via Shelter from the storm: Teachers entertained, dried tears of kids stuck overnight at school – TODAY.com.


Come on down, the weather is fine. Or it will be in a coupla days.

via Y’all Laughin at Us? Bless Your Hearts….. | Forever 51.

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