Roy Exum: The Ridiculous ‘Blame Game’

Friday, January 31, 2014 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

I don’t like polar vortexes and the only place I want ice is in a drinking glass but put me down as one who refuses to blame anybody for a bad week of winter weather. My experience has been that it happens just about every January and makes me appreciate springtime’s jonquils all the more. Sadly, that is not the case for Nathan Deal, the Governor of Georgia, or Kasim Reed, the Mayor of Atlanta.

Believe me, the two have been soundly bludgeoned by the nation’s media after one million people in Atlanta tried to flee Winter Storm Leon – all at the same time – and promptly bumped into one another on the ice-slick streets. Al Rocker, the usually jovial weatherman on The Today Show, got in one of the first licks when he decried “poor planning” but, let’s be honest, neither Deal nor Reed control the sky or what falls from it.

Television’s Matt Lauer wondered if Mayor Reed had “the best information possible” ahead of the storm and the Mayor explained frankly, “It’s not just my call ... the city of Atlanta, the state (freeway system) and the school systems are all separate.”

Governor Deal, trying to get re-elected with three opponents gleefully nipping at him, hardly fared better. “The appropriate thing to do is apologize for the inconvenience. I think we could have done a little better had we acted a bit earlier but it is always a guessing game.”

He’s right. The weather has been a guessing game since Noah’s neighbors laughed at him for building a boat. No one predicted that flurries would turn into an unprecedented “Gridlockalypse” that would strangle the entire South, and to blame the tractor-trailers that couldn’t get traction on the icy roads for the horrible gridlock is equally absurd. It happens all across the country when winter storms occur.

If temperatures are well below freezing, the salt is ineffective and, when they plunge into single digits, the melt promptly freezes again. While we appreciate the sand trucks and when we can steer clear of cars that are stuck, to cast blame on meteorologists or our elected officials for snow and ice is sheer stupidity. Don’t tell that to Mika Brzezinski, an MSNBC Morning Joe anchor who asked Reed on camera, “So who screwed up, Mayor?”

Reed responded, “We all have responsibility in government” and said there should have been “different judgment” on closing the schools earlier, sending children home first. “I’d really appreciate if Al Roker and Channel 11 would differentiate between the city of Atlanta and the state … we do not have responsibility for the interstate.”

The Georgia Department of Transportation oversees the interstate system in Atlanta, of course, but the obvious question was left unsaid: with the massive gridlock, what exactly could the DOT have done? Reed said that after the first 24 hours 80 percent of the roads in Atlanta were passable and that all the children forced to spend Tuesday night at city schools had been reunited with their families.

In coming days Atlanta officials will do the same thing that Birmingham, Chattanooga, Nashville and all other cities do – identify the lessons taught by Winter Storm Leon and learn from them. "People were making a lot of independent decisions," said the mayor. "What we will do in the future is try to coordinate that, and make a strong recommendation about how that should flow."

Governor Deal also asked reporters what would have happened “if” officials had closed the city down and nothing happened. "We don't want to be accused of crying wolf,” he said. “Because if we had been wrong, y'all would have all been in here saying, `Do you know how many millions of dollars you cost the economies of the city of Atlanta and the state of Georgia by shutting down businesses all over this city and this state?’”

But the Governor didn’t try to dodge the inevitable bullets and barbs. "I accept responsibility for the fact that we did not make preparation early enough to avoid these consequences," he said at a press conference. "I am not satisfied with the response that was made," he admitted.

"Having said that I'm not satisfied, I'm not looking for a scapegoat," Deal added. "I'm the governor, the buck stops with me."

royexum@aol.com


Roy Exum: Look At My April Garden

On this April Fool’s Day, as I take my monthly stroll through my virtual garden, there are gorgeous flowers and there are weeds, which appear to be trying harder than the flowers. So let’s see what we find before searching for “The Prize Egg” on Sunday. A FLOWER to the New York cab driver who told a young writer, “Always remember that everyone you meet knows something that you ... (click for more)

Easter Sunday Is Victory Day For Christians

Easter Sunday is a Christian's day of celebration.  We will not be denied our day of victory for the sake of political correctness.  We may be suppressed and labeled as fanatical and offensive, and we may be denied our freedom to openly express our faith but one thing we cannot be denied; the reality of an empty tomb.     He lives!   While others ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Police Detective Karl Fields Terminated On Code Of Conduct Charges

Karl Fields, former Chattanooga Police detective, was terminated on Wednesday on code of conduct charges. The Chattanooga Police Department said it received a correspondence from the Hamilton County District Attorney’s Office o n Sept. 4, 2014,  informing it of allegations of inappropriate behavior committed by a CPD investigator during the course of a rape investigation. ... (click for more)

Autopsy Says 5-Year-Old Whitwell Boy Died Of Blunt Force Trauma

An autopsy on five-year-old Lucas Dillon of Whitwell says he died of blunt force trauma. The TBI is investigating the death, which is being treated as a homicide. The child, who lived on Jewell Lane Road, was injured on Saturday and died in a hospital on Monday. Lucas was a student at Whitwell Head Start. (click for more)

'Canes Edge Mustangs On Cox's Game-Winner In 7th

  Maybe it was just East Hamilton’s turn to win a tight game. After dropping 5-4 and 2-1 decisions to District 5-AAA rivals Bradley Central and McMinn County, respectively, the Hurricanes weren’t about to lose their third straight one-run decision in league play on Tuesday. So, Kyle Cox and Matt Milita, two of the team’s five seniors, decided to do something about ... (click for more)

Central Scores Early, Hangs On To Beat Red Bank, 7-6

Central baseball coach Glen Carter could finally breathe a sigh of relief. His Purple Pounders had bolted to a 7-0 lead in the first three innings of Monday's 6-AA skirmish with the Red Bank Lions and things were looking pretty good for those guys in purple. But it all came down to Red Bank's final at-bat.  The Lions sent eight hitters to the plate and scored ... (click for more)