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Fenty and Obama, Colleagues on "Snow" Too

Mayor Adrian M Fenty (D), wearing all black clothing and snow boots on his feet, made his third public appearance to talk about the city's response to the snow. Standing at the city's giant salt dome in Northeast Washington, as trucks beeped and scooped up mounds of salt, Fenty said that major roads were cleared to black top and that trucks would start plowing side streets. He also urged residents to shovel sidewalks so that children and neighbors could walk safely.

One can't help but wonder what the city's newest high-profile resident, President Obama, thinks of this city response. You might recall, unless you were comatose, that Obama said the Washington region needed to toughen up when it comes to the white stuff because during the last storm his daughters's D.C. private school, Sidwell Friends had closed because of ice.

When asked how the president would judge his response, Fenty chuckled.

"I agreed with the thrust of his comments last time. I did. I've lived in DC all my life. I give him a lot of credit for being perceptive. I've often thought that DC needs to not be so knee-jerk in closing--not just the schools, but so many of our government buildings and stores and everything else. I think we're developing that. We're still kind of-- we're not as North[ern] as some other cities but I think as we continue to develop the capacity for responsiveness then I think that business and government will feel more comfortable staying open."

Theola Labbé-DeBose

By Theola Labbé-DeBose  |  March 2, 2009; 12:45 PM ET
Categories:  Browse By Writer , City Life , Mayor Fenty , Theola Labbé-DeBose  
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Trying to be like Obama?

Posted by: DROSE1 | March 2, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Somebody's kissing Obama's you-know-what.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | March 2, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

The pride I took many winters ago in being less wimpy than the suburban and parochial school children stays with me, long after my envy at their having the day off has faded. Keep the DC schools open!

On the other hand, what's with the Reeves Building not shoveling the walk along its northern side? The staff of every other establishment on V St--apartment buildings, schools, and businesses--managed to clear the snow, but the Reeves Building sidewalk from 14th St west for half a block is a slushy, soon to be icy, mess. Same thing happened last time it snowed.

Posted by: 5tewart | March 2, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

DC has been dealing with it's snow non/emergency for years now.

Obama comes to town and now suddenly all things will snow.

I pretty much bet that the people complaining about DC's idea of closing/delaying aren't government employees.

Who doesn't enjoy the time off.

Posted by: dcis1 | March 2, 2009 2:01 PM | Report abuse

For all of the logical, reasonable reasons to keep everything open all of the time (so many kids dependence on social services and parents needs for day-care, for example, maybe an important point is being lost - the joy of an unexpected snowy-break from the daily routine. Hiow often do you hear that people don't "work enough" or "spend too much time with their family" in DC?? I can't recall anything more exciting as a child than hearing "schools are closed" as flakes were falling the night before. If we need to give up what makes the rare winter storm in DC so memorable just to be more like Chicago, that would be a very sad loss to kids and a few parents who perhaps aren't so grown up as to have forgotten.

Posted by: manatt | March 2, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

This is not Chicago and majority of the students here in the District do not get chauffeured to school. It is not safe for children to be out in this weather; one day of missing school will not hinder their education. “ Obama, this is Washington DC; adapt to your new environment.”

Posted by: mjnj_family | March 2, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

If you are going to require DCPS to be open how about making sure that the parking lots for the teachers are not ice skating rinks and that the side walks around the schools are shoveled?

Came in this morning and neither was done...
Maybe the major roads were clear but we were still covered in snow and ice. The building engineers can only do so much with their shovels.

Perhaps the mayor, president and their storm friendly staff, could each adopt a DCPS school and make sure it is plowed and safe for all who enter.

Posted by: Peppered | March 2, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

It's time for the politicians to shut up about local response to weather unless they are promising more snow plows. We were here when they took office and will continue to deal with the idiosyncracies of our weather patterns when they are gone. Or at least keep it fair and make sure to say unfavorable things about the people in Tennesee when they get hit with another tropical storm this year and "freak out" because their house is under water. Aren't there more important things for these guys to be doing?

Posted by: Alexandria2009 | March 2, 2009 2:13 PM | Report abuse

There are 49 out of 300 students here today at my school...similar proportion of teachers, so the rest of us consolidate and cover classes.

Posted by: brigid1 | March 2, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse sent these kids to school to impress Obama. You are really sad man.

Posted by: scrappyc20001 | March 2, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

It's about time! People around here freak out at the mere *mention* of snow. Having been here since my freshman year of college (7 years ago), I think I've seen a significant amount of snow/ice in the District precisely twice... and yet I've had at least 8 snow days.

I realize that some of this is due to heavier snow in the metro area, which prevents commuters from getting into the city to work... but I had a coworker call out for snow just because no one in her family understood the novel concept of shoveling one's driveway. (Which, P.S., you are supposed to do *before* you drive all over it and mat down the snow so it freezes everywhere.)

Another, bigger issue: people here simply don't know how to dress for winter, which I really don't understand. I have many students and peers who think it's perfectly okay to run outside in the ice/snow wearing sneakers and a sweatshirt in lieu of a coat. Honestly, buy a ski jacket, a hat & gloves, and a pair of waterproof shoes. Then there wouldn't be half as many problems with people getting sick or injured from going outside. As someone who grew up walking to school (even in snow!), I really have no sympathy.

Posted by: gdubgrad06 | March 2, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Maybe Fenty & Obama should propose a budget that allocates additional money for DPW; like Chicago, Boston and NYC budgets. That could never happen because it would be wasteful. For this "storm", the side streets were far from clear when I came to work this morning. According to my vehicle's control board, I slipped around until I got to a major road. Furthermore, the school's sidewalks and entrances were not clear at 10am when I went to work; nor was the walkway into my own (DC government occupied/leased) workplace. Not closing government buildings/schools on today was a knee jerk reaction!!!!

Posted by: enochdc | March 2, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Talk about Knee Jerk. One comment by Obama and Fenty puts kids at risk.

Run the national government, Obama, and keep out of local things. You have much more important things on your plate - like saving this country, which I believe is on a downward spiral.

Posted by: mtndance | March 2, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

If people in the northern states freaked out and declared our region a disaster area every time they saw a snow flake and insisted on roads cleared to blacktop before they got out on them, we wouldn't get anything done for nine months out of the year.

Posted by: SarahBB | March 2, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

DC streets clear enough for pre-schoolers to make it to school but the adult members of congress don't seem to be able to deal with it and cancel work for the day even though the US financial system is melting. Who are the wimps?

Posted by: jmfromdc | March 2, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

The DC schools should be open every day possible. Today would not have been an excuse for a closure. They did the right thing and opened late to give people a chance to clear sidewalks, etc. Now if Fenty would just enforce the rules to force people to clear their sidewalks, then I'd be really happy.

Posted by: blankspace | March 2, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Disclosure: I'm from Connecticut, where schools would only close during a blizzard. That said, this weather was not bad enough to close the schools for a full day. A two hour delay sounds about right, particularly when the kids depend on the schools for meals.

Posted by: upperdeck4 | March 2, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

If people in the northern states freaked out and declared our region a disaster area every time they saw a snow flake and insisted on roads cleared to blacktop before they got out on them, we wouldn't get anything done for nine months out of the year.

Posted by: SarahBB | March 2, 2009 2:31 PM

Since that is not the case here we do not see a need in risking the lives of our children to make you feel macho about walking in the snow. No disrespect but it snows here once or maybe twice where keeping the kids home is warranted. This was one of those times. With most schools empty anyway today it was still a waste.

Posted by: scrappyc20001 | March 2, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Northern and Midwestern citizens simply have a stronger tenacity when it comes to inclement weather, particularly snow.

This was no MAJOR snow storm for the District, it was average. The last major snow we had was in 2003.

The greatest problem with snow response in the District is not the government workers, but the citizens who operate vehicles as if snow is a sign to driver faster.

One thing, however, I believe the Mayor or the local ANC's need to consider. If you want to keep schools open and you want the sidewalks cleared, DON'T depend on the residents and business' to get the job done. Budget to get it done. Make it a part of the cities snow plan. Put some bobcat plows along sidewalks adjacent to emergency snow routes. That is how they do it in the Midwest.

Citizens should be responsible for their own property. The city is responsible for public space. Irrespective of any legislation that may say the contrary. A bobcat plow will get the job done a lot quicker than a couple of people with shovels.

Posted by: concernedaboutdc | March 2, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

I have a knee for that jerk.

Posted by: chunche | March 2, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Wow, I am amazed that so many people who have commented here think that sending kids to school today in DC puts them at "risk." Yes, it's unpleasant out there, but "risky'? Fenty did the right thing.

Posted by: cpantelias | March 2, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Obama and Fenty need to realize that kids look forward to their snow days, a nice day to relax at home with thier parents, don't think weekends are long enough,when you have so many other shores/work around the house..and also that when is a mess out there, like today, why would you send your kids walking to school like that. I would think again if I were them.

Posted by: Ricardo777 | March 2, 2009 2:39 PM | Report abuse

How is this "risking the lives of our children?", that is crazy. Kids are outside more when schools are closed so wouldn't closing them be more of a risk? Why don't we just close everything down from Nov-March because there just might be a cold, snowy day. Come on people, get a grip, it snows here every year and its not that big a deal.

Posted by: rockotodd | March 2, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

It is ridiculous to close schools, particularly when parents still have to go to work. It creates huge problems for working parents.

Furthermore having companies and the government just close down due to a couple of inches of snow has huge financial impacts for both.

If companies, schools, and local governments in the Midwest just closed every time they got a few inches of snow, there would be no commerce in the winter.

Snow is not dangerous for kids to be out in. Single digit and below zero temperatures are.

Posted by: Austenite | March 2, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Fenty will not be re-elected for a variety of reasons.

Tell him how you really feel: or

Posted by: a_DC_denizen | March 2, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

DCPS does not play by the same school-closing rules as Mont. Cty, Fairfax, etc., and with good reason. First, DC has neighborhood schools, which means that most kids can walk to school (in fact, only special-needs kids take buses, and that's only for those who aren't going to their local schools).

Second, a high number of kids are on free and reduced lunch. If schools are closed, a lot of city kids won't get a decent meal.

Posted by: trace1 | March 2, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

How in the world are children at risk? Please, someone explain. I lived in DC for 5 years. The first year saw 13 snow days and not one day did snow stay on the ground. I couldn't believe it. Children can walk in the snow. Buses can drive in the snow. I also agree with uppperdeck - some of these children need to go for the meals and they should not be denied. It's like this in Detroit, too. Schools closed for a little snow but across the river in Canada the schools stay open and buses run (even when the conditions are worse across the river). Fenty did the right thing.

Posted by: KPaige1 | March 2, 2009 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Not safe for kids to be outside in weather like this? Are you serious? It's 25 degrees outside! Put on a hat, a pair of gloves and a coat. What do you think most kids do on a snow day anyway... they go outside to play in the snow! It's not even ice - it's just snow.

I do agree, however, that the city must make sure the school's sidewalks are shoveled and salted. When I left my house this morning someone was shoveling the sidewalks at the school across the street.

As for the rest of the city, buck up and buy a shovel. In Madison, WI citizens are fined if their sidewalks are not shoveled within 12 hours of the snow stopping. If you're not disabled or elderly, there's no excuse for you not to clean off your public sidewalk in a reasonable amount of time. It's a safety issue and a matter of courtesy.

Props to Mayor Fenty for not cancelling school before the snow even started!

Posted by: kball1 | March 2, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Until DC gets the manpower that Chicago has schools should close for this aount of snow. Some of the children can't afford boots to walk out in this kind of weather and people talk about they need a meal. What happens if they fall and get hurt an are unisured? Since the snow removal of the sidewalks is not forced in the District then the children should stay home instead of being forced to walking in the streets which is just as dangerous. Fenty don't try to be like Chicago we don't have the manpower or the trucks to deal with it. Hmmm was Sidwell Friends open today. I think not

Posted by: JMo3 | March 2, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Watch out now!!! When there was old-fuddy duddies in political office and of authority who were clueless when it came to the younger-generation and their wants and needs; we all shudder the thought of how dare they send us to school in the snow? Now we have the younger-generation in political office and authority and it is still how dare they send us to school in the snow? Please let me know, so I can be prepared to cast my vote in the next election...either the vote shall be cast for the young-fool or the old-fool. I feel so foolish in not being able to decide, don't you?

Posted by: PowerandPride | March 2, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

I grew up in NY, and dealt with a great deal of snow for 18 years. Moving to DC in 1998 I did believe that the city was full of wimps-closing at the mere mention of snow. Being a DCPS school teacher the past several years has changed my mind about my previous thought. This year we have had 2 BAD days. I should not be sliding through every stop sign on my 5 mile drive to school, which is not metro accessible.

They say that the schools must stay open to feed children. I would be interested to see how many children who are on free or reduced lunch actually attended school on either of these days. Between 40-50% of our school's children are not here today-the majority of them receiving free or reduced lunch.

It is ridiculous, and someone is going to have to get seriously hurt in order for things to change. It was not safe for me to get to school by 10 this morning, nor was it safe for the children at 10:40. I had 3 children arrive before 11 am.

Despite the fact that everything will melt and refreeze tonight, making it unsafe again tomorrow, we will start on time. Why you ask? Because of DC BAS testing. God forbid we send in the automatically-graded scantron sheets to ThinkLink at Discovery a day late, and have the results next Tuesday instead of Monday. We will lose so much instructional time if we don't have that data...cause I got so much done today with 60% of my eight-year-olds asking me why they had to walk to school when the weather was so bad.

Maybe Rhee and Fenty should walk their kids to school on days like this-oh wait, Fenty sends his kids to private school. I always forget about that!

Posted by: tyedi8 | March 2, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

The children were not endangered by being required to attend school today in DC. The main roads and bus routes were cleared. This is part of the anti-education mentality that needs to be eradicated to straighten out DCPS. I applaud Ms. Rhee and the Mayor Fenty for keeping the schools open.

Posted by: mmcgowen | March 2, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

If this were New England, I would have sent my kids to school today. Since this is DC, I let my kids stay home. I knew their DC Public school would lock them up inside all day. They don't let kids have recess when there is snow outside or when it's below 32 degrees--which is just unbelievable. Today, they get healthy exercise and fresh air and learn how to make a snow fort, snowmen and snow balls. They also have to do 45 minutes of chores for the privilege. Tomorrow, they can go back to being locked in, because DCPS will not have cleared their playground.

Posted by: rosepetals64 | March 2, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

YES WE CAN be inconsiderated of Parents, Teachers and Students of DC Public Schools and DC workers. YES WE CAN not care about anyone else; Hell we got SUVs and ironclad limos to transport our kids to school and our familes around,YES WE CAN not give a damn. Mayor Fenty that decision to cancel the snow emergency last night and to open schools was poor. If you want to identify with the people of DC start making decisions for DC residents not the media and stop trying to get brownie points with your cronies in the White House. DC streets looked like a Marion Barry throw back this morning. Shame on You!

Posted by: pilafel | March 2, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

I grew up in DC and we never got the same days off as MD and VA schools. We had to walk in the snow unless it was up to our knees. We can either raise responsible children or children that make excuses for not excelling. (But I am only one of a few that made it into the office today.)

Posted by: Nick20 | March 2, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Having grown up in Chi-town I always read with laughter some of these comments comparing DC to Chicago or other cities farther north, which get trotted out every winter when the white stuff falls (or threatens to fall). As if Chicagoans/midwesterners/northerners are inherently hardier (must be all that Chicago-style pizza we eat), have some built-in evolutionary instinct on how to use a shovel (same gene that gives us all Blagojevich-style hairdos), or came from a less dysfunctional city that is better able to get things done (yeah, right - see Burris, Roland and Capone, Al). None of those things are true. People are people. It's the attitudes that differ, and we're the weather weenies, not them. Fenty did the right thing. Kudos and snaps.

Posted by: stodge | March 2, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

I worked at the Supreme Court this morning. After getting off at noon, I marveled at the U.S. Capitol sidewalks and those around the Supreme Court and Library of Congress. Clear, snow and ice free.
And then walking up Capitol Hill, I get to 2nd and Pennsylvania Avenue, Southeast -- sidewalks ice packed and snow covered -- Bank of America, Starbucks, Rolands, the Hawk & Dove -- can't you spend $20 or $25 and hire someone to shovel your sidewalks?
For shame! For shame. Shovel those sidewalks, businesses. It should be a law and it should be enforced!

Posted by: dadinkel1 | March 2, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

The problem with waiting to close schools is it leaves parents scrambling to find child care. Everyone doesn't work for the federal government. Some folks really do have to go in to work and it helps if you hear something the night before or very early in the morning to figure out who to call for help with child care.

Posted by: DCFem | March 2, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

For all the government workers complaining about having to go to work, I don't see ANY complaining about getting paid. Why should I pay people for a full day's work, while they sit at home? Not to mention the fact that I, a private sector employee, still have to bus to work ON TIME. What makes government workers more weather-disabled than me?

D.C. has got a huge budget gap to fill, so I doubt that there will be any more free money days while the economy is spiraling. And I'm glad about it.

Posted by: alaiyo626 | March 2, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

The snow was beautiful today. Thank you God for blessing us.

Safety first. All school systems build in a few extra days to compensate for the fact that in any given year there will be at least a couple of snow days.

I would recommend that we err on the side of caution. It was slippery out there in the early morning, particularly on the sidewalks and side streets, where most families live.

Of course, school administrators have so many practical, and possibly political, considerations in making a decision to close or stay open.

Doesn't the school system - not the Mayor - have the final say and detailed protocol for this issue? If so, let them make the decision and, on this issue, our friends President Obama and Mayor Fenty can refrain from comment.

I love them both, especially President Obama; however, they have far bigger messes than a small snow storm to clean up and should focus their full energies on the economic emergency!

Posted by: SWadvocate | March 2, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Obama and Fenty need to realize that kids look forward to their snow days, a nice day to relax at home with thier parents, don't think weekends are long enough,when you have so many other shores/work around the house..and also that when is a mess out there, like today, why would you send your kids walking to school like that. I would think again if I were them.

Posted by: Ricardo777 | March 2, 2009 2:39 PM
You must be joking. Snow days are not a right. If parents and kids really want to spend quality time together, they should plan to do so on their own time -- not expect the school district to give it to them.

And yes, it was cold out there, but not unbearably. I think travel conditions were far worse a few weeks ago when we had the ice storm, especially the next day when everything had frozen overnight. Yes, I grew up in Buffalo, and I lived in Rochester for several years. I grew up in a district that rarely got "snow days", even when other districts in Buffalo shut down. In Rochester, schools were more likely to close due to wind chills than for snow.

The DC Metro region needs to grasp a simple concept: It Snows Here. Maybe not as often as further north, but it happens. It shouldn't be a shock, or an emergency. Buy a shovel, gloves, boots, and a winter coat -- not some designer wool or cloth number, but an honest-to-goodness insulated parka with a hood. Be willing to pay a little more in taxes so the local government can buy plows and salt. Three flakes falling from the sky isn't reason to close school.

Posted by: BuffaloGal78 | March 2, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

The irony for Fenty... Obama's kids didn't go to school - Sidwell was closed - good for them. Oh well...

I bet the kids enjoyed the day off!

Posted by: maxdoggy | March 2, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Mayor Fenty must have forgotten, when he opened DC Public Schools today, that most of our kids don't have proper snow gear to keep them dry and warm and that some of our students walk or take public transportation quiet a distance to school. I work in a Public Charter School and see how ill-prepared most students are for cold weather. Next time I think that needs to be a consideration or maybe we could provide all students with proper footwear, a warm jacket, mittens and hats?

Posted by: inch | March 2, 2009 3:26 PM | Report abuse

The fact that children are so elated to forgo a day of school just goes to show how uninspiring learning has become for them. When I worked with Jumpstart, the kids would be terribly upset about not being able to come to session.

Oh yeah, and DC+DDOT need to get with the program. We've had snow several years straight now.

Lastly, I'd like to give a shoutout to my H3 Tenleytown driver and my S2 McPherson Square driver, who got me to work 15 mins early with no incidents. Yes, Metro can!

Posted by: alaiyo626 | March 2, 2009 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Wow, we have some babies on here today. All of you complaining that schools should be closed today because it is "too dangerous for the kids," I have news for you: your kids are going to be running around in the snow and having snowball fights all afternoon. They don't give a crap about the snow. Stop whining!!!

Posted by: lottaaction | March 2, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

I don't know what time he said it, but if Fenty believes that all major roads were "cleared to blacktop" during rush hour, he is either in a fantasyland or is getting told what he wants to hear by his subordinates. I drove down Connecticut Avenue from Chevy Chase Circle at 8:30 am this morning. It was covered with snow and ice, there was very little "blacktop" visible. It was treacherous driving, I did not feel safe at all. Same for when I went over to Rock Creek Parkway at Cathedral. Between Fenty and Obama, I think we now have a new "knee-jerk" reaction: don't close schools or government, even if driving is not safe.

Posted by: chevychase10 | March 2, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse

i don't think there was ANYTHING COOLER than a SNOW DAY when we were kids!!!



Posted by: DriveByPoster | March 2, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse

No kidding. It's about time. I've only lived here 30 years, having been raised only slightly over the Mason Dixon line, but most all of those years until now I've seen an incredible overreaction to snow. Trying to put an end to that seems pretty consistent with accountability, particularly with respect to schools.

Good for you Mayor Fenty!

Posted by: Sonyask | March 2, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

When the DC government shovels other side streets like they shovel the streets in front of Fenty's home and 1600 Penn. Ave. then I'll want to hear from them on why children should travel to school in snow and ice.

Posted by: loved1 | March 2, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

It is so irritating to hear from people that have moved here 8 years ago, 5 years ago, 10 years ago, who cares. I've lived in DC, MD, and VA ALL of my life, and this is how things are. I'm sorry, but it does not snow that often in the district, so when it does, it affects things a little differently. I dont believe it is fair to make kids rely on citizens to clear off their sidewalk to give them a safe path to get to school. Then they are compaled to walk in the street many times. Come on, letting children stay home ONE or TWO days out of the year is not doing ANY harm. I totally understand the position about the kids getting a decent meal, yes that is a huge issue, a lot bigger than folks that have migrated to the area comparing us to their "home" town. Please if you feel so much pride about your snow totals and how brave and determined your citizens are..... maybe you can go back and talk about DC to them... cause I'm tired of hearing from ya'll.... the kids could have stayed home one day. Period.

Posted by: allboyzworld | March 2, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

I disagree. I was on connecticut ave. around that time and it was clear.

Posted by: Sonyask | March 2, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Why not?! Why not open?
Folks, as humans and animals alike, you are cautious when you walk on the slippery roads. Are you not? That's instinct!
Such a stereotyped-mentality of the Folks in the area - snow = close down and stay inside - contributed only to be lazy! No wonder how students academic record of the area shows low. KIds love snow so let them enjoy by going to school. Is there anyone out there who never has been a kid? Bravo! Fenty! Don't say that he's kissing someone!

Posted by: StraightArrow1 | March 2, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

I grew up in Chicago, and would don snow pants, thick water-proof boots, hats, & gloves to walk gingerly over un-shoveled and freshly shoveled sidewalks, up & down hills, a half mile to elementary school. Often we would tread in near zero temps and heavy whipping Chicago winds. Snow would often last from November to April. Chicago was used to this. The local governments and non-migratory citizenry were educated and equipped for this commonality. My first winter in DC, a 1-inch snowfall closed my suburban DC elementary school and shut down the city. My family and I laughed, calling the city "a bunch of weather wimps!" However, after growing up, living, & working here, I better understand why the city shuts down. First, it is not fiscally practical to maintain a fleet of vehicles & equipment to rapidly clear a once or twice a year relatively light snow storm. Much of the suburbs lack sidewalks so walking is dangerously done on the sides of snowy roads. Very many residents are from warmer climates around the nation and the globe. These residents lack the experience, clothing, education, & equipment to deal with snow and ice. Many don't know how to walk in snow let alone own a shovel or snow chains. And the fleet of snow blowers that clear Midwestern sidewalks, absent here. Would you spend that kind of money for the snow DC receives? As for driving, motorists around DC are notoriously bad drivers on a nice day, but in snow? Warm climate transplants aside, everyone brings their regional bad driving habits here, so, nobody knows what anybody else is doing behind the wheel. Add to that snow and ice and you are in for a mess. Even people who grew up in colder climates need to keep there abilities honed. Several years in DC and the guy from Buffalo with his snow chains rusting in the garage becomes as bad a driver as the guy from Tampa. Bottom-line, in this instance, I think the Mayor is fawning over our President a bit too much in his adoption of that "flinty Chicago toughness." The schools should be closed for the day. These are facts our Mayor should know and something our President, as I did, should learn. Running to the store to stock up on bread, milk, & toilet paper at the mere mention of snow, I will never understand.

Posted by: InDCsince85 | March 2, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Sidwell Friends elementary school is in Bethesda, MD, not DC.

Posted by: nmoses | March 2, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Go Mayor Fenty!!! You are doing GREAT! There are more who will vote for you and your changes to the old-school DC, than those who will, ultimately, get left behind!

Posted by: Morgantoo | March 2, 2009 3:43 PM | Report abuse

so obvious he worships obama like everyone else in this city. so trying to be like him.

Posted by: tony28 | March 2, 2009 3:43 PM | Report abuse

The problem is that there are too many migrants/transplants here in the DC are too ready, willing, and able to extol the inadequacies of their new city.

If you don't like it..move back home. Many of us tire of hearing the constant complaints about how much snow they had to walk in. Go back home, walk in it, and leave the way DC does business alone.

Everyone has an opinion on what DC needs to do. Very few put forth the slightest effort to correct the wrongs. Complaints, complaints and more complaints is all you here.

If you don't like hurricanes in Florida, move to Ohio. Simple as that.

Posted by: dcis1 | March 2, 2009 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Wow. And all that time growing up in Michigan, trudging my way to school every single, snowy day (because schools never closed in Michigan) -- I never knew I was being put at risk. Amazing I survived. Those parents in places like Toronto and Stockholm and Helsinki must be absolutely heartless....

Posted by: richburgk | March 2, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

I think Mayor Fenty, would have been embarrassed if he'd closed the schools (which in my opinion would of been correct due to the timing of the snow fall) and rightfully so after President Obama comment two weeks ago "People in DC are Snow Wimps!"

Okay, right now would be a great time to gesture a good ribbing for President Obama and all of the Chi-Town and other tough winter northern cities.

Here it goes......

President Obama, "Yes we Can!''

D.C. Residents (all together now). No we can't!" You know why? This is the South and only one thing that all people, especially students and parents who work hard CAN LOOK FORWARD TO IS A FEW UNSCHEDULED DAYS OFF A WINTER . A sudden day off really helps you mentally and spiritually. It is our intermittent vice for all of us.

Now, back to Obama and the other big city Snowmen. Of course you all can say we are "Snow Wimps", you are use to snow storms, on a daily basis. Now let me ask everyone of you a Question. What do you guys do when it is over 60 degrees? You ever heard of the movie "Ferris Bueller Day Off"? Yeah, I said it! (The Gig is Up) Yep, every able bodied Snowman would call in sick especially Chi Town Folks. To further my argument, why do you think Chicago has two MLB Baseball teams? Because, as soon as the weather breaks, day games sell out! Mysterious parades are marching down State street , Kanye and Common rappin for street cred in Mayor Daley Square. JJ from Good Times on the roof top painting Michigan Avenue scenery. Now, Mr President, I said it, I aint hating, but we need our day off as well.

Posted by: knjon353 | March 2, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Mayor Flinty!

Posted by: Peter20 | March 2, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Please, if you will, a moment of silence for the hundreds of thousands of poor, defenseless children who died from "snow-related injuries" in the District this morning.

I would like to apologize to the handful of survivors. I will make Fenty pay, and I WILL NOT REST until you kids get the same opportunities as your suburban counterparts- a rigorous half hour of playing in the snow followed by ten hours in front of the television.

The sidewalks might be a bit slippery tomorrow morning. Just keep your heads down, and pray your little hearts out. With some luck, you may live to see another day.

Posted by: bryc3 | March 2, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Being born and raised in DC, I think it's good we close the schools. Look at all the hills in DC, MD and VA there are and walking or driving up or down a hill is dangerous.

Second, how many people have to cross over a bridge to get to work. You have a wide-open beltway or highway, then it bottle-neck to a bridge with almost a million cars, buses commuting over them.

Lastly, DC is very small (land mass) and have to absorb alot of traffic. Also, have one of the worst rush-hour traffic compared to larger cities in the entire country behind Houston, LA (no snow in these cities) and New York (larger city with a more expansive subway system).

So, trying to compare DC with Chicago, New York, Boston, Philadelphia and so forth you have to look at the size of DC compared to other major cities.

Posted by: clifton3 | March 2, 2009 3:49 PM | Report abuse

As an ex-resident of DC(Native Washingtonian) we had FOUR INCHES OF SNOW!!! here in the ATL and they closed the majority of the schools !!! unbelievable when I told my co-worker about the blizzard of 96(22in.) she said what did you do? i laughed and said we had food and milk we survived.

Posted by: dargregmag | March 2, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

In my experience, to deal with this weather one has to be prepared and possess a bit of skill in walking and driving. From what I have seen, DC and its citizens do not have the "snow removal capacity" to deal with snow storms. To have this capacity the weather would justify a city budget to provide more snow removal equipment, and we just don't ever have that much snow. Many other cities also have this problem. Better for the city to err on the side of caution and safety for it's citizens and close school for half the day, or until the roads and walk ways are clear. We are simply not used to this type of weather.

Posted by: metro2 | March 2, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

1. Washington, DC gets a lot less snow than we did in the 1980s. We should well be used to this amount of snow by now. This region is not made up of weakling scaredy cats that shut down school at the slightest hint of snow. I remember the blizzards of 1977 and 1979 where we had 24 inches of snow in my backyard. WASHINGTON, DC IS USED TO THIS KIND OF SNOW!
2. The snow melted OFF THE STREETS by 11:00am. Clear streets means schools are open. It's ALWAYS BETTER TO ERR ON THE SIDE OF SENDING THE KIDS TO SCHOOL. The WORST DECISION POSSIBLE is to err on the side of caution.
3. Federal government was open and I had meetings to attend.
4. The kids had a blast in school, learning, as is their job.

Posted by: bbcrock | March 2, 2009 4:00 PM | Report abuse

This is hilarious. I grew up in Detroit in the '70s and '80s, and let me tell you...the Detroit Public Schools almost NEVER CLOSED. Don't know what kind of shenanigans the Detroit Board of Ed is pulling today (theyr'e most likely related to budget and not the weather), but you can best bet that the snow was way past your ankle or knee, the weather was anywhere above ZERO farenheit, and your butt would be walking or bussing it to school. Wind or no wind.
There were plenty of kids who were under-dressed: thin coats and hi-top sneakers (Air Jordans, especially) were popular. BUT SCHOOL NEVER CLOSED. The one time I do remember school closing in the 1980s was when the temperature dipped to -20F. The windows on my parents' house cracked it was so cold. And it wasn't really that snowy outside! But it was way too cold to go to school, and cars/busses have a hard time starting up at -20F either, so no school.
Detroit taxpayers are miffed now because the streets aren't plowed to "passable" standards when the snow comes (and the snow comes from October through April, trust me). But the point is that taxes there go towards a substantial fleet of plows/earth movers, salt, and salt trucks. If Mayor Fenty wants DC to run like a world class city, then he needs to let his constituents know that he will need more TAXPAYER MONEY for plows, salt (for the entire winter and some of the spring), and earth movers to do the trick.
LOOK PEOPLE, YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE TO PAY FOR MORE SNOW PLOWS, MORE SALT, AND MORE PEOPLE TO DO THE WORK. Other than that, you can do what folks now do in Detroit...get your block club to order snow service every winter, or have a friend with an SUV put a blade on their truck so they can remove snow from your driveway when the blizzard comes...

Posted by: mellemel | March 2, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

If you can't handle the snow and want to stay home, may I suggest that you take your attitude and move to Arizona?

Posted by: bbcrock | March 2, 2009 4:02 PM | Report abuse

nmoses said, "Sidwell Friends elementary school is in Bethesda, MD, not DC"

Sidwell is located in DC. Obama's go to the DC Location

3825 Wisconsin Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20016

However, there is one in Bethesda,Md

Posted by: JMo3 | March 2, 2009 4:12 PM | Report abuse

bbrock, first, see my post at 3:41.
1. Less snow? Yes, which is why it is surprising that by 9 AM my residential downtown DC street was still covered in snow. If we are prepared where were the salt trucks. 1977 and 79? I'm fairly certian DC has gained some new residents that are un-experinced in snow in the past 29 years. Even the big storm of 96 was a ways back.
2. Some streets are fairly clear, but what will happen to the slush at 4PM when temps drop and the ground is covered in ice? One day off to prevent just one child from slipping on the ice and bleeding to inches of death from a head wound is worth it. I'm not being reactionary. I've seen this happen to 3 kids on the playground in Chicago.
3. I'm sure you are better at walking in the snow than a five year old and less likley to run into a street.
4. Having fun in school is not a justification for keeping school open in a city that is ill-equpped to deal with snow.

Posted by: InDCsince85 | March 2, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

To be exact: Malia, the older daughter attends the Sidwell DC campus. The younger daughter attends the Bethesda. MD campus. According to essentially every private school's weather policy, if the public schools close, then the private school closes. Since Montgomery County schools are closed this closes the Sidwell MD campus and therefore the Sidwell DC campus.

Posted by: InDCsince85 | March 2, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Close the school! The last time we didn't close the schools in 2003, my best friends mom slipped and hit her head and died 4 days later from serve trauma to the head. We only averaged two snow days over the past 20 years and snow days are factor into the school calendar. So always err on the side of saving lives. Use liberal leave for government personnel, so those who can make it, come in, those who can't, stay home. Schools should close. No need to risk kids lives over two days per year, which is already factored in or can easily be made up. If the President makes a joke, laugh but continuing living and not be like Mrs. Rosa Jones (RIP) who died a needless death from a fall in an untreated school parking lot.

Posted by: madstamina | March 2, 2009 4:19 PM | Report abuse

To those that complain about our 'unusual' response to a few inches of snow, I understand you, but it's DC, and most of us love it! I mean, I do feel your pain, after having recently spent 2 months in Montreal, where nothing seems to stop the usual routine, but really, you can't put us under the same category, we are just not ready. For one thing, we, Washingtonians don't change to snow tires, making the few times we do have to drive on snow/ice a real hassle!
So, Come on! After all, it doesn't snow that much.. Why not let the kids enjoy the day? Even adults would love a day off!

Posted by: mela7 | March 2, 2009 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Someone should mention to the President that we don't have 600 people die from the heat in five days during a heat wave.

Talk about weather wimps.

Posted by: dingogumby | March 2, 2009 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Obama needs to stick to curing cancer and leave the DC snow response to DC.

I agree that the DC metro area has a sometimes ridiculous response to snow (that means you, Fairfax). But DC is also a conglomeration of people from all over the country, many of whom aren't used to snow. Coupled with the fact that this region is right on the rain/snow dividing line, this area simply doesn't need to amass the resources that are needed to clear out that 5-year storm every year.

Posted by: tristesse27 | March 2, 2009 4:23 PM | Report abuse

This is such a ridiculous non-issue. Whether the kids can walk to school or not, the problem was that most of the side streets were undrivable. How many parents enjoy sending their kids to a major street to be picked up by a school bus? And let's face it, unless the city also invests in newer buses, the current ones aren't the best ones in any hazardous conditions.

As for all those fed. employees bashing comments, the main reason they are advised to stay home or come in late is to off-load the highway system during rush hours. So stop complaining about them. Imagine if those of you who had to come in to work today had to deal with thousands of additional cars out there on the roads?

Posted by: DCProgressive | March 2, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

The DC metropolitan area has the second worst traffic in the country, so a minor weather disruption can cause major traffic complications. Also, it's probably not cost effective to maintain an efficient city-wide snow clearing response when we get shovel worthy snow once or twice a year if that. Finally, it's such a downer to see all that snow and have to go to school/work. Those three things combined should tell us that if it snows, non-essential items should just be canceled. I hardly see the benefit of forcing children to school or me to work.

Posted by: wwc4g | March 2, 2009 4:25 PM | Report abuse

To the last three posters:
1. madstamina - I concur. I have known plenty that have been injured or killed as a result of the decsion not to close schools or grant liberal leave on the VERY few days of snow we have. Tragic.
2. Mela7 - From an Ex-Chicagoan, well put. I am in the private sector and likley the only person in the office. Very thankful for my job, but a snow day would be great.
3. dingogumby- Nicely put. Touche.

Posted by: InDCsince85 | March 2, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Fenty was a man I admired, until he felt the need to diss the city that made him Mayor. The concern is not that the streets were to the blacktop, and they were not, I hit black ice a few times and noticed the sidewalks were not cleared, not even 25%..why??snow was still falling and it was too early. So Mayor Fently you just managed to put innocent children in harm's way just to kiss Obama's hind quarters. And before anyone says a word, I am a big fan of the President but he is not always right and since his children are driven everywhere he actually has no fears about their safety in bad weather. DC was handling things just fine before the Presidential remarks so Fenty get a pair and run your city for your people. Not for some face time with the president.

Posted by: deniseg1 | March 2, 2009 4:30 PM | Report abuse

I disagree with or don't follow every one of your points. Can't be more unequivocal than that, but I'm not picking on you specifically.

Posted by: bbcrock | March 2, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

I took my kindergartener to school today and I can say with authority that I did not see one single child going to school today who was put in harms way.

Unless you're a petrified scaredy cat who sees "harm" where 5 year olds see fun.

That's YOUR problem and YOU can see a therapist to fix it. I am very glad that finally the local governments are waking up to the fact that fear of snow is a type of mental illness.

Posted by: bbcrock | March 2, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

We aren't in New York. We aren't in Connecticut. We sure aren't in Chicago. Every city has its ability to handle their average amount of snow fall and the farther south or east you go, northern and midwest states will always have something to say about your state or your city. So be reasonable people. We are in DC. Stop comparing it to everywhere else that it is not.

Posted by: 14DC | March 2, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Those three things combined should tell us that if it snows, non-essential items should just be canceled. I hardly see the benefit of forcing children to school or me to work.

If your work feels non-essential then I heartily suggest you get your life in order and find an essential position to fill. I would never say that about my job nor my children's education.

Posted by: bbcrock | March 2, 2009 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Well, just because "you" didn't see a single child get hurt, doesn't mean it hasn't happened or won't happen. Certianly we shouldn't lock are children in doors and yes there are very many ways children can be killed or hurt. But, one day to mitigate risk crossing unplowed streets and unshoveled sidewalks or riding in buses without snow tires, in a city where very few know how to drive in the snow, is worth it. That one day would allow the snow to melt or the ill-equipped-for-snow DC DDOT finish plowing. There are a great deal of people wanting their or other kids to "toughen up" by going to school in this. While I would go so far as too demean people who suffer from mental illness, as I wouldn't demean people who suffer from diabetes, this type of logic is entirely irrational. Why not lock them outside for the night? Let them sleep in the cold. That will toughen them up. As I recall, we didn't have a bright Mayor in '79 and DC was VERY poorly run. Fenty is very good Mayor, but I think he made a bad call on this one.

Posted by: InDCsince85 | March 2, 2009 4:52 PM | Report abuse

"Essential personnel" - Fire, EMT, Police. The employees we can't do without for one day. Pretty much everybody else can put things on hold for a day AND if education is SO VITAL to the people who can't bare to let there children stay home for a day. Here is an idea: Make them read a book and write a report on it. Perhaps there are a few parent's that are too lazy to teach their children for one day. If YOU think it is so safe, take them to a Museum.

Posted by: InDCsince85 | March 2, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

I work for DCPS. Consider that many of the school staff live outside of D.C. My street was not plowed. I was unable to shovel heavy, ice-packed snow. If schools don't have teachers at the schools, how much learning/teaching really is occurring? Stop kissing Obama's posterior, Fenty. He's a guest here and should adapt to the way we do things here. We are not Chicago.

Posted by: schooletal | March 2, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse

But, you mean to tell me you didn't have your snow-blower in the garage ready to go, your chains on your winter snow-tires, and your supply of de-icing salt stocked for the two days of snow we have per year? My god, what kind of teacher are you?! Kudos "schooletal." I agree. And this from an ex-Chicagon, Fenty, and Obama supporter.

Posted by: InDCsince85 | March 2, 2009 5:04 PM | Report abuse

InDCSince85, I totally disagree with your line of thinking and rhetorical arguments. Completely. I do not think like you and don't want to. I am tempted to go off on each of your points, but I will just leave it as: I disagree with everything you wrote in response to me.

Posted by: bbcrock | March 2, 2009 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Feel free to "go off." I beleive respectful and thoughtful rhetoric is one of the purposes of these discussion boards (although it is not always the case). Feel free to cite to Raw Fisher's entirley presumptious and arrogant editorial too.

Posted by: InDCsince85 | March 2, 2009 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Buffalogal - Go back and ready your post and see how absolutely contradictory you are. In paragraph 3 sentence 2 you say "It Snows Here. Maybe not as often as further north, but it happens. It shouldn't be a shock, or an emergency."
You then follow that gem with sentence 4: "Buy a shovel, gloves, boots, and a winter coat -- not some designer wool or cloth number, but an honest-to-goodness insulated parka with a hood."

Wow, that's an awful lot of expense for garments that will only see very limited use because, as you say, it snows here, but "not as often as further north." Have you priced a new winter grade parka for kids lately? Do you think ALL parents in the DC Metro area are made of money that they can afford to outfit each kid every winter to those standards? What about all the kids who use reduced/free lunches? How well do you think they are dressed for this weather?

And that just addresses the absurdity of the clothing argument! What about snow plowing, or in the case of my neighborhood, the lack thereof. No street in my subdivision has seen or heard a snow plow today. Oh sure, the major thoroughfares are cleared, but none of us can get to one. So how could the school buses be expected to maneuver under such conditions? And why would I risk the safety of my precious children in such circumstances?

Every community/school district has its own unique conditions and challenges and it is up to each of them to make the best decision. Ultimately, it should be for the safety and welfare of the students, NOT to gain favor or look good to the man in the White House. Who, by the way, I'm guessing didn't exactly have far to walk to get to work today? Did he have to go outside and navigate an unshoveled sidewalk?

Let the each district make its own decision and do its job to keep the kids safe. Or would you rather some kid get hurt trying to get to school just to prove how "tough" he/she is, by your standards?

Posted by: valonghornnow | March 2, 2009 5:24 PM | Report abuse

Sorry if my previous incomplete comment was posted.

1. To those from midwestern or more northern climates who criticize the city's response to snow: It is ridiculous to compare D.C.'s snow removal--where we get snow only a few days per year--to your cities where it snows frequently. You're comparing apples to oranges. I lived farther north for 10 years. Spending money on neighborhood snowblowers and such is not justified by the little use they will get here.

2. That said, snow is easy to deal with. Ice is not. I grew up farther south where rain freezing overnight was always the danger. You cannot drive on ice. You can barely walk on it. This snowfall started when temps were above freezing; the snow melted, then froze at temps dropped, and more snow fell on top of it. It took me three times longer than usual to clear my car, our walkway, steps and sidewalk, and those of my elderly neighbors because of the underlying ice. Conditions were worse than I expected.

3. Do not criticize families whose children lack snow boots or "adequate" heavy coats. I've wasted money the past 3-4 winters on snow boots for my daughter that she wore 2 or 3 times. This year, I did not buy any. Luckily she could still fit last year's. Many families do not have the money to waste on boots they may not use.

4. Fenty can decide whatever he wants to. As previous posters pointed out, neither he now Obama's kids walk to school. My daughter had school. My employer was closed. I made the decision to keep her home and have no regrets.

Posted by: 1950snoopy | March 2, 2009 5:31 PM | Report abuse

The hazards of trying to get to work this morning included a fall on my icy driveway, a sore left wrist b/c I couldn't get my iced shut door to open, and losing control of the minivan and ending up horizontal on one of the side streets trying to get out to the main road which wasn't much better! But thank goodness, I didn't hit anything or anyone!

To President Obama: I, too, used to make blithe comments when I first moved out here from Chicago, but I have since learned the following:

(1)Unlike Chicago that is a vast flat land, we have hills here in Maryland. I have a steep hill that is my driveway let alone the side streets by my home that wind down hill to a major 40 mph one lane road.

(2) The Chicago highways are one and a half lanes wide compared to our DC highways. We have no room for error here.

(3) Because we only get snow 1-2 times a year, as opposed to 6 months of the year that Chicago gets snow (October -March and I do not joke), we don't have the equipment to plow the streets in a timely fashion. This makes sense not to have equipment that we would seldom use.

In conclusion, President Obama, it took me 8 years to realize the error of my ways, hopefully it doesn't take you that long!

Posted by: formerchicagoan | March 2, 2009 5:49 PM | Report abuse

With "climate change" imminent, wouldn't it be foolish to budget more money to DPW for snow removal? Cold, snowy weather in March is clearly a by-product of global warming.

Posted by: Kenbeatrizz | March 2, 2009 5:51 PM | Report abuse

To the last two posters, 1950snoopy and valonghornow. Well, put. As a former-Chicagoan and snow-lover, I agree. It seems to me that the vast majority of people who are toasting the Mayor's poor decision are from places that are accustomed to snow. If you've grown up with it, you are know how to deal with it and shouldn't make flying assumption that others should too. To be brief, I would trust my own abilities on the DC roads today, it is others that I do not. For instance the 20-30 cars I saw with nearly a foot of snow on their still covering there cars as they drove. The DC area (residents and municipal governments) are ill-equipped to deal with snow. And they should not be. It is not sound fiscal policy for any municiplaity to waste millions or a family to spend hundreds for clothing or equipment for a few days of snow. That money would be more wisely spent on improving schools (when open) or saving for college.

Posted by: InDCsince85 | March 2, 2009 6:03 PM | Report abuse

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