Portland’s mayor-elect, Sam Adams, is clearly an inventive politician. With the record snowfall in western Oregon combining with too few snowplows and ideological opposition to road salt to produce ice-blocked side streets, many in the public are starting to complain. Reasonably enough, Adams says such snow events are so infrequent that buying more snowplows might not make economic sense. But if “global change” occurs, well, maybe they’ll do things differently:
From City of Portand, Office of Transportation, news release:
Adams said he understands the public’s frustration with current road conditions due to heavy snowfall and ice formation. “Crews have been doing an excellent job under extremely challenging conditions.” Portland has widely varying terrain and can have widely varying weather conditions throughout the city. It is not uncommon to have a significant amount of snow accumulation in one part of the city while only a few miles away there is no snow at all or just ice. Hills on both the east and the west sides of the city increase motorists’ difficulties and require special attention from Transportation crews.
Portland does not get a “predictable” annual snowfall. Adams said, “We cannot afford to purchase equipment that would simply sit idle in the yard most of the year perhaps for years.” He also acknowledged that if global climate change contributes to a trend of more severe winter weather events in Portland, the City will have to develop a new Snow and Ice Plan and find a way to invest in additional equipment to respond. “We have to keep commerce active and transportation moving; it’s what we do.”
In a radio interview, Adams used the term “global change” to describe what sorts of developments might require more snowplow purchases. If global change occurs….
Well, that’s a safe bet, isn’t it? The possibility of global climate change is now being used as the all-purpose rationale for any public policy decision. Having the taxpayers buy more snowplows sounds like it might be a good decision. But who’s to say that another inventive politician won’t use the same arguments to ration energy consumption or shut down productive sectors of the economy?
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