Ask not what your city can do for you, but where’s that plow?

Monday morning, the snow created a drift merging my car with the road below and it was just what the Weather Channel and others stated when they talked about the potential of up to a foot of snow falling in Syracuse by Monday morning.

A neighbor who happens to live at the corner attempted to navigate the full block, complete with snow drifts, instead of backing up the 10 feet that would have placed her at the corner with full access to a main street. So, she drove and shoveled almost an entire block until the City of Syracuse plow came. With a tiny car now stranded in front of my house, visions of being stuck in the snow were dancing in my head.

Resigned to being a shut-in for the day, I returned a few minutes later to the front door and found not only the city of Syracuse plow still in the street, but the plow driver attempting to assist the woman who’d made a decision that clogged the entire street.

He could have left the street blocked, called a tow truck and went on his way. Not this driver.

Instead of leaving the job half-done, (which he had every right to do), he quickly got out of his truck, grabbed the shovel and assisted the women until she was able to drive herself out. This action only took a couple of minutes but it’s these little things that public employees do that aren’t in the job description.

I’ve seen police officers help people in broken-down trucks that TV’s “junkster” Fred Sanford would have left on the lot. We’ve all witnessed Department of Public Works staffers picking up trash that an irresponsible person left in a public area.

And people fed up with taxes want to cut even further, while expecting the same level of service the city enjoyed when we were flush with cash. To destroy a paraphrase, “ask not what your city can do for you, but where’s that plow?”

Police, Fire and Public Works: these are just some of the departments that take the worst personnel hits while they engage in activities we don’t see but for a few seconds as we wiz by.

When public employee pensions, city services and general operating costs increase annually, prudent leaders strive to keep taxes low. Then we get hammered with snow like we did last Sunday evening into Monday, and city residents are feeling the impact of reduced overtime, increased costs and typical Syracuse weather meeting in a perfect storm.

March 7, 2011