Posted: 10:12 am Thursday, January 30th, 2014

Already a poll question: Did Nathan Deal pass the snow test? 

By Jim Galloway, Greg Bluestein and Daniel Malloy

One measure of the political importance of Snowjam ’14: On Tuesday night, voters nestled all snug in their Snuggies were already being asked by a pollster to pass judgment on Gov. Nathan Deal.

The outfit, we’re told, called itself Georgia Press Services. The most important questions (paraphrased):

Your daily jolt on politics from the AJC's Political insider blog– How do you think Governor Nathan Deal and he Georgia Department of Transportation handled the recent snow storm?

– After the 2011 ice storm, Governor Deal said we failed the test, and said that he would correct the problems made. Did he pass the test?

– Were you affected by the traffic delays?

– How long? Eight hours? Four to eight hours? One to two hours?

***

The response to Snowjam ‘14 may have put Gov. Nathan Deal in a bind, but it’s also put his Democratic challenger, state Sen. Jason Carter, D-Atlanta, in a bit of an awkward spot.

The governor’s two GOP rivals were quick to smack Deal, but Carter appears to be more reluctant to attack the incumbent — he may fear sullying his fellow Democrat, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and straining an already shaky relationship.

That would explain the statement we got last night from Carter’s camp:

“Our focus has to be making sure everyone is safe and that those in need are getting assistance. I am thankful for the teachers who stayed overnight with their students, the emergency crews and rescue workers who are doing everything they can, and the countless compassionate Georgians who opened their homes, hearts and businesses to help those who are stranded.”

Carter ally DuBose Porter, who chairs the state Democratic Party, was not quite as circumspect. He held his fire on Reed, of course, but said in an interview that the icy gridlock was a stinging reminder another push for a transportation overhaul was needed.

“We need to have a governor who can anticipate a problem like this, and a governor who is aggressive about mass transportation,” Porter said Wednesday as stranded drivers still clogged Atlanta streets. “Those who got home last night, a lot of them walked to MARTA stations. We’ve had the opportunity to expand that and Republican administrations continue to fight it.”

***

A gravel-voiced Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed struck a defiant tone in an NBC “Today”  Show appearance this morning, battling back against suggestions he was ill-prepared for Snowjam ’14. Host Matt Lauer noted that Reed and Gov. Nathan Deal had lunch together on Tuesday as the snow was beginning. “Did anyone talk to each other, and say, ‘Let’s not release everybody at the same time?”

See the clip above.

“Today” show weatherman Al Roker, who called out Reed and Deal on Tuesday for failing to heed warnings, was only slightly mollified, according to this Twitter message:

@KasimReed not the only one responsible. School districts, other mayors too. @GovernorDeal ultimately should have ordered highways closed

***

In his Tuesday press conference, Gov. Nathan Deal cited the commercial and financial pressures that argue against preemptive closings in the face of threatening weather:

“What if we called everything off, and the original prognostications about where the storm was going to hit was correct? We would have shut a major city down for a day.”

Last night, former U.S. Senate candidate/journalist Dale Cardwell, who has his own talk show on WGST now – that link you promised never arrived, Dale – called to note another financial incentive that may have been at work in metro Atlanta. School systems, he pointed out,  receive state funding on a per-student, per-day basis, with lunchtime as the validation line. School officials had a reason to want kids at their desks.

Here’s a thought for our Legislature: One solution to future Snowjams might be to decouple school finances from responses to severe weather. Allow school systems to use attendance figures from the day before or the week before, so they can put the safety of kids and teachers first.

UPDATED: Matt Cardoza, spokesman for the state Department of Education, sent a bit of Georgia Code that he says gives local boards of education the leeway they need to make snow day calls without financial repercussion:

A LBOE may, without the necessity of authorization from the SBOE, elect not to complete, as make-up days, up to four additional days otherwise needed which are the result of days when school was closed due to emergency, disaster, act of God, civil disturbance, or shortage of vital or critical material, supplies, or fuel as providedin O.C.G.A. § 20-2-168(c)(3).

***

At the Washington Post website today, Reid Wilson noted the political repercussions of past weather events:

Chicago Mayor Michael Bilandic lost reelection in 1979 after a series of snowstorms buried his city. Denver Mayor Bill McNichols suffered the same fate in 1983. So did Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, who lost reelection in 2009.

Both New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie came under fire after a 2010 snowstorm hit the Northeast over the Christmas holiday. Christie was on vacation with his wife and children in Florida at the time; Bloomberg, it came out a few weeks later, was spending the holiday in Bermuda.

But there’s one more, closer to home. Our AJC colleague Aaron Gould Sheinin, a man of dubious Gamecock loyalties, pointed out that one factor in Mark Sanford’s 2002 defeat of Democratic Gov. Jim Hodges in South Carolina had to do with a screwed-up evacuation of the coast during Hurricane Floyd in 1999.

The state was slow to enact its policy of reversing I-26 lanes. The result was a bumper sticker that read: “Two Lanes, One Term.”

***

Over at Esquire magazine’s web site, Charles Pierce weighs in on the blistering dynamic between Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and CNN:

[Reed] has a number of problems, but by far the biggest one is that CNN is located in Atlanta, and some of its employees — including, one suspects, upper management — are probably marooned out in the snowscape somewhere. This is a massive local story for a massive national network, and CNN has been pummeling Reed for a lack of “taking responsibility” all afternoon and is unlikely to stop. This is not something you want to have attached to your ankles.

Here’s the clip Pierce cited:

And here’s the accompanying Associated Press account of the meeting between Reed and CNN’s Carol Costello:

Costello began her on-set interview with Reed by asking, “You know how angry people are at you?”

Reed said he didn’t believe people were angry at him. He twice scolded Costello to “be fair.” When Costello noted all of the traffic accidents and people leaving their cars in icy situations, Reed said, “that’s easy to say from your anchor seat.”

“No!” Costello retorted. “I was out stuck in the traffic. I was one of those people.”

Costello had left her office about 1 p.m. Tuesday — about the time Atlanta streets were flooded with vehicles — and couldn’t even get out of CNN’s parking lot. She gave up after more than an hour and went back into work. Tuesday evening, she tried again and made it home in about two hours.

***

The Legislature is again closed for business today. On the bright side, the calendar keeps ticking. These last two snow days will count toward the General Assembly’s constitutional allotment of 40 days.

***

Topping non-frozen political news is a new Washington Post/ABC News poll:

Hillary Rodham Clinton holds a commanding 6 to 1 lead over other Democrats heading into the 2016 presidential campaign, while the Republican field is deeply divided with no clear front-runner, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll….

The new survey puts [New Jersey Gov. Chris] Christie in third place — with the support of 13 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents — behind Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.) with 20 percent and former Florida governor Jeb Bush at 18 percent. The rest of the scattered pack includes Sens. Ted Cruz (Tex.), Rand Paul (Ky.) and Marco Rubio (Fla.), who are at 12, 11 and 10 percent, respectively.

***

The Rick Allen campaign announced this morning that the family of the late U.S. Rep. Charlie Norwood, R-Augusta, has endorsed his GOP bid to oust U.S. Rep. John Barrow, D-Augusta. The endorsement is significant because Allen’s Republican rival, former congressional John Stone, served as an aide to Norwood, who died in 2007.

114 comments
MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

Looking forward, we must use this unfortunate situation to make sure that our government agencies are well prepared with strategic plans, well ahead of time, not only regarding approaching severe weather, but also regarding a possible terrorist attack upon Atlanta and its surroundings. If the roads become as impassable as they have been in this situation because of the ice and because of citizens all trying to get out at the same time, imagine what would happen if citizens, around Atlanta, were trying to get out of this area if poisonous gas fumes covered the blanket of air around Atlanta.  Government agencies must be well-prepared for any of these possible situations.


When I was on the Georgia coast near Savannah a few years ago, and hurricane emergencies were issued, the outlets (especially I -16) were moving at a snail's pace.  If a major hurricane had hit that area, even with emergency directions already having alerted people to move away from the coast, many people would have died because they would have been "bottled-necked" on I -16, with no way to move away from that deadly coming hurricane.  That type of situation could, also, happen in Atlanta and its environs, not only if a terrorist attack were unexpectedly to hit our area, but also if a treacherous weather situation became much more deadly than had been expected.  "Better to be safe (and well-prepared) than sorry."

gwenolagrier
gwenolagrier

Al Roker told the truth about the weather

Starik
Starik

When you have a political culture that denigrates government and government employees, constantly complaining about their (low) salaries and (shrinking) pensions this is what you get.  You get what you pay for, and Georgia pays very little.

TrueBlueDem
TrueBlueDem

I predict that Gov Deal will throw the angry mob a body...such as Charlie English, the head guy at GA Emergency Management Authority (GEMA)....that should absolve Deal of any bad judgement...he will blame it on good 'Ol Charlie....

The_Centrist
The_Centrist

@ EdUktr - It is the media, Democrats and only a few Republicans who advocate amnesty - unless such a definition is wildly stretched. Giving illegal immigrants probational status if they sign up allowing them to work via E-Verify while the government tightens border security as they wait for permanent legal status. According to Paul Ryan: “If those things are met (criminal background check), you satisfy the terms of your probation, you’re not on welfare, you pay a fine, you learn English and civics, and the border’s been secured and interior enforcement independently verified, then you can get a regular work permit”. At that point, this group could apply for green cards using the same system available to any newcomer.

“That’s the kind of process we envision,” he said. “Which is not a special pathway to citizenship and it’s not going to automatically in any way give an undocumented immigrant citizenship.”

Starik
Starik

The whole process of running for office - pandering to the lunatics in either party and scrambling non-stop to raise money - has made the idea of running for any office abhorrent to people of competence.  It's just too unpleasant.. 


Retired Soldier...no I do not consider Obama as particularly competent. He has performed much better than the previous holder of the office, though.  Did you consider G.W. Bush competent?

Bernie31
Bernie31

The "FREE LUNCH", Kasim and the Governor were dining on has come at a VERY STEEP Price Neither want to PAY now!

Bernie31
Bernie31

Say FOOTBALL Stadium, Kasim and Nathan are Johnny on the spot with the people's wallet WIDE OPEN and prepared.  State or City emergency..."Why are YOU LQQKING AT ME?"  

The other Guy is to Blame, I did my Part...."Dis side of the street is MINE and Dat is YOUR'N."

Informer
Informer

Is the midtown LBGT forum?

Bernie31
Bernie31

As I was Watching good ole Charlie...Thinking to myself saying is this WHO I am to have Faith and Trust in to make the Right decisions in time of an Emergency? 

Nothing about Charlie said SMART or PREPARED.

Let Charlie go  home back to North Georgia to Fish or whatever he does when he is not Napping on the JOB. Charlie LOOKED old and Tired!

Everything about Charlie said to me..."HILLBILLY"  and  No concern or care about the CITY FOLK!

The_Centrist
The_Centrist

GEMA Director Charley English in the press conference took much of the blame for the response to the winter storm in Atlanta.  "I got this one wrong. By at least six hours.  I made the decision not to do anything until later that morning."

This guy stepped up, but when narrow bands of such weather changes direction and intensity during and after the morning rush hour of school and work - what is to be done?  Maybe turning everyone around earlier would have avoided the roads being frozen, but not the gridlock.

Mustang100
Mustang100

"It's not nice to fool Mother Nature".

Starik
Starik

We simply need a better class of politicians in this state. Or better voters.

Bernie31
Bernie31

Charlie English Director of GEMA...Needs to GO...NOW!

Asleep at the wheel.....No meeting til 10:30am

Charlie English is Georgia's "BROWNIE"  Heck of a JOB Brownie.


16yrs of experience... " I did not think any Action was Needed Earlier"

.Uh.Huh


td1234
td1234

GEMA director just fell on his sword and took all the blame for snowjam in the press conference. 

Bernie31
Bernie31

Does anyone know what was being served for Lunch at The Ritz Carlton other than "TURKEY".

DS
DS

Reed is hurting himself by acting so defensive. Looks like he cares more about his political fortunes than the well-being of his constituents.

To be fair, while this has been handled poorly, it isn't all on his back. But he should man-up and take responsibility for things he could have done better.

Stuffy
Stuffy

Kasim Reed is not responsible for the mess outside of the city limits, why can"t people understand that? 

Bernie31
Bernie31

"Nero Fiddled While Rome Burned "

Governor Deal and Mayor REED...were having a "FREE LUNCH" while Atlanta Gridlocked.

honested
honested

While I'm no big fan of Atlanta Magazine, Rebecca Burns has an article today that accurately defines problem and the solution.

Unfortunately, I fear those affected this time who are also those most likely to be affected in the future will be least likely to accept the reality.

Bernie31
Bernie31

General Honore...on CNN now. Saying Kasim and Dear Leader Failed. They Need to step UP and admit it! 

"Atlanta,  A 19th Century Government serving a 21st Century People."  General Honore

Shar1
Shar1

Absolute failure by both Reed and Deal.  The snowfall was two inches - TWO INCHES - and their inability to get up from their lunch table at the Ritz Carlton and take charge allowed this city and state to become paralyzed and the citizens put in mortal danger.  If one schoolchild had had an asthmatic attack and died on a trapped bus or a diabetic driver, cut off from medications, had died, neither Reed nor Deal would be electable.  That this didn't happen was a miracle aided by the Good Samaritans who came out to offer food and shelter. 


Earlier this month I was driving through the middle of Virginia and noticed snow brining trucks being deployed.  The forecast called for sleet and the Virginia governor got trucks on the roads as a preventative measure well before rush hour.  Result:  normal driving despite several inches of snow and sleet.  


Yes, personal responsibility plays a part.  I was considering driving to Alabama to check up on an elderly relative but I listened to the forecast and delayed the trip.  However, personal responsibility is limited by outside pressures.  The bottom line is that we trust our elected officials to put the well being of citizens first, and to use the powers that come with their offices to mpublicized ake well informed decisions and put people of integrity and ability in charge of executing them. 


We don't expect them to leave their posts to stuff their faces at the most expensive restaurants in the city at a crucial moment for public safety, send many of the necessary people home without putting any plans into operation and fail to even open the office of emergency management until after thousands of people are in danger and reporters have publicized the problem.  We also don't expect them to whimper, whine about unfairness, tell blatant lies about the weather forecasting, have temper tantrums, offer frankly stupid and unworkable plans as "lessons" from this failure, say their failure is no worse than everyone elses and in short try to shift blame in any and every way possible.

Total, crushing, inexcusable failure.  No mitigating factors here at all.

honested
honested

As to the poll:


No the Governor did not pass the test.


Yes I was affected, 3 Hours on surface streets of Atlanta that were clear but overwhelmed by traffic.

At least I can say 'Good Job' to the Mayor for taking steps to get ahead of the mess and keeping the roads passable.


The only connection between the Mayor and the Governor I see in this is they were both busy playing photo-op and fundraiser during the early hours. It may have been too much to ask of City and State leaders to put aside the 'playtime' until the JOB was done, but after all, this is Georgia!

Charles50
Charles50

@TrueBlueDem That is exactly what has happened.  Deal now says that he wasn't told about the upgraded forecast until 9:00 while the National forecast sent the upgrade at 3:38 a.m.  Now I don't necessarily believe that but if true, I still don't believe that someone in his office was not told sooner.  I think they gambled and loss.

EdUktr
EdUktr

@The_Centrist And shortly thereafter, Sen. Schumer and the media will begin their crusade to make these "new legals" full voting citizens. We'll be branded as heartless fascists for not allowing it.

The result will be as predictable as the sunrise: 11 million new voting citizens—while more illegals than ever find ways to cross the border and cash in.

Retired-Soldier
Retired-Soldier

@Starik I have been and continue to be very critical of Bush for two primary reasons. First for the large deficits he allowed to happen primarily his last two years without a veto. Second for the transition of both Afghanistan and Iraq to nation building efforts.


Compared to Bush, Obama is extraordinary the living example of incompetence. In short Obama has replaced Carter as the worst president in my life time.  

DannyX
DannyX

@Informer, no its not informer, this is a political blog.  You might want to try google to help you with your search.  Good luck finding your forum.

SaraJames
SaraJames

@Bernie31 WHOA!  While I agree Mr. English dropped the ball big time, don't disparage Hillbillies.  In the mountains, there are plenty of people who will take the shirt off their back if you are without one.  Because someone is not articulate, do NOT assume they are ignorant or without compassion, "Hillbilly" or otherwise. I know this firsthand, because I am one and proud of it.

Bernie31
Bernie31

@The_Centrist- This is why Good ole Charlie Must GO! do you think for a second ole slow Talking and slow walking Charlie is anyway prepared for a major event of concern without a prior warning?

I do not think so!

Charles50
Charles50

@DS I agree but that never been Reed's style.  He will defend his stance to the death and start bullying you if you push back.  I bet he is thanking God that his re-election was last year.  I bet a lot of Atlanta residents are not.

The_Centrist
The_Centrist

@DS- As you say, it is NOT on his back.  What could he have done better - other than be another Monday morning quarterback like so many others?

Bernie31
Bernie31

@StuffyWhere was this benefit to the City of Atlanta from Kasim;s relationship with his good buddy Governor Deal? I suppose the check is in the Mail.


uh..huh


The_Centrist
The_Centrist

@Stuffy- Or inside the city limits with the information he had until it was too late.

Bernie31
Bernie31

@StuffyThe City of Atlanta cannot be separated from its Interstate. Period!

Charles50
Charles50

@honested I"m trying to understand how it is that the Mayor obviously knew of the situation while the Governor apparently did not until much later yet they were at the same luncheon.  You'd think it would have come up in the conversation.  

DannyX
DannyX

@Retired-Soldier, Lol!  You left out a few things.  Not only did Bush give us the 2 unfunded wars and the ridiculous spending you referred to he also crashed the economy.  I guess the good ol' days to you were 800,000 a month job losses, crashing stock market, collapsing real estate market, bailouts, bank failures, foreclosures and plunging GDP!  Good times!  Good times!  


Btw, how about the solid 3rd quarter GDP!  3.2% growth last quarter, 4.1% the quarter before.  Over 2 million net jobs added to the economy last year.  Most economists, investors, corporate managers and bankers think 2014 will be much better.    

SaraJames
SaraJames

Let me clear up something.  When I said Mr. English looked like a fool in my earlier post, I didn't mean it was because of the way he talked.  Mr. English looked like a fool because he didn't do his job, tried to cover it up in the press conference yesterday and was immediately publically busted by the Governor.  

td1234
td1234

@Bernie31 @Starik Better leaders are promoted by what they have done. We have not done a good job on either side to properly evaluate and promote capable leadership. It is the citizens fault for being to "busy" to care about politics. 

DannyX
DannyX

@The_Centrist, don't you think its telling that you, the fake centrist, are by far the most partisan right wing defender on this blog?  You have said over and over again that you hate partisanship, but here you are the biggest partisan of all.  Even td has shown he can go against the GOP establishment.  I haven't seen one person on the left praise Reed in this ordeal.  Again you prove to everyone that you are by far the biggest phony around.

td1234
td1234

@The_Centrist @DS Evidently Deal thinks he could have done better because he just said so in his press conference and warned the citizens in metro Atlanta that in the future they are going to be pissed because he will take preemptive action and it may not turn out to be needed in the long run.

Retired-Soldier
Retired-Soldier

@DannyX @Retired-Soldier DannyX, I'll play your game. You left out a few things too. The lowest number of people working in the United States in over 30 years, Deficits over a trillion dollars year which makes Bush's deficits look like child's play. The middle east in uproar, Afghanistan still going and with more deaths under Obama than Bush, a failed healthcare system and an administration that selectively enforces the law. Need I mention NSA, IRS, fast & furious, Benghazi and false wire taps of reporters.


And............the largest increase of "in equally" between rich and poor under Obama in past 100 years.


You see the difference between me and you is I am critical of republicans, you are incapable of being critical of democrats.


Your turn.

Bernie31
Bernie31

@td1234@Bernie31@Starik I agree...the same goes for Kasim.both are Consummate Politicians of a New Breed..where image is weighed far above anything or any concern of the People. 

honested
honested

@td1234You might be on to something...


Action has Costs which require TAXES and therefore the State of Georgia cannot take action.


Simple enough.