Posted: 7:50 am Monday, February 3rd, 2014

Legislative tip sheet: Of weather task forces and interstate speed limits 

By Jim Galloway

The weather’s warm and the Monday traffic is moving – sort of, anyway. Time to start talking about bumping up those speed limits on I-285.

And Gov. Nathan Deal has another round with reporters at 1:15 p.m., when he’s expected to announce membership on his severe weather warning task force. Al Roker is unlikely to make the cut.

Lawmakers return at 10 a.m. in the House and Senate today for a busy five-day work week that starts – in the House – with H.B. 774, which would allow the state Department of Transportation to raise speed limits on metro Atlanta interstates.

The Senate takes up two bills on aging: One to establish a registry on those with Alzheimer’s within the Department of Public Health, and the creation of a Georgia Adult and Aging Services Agency.

The Senate also takes up S.B. 296 – which we think removes law enforcement duties from state park rangers. But we’re not sure, because the Legislature’s website is apparently paralyzed this morning.

A short walk from the Capitol, U.S. Sens. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., will speak at the weekly meeting of the Rotary Club of Atlanta at noon todiscuss their efforts to bridge the partisan gap in Washington and reform the federal budgeting process. They’re backing legislation to create a two-year federal budgeting cycle.

“Moral Monday” people have another 4 p.m. state Capitol protest aimed at the evening news. The topic is Georgia’s stand-your-ground law. No word yet on whether more civil disobedience is in the works.

14 comments
libincobb
libincobb

Deal had a Severe Weather Task Fore, it's called The Weather Chanel, he didn't listen.

MANGLER
MANGLER

When the public consistently votes for decentralized and weaker government agencies, this is one of the things that can happen.  A region wide issue is tough to handle appropriately when the region is split apart.


Will this task force have some emergency authority to be able to corral and command all the local municipalities, Counties, and the State?  If not, then it is simply for show.  What good is yet another room full of experts (assuming it opens in time for the emergency event) if, much like the State Ethics Commission, it has no teeth or power?

Shotwrite
Shotwrite

@PSWallace

You've made some good points. These "snow events" don't happen in North Georgia very often. We routinely go two or more years without any snow. I vote that we just preemptively shut down when there is a snow storm on the way. Seems silly to have millions of dollars tied up in equipment that we use every five to ten years. Much less costly, and even fun, to take a day or three off. 

The_Centrist
The_Centrist

"No word yet on whether more civil disobedience is in the works."

Suggestion or hope?  I remember when news coverage was more about what happened instead of pushing it.

Where was the AJC banner warnings and WSB meteorologist up all night with his tie off, sleeves rolled up with updates every 15 minutes?  I haven't seen an apology from the AJC for missing the changed forecast of the snow band intensifying, hitting earlier, and moving north.

PSWallace
PSWallace

Regarding the storm: Though I have and will continue to get a chuckle over the political angle--efforts to either weaponize the storm or protect trendy favored candidates from fallout thereof, I will say that from the perspective of a man who has made a little hobby of studying root causes of accidents, blaming either Reed or Deal for this is a classic of "blaming the pilot" for design-induced errors.

In other words, unless region and state invest in more robust snow/ice mitigation equipment--equipment, not some grand regional viceroy--or unless we routinely preemptively shut everything down every time snow of a certain level is predicted (something that can only happen by cultural shift by the "little platoons" or conversely a somewhat routine authoritarian use of state of emergency declarations (problematic on several levels, to be left as an exercise for the reader)), I would say that if you ran this scenario (midday daytime snow with ground at freezing temps) multiple times in a "wargame", trying to figure out the best time for mayor/governor/et al. to take action, at least half the time an adverse result would be had, because we simply do not have the margin needed for robustness, because we do not have the snow handling equipment needed in relationship to the need. Period. It's like a pilot trying to fly into known icing conditions with no anti-ice/de-ice on the plane, and trying to judge the right time to turn back for safety. Statistically, you just can't, and there are more than enough smoking holes in the ground to prove that. It's like trying to beat the house in Vegas. You just can't. Same thing with trying to time a midday go-home call here in Atlanta when the ground is conducive to black ice. Your only *real* chance with current equipment levels was to keep everybody home that morning, and that's a larger cultural issue.

What made this bad was the fact that it came in the middle of a workday, and the weather was deceptively gentle for the layman. Because it was gentle, snow-wise. The problem is not "divided governments"--the problem is simply state and region do not have the ability to get roads quickly enough prepared/mitigated, esp. if people are at work. We either get more equipment, or adopt a more aggressive premptive "snow day" stance. I'd suggest more equipment, by trying to figure out how to jury rig existing assets (or biting the bullet on dedicated snow-ice mitigation equipment). So, as an example as far as thinking outside the box--police cars are now starting to universally have push bars up front. Seems to me that would make a great plow attachment point. What else can be done?

Astropig
Astropig

The over the top coverage and continual sensationalizing of an ice storm that caught everybody by surprise is starting to resemble the 9/11 "truther" and Obama "birther" nonsense.

honested
honested

@MANGLER What, sacrifice 'local control' for effective leadership and emergency management?


Next you'll want to charge adequate revenue to fund the solution!

PSWallace
PSWallace

@shotwrite I was thinking if you want to guarantee you can keep the city open for Peach Bowls (remember, National Championships eventually), SuperBowls, major conventions, bar mitvahs, quinceanearas, etc., you would have to buy the stuff anyway. Then, you use it to insure you can use it when you absolutely need it. Plus, at some point, if you have a gap in your abilities, and local wealth keeps rising, you fill it. (and we might need to for the national image thing). So it was a muliti-attribute analysis.

My real belief is that the citizenry probably has enough equipment suitable for last minute conversion (i.e., salt spreading, plowing) amongst itself, that could be mobilized. Certainly metro Atlanta has enough trucks. Perhaps we should revive the idea of the county militia, for use in times of emergency.

The_Centrist
The_Centrist

That's probably what will happen the next couple of years - shut down schools (probably not work) with every threat even if remote.  Never mind that many of the threats will turn out to have no snow whatsoever.  Parents will scream that they properly went to work, but had to make emergency plans for their children.  Eventually the pendulum will swing back to the middle.

Bernie31
Bernie31

@The_Centrist - What about The Good ole Boy Charlie's APOLOGY? Director Of GEMA? are you NOT concerned ABOUT that ONE. No one VOTED for The AJC. You and Your Ilk said Nathan Deal was the Man. Come to find Out he is NOT!

Far From it........

Ya Gotta LOVE this Republican Blame GAME...Everybody BUT Their OWN!

Who is in CHARGE in Georgia...A REPUBLICAN ADMINISTRATION as it was 

on Spetember 11,2001.

Their Motto  " Do NOT BLAME US...we are Responsible, But STILL we are NOT at Fault"  

I know lets Blame The MEDIA!

uh...huh

CherokeeCounty
CherokeeCounty

Clueless as usual.

WSB was all over this - as they always are about weather. 

And as to pushing the news, again, only in your fevered wingnut brain.

PSWallace
PSWallace

As an addendum--this is not my area of expertise by any means, and there are far more transplants from the frigid tundras of the North and Midwest who have more intimate knowledge of dealing with winter weather than my 2.5 years in New England and Maryland, but it seems to me that with the equipment levels we have in state, we simply need to be far more preemptive on precautionary saltings of roads, and budget for it, realizing we may salt them several times a year when it will have turned out there was no real need.

In this sense, then, road crews should have been mobilized to "war footing" on Monday and then salting (or whatever other measures deemed fit) began that evening and continued throughout the night and next day. I say this not in hindsight--but because it is the only logical option if--as seems this case--we simply do not have the numbers of trucks/spreaders needed to get all major arteries done in the time needed (a few hours) for a midday snow that will cause black ice--or so last Tuesday proves. In Atlanta, we may not be able to wait until snow actually falls, with what we have, when people are at work. Over to the pros.

Bernie31
Bernie31

@PSWallace I Disagree...The Real Problem is our BELL RINGER did NOT Ring His Bell.

Charlie English - GEMA Director " I did not See Any Problem Coming, Until Atlanta's Traffic Gridlocked. Then I said "Hey! We Got a PROBLEM Here" , But then, I Forgot to Ring My Bell."

uh...huh