Daley: City will be ready for Blizzard of 2011
By Fran Spielman City Hall Reporter January 31, 2011 11:58AM
Updated: February 2, 2011 10:31AM
Mayor Daley said Monday his administration will be ready for the Blizzard of 2011 — even though he has nothing at stake politically. But he’s not about to urge downtown companies in advance of the storm to give their employees any days off.
“I don’t know about that. Once you start doing that — especially in the business arena — [what if] the snow doesn’t come in?...I can’t judge that,” the mayor said.
Sarcastically noting that weather forecasters are “always 100 percent right,” Daley said, “You have to really judge it [after the fact]. You can’t just say blanket it. No.”
Chicago is under a blizzard watch — starting Tuesday afternoon and continuing into Wednesday — with high winds, white-out conditions and at least a foot of snow expected. Some areas could get as much as two feet of snow.
It’s the kind of forecast that could make a lame-duck mayor happy he’s not in the middle of a re-election campaign.
But Daley insisted Monday that politics — or the lack of it — never crossed his mind.
“No. We always have snow. It doesn’t matter. We know the snow is coming and you get set,” he said.
“We’re gonna do everything possible. Then, again, you go to the private sector with their trucks and things like that [to assist city crews with heavy snow removal]. That’s what you have to look at in this emergency. That’s what you have to do.”
Sources said the Department of Streets and Sanitation is racing to get ahead of garbage collection in advance of a major storm that could shut down refuse collection for several days.
Veteran forestry worker Fred White, a former candidate for mayor, said employees from Forestry and other Streets and Sanitation bureaus have been assigned to garbage collection, with some of those crews working overtime.
There’s only one problem. Many of the carts they’re picking up are empty, White said.
“We’re running down the alleys and dumping empty garbage carts into the truck,” White said. “People expect us to come on certain days of the week. They haven’t put their garbage out yet. It doesn’t make any sense. If they want to do overtime, they should wait until after the storm hits.”
Streets and Sanitation spokesman Matt Smith could not be reached for comment.
Daley said his administration met Saturday and again on Monday with officials from the state, Park District, CTA, Metra, Amtrak, City Colleges and the Board of Education to map strategy for what’s expected to be Chicago’s biggest snowstorm since 1999.
Also part of those meetings are the city’s major hospitals and other “large complexes,” along with the Building Owners and Managers Association representing downtown office buildings,
The goal is to make certain that all the stakeholders “understand about the conditions coming in, if it’s gonna be that significant,” the mayor said.
The priority is “the safety [of people trying to get] to and from homes and to and from work so everybody’s aware of it,” he said.