Let me begin this post by apologizing to all of you who have been faithful followers of Politically Frank. I realize that it has been quite some time since I last posted an article. For those of you who are unaware, my paying job is as a propane delivery driver. As you can guess, due to the recent spat of winter weather we have experienced here in Delaware, I have been busier than a one-legged man in a butt kicking contest.
Thanks to a lot of hard work on my part and that of two other hard-working drivers at my company we have been able to get caught up, and with a minimum of out of gas calls. Let me just say to those guys and they know who they are, thanks guys, it was a team effort.
Now, let me get right to the point of this post. Since I have been so busy at work I have had little time to even keep up with much of what has been going on in the world of politics, local or national. What I was able to witness was a lot of snow and the effect that it had on our state.
For those of you who live in Delaware and especially Sussex County, I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that the recent snow storms had a crippling effect . It has been described as being a once in thirty year event.
During the storms and after I heard a lot of people, both inside government and ordinary citizens giving high praise to Del DOT and the guys driving the plow trucks.
Let me join in with my praise for the plow drivers. They worked long hours, in difficult conditions. I can relate to this , as my job requires the same of me. As for the way Del DOT handled the event , well let me just say that in my opinion, it was lacking. This is no reflection on the individual employees. I feel that there is a systemic flaw in the planning for , and the implementation of the states snow emergency strategy .
Now some may ask, why must we plan for an event that may only happen once in thirty years ? Well your house may only catch fire once in thirty years, but you don’t wait until it is on fire to go out and buy a fire extinguisher. And personally as someone who drives for a living I have to say that Delaware falls short in removing snow , no matter the amount.
I have been driving for the same company for over twenty-nine years, both in Delaware and Maryland. The difference in the way that the two states are able to handle an event such as we experienced is dramatic.
Let me relate to you what I experienced three days after the storm that brought close to two feet of snow to the Bridgeville and Seaford areas. I had to make a delivery over the Maryland state line out past Reliance. I had been fighting conditions on the Delaware side that ranged from solid packed snow and ice , to what can only be described as a washboard of ice and bare road. In some spots the road was a single lane. In many places there was no shoulder for an emergency such as a flat tire or a break down. Either of which could have completely choked up the road. Let me be clear, I am not talking about some back county road, but Rt. 20 out of Seaford. This was typical of most of the main routes that I had been driving on during this same day, such as Rt.24 between Millsboro and Rehoboth, Rt.9 between Bridgeville and Georgetown, Rt.113 a dual highway no less from Georgetown to Millsboro. Again, this was two to three days after the storm.
Now some have defended Del DOT by saying that no one could have anticipated such a storm. Well apparently someone in Maryland did. That night as I drove from Seaford on what I describe as dangerous Delaware roads I passed into Maryland. What I experienced was shocking. The road was cleared from shoulder to shoulder, down to bare pavement, not a spot of snow or ice . Now, so no one thinks this was some sort of anomaly, let me tell you that I also drove from Reliance over to Federalsburge and then back into Delaware on Rt.18 in Delaware. All together I drove around twenty miles in Maryland. Every road I was on was the same, completely clear. But as soon as I crossed the Delaware state line , again the difference was shocking. I was back to a washboard surface , no shoulders and often a single snow-covered lane of travel.
I voiced my disappointment with the way Delaware handled the situation as compared to our regional neighbor. One notable person who responded, was 41st Dist. Representative John Atkins. Mr. Atkins stated that he felt that Maryland was able to do a better job of clearing the roads because the citizens of Maryland pay higher taxes. That because of the way that Maryland breaks down the job by county and state, give them an advantage . I also heard a news spot with 35th Dist. Representative Dave Wilson giving praise for the way Del DOT handled the situation.
I won’t argue that Maryland pays higher taxes, I do contend that Maryland pays higher taxes and does a better job of clearing the roads after a snow event for the same reason that Delaware pays lower taxes and does a lousy job of clearing the roads. Because government has lost it’s focus of what it’s role is supposed to be.
Now I’m not sure whether Del DOT needs to purchase more equipment or if they need better training in plowing, or maybe think of contracting more outside help when the need arrives. I do know that we need to look at our strategy and work at being prepared for such events.
As for the need of paying higher taxes to accomplish this, well I don’t think that is necessary. The problem isn’t that government needs more money to do that which is the purpose of government, the question is , is government spending our tax dollars in the manner that best serves the people of the state?
I contend that until the state and local governments are able to accomplish the basic obligations of their offices, then we should see no spending on things best left to the private sector. If our state cannot afford to clear our roads after a snow event, then tell me why we are paying for needles for junkies? Maybe the counties should take on the responsibility of clearing the back county roads, but of course this might mean that the county council would be unable to donate thousands of dollars to Little League organizations and other private groups.
Government should have a narrowly defined role in our lives. This should not include government funding of programs that can only encourage drug use. It should not include the funding of groups that can raise funds privately. It should not include mandated health care. Why do our state Representatives and Senators have funds for discretionary spending ? Could these funds not be put to better use clearing roads after snow events, rather than being used to buy votes ?
Our state can’t adequately clear the snow from the roads, yet we spend millions to increase the role of government through ever-expanding government programs.
Let us get back to basics, clear the roads and keep the peace.