Mayor Finch: Damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t?

What happens when you are Mayor Bill Finch and you declare a snow emergency and there’s no snow?

At least around St. Vincent’s Medical Center, the city Thursday morning was ticketing vehicles parked on plow routes.

Those $75 tickets were issued between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. As I type this at 7 p.m. there is still no real snow coming down, but the emergency and related parking restrictions remain in place because the weather is expected to worsen tonight.

Seeking to be proactive about the coming storm after facing intense criticism for his response to February’s blizzard, Finch declared a snow emergency beginning at 5 p.m. Wednesday.

That blizzard dumped 30 inches of snow on the city. The forecasts for Wednesday night into Thursday called for only three inches. Obviously the administration decided it would take a chance at being accused of overreacting rather than being accused of not learning any lessons from last month, when it had been snowing all day before the mayor’s emergency declaration went into effect.

And if you’re the Finch administration, which after the blizzard blamed the slow cleanup on drivers – also known locally as yahoos – who ditched their cars along key plow routes under large drifts, maybe you’ve got a right to write tickets. People need to learn a lesson. A snow emergency is a snow emergency. Maybe the weather experts will be on target, maybe they won’t, but the city has to make a call and residents have to follow the rules.

And if you’re someone (say the employees and students at St. Vincent’s we interviewed this afternoon) who parked your car on a snow-free street in the a.m., returned hours later to a snow-free street AND a ticket for parking in a snow storm, maybe you’ve got a right to be ticked off and believe the city should have used better judgment.

So who is right? And will the city accept “it didn’t snow” as a basis for a ticket appeal?

Brian Lockhart