Editor's Note: Ward Room Blogger Ted McClelland often uses satire. This is one of those times. Please, do not interpret Rahm Emanuel's ability to control the weather as fact.
It’s no coincidence that the first winter of Rahm Emanuel’s mayoralty has been the most snowless season any of us can remember.
As part of his austerity program for the city, the mayor has cancelled Winter 2011-12 in Chicago.
“The Blizzard of 2011 cost the city of Chicago $37.3 million in road salt, overtime for Streets and Sanitation and Department of Aviation employees, and gasoline for snowplows,” Emanuel said during a press conference at the Millennium Park skating rink on Wednesday. “When I came into office, I promised to immediately find $75 million in savings in the city’s budget. Cancelling winter will bring us almost halfway toward that goal.”
Emanuel recently returned from a vacation in Chile and Argentina, and was impressed with the amount of money those countries save by not having to plow snow.
“I met with the mayor of Buenos Aires, and he told me his city doesn’t even own a snow plow,” Emanuel said. “Right now, the moratorium on winter is temporary. We’re hoping to find enough money in next year’s budget for snow in 2012-13. On the other hand, if we can eliminate programs like snow plowing entirely, it will be much easier to balance the city’s budget. The city is not a seasonal employment agency for snowplow drivers.”
Emanuel announced he will also consult with the mayors of Los Angeles, Miami, Mexico City and Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, to learn how they’ve managed to avoid snow and its attendant expenses.
Predictably, businesses that make their living off snow were incensed.
“Cancelling winter is going to put us out of business,” predicted the owner of a Lincoln Square ski shop. “This may result in short-term revenue savings for the city, but it’s going to cause long-term economic damage.”
Advocates for the poor also decried the cancellation of winter.
“Until this year, snow was a resource available to all Chicagoans, regardless of income,” said a spokeswoman for the Chicago Poverty Action Alliance. “Now, sledding, snowmen and snowball fights are pastimes that can only be enjoyed by Mayor 1% and his cronies, who have the means to vacation in winter resorts such as Vail and Stowe.”
However, the mayor’s action was applauded by the Petroleum Institute.
“The oil industry had been denying the existence of global warming for over 30 years,” the Institute said in a press release. “But now that responsible public officials are realizing the cost savings of eliminating winter…we want to say we’re excited about the profit opportunity, too, because people drive more when it doesn’t snow.”