“We Made The Right Call”

Mayor Daley's Chief of Staff, Ray Orozco, says mayor wasn't pleased

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Full Coverage: Blizzard 2011

Looking for someone to blame for Tuesday's disaster on the Drive?

Ray Orozco, Chief of Staff to Mayor Richard Daley, takes full responsibility.

"At the end of the day the Lake Shore Drive decision was a judgement call," Orozco said. "My judgement call."

He said he had a choice between creating a dangerous situation by forcing traffic into the Loop and the city's arterial streets, or keeping the Drive open despite conditions.

"If we could just for a moment imagine the wait times and possible accidents if we had routed motorists down town," he said.  "What we know at this time is that no serious injuries or loss of life during what was considered a life threatening storm. I believe it was the right call to make."

But several accidents caused a domino effect of backups on Lake Shore Drive that resulted in hundreds being stranded. 

Orozco said he couldn't give accurate figures on how many cars were still trapped on the road Wednesday afternoon, but he suggested it was somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 vehicles.

He said he would be able to provide some new figures later in the evening.

When asked what Daley thought about the situation, Orozco said he was less than thrilled.

"Was he pleased?" Orozco said. "I don't think the mayor was pleased.  I think he thinks we could have done better."

Daley did not address the public in the aftermath of the storm.

Orozco asked motorists who abandoned their cars to call the city's information line, 311, to check on the location, but according to some residents the cataloging effort is coming up short.

Jeannie Mulcahy, 28, said she called the number and didn't get much help.

"I spoke with a woman who basically told me she could give me no information about the location where my car was towed," Mulcahy said. "I said, 'So I pretty much have to just wander around, looking for my car until I find it?', and she said, 'That is correct.'"

Mulcahy isn't even sure her car has been removed. She said she left it on the road at around 3:45 a.m. and went home. She said she's not going to try again today.

"I'm going to leave it," she said.  "Last night was an ordeal that I don't want to relive."

Dozens of other motorists are out on the Drive looking for their cars, many without much luck.

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