Snomaggedon: Critique The Governor’s Performance

Filed in National by on February 12, 2010

There’s been a lot of chatter on Twitter and elsewhere about the Governor’s performance during the snowstorm. The critiques I’ve seen are the following:

  • The governor is on a boondoggle in Europe while Delaware suffers from the snowstorm.
  • The State of Emergency was too draconian and lasted too long. It should have been lifted earlier.
  • On the positive side, many have praised the responsiveness of the governor’s office. Both the Delaware Emergency Management Agency and a new account on Twitter called @DelStormInfo kept the public informed about road conditions, storm conditions and power outages.

    What’s your opinion? Did the Governor respond too zealously to the storm? Did he declare a State of Emergency too soon and did it last too long? What about his economic development trip to Europe during the storm, was this the wrong move?

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    Comments (43)

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    1. hey anonny nonny says:

      Was the trip the governmentally smart thing to do? Yes.

      Was it the politically smart thing to do? Hell, no. He should have been out there shoveling, riding plows, camping out at DEMA, visiting shelters, talking to utility companies, checking out the scene and getting his picture in the papers and on TV.

      Or else he should have let Matt Denn get some of the glory.

    2. I agree, anonny. Politics is as much about perception as reality. The optics of the trip looked bad.

    3. Mark H says:

      “he should have let Matt Denn” yes he should have 🙂 Even though Markel probably made sound decisions during this emergency, the reality of the situation is that he was making these decisions while still in Europe. Denn should have been tapped because he was still in the state.

    4. fightingbluehen says:

      Deldot didn’t do a very good job on the roads here in Sussex .

    5. Delaware Dem says:

      Hey Annony Nonny nails it. The Governor was monitoring the situation back hom throughout the day on Wednesday and Thursday while in London, as his frequent interviews on air on the Philly stations and WDEL can attest. And he no doubt can do two things at once, and attempting to bring jobs to Delaware is a worthy cause.

      That said, the appearance of it was bad. But hey, if I were Governor Markell and that was the worst criticism I get I can live with that.

      As for the criticism of the driving ban, that is idiotic. Public safety is first and foremost a priority, and that same idiot who made this criticism would no doubt criticize the Governor if people died on the roads without a driving ban.

    6. Delaware Dem says:

      FBH, but hey, you have your socialist farmers, who are so much superior to DelDOT, there to help you guys. 😉

    7. meatball says:

      The driving ban in Kent and Sussex remained in effect yesterday at the request of local police because as FBH pointed out many of the back roads were still in pretty bad shape.

    8. hey anonny nonny says:

      DD, I agree with you 100 percent on the driving ban. The people who were out motoring around in this mess should have been arrested and taken to jail, not just issued a citation and court summons. Unless you were going to a shelter, there was no good reason to be out in the thick of it. The driving ban was in place for a damn good reason.

      Yeah, Sussex got the short end of the stick – because we have fewer people and more roads. It makes more sense to put most of your resources in the more densely-populated areas. I hate to say it, but DelDOT did the right thing. That doesn’t make me less ticked off that the road outside my development still hasn’t been plowed, but I can certainly understand how it works.

    9. Another Mike says:

      Jack was in a no-win situation. If he was here shoveling and riding DelDOT trucks he would have been criticized for seeking publicity. I agree he should have just turned things over to Denn, but I’m not going to criticize him for doing what he can to preserve jobs in Delaware.

    10. The roads in NCCo were in good shape, at least the parts I’ve seen. Hopefully more plows and drivers can get down to Sussex to help out there.

    11. anon says:

      Denn WAS out in the snow, but the drifts were five feet high, so…

    12. hey anonny nonny says:

      OUCH. Good one.

    13. Mark H says:

      Maybe he’s the old looking kid I threw a snowball at 🙂

    14. Jason330 says:

      This is bullshit. Whatever Markell does is going to be shat upon by David Burris and co. Any Democrat is well served to ignore Any and all GOP concern trolling.

    15. Dave Burris actually defended the governor on Twitter, just so you know.

    16. Jason330 says:

      It’s a trick. I view burriscopelandcridegopcastle as a ten headed monster. One head might try to make sense once in a while but they share the same stomach.

    17. Geezer says:

      Just so I have this straight, the criticism is that Markell didn’t do any of the bullshit, meaningless stuff for the camera that the commenters here suddenly think is important. Really? When did pushing back against that sort of bullshit fall off the agenda?

    18. fightingbluehen says:

      The captain abandoned ship.

    19. nemski says:

      This is stoopid. So Markell is suppose to plan trips based on whether bad weather is going to happen? Really? So I guess he can’t take his family on vacation in the summer in case a hurricane hits. I guess he can’t take his kids to Disney during spring break in case an ice storm hits.

      I guess who could have flown back from London. Oh wait, the airports were closed.

      The only way this looks bad politically is if you are an ignoramus.

    20. hey anonny nonny says:

      nemski – He didn’t leave until Saturday night. Everyone knew on Friday that a big storm was coming.

    21. anonone says:

      He abandoned his snow plow. It is that simple.

    22. Geezer says:

      Yes, that’s certainly a good way to impress foreign business leaders with your state’s workforce — show that they’re such wusses that they can’t cope with a snowstorm unless the governor suffers with them. You’re serious? Really? Do you get out of Delaware much, or is this parochialism endemic?

    23. pandora says:

      I think it’s both, Geezer. Suggest going to Philadelphia for dinner and watch the reaction. 🙂

      These are ridiculous accusations, especially since, by all accounts, Delaware handled the aftermath of the storms pretty well. I don’t understand what critics think would have happened differently had the Governor been in town.

    24. nona says:

      Markell handled the situation fine. There was no need for his physical presence anyway. Bitching otherwise is just ankle biting.

      I am a bit more exercised that it took this situation to reveal that Markell was off on a European junket. It is a waste of very tight state money even if Markell is impressive in person.

      In reality these trips have yet to produce a single result ever no matter what state officials have gone—especially and including the Governor. They are an excuse to have taxpayers fund an all expenses paid vacation and nothing more. If this Markell trip produces one single quantifiable result for Delaware count me shocked. Markell would certainly live up to the praise he gets around here if this happens.

      It will be interesting to see the final cost breakdown once Jack gets back.

    25. hey anonny nonny says:

      Actually, it appears that it was only the blowhard-in-chief at WGMD who didn’t know Markell was on a trip. TNJ reported on it last week.

    26. kavips says:

      Actually instead of postulating, one should look at results..

      Anyone who had to go to work after both snow storms, at least in New Castle County, was very impressed with the total openness of all major highways…

      The state did a good job. They should be commended… Even smarter, was the banning of travel. That allowed the state to do it’s good job. In fact, that should become the model for all states. Gov. Markell should be allowed to speak of it’s success at the next governors forum.

      Better to close down a few hours, then pay for not doing so the next several months…

      This is what happens when you run a state based on science and not someone’s opinion… It is a refreshing change and all of Delaware should be proud… Just compare facebook pictures of our state’s roads with those from New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania… When it came to facing a record snowfall… Delaware dominated….

      We should be proud to have such responsible leadership….

    27. Geezer says:

      “They are an excuse to have taxpayers fund an all expenses paid vacation and nothing more.”

      Yes, Germany in February is the height of the tourist season. Does the ignorance ever cease? BTW, feel free to offer proof of the claim that no overseas trade trip has ever produced results.

    28. hey anonny nonny says:

      “Better to close down a few hours, then pay for not doing so the next several months…”

      Or with someone’s life.

      I’m still amazed by the number of people who got pissed off because they couldn’t drive. People, the roads weren’t freaking safe! In many places, they still aren’t! Give it a rest.

    29. Personally, I think the SOE and driving ban was the right decision. The roads were very clear this morning when I commuted. I probably agree that the ban went on too long, but I only see the roads in my neighborhood so I don’t know how others looked. I think adding some transparency to the decision-making process would help there, such as “x% of roads were passable so the ban was lifted.”

      As far as the trip, I don’t think it was a big deal that he was in Europe. The business of the state has to go on, but I do think there is an optics issue in politics and I can see how it would look bad. In the long run I don’t think it will be important because we came out of the emergency in pretty good shape.

    30. Miscreant says:

      Where Markell was during the storm, is irrelevant to me as long as it was state business. He’s accomplished so little during his term, I hardly notice he’s here when he is.

      The first State of Emergency was too late, and the second (driving ban) was too long, at least in Sussex.

      If I subscribed to conspiracy theories like Del Dem does, I’d say it was payback for being a conservative area of the state (but I don’t subscribe to conspiracies like Del Dem).


    31. June says:

      Jack Markell is a proactive kind of governor, and his trip to Europe to attempt to convince the home offices of the large employers in Delaware that Delaware is the best place to keep their employees, not lay them off, and even hopefully add more employees was justified 100%. That’s the reason he went – it was not a junket or a waste of money if the possibility exists to bring more jobs to Delaware. And, as others have said, he didn’t need to be here for a snowstorm. I think he’s doing a great job!

    32. missundaztood says:

      Governor Markell’s trip was very similar to one that Minner took towards the end of her way too long career as Governor. Minner even made the Barclay’s stop to secure a promise to grow jobs, just like Markell.

    33. Dana Garrett says:

      Governor Markell did the right thing going to Europe. Denn was more than capable of going, but when the Governor goes, it lends a seriousness to the talks that cannot be conferred by the Lt. Gov. making the trip.

      Gov. Markell did well w/ the snow emergency. I didn’t see a call that he made that was unjustified. He did a great job.

    34. Joanne Christian says:

      Dana, I agree w/ your first statement–but he should have deferred to Denn as “boots on the ground” to make the snow decisions here–and then have it reported as “after consultation w/ the Lt. Gov.,…” or some such statement. The way the “Governor in London” kept sounding to me, was like a parent calling home, when a capable in-law or babysitter can manage w/ a few pointers of who to call–especially since there was no chance of his getting home. Kinda underscores the unimportance of the Lt. Governor I guess. But hey, at least we could find him–and he wasn’t on some Appalachian trail. Maybe it was Denn we couldn’t find?!:)

    35. I thought Governor Markell handled the twin blizzards as well as anyone could have, considering that we experienced a once-in-a-century kind of snowfall that the state couldn’t possibly prepare for. My only gripe is that the driving ban lasted too long; in Sussex it was in effect until 6 PM, which was when the roads were beginning to re-freeze, after a day of sunshine. Major roadways were passable, and many businesses (especially chains) opened despite the ban, forcing employees to work and risk being ticketed. In future situations, officials should do a better job of matching bans to road conditions, and not penalize drivers who are able to drive safely in snowy conditions.

    36. Tom S says:

      Leaders need to be visible during crises. Hillary went to Haiti. Bush should have been in New Orleans after Katrina. Markell should have returned when this happened.

      In spite of this, I hope his European efforts are better than Minner’s.

    37. a.price says:

      this wasn’t exactly a Haiti style crisis, Tom. It wasn’t even Katrina. We got a little snow. the Evac routs were clear. some people died shoveling. kids got a few days off from school.
      But i forgot. the wingnuts have to find everything wrong with everything all dems do all the time.

    38. M. McKain says:

      While I understand a need to divert resources to the most populated areas, the effort in parts of Sussex was just pathetic. Route 9 one of the major east-west roads, was still a sheet of ice in places two days after the storm had passed. After the first storm, there were even parts of route 1 near Lewes that were only one lane. I don’t think this can be pinned on Markell necessary, but it is issue that needs to be resolved before another major storm hits, be it next week or next decade.

      As far as him being home or being here, as long as he had a handle on the situation and was calling the shots, I don’t see why it is a major issue. The driving ban was, I think, necessary down here given the state of the roads, if for no other reason than it deterred greedy employers from calling in workers when it was unsafe or impossible for them to travel.

    39. Miscreant says:

      “The driving ban was, I think, necessary down here given the state of the roads, if for no other reason than it deterred greedy employers from calling in workers when it was unsafe or impossible for them to travel”

      Get out much, or do you believe everything the media feeds you? As an earlier poster indicated, the driving ban was lifted too late, and to lift it when the roads were beginning to refreeze was irresponsible. To emphasize what a joke it was, many “greedy” businesses were open all day, and calling in their employees. My daughter and her husband both lost pay because of the lateness of the lift.

      No fault of Markell, though. He was merely regurgitating the slop he was fed by the idiots at DEMA. Having spent many hours in the DEMA “bunker” (prior to, and after the move to Smyrna) during weather emergencies, you’d be amazed at what a total clusterfuck it is.

    40. Mark H says:

      “you’d be amazed at what a total clusterfuck it is”

      Not really as I know some of the actors there (or know of them). Mis, I whole heartily agree with your assessment. Too many damn people there for one.

    41. hey anonny nonny says:

      What’s the problem with DEMA? Why is it a clusterfuck?

    42. “Jack Markell is a proactive kind of governor…. his trip to Europe”


      Actually, this trip was hardly what you’d call proactive, June. Sorry.

      Though I sincerely also wish him well on his presentations, this is the exact same trip taken by Carper and by Minner over a decade to visit most of the same exact corporate offices. There is nothing proactive here.

      In fact, when Jack was running, Minner had just left for one of these exact same trips in Oct. 2008 and there was a big buzz about her wasting state resources –seeing as how many of these ‘econ dev’ trips she took and how large her entourage tended to be and how little was seemingly gained for all the money spent.

      Jack Markell did make statements at the time and reitereated them through the spring of 2009 that he wasn’t going to follow that pattern and would start small and build local entrepreneurship.

      When Jack came to speak in Newark this fall at a town hall that Schooley and Kowalko hosted, the Governor actually made a plea to the audience to go ahead give his administration a call if they knew of anyone anywhere with a business that might want to come to Delaware. It frankly sounded lame that the governor was not able to get the businesses to come here so he was asking everyday constituents for help. Whose paygrade is that supposed to be under?

      Anyway, obviously, the BushcObama administration’s handling of the economic bailout is mostly to blame for the plight of small business by not ensuring that the credit for business on the Main Streets of America was flowing. It all went for Wall Street global players who simply folded the cash back onto itself.

      And what Markell was floating around here, the LIFT program, was seemingly little utilized. It wasn’t designed for brand new business entrepreneurs because it was geared to people with at least three years invested already. The feds needed to have taken care of our Main Street credit problem as promised.

    43. Geezer says:

      “Actually, this trip was hardly what you’d call proactive, June. Sorry.”

      Since you’re so concerned with the theoretical, Nancy, maybe you missed the real-world context — two large Delaware employers have announced payroll cuts of several thousand jobs each. Indeed, Markell’s predecessors made similar trips (often to Detroit) in the face of such outside factors.

      Do you suggest such trips no longer be made? Do you have any evidence about whether such trips have accomplished as little as you claim? Ruth Ann Minner probably brushed her teeth every day — should we all stop brushing so we can be as little as possible like Ruth Ann Minner?

      The folks who complained about those trips were political enemies, usually Republicans. The next good point you make about this subject will be your first.