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Volume xviii, Issue 7 ~ February 18 - February 24, 2010

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What we missed and what we didn’t

In Chesapeake Country, indeed much of the Mid-Atlantic, postponement, enforced by snow, is the new law of the land. Day by day, my list of postponements, and postponers, grows.

Perhaps you’ll help me add to it, as Presidents Day already has. Perhaps more snow will add to it, as well.

The federal government is our biggest postponer. From Friday, Feb. 5 through Thursday, Feb. 11, the federal government shut down. On Feb. 12, President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, it slowly reopened. Presidents’ Day closed big government down again. All that time off wasn’t cheap. Each day’s shutdown costs us all $100 million a day, according to Washington Post reports via unofficial estimates out of the Office of Personnel Management.

In Congress, snow may have cost the Democrats their new jobs bill — or at least the momentum to get it done soon.

Forget neither snow nor sleet nor rain. The U.S. Postal Service in Maryland closed down Feb. 6 and 10, with limited service the rest of the week as letter carriers were instructed not to deliver to mailboxes and locations they considered too difficult or unsafe. How many days did you go without mail?

Or newspapers? Many households with home newspaper delivery got to fast-forward to all digital paper reading. The presses were running at the Washington Post, Baltimore Sun and Annapolis Capital; delivery trucks, cars and vans often weren’t. Especially in Annapolis, where all private vehicles were banned from city streets most of the first weekend of February.

Although we worried, snow didn’t stop Bay Weekly or our valiant delivery drivers. They slipped, slid and plowed through, so if you could get out to find your paper, it was waiting for you.

Radio, television and computers kept a lot of us from house-bound madness as event cancellations piled up. If this week’s calendar looks like last week’s, don’t blame calendar editor Diana Beechener. Blame the snow. If you missed watching the Terps beat the Cavaliers, blame the snow — but not the stars. The rescheduled date, Feb. 15, brought victory, if not television coverage, to the Maryland men.

Like the federal government, Annapolis city government turtled in for the duration. County government also gave into the snow. Anne Arundel and Calvert closed down, except for emergency operations, for most of a week. Presidents’ Day shut down both again.

School closed, starting Friday, Feb. 5. With Presidents’ Day adding to the long vacation, Calvert kids enjoyed an 11-day winter vacation. Anne Arundel kids got an extra day, with schools taking off Feb. 16 to make sure sidewalks were passable and bus stops safe.

Trash collection and recycling piled up for more than a week.

Snow slowed down Maryland state government. With liberal leave in effect on Wednesday, Feb. 10 and Thursday, Feb. 11, state employees got to work if they could — and if they didn’t want to give up two leave days.

The Maryland General Assembly was in session all week, but most public hearings were cancelled, as was the regular Friday morning meeting of the Anne Arundel delegation.

What did we miss in our week mostly without government? I’ve heard no complaints of anarchy or lawlessness in a week when no new laws were passed.

But we’d have complained bitterly — and many did — if the plow drivers and salt spreaders postponed going to work.

What did we learn?

• We want government to do just what we want, exactly when we want, perfectly and no matter the cost — which has now risen to over $100 million for state roads alone. Big bad government is government doing a job somebody else wants. Or leaving a road imperfectly cleared.

• How much we postponers depend on neighbors who don’t postpone or cancel: the linemen, the EMTs, grocers, waiters and nurses, who didn’t stay home.

• How much we depend on the flow of print information to our door, yard or mail and newspaper boxes.

• How glad we are snow doesn’t fall on Chesapeake Country every year.

Sandra Olivetti Martin

editor and publisher; [email protected]


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from the Editor