Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Caught Between a Snowbank and a Hard Place

I hope my neighbors enjoy the sound of my snowthrower at 3:00 in the morning--because they might hear it a lot more often from now on. The Oshkosh Common Council votes tonight on amending the city's snow and ice removal ordinance to require sidewalks be cleared by noon the day after a snow event--a requirment that could prove very difficult for someone with my work schedule to meet--without pissing off his neighbors.

I am usually here in the newsroom by four a-m at the latest every weekday. As you can imagine, getting up that early requires going to bed early--so if the snow continues past 8:00 or 9:00 at night, it's going to keep piling up until I get up in the morning. And since I work until 2:00 in the afternoon at the earliest during the winter (there's no incentive to leave any earlier to play golf) that leaves me those few minutes at three a-m to get out there and clear my sidewalk.

I'm sure it will be just a matter of time before one of my neighbors gets fed up with my early morning snow removal and calls the cops. So then I would have to weigh the penalties of failing to clear the walk versus the fine for violating city noise ordinances. I'm guessing the fine for noise will be less than the cost of having city crews clear the walk--so I'll keep 'throwin at 3:00 am. Unfortunately, if I continue to rack up noise citations, my house could be deemed a "nuisance property" and then I would fall into a new category of ordinance enforcement that would result in continuing harassment from several city departments.

I guess I could take the risk of not clearing the snow until I get home from work--but knowing the ruthless efficiency the city shows in doing something that might generate revenue, I fully expect public works crews to be on my street checking the sidewalks by 12:01 the day after a snow event--ready to catch violators. If the "Snow Police" would come through in an actual plow or a salt truck that would be appreciated--maybe our street wouldn't look like a hockey rink by the middle of December every year.

Maybe the city wants me to take vacation to make sure the sidewalks get clear by noon. I could take half-days--leaving at 8:00 a-m--"Sorry boss can't stay, gotta get the snow off my sidewalk again today." Unfortunately, with the way winter is going around here now, I would have to save all of my vacation time for November and December so I'm ready to clear several inches of snow every other day.

In the Council packet for tonight's meeting, I see City Manager Mark Rohloff and Public Works director David Patek have sent along a memo saying they can live without the noon deadline--so long as other requirements are are still placed in the ordinance. Let's hope the Council uses some common sense as well and adopts an ordinance with which all residents can comply--without making enemies in the neighborhood.


  1. Not to worry. The police department says it would exercise some of that common sense with regard to one's work schedule.

  2. I can think of a lot of reasons that noon is not a practical time by which to have your walks cleared...Hopefully, sanity wikll prevail...

  3. If the city staff is ok with leaving it the way it is, then why did they bring this stupid noon deadline forward?????? Doesn't the city staff have better things to do?

  4. This is a portion of a response we received from an OPD officer when we asked for noise ordinance compliance for a neighbor snowblowing at 5AM

    "Officers need to be given the opportunity to evaluate each call and circumstance on the facts present. Not everything is black and white & not all violations deserve a ticket or enforcement action."

    "My example and reasoning is this - I have to be at work by 5:30am. In a heavy snow I feel an obligation to clear my sidewalk for pedestrians, may it be kids walking to school or an elderly neighbor walking to the store, so they don’t fall or get hurt. That means I have to get up an at least 40 minutes before I normally do to make sure it gets done. Since I have a corner lot and a snow blower, I’m very happy I have understanding neighbors. That is what a good neighbor does. I would much rather have a neighbor willing to get up early to snow blow his sidewalk clear than have a neighbor not clear."

  5. More piggish union greed news hits the papers today.

    Ben Franklin would be turning over in his grave if he could see what the institution he invented looks like today.

    The Post Office has lost $7.9 BILLION dollars in the past two years. In an attempt to stop the downward spiral, the Post Office is considering cutting back mail deliver from 6 days a week to 5 days a week.

    The biggest reason for the drop loss, and the biggest challenge to overcome is the cost of providing healthcare to current and future retirees. The postal service owes its retiree heath fund $7.4 billion this year alone.

    With 650,000 workers, the Postal Service is the United States third largest employer, after Wal-Mart and the Defense Department.

    Union contracts make layoffs rare…Raises are automatic…sounds similar to our teachers and city public sector workers.

    Greedy CEO’s and Greedy Unions are ruining this Country!