Monday, February 26, 2007

Ed's Icy Valentine

Yesterday's Tribune-Review had a timely article by Brad Bumsted assessing the political fallout for Governor Ed Rendell from the 50-mile traffic jam on an icy interstate near Allentown on Valentine's Day. Interesting passage:

didn't learn about the I-78 problem until at least six hours after it began. He was in Philadelphia -- watching a basketball game on TV -- when he found out about the ice storm that weather forecasters had been predicting all day.

His office later investigated and faulted PennDOT, the state police and Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, which didn't fully activate its emergency center until 7:50 p.m. Feb. 14 for a storm that began Feb. 13 in central Pennsylvania and continued the next day.

"It's very clear there was a major breakdown in communications," said state Rep. Jennifer Mann, D-Allentown, who was stranded for about six hours on the highway. "From all accounts, there was no information out there saying this highway was closed. My situation was mild compared to people who spent the night on the highway in frigid temperatures."

Mann, a strong supporter of the Democratic governor, termed the administration's response "unforgivable." She said she received an apology over the phone from Transportation Secretary Allen Biehler, of Crafton, but was "too emotional" to even listen to him.

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