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City's snow response: As good as it gets

Let’s be up front about this: The Reporter is hardly a mouthpiece for the Menino administration. We have sharp differences with the mayor and his team, particularly over their hard-to-pin-down policy on the city’s libraries.

But there are plenty of things that Menino and his seasoned staff get right — and snow removal is one of them.

In fact, after 16 years at the helm, Tom Menino may well be the nation’s most experienced and proficient leader when it comes to managing big city snowfall.

That’s why last Thursday’s Boston Herald cover story, “We Did It Better,” was so absurd. In the piece, Menino’s predecessor, Ray Flynn, saw fit to assail the city’s response to last Wednesday’s snowstorm. Then, in a breathtaking bit of revisionist history, the former mayor asserted that his staff did such a superlative job clearing the streets that his hotline operators never fielded a single complaint!

Ray Flynn may have been a good field general, but even if he rivaled Menino’s team on the plowing front, it’s just absurd to suggest that no one ever grouched about the conditions of local streets. In fact, if the phones ever did stop ringing, it was likely a case of frustrated residents just giving up and saving the cost of a wasted phone call.

Today’s administration runs a tight ship when it comes to snow response. And they have tools that Ray’s crew never had: GPS trackers, Twitter feeds, Iphone Apps to alert city managers to problem spots. They encourage phone calls, texts and e-mails to help them clean the streets faster. That’s a good thing!

Menino’s current Public Works chief— Joanne Massaro — is only a year into her new position, but she’s no newbie when it comes to municipal management. Her track record so far has been superior. Under the mayor’s direction, Massaro and her team have been responsive and effective.

Of course, any city’s response is only as good as the next snowstorm. But, after so many years of getting it done well, there’s every confidence that Menino’s team is up to the challenges ahead in what has become a very busy winter.

– Bill Forry

Wire those branches
Last September, the Menino administration issued a press release announcing that most city buildings— including community centers and libraries— would be wired for high-speed internet broadband, thanks to a $4.3 million federal grant. The city planned to match that funding with another $1.4 million from its own sources.

But, despite the fact that the city’s original grant application included all branch libraries in its proposal, city officials — in making the announcement— said that Lower Mills and three other branches —then scheduled to close —would not get the high-speed upgrades.

This week, a city hall source says that no libraries have yet been wired under the broadband plan. But that should change in the near future. Now that the state has helped the BPL bridge its library budget gap, the Menino administration should put Lower Mills and all city branches on equal footing and add them to the broadband list. It’s the fair thing to do.

– BF