Snowplowing in D-3, let’s set the record straight

To access Teri’s online endorsement form, please visit www.TeriMurrison.com/endorse.

I’ve been getting some emails after Tuesday’s Board discussion on snowplowing that indicate there’s a good bit of confusion out there about who said what and what my position is on hiring a law enforcement officer to ticket cars parked in the right of way during snowplowing operations (see below).

The paper’s account did not contain all that was said by me or by staff. If you’d like to know what was said, you can contact me like the constituent whose email appears below, watch it on Channel 8 this Saturday morning, or you can get a VCR tape of the meeting by calling 928-3263 or emailing kathleen22@frontiernet.net.

If you are available and want your views to be heard, we will be discussing the issue again at our Board meeting next Tuesday.  It will likely be discussed between 9:30 and 12:00.

I am concerned that some may have the wrong impression of my position based on the newspaper coverage… Please pass this on to your friends and neighbors in District 3. It’s important to set the record straight. Here it is.

I said several times during the meeting, it’s a big job to keep our roads clear. The crews are under significant pressure to get it done, especially when we have low snows. That said, I get numerous complaints every time it snows.

Public Works staff told me last year that much of their problem in getting to all the county-maintained roads in a timely manner was due to obstructions in the roadways. The Director suggested hiring a retired law enforcement officer to ticket cars parked in the right of way would help. I thought he had a great idea, but when it came down to hiring that person, apparently the problem isn’t such a big deal anymore.

The Director now says that there are only a few problem areas and his Roads Supervisor can handle it himself. That’s not what he represented a year ago, not what he agreed to do, and it’s not what I told my constituents the county would do. I have a problem with that.

I may be in the minority on the Board on this one (the vote was 4/1), but will continue to advocate that we investigate current practices and adopt improvements wherever possible – especially with regard to snowplowing. Despite assertions made last Tuesday that those who complain are not native to the area and need to get used to living in the snow or move down lower, the county should listen and be willing to consider that we can do things differently and better.

There’s always room for improvement.

Obviously we can’t satisfy everyone, but if we look for better ways to do things, are attentive to customer service, and drop defensive attitudes, we’ll make some folks happy and get fewer complaints.

****

Sent: Thursday, February 05, 2009 11:49 AM
To: info@terimurrison.com
Subject: your snow position

Hi Teri

Regarding the article in the Union Democrat about your snow removal position.

It’s nice you are so worried about the poor folks getting their cars towed but….

There is plenty of warning regarding parked cars already during snow removal operations.

Not only are they (the folks who park their cars in the road) a hazard to the snow removal crews, but they are also a nuisance to their neighbors who have to traverse the road to get home.

One neighbor doesn’t want a snow berm in front of their place so they park their vehicles in the road, so who get’s their berm – me.

These so called libertarians also seem to be the ones with the barking dogs and the junked cars scattered in their yards.

We need less “civil liberties” not more in our neighborhoods in matters that involve their neighbors.

Please reconsider your position.

I wrote back:

Thanks, Mr. ________. I appreciate your concerns. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am concerned about the proliferation of laws enacted on a daily basis in the county, state, and country. But actually I was attempting to compel Public Works to consistently enforce the No Parking ordinance. They steadfastly refused and the Board backed them up.

Please get a hold of a copy of the Board meeting video or tune into the Channel 8 rebroadcast on Saturday morning so that you fully understand what was discussed and my position… I am very glad to continue this conversation once you have heard the whole discussion. My phone number is 533-5521.

He responded:

Thank you for your reply. The proliferation of laws doesn’t seem to be the problem – it’s the lack of enforcement, or maybe the subjective enforcement that bothers me. Unfortunately I’m a satellite subscriber so am unable to view the Board meeting. Again, thanks for the reply and it’s good to hear at least one of the Board members is looking out for the majority, and not the very vocal minority.

To which I replied:

I totally share your concern… My question about how anyone would know if they were parked in a spot that would be ticketed went to the issue of consistency. How can we wink at some areas and expect the other areas to conform? How will people who live up here be able to tell where it’s safe to park and not safe to park? That’s just not right…

****

I dislike whining. I never make a big deal when the paper doesn’t print what I think should have been reported. They’ve got a tough job too and get very little ink to tell a story. But this is a very important issue for us in District 3 – an extremely contentious issue. If I have to take heat for my position, let it be for the right reasons. I want to set the record straight and I want you to hear it from me.

Please feel free to comment online or contact me for more information at 533-5521.

Posted by

I like going places: out West, west of the West, and all the way around the back of the globe to the East. I like to go by train, plane, automobile, horseback. Whatever. And I like writing about what I see, feel, hear, smell, and touch all along the way and once I get there.

9 thoughts on “Snowplowing in D-3, let’s set the record straight

  1. I can not belive you could be misquoted in our Union Democrat ( formerly "Daily Union Democrat", D.U.D.) But I did want to know you have more heart then reported. I have enjoyed many times charging into Harvey's office,to explain what meant, not as it was reported. I was, and still am the P.R. Rep. for the Friends of the Sierra Rail Road.I was right in the middle of pro railroaders, and the 'Not in my back yard folks.Thank goodness the D.U.D. was always there for us, or there would not be a Railtown today. Keep up the good fight, and don't let the BUGGERS where you down.
    Yours, R. J. and Shari

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    1. Thanks, Rusty & Shari! The Union Democrat and their reporters have a tough job trying to accurately convey what is said at the Board meetings where there is so much more said than could ever be captured in a few column inches. That is precisely why for the past two years I have continued to advocate for online video of Board meetings. I will continue to do so.

      You should be able to get on the county website and easily play back the portion of the meeting you want to hear, but until the Board budgets for it, it can’t happen. The reality is that with the current budget crisis, it may not happen this year either. In the meantime, you CAN listen live to every Tuesday morning Board meeting (audio only) on KVML AM 1450 and http://www.MyMotherLode.com. Please do that.

      The public has a right to know what is being said and done downtown – especially when they can’t be there.

      Like

  2. Teri
    I am amused when I hear the stories of people who complain that either their roads did not get plowed or their driveway was gifted with a berm or their car got towed or all three. Well, you are right, that we can not please everyone and it is a shame that the UD reporter can not get their story right which only causes for some people to complain to you. Hang in there; soon we have not to worry since Al Gore predicts global warming and we may not get any snow in the near future, or even the sky may fall, who knows. Ice ages have come and gone and so have warming periods and the earth survived; maybe not all creatures, though.

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  3. Hello Teri,

    I believe you've done an excellent job of attempting to explain the snow plowing situation. Though I am now retired, keeping the county roadways, especially those in the higher elevations, clear for plowing has been a tedious job. Often while I was still working, the most patrol units available at a time to assist in removal of vehicles to facilitate plowing was perhaps three. Other times, only one unit was available due to collisions and other calls for service. Many times, these removal efforts were hampered by inability to contact vehicle owners and long waits for tow trucks. On top of this, the emergent nature of required plowing in certain areas (steep sections of Crystal Falls, Phoenix Lake Road, Twain Harte Drive, and other areas prone to traffic collisions) delayed the availability of plows in other areas also needing service. Everyone needs to do our part to ensure the plows can work in all areas in a timely and safe manner. If this means utilizing other means to assist with or compel vehicle removal, then perhaps that needs to occur.

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    1. If anyone knows, you do, Steve! I appreciate your support for utilizing other means. Snowplowing is on our agenda tomorrow for further discussion. A strong outpouring of public support for hiring the part-time, temporary law enforcement officer is what it will take. Thanks for speaking out! Teri

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  4. Remember the Perils of Pauline? I have a new installment called the Perils of Parking. I have tried in vain to search for the actual parking laws in snow conditions on line. It isn't in the Parking section of the Driving handbook. How can I find it? What if every citizen converged upon the county courthouse seeking that information, or perhaps a copy of all the laws that apply to us. God forbid that we have to weed through all the information to find what we are specifically looking for.
    We live in the mountains & snow is a reality. Many of us have steep driveways. If we return home during a snow storm & can't get up the driveway where do you suggest that we park? I really don't believe that people are parking along side the roadways in a pre-determined effort to thwart the snow plow drivers. Niether can I think that people are randomly leaving something as expensive as a car in harms way on purpose.
    I understand that the snow plow drivers have a difficult job to do & that we all need to do our part in helping them safely do their job. But citizens can't comply with the laws if the regulations are playing hide & seek.

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  5. County snow removal policy is found in Chapter 10 of our Ordinance Code at: http://portal.co.tuolumne.ca.us/psp/ps/TUP_COUNTY

    Public Works "may [emphasis added] remove… any vehicle parked or left standing on the traveled way [and right of way]…" I was told last year plows are slow because of all the obstacles in the roads. Staff said they'd ticket/tow everything and presented a plan to hire an extra help law enforcement officer to take care of it. But that didn't acknowledge the lack of offstreet parking in many areas, so instead enforcement must be selective.

    I was greatly bothered by the inconsistencies in what we said we'd do and what we do. So the info we distribute will be changed to say on-street parking MAY be a problem and your car MAY be towed. But it MAY not. Look for a bright pink notice on your vehicle and Barry will try to contact you before he sends a tow truck. Call 533-6533 and ask someone to stop by your house to be sure.

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