After Buffalo Storm, Complaints of 'Embarrassing' Response

County executive calls out the mayor, who suggests his critic is too stressed
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 29, 2022 11:23 AM CST
After Buffalo Storm, Complaints of 'Embarrassing' Response
A car sits buried under snow Wednesday in Buffalo, New York.   (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

In Buffalo, the driving ban is now lifted, the region's death toll from its historic blizzard has risen to 37, and the snow has stopped falling. The blame game, however, appears to be just starting. Amid questions about how Buffalo, of all places, has been so slow to dig out, the mayor and the county executive are at odds:

  • Erie County exec: "The city, unfortunately, is always the last one to open," said Mark Poloncarz at a press briefing, per the New York Times. "It's embarrassing, to tell you the truth." He added: "I don't want to see this anymore—I'm sick of it—I'm a city resident myself. I know the mayor's not thrilled to hear it, but I don't care anymore. I want it done."
  • Mayor: Byron Brown, who has led the city for almost 17 years, suggested Poloncarz was a little stressed. "People have been working around the clock since the beginning of this storm," he said. "You know, some people handle that pressure a lot differently. Some keep working. Some keep trying to help the residents of our community, and some break down and lash out."

  • Factors: Brown insists the city has done as well as possible given the severity of the blizzard, which arrived two days before Christmas. He says the city's winter plan is designed to handle "normal snowfall," not blizzards, per the Washington Post, and this particular blizzard was the worst in recent memory. Also, the city itself bore the brunt of the storm; often, smaller outlying towns get slammed the hardest in local blizzards.
  • Driving ban: Poloncarz is taking responsibility for one aspect of the storm—his decision to wait until Friday morning to issue a driving ban, which went into effect only minutes before winds of nearly 80mph arrived. The county exec says his team made the best decision they could given the forecast and the need to allow overnight shift workers to return home. "If anyone's to be blamed, you can blame me," he said. "I'm the one who has to make the final call on behalf of the county."
  • Politics: At the Buffalo News, Robert J. McCarthy writes that the "politics of snow" is often a factor in local elections and that Poloncarz is about to launch his campaign for a fourth term. It's not a good look for either man, he notes. "Just as a community battered by blizzard looks to government for recovery, the region's top two leaders—both Democrats—now appear locked in a major sniping match."
(More Buffalo stories.)

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