Daley: ‘We Still Have A Long Way To Go’

Updated 02/03/11 – 1:00 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayor Richard M. Daley on Thursday praised the efforts of city workers in digging out from this week’s blizzard, but said “we still have a long way to go.”

At a news conference at the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications, Daley said city workers “did a tremendous job and are still doing a tremendous job” responding to the third largest blizzard in Chicago history.

“Although the snow has ended, the effects of the snow will be with us for a while, so please be very careful if you have to venture outside,” Daley said. “We’re heading back toward normal conditions, but we still have a long way to go.”

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s John Cody Reports

The mayor also defended his decision on Wednesday not to address the media in person, instead having his top aides provide updates on the cleanup efforts.

“I didn’t think it was necessary. These people speak for me,” Daley said, referring to his department bosses. “I’m one who delegates. I don’t sit here thinking I’m going to run everything. That’s a mistake.”

“This is not a Daley show,” the mayor added.

The mayor also noted that he was at OEMC for several hours on Tuesday and Wednesday during the blizzard and that he also went out on rides through the city to see the snow clearing efforts firsthand.

Several of the candidates running to succeed Daley as mayor have criticized the city’s handling of Lake Shore Drive during the blizzard, when hundreds of cars became stranded on the Drive, forcing the city to shut it down from Tuesday night until early Thursday morning.

Some of the candidates have said there needs to be a review of the city’s decisions about Lake Shore Drive and changes should be made to the city’s snow response plans to make sure something like that doesn’t happen again.

Calling those critics “Monday morning quarterbacks,” Daley said the city always reviews its handling of major storms.

But Daley refused to second guess the decisions of his top aides during the blizzard.

“I have confidence in all these people making decisions,” he said. “All of them did a tremendous job. … They did a very, very good job.”

Daley said he believes the city needs to build more barriers along Lake Shore Drive and more breakwaters in Lake Michigan to protect Lake Shore Drive against high winds and high waves during major storms.

“We need barriers out in the lake to prevent the northwest winds coming in from Diversey all the way to Oak Street,” Daley said.

At the news conference, top officials from virtually every city department said they have been working around the clock since the start of the blizzard to keep the city running despite the heavy snow.

The city’s full fleet of 274 snow plows and 120 quick-hitch plows had been focusing on Lake Shore Drive and the city’s main arterial streets since the start of the storm on Tuesday afternoon.

Early Thursday morning, the city’s plows began clearing the city’s side streets, but Daley and other top city officials said they could not estimate how soon every side street would be cleared.

Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Tom Byrne said, “We’ll do it as quickly as we possibly can.”

In addition to the city’s 274 snow plows, Byrne said that 200 pieces of construction equipment such as back hoes and high lifts were being used to help with efforts to clear the side streets.

“We have been working non-stop since the storm hit,” Byrne added.

Meantime, the city’s airports were back up and running on Thursday, after most flights were canceled at both Midway and O’Hare International Airports after the blizzard hit Tuesday afternoon.

Aviation Commissioner Rosemarie Andolino said officials expected Thursday would be a very busy day at both airports as airlines worked to arrange flights for those travelers who have been waiting for two days to get out of Chicago.

Andolino said that both of Midway’s runways have been up and running since Wednesday night. At O’Hare, two runways were opened Wednesday evening and, have gradually opened three others. By Thursday afternoon, officials expected to have six runways operating at O’Hare.

The Chicago Public Schools and the City Colleges of Chicago also were scheduled to reopen on Friday after both were closed for two days in a row due to the blizzard.

CPS Acting Chief Executive Officer Terry Mazany said that school officials have been working hard to clear the parking lots and sidewalks at all public schools.

“Because the majority of our neighborhood schools are located with side street access, we’ve had to focus much of our efforts on clearing the sidewalks, parking lots and delivery efforts,” Mazany said. “We’ve worked closely with Streets and Sanitation on prioritizing streets that lead into and out of our schools. This is clearly an enormous task and Streets and Sanitation has done a remarkable job.”

But Mazany said that busing for students would not resume until Monday. Only about 5 percent of CPS’s 400,000 students take school buses to school every day, Mazany said.

“Many of these buses transport special education students and they require special lifts in transferring of students that is not practical or possible with the level of snow that we have,” Mazany said. “That’s a risk that we’re not willing to take, therefore we will not resume busing until Monday.”

As many as 47 schools lost power during the blizzard, but Mazany said “only a few” were still without power as of Thursday morning.

  • Theresa

    Who will plow the alley’s? Or should I say when will the alley’s get plowed? We have tremencous snowodrifts and we are unable to get our cars out of garages in my neighborhood. We need HELP!!!

    • Common Sense

      The alleys are considered private property. They don’t get plowed by the city. You’re on your own.

    • Mark

      Grab a shovel

    • Gerald Spencer

      Get your car out? For what? If you are so special and need to get out, call your limo service.

  • Richie

    That’s right, the world revolves around you, Theresa!

    • luke

      Why wait for someone to do it for you? take care of it yourself! katrina should have taught you a lession that you can’t reliy on someone else to fix things! wheres that american spirt of WE CAN DO IT!!!!!!!! heaven forbid we need to do that when there is a real national disaster!

      • Matthew

        It’s not a matter of doing it for yourself but a matter of there is no place to put the snow. Several people in my neighborhood got out to shovel the alleyway but soon ran out of room for the snow. We need someone with a frontend loader to dig out the alley not just plow it.

        I hope the city suspends the parking restrictions so that cars can be cleared from the side streets to help in the plowing.

      • Joan

        As someone who used to live in Chicago, but now lives in New Orleans, I resent your comment. Please don’t talk about things of which you have no idea.
        For the rest of you, keep your heads up; after I spoke to my parents it seems like just trying to live normally is difficult. Help each other, and keep those who are elderly or who may have a disability in mind.

      • Gerald Spencer

        Chicago alleys are plowed by garbage trucks outfitted with blades, you wait for your garbage day or you start shoveling or you pay the few dollars required to order a service to clean your alley. It is simple. When it comes to the Katrina thing, there were dozens of unused buses left in N’Orleans because no one else wanted to get on board. Yes, everyone can talk about Katrina, there are tornados, hurricanes, floods, all these things every year and people go through this. No one in N’Orleans (the Haiti of the USA) is special.

    • Ralph Scavone

      Yeah!! Tell her Richie! She just might be an ER nurse or someone that people DO depend on….

      • luke

        I had to dig out just like everybody else, joan! I too had trouble finding a place to put the snow, middle of the yard worked great!!!!!! and joan if it is my comment you resent, keep on resenting!

      • Gerald Spencer

        Then she would have been at the hospital long before the blizzard hit, just like the other nurses, interns, residents.

  • Michael Desmond

    Man That’s My King Daley

  • snowbound

    My husband is a Chicago cop who hasn’t been able to get the car down the alley for 2 days to get to work. We shoveled our area but being in the middle of the street, we have 20 houses on both sides who have no place to go with the snow. Most of the houses are full of college students with no landloard on premise to actually get around their property to shovel.
    There’s only so many places we can get to on the EL’s and buses. We’re all doing what we can to get back to normal but everyone needs to do their part. Complaning and whining isn’t going to move the snow.

  • Rickey

    You guys seem to be doing a good to fair job so far. Keeping Lake Shore Drive open the other night was a mistake. If Lake Shore Drive had to be open, then there should have been a line of city plows in the forefront of the traffic keeping the pavement shoveled and salted.This would have work for about a mile at a time. But in reality Lake Shore Drive should have been close. Because in this situation it was just too dangerous to be on the drive. Some drivers probably was tired, scared and etc. Windshield wipers probably had ice build on them, people could see well too.
    People should take heed to warnings more. I believe there was warnings from the media to stay off drive. Commonsense applies here as well.
    I hope everyone is doing well.

  • Dan

    Our neighborhood has an association (yes in the city) we all pay dues for a little paper they put out and they have extra funds for emergencies (like a blizzard) and they e-mailed all of us so we could move our cars and 4 plows came through and plowed our streets from curb to curb. Everyone dug their cars out so the plows could get the job done. We also dug our own alley out.

    Were not sitting around waiting for the city, we do what it takes. Oh and by the way, since our neighborhood is clear the city can use their resources for the rest of you.

    Don’t complain, form an association, get active.

  • Gerald Spencer

    AT 6PM, CBS2 showed live coverage of a southside street, people complaining. If you looked at all the sidewalks, all the spaces between the cars, no snow, no snow on the car hoods or roofs. Everything from the sidewalks, driveways, from around the cars was thrown into the middle of the street and that pile wasn’t deeper than 2 feet. Someone plowed that street and the residents filled it with their snow. Yesterday afternoon, I watched a private contractor clear a parking lot at Goethe and State, the contractor pushed what snow he could into the north bound lane of North State Parkway, leaving half of the lane that the city already plowed clean. Come one, people, there are legitimate complaints enough, don’t add to them.

  • fpeters

    my dtr was so turned around during the worst of that storm she was lost trying to get home from the hosp where she is a surgical nurse just trying to get back to her apartment. on the phone with her boy friend in the netherlands he got on gps and talked her home from denmark on the phone he used his computer to see where she had to go and what to do love that boy a worried mom

  • Simon Banister

    I am here on holiday from London UK, and my friend is here from Luxembourg. We cannot believe that Chicago is up and running after 48 hours! If this amount of snow fell on a major continental european city it would come to a stand still for at least a week! I understand that what happened on Lake Shore Drive was bad, but really Chicagoans, you should be counting yourselves very lucky indeed! We think you’re awesome!

  • Patricia Johnson

    “World Class City with Third World Snow Removal Plan for City Alleyways”

    While holding on the phone for 311 for an hour today with no answer, I began surfing the web for city services related to snow removal. I submitted a request through the City of Chicago’s website to have the alley between Drake and Central Park of the 1500 South block made accessible to traffic for residents needing to exit their garages before sometime next week.

    I don’t regard my block as unique; however there are a number of home owners on the block who are senior citizens. I believe I am the youngest at 61. I pay to have to snow cleared from my property and I believe that is my responsibility. In turn as a Chicago property tax payer I expect the city would make sure the alley is accessible for homeowners using their garages. I make sure the apron in front of my garage is cleared.

    Comments made by city officials today on the news imply I am responsible for the removal of snow in the alley. Is the alley really mine, I don’t remember seeing it on the legal description for the property, Is it the city’s intention that seniors unable to physical shovel the alley pay a contractor to do so? I am just asking for clarity in terms of city services property tax payers can expect, especially as I see city officials with a cleaner alley than the street in front of my house. It is a good thing I am retired and don’t have a job to try to get to each day.

    Older members of my family do have appointments for chemo therapy and physical therapy next week. If the garage truck comes through by Monday perhaps we can make it to the different doctors. It appears I can plan on missing Sunday mass also from the comments I’ve heard on television from city officials. What do you think my odds are of the seniors on the block and me getting our cars out of the garages before spring?

    Also, as I am responsible for cleaning the sidewalk in front of my house; who is responsible for cleaning sidewalks for city lots? Sure hope this email to you gets some answers and action.

  • Joe, W. Rogers Park

    I have no problem with the notion that we have to move some of the snow ourselves. With the help of a couple of neighborhood teens I was able to clear the snow in the alley from the area around my garage (far north side of the city, mostly bungalows & two-flats). However, my neighbors on either side didn’t bother. On one side there is no garage–they cleared from their back gate to the garbage pails–maybe 5 feet long, two feet wide. Down one house on the other is a currently uninhabited house. The owner lives elsewhere, couldn’t care less about the alley here. Meanwhile, the one block of my street that has metered parking has been plowed, while the rest is left untouched. What are we to think? They plowed the revenue block, most likely because of agreements with the folks who bought the parking concession. The rest, well maybe next week. Yes, I’m taking the bus to work, but I still think we have the right to expect timely snow plowing in exchange for our tax dollars. We get little else. Our street hasn’t been repaved in about 15 years. Any day now the potholes will all join together as the entire top layer deteriorates. We have no predictable garbage pickup day, just whenever Streets & San gets to us. It ends up being part of a bigger pattern of neglect for all but a few showpiece neighborhoods.

  • JessDeCristo

    The lake shore drive incident in this blizzard can go both ways. On one hand , It’s real easy to just talk and talk, but Daley’s man had to make a decicion on the spot , if not, it could had been a lot worse . On the other, these rich cry babies that had to leave their cars on lake shore drive arn’t the only ones. Lake shore drive isn’t THE ONLY STREET that has cars buried. If this had happenned on the Stevenson, the Dan Ryan expressway, as a matter of fact, The Eisenhower was shut down too, and no one gaved it a second though. Could it be that lake shore drive is mostly traveled by the SENSITIVE RICH CRY BABIES ? This is one that can’t be blame on Richie or his crew, they did the best with what they had on the spot. Unliked the late Mayor Bilandic, he really messed up and it cost him his job. And to all of this, no one, seems to be praising the job the firemen did all over Chicago, NOT JUST on lake shore dr. I’m telling you, Chicago politics makes me sick!

  • http://socialstreamads.com/computers/letters-to-the-editor-feb-4-2011/ Letters to the Editor: Feb. 4, 2011

    […] Daley: ‘We Still Have A Long Way To Go’ Mayor Richard M. Daley on Thursday praised the efforts of city workers in digging out from this week’s blizzard, but said “we still have a long way to go.” Read more on CBS Chicago […]

blog comments powered by Disqus
Daily Weather Reports Delivered To You!SIGN UP NOW: Get daily weather reports every morning from meteorologist Steve Baskerville!
CBS Sports Radio RoundupGet your latest sports talk from across the country.

Listen Live