30 March 2001

"I know of only one rule: style cannot be too clear,
too simple."
  - Stendhal

It is snowing, sleeting, and raining outside my window. All at once. The wind howls, and I can see the tallest trees swaying, sagging under the weight of the icy slush caught on their branches. The nasty weather comes on the heels of last week's flooding, and the rivers and streams are still running much higher than normal. More flooding is predicted before this storm ends. It's not been a good day, by anybody's definition.

The town access channel shows warnings of flooding and downed power lines, and offers instructions for people who need emergency shelter or other assistance. I read through the instructions, marveling at the simple, direct messages. If you require immediate assistance, dial this number, and if you need to be evacuated to emergency shelter, dial this number.

I wonder why it is not so simple for the town manager and the selectmen to work through the appropriate state and federal channels to get funding for the necessary flood mitigation measures, or the cleanup for the people who have lost most of their belongings and much of their property values with the last bad storm.

What I have learned today is that political channels for serving communities are snaking, convoluted things that frequently do not serve anyone, except for the people who draw power and authority from them.

Oh, and tax dollars. Never forget the tax dollars.

Maybe I should be wearing rubber boots. It's getting pretty deep.


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