Occasional comments about business and politics in Portland, Oregon, mixed in with stories from our city's colorful if not always compliant past.
"The more pity, that fools may not speak wisely what wise men do foolishly." -- Touchstone
Tuesday's snowstorm gave me the unlooked-for opportunity to pass several hours in the urban equivalent of a camper's caravan: parked with five other cars next to the center barrier on the Stadium Freeway, toward which we had all slid in the late afternoon. I'd not noticed it while driving, but the center barrier is lower than the travel lanes, something we all came to notice with apprehension as we watched the wheels of stopped cars slide toward us. During the three hours that we were stuck, we watched with great interest as northbound cars tried to climb the 4th Avenue off-ramp. Once free, three hours after sliding off, I was able to average a respectable four miles an hour on Interstate 5.
It was an interesting and pleasant experience, though not one that I'd want to have every winter. The high point, for me, was being able to talk on my cell phone while standing in the middle of a traffic lane on Interstate 405 during the peak of rush hour. I'm practicing for tomorrow, when the new law kicks in.
Last week the Portland Public Schools cancelled school when it got cold. This week the district cancelled Tuesday's classes at the last minute, catching many parents unaware. While reading Jack's hilarious Storm Center 9000 series (here and here are two examples), in which he mentioned this, I noticed a response from Sarah Carlin Ames, the district's media spokesperson (the12th comment in the second link to Jack). Ms. Ames said that the superintendent makes the decision to stay open or to close with the best information available at the time, and takes into account the fact that many children ride to school with parents who don't know how to drive on snow and aren't smart enough to put on chains first. (She said it more politely than this, but that's a fair translation.)
I don't quarrel too much with that, but something did go wrong with how the district communicated that decision. I had an appointment Tuesday morning that depended on whether the Portland schools were open: if they opened, then I had to be somewhere at 9:00; if they didn't open then I didn't have to go. When I awoke to snow I checked the district's website, which linked to a page of school closure information and said that Portland schools would be open. I left Laquedem Manor at 8:00, which allowed plenty of time to get downtown.
At 8:30, stuck on a blocked freeway on-ramp, I called in to check on the meeting, and the Able Associate (now on to bigger and better things), who has children in PPS, said that the schools were closed and I didn't have to show up. I got back home at 8:45 and checked the PPS website, which still said that the schools were open through its link to school closure information, and in fact didn't say that the schools were closed until about 9:00.
Something went wrong with the district's internet posting. It may be that the district relied on the pooled closure service and didn't think to post its own bulleting until later. It would be reasonable for PPS to post its own bulletin on its front page at the same time it sends the school closure information to the pooled closure service.