Preemptive strikes ahead of the weather: Matt's Memo

There is no more basic measure of a public official than the way they handle urgents matters of public safety. It is particularly true for the executive branch of government. Leadership gets tested in a black and white fashion by events like hurricanes, flooding and snow storms. Governor Cuomo understands this simple, yet critical element of running New York State.

This afternoon he ordered the closure of the New York State Thruway in Western New York due to intense Lake Effect snow from Lake Erie. It was the same move he made last week when another storm swept through the New York City region. Then this evening around dinner time the order came down from Albany. Interstate 81 from Brewertown to Watertown would be closed at 8:00 pm.

The snow was not widespread across that stretch of highway. But, where the snow was falling it was coming down at a rate of a couple inches an hour. The governor's staff decided just north of Onondaga County was the best spot to close the Interstate to keep drivers from being stranded once they hit the intense snowfall.

This is a highly unusual decision to make for an area that gets heavy snow on a regular basis all winter long. Some of the governor's critics have used social media to say he's gone too far. His policy may be adjusted as the winter wears on. The success of this cautious approach may ultimately difficult to measure. Much more difficult than measure the failure of not shutting down the road which could be gauged by counting the number of disabled vehicles and drivers in crashes.


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