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CBS 11 iTeam: Where Were The Mayors?

(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Ginger Allen
Ginger is the Senior Investigative Reporter of the CB...
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North Texas (CBS 11 NEWS) - The Metroplex is starting to thaw but questions remain about where city leaders were during the worst of the winter weather.

I-team reporter Ginger Allen reached out to many area mayors but not all were willing to discuss the last few days.

North Texas can now look back on the worst widespread weather crisis since the Super Bowl and ask, ‘were we as prepared as we could have been’ and ‘did our city leaders actually lead in this crisis.’

In other weather events from years past, mayors around the country played high profile roles. We saw them on television during the hurricanes in New Orleans and New York. We saw them on news sets during wild fires in Austin. And we even saw them in helicopters during floods in San Antonio.

iTeam Wx Response 1

But in this crippling storm, where was Dallas Mayor, Mike Rawlings and Fort Worth Mayor, Betsy Price?

The city of Dallas kept updates on its web and social media sites. Business owners praised the city for keeping roads and – in turn – their businesses open. Pilates Studio Owner, Elizabeth Lindberg had compliments for the city. “I think the city did a great job. We were open for business and we were here,” she said.

But Mayor, Mike Rawlings has not personally posted anything about the weather since a single comment on Friday. When the iTeam requested an interview, in an email CBS 11 was told, “The mayor is not available to discuss the weather today…” and “…the mayor does not have time to respond to email questions.”

Fort Worth Mayor, Betsy Price did speak to CBS 11 but she did not send a message to city residents until Monday afternoon, after the worst of it was over.

Price has long-preached communicating through social media. She posted pictures in their emergency operations center and with dispatchers. She said her city got an “A” for its reaction to the storm. “We’ve been monitoring it closely. We’ve either been here watching and coordinating with city manager and the rest of the departments,” said Price.

But angry drivers, stuck on Fort Worth streets, dropped that grade to a “D”.  Former city council member, Clyde Picht found some of this more talk then action. “Well, I’m assuming the mayor got her road sanded, or had someone with four-wheel drive and chains come and pick her up and take her to City Hall… but that wouldn’t happen out here,” he said. “So it may be an ‘A’ for her, but it would probably be a D for those of us who live out here.”

In Plano, Mayor Harry Larosiliere was quick to meet with the CBS 11 iTeam Monday. He told us that twitter has become one of the primary means of communication during emergencies He said he and his city used social media to reach residents but he also said it’s an area they need to improve. Larosiliere stressed that communication starts with him. “In times of crisis I think my role as mayor is being that number one information officer.”

CBS 11 also talked to Mayor Brian Loughmiller of Mckinney. He called in to a local radio station to keep residents informed.

Arlington mayor Robert Cluck said he was in his city’s emergency operations center and tried to communicate with residents. He did say ice storms, unlike other disasters, make it harder for city leaders to get out to their citizens because they too are trapped inside.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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