The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published a stinging rebuke of Gov. Nathan Deal’s complete lack of leadership during one of the governor’s biggest tests.
The AJC concluded that Gov. Deal failed the test.
Here is the first paragraph to Sunday’s top story:
“Gov. Nathan Deal’s delay in taking charge during Tuesday’s snow catastrophe triggered a series of cascading failures, leaving hundreds of thousands of motorists abandoned and desperate for food, water and shelter.”
- Leadership failures left Atlanta in chaos
- Other cities have planned for, and survived, worse
- Gov. Deal’s icy Tuesday: From photo opps to snow chaos
While we encourage everyone to read the complete report, we will highlight here the most important facts reported by the newspaper.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution concluded “that, ultimately, a failure at the highest levels of state government was to blame.”
While Tuesday’s weather was unpreventable, Tuesday’s traffic crisis could have been avoided with stronger leadership.
The state’s multi-million dollar electronic sign system flashed useless messages at trapped drivers. The state’s mobile app, which is supposed to give up-to-the-minute updates on road conditions, gave wrong information about road clearing. Police stood by as cars blocked intersections. Calls to 911 were answered by an automated “all circuits are busy” message. – AJC 2/2/14
Deal well knows what ice can do to Atlanta. He was inaugurated in a crippling ice storm in 2011, and the first executive order he signed declared a state of emergency for that storm.
But state-level leaders failed to plan adequately for the same type of weather event that has paralyzed the region time and again. – AJC 2/2/14
The governor didn’t activate the National Guard until nearly midnight, when school children already had been stranded on buses for more than eight hours. – AJC 2/2/14
The leadership breakdown started well before the first snowflakes fell, even though weather forecasters issued a winter storm warning in the wee morning hours.
No one saw fit to wake the governor to tell him. – AJC 2/2/14
That morning, he attended a tourism event at the state Capitol, unveiling a new “Gone With The Wind”-themed Georgia travel guide. He posed for a photo with Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler.
Meanwhile, Charley English, his Georgia Emergency Management Agency director, sent a note on Tuesday at 10:44 a.m. that troopers were reporting wrecks in northeast Georgia: “So it is starting.” – AJC 2/2/14
Deal was preparing to head to the downtown Ritz-Carlton hotel for a Georgia Trend luncheon, where Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed was being honored as Georgian of the Year. At one point during the meal, Deal commented, “It’s really coming down out there,” according to the event emcee. – AJC 2/2/14
About that time, snow began to fall in metro Atlanta. Traffic “went from free flow to gridlock in approximately 1.5 hours,” said Georgia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Natalie Dale.
Yet the governor would not sign a state of emergency until more than five hours later. – AJC 2/2/14
At 5:41 p.m., emails show, state officials received a plea from Tom Weyandt, the Atlanta mayor’s transportation guru:
“We are severely under-resourced — and the state is basically letting us alone …” – AJC 2/2/14
The governor’s slow response wasted valuable time when he could have used his bully pulpit, signalling the public to stay home and off the roads. – AJC 2/2/14
But representatives of various state agencies weren’t at the state operations center. Nor was there coordination with the business community and school systems. – AJC 2/2/14
Georgians can no longer afford Gov. Deal’s failed leadership.