Tuesday, January 23, 2007


CHATTER's main machine remains silent, without power, kaput. As of 10:20 p.m. Tuesday, the machine has been quiet and in a cold room for 248 hours. It beats MIT's record but still lags behind others we know, in a competition that no one wants to win. As of today, City Utilities had around 9,000 customers still in the dark, down from 75,000 at the peak of the storm on Jan. 13-14.

What day is today?

When we're back and in a place of whatever passes for permanence, we'll have more to say about the ice storm that insists on sticking around. Thanks for the comments on the last post from a week ago. Sorry for our absence. Blessed, damned electricity.

For now, a few strays thoughts from the disturbance:

*How do you pronounce Asplundh? 'Cause we've been seeing those trucks -- even before the storm, they lurked -- and everytime we try to say it the word comes out sounding like a deep cavity search. It's just not right.

*How much has All Of This cost? Damage estimates from storms in other parts of the country seem to come in within the first 72-120 hours. We've seen nothing similar here (our vision is admittedly very limited right now). Has anyone done a hard-figure story on FEMA direct expenditures to cities, emergency contracts let by City Utilities to trim trees and fix lines, etc.?

*Huzzah and all that to Midwest Family, owners of several local radio stations. Refreshing to listen to alt-rock radio (Q 102.1) and hear a break for the daily media briefing from city and county officials. That's broadcasting.

*CU's problem: Bad handling of predictable circumstances. Rumors fill air when it's confused and in turmoil; after a slaying there is often talk about drugs and porn, white slavery and the occult, and most always it is rumor, and wrong. When the power goes out and normal communications are cut across a city, rumors spread. CU didn't get in front of those rumors and instead allowed them to gain currency. They can (and probably will) buy ads to try to regain the crest. Too late. Where was the map showing areas with outages, something thay would havw graphically debunked the "rich get it first, poor get it last" conspiracy theory? We know people north and south, west and east, all long-timers in the dark, some still without power. No reason or rhyme, unless it's because we all know each other and The Man doesn't want us talking.

*To the anon poster who, commenting on our previous storm post, compared a radio personality's wife to an animal: Not cool. Wasn't cool when Rush Limbaugh did the same to Chelsea Clinton. Still small-minded and definitely not funny. Thinking readers will disavow such a lack of class. We most certainly do.

Hope you're well. What's your best storm story?


John Stone said...

*CU's problem: Bad handling of predictable circumstances. Rumors fill air when it's confused and in turmoil;..."

The confusion and turmoil appears to be that of CUs. Even if there was goog planning in advance for bad possibilities, and even though the execution of those plans may have been good, the failure to communicate what they were doing was an absolute disaster in itself.

They continued with the many-years tradition of "leave us alone - we are good and we don't need to tell you much of anything except what you already know..." The arrogance of CU is inbuilt, not new.

This is why we will need to have a complete and independent investigation of this storm. No more letting CU do an internal investigation and us never knowing what they find, or worse, announce themselves to be pure and clean.

I agree that it doesn't seem like a rich/poor thing .. however, it stinks like crazy to a considerable amount of incompetence in planning, execution, and allocation of resources. No army in it's right mind would do what it looks like they did and not expect to lose the army.

wuddog said...

I thinking the same thing about the "Power Outtage Map". How hard would it have been to add a page to their website with a map of the city showing where the power was out and where the crews are? They could have also had a display on one of the cable access channels.
Stone is also correct in that CU has this arrogant attitude that they need to curtail. Although, I firmly believe they have handled this pretty well (who could have predicted this much damage?) they still need to be more open to their customers.

Anonymous said...

ASPLUNDH- as-flund. I asked a CU guy.
On Sunday night they were trimming next door. They knocked my service off the house and left.
The next day CU came to the door and before I could tell them what happend they told me they knew about it and would have it fixed at their expense.
They did, that day. A-1 electric showed up and repaired my weather head. I waited 2 more days for CU to come back and hook up the power. But hey they knew what they did and fixed it. I thought they were very organized and professional. That was my experiance.

Anonymous said...

I thought it was what a butt-pirate was after.

Richard said...

Looking at this situation from a northern Missouri viewpoint...I can see where CU is having a public relations issue right now. 11 days of power outages might be the norm for rural communities in a major ice storm, but to have a metro area like Springfield darkened for this many days...well, the marketing geniuses at CU will have to work some damage control after all is said and done and power is restored to everyone. Confidence in your utility company is not a thing to mess with, and the executives at City Utilities need to eat crow and 'fess up that they weren't totally prepared for this disaster.

On another note...hope and pray things are going well for you, bro. Give us a shout whenever your power finally comes back on.

Anonymous said...

I wanted to escape the tree carnage, so I went to see the Idi Amin movie, Last King of Scotland at the Moxie. Wouldn't you know it, more severed limbs!

I can't seem to get that War classic out of my head, "I was slippin' into darkness..."

Hey, whatcha say, whatcha say.

Anonymous said...

Our CU bill landed in the mailbox on Day Seven of the outage at our home. I plan to pattern my response on the same bullshit recordings and "live human" scripting that the robots at CU flung at us when we would call to report our service issues:

Dear CU,

Our household is currently experiencing a major power outage, and because of that, a rapid depletion of monetary funds resulting from the reallocation of our financial resources to the hotel, fast food, hardware, and retail petroleum sectors of the local economy. Be assured that we have noted your bill for our records. Please do not report your bill to us more than once, as this only delays our ability to respond to your ill-timed request for our money. We would like to be able to advise you as to when you should expect to receive our payment for this bill, unfortunately due to our system configuration that is not possible at the present time. We thank you for your patience as we work to solve this crisis for you.


Anonymous said...

Oh right it's CU's fault the power went out. That weather machine is so cool.

You know the govenment should really do more to fix our problems it's outrageous that we should be expected to cope with a natural disaster.

We need to investigate and see who is responsible for not fixing all of our problems immediatly.

thinkingthings said...

Anon 10:14 I realize I am sleep deprived and my fingers hurt from flipping dead light switches, but that is one of the funniest things I've read in a while.

Thanks for that.

Duane Keys said...

I'm now on day 12 w/o power in rural Polk county. I understand it takes time, I just want timely updates from Southwest Electric. 1/8 reports on local radio stations included information from SWEC.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:17:

Don't you have a public utility to run, Mr. Twitty? Nobody here is blaming you for the bad weather, but we have every right to question whether the response to that bad weather has been managed effectively, efficiently and expediently. Some of us try to do that by means of humor, even sarcasm. It's a shame the lights at your house must be too blindingly bright for you to see that.

How about you go play jump rope with one of the wires that are still laying in the street in front of my house?

Anonymous said...

It's bright and it's great.
Last night I turned on all the
lights ,turned the stat up to 80 just to waste the power that others want.

Moi ha ha ha!

Anonymous said...

My best storm story? Not having cable last ight which saved me from having to look at Nancy Pelosi for over an hour.

She's a two-bagger. One for her and one for you, in case her's falls off.

Anon 10:17, there's the answer you were looking for. You know, to blame the storm on. Try Claire McCaskill. She looks cold. I'll bet when she spreads her legs, the furnace kicks on.

Anonymous said...

12:50 do we have some issues with women more powerful than ourselves?

To single out two women for ridicule based on their political affiliation and then to take it to such a level...Makes me think you have a thing for dems but are afraid to let anyone know. Why not go for the Hillary Hat Trick?

Do you always need the bag?
Do you have a sheet with a hole in it too?

Anonymous said...

Sheeesh! I've just lost a ton of respect for the NewsLeader's Tony Messenger. He has been out of town for a week but now comes back claiming to know all about our CU situation. Everything is peachy and critics should stuff socks in our big mouths, he says. I guess he really does write just what Publisher BuckSaver tells him. I had hoped for more from Tony.

DocLarry said...

Perhaps anon12:50 would have enjoyed watching this woman last night. Groping and kissing GWB made for quite a show. If she continues a la Monica, maybe Republicans will want to impeach Bush?

Anonymous said...

Ron, please come back and moderate your political porn blog.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:14. Damn funny. Wish I'd have thought of it. Will you send it to the paper for letters to the editor?

And where is this political porn the last person posted about? Do I need to click elsewhere on the page to see that?

Anonymous said...

How about when you have arrange to have an electrician come out first thing to repair your weatherhead. A week later, your electricity is still out and every other house on the block has their electricity back on, including the house with an unrepaired weatherhead that had worse damage than your own. CU's AWOL.

John Stone said...

I propose that we award the First Annual Vincent David Jericho KTTS Award for Competence and Communication to City Utilities.

Accepting the award for Mr. Twitty will be ... what's-his-name ... that guy who is the city manager that we've seen so much for the past two weeks, and the Council who let CU do whatever the hell they wanted without oversight.

Anonymous said...

VDJ is always talking about his wife Denise being sick and dying. What is that about? Does anyone know? I was wondering after I saw her picture in the News-Leader. Didn't look too sick in that photo at least.