The frost line dipped below the four-foot mark, the benchmark to which most things are built and/or installed, and some pipes froze. I guess that happens when we don’t hit 32 degrees for like six weeks in a row.
And from this brutalist of brutal cold snaps a couple amazing things happened.
-Councilman Jim Gordon, R-District 1, and former Councilman Kevin McGrath, D-District 1, actually agree on something – the city should help out the residents of Lansingburgh.
-Mayor Lou Rosamilia grew a spine and is on the right side of an issue. If you remember the memorable quote by then City Engineer Russ Reeves when a pipe froze, burst and filled South Troy resident Ken Dufty's basement with silt: "It was an Act of God." I criticized Reeves and his boss, then Mayor Harry Tutunjian, for the "Act of God" defense but they too stuck to their guns and as far as I know Dufty filed a claim with his insurance company.
-Rosamilia, despite his “nice guy” persona, is sticking to his guns despite what he said is his personal inclination to help out anyone in need.
And some things even Mother Nature can’t change.
-When it happens in Troy, something like frozen pipes in February makes the big news and gets everyone riled up.
-The Council used the issue to whack the mayor upside the head.
-The mayor loses another public relations battle by disappearing when the story first broke and staying disappeared for no less than nine days. He loses another battle by not having a very good explanation for the why the city can't thaw the pipes when he held his press conference on Thursday.
-Emotions trump logic once again, and politicians and are quick to take advantage.
Here’s my take on it.
The city can’t just go in and help out the residents for a couple reasons.
A section of code only allows those with a particular license to use the equipment – electric, plumbing and/or welding – necessary to thaw the stretch of pipe from the home to the main line.
There is an exception to that rule – if there is an emergency. I’m sorry, but a homeowner that didn’t heed the city’s warning to leave the water dripping or run the risk of the pipes freezing does not, in my book anyway, constitute an emergency.
I suppose the city could hire licensed contractors to go in and do the job on a private residence but think of the door that would open. And, along those same lines, the city, in case anyone has been living under a rock, is broke.
No, in the grand scheme of things, if the city hired a plumber it wouldn’t make the big financial picture any better or worse but as I’ve been saying right along you have to start somewhere, and to start by hiring private contractors to help homeowners out of a jam they helped create is not a good spot.
In the old days, if a neighbor needed a hand he went next door or down the block and asked for some help with the unwritten understanding of returning the favor down the road. Now, for some reason, the nearest neighbor is the government.
I applaud Rosamilia for sticking to his guns and I too applaud the plumber, Matt Ward, who listened to his mom and went to help out those in need.
In the end, though, if I were mayor, I'd probably thaw the damn pipes. It wouldn't be worth the headache.