- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 23, 2003

D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams may continue to take criticism about subway delays and side streets being clogged several days after the past weekend's snowstorm, but nobody can accuse him of forgetting his political history.
Mr. Williams scrambled home Sunday from a short vacation in Puerto Rico by flying to New York, then arriving in the District by train.
"He knows he needs to come home," the mayor's spokesman, Tony Bullock, said flatly. "The public is not going to accept that he tried to get there, meant to be there or decided not to come back."
Former Mayor Marion Barry should have thought the same in 1987, when the city was paralyzed by two storms that dumped 20 inches of snow.
Mr. Barry was attending the Super Bowl in Southern California and faced national ridicule when he did not return until five days later.
Mr. Barry defended himself by saying he was in constant touch with staffers. But a city official said during the snowstorms of 1979 and 1983 Mr. Barry was "insufficiently concerned and almost cavalier in his attitude toward residents."
Eventually, "the politics of snow" forced him to apologize and speed up snow removal efforts, the official said.
Mr. Williams went straight from Union Station on Sunday night to the "snow room" at Reese Center, then went to inspect the streets. Since Monday, he has held daily news briefings to update residents on city services, street conditions and snow removal. He also toured the city by truck and helicopter. On Tuesday, he shoveled at a Northwest public school and received a demonstration of how teams were disposing of snow. On Wednesday, he announced the arrival of a "snow-eating machine."
Mr. Bullock also said that when the storm hit the mayor was with his wife celebrating Valentine's Day and their 10th anniversary.
"Getting back was not easy," he said. "And it was not the type [of vacation] you want to cut short in the interest of marital bliss. But when you are a mayor or governor or county executive and you have an incident of this magnitude, there is work to be done, decisions to be made."


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