It's a popular, and hard-to-refute, urban conspiracy theory: If you live near the mayor or a member of the Common Council, your street gets plowed a lot quicker than other streets.
Al Schumacher, the city's streets superintendent, insists it ain't so. "We don't plow the mayor's street or my street any more than anyone else's street, unless they're on a salt route," he says. "Nobody is supposed to get more service than others."
Schumacher suspects some plow drivers might make a quick detour to give their own streets extra service. "I'm sure that happens," he says. "But it's not supposed to."
It's also true that, on the night of a Common Council meeting about a year ago, crews plowed streets of some alders so they could get to the meeting. And Schumacher says that during the blizzard of December 2009, he picked up Mayor Dave Cieslewicz to bring him to the city's command center. But he adds, "I almost got stuck in his street because it was not plowed."
During last week's blizzard, Schumacher says, the city got about 15 compliments for every complaint. As the cleanup from the storm continues, the grousing has become "more widespread," with typical complaints over poor visibility because of snow piles and narrow streets. Snowplowing problems can be reported via the city's website.
"We have not stopped working," Schumacher says, "except for a 12-hour period last Sunday where I sent my people home to watch the Super Bowl and get some sleep."