Mayor Larson Apologizes For 4th Day Of Unplowed Streets, Calls It ‘Embarrassing’

"I think there is some failure on the city's behalf on getting to these areas that need it," said Jerry.

DULUTH, Minn. – After calling for patience and understanding for the slow snow–removal response after the weekend storm, Duluth Mayor Emily Larson has changed her tone by apologizing and calling a fourth day of unplowed streets “embarrassing.”

This comes as two Duluth schools were forced to close for a third day in a row Wednesday because of snow–clogged streets.

After plenty of small streets went untouched, many in the community are hoping the city can come up with better solutions to clear the snow faster.

One West Duluth resident who was dug out right before our interview said out of 50 years of living in his home this is the worst clean-up job he has ever seen.

“I think there is some failure on the city’s behalf on getting to these areas that need it,” said Jerry. “I’m sure they are trying their hardest, but again it was not good enough in this case.”

The lack of snow removal also caused Meyers–Wilkins and Lowell Elementary to cancel another day of school.

Duluth Mayor Emily Larson considers herself a strong advocate for education. She says the snow removal job for this storm does not meet here standards and keeping kids out of school this long to clear snow is unacceptable.

“It’s really on us that we didn’t get that area done,” said Mayor Larson. “I have been very clear about what my expectations are on how we do snow clearing and that did not meet the expectations that I have in place for us as a city. I think it’s a series of things that just didn’t happen internal structures that did not merit getting that area done.”

Mayor Larson addressed the snow-removal situation first on her Facebook page Wednesday:

Dear Duluth,

As a City, we have let you down in our response to this storm. As Mayor, I take full responsibility.

We can do better. Duluth deserves better. We are working thru what has gone wrong. To have pockets of our city still untouched this morning is embarrassing and not in keeping with the basic expectations every resident deserves to have for how government needs to show up for you.

As a parent, it’s critical our kids are in school. As a neighbor, it’s important we take care of one another. As a leader, it’s essential to be reliable and provide the basics of government.

We have not done our part to fulfill expectations is these areas. I apologize to all of you for this.

I have spoken with our staff and with the school district. The closing today of Lowell and Myers Wilkins because of continued snow clearing issues goes against everything that I strive for as a leader – public education access in our schools and neighborhoods of low incomes. This neighborhood and these schools need us to show up in the biggest way. Not as an afterthought.

I’ll be having a press conference to say all of this publicly later this morning. But later doesn’t help some of you as you’re starting out with your day.

Thanks for believing in what is possible when we do everything right. And for knowing and being honest with me when we get it wrong.

– Emily

The President of Duluth Biz Pac, a pro-business political action group, says this is an issue that could have been prevented.

He believes the city should stick to focusing on the basics.

“Kudos to the Mayor for taking responsibility for this, however it’s a mistake that never should have happened,” said Rob Stenberg. “Snow removal to me falls under the basics. Do the basics really well before you start doing other things. I think the city administration and city council is focusing their energy on other things that aren’t as important.”

Stenberg believes the city should work harder to improve street infrastructure and also prioritize creating a better snow emergency plan.

He also thinks business owners can help come up with solutions for more efficient snow removal, but they have to be part of the conversation first.

Most of the roads have now been plowed, but the city is asking residents if they find any places that still need attention, to report them to the city’s snow event hotline at 218-730-5100.


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