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Vince Vitrano: Not For Broadcast



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They were really close to looking really smart... but... really not.

The Elmbrook School District went out on a limb yesterday and didn't cancel school. It was one of the only districts in the area to stick it out. Fine.

During our extended weather coverage we did a live interview with Andy Smith, a PR guy for Elmbrook Schools. He wanted to clarify to parents why they decided to keep school on. We were happy to help get that information out, but I've got to admit the guy fronted a bit of an attitude that I didn't appreciate.

In justifying the decision to stay open, Smith seemed to indicate that the forecast was inaccurate and the coverage overblown. He said, "This is not Stormageddon."

He borrowed the phrase from the local media critic in the paper who doesn't think real highly of our weather coverage. Fine for him, but not for a PR guy dealing with parents legitimately concerned for the safety of their children.

For a while, though, Andy Smith and the folks at Elmbrook probably thought they looked pretty good. A mid-morning break in the snowfall allowed road crews to get the streets cleared. No more snow, it looked like a pretty normal winter morning in Wisconsin. And then the rest of the storm got here.

By the noon hour, the Waukesha County Sheriff's Department was asking people to stay off the roads. Well... everybody except the school buses taking the Elm Grove and Brookfield kids home. Everybody except their parents who had to brave the deteriorating conditions to pick their kids up.

By 2:00 in the afternoon, a ton of snow was still falling, road crews were falling behind, and parents lit up the decision makers in the school district.

Too late to fix the problem, the district tried to keep if from becoming worse. In an email that featured a message in all red letters (I'm not kidding... really the text was red) Smith reversed course and said the district was canceling all after school and evening sports and activities.

Look, I'd hate to be the Superintendent charged with making calls like that. You're often darned if you do, and darned if you don't. Some one is always going to think you should have canceled school when you didn't, or kept it open when you did. It's a judgment call based on a forecast that doesn't always pan out.

I'm also one of those people who look back at my days growing up in Wauwatosa and say to myself, "We would have had school today when I was a kid!"

I'll grant any one a mistake or bad guess on calling school off. No problem. Just didn't need the attitude. It's like the guy who bet a whole lot of money on the Detroit Lions beating the Cowboys last week. I bet he was there... bragging up his call the whole game. He looked like a genius. He tried to cash in his winning ticket in the 3rd quarter, however, and then the rest of the game happened. Cowboys win. He looses.

Incidentally, thanks for that, Detroit. There go our dreams of home field advantage, but that's the topic of another blog.





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Milwaukee, WI

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