Answer Man: Snowplow operators tend to rule the road
Dear Answer Man, do snowplow operators have to obey traffic laws just like the rest of us? A snowplow went through a red light at 19th Street Northwest above U.S. 52 this morning and could have caused an accident. — Brian
You'd think snowplow operators would generally have to obey traffic laws, allowing for some wiggle room, but they don't. I could cover this chapter and verse, but for a shortcut here's some language that the League of Minnesota Cities uses as a template for cities to develop their own ordinances:
"... Snowplow operators are exempt from traffic regulations set forth in Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 169 , while actually engaged in work on streets, except for regulations related to driving while impaired and the safety of school children. Pursuant to this authority, snowplow operators engaged in snow removal or ice control on city streets have discretion to disregard traffic laws set forth in Chapter 169, except for laws relating to impaired driving and school children safety, when in their judgment, it is safe to disregard such laws. The privileges granted herein to operators of snow removal and ice control vehicles shall apply only if the vehicle is equipped with one lighted lamp displaying a flashing, oscillating, or rotating amber light placed in such a position on the vehicle as to be visible throughout an arc of 360 degrees."
In other words, snowplow operators can do what they please, within reason and at least within most city limits, so give them a wide berth.
Dear Answer Man, who was the first Rochester city administrator, and how many have there been?
Fascinating question — in other words, when did Rochester become big enough to need one person in charge of the day-to-day work of running the city's business? That happened in 1965, according to Stevan Kvenvold, the current office holder, and the first city administrator was James Andre. Rochester, at that time, had a population of about 45,000 — we're now at 106,000.
Next was Robert Freson, who came aboard in 1974, and Stevan took over in 1979. Thanks to the latter's longevity, it's fairly remarkable that the Queen City has had only three administrators in nearly 50 years.
A "selfie" pat on the back
Well, it's not quite a selfie, but a very kind reader named Jeani sent this last month:
"Thank you for your stimulating, creative, funny and well-researched answers. What would we do without you?"
I prefer not to think about that and I recommend you do the same. Just plan to meet me back here on Monday.
The Answer Man is the next best thing to Carnac the Magnificent. Send questions to P.O. Box 6118, Rochester, MN 55903 or email@example.com.