When Gary was hammered by lake-effect snow Tuesday, its next-door neighbor, Portage, acted neighborly. Portage Mayor James Snyder sent snowplows to help Gary clear the streets.
Portage was lucky enough Tuesday to not get snow even as parts of Gary got up to 20 inches. The plows weren't needed in Portage.
What Portage did for Gary is a great example of how communities should help each other.
Mayor Snyder should be commended for doing exactly what was needed.
Instead, Portage City Council member Mark Oprisko blasted Snyder for using city resources to help a neighboring city in need without consulting the council first.
Council President Sue Lynch and member Liz Modesto agreed with Oprisko that the council should have been consulted first.
"I could understand it if it was a tornado or a major fire," Oprisko said Thursday. "This was nothing major. It was a waste of our taxpayers' dollars. He (Snyder) should personally pay for it."
Portage was out a mere $642, for helping Gary, Snyder said.
"We've got people coming in and giving us money. We've got people calling and committing to sending us checks," Snyder said Friday.
That shows there are good people in the world, people who know when a neighbor is struggling, it's natural to offer help.
It also shows there are small-minded people like Oprisko, Lynch and Modesto who are so territorial that they miss the big picture of how we all need to work together in the region.
The council should expect the mayor, as the city's chief executive officer, to make executive decisions when warranted.
It would be good for street departments to sign mutual aid compacts the same as police and fire departments, to be able to help each other after severe storms like lake-effect snow, tornadoes and so forth.
But even without an agreement like that, kindness should prevail. The rule of "do unto others and you would have others do unto you" applies to communities as well as individuals.
Council member John Cannon understands Snyder's decision and doesn't believe the council should have been consulted first.
"We have to reach out to the communities that need help. This was a catastrophic situation," Cannon said.
Good for Cannon for seeing the wisdom of Snyder's actions. Good for Snyder for having that wisdom in the first place.
And shame on Oprisko, Lynch and Modesto and others who aren't eager to help a community in need.