Politics being politics (and personal animosity being personal animosity), Gov. Chris Christie and Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford both seem intent on ignoring the small bit of truth at the center of their dispute over the evacuation of the resort as Sandy approached.
So allow us to analyze, as best we can, what did and didn't happen. We ought to be able to do at least as good a job as "Saturday Night Live," where this dispute has been playing out most recently, after gigs on "The Today Show" and CNN.
Is Langford an "idiot" who refused to evacuate Atlantic City, as Christie has claimed repeatedly?
Here's Langford on Oct. 27, the day before the governor's mandatory evacuation order took effect:
"It's very prudent for (residents) to heed this advice and get out of the city if you can. Three feet,
4 feet of water in the city will disable a lot of our vehicles, and we won't be able to respond, even if we want to. In some cases, it could prove to be physically impossible to get to you, depending on what happens. So we want our residents to take every precaution to get out of town ..."
And, in fact, more than 30,000 of approximately 39,000 city residents did evacuate themselves, and the city bused another 3,600 to shelters on the mainland, according to Langford.
The problem is what else Langford and Tom Foley, the director of the city Office of Emergency Management, said on Oct. 27.
"So we want our residents to take every precaution to get out of town, and if they can't, or for whatever reason they won't, at least go to a shelter located in the city," Langford said.
And Foley, announcing that the city would be opening six shelters in the resort, said: "Last year (during Tropical Storm Irene), our residents were on buses for hours and taken to shelters all over the state. That was unacceptable and won't happen again."
None of that amounts to what Christie says it amounts to - telling people not to leave. But it did send a mixed message.
More important - and what Langford is not acknowledging - is that those shelters in the city apparently did not meet the requirements for such shelters. And that's the only substantive matter in this whole dispute.
As Vince Jones, the Atlantic County director of emergency management, says in a letter below in today's Voice of the People, shelters must meet a strict set of standards that include emergency lighting, food, water, sleeping accommodations and medical care.
Some or all of Atlantic City's shelters did not meet those requirements. The power went out at the Sovereign Avenue School shelter. State and county officials had to bring in emergency supplies to other shelters during the storm.
So ... despite Christie's blustering, Langford struck a reasonable balance between urging people to leave and accommodating those who would not. But the next time, the city should be certain that its shelters meet all applicable standards.
End of story. We hope.