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Friday, August 03, 2007

Pointing Fingers and Moving Forward... A Rational Approach

By: David Joseph DeGrio

Over the last two days I haven’t known if I should cry or scream as I watch the news coverage, listen to the press conferences, read the news papers and blogs regarding the collapse of the 35W Bridge and see all of them littered with political trash talk. Even those people who attempt to claim the highroad and say blame ought not to be placed at this point, are just as guilty of making this a political issue by criticizing when others are engaging in partisan bashing.

I will NOT blame Republicans.

I will NOT blame Democrats.

I will NOT blame Independents.

I will NOT blame Greens.

I WILL blame we the voter.

I WILL blame each and every one of you.

I WILL blame myself.

I will blame us for not only accepting, but embracing the mediocrity that has become our political establishment. Too often people have allowed our government to arrive at a stalemate over raising taxes v cutting taxes. Half of us will allow infrastructure to suffer at the expense increased spending on social services. The other half will allow infrastructure to suffer at the expense of cutting taxes. Look at the manifestation of our ideological divide. At a time we should be united in the recovery effort and the consolation of those who have been hurt and the families of those who have dies, we choose to start a school-yard game of ‘he-did-it, she-did-it’. That is why I cry, but it is why I scream even louder. The government is not an entity separate from the people, the government IS the people. Government is an abstract concept, leaders are not. Right now we don’t have leaders in office, we have fools in charge on all sides of the aisle.

Should there be accountability? Absolutely. However, let us wait and see what the experts say about the cause of the collapse. Perhaps the expected lifespan of a bridge isn’t what engineers thought it to be. As a scientist I readily accept that we are fallible; however, it must be acknowledged that scientists and engineers are in the best position to make the determination as to the safety and integrity of products and infrastructure. If there was undue political influence upon engineers to deem the structure safe, heads should roll. If it truly was an honest miscalculation by scientists and engineers we must accept that and move on.

There comes a time where good women and men can no longer be silent and they must revolt against those who are in charge. I have reached that point and rather than screaming or resorting to a forceful revolt, I offer a plan to move forward.

  1. We neither raise nor cut taxes and fees in the State of Minnesota.
  2. We take the necessary funds from the Central Corridor fund and the Metro Stadium tax fund immediately to redesign and rebuild the 35W Bridge such that commerce does not suffer. If we allow this to impact our economic vitality any longer than necessary we will suffer for a long time.
  3. Once the federal government releases money for the reconstruction effort we use that money to inspect and repair all transportation infrastructures in the State within the next 5 to 10 years and return the money we allocated away from the Central Corrido.
  4. We establish an Infrastructure Management Superfund that can be used only for inspection and repair and can not be raided by the greedy hands of government. This can be funded by amending the 2006 Transportation Amendment to require that 25% of the collected funds be put into this fund.
  5. We should also pass a law stating that no bridge or road, in this state, should be allowed to retain “Structurally Deficient” status two years in a row.

Is this an overreaction? No, I don’t think so. The first and foremost duty of society is to protect the citizenry, provide for the infrastructure to allow safe passage throughout the state and between the states. In too many instances, we have failed. We failed on August 1st, 2007 in Minneapolis as much as we failed on September 11th, 2001 in other parts of the country. What will be the next failure? If we do things correctly, we won’t ever be able to answer that question. So today I extend my hand to Democrats and Republicans, to conservatives and liberals and to all women and men in my city and my state and I say let this not divide us, but allow us to join hands and move forward together.