17
Aug 07

Congratulations Gov. Pawlenty

Hearty congratulations go to the governor of Minnesota this week. Results are in. His approval ratings are UP. Gov. Pawlenty is poised to rise even further as the darling of Bush-era Republikans. What an accomplishment. For years our governor has been underfunding the highway department which has responded for years by steadily lowering its expectations for road and bridge maintenance. In the paper today a legislator reports hearing from highway officials quietly voicing their deep concern for this practice. Most recently, Gov. Pawlenty vetoes a 5 cent gasoline tax riduculing the very idea of it and rejecting DFL efforts to include bridge inspections. What one may consider is the inevitable happening in this post-industrial Republikan controlled era of “government” and a very big, important, bridge comes tumbling down. Now we see the governor on TV looking very concerned and wanting to salve the pain of those awaiting word on loved ones among the disappeared. And the people of Minnesota EAT IT UP. New approval ratings through the roof! What kind of idiots have we become?


10
Aug 07

Hushed silence

A Week and two days has passed now and today the remains of three of the missing are recovered. Navy and FBI divers are helping out. So Dylan and Kinzy and I, having an errand in Minneapolis, cross the river on the Third Avenue Bridge and make our way to Second Street just north of the collapse site. The crowds are not what they have been. Still, there are thousands. The Minneapolis Parks & Rec department has installed a dozen biffy’s. Trash cans overflow. The already dry grass is pounded into dust like the midway at a circus or the Minnesota State Fair. The police peremiter is established. City police officers and county sheriff’s deputies are standing under little white tents. Some workers at a steel milling plant watch us impassively from a large doorway as we come and go.


View Larger Map

James Hill’s Stone Arch Bridge, a grand curving railroad entrance to downtown Minneapolis now is a pedestrian and bike way. It has a spectacular view of downtown Minneapolis and the St. Anthony Falls, now nearly dried up in the drought. But all eyes are turned downriver. What we can see is the 10th Avenue Bridge. It is quite beautiful and it should be a delight to behold except that we’re not supposed to be able to see it.

THE DISASTER SITE PHENOMENA is as described in the news: large crowd of people so quiet I can hear the wind blowing across the river and the faint sound of Continue reading “Hushed silence” »


10
Aug 07

I-35W comes to the Midway

The hegemony of motorized travel knows no bounds. Sever one of its vital lifelines and it moves blithely to an alternative. Block the alternative and the alternative to the alternative is found. Does anyone ever imagine the possibility that maybe the trip didn’t have to occur in the first place?  Continue reading “I-35W comes to the Midway” »


05
Aug 07

Getting at the story with a little narrow notebook

They did not stand on the banks with microphone in hand jamming it into the face of an eyewitness: “Did you see any dead bodies?” Most of them have no fancy electronic gear. No cameras. No whirlygigs spinning around on their beanie hats.

Strib story: Click Here | Am I dead, I must be dead | Username = lafondblog | Password = lafond | If story no longer available, see comment to this post

They come equipped with the same narrow white spiral bound notebook that I used 30 years ago during my brief journalism career during a decidedly lower tech time. They write their notes on both sides of each sheet and with that capture history one mental snapshot at a time.   Continue reading “Getting at the story with a little narrow notebook” »


04
Aug 07

Republican bankruptcy

The standard Republican game plan is definitely fraying around the edges. For the national government, endless war, no end to earmarks, tax cuts, no new taxes, and no government investment in the country and people that pay for it. A modified version has been working very well in Minnesota as well. Gov. Pawlenty made “the pledge.” No new taxes. And gleefully vetoed the first gasoline tax increase since the 1980s. That same bill included stepped up bridge inspections. Every time the DFL controlled legislature has offered any legislation that includes government investment in the work of government, Pawlenty had his veto pen at the ready.   Continue reading “Republican bankruptcy” »


03
Aug 07

Diversion

We took a different way home from the movie this evening. We went over and got on the Highway 36 freeway westbound that would end at I-35 as it snaked down toward downtown Minneapolis. We knew what would happen.  Continue reading “Diversion” »


03
Aug 07

Wendy responds to concerned friends

Hi you guys-
thanks for you note, Jean. Yes our family and friends are ok here. My sister-in-law’s mother approached the bridge 10 minutes after it went down, traffic obviously was being re-routed at that point. creepy.  Continue reading “Wendy responds to concerned friends” »


03
Aug 07

Photos of the bridge collapse not in the media

These are not in the media. The photographer must have arrived on the scene minutes after the collapse because authorities obviously did not yet have control of the scene.

http://www.conphoto.net/Collapse.html 

Letters to the Star Tribune August 3, 2007

http://www.startribune.com/letters/story/1340580.html | | Username = lafondblog | Password = lafond


02
Aug 07

A letter to Minnesota Sen Amy Klobuchar

Dear Sen. Klobuchar:  It’s not as sexy as a new baseball stadium or as macho as a new war in the Middle East. It’s no the kind of thing that has a constituency. No lobbyists. Only a few nerdy civil engineers writing report cards from dusty hidden offices. No one gets on a bus to Washington, DC, to demand that the government DO something to ensure that our nation’s bridges, water systems, steam service lines and power grid are up to modern standards. Not until yesterday. Continue reading “A letter to Minnesota Sen Amy Klobuchar” »


02
Aug 07

Bridge in Troubled Waters

We’re not in the natural disaster business here in the center of the country. We don’t have either of the oceans at our doorstep. There is no large lake on which a large ship can sink in a withering storm. We have tornadoes that barely warrant mention, occasionally mussing our hair a bit but not doing much more. Rain comes our way and Dave Dahl runs his hand through his receding blond hair and tells us how many minutes is the storm from our zip code and block. During 9/11 authorities decided to evacuate the IDS Center, 55 stories, the tallest building in Minnesota. It seems a little silly now.  Continue reading “Bridge in Troubled Waters” »