November 30, 2007

Answering Nick's Questions

Bridge Boy is at it again.

Lieutenant Gov. Carol Molnau has spent four months avoiding unpleasant news stories (she says she ignores them) about the Minnesota Department of Transportation, which she ran without close scrutiny of her leadership until Aug. 1.

Really? And I'm sure Nick has all sorts of proof of this lack of scrutiny. No wonder Molnau "says" she ignores unpleasant news stories, what with such fair reporting approaches as this.

That was the day -- four months ago -- when the most-inspected bridge in the state collapsed, killing 13 people. And when the Pawlenty-Molnau administration started scrambling for cover.

It was also the day Nick Coleman lost his last tenuous strand of sanity and started jumping around whipping his feces like a deranged spider monkey. For the Star-Tribune, this is also referred to as "Pursuing a Pulitzer." Although, to be fair, Nick's his own deranged spider monkey, because he's nobody else's monkey.

Two weeks after the fall of the Interstate 35W bridge, Molnau stopped answering most questions about her department and her decisions. She has declined repeated interview requests from the Star Tribune newsroom since mid-August.

Gosh, given the fair treatment she's been given from the Strib, who can blame her? Sure, I'll do an interview where the interviewer has only a loose grip on facts and is intent on blaming me for everything from the Big Bang to the bridge collapse. Can't wait!

To help get her back in the habit of answering questions, I have included a dozen pertinent queries at the end of this column.

Wow. Thanks, Nick. But, seeing as how Molnau is supposedly "ignoring" your twaddle, doesn't that strike you as a meaningless exercise? But, hey, don't let that stop you.

This is sadly necessary because, in carefully choreographed interviews, Molnau has been waging a public relations campaign not on behalf of enlightening the taxpayers, but on behalf of saving her own hide.

Also known as repeatedly providing facts that just don't jibe with the accepted Star-Tribune narrative.

At least one poll shows Minnesotans want Molnau to resign as transportation commissioner.

At least one poll! One! One beautiful poll! Ah! Ah! Ah!

Sorry, I was channelling "The Count" there. Notice how Nick doesn't cite that one poll, which was probably conducted at his desk, and consisted of him talking to himself.

But Molnau remains in the job Gov. Tim Pawlenty assigned to her, serving the governor the way a back-yard hay bale helps keep Little Jimmy's arrows from hitting the side of the house.

Sweet Mother McGee. Yet another Nick Coleman analogy that falls dead on impact. Who taught this guy to write? Jed Clampett?

Taking the hit for Pawlenty is politics. But when she took the helm of MnDOT, Molnau was no longer merely a politician. She was a public servant. And she is doing the public no good by staying in her job for political reasons.

Except for, you know, presiding over the whole bridge clean-up and rebuilding. That kind of thing.

Molnau has ducked journalists and legislators who want to ask in-depth questions about the maintenance debates that took place before the bridge fell, or the spin-control efforts that followed (MnDOT decided within hours of the collapse to hire an outside consulting firm -- for $2 million, the same price as the plan to strengthen the bridge that had earlier been rejected).

ARGH! Nick knows, or at least SHOULD know, that plan to strengthen the bridge was rejected. . . BECAUSE THERE WAS CONCERN IT COULD FURTHER WEAKEN THE BRIDGE. I can just about imagine the clucking Nick would be doing right now if that $2 million plan had gone through, and the bridge still collapsed; you just KNOW he'd be saying "they went ahead with a flawed $2 million plan knowing it could further weaken the bridge, those idiots, and now here they are spending an additional $2 million hiring an outside consulting firm."

If I were Molnau, I'd be ducking retarded journalists and legislators, too, since they're more interested in selling a flawed narrative in and scoring the cheapest of political points.

Most of these woe-is-me exchanges have boiled down to questions of the "How are you holding up" variety. (Short answer: Better than the bridges). Molnau cried on one newscast as she described visiting the bridge and shed tears on another station when asked if the collapse had changed her life.

To Nick, they weren't real tears. They were fake tears. Fake PR tears. If she was really being sincere, she'd be nailing herself to a cross and admitting to personally removing 10,000 rivets from the bridge on July 31.

"A lot of people's lives have changed," she told one station. "A lot of the employees here at MnDOT ... and a lot of the families who were affected. So all of our lives have changed a bit ... and mine's no different."

Thirteen people are dead, dozens are injured for life. And some are being criticized for how they do their job. See?

And Molnau is refusing to be interviewed? Can you imagine? With fair and unbiased news outlets like the Strib (which has no designs on a Pulitzer at all, nosiree), how could she possibly refuse?

We're all affected.

Molnau is entitled to have feelings. But the taxpayers are entitled to straight answers from the politician running the Department of Transportation when the bridge fell.

Which have been given as they've become available, which has been obvious to anyone who has been paying attention, but which Nick is determined to ignore in the name of his obsessive witch hunt.

Here are a dozen Molnau could begin with:

Oh, this ought to be good.

1. Why do you need an assistant (Bob McFarlin) to answer basic questions about MnDOT practices and decisions?

Because Lt. Governors have assistants for dealing with ignorant assholes driven by agendas.

2. What role has the governor played in managing MnDOT and the bridge crisis?

For that matter, what role does the governor play in managing snow removal during heavy winter storms. Some streets aren't cleared until noon or later. What does the governor know about that?

3. MnDOT paid a consultant to figure out how to fix the 35W bridge, then ignored the recommendations. Why?

The recommendations weren't ignored. They were considered and it was decided the "fix" may unnecessarily weaken the bridge. Nick knows this, but he apparently chooses to ignore this little tidbit in his "Knows Stuff" tackle box.

4. What changes, if any, have you made in inspection and repair procedures since Aug. 1?

Since inspection and repair procedures may not have been at all at fault for a collapse that has yet to be explained, why would changes be required?

5. Why did you hire a private consultant to study the collapse (in addition to the National Transportation Safety Board)? Who besides you and the governor will see the findings before release?

Gosh, two studies. It's almost like they really want to know the underlying cause of the collapse or something. Conspiracy Coleman is in fine form here.

6. Do you truly believe there is nothing you could have done to prevent the collapse and the loss of lives?

Long answer: Absolutely. Short answer: Yep.

7. You say MnDOT decisions aren't solely "engineer-based." Not even when public safety is at stake? Please justify.

Because engineers often disagree on a proper course of action, so you make decisions based on their input, factoring in traffic impacts that may be required, factoring in financial considerations and accepting there are just some unknowns floating around out there that could take everyone by surprise. See how easy that was, Nick?

8. The governor says money was not an issue in the collapse, but you say MnDOT "looks at costs to maximize resources." Reconcile, please. How did "looking at costs" limit work on the 35W bridge?

Money was not an issue in the collapse. The bridge did not collapse because of money. The bridge did not collapse because of lack of money. The cause of the bridge collapse has yet to be fully researched and explained. If you'd exercise some patience instead of fingerpointing, the facts of collapse will eventually emerge, and the results will likely yield a "oh, wow, we didn't think of that" moment that would have nothing to do with money.

9. Many defects on the 35W bridge went un-fixed for years. Why are bridges repeatedly re-inspected instead of repairs being made as problems are discovered?

Because "problems" aren't necessarily structurally compromising in nature, and fixing them would be a complete waste of time and resources. A question for you, Nick. If these defects have been noted for years, where are all your columns lamenting them prior to Aug. 1? If the 35W bridge was a stack of toothpicks just waiting to fall, why wasn't the Star-Tribune actively reporting on the impending disaster? Why did the Strib fail its readers by not dutifully informing people of the years of defects? Why does the Star-Tribune hate its readers?

10. Sonia Morphew Pitt, the fired MnDOT manager, led emergency preparedness drills, and yet you say her presence wasn't required after the collapse. Why not? What was your role in supervising her? When did you first receive complaints about her travels? If it was before the collapse, why was she still in her job?

Nick "Nikolai" Coleman, the perpetually hired metro columnist whose brother is the mayor of St. Paul, has written some of the worst, biased literary tripe ever penned in Minnesota, and he consistently misleads and misinforms readers with little or no editorial oversight to be seen. How many complaints does the Star-Tribune receive regarding his moronic drivel? How many bloggers and ThunderJournalists have mocked him endlessly, casting scorn on both him and his newspaper? How much has Nick's Eeyore-ish droning impacted the Strib's value. Why does he still have a job?

11. Why did you pick a design for a new Wakota Bridge (years behind schedule and far over budget) that fails half of the time it is used?

When Nick gets a degree in engineering, he'll be entitled to an answer.


12. Is it not best for Minnesota, and the employees and reputation of MnDOT, for you to resign immediately?


Is it not best for Minnesota, and the employees and reputation of the Star-Tribune, for YOU to resign immediately?

Posted by Ryan at November 30, 2007 10:36 AM | TrackBack
StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble It!