Making Hay in the Winter

There’s going to be another inquiry into why the bridge
fell. On top of the NTSB, the Legislative Auditor, and the Governor Pawlenty-hired
consultants, we’re going to have the Minneapolis
law firm of Gray Plant Mooty looking into things on behalf of a bi-partisan
State House-Senate committee.

One wonders why we need another such investigation. But it’s not
too hard to figure out if you read the comments of the politicians who oppose
its formation. One needs to look only as far as our head politician for the
answer. Governor Pawlenty said that the
purpose of the investigation was "to make political hay out of a tragic
situation."

I agree whole heartedly with the governor, but not because
it’s wrong to make political hay here, but because it would be wrong not to.
Here’s why: the bridge didn’t fall because we didn’t know that it needed
repair. The bridge fell because we knew it needed repair and someone made a
political, or, to be generous, a budgetary, decision not to make the repairs.
That’s what I’d like to find out: who made that decision to play dice with the
chances with the lives of the thousands of people who drove over that bridge
every day?

Applying Occam’s Razor (which is a principle of
investigation which states, in essence, that the simplest possible solution to
a problem is most often the correct one) I’m going with Pawlenty’s appointment
of Carol Molnau, an anti-transportation, anti-tax ideologue, as transportation
commissioner as the proximate cause.

That political decision trumped all the engineering and
maintenance recommendations that might have saved the bridge. And that’s hay
that should be cut, baled and stacked for all of us to see every time we drive
over a Minnesota
bridge.