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Posts Tagged ‘Pawlenty’

death trap alley

“Pray for me, I drive Highway 60”.

That is the slogan of the Southwest Minnesota Highway 60 Action Corporation that was organized in 1960. The groups purpose back then, as it is today, was to promote the improvement of Minnesota TH 60. They are still praying and waiting 48 years later. Last Thursday, July 24, 380 people gathered in Windom to share their experiences about traveling on Highway 60 and to urge Minnesota Department of Transportation (MNDOT) officials to complete the 4-lane expansion.

MNDOT Commissioner Thomas K. Sorel got an earful as about 25 of the 380 in attendance were able to speak over the course of the two and a half hour meeting. Worthington Daily Globe reporter Julie Buntjer covered the event and led her story with this:

One by one they walked to the microphone, sat down and shared their death-defying experiences on a stretch of Minnesota 60 that not once, not twice, but three times changes from two-lane to four-lane traffic between Windom and St. James.  

From an aunt, friend and cousin who shared their stories of 28-year-old Jamie Torkelson, killed in a head-on collision on the highway on May 6, 2005, to retired school bus drivers, business people, truck drivers and city and county leaders — they pleaded with newly-appointed transportation commissioner Thomas Sorel and MnDOT officials to find the money to complete the four-lane expansion.

The Cottonwood County Citizen also covered the event: Highway 60 meeting attracts 380 to Windom Community Center.

Two area lawmakers and state transportation commissioner Thomas Sorel left Windom with a stronger sense of Highway 60’s flaws and the public’s resolve after last night’s meeting at the Windom Community Center.More than 380 people were on hand, several of them were there specifically to provide testimony on the dangers of the controversial highway. One after another, residents testified about cases where motorists became confused by the highway’s mixture of two-lane and four-lane stretches. Most stories ended with someone in the wrong lane and a “near miss,” injuries, or a fatality.

 

The room fell dead silent following two different stories regarding close calls involving school buses full of students.

 

Lawmakers, such as Sen. Jim Vickerman and Rep. Rod Hamilton expressed frustration that MnDOT leaders have failed to comply with a bill the state’s lawmakers approved this past spring - a bill that requires all of Highway 60 to be completed. Read the rest here.  

 

 

Rahn Larson, editor of the Cottonwood County Citizen, questions the power and decision making of the officials at MNDOT in his editorial: MnDot vs. lawmakers?  Larson asks:

Can a state agency simply refuse to enact an order passed by the Minnesota Legislature?

He then goes on to list a number of facts that proves the intent of the legislature to finish Highway 60 and then has this to say:

OK, so the bill was approved and the legislative intent was confirmed and even stressed to MnDOT leaders at least twice. So the real question is this: “Who is calling the shots for Minnesota - the legislature, or department heads for the various departments?

 

State Senator Jim Vickerman (DFL) and Representative Rod Hamilton (GOP) were both at this meeting in Windom but missing in action was Representative Doug Magnus (GOP). Of course it was probably a wise decision on his part to stay away from such a large gathering since he supported Governor Tim Pawlenty’s veto of the transportation legislation. Fortunately the legislature was able to overide that veto.

In the coming week we will probably find out if Governor Pawlenty will be chosen as McCain’s running mate. He will probably bring along his veto pen. We will also remember the collapse of the I35W bridge. Our infrasturcture needs our obvious and urgent and we could use some real leadership on this issue. Unfortunately we have not received that from the Governor or Representative Magnus.

The Worthington Daily Globe has this compelling audio of Hillary Mathis speaking of her cousin’s tragic death on Highway 60.

(click the arrow)

 

 

Peace & solidarity,

CHC

 

 

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The recent passage of the transportation bill by the Minnesota House and Senate and the subsequent veto by Governor Tim Pawlenty has created an atmosphere of speculation on the possibility of an override of the veto, and consternation amongst the GOP base over those six Republican House members who voted with the DFL majority.

Rep. Doug Magnus (R), 22A, from my corner of the state, voted against the transportation bill and explained his reasons in an email update and on his official House website. It is standard GOP talking points.

Rep. Rod Hamilton (R), 22B, who represents the other half of our Senate district, voted for the transportation bill. In Hamilton’s email update to constituents he explains why he voted for the bill and also mentions that it may cost him politically. Here are a few excerpts:

I supported the proposal because I am tired of rural Minnesota being
left behind, particularly on transportation, so I decided to do
something about it.  By working with all interests and all parties on
this issue, my constituents will actually see the results if this
transportation bill becomes law… an improved Highway 60.

and this:

Here’s the deal, I am here to work for my constituents.  I’m not
here to carry the Governor’s water or toe the party line.
Politically, I’m getting beat up by members of my party over this.
But one of the top concerns I hear constantly from folks in District 22B
is that our roads and bridges are in need of repair, and we have done
nothing on this issue for years.

and this:

I will likely pay a political price over this decision.  But that’s
OK, because by holding the Highway 60 project over the heads of our
Democratic leadership, we are finally moving that project closer to
completion.  Doing nothing once again for transportation did not seem
like a reasonable option.

Read the entire email here rodhamiltontransportationltr22feb.doc 

The conservative Republican base has threatened to withhold endorsing candidates who voted for the bill and have already carried that threat out in one case. Rep. Kathy Tinglestad (R), 49B has become the first victim as the 49B endorsing convention decided to table the endorsement. The vote to override is expected as soon as Monday so we will see what effect this has on Rep. Hamilton’s vote. Completion of highway 60 has been a priority for as long as I can remember and it is about time to get something done. That will not happen until we decide to get serious about investing in our transportation infrastructure. Apparently Rep. Hamilton feels the same way and believes he should serve the people who elected him. I often disagree with the positions that Rep. Hamilton takes but believe he has made the right choice in this case. I expect that Rep. Magnus will vote to sustain the veto and be standing cheek to cheek with Rep. Marty Seifert.

Dave Mindeman over at mnpACT has a suggestion for the Republicans: Minnesota GOP House: You Represent People NOT Ideology

Peace & solidarity,

CHC

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