Running downhill

Kirk Ross has an excellent review of the miserable state of maintence in state and local government, which has been one of my pet peeves for decades, ever since I was responsible for routine upkeep of the bridge on the USS Charleston (LKA-113), where I was the navigator.

In the Navy, they spend what must be at least a third of their time doing maintenance on equipment and facilities. It's a never-ending job and they're very disciplined about it. Which makes perfect sense given the huge upfront investments we make in ships, aircraft, weapons systems, and more.

We the People make those same kinds of investments in public infrastructure. Whether its a sewage plant, a bridge, a highway, a government building, or any piece of capital equipment, we're spending millions or billions of dollars initially - but then, when the budgets get written and allocated, we're cutting corners like crazy when it comes to maintaining our investments in good shape.

It is long-term and butt-dumb stupid to put off improvements and needed repairs to the public infrastructure. But towns, counties and water systems do it all the time – shifting maintenance funds into other areas to make the budget. It’s a habit that is not exclusively a matter of rich and poor. In high-growth areas, resources are focused more on keeping up with expansion than keeping up with repairs. In less affluent towns, aging systems get patched over instead of replaced. In fact, you can see many of our finer cities, towns and counties represented each month on the tally sheet of fines handed out by the state’s Division of Water Quality.

Aside from that whole danger to public health thing, there are a couple of other reasons why this is troubling. First, the public sector ought to live up to the same responsibilities and requirements it asks of the private sector. When the state was cracking down on hog farms, the industry used to complain that municipal systems did more damage than the hogs did. While at the time a lot of folks called that hogwash, the farmers’ record since then has at least shown some improvement, while sewage plant spills are just as bad, if not worse.

This is the kind of approach the government-haters just love, love, love. They want to squeeze budgets to death, which means we fail to maintain our physical infrastructure, which leads to their calls for privatization, which means rich white boys like Fred Smith get to make even more money taking over government services, which means poor people get screwed, again. And all the while, the promise of trickle-down economics smells more and more like sh*t running downhill.


Ross has a killer closing paragraph:

Now, there’s a new report card out and we got an overall “C-” in a survey of infrastructure by the American Society of Civil Engineers. The engineers fault that pesky deferred maintenance gene prevalent here. They gave the state a “D” in roads for all the potholes, cracks and crumbling overpasses and a “D” in dams. We did manage to pull out a “B-” in rail. State analysts are still trying determine if North Carolina’s GPA will require us to repeat 2006.

The only way I'll want to repeat 2006 is if the cowards in the Republican Party of Torture get kicked out the doors of Congress and the state legislature. In which case, I'll be looking for an instant replay in 2008.


Gregflynn scooped Ross

Let's see....wasn't it an entire week ago or so that Greg posted about our infrastructure grade? Glad corporate media has picked up on it.

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Our grades

Greg did a nice review of the story earlier, but I think Kirk Ross puts it in a larger context that's useful. (Plus, he's no longer in the MSM . . . he's a freelancer! )

Congrats again on the Sampley Saga. I know you're glad to have that off your plate!

Sorry Kirk......

Didn't mean to saddle you with that "corporate media" baggage.

Yes, it's good to have that off my plate so I can get back to my other writing.

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Uh, er

Couple of things:
I checked with my CEO, an extremely lazy red tick hound, and she says we are definitely not corporate media. Head of finance, a banana tree on the deck, agrees. (2:01 p.m.: Opening cold beer to celebrate.)

It's not a scoop if you're the first to report on something after a report is issued. I like Greg, but unless he got the report ahead of time, he was merely timely not scoop-a-rific.

The first section of the column is specifically about sewerage and sewage treatment plants run by counties and towns that are falling apart. I read through a year's worth of spill reports to write it. You should see the messes people are making. It is indicative, though, of a major problem of state and local gov't.

The last section of the column is about report cards and the absurdity of them, the engineer's report was a nice tie-in to section one.

I hold suspect any man

who would own a Redtick over a Bluetick. My CEO is a very confused mix of dogs that aesthetically should never have been mixed. The pay is good, though.

When a blogger highlights the importance of a report before the mainstream media bothers to, I call that a scoop. We are redefining the media, hence the need to redefine certain words. I am the self-appointed head of new definitions. hehehe (note to self....add Scoop-a-rific to the list...)

I promise I'm going to read your article. I've just read through over 20 years of the life and times of Ted Sampley. There probably wasn't much difference between your spill reports and his life history. heh

Will have to wait to drink. I have to pick the girls up at school and it wouldn't do to go through the car line snockered.

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Deferred maintenance

SD's probably a little trigger happy this week after painting the Kinston triptych. Step back from the keyboard and lay your mouse on the ground. I'd call my earlier post timely but short on analysis. I got the info at the same time as MSM. I just wanted it out there ASAP for people to consider. The definition of a scoop varies from Ben & Jerry to Baskin Robbins. Now I can't remember if I was looking for a CSS stylesheet or the CSS Neuse. Too much deferred brain maintenance, plus it's Friday.

State and local governments have been crossing fingers and playing triage with buildings and infrastructure for years under the guise of "deferred maintenance" ie "no maintenance". Kirk has nailed it. We're barely keeping up with growth let alone aging structures and changing regs.

Exile on Lane Street

ps there has actually been a sign on Lane saying "LEFT LANE CLOSED"