The bridge collapse at 5 (5×8 – 8/1/12)

The bearers of bad news, the death of intellect, people doing good, politics religion and business, and now this message from winter.


I don’t usually bring back old NewsCut posts. Once they’re published, I like to move on. But on this 5th anniversary of the I35W bridge collapse, I’m bringing back this one, because the two people I profile do a job that seldom gets any attention. They’re the people who delivered the bad news to families when the bridge collapsed, and many other times, too.


“We see ourselves as the ones that walk the families through the valley of the shadow of death,” Rev. Jeffrey Stewart told me when I interviewed him four years ago. And after a relative is told of the death, he said notifiers should have nothing to ever do with the family again. “Like a smell that might take you back to your mother’s kitchen, we remind people of the death of their loved one and the healing process can’t begin. We get hugs sometimes. We get handshakes and then people say ‘thank you. I hope I never see you again.'”

More bridge: Where are a lot of the bridge artifacts now? At the History Center. A future exhibit is possible, but it’s still too soon, an official says.


The death of Gore Vidal last night brings, again, the ’60s back vividly. There was a time — you whippersnappers won’t understand this — when intellect on TV was something that could elevate public debate. Vidal’s debates with William F. Buckley at the 1968 national political conventions were both the beginning and the end of an era when the audience had to be just as intelligent to properly follow the commentary.

Today, we would call them both “elitists.”

“Half of the American people have never read a newspaper,” he once sad. “Half never voted for President. One hopes it is the same half.”

Find more quotes at the BBC.


Jameson McCarvel has a birthday next month but he’s giving up presents, and donating his own money to the United Way of Cass Clay’s annual School Supply Drive. He spent a day this week packing supplies into backpacks at the Fargodome.

“I just wanted to help people,” he tells the Fargo Forum. “Just people we don’t know. Kids.”

Jameson McCarvel is 5.


Just in time for Chick-fil-A’s expansion into Minnesota, the restaurant chain is at the heart of an age-old question: Should a business take a stand on controversial issues? It was already no secret that Chick-fil-A was a conservative organization — it closes on Sunday, for example — but when president Dan Cathy told a radio show that gay marriage violated God’s plan, the boycott was on.

The mayors of Boston, Chicago and San Francisco warned the chain not to come to their cities,

“I don’t see hate speech here,” Chicago Sun Times columnist Mary Mitchell told NPR. “I see a man expressing a biblical viewpoint that many people may not agree with, but there are people who believe the Bible. There are people who feel that way. Dan Cathy believes in the literal interpretation of the Bible. That makes it hate speech? Then we might as well say the Bible is full of hate speech.”

Writing in the Los Angeles Times today, Michael Hiltzik dismisses the notion that a boycott essentially stifles free speech…

Despite what Cathy’s supporters might claim, public boycotts aren’t infringements on his free speech. With a handful of modern exceptions — the grape boycott against anti-union California growers in the 1960s and the disinvestment campaign against South African apartheid in the 1980s — boycotts today are informational tools. No one publicizing Cathy’s views has the power or authority to keep anyone out of his stores, but they do have the ability to help patrons walking up to his counters to know where their money is going.

Still, an even more important task is to make sure that the private views of corporate bosses don’t interfere with their public obligations under the law. Should a public official pay more attention to Cathy’s ruminations or to a gender discrimination case recently filed in federal court in Georgia by a female ex-store manager? (The company hasn’t responded to the complaint in court.)

When I first wrote about this last March (it wasn’t like you couldn’t see this coming, folks), about 90 percent said a firm’s political positions influences their shopping decisions.

Let’s drill down deeper…


“I’m coming…”

Where We’re From from MAIN LIMIT PRODUCTIONS on Vimeo.

Bonus I: “No Christmas tree, No Christmas tree.” The drought steals Christmas. (Winona Daily News)

Bonus II: Just one question: Why is long hair considered inappropriate for people as they get older? (Idea Peepshow)


It’s five years since the Interstate Hwy. 35W bridge fell into the Mississippi River. What have we learned from the collapse of the I-35W bridge?


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: A comparison of Obama and Romney education policies.

Second hour: What planning and funding changes have been made to make sure our bridges and roads are in good repair. Are the current actions adequate?

Third hour: Joel Stein, staff writer for TIME. In 1998, he began writing his sophomoric humor column that now appears in the magazine every week. His latest book is “Man Made: a stupid quest for masculinity.”

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): New York Times columnist Gail Collins, speaking at the Commonwealth Club about the newspaper business, politics, and her new book, “As Texas Goes…”

Talk of the Nation (1-2 p.m.) – The Political Junkie.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – The new 35W bridge was built with technology that would warn of stress, or other problems that could lead to the failure that doomed the original bridge. Jess Mador reintroduces us to these gadgets and reports on how well they have worked.

Euan Kerr reports on artists who were moved to create work to honor those who lost their lives.

The cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul are both debating where to draw the line between art and advertising. A St. Paul toy store is battling to build two cartoon cats “statues” outside its entryway, after the city found they would exceed the maximum size limits for signs. The City Council hears Creative Kidstuff’s appeal on Wednesday evening. Meanwhile, a Minneapolis City Council member is calling for revisions to an ordinance banning murals on store walls that depict the products sold inside. MPR’s Curtis Gilbert will report.

  • jon

    There have been a lot of threats of boycotts around companies that come out on the gay marriage issue.

    I’ve also heard it said that once the opposition to gay marriage dies, it will become legal.

    Now lets consider the companies that oppose gay marriage (and have conservatives encouraging them to eat at those companies) Chick Filla and The Waffle House are the two I’ve heard of. Seems like if those who oppose gay marriage increase their intake of food from those locations, they be less likely to stand in the way of it in the future… what with their impending health conditions from the food they eat.

    Now consider the other side, companies that support gay marriage… the likes of Microsoft, apple, google, boeing, american airlines, american apparel, nike, target etc. Heck it’d be hard for any one to advocate a boycott on all of the companies that support gay marriage (especially those in the technology sector) with out using products from those companies.

    On to the deeper topic in #4… It’s not the literal belief in the bible that I think people should have issue with… People who take every word literally will sort them selves out. It’s the selective application of biblical ideology. More over many of the “literal” translations for the word “homosexual” from the original Greek and Hebrew are actually more likely better translated as “pedophile”

    The bible literally says that it’s as hard for a rich man to enter heaven as it is for a Camel to pass through the eye of a needle (leaving aside the actual historical meaning behind that, because we apparently are looking for words not context) by the literal translation most of the US is going to hell, and we are ok with that because we explain it away as “it isn’t the money it’s the love of money” but that isn’t what the bible says… the bible says give away all your possessions and follow Jesus, do you see the VP of chick-Filla doing this?

    If you are going to take the bible Literally (especially from words that were translated by people who were fuzzy on the language) then you should follow the whole damn thing… And maybe give special attention to the parts that speak about Christ (you know the guy you named your religion after) instead of searching the whole thing over, to find the word abomination in referents to homosexuality (which also lists eating shell fish as an abomination)

    If there is a hell, there is likely a special place reserved for those who twist the words of the bible to fit their own beliefs and to justify their own ends… actually I think it says something about that at the end of Revelations…

  • essjayok


    I struggle with freedom of speech when those words are directly linked to hate crimes that directly impact people’s lives. When public “leaders” like Cathy speak hatefully about members of the community, other (ignorant) people see it as endorsement of their own hateful behavior. This hurts people, families, and communities.

    And so yes, I think we should be boycotting businesses that promote hate & violence in our communities. They are adding nothing of value to the dialogue on this topic. And in this case, as Jon points out, they are also making us fatter and more unhealthy. To say they are poisoning the ecosystem is not an overstatement.

    I would love to see more organizations and companies and community leaders come out strongly saying they support diversity and inclusion. Those who speak out against hate are the true leaders.

  • Michael Fraase

    I mis-spent a great deal of my youth eating the original Chick-fil-a sandwiches at the Dwarf Grill in Hapeville (just next to the Atlanta airport). Still the best chicken sandwich in the world.

    While I make a fair effort to inform myself of the politics of the people I do business with — and avoid those with whom I disagree — if there’s no alternative, I’ll bite. There’s no alternative to a Chick-fil-a, although the one in Coffman at the University is just plain awful.

    Melaleuca is another example. It’s run by a right-wingnut, and I find his politics abhorrent, but there’s no alternative for its soap and household cleaning products.

    I’ve co-owned a small business for more than 30 years. We make our politics as transparent as possible, and I’m sure we’ve lost business because of it. To my mind, that’s better than the alternative.

  • Heather

    Chik-fil-A doesn’t check your sexual orientation when they take your money at the counter, so they shouldn’t be funding groups that work hard to ensure discrimination.

    If I break down and eat at a Chik-fil-A, I’ll be sending a check for double the amount of my purchase to the Human Rights Campaign in penance.

  • Jim Shapiro

    In California, one the most popular chicken joints is El Pollo Loco ( The Crazy Chicken).

    Perhaps Chick-fil-a should follow suit and change it’s name to The Chicken Place Owned By The Crazy Guy.