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.


1) THE BEARERS OF BAD NEWS

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.

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“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.

2) THE DEATH OF INTELLECT

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.

3) PEOPLE DOING GOOD: THE SCHOOL SUPPLY DRIVE

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.

4) POLITICS, RELIGION, AND BUSINESS

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…

5) AND NOW THIS MESSAGE FROM WINTER

“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)

TODAY’S QUESTION

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?

WHAT WE’RE DOING

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.