What trumps the big stories? Potholes

Those of us in the news business tend to think the audience is preoccupied with the big stories we deem worth covering.

Here’s the reality: most people aren’t.

A survey a week ago, for example, found that only 13 percent of people were paying any attention to the trial of President Trump’s former campaign chair.

That’s an important story, for sure. But so is a bumpy road, which is why a protest that’s broken out in Duluth is a good reminder to the nation’s highfalutin journalists: Potholes trump just about everything else for many people.

It’s gotten so bad on Thurber Road in Duluth that the residents are creating roadside art out car parts that have fallen off, KBJR reports. It’s a you-can’t-fight-City-Hall-but-people-try-anyway” story.

Inspirational, indeed, on the road that was damaged during the 2012 flood.

You have to about 5 to 10 miles an hour. You have to swerve to avoid the dips,” says Jeanette [Olson] says.

Vehicle damage that includes broken ball joints, springs, and shocks. The wife says, “Unsuspecting people that don’t realize how bad it really is because you know when you look at it and you’re driving at 20 miles an hour you don’t really see how bad it is until they hit that first bump.”

Each sign is spaced out at a location where residents claim vehicles have been knocked around. The sign at the very beginning of the street reads “Cars’ worst nightmare ahead” and from there, ten more.

Jeanette says, “finally this morning we just decided okay, let’s just this. We’re going to do this, we’re going to make the signs, we’re going to put out the parts.”

Ultimately a warning to all those who travel down the dead-end road. “Hopefully the people in charge of doing the road repairs will realize what a hazard it is and take care of it.”

City officials say they’ll keep patching the road but are using the situation as a chance to do a little campaigning, saying the road could benefit from a 0.5 percent transportation sales tax program that the city intends to lobby for in the next legislative session.

  • Gary F

    People are more concerned at the household level than they are over the constant this weeks outrage over Trump. The constant outrage over every little petty thing has caused many not to care about things they maybe should care about.

    The cities want to spend money on stuff that feels good or looks good on campaign literature. Tearing a road apart and fixing it right instead of patching it costs money and no one likes road construction.

    A lot of Americans are thinking about their 401K’s, their employment status, their familily budget and their taxes when it comes time to vote this fall and 2020. The constant drum beat over what Trump tweeted this week has turned many off from giving a hoot.

    We’ll see in the next few elections.

    • “every little petty thing”


      • Mike

        Yeah, so far it’s been petty. It reminds me a great deal of what the Republicans did to Bill Clinton in the ’90s. He was prosecuted for lying about consensual sex. Trump lied about payments to his “girlfriends”. Big deal. If we weren’t such a prurient society, nobody would care in either case.

        But here’s the thing: the daily obsession with every utterance from Trump obscures all the stuff that elite reporters could be focused on.

        It’s well-known that American infrastructure is in horrible shape. But I guess that sort of reporting doesn’t generate clicks or ratings, so it doesn’t get covered. That’s partly the fault of the public, to be sure, but it doesn’t say much for the mainstream media that they feel no obligation to do better. At the end of the day, they get right down in the dirt with the people they love to feel superior to.

        • theoacme

          I’d say Trump’s multiple acts of treason, and his going all Nuremburg-rally-en-route-to-Krystallnacht 2.0, should be watched more.

          (For the record, I consider the entirety of both the Democratic and Republican Parties to be treasonous, an immediate and irremediable threat to my life, and unfit for any good purpose whatsoever.)

        • Jack Ungerleider

          But Trump ran on fixing infrastructure along with a lot of other things. The reason we don’t hear about the still crumbling infrastructure is that the White House throws out a new shiny thing every couple of days as a distraction from the last shiny thing.

          As for the Clinton investigation, do you remember how it started?

          • BJ

            a $180,000 loan

          • Sonny T

            He’s got the biggest infrastructure makeover in history going:


            Why don’t you hear about it? Not because “the White House throws out a new shiny thing every couple of days” (not sure what you mean by that). It’s because Trump can do nothing right.

          • Jack Ungerleider

            That’s a plan. Did Congress pass a bill? Did I miss a big Rose Garden signing ceremony with people in hard hats with shovels? There’s a lot of construction in the area this year, I just don’t know if that’s new money or existing funding at work.

            (As for the shiny new object examples include: North Korea, the tariffs/trade war, insulting allies, and “thinking aloud” (or on Twitter) about whether he hired “the best people”.)

          • The Resistance

            You are aware that the congress controlled by his own party never passed this, right?

            And that is because he offered no way to pay for it, did not do the heavy lifting to garner support for it, and congress won’t fund it.

            If he can’t get it done under single party rule, then I think he can do nothing right. Yet, somehow he seems to have convinced you that it is a done deal. Amazing.

          • Sonny T

            Read my post. Never said it’s a done deal.

            If Trump’s successful with this, North Korea, fair trade, the economy, poverty rates, unemployment, then a whole lot of people oughtta eat crow. By the way, he’s already made substantial, even historic gains in these areas.

          • Ironic how a post about how what people care about is potholes turns into yet another Pro-Trump – Anti-Trump debate.

          • Sonny T

            Sorry. He came after me though and I couldn’t help it. I’ll leave it be. You’re the band leader. I’m only a piccolo player

          • The Resistance

            It’s not a done deal because it never was a deal and it is officially dead. That’s why you never hear about it.

            Just stop already. Criminy.

        • Sonny T

          Clinton lied under oath. Trump lied… well, we really don’t know if he did. I’m studying both sides, and still scratching my head..

          Lying under oath is big. It’s called perjury.

          I am in complete agreement with your last paragraph

      • Gary F

        Every one lasts about a week.

        We’ll see at the next election.

      • Sonny T

        Bob, there oughta be a big grinning photo of Trump in every news office. He’s done more for you guys than any single individual in the history of the media!

        • Actually, there’s never been page view gold in the history of “us guys” the likes of which Garrison Keillor v. Jesse Ventura provided. Never. And of my top 60 most read posts this year, Trump is mentioned in only two – #23 (firing of an editorial cartoonist) and #53 (Richard Painter’s ad).

          Trust me: The number of posts in which people try to hijack a thread to talk about Donald Trump is significantly higher.

          • Sonny T

            Don’t bring him up if you’re havin spaghetti. Trust me 🙂

        • kevins

          It’s not a competition Sonny. There is too much tribalism already, so why light a fire? Are you happy about a thrice married adulterer, serial liar running the country? (all facts by the way). If so, god bless you.

          • Sonny T

            Trump has denied the affairs. There is no evidence outside of the word of the accusers. No witnesses, no hotel records, nothing but their big mouths.

          • Sounds like there’s a trail of money. And the National Enquirer buying a story and sticking it in the vault.

            Who knows what’s true yet since the investigation hasn’t been completed. All in good time, apparently.

          • Sonny T

            Yes. But paying having your lawyer pay off accusers is standard procedure for the rich, and for corporations, for that matter. It’s expediency, and has nothing to do with the “truth”.

            Since we indeed don’t know what’s true (yet), let’s not call this “fact”. There’s a lot of mushy logic right now.

          • kevins

            There is the matter of the payments….

      • Gary F

        so I guess we will be seeing less Trump coverage in the next few months? https://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/article217217600.html

        • If we don’t it disproves your entire theory.

    • Jerry

      You think the stories this week have been about his tweets?

    • The Resistance

      Like most citizens, I can care about my 401k, potholes, family budget, and worry about a president who is an unindicted co-conspirator.

  • JonasGrumby

    Seems to me this is normal for a Duluth street.

  • Mike Worcester

    Stories like this make me want to re-watch the 1996 PBS series, Vote For Me. One of the people they interviewed was a small-town mayor who said (paraphrasing): when someone calls your home at 6:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning to tell you that their neighbor’s dog just [pooped] in their yard and what are you going to do about it!? Now, that’s politics!

  • Jerry

    People will complain about a road that needs repairs. Then they will complain about how the repairs being done inconvenience them. Afterwards, they will complain about how much it cost. There is no satisfying people when you work in Public Works.

  • KTFoley

    Bob periodically reminds us that all politics are local. This time he didn’t even have to invoke the phrase.

  • AL287

    I remember driving to an interview a few years ago in North Minneapolis and exiting on a ramp that likely hadn’t been repaired—ever.

    I had to drive 10 mph or my front end suspension and alignment would have been in serious jeopardy.

    I can truly sympathize with the citizens of Duluth.