After I-35W bridge tragedy, Greens call for major public works effort
Green Party of the United States
Thursday, August 9, 2007
Greens express sympathy for bridge collapse victims and the people of Minneapolis, call for a major investment in public works and safety
Statement from Green Minneapolis City Council Member Cam Gordon (Ward 2)
WASHINGTON, DC -- Green Party leaders expressed sympathy and support for the people of Minneapolis, especially the families of victims, in the aftermath of the collapse of the I-35W Bridge, and called for a new era of investment in infrastructure and public safety to prevent future tragedies.
Greens also noted the quick response and leadership of Minneapolis Ward 2 Council Member Cam Gordon <http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/ward2/>, a member of the Green Party, after the bridge collapsed last week.
A statement issued by Mr. Gordon, in whose ward the disaster occurred, is excerpted below. The Green Party of Minnesota has also issued a statement <http://www.mngreens.org/I35W>.
"In the wake of the terrible Minneapolis bridge collapse, Cam Gordon has rolled up his sleeves and dived straight into the trenches," said Adri Mehra, one of Mr. Gordon's constituents and a member of the Fifth Congressional District Green Party's Steering Committee. "The day of the bridge collapse, Cam participated in the Emergency Operations Command Center discussions, which resulted in a decision to call off the divers searching the river on their rescue and recovery mission. After that, Cam spent hours in the family service center set up at the Holiday Inn Metrodome. He spoke with families and friends missing loved ones, connected with Red Cross volunteers, and filled in on the hotline phone for the team of chaplains while they conducted a meeting."
"A particular high point for Cam during his time at the Holiday Inn was when he was able to help one of his constituents -- a Riverside Park neighbor of his -- locate a loved one on the phone. In the days since the bridge collapse, Cam has toured the accident site with other elected officials, and last night he helped to lead a moment of silence on the Mississippi river with a West Bank National Night Out party," Mr. Mehra added.
Green Party leaders said that the bridge collapse proved the need for greater investment in public works and the improvement of deteriorating infrastructure.
"With a fraction of the money the US is spending on the Iraq occupation and on porkbarrel military contracts, we could launch a nationwide public works program to restore crumbling bridges and other structures, ensure public safety, improve and expand public transportation, develop sustainable alternative energy sources, and reduce the need for car traffic," said Budd Dickinson, co-chair of the Green Party of the United States.
"We should begin in places like New Orleans, where the levees were unable to withstand Katrina, and Minneapolis, where the bridge collapse showed what might happen as structures built decades ago continue to age. Such a program would create millions of new living wage jobs. Most importantly, we'd save lives by preventing future disasters," added Mr. Dickinson, an engineer who has worked on infrastructure and has witnessed the reduction of infrastructure budgets.
Council Member Cam Gordon's statement on I-35 Bridge Collapse [excerpted]
August 6, 2007
The media and City staff, particularly our Communications Department, have been working hard to provide information and access to information about the tragic I-35W bridge collapse over the Mississippi. I would like to offer some of my own comments and observations.
First and foremost, my thoughts go out to all who have lost loved ones, who are missing family and friends and who are suffering because of the collapse. I hope that you and your family, friends and loved ones are safe and unharmed after this catastrophic event. For all of us, as individuals and as a community, this has been a shocking experience and a devastating loss. While things may seem stable now and in many ways our community is coming to terms with this shock, let's not forget that some are still caught in the moment, grieving the loss of family members, co-workers and friends, in anguish for loved ones who are still missing, or struggling to recover and survive from injuries resulting from the fall. Please keep these people, as well as our recovery workers still on the scene, in your thoughts and prayers and wishes.
Second, I want to share a little of how proud I am of our City, our community and all the personnel of the City and other government agencies, volunteers and others who were able to respond quickly and competently to this disaster. City staff and elected officials are, and have been, fully engaged in doing everything we can to respond to this terrible disaster. From courage and competence on the street in the actions of the scores of first responders to the highly skilled and focused leadership at the Emergency Operations Command Center, we have a lot to be proud of.
We also have so much to be grateful for. The outpouring of support from the emergency response teams from all over the County and State, the chaplains, Red Cross personnel, those who have donated food and supplies, all must be acknowledged.
As we enter the recovery phase we are just beginning to get a sense of the difficult work ahead. Divers, structural engineers, and other recovery experts are checking vehicles that are still submerged in the Mississippi River following the accident. Currently the site is under the command of the Minneapolis Police Department and will likely remain so until all vehicles have been checked and all bodies recovered.
We are in discussions with other agencies, including the County, the National Transportation Safety Board, Army Corps of Engineers, Coast Guard and others to develop a plan and unified command and control structure for after the recovery phase is complete. A clean-up plan is also being developed to address the styrene monomer spill from the train car that was crushed under the bridge....
From the reports I have seen, I believe we should be grateful that this collapse did not result in more loss of life. We should take this opportunity to remind ourselves to cherish those around us.
Lastly, I am hopeful that in the months and years ahead, this catastrophe will help refocus our attention on maintaining our infrastructure, so that nothing like this happens in our city, our state or our country again.
Council Aide, Second Ward Council Member Cam Gordon
Green Party of the United States
o Green Party News Center http://www.gp.org/newscenter.shtml
o Green Party Speakers Bureau http://www.gp.org/speakers
o 2007 national Green Party meeting in Reading, Pa.: video footage, blog and media coverage http://www.gp.org/meeting2007/
Green Party of Minnesota
Links to information on the response to the I-35W Bridge tragedy
'Open Letter to Michael Moore' from the Green Party on 'Sicko,' health care reform