Bluestem gathers that someone, somewhere, believes that it's a great talking point to call attention to Mike Parry's effort on the floor of the Minnesota Senate to add an amendment to the Omnibus Transportation bill.
And call it an earmark, then scold him for hypocrisy.
Bluestem is no fan of Senator Mike Parry. But we're also no fan of driving on Highway 14 along the two stretches of road that were covered by his amendment. We avoid those stretches at all cost, opting for county roads.
People in the Twin Cities and elsewhere who put together these sorts of talking points are obviously so much more clever than Bluestem and in touch with people in Southern Minnesota. Thank God that they are here to rescue us from our demands for safe roads and believe that sacrificing years of bipartisan work to secure those roads is nothing if a cheap political point can be scored.
Take the sneering post at Minnesota Progressive Project. Mike Parry hates pork except for when he loves it illustrates the worst of talking point blogging. The "gotcha" moment is embarrassing--for Senate Democrats, not Parry.
One doubts voters will be dismayed by the "hypocrisy." It's much more likely they are appalled that the road has been left out of MNDOT's 20-year plan. Earlier, on April 17, 2012 in Highway 14 deemed more deadly than once thought, Mankato Free Press staff writer Mark Fischenich wrote:
Local officials were displeased by the news.
Mankato City Council President Mike Laven said he will tell lawmakers at a Highway 14 hearing at the Capitol today that if there’s no money for a four-lane expansion of a highway with a fatal crash rate triple the average, there should be no funding for any highway expansion in the state.
Laven also suggested that MnDOT funding priorities are too focused on alleviating traffic congestion rather than saving lives.
“Dead people don’t count as much as they once did in the new policies,” he said . . .
In Parry presents Highway 14 amendment, pulls after earmark challenge, New Ulm Journal's Josh Moniz reports:
Sen. Mike Parry (R-Waseca) introduced Tuesday an amendment to the Omnibus Transportation bill mandating progress on the infamously dangerous Highway 14. His action mirrored that of Rep. Terry Morrow (DFL - St. Peter), who offered a symbolic Highway 14 amendment on the House version of the bill on April 26.
Anger among Highway 14 legislators due to the Minnesota Department of Transportation's (MnDOT) recent policy decisions prompted the amendments.
MnDOT announced last month that it was essentially forgoing the long-sought four-lane expansion for Highway 14 due to its new emphasis on "low-cost, high-benefit" projects to maximize its limited funds. Instead, the MnDOT announced plans to target projects across the state that do not qualify for its standards.
The announcement came at the same time MnDOT's Highway 14 Road Safety Audit showed that the two-lane segment between Nicollet and North Mankato was three times the state's fatal crash rate for similar roads.
That's as succinct a background as needed. Introducing congressional campaign politics on the Senate floor? Shame on you, Senate Democrats. And Moniz reports on something that's left out of The Uptake clip that's being circulated:
Following his [Parry's] speech, Transportation Committee Chair Joe Gimse (R-Willmar) said he would make Highway 14's four-lane expansion a priority as long as he held the chair position. But, he urged legislators to not get "parochial" by trying to determine MnDOT's agenda by legislation.
So Gimse points out the process to Parry.
Parry told the Journal:
In an interview afterwards, Parry said he felt the accusation of presenting an earmark was a trick by the DFL to score points. He said that the four-lane expansion of Highway 14 had been on the books for years, so it wasn't something new to be earmarked.
He said that he pulled the amendment because there were not enough votes to pass it. He said he simply wanted to demand answers for MnDOT's new policy.
Shocking as it may seem to readers, Bluestem agrees with Parry on this point.
It sounds like the amendment didn't have the votes and was symbolic, just like DFLer Terry Morrow's amendment was in the House. I'm not privy to the plan, but it sounds like Morrow and Parry's amendment was hatched by the Highway 14 Partnership out of frustration with getting a downright scary road fixed.
There's plenty to ding Parry on, but working with Terry Morrow and the cities along the route isn't one of them.
Thanks for the tin ear, whoever cooked up this one.
Photo: Highway 14 west of Mankato. Seriously scary road.