America's mayors are often the scapegoats for governors who fail to properly fund repairs and maintenance of roads, bridges, water systems and other major infrastructure systems. After learning that our own systems in this country have merited a D+ by ASCE, the American Society of Civil Engineers, you'd think that we'd see an immediate infusion of funds allocated to modernize our roads, grids, sewers etc. But this is far from the reality.
POLITICO magazine conducted a survey of America's Mayors. The article indicates that most of the respondents were Democratic Mayors, but then again, most of our biggest cities seem to embrace Democratic platforms.
Some of their findings from the article weren't terribly surprising.
Topping the list of infrastructure concerns is roads and bridges, which 22 percent of mayors identified as vulnerable to disaster. Coming in second, at 16 percent, was water quality and pipe stability, perhaps reflecting the recent impact of the unfolding crisis in Flint.
But experts say the infrastructure crisis has long been unfolding inside city halls—with mayors often the last to receive the dollars and the first to receive blame. “Mayors get infrastructure more than anybody,” said Robert Puentes, president of the Washington-based Eno Center for Transportation. “Most of these things—traditional public works, transit systems, water infrastructure, airports—are under their purview." Puentes added: "Infrastructure has always been at the top of a lot of mayors’ agendas."
Political responsibility has been a flash point in the debates surrounding Flint, where Republican Governor Rick Snyder maintains that the 2013 decision to switch water supplies from the Detroit Water system to the nearby Flint River was made by the City Council, not a state-appointed emergency manager. Perhaps with this tug-of-war in mind, mayors told POLITICO they fear they’ll be left holding the bag for a problem that is national in scope. Asked if their governor would “have their back” in such a crisis, nearly 40 percent of mayors indicated they were not confident. Of those, over 85 percent were of a different political party than their governor (usually a Republican).
It's hard to imagine a Republican mayor being overly concerned about the well-being of anyone but their wealthy donors and benefactors. The only reason Governor Snyder had to address the Flint crisis was not because he cared about the children. He was covering his own corrupt, money-fleecing ass and had to deal with the negative press he earned with his awful, inhumane policies.
Thankfully for others, Flint highlighted a problem long ignored. As a result of Flint's crisis, the (D) mayors of Seattle and Tacoma have turned their attention to troubling lead-levels, similar to Flint. Likely, they will not be the last to address this public health crisis. It's hard not to notice that the people most concerned with public SAFETY and health are predominantly Democratic politicians. Then again, who wants to do away with the EPA? Which party has not positively contributed to society in well over forty years?
The photo of the Minneapolis bridge collapse at the top of this post reminds us of the generosity of Minnesota's rock icon, Prince. In 2007, he donated $50,000 to the fund set up to help victims of the Interstate 35W bridge collapse. It's easy to find so many reasons we're so lucky to have known his genius and charity. I suspect these examples of his philanthropy will be revealed for a long time to come.