If Plans Were Horses, Then Nick Coleman Could Ride To Water

Don’t mind those engineers. They were sitting in class taking calculus and learning the scientific method when people like Nick Coleman were learning how to…


…well, anyway.

The point being that even though the latest news on the Bridge Collapse investigation – the one being carried out by actual engineers – indicates that the bridge didn’t collapse as a direct result of the failure of the Gas Tax – Nick Coleman still knows better than all those dumb engineers:

Get ready to be gusseted.

Let’s stop right there.

Has Nick Coleman learned nothing from years of having his neologisms thrown back in his face wrapped in ridicule?

I doubt that many Minnesotans heard of gussets before Aug. 1, but since the collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge, “gusset” has become a favorite word in the mouths of politicians, particularly those looking to cast suspicion not on their politics or policies, but on inanimate steel objects.

Of course, if the “inanimate steel objects” (and, more importantly, the design work that went into them) actually were the problem – well, that’d be an issue, wouldn’t it?

Gussets are steel plates used to reinforce joists or connect girders. Although a three-year study of the problems of the ailing I-35W bridge did not focus attention on the bridge’s gussets, and although the bridge was still in the Mississippi River, it took only a week after the bridge fell for the Bush administration’s secretary of transportation, Mary Peters, to finger the culprits: Gussets.

A week.


Or course, two days after the collapse, Nick Coleman appeared on cable TV to pin the entire blame on Minnesota Republicans, funding, and the gas tax.

Two days.

She was immediately echoed by a private consulting firm hired by the Pawlenty-Molnau administration within hours of the collapse — without public bid. That firm Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, was hired for $2 million — coincidentally, the cost of a plan for reinforcing the bridge that was rejected by the Minnesota Department of Transportation months before the collapse.

Since Coleman clearly rejects all of that “empirical method” and “engineering” nonsense in favor of “knowing stuff”, I have to wonder if he wrote that graf without even knowing that it’s complete doubletalk? Two million was the price of a plan. A plan that might have planned to address the causes of the collapse (maybe – and we’ll never know from Coleman’s column), but, given that it came up “months before the collapse”, wouldn’t have actually fixed the problem, even had it addressed the actual cause of the collapse – which we don’t yet know!

The Pawlenty administration has been accusing critics of jumping to conclusions about the cause of the collapse because we argue, whatever the physical causes, that there was a dereliction of a public duty to keep bridges standing and bridge users alive.

And – let’s say it together – Pawlenty is right. “Critics” – mainly politically-motivated hacks like Coleman, Elwyn “E-Tink” Tinklenburg and Alice Hausman – were blaming Pawlenty before the last girder had fallen.

If you listen to Minnesota’s officials, it’s almost like the bridge never fell. It couldn’t have. After all, they had a great plan for keeping it up.

On paper.


You mean, just like the $2 million “plan” to keep the bridge up that Coleman mentioned not ten paragraphs above?

The one that’s distinguished from the “plan” Coleman now ridicules…why?

This is an illustration of the disconnect between no-tax politics and the real world, where gravity is stronger than wishful thinking.

And actual empirical science is stronger than the wishful thinking of a bitter old hack who wants, more than anything, to capitalize on the Bridge tragedy.

This next bit (emphasis added)…:

Pinpointing the physical cause of the collapse will require long forensic investigation. But CYA is Chapter One in the political playbook, so the pols are clinging to their Grassy Knoll Gusset theory.

…makes me wonder if the entire state can take out a restraining order.

Peters, the federal secretary of transportation, repeated her gusset tale Nov. 1, causing one gob-smacked Republican who heard her, Edina’s Rep. Ron Erhardt, to state the obvious:

If gussets failed, he said, “What is that but a lack of maintenance?”


“Exactly” – in the same way that a faulty premise is a matter of bad copy editing.

Numbnuts “Representative” Erhard and “Writer” Coleman:  if the gusset plate was designed wrong, it wouldn’t matter if it was brand-new off of the palette.  It would have been inadequate from the moment it was welded into place

That is not maintenance.

That is design.

That is what we get for electing scientific illiterates – or reading them.

15 thoughts on “If Plans Were Horses, Then Nick Coleman Could Ride To Water

  1. Hey, was it just yesterday we got into a debate here on if we have no more civil liberities and rights in this country? Go to Michelle Malkins site. Lefties have dumped cement on railroad tracks near a Washington State port to stop military trains bringing in equipement headed to Iraq. The terrorists were not charged.

    Hey AC, if you can do this sort of attacks and not get charged, wouldn’t you say we live in a free country?

  2. While we’re off-topic with AC, I need some help researching the law governing pooling and servicing agreements . . . does an Indenture Trustee have authority to sell trust assets without a Court Order and if so, how is that authority to be documented in the real estate records? Loan Servicers have disclosure requirements under RESPA but are these “trusts” regulated by anybody?

    I figure a big-city lawyer like AC must know some international banking shysters, or at least which rocks to look under to find them.

    Seriously, I need to know for my job and I could use the help.

  3. prolific meet verbose. Seriously Mitch, if you expect the behavior, lead by example. I think you are a competent writer, sarcasm aside. This post was too long to read – and pointilistically disecting Coleman isn’t of real value – what was his main point, and why was he wrong, if you think he was? I think you’re capable of the argument – so show it.

    Nate – despite having a reasonable amount of experience with Trusts, I can’t give you a definitive answer, mostly because I’m not sure if Indenture Trustee equates to a ‘blind’ Trustee who comes to maturity, but is only granted limited access, or a Trustee with only limited fiduciary authority. If so, I would suspect they are prohibited from fully liquidating the trust without showing cause, probably to some form of administrative law judge or advocate assigned to oversee the trust’s conduct. That’s a guess.

  4. You are misinformed, Nate. Angryclown is, however, willing to offer help with unicycle maintenance, juggling tips and reviews of exploding footwear.

  5. “pointilistically disecting Coleman isn’t of real value”

    Peev, I know this point has been pounded hard enough your way that it would have driven a fence post to China, but since you seem completely incapable of internalizing it, I thought I’d mention it again, for the fun of it:

    This is Mitch’s blog. This is not your blog. Mitch decides what is of real value, or what amuses him, or generally what he wants to post on a given day. What you think of a post, frankly, matters not one whit to Mitch. He posts what he wants, and I like to imagine him flipping an air bird in your general narcissistic direction when he hits the “Post” button.

  6. Many Minnesotans are named “Gus”. I applaud Pawlenty’s courage in blaming the bridge failure on gussets.

  7. They were sitting in class taking calculus and learning the scientific method – Mitch – is that the same ‘scientific method’ you call junk science when it is used to support evolution, or human causation of Global Climate change?

  8. “Angryclown is, however, willing to offer help with unicycle maintenance, juggling tips and reviews of exploding footwear.”

    A more complete and concise list of AC’s expertise has never been heard.

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