Posted by: sweeneyblog | June 13, 2014

Friday Odds and Ends: Bridges, Blunders and Stark

Hello Loyal Readers,

We are back with the Friday Odds and Ends, all the news that is fit to print but not enough to justify its own post. First a quick meta note, many of you asked for more posts like the analysis of Ericksen’s fundraising I did yesterday, I just wanted to reassure everyone, yes I’ll be looking at everyone’s money this year, Democrats and Republicans, so stay tuned.

The National Transportation Safety Board, the federal agency responsible for oversight of our transportation infrastructure, has released its formal report on the Skagit bridge collapse that happened last year. You can read the whole enchilada here, but the gist of it is that it was an unfortunate combination of aggressive driving, freak chance and as usual, our crumbling infrastructure. Boy, I wish the state Senate Republicans hadn’t blocked the transportation package from getting passed this year.

Rep. Suzan DelBene

Rep. Suzan DelBene

The sudden loss of Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Virginia), widely considered next in line for Speaker of the House, to a libertarian/tea party candidate has captured the imagination of political pundits, but for me, it made one thing perfectly clear.

Cantor was hit hardest for saying some mildly reasonable things about immigration; that’s what his opponent used to push him out. In the wake of his loss, Republicans will be running away from immigration reform faster than Pete Kremen grabbing the last jar of mustache wax.

That is why I was thrilled to see Rep. Suzan DelBene continuing to push forward on this issue. DelBene, along with several of her colleagues, are pushing the federal agencies for more humane treatment. They may not be able to enact any legislative change, thanks to the Republican control of the House, but they can push for more executive action. You can find more details on her efforts here.

Finally, just like an episode of Game of Thrones, we are losing another Stark from our public discourse. John Stark, Bellingham Herald reporter, is retiring today after several decades in the business. You can read some reminiscing over at the Herald site here. I’ve always found Stark to be approachable, dedicated and someone who shared my love of language. One of my favorite Stark stories was when Republican chair Charlie Crabtree got confused about how newspapers work, he responded with charm and grace. Thank you for all that you’ve done, John.

That’s all for now, stay dry and reasonable out there. 



  1. Is Pete Kremen a direct descendant to Joseph Stalin?

  2. The “state senate republicans” blocking the transportation package had ZERO to do with the Skagit bridge collapse. That is out and out “projection”.

    • Here I must agree since 16’9″ met 14’8″ and struck a non-load-path-redundant-truss-member shown to be fracture critical.
      A little green sign marking the 14’8″ part of the bridge truss would have gone a long way toward preventing this collapse and that’s what you’ll find today on similar bridges.
      There’s also no mention in the NTSB report of any crumbling on that specific bridge though we desperately need infrastructure spending and so the Republican block on a transportation bill was very foolish.
      But what do you expect when do-nothing lumps of Libertarian nonsense invade the legislature?

      • Uh That should be 15″9″.

    • In defense of Riley, not that he needs any, I’ve re-read his post and nowhere can I find him stating that the blocking of the transportation package by Republicans contributed to the bridge collapse. Who’s projecting what?

      • Thank you Anklejive. To answer everyone else, I don’t believe that funding transportation projects would have prevented this particular accident but it shows the growing need for transportation funding elsewhere.

  3. Riley,

    RE: “the state senate republicans” block the transportation package which could have prevented the Skagit bridge collapse. You might be right is the bill had been passed in 2005 during Gregoire’s first term when the Democrats controlled everything.

    “The work of Progressive Majority has helped move Washington’s legislature forward. In 2004 we flipped control of the state Senate and have held the majority since. After four years of a 49-49 Democrat and Republican tie in the House, we’ve kept a Democratic majority since 2002”.

    Do you have access to a time machine?

  4. In an article at the Huffington Post on 6/11 (and reported by other news outlets), immigration may not have been the issue that sunk Cantor’s election bid:

    “WASHINGTON — A poll out Wednesday from Rep. Eric Cantor’s Virginia district raises questions about the wisdom of running away from immigration reform for the GOP.

    The survey, conducted Tuesday by Democratic firm Public Policy Polling for the labor-aligned Americans United for Change, found that most voters in Cantor’s district favored immigration reform…

    The poll suggests that the real reason for Cantor’s loss was that he is unpopular. He only scored an overall 30 percent approval rating, and among GOP voters it was 43 percent positive against 49 percent negative.”

    • Yes! He was unpopular because he focused on national issues rather than serving his constituents, and for serving Wall Street rather than the people. He was also associated in right-wing minds with “obamacare”. Immigration reform is way down the list of why Cantor lost.

      ANyway, good riddance to another corporate tool. As weird as some of his views are, Brat won with donations of less than $200,000 v. Cantor’s millions of corporate bribes. Good on him!

  5. As long as we’re being sticklers for accuracy, the R’s have blocked funding for transportation infrastructure in the last TWO legislative sessions.

  6. Been hanging out in Bakersfield Ca for the last couple of weeks. This is the district of Kevin Mc Carthy, presumed next in line for Cantor’s job. Interesting to hear local media excitement.

  7. The news is not looking at cross over voting as a factor in Cantor’s defeat. How many Dems crossed over and voted in the Republican primary instead. The guy from Dukes of Hazard who lost to Cantor in 2002 was orchestrating such a campaign. With Cantor’s defeat, I heard reported today that the GOP lost its sole Jewish rep in Congress. Amazing if true.

    • Bob, do you mean Boss Hog?

      • Ben Jones. He was named Cooter on the series.

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