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Crime Scene

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(Graphic courtesy of Mike McIntee: mmcintee@mac.com Available as a bumpersticker at http://www.timescapemedia.com/Graphics/BumperSticker.jpg)

It may interest you all to know that the site of the I-35W bridge collapse has been designated as a crime scene:

There was some discussion about the area’s designation as a crime scene. While [Hennepin] County Commissioner Mark Stenglein (District 2) said he was “uncomfortable with that,” Jeremy Weiland, from the St. Anthony East neighborhood, said he was “very comfortable” with the designation. Weiland called the bridge collapse “a gross case of negligence,” likely referring to scrutiny of the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s (MNDoT) record of inspection and repair – or lack thereof – on the bridge.

“The last time I checked, negligence was a crime,” Weiland said.

Rhetoric aside, [Assistant Chief Sharon Lubinski of the Minneapolis Police Department] explained that the crime scene designation was tied to certain procedural and data-practice aspects of the recovery effort, such as the release of information. “There’s a good reason for it,” she said. She did not know when the scene might be declassified as a crime scene.

While in this case they are probably not talking about (though not officially ruling out) terrorism, it looks as if the crime-scene designation is mostly about keeping down the number of gawkers hoping to see a body get pulled from the water. But I agree with Jeremy Weiland.

Meanwhile, the catastrophe has done what the Democrats in the legislature were unable to do: Get Smilin’ Tim Pawlenty to actually back a much-needed tax increase:

A special session to deal with the aftermath of the bridge collapse is now likely and is almost certain to produce a gas tax increase, Gov. Tim Pawlenty said through a spokesman Friday. The funding would help whittle down the state’s massive $1 billion-a-year backlog in road and bridge construction and maintenance.

“The governor will work with legislators on a comprehensive and long-term approach,” said Pawlenty spokesman Brian McClung. “We would expect that to include some of the governor’s ideas and some of the Legislature’s ideas and under those circumstances, a gas tax could be included.”

Pawlenty’s turnaround shows how much the political landscape had changed just 48 hours after Wednesday night’s Interstate 35W bridge collapse that took at least five lives and violently shook Minnesotans’ sense of safety.

Now if they could get Pawlenty to back the DFL’s original budget and tax plan that was offered earlier this year, we might be getting somewhere.

Ah, but wait!  Looks like Pawlenty might be trying to wriggle out from his promise.  Stay tuned, folks.

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