Walker's Wisconsin – Leo Frigo bridge is falling down

Giddy Fortune’s furious fickle wheel,
That goddess blind,
That stands upon the rolling restless stone.

Shakespeare (Henry V, 3.3.27), Pistol to Fluellen

History and circumstance often speak more loudly and with more elegance and truth than all the speeches, press releases, and talking points of politicians, preachers, and pundits. Such is the case with the Leo Frigo bridge across the Fox River in Green Bay which has been closed since early Wednesday after a 400-foot section sagged about two feet and created a pronounced dip in the concrete deck that carried 40,000 vehicles a day.

The first thought that occurred to me was “crumbling infrastructure”.

American Society of Civil Engineers
Over two hundred million trips are taken daily across deficient bridges in the nation’s 102 largest metropolitan regions. In total, one in nine of the nation’s bridges are rated as structurally deficient, while the average age of the nation’s 607,380 bridges is currently 42 years.

After the “crumbling infrastructure” thought, came the name of the bridge itself; the Leo Frigo Bridge. I had never heard of Leo Frigo before, and began to wonder who he was, why a bridge carried his namesake, and if there was any wandering significance in the name of the bridge and the current political climate in Wisconsin. The research paid out in spades!

Leo Frigo was born into a large Italian-American family who at the time were living in Pound Wisconsin. He was the thirteenth of sixteen children. The bold quote on his founders page speaks to the character of Leo:

Founder of Paul’s Pantry
leo frigo
“Its better that I go into the dumpster rather than making the poor go there, at the end of the day my dignity will be intact and so will theirs.”

Leo passed away on February 13, 2001 from injuries sustained in a car accident. He was delivering food to a shut in. After Leo’s death, the Tower Drive Bridge in Green Bay was renamed in his honor. Leo spent his life building a bridge between the “have’s” and “have not’s.”

Bridge over troubled water

The bridge carrying the namesake of a man who spent his life bridging the gap between the “have’s” and “have not’s” is sinking. This at a time when food stamps are being cut, the federal government is being held hostage in opposition to allowing the poorest Americans to obtain health care, and the job offerings promised by the Walker administration could well be graphically characterized by Leo’s sinking bridge.

By John Schmid of the Journal Sentinel
Sept. 27, 2013

Chicago — One day after a federal report showed that Wisconsin is creating jobs at a pace that’s about half the national rate, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said the uncertainty of last year’s special gubernatorial recall election stunted hiring in the state.

The obvious failure of Walker’s record in job creation is all the more strident since the echo’s of his prime promise in his campaign was, “I will create 250,000 new jobs in Wisconsin by the end of my first term”. Rather than accepting any responsibility for the lagging job creation, he continues to create excuses: it was the recall elections, it was the protests, it was…it was…. or it is the manner in which job statistics are compiled by the federal government:

By John Schmid and Kevin Crowe of the Journal Sentinel = Sept. 26, 2013

In a news release after the publication of the numbers Thursday, Walker’s office focused on the absolute number of jobs created, which would place Wisconsin 22nd out of the 50 states. Wisconsin ranks 20th in population, so its job-creation ranking nearly matched its size

No….Here is what it was…is… the failure of the WEDC

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation was to be the blueprint for Neoconservative efficiency – the flagship of the new Walker reform of bridge Leo Frigo2reforms to allow for the lofty goal of creating jobs, jobs, jobs. Infact, the WEDC is Walker. It exemplifies his vision, his arrogance, his philosophy of reform of government. A risen County Executive was arrogant enough to decide to abandon and demolish a major department of government, the 35 year old Department of Commerce, to make way for his concept of neocon reform. So it was that the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. (WEDC) was created in February of 2011 by the state GOP controlled Legislature and Walker. Five months later, on July 1st – the flagship of reform took over the economic development functions of the old and antiquated Department of Commerce.

Since then, the timeline of crisis and confusion at WEDC reads like that of a patient in cardiac arrest. The shuffling and continuous reorganization of major players within the department occurs with such rapid frequency that it is difficult to keep track of, but to get a feeling for what failure looks like you might want to read – Wisconsin – Walker’s reform school.

It was not the recall elections, it was not the protests, it is not the way the numbers are compiled by the federal government – it was Scott Walker’s decision to dismantle a department of the state government, and doing so without possessing the education, managerial skills, or administrative skills to make the new department work.

Just like the Leo Frigo bridge – the problem is in the very foundation of Walker’s job creation plan, and it is sinking, sinking, sinking.