Taking Responsibility

Recriminations over botched I-40 construction continue today, featured in a good story in the News and Observer by Bruce Siceloff. I've read Bruce's stuff for years, and have found him to be a reliably straight-shooter.

A yearlong internal review at the state Department of Transportation sheds light on far-reaching failures that came together in an $18.6 million blunder on Interstate 40 in Durham County: Next year 10.6 miles of crumbling concrete will be ripped out and replaced with asphalt. The paving was botched because DOT engineers gave faulty instructions to the contractor. The new DOT study, summarized in a 67-page report, tracks their costly mistake through several years and across many desks at the state's road-building agency.

With many millions of dollars on the line, you can imagine that the Blame Game has shifted into high gear. There are basically four players who bear responsibility.

First, of course, is NCDOT. They apparently screwed up big-time in writing the specifications for the project, and are now having an internal witch hunt. Second is the Federal Highway Administration. Third is HNTB, an engineering consultant that supplied inspectors. And fourth is Granite Construction Co., the company that actually did the work.

So imagine my surprise when someone involved actually said, "It's our fault." That someone was:

John A. Sullivan III, who heads the Federal Highway Administration's North Carolina office, said his agency was at fault for failing to make sure the DOT handled the I-40 project properly. "We were in position to catch the missing [expansion joint] detail, but we didn't," Sullivan said.

But if you think that kind of stand for accountability extends beyond Mr. Sullivan, you are sadly mistaken. For all the vaunted praise free-market fundamentalists put on the meritocracy of the marketplace, you'll find not a trace of responsibility for this disaster among the people who actually put the concrete in place.

Last week, Tippett told legislators that much of the blame was shared by Granite Construction, the Federal Highway Administration and HNTB, an engineering consultant that supplied construction inspectors for several Triangle projects in a five-year, $13 million DOT contract. The federal agency paid about 80 percent of the original project cost and has agreed to cover a similar share of the new repair bill.

And then this:

Granite said it did the work according to the DOT's plans and instructions. The contractor agreed to make urgently needed repairs to the worst-damaged areas -- the work is expected to end this weekend -- while lawyers for both sides worked out the finances. A settlement agreement signed in October by the DOT and Granite killed any chance that taxpayers might avoid paying the bulk of the repair bill. Granite continued to deny responsibility for the damage but agreed to absorb the $3 million cost of its repairs through the end of this year. The DOT agreed that Granite did not owe a nickel toward the repairs next year or in the future.

The other private enterprise involved, the engineering consulting firm named HNTB, also denied responsibility for the concrete failure.

They said their employees based their work on the project plans, which left out details about cutting the expansion joints. "Our technicians were not in a position to second-guess or overrule the plans and specifications," said Henry V. Liles Jr., vice president of HNTB North Carolina, in an interview. " ... I told them that I did not see where we had any responsibility for the mistakes out there."


Our technicians were not in a position to second-guess or overrule?
Well just what the hell were We the People paying your technicians to do, Mr. Liles? This is the "free-market" that wackos on the right want us to turn our government over to. I'll grant you there's plenty of incompetence on all sides of this, but at least the public servants aren't enriching themselves while they dodge accountability.

A

PS If you want to catch the "Ironies of the Week," click on the Granite Construction website and laugh at the opening words: We build character. You'll also get a kick out of all the yapping about integrity on the HNTB website.

Comments

Laced with greed

It strikes me as absurd that these companies actually think they have no responsibility. Of course they have responsibility. But because their financial well-being is at risk, they will not say what's true. They will not say, "We believe everyone involved bears responsibility for this, including us."

This is why free-market fundamentalism comes up short. It is laced with greed.

Don't get me wrong, here. I think private enterprise is a fantastic thing. I've helped start several successful businesses myself. I'm just saying it's not the be-all-end-all.

Responsibility.

I would love to see a Democrat run on a vision of reponsibility.

Personal responsibility.

Corporate responsibility.

Government responsibility.

CountryCrats - my thoughts, my blog.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

That would be awesome

Isn't it ironic that the Party of Greed Party of the Ownership Society has such a tough time owning responsibility?

Oh, Oh....another comment of the year nominee

we're getting a lot of them lately. Nice one, A.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



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Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Resposnibility

It would be nice, but too many Democrats prefer to run on the,

Personal: "Your state in life is not your fault and as soon as I get into office I'll punish those who are better off than you."

Corporate: "Corporations azre evil and greedy and contribute nothing positive to society. They are responsible for your situation in life and will be punished if you vote me in."

Government: "Don't worry, government is responsible for your well-being. If you vote me in, government will take care of eveything for you."

SPLib, glad to see you here

but don't agree with your evaluation of the Dems or our party. Granted there are some that spout the stupid things that you have quoted, but I don't believe that is the mantra of the Dem party. We have been crying out for accountability and sunshine in government, do you think that we don't want the same in our personal lives? Almost every post I have read of yours seems to put the democratic party down, how can you claim the title of Southern Pines Liberal?

Linda Cockman

No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.

What is a "Lib?"

Perhaps "lib" is short for "libertarian" or "classical liberal" or "neoliberal" or something else?

I am unaffiliated and tend to have major issues with both parties. Today's extreme partisan politics really turn me off.

Personally, I find much of either "side's" rhetoric equally useless. Too many Dem's pander to the radical left and too many Rep's pander to the radical right. As the extremes seem to be disproportionately powerful, reasonable people who have their own minds and consciences have a hard time making a difference for us. those who "step out of line" on either side are punished by MoveOn or right-wingers or whoever.

Back to my OP, I said, "too many Democrats", not "all" or even "most." I suppose I'm just disappointed since Dems are supposed to be "better than that."

Putting the party down

I think I have only posted here twice. The only other one I can think of was one about Galloway's loss. I voted for him, so it was nothing to do against him. I suppose the objectionable thing was saying he would have hgad a better chance if nobody knew he had just switched from DEM to UNA to run for the House. I'm not sure it is "putting the Democratic party down" to say as I did that all candidates being equal in character, history, etc., the Dem is much less likely to win in Moore County. IMHO, had Boylan been half the person Gerald is, "the hairdresser" would have done even better.

Twice here but quite a lot at Progressive Discussions

my blog in the Pilot Newspaper...it surprises me each time I read your opinion because you seem to be against everything democratic and say so in a backhanded manner. We are all happy to have different opinions, but don't agree with what you say out of hand....give backup or a link to support your argument, we are ALL open minded here. If you just spend a little time here you will see that we call the Dems on their mistakes as much as we do the Republicans.

No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.

Gosh, I didn't realize I

Gosh, I didn't realize I sounded that way. I think the last time I posted there was in response to someone calling Dole a "carpetbagger." While recognizing she hadn't spent much time in NC for the last 20-30 years I merely asked how she could technically be a carpetbagger if she was born, raised, and attended college(albeit Duke) here.

I apologize for not picking a party line and following it lockstep. Your blog interested me in looking into the Dem party again and among other things I started reading the blogs here.

I was the one who called her a carpetbagger....

...and called Hillary Clinton the same thing.

I'm glad you're here. Let the wild rumpus start.

"Be the change you wish to see in the world." - Ghandi

Please SPLib,

Keep coming back, discussion and debate are what blogs are all about. I don't see where anyone has asked you to walk lockstep with any party and the dem party in particular has no "party line".

I too apologize if I jumped too hard. We are not trying to run you off, but we do defend our party. BTW, I know how it feels when your opinion is not accepted by all, I have taken the opposing side often and been pushed back for it. Doesn't feel warm and fuzzy, but I'm thankful for being able to voice my opinion in this and other forums.

No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.

But you did pick a party line

What you wrote above is straight from the Republican party playbook. It's fine for you to express that as your opinion, but when you do so at a fairly progressive site you have to expect some pushback.

We're actually a very friendly bunch.....when we aren't handing someone their ass on a platter.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



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Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Perhaps it was. I forgot to

Perhaps it was. I forgot to check the Republican handbook. :-)
I was asked for a citation. Perhaps a Google search for "John Edwards Two Americas" will be fruitful.
Although his facts are compelling and the speech is well done, it's the "lazy no-working top 2% keeping everyone else down" that I find annoying. I am squarely in teh middle class and am not sure if I have ever met someone in the top 2%, but that stuff is annoying.
Two Americas

I'll see if I can find my husband's

Republican playbook. I keep hiding it from him. :-) I'm sure he could live without it.

I don't hear much about the top 2% keeping others down. It's more that they use government legislation to stay in the top 2%.

The fact is though, we do have a responsibility to others. I also understand that money doesn't grow on trees for those of us who didn't inherit fortunes large or small. Social welfare programs should be monitored, trimmed and fattened as needed. Welfare reform was started under President Clinton. The Republicans have had 6 loooooooooong years to gut welfare and every other social assistance program on the books. I know they cut programs for disabled children (nice, huh?) but I'm not aware that they've tried to rework, revamp or reform any programs. I guess if they solved the problem as they see it, then they'd have nothing to gripe about.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



***************************
Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

What flavor was your Kool-Aid?

...and it is also too bad that most Republicans prefer to run on the /live by the,

Personal: "Forget(or any other "f" word that comes to mind) you, I worked hard for what I have and you're not getting a thing. Get a third job. It's your own fault you were born into poverty and can't afford to go to college to build a better life for you and your family. Hell, get a fourth job for all I care. I shouldn't have to pay tax dollars to support your lazy ass."

Corporate: "If we give these huge corporations enough tax incentives and pass legislation that basically gives them a free ride in this world, we can keep spewing our free market crap to our minions and they'll believe us. Of course, we won't let them in on the fact that tax incentives and legislation that favors our big business friends isn't part of the free market deal. What they don't know will keep us in office."

Government: We're never going to level the playing field, so why even try? It's more important that our tax dollars go to support big business than people living in poverty. Old people? Let them eat dog food. We've cut corporate taxes to the point that we can no longer afford to feed all these hungry poor people. Let them get a fifth job.

Note to everyone....if you don't like the curse words you can bleep them out in your head as you read.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



***************************
Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Oh my

I sound a tad angry. Hmmmm.....maybe I need to take a deep breath, have another cup of tea and do something soothing.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



***************************
Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

n/t

n/t



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Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Didn't sound angry to me..

Just a good push back. But another cup of tea on this cold day sounds really good, it's still sleeting here, how about in your neck of NC?

No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.

Cold and uninviting

oh...wait! Did you mean me or the weather? :)

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



***************************
Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Although women are blessed with a range

of emotions from loving to cereal killers (hehe), you dear friend, could never even pretend to be either cold or uninviting! Nice try tho...

No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.

Damn!

A man would have believed me. ;)

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



***************************
Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

I completely disagree with you.

There may be a few Democrats that run such campaigns, but that is no different than the few Republicans that run campaings saying all government is bad, everything is your own responsibility and you either sink or swim, there is no safety net, and corporations are individuals that should have all the freedoms that each of us has, including the freedom to screw everyone else.

Personal Responsibility does not mean you are on your own. The New Deal was the perfect example of Democratic principles; of giving those on the bottom a helping hand BACK ONTO THEIR OWN FEET. That doesn't mean you hold them up forever, but a Progressive believes you give them the best chance at success.

To anwer Linda's question, I'm not so sure you aren't a troll looking to create confrontation.

CountryCrats - my thoughts, my blog.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

You had me at hello

But you blew it with the dittohead script.

*Delete*

Used to double check NC-DOT

Back in the '80's I worked as a commercial construction inspector evaluating soils and materials for some of the largest construction efforts in the state. We were often contracted by municipalities to "double check" or "look over the shoulder" of NC-DOT because of the shoddy quality of their inspections. Quite frequently our work caused DOT embarrassment and, just as often, saved folks from costly reworks.

My take on this latest debacle is that someone at Granite had to know this was fouled up but did the work to the DOT specs because they knew they wouldn't be held culpable. This mess calls for a complete rework of how DOT does business and firings in the complete chain of command.

As far as HNTB, well, myself and my fellow inspectors were trained and instructed to "second guess" specs that didn't make sense. This "second guessing" involved asking our engineering staff to review the specs, asking questions of the contractor, etc. We weren't trained to "zip our lip" and wait for catastrophe.

If the HNTB inspectors didn't sense something was askew, then DOT hired the wrong kind of inspectors.

And to think this all is happening against the backdrop of a call for "pay twice" toll roads.

CitizenWill
there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right. MLK,Jr. to SCLC Leadership Class

CitizenWill
there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right. MLK,Jr. to SCLC Leadership Class