Saturday, March 15, 2014

Citizens Call for Independent Investigation Into Robert Taylor's Death & The Economics of Potholes

Got potholes? Try Harare, Zimbabwe - (Photo
For now most mainstream media outlets don't seem very interested in the circumstances surrounding the death of 75-year-old homeless man Robert Taylor in the Burlington County Detention Center back on December 30th.

But kudos to The Trentonian reporter Penny Ray for staying after this story and continuing to make sure it sees the light of day - giving hope that those responsible for this unspeakable example of criminal neglect of a human being are held accountable.

In yesterday's Trentonian Ray reports that concerned citizens are now calling for an independent investigation into Taylor's death. According to Ray's article, Burlington County resident Paul Bracy called for an independent investigaton during a meeting of the Burlington County Freeholders last Wednesday after county prosecutors had the audacity to issue a statement claiming Taylor's death was due to "natural causes."

The Burlington county prosecutor must have missed the part about Taylor being bound in a straight jacket naked and left on a cold concrete floor for five straight days with no food, water or medical treatment of any kind.

Barring a massive public outcry or more intense media scrutiny chances are slim that the Chris Christie-appointed state attorney general John Hoffman will initiate an investigation. But anything is possible given the spotlight on Christie for Bridge-gate and a judge's pending ruling on whether former aide Bridget Kelly will have to give up e-mails sent during the GW Bridge fiasco.

On a (somewhat) lighter note I was recently griping about the potholes just past the Route 1 overpass near the Parkside Elementary school on the southeast boundary of Trenton in a recent blog. It's still like driving over the Lunar surface over there but there was an interesting discussion about potholes
this morning on NPR's Car Talk.

A listener called in to ask where all the asphalt goes that seemingly disappears leaving the gaping holes in the surface of the road we're all too familiar with.

Apparently once the cold temperatures, snow and ice cause cracks and moisture begins to seep in, the wheels of every vehicle that subsequently role over the area take away small amounts of asphalt - eventually leaving a pothole.

The Car Talk guys, brothers Tom and Ray Magliozzi, claim that while there should reasonably be asphalt and road construction design that would prevent potholes, preventing them entirely would cost the economy jobs and revenue because of the huge number of people potholes keep working.

Not just the state, county or city municipal workers who have to fill them each and every winter and spring, but the mechanics who repair transmissions, axles and tiress that fall victim to potholes.

Is that really true? Consider this article on the economic impact of potholes from CNBC economic reporter John Schoen. Among other facts he notes that this year Americans will spend a staggering $80 billion on vehicle repair costs from potholes. Guess which American city is fourth in the nation (behind Bridgeport, New York City and Milwaukee) for the most expensive vehicle repair bills from potholes? Trenton, NJ. 

Lord knows I've driven over them enough times (and cursed aloud) but never really considered the larger impact on the economy of something so annoying. The pothole as an important component of the US economy? Go figuh.

It could be worse I suppose, check out the world's worst potholes.

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