Thursday, September 24, 2009

Mitigation, Litigation, Shmitigation?

From the Pioneer Press:

... given its long list of unequivocal objections, it wouldn't have been surprising to see the litany of complaints the U filed in court Tuesday end with, "And not only that, but Peter Bell wears ugly ties."

Lawsuits are by their nature polarized documents, and this one reads as if the U's involvement in the Central Corridor project has been one long, disappointing exercise in forbearance, rather than a process whose outcome could be not just tolerable but also beneficial.

The University is dissatisfied with the level of mitigating detail the Met Council has developed in response to its concerns about the effects of the project. The U's lawsuit accuses the council of failing to deal with its concerns effectively.

Building a big project in an already-built-up place is a giant pain. Most everybody involved suffers some along the way, there's never enough money no matter how much there is, and nobody gets everything he or she wants. Coordinating the priorities and prejudices of multiple constituencies and multiple layers of government is not a job for the shortsighted or short of temper. At frequent intervals, it would be tempting to simply yield to inertia and become again a body at rest.

Fortunately for St. Paul, we have cool heads and persistent personalities at the center of the effort to connect the east metro to what is becoming a rapidly (relatively speaking) developing metro transit network. If the U's new lawsuit is a tactic, and not a state of mind, there's a good chance that the hard work of reconciling competing interests will continue, and succeed.

Would that we could say the same about cool heads in Morrill Hall... I am afraid that theirs is a state of mind and not a tactic. Those at the top will be gone when the consequences arrive. Perhaps we would behave in a more sensible fashion if our leader had some skin in the game?

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