Important headlines for March 19th
Bottom Line: These are stories you don't want to miss and my hot takes on them...
Excerpt: It will be interminable months before the who, what, where, when and why — especially the “Why” — of the FIU-Sweetwater bridge collapse are determined.
But this much is clear: State and local construction protocols putting people’s safety first must be rethought, reinvigorated and reinforced. In the ongoing war between safety and convenience, safety lost last week.
Hot Take: To be clear, I'm the furthest person from an engineer that you probably know (I was an apple that fell far from the tree in my family). I did receive this note from a listener who's well versed - so thanks to Tom...
Just to get the collapse in perspective, imagine 4 six axle locomotives (200 tons each), 1 four axle locomotive (125 tons), a 5 ton cargo container filled with 15,000 pounds of sand, then suspend all that across SW 8th St. with no center support. What could go wrong?
Ask any building engineers if the 950 tons of concrete is strictly the weight of the concrete used, or if that includes all the stress rods and cables. If all the steel is not included, we're looking at even more weight, perhaps 2 million total pounds (throw in another 4 axle locomotive if so.)
Obviously, the center support would have helped tremendously to reduce the stress on the 174 foot open span.
Other problems with the design is that one has to question the use of stress rods and cables to be rigid enough to support 950 tons or more across a 174 open span with no center support, and no overhead suspension cables in place.
It appears to me from the videos that the stress rods in the horizontal bridge structure pulled loose at the footings on each end. What you have is 950 tons pulling at the footings on each end of the bridge. If all that fastened the stress rods to the footings was the concrete, the stress rods probably pulled out of the footings from the sheer weight. Even the footings themselves may be insufficient to stay in place as they are being pulled inward due to the sheer weight and center support not being in place.
That's hands down the best description I've come across and you don't have to be an engineer to understand, based on that info, why this happened.
The Troubled Tenure of Sheriff Scott Israel Charles Bethea, The New Yorker
Excerpt: during the last two weeks, in conversations with multiple former colleagues and associates of Sheriff Israel, I was told again and again that, since taking office, Israel has failed to engage sufficiently in the essential if unglamorous work of overseeing law enforcement in a large and complex U.S. county, and that he was overly focussed on the politics of prolonging his tenure.
Jeff Bell, president of the Broward County Sheriff’s Deputies Association and a deputy, who has been with the B.S.O. for twenty-two years, said, “We feel like we’ve been deserted. A ship at sea, just drifting. No sense of direction whatsoever.” A former senior employee of the B.S.O., who asked not to be named, told me, of Israel, “If he survives this, morale will never be the same. And it’s already as bad as it’s ever been.”
Hot Take: The easiest and often most incorrect thing you can do in the aftermath of any awful event is rush to judgement. Sure, there are times that your first reaction may turn out to be the correct, or appropriate one but even then, there's almost always more to the story. Recently I cited examples including Travon Martin's case. The Ferguson riots, the Duke Lacrosse case and the Baltimore PD's role in Freddie Gray's death. In every one of those circumstances the rush to judgement response turned out to be the completely incorrect one. In the case of Stoneman Douglas there was and is an effort to do the same but this time by people of varying agendas and intentions. Here are a few examples.
The well-intentioned gun control crowd:
You've been told guns are the boogeyman and then this happens your fears are confirmed so focus on the guns
The gun control crowd from those with a political agenda (the 28% who want to ban guns but aren't honest about it):
Never let an opportunity go to waste and fan the flames of gun control at all costs
Those who oppose any gun control:
Immediately jump to defense without consideration of whether some reforms make sense independent of the Stoneman Douglas shooting
That's where most of the conversation/debate has been focused for over a month yet it doesn't account for any of these readily available facts:
Nickolas Cruz was a danger to society regardless of the weaponry used to carry out the attack
If the FBI does its job this doesn't happen
Two nationwide studies have demonstrated that more lives are saved by defensive use of guns than taken by them
18 states enable educators to carry in the classroom
Three times as many people are killed by knives than by all rifles combined
Most Americans wanted additional gun control prior to the shooting
How much time hasn't been spent talking about those? And then you get down to the crux of this piece with the still developing information that we'd never discover without letting this process play out and that's where this extensively sourced story focuses its time. It's an unintentionally damning piece that in essence states the following:
A sheriff motivated personal ambition over duty
A politically motivated law enforcement leader (including switching political parties prior to running for sheriff in Broward)
Someone who spent more time on community event planning than detailed law enforcement
Someone quick to blame others for department failures rather than a leader who takes ownership
The largest local law enforcement agency in the country that's not being run effectively
Now, it's important to hear the other side of this story as well but again - by virtue of not jumping to conclusions we often can learn far more with better information for decision making going forward than we can by the quick and easy rush to judgement. In the case of Sheriff Israel, many suspected that issues like those depicted in this story existed, but it's far more powerful to have specific - sourced information than a hunch and a suspicion that's being advanced. This moral applies to many stories - not just this one.