The whole point of free speech is not to make ideas exempt from criticism but to expose them to it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Money vs. Life

It's a beautiful day today. The sun is shining. Kids will be in Rapid Creek, cooling off. Fishermen will enjoy wonderful conditions. The bike path will be cluttered all day with people who have the potential to enjoy a perfect day.

Jennifer Smith will never have another perfect day. Never. She became a widow and lost her son to a motorcycle accident in the Gap. Her grief is unimaginable. And our hearts and prayers are with her and her family.

The accident was avoidable. Right turns on red from Jackson Blvd to east-bound Main should be outlawed. That can happen immediately. A raised median should be constructed from Halley Park to Jackson Blvd. as soon as it can be designed, engineered and constructed. Yes. It's an emergency.

That bit of asphalt, concrete and paint presents an interesting political scenario.

Stan Adelstein and Bob Fischer, both Republicans, have valuable real estate in the Gap, near where Jennifer and her son Kain lost their husband and father; son and brother.

Bob Fischer has already weighed in on the issue in a Rapid City Journal story yesterday.

Mayor Alan Hanks, who was supported by Adelstein in his bid for the mayor's office, announced at last night's council meeting that he has instructed his public works director to study West Main to determine if a raised median is in order.

Of course it is in order, Alan! You know it. I know it. The council knows it. They've known it for years and the only thing that has ever stopped it is an unreasonable fear of Bob Fischer's rath.

Fischer is quick to remind people that he is a man of God. He's a "family values" kind of guy. In fact, he's among the most powerful "family values" guys in the country.

Mr. Adelstein, a lay rabbi, is also a man of God. And he and Fischer have been at odds for many years over the issue of a woman's right to choose what happens to her body. Adelstein has been among Rapid City's most visible philanthropists in his support of community causes. If Mr. Fischer supports anything in this community, other than his church, he's pretty quiet about it. Of course, he supports Rapid City residents with low low prices and no interest for two years if paid in two years....

So now Adelstein and Fischer are both faced with the question: Life or money. Mr. Fischer has made it clear that while Jennifer Smith's tragedy is unfortunate, it does not outweigh his customers' convenience; her husband's and son's lives were not as valuable as his property.

Mr. Adelstein has yet to weigh in. But I'm betting here and now he'll support the city in whatever measures it takes to try to avoid the loss of another life, no matter what effect such action will have on his property value. I could be wrong. And if Mr. Adelstein opposes a raised median on West Main, then I will happily take him to task here.

And so as we all celebrate a beautiful July 21, take a moment from an otherwise perfect day, and consider Jennifer Smith, who prepares to bury her husband and son.


Stan Adelstein - said...

Thanks Mike - you are absolutely correct. I have urged a traffic flow stop light at the intersection of West Street and the joint Main, St Joe street. If that is not possible a traffic control light at Canal and West Main.

The no right turn off Jackson Blvd should be a "no-brainer" somehow the traffic needs to be forced to have breaks - if neither light, nor right turn prohibition (or all of the above) the the median has my support - even though it is much more expensive, and will create a traffic jam for a few months while under construction.

Since when will property "rights," or property "values" trump safety rights and life's values

Stan Adelstein

Michael Sanborn said...


Thanks for the response. Personally I don't see the median as a last-resort measure.

I'd be fine with a turn lane and median break at Canal (possibly with a light) to allow a left turn for east-bound traffic. I'm not sure there's room for that.

Nobody should be making a left from West Street onto West Main. It just isn't that far to go up to West Blvd. to turn around.

The median and no right on red at Jackson will do more to solve the problem than anything.

I also believe there is no safe way to exit from the south side of W. Main between Midas and Ernie November's. The city should condemn those properties, pay the tenants a fair price, and remove the structures. Safe ingress and egress is impossible there.

Now there are two dead. Those businesses and property owners should be compensated and assisted to move. Maybe NWE has retail space available for them at a reasonable price?

Lisa said...

Great discussion here and thanks to Bill for sending us this way from the Journal. Rapid City is slow on the take to participate in local forums such as blogging, etc. -- but isn't it great when there can be a discussion about such an touchy topic that brings us to the heart of grassroots support for what is right, not just what is profitable? Thanks for having the courage to pursue this topic! And thanks Stan for weighing in. I am glad to hear your stand on this important issue.

Gordon Howie said...

I have been impressed by the assertion that this blog promotes a "mature discussion" of the news, so I was a bit suprised to see the "flaming hypocrite" accusation thrown in to this discussion. It seems like a pretty important discussion, so why not keep it on the high ground?

Michael Sanborn said...


You are right. The magnet thing may have been over the top, so in the interest of my own sanity, I've removed it. And, welcome to the Forum.

It's removal however does not diminish Mr. Fischer's having revealed himself for what he is, has it?

It was there to serve as an editorial cartoon, of sorts.

Donna said...

I agree a median is the best solution, but there really isn't much room to work with. You really can't take away any of the lane space to make room for it, or you will have traffic during rush hour backed up to West Blvd.

Is it at all feasible just to mkae it no left turn onto West Main in that area- regardless if you are going east or west ? It appears that the left turns across 3 lanes seem to be the cause of the accidents. Can that be accomplished without a median ?

Gordon Howie said...

Thanks for listening, Mike. I would encourage you to meet and have a discussion with Mr. Fischer. My guess is that you would come away with a different impression.
Abraham Lincoln once said "I don't like that man. I must get to know him." (or something like that!)

Michael Sanborn said...

I have met Mr. Fischer. I've had discussions with him. He doesn't like me. I got to know him years ago and I still don't like him.

Bob Ellis said...

To me, it has always made more sense to hold people accountable for inappropriate actions than to gouge the taxpayers in a vain attempt to idiot-proof the world.

It's really rather simple. If you turn across oncoming traffic (which has the right of way), you have broken the law and are responsible. Surely people are still educated about these things, and even if they aren't, a few high-profile prosecutions should get the word around.

At best, a few "No Left Turn" signs at various exits should be sufficient.

There is no need to spend large amounts of taxpayer money, thus punishing the innocent, when punishing the guilty is more appropriate.

Michael Sanborn said...

Give me a break, Bob! Have you tried to exit Roosters? I have. It is a nightmare of horrible road design and traffic engineering.

You want to punish a 70-year-old driver for failing to negotiate a dangerous exit. Fine. Punish him, he didn't see the bike.

But what in the world is the matter with having a traffic engineer construct a solution that would prevent such an accident in the future? There is no reason not to, except to help your buddy Bob.

For two guys who chant life life life ad nauseum, you sure want to sell it cheap for a couple of "No Left Turn" signs.

One begins to wonder how you sleep at night.

Bill Fleming said...

Bob Ellis.

The only thing everybody is looking for, from both you and Mr. Fischer, is a little loving kindness.

A little genuine heartfeltsorrow that some innocent people were accidently, tragically killed.

Yet all we get is a lecture about retail customer traffic, driver stupidity, and the cost of public safety.

Good Lord, man. Where's your decency?

What planet are you guys from, anyway?

The one where they don't grow hearts?

Brad S said...

Seems to me you don't even need a median. All that the city's traffic engineers need to do is reprogram the traffic light so that the ONLY time Jackson Blvd. traffic can turn onto W. Main is at the same time W. Main traffic can turn left onto Jackson. Oh, and treat all business driveways on the south side of W. Main from Mt. View to downtown as RIRO (right in, right out).

Of course, if the good Mr. Fischer is being nasty about this, you can always start a little campaign to shop @Furniture Row or Ashley Furniture (not to mention BestBuy for the gadgets). Then again, he wasn't too bothered by the sight of families w/small children protesting in front of Planned Parenthood when it was in that dangerous Gap location....