Congratulations to the Washington Redskins

There is a lot to celebrate in Washington DC this day;  wish it had something to do with the tone and nature of the political environment there but NOT.  My favorite sports team is the Washington Redskins and they brought the honor of a Division Title to town with last night’s win over the Cowboys.  The season has been amazing for those of us who support the Burgundy and Gold of DC.  It represents a future that is definitely brighter than the past decade and reminds us of the Joe Gibb era of leadership.  It was nice to see him in the owner’s box for this game.

It took leadership, commitment, collaboration, and heart to bring the Championship to DC, when most sports pundits had written them off at their “bye” week.  Seven straight wins and we have a lot to be proud of and so we are.  To Cowboy, Eagles, and Giants fans, all I can say is that we’ll see you in 2013, to give it our all for a repeat.  The no-name defense made the likes of Romo and Manning create error after error;  with the offense led by rookies with heart, we earned the right to take on the Seahawks next weekend.  So, let’s take time today to enjoy the feeling, then get on to the next great challenge.  I’m proud of my Team !!  Go Skins !!


One Week after Sandy

One week has passed since Hurricane Sandy delivered a punch to the eastern US with devastating results for so many.  The news each day brings more hope as we see our public works professionals dedicating long hours to open roadways, restore order and tackle the difficulties of bringing water systems back online, to name a few of their challenges.  In turn, we are heartened by the outreach and sharing as communities respond to requests for assistance, for staff, equipment and resources to provide basic necessities to citizens hard hit by Sandy’s force; a force that turned neighborhoods into uninhabitable rubble and took a sense of security from so many. 

Our public works professionals are toiling night and day to restore order from chaos and we reach out to them through our emergency management tools. You can follow the efforts we are making at this link Hurricane Sandy Response; APWA Offers Emergency Management Expertise and Assistance . 

We provide a database to those in need that identifies individuals who have offered assistance.  If you’d like to get involved, you can provide your contact information, identify expertise and experience in emergency response.  You need to sign into the APWA website and go to the Members Only/Peer Resources.  If you have the ability to assist, please consider volunteering. 

We know that there is much to be done and it will take months and in some cases years to restore the areas so hard hit.  We celebrate the men and women of public works who will stay on the job until the last project is complete. Thank you who serve; thank you who are giving your time and money in support of recovery.  We honor your service.   We are proud of all our public works professionals who give each day so that our communities offer a great quality of life for all citizens.

Multi-Talented Public Works Professionals

Do you have those terrifically multi-talented folks in your public works organization?  I have had the pleasure of working with so many who bring not only their professionalism to the job but many other great talents – musicians, authors, singers, poets, artists.  And if you watch the X Factor talent contest this season, you’ll know Tate Stevens is now one of the 24 finalists.  He is an employee of the Streets Division in Belton MO and it is great fun to hear about his work – asphalt, concrete – on a national show.  We know how special our public works family is; Tate’s success brings a great spotlight to Belton and to streets employees across all our communities.

You can reach out to Tate through his Twitter account @tatestevensctry and follow his success on X Factor.  Check it out and if you’d like what you hear, you can support Tate’s success through the competition.  I’m sure he’d enjoy hearing encouragement from all of us.

Have a “Tate Stevens” working in your organization?  How about sharing their story by posting to the Blog.

NFL and Signalization

On the front page of USA Today is an article  on the NFL’s referee issues and within the article is a quote from Cleveland Brown’s kicker Phil Dawson.  He compares the NFL replacement  referees controversy to the decision to put a traffic signal in at an intersection.  “You have to have so many car wrecks before they deem that intersection to be dangerous enough.”  When I read the opening paragraph, my first thought was Phil must be from a family of public works professionals, but after reading the quote, I realized that Phil’s thinking represents a more general public understanding of how we make decisions in placement of our traffic controls. 

No question that danger, as represented by accident counts, is a trigger for evaluating interections and control measures.  It has been years since “Transportation Planner” was in my title, but the nature of traffic management is a lot more complex than simplified in Phil Dawson’s comparison.  Perhaps this is an opportunity to share some knowledge.  How about it football fans?  Does your public understand the complexity of traffic management; where it is not uncommon, upon signal installation, you often see an increase in accidents.? Is this a teachable moment?  How do you educate your public on the impacts of signalization where the ultimate outcome is the assignment of rights of access to the intersection?


Congress is over but certainly fresh in the memory of all who gathered in Anaheim last week. Again, a very special thanks to the Southern California Chapters and all those who stepped up to assist.  It was a terrific week, great technical sessions and amazing speakers who made our General Sessions hum.  If you were unable to attend, please check in online to the Members’ Library to see what you missed.  You’ll be able to read the conversation that Past President Diane Linderman and I had during Sunday’s opening session – “The APWA View” – in a coming issue of the APWA Reporter.  We had a lot of fun sharing our thoughts and engaging the attendees.  It was a special way to SHINE.

A year ago, Diane began the conversation on the Presidential Perspectives Blog and I will be continuing throughout my year as President.  It is a terrific way to stay in touch, share ideas, challenge our thinking and be “social” with our APWA friends.  I also am a “Tweeter” so please feel free to “follow” me on Twitter using @etphnhmtn.  In 140 characters I’ll share a more personal side of life.

During the events in Anaheim, one message rang true throughout the four days of technical training, general sessions, exhibitor showcase events, and interviews.  Public Works professionals are community builders; we create pathways for the future as infrastructure providers, builders and maintainers.  Roadways open opportunities to grow and expand; water supplies provide vital nourishment not only to sustain but to protect human health; clean streets and solid waste management ensure public safety.  Our role in fleet and facilities management ensures that our partners can stand and serve alongside us, not only in good times but when challenged by emergencies that can bring our community to its knees. We are the lifeline that makes our communities strong and I applaud each of you for your continuing commitment and contributions.  You are awesome and I’m proud to represent you during this next year.

Please share your thoughts on how your Public Works role contributes to making your community strong.

California, Here I Come!

It has been almost a year since I began blogging. I will be turning over the pen (or really the keyboard) to Elizabeth Treadway, our incoming APWA president next week. I expect she will continue to expand our use of social media.
I went back and looked at my first post. The last line was – Let the Conversation Begin! I hope you found my posts interesting, thought provoking, enjoyable and furthering awareness of public works. I have claimed success! I would have liked more “conversation” but decided early on that responses shouldn’t be my measure of success. As of today I have over 6,200 views. My busiest day was 256 views (last October – Zombie Awareness Month). I have enjoyed the opportunity to be read and I hope that we all continue to find ways to create more awareness for public works.
So – let the conversation continue! I am off to Anaheim for the best show in public works and look forward to seeing many of you there to celebrate public works!

If you can’t be there – watch it online!  Follow this link to the APWA website and register and you can watch the general sessions as well as some of the technical session.  It’s the next best thing to being there.

California, here I come!

Happy 75th Birthday, APWA!

The American Public Works Association is celebrating our 75th year. I decided to Google Public Works 1937. What I found was references to the Public Works Administration (PWA) which was created in 1933 and the Works Progress Administration (WPA), created in 1935, under the leadership of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Based on what I read, public works projects were used to relieve unemployment and revive the economy. Doesn’t that sound familiar?
I found a book written by Robert D. Leighninger called Building Louisiana: The Legacy of the Public Works Administration. It says “Though public works programs were first and foremost conceived as instruments to employ millions of people idled by the Great Depression, to feed families, and to revive the economy, there were also larger hopes behind them. They were investments in the future that would operate on two levels: they would build or rebuild communities, and they would build a modern economy.”
How many of us have benefited from the investment made in the 1930s? Many of the parks in the City of Richmond contain walls and trails first constructed under these programs. Wikipedia lists some of the most famous projects including the Lincoln Tunnel, the Grand Coulee Dam, and the longest continuous sidewalk in the world along 6 ½ miles of Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa, FL.
Just over 75 years ago, our public works professionals were very busy. They were also critical to the recovery of our economy. History does repeat itself.