Risk tolerance should not be the default position of public officials (55)

(55th in a series on Martin Tower)

Martin Tower demolition May 19

Breena Holland is an Associate Professor at Lehigh University in the Department of Political Science and the Environmental Initiative. She is a past and current director of Lehigh University’s South Side Initiative.

Gadfly, I agree [with Gadfly post #52], which is why I used the word “equivocating” in my characterization of the message that was conveyed. One has to wonder whether the city might have actually encouraged viewing the demolition as a spectator sport had citizens and a couple councilwomen not drawn attention to the health risks. Since any recognizable impacts would likely be far in the future when the mayor is no longer in office, it’s hard to shake the feeling that the situation is being handled carelessly because there won’t be any immediate political consequences. I think I recall from a recent meeting, that Councilman Bryan Callahan even suggested that citizens’ spectator activity at the implosion would be a sign that everything is fine, that the citizens who are worried are over-reacting [yes, see post #38]. And yet, at the meeting with the “experts” from the company, when pushed, they finally admitted that the “safe” thing to do is stay indoors.

Risk tolerance should not be the default position of public officials. We look to them protect us, not to gamble with our health while trying to find something worth cheering in a a series of terrible land use decisions.


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