Let’s stipulate that public safety is paramount and that lives and bodily injury beat road repair on the priority list every time. That said, Newport Mayor Harry Winthrop could have picked any government activity to highlight in this exclamation, made in the context of a conversation about school shootings:
“Our number one priority is public safety,” Mayor Harry Winthrop said. “Who gives a damn about a pothole on Bellevue Avenue if we are not safe?”
He didn’t go with his government’s charitable grants, beautification projects, open space, community planning or any of the countless other things that municipal government does that ought to come after both public safety and maintenance of infrastructure. That tells us a lot about the priorities of our government officials, and we see it in our roads.
Which, by the way, don’t take long to become public safety matters themselves. When one drives around the state and sees bridges with regularly decreasing weight limits or propped up on wooden blocks and has to swerve onto the shoulder or into another lane to avoid potholes, the specter of harm and even death isn’t difficult to sense.