Thursday, August 09, 2012

More bad news from the “Maddow” Dam

Yuma, Arizona

Friday, 16 July 2021

It’s more bad news at the Rachel Maddow Memorial Dam. Already the most expensive and elaborate government engineering project ever undertaken, the “Maddow” Dam, as most refer to it, has suffered another setback due to concerns for the fate of the endangered Bufo punctatus, or red-spotted toad. This is the third endangered species that has threatened the project in as many years.

Work has been called to a halt indefinitely as a new team of on-site evaluators are flown in from the Environmental Protection Agency to assess whether or not the taxpayer’s $105 billion has been for naught. As the agricultural hinterland surrounding the Colorado River Valley in the Sonoran Desert eagerly awaits the expected flood of irrigating water created by the reservoir behind the Dam, some ponder if the project will ever be finished.

“I just don’t know,” said local Yuman, Charlene Stevens, “We’ve seen this happen several times now and they haven’t even started pouring concrete yet.” But at least one resident, Bradley George—chairman of the Local Yuma Occupy Auxiliary 202—thinks the stoppage is a good thing. “We never wanted this here anyway,” George said in a phone interview with reporters, “it’s just another giveaway to the private contractors and agri-businesses that make money off of growing non-organic, non-local food. It’s for damn sure they didn’t get the toad’s permission.”

Undertaken at the end of President Barack Obama’s second term in 2016, the “Maddow” Dam memorializes the noted advocate of government engineering projects and former MSNBC show host who tragically died in 2015 while shooting an ill-fated commercial at the Hoover Dam. Many will remember the wave of support that swept over the country for a second, bigger, Hoover Dam project in the weeks that followed as the nation watched the recovery operation for the anchor’s remains—a three month endeavor that shut down most of the Dam’s power operations as the turbines were individually removed and cleaned.

That was over six years ago. While the Hoover Dam was built in little more than four years at $50 million ($800 million in 2016 dollars), the “Maddow” Dam is already well over it’s modestly ambitious original $2 billion outlay. The chief culprits for the cost and time overruns, so far, have been the repetitive and expensive environmental surveys, the first of which prevented groundbreaking for three years.

It also has not helped that while Hoover Dam was built two years ahead of schedule with cheap and eager labor from among the First Great Depression’s unemployed, the “Maddow” Dam project managers have been forced to pay “prevailing union wages” to everyone associated with the project. The most recent project manager for the Dam’s construction (he resigned when notified of the stoppage due to concerns over the red-spotted toad), Carlton Wellock III, told the Associate Press that managing the project was akin to “waiting in line at the DMV while slowly moving backwards as the song ‘My Sharona’ plays louder and louder, over and over again.” While some fans of The Knack have puzzled over the meaning of this, most have interpreted the statement as evidence of Wellock’s intense frustration.

As the workers take their most recent paid leaves of absence to await the findings of the EPA’s investigation of the “Maddow” Dam’s impact on the habitat of the red-spotted toad, many around the country wonder if this project will ever really get underway, let alone finished. The optimism associated with the project’s namesake about the ease with which these grandiose projects could be undertaken and completed seems largely absent six years and tens of billions of dollars later.

“Well, we can’t just give up,” President Palin said to reporters at her Press Conference on Wednesday, “the ‘Maddow’ Dam represents good old-fashioned American get-up-and-go.” When pressed about whether or not she plans to press Congress for more funds for a project already 52 times more expensive than originally planned, given her pledge to reduce the nation’s $24 trillion debt, the President replied: “You betcha!”

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