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Bruning compares welfare recipients to scavenging raccoons

Attorney General/U.S. Senate candidate Jon Bruning committed his first big gaffe of the Senate campaign by comparing welfare recipients to raccoons scavenging for beetles.

A video released by catches Bruning on tape in a Husker red polo telling an aw-shucks-I’m-just-like-you-Nebraskans story about how a road project got shut down by the discovery of endangered beetles. He said the construction workers sat out buckets with dead rats in them to attract the beetles, and then the beetles were caught and released into the wild.

Bruning said a farmer noticed raccoons eating the beetles at night — and compared the situation to welfare recipients taking the easy way out.

“And it’s like grapes in a jar. The raccoons – they’re not stupid, they’re gonna do the easy way if we make it easy for them. Just like welfare recipients all across America. If we don’t send them to work, they’re gonna take the easy route.”

Bruning’s campaign released an apology Tuesday afternoon, saying, “It was an inartful statement and one Jon regrets making,” said Trent Fellers, Bruning’s campaign manager. “As attorney general, Jon’s been a strong supporter of welfare reform and giving welfare recipients a hand up and not just a hand out. He’s committed to helping those struggling in these tough economic times by working to grow our workforce, instead of growing government which unfortunately has been the focus of Barack Obama and Ben Nelson these last several years.”

It’s no accident that Bruning was caught on tape making a controversial statement. He was zinged by a group called American Bridge 21st Century, which was created specifically “to track Republican candidates with the aim of capturing just these types of gotcha moments on camera,” according to the Huffington Post.

And it’s not unusual for higher profile campaigns to send videographers to press conferences and campaign events to try to catch the competition saying something crazy. Welcome to the wild, web world.

Here’s the video:


Antelope Valley bridges still not repaired

An Antelope Valley bridge.

Four Antelope Valley bridges that are cracking and spalling still have not been repaired by the city since the damage was reported in January. But soon they will be.

Kris Humphrey, the public works employee who has overseen the Antelope Valley Project in recent years, said the city recently received approval from the state Department of Roads to issue contractors a “notice to proceed” with repair work, which is expected to cost between $250,000 and $270,000. (Talk about bureaucracy, huh?) Those notices went out Friday and then the city will work with contractors “to develop the specific schedule for the repairs,” Humphrey said.

The Antelope Valley bridges spanning O, P, Q and N streets have evidence of spalling — concrete cracking and falling away — even though the oldest of them just opened in July 2007. The $246 million Antelope Valley Project was designed to control flooding, revitalize older neighborhoods and improve transportation in the heart of Lincoln, along Antelope Creek. The project includes six miles of roads, two miles of creek channel improvements, 12 street bridges, three rail bridges and three pedestrian bridges.

But this year the already-over-budget Antelope Valley Project was tarnished when the city had to close its bike trails after a piece of concrete fell from the O Street bridge. The trails were later reopened.

And now, eight months later, it’s still not clear who’s responsible. When asked who will pay for the repairs, Humphrey said, “we are still under discussion and our intention is to do all in our power to ensure that the contractors and consultants responsible pay for the cost of repairing the bridges.”

It’s not easy to determine, since the bridges were designed, built and inspected by a myriad of consultants and subconsultants. As Humphrey said, “There is not a clear cut division of responsibility between the consultant and contractor.”

Hawkins Construction Co. was the primary contractor on two of the bridges and United Contractors, Inc. and Park Construction were the prime contractors on the other two bridges.

The company in charge of both design and engineering for all of the bridges was Parsons Brinckerhoff of New York — one of the world’s largest transportation engineering companies. PB’s design subcontractors were engineering firm Olsson Associates, Erickson Sullivan (which did aesthetics like lights) and HWS Consulting. PB’s construction subcontractors were Olsson Associates, The Schemmer Associates and HWS.

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