Graphical depiction of the Sen. Jim Bunning Catastrophe for Transportation

March 1, 2010 at 7:54 pm
The Bunning effect

Image courtesy: via McClatchy

Here is a bullet point version of the evolving mess created in the U.S. Senate, courtesy of Kentucky’s nomination for Hall of Political Shame: Sen. Jim Bunning.

Let’s start with a mini profile of the Senator himself:

  • A former Major League pitcher – Bunning pitched in the Major Leagues for 17 seasons, most notably with the Detroit Tigers and the Philadelphia Phillies. When he retired, he had the second-highest total of career strikeouts in Major League history;
  • In 2004, he barely won election in Kentucky in a campaign highlighted by blunders such as describing opponent Daniel Mongiardo as looking “like one of Saddam Hussein’s sons” and being “limp-wristed.”
  • In 2006, TIME called him one of America’s five worst senators, calling out the former MLB pitcher for showing “little interest in policy unless it involves baseball.”

Now a mini profile of the problem, courtesy of The Economist:

  • Last July Jim Bunning, realized he was too wildly unpopular in the state of Kentucky to win re-election to the Senate, so he decided to retire.
  • On his way out, he figured he’d make sure people had something to remember him by. Last Friday, Mr Bunning extended a one-man procedural gambit that has blocked approval of an emergency extension of unemployment benefits, making it nearly certain that Americans who are out of work will stop receiving their payments on Sunday.
  • Mr Bunning insists that funding measures (presumably, given his political leanings, spending cuts) be found to pay for the unemployment benefits. He is not being supported by the Republican leadership.

Now let’s proceed to read what the newspapers around the country have to say about Mr. Bunning’s theatrics and the ripple effects of his actions:

McClatchy:  The Department of Transportation furloughed nearly 2,000 employees without pay Monday as the government began to feel the impact of Republican Sen. Jim Bunning’s one-man blockage of legislation that would keep a host of federal programs operating. Bunning’s “hold” also affects jobless benefits for thousands of unemployed workers, rural television customers, doctors receiving Medicare payments and others. Bunning wants the $10 billion price of extending the programs offset by reductions in spending elsewhere in the budget to not drive up the deficit.

From Washington Post:  “I am keenly disappointed that political games are putting a stop to important construction projects around the country,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement late Sunday night. “This means that construction workers will be sent home from job sites because federal inspectors must be furloughed.”

Another Washington Post article:  He doesn’t seem too happy about the extra attention. When ABC News tried to get him to comment on the block, he ignored them, yelling, “Excuse me! This is a senators-only elevator!” and “I’ve got to go to the floor!” According to the network producer Z. Byron Wolf, before the camera crew started filming Bunning gave them the middle finger.

A NY Times blog says: “As the fight drew to a close, Mr. Bunning complained he had been ambushed by the Democrats and was forced to miss the Kentucky-South Carolina basketball game. He said Democrats caused their own problems by dropping the program extensions from an earlier bipartisan jobs measure.”

British Newspaper The Telegraph Says:  Is this America’s worst politician?….  It takes quite some doing to be rude, angry, non-communicative and elitist all in a mere 26 seconds. But Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky, who is not seeking re-election and has been all but abandoned by his Republican colleagues, manages it in this vintage clip from ABC News.

The Wall Street Journal Says: Many Republican leaders, cognizant of the political peril surrounding Mr. Bunning’s action, quietly distanced themselves. But others, including Arizona’s Jon Kyl, the Senate’s second-ranking Republican, supported Mr. Bunning’s right to raise the cost issue. “Every time we pass one of these bills, we are adding to the deficit, and we are not creating jobs,” Mr. Kyl said. “And it’s a legitimate point for Republicans to make.”

Click here to read all the related stories about this obscure Senator from Kentucky here.

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Bernie’s Transportation Communications Newsletter (TCN) – March 1, 2010

March 1, 2010 at 6:05 pm

Monday, March 1, 2010 – ISSN 1529-1057

Intelligent Transportation Society of America’s 20th Annual Meeting & Exposition (May 3-5, 2010, Houston, Texas). America’s leading intelligent transportation systems industry association brings you speakers, sessions, demos and tours that will show you how technology innovations are making America strong by helping to solve the Nation’s transportation challenges!


1) All-Electronic Tolling Debated in Maine

Link to article in the Portsmouth Herald:


2) Raytheon Lands $886 Million GPS Contract

The project aims to improve the accuracy, reliability, and security of data from GPS satellites.

Link to article in InformationWeek:


3) Open Wi-Fi ‘Outlawed’ in UK Digital Economy Bill

Link to ZDNet UK article:,1000000085,40057470,00.htm

4) The Wired Repo Man – He’s Not ‘As Seen on TV’

Link to article in The New York Times:


5) Iowa Newspaper Maps and Tracks Potholes

Link to article in The Des Moines Register:


6) Updated Tsunami Warning System in Action

Link to story on MSNBC:

7) Growing Number of Drivers Check Facebook, Twitter While Driving

Link to article on ITProPortal:


8) Toronto Transit Commission Chief Admits He Misjudged Rider Anger

Link to article in the Toronto Star:–ttc-chief-admits-he-misjudged-rider-anger

9) Golden Gate Transit Bus and Ferry Riders are Being Reminded to be Courteous to Fellow Passengers

Link to article in the Marin Independent Journal:

10) Prepaid Cards and the Transit Industry

Link to article in Smart Card Talk:


11) Philippine Automobile Group Ask Supreme Court to Halt Use of RFID

Link to article in the Business Mirror:


12) Snowpocalypse to Snowicane: Hype Reigns in Winter

National Weather Service meteorologists critical of terminology used for Northeast storm.

Link to AP article:

13) Scientists Develop More Accurate Snow Forecasts

Link to article in USA Today:

News Releases

1) Amtrak Launches Wi-Fi Service

2) ATX Joins Pilot Project to Promote Cross-Border eCall Solutions

3) Official UK Highways Agency Traffic News is Top of the Downloads

Upcoming Events

Organization Management Workshop – Enhancing Mobility Through Innovation – April 18-20 – Austin, Texas

Today in Transportation History

1910 **100th anniversary** – The worst avalanche in US history occurred in Washington State when snow buried two Great Northern Railway trains and killed 96 people.


The Transportation Communications Newsletter is published electronically Monday through Friday.

To subscribe or unsubscribe, please visit:

If you have any difficulties please contact me at

TCN archives:

Questions, comments about the TCN?  Please write the editor, Bernie Wagenblast at

© 2010 Bernie Wagenblast

Event Alert: Invitation to the 2010 ITS America Annual Meeting and Exposition

March 1, 2010 at 5:26 pm

“Connecting Communities through Smart Transportation Solutions”

ITS America cordially invites you to actively participate in the national conference that will bring you a fresh look at emerging projects, products, technologies and services that are making America strong by helping to solve the Nation’s transportation challenges.

The annual meeting of America’s leading intelligent transportation systems (ITS) industry association brings you speakers, sessions, demonstrations and technical tours that will show you how technology innovations are connecting communities and transforming transportation, while fostering job creation and economic growth.

Tour Houston’s innovative ITS-enabled Houston TranStar, a national leader in freeway incident management, and the Security System of the Port of Houston, ranked second in the US in total tonnage.

Begin the ITS America Annual Meeting on Monday morning, May 3, with a Texas State Senate hearing focusing on transportation and security.  Immediately following, the Opening Plenary addresses the Texas transportation experience, featuring leading Texas state and local officials.

Tuesday’s US Department of Transportation (USDOT) Plenary brings together Presidential appointees and executives to focus on how ITS can help improve job creation and economic growth, create a more integrated, performance-based transportation system and provide Americans with safe, affordable and environmentally sustainable transportation choices.

Monday and Tuesday afternoons you’ll want to witness the striking demonstration of the emergency response to an overturned 18-wheeler.  And headlining the Closing Plenary on Wednesday are IBM Chairman, President and CEO Sam Palmisano and USDOT Secretary Ray LaHood.  From their unique perspectives, both confirmed speakers will share their vision for a smarter 21st Century transportation network founded on technological innovation.

Topic-specific briefings in the exhibition hall followed by guided tours to those topic-specific exhibits, opportunities to build your business development network at our exposition and networking events,

earning “professional development hours” and taking advantage of co-located meetings and workshops of organizations such as NASCO, AASHTO and USDOT make the ITS America Annual Meeting this year’s must-attend conference!  Be sure to register and make your hotel reservations now.

See you in May!

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Event Alert: Reclaiming our Competitive Advantage: How Intelligent Technologies are Revolutionizing Transportation and What America Can Do to Lead the World in 21st Century Innovation

March 1, 2010 at 1:50 pm

Date: Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Time: 4:00 – 5:30 PM

Venue : 2167 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C.

Event Host: The Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America)


From highways and transit systems to passenger vehicles and freight transportation, intelligent transportation systems (ITS) are beginning to transform our nation’s transportation network and provide significant benefits to our communities, businesses and other transportation users.  ITS technologies are already being used in many parts of the U.S. to reduce traffic crashes, congestion, operating costs, and carbon emissions while helping to improve transportation efficiency and spur job growth.  But as a recent report by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation highlights, the U.S. is falling behind leading Asian and European nations in deploying ITS technologies (see recent Wired News coverage here and here).

As Congress and the Administration work to spur economic growth and address critical transportation and environmental challenges, this is an opportunity to engage with leading transportation, transit, automotive, and economic policy experts in a discussion about how information and communications technologies are modernizing our nation’s infrastructure, and what steps can be taken to advance the deployment of current and next generation ITS technologies to create a smarter, safer, cleaner, and more efficient transportation system.  Please join ITS Caucus co-chair Russ Carnahan (D-MO) and our distinguished panelists for a discussion about the future of ITS in America, including how smart technologies can benefit your community and how policymakers can help the U.S. reclaim its role as an innovation leader.  Please RSVP to Charlie Tennyson at ITS America at or 202-721-4207.

Moderator: Scott F. Belcher (bio)
President and CEO, The Intelligent Transportation Society of America (
ITS America)
Guest Speaker: U.S. Congressman Russ Carnahan (D-MO) (bio)

Co-Chair, Congressional ITS Caucus

Panelists: Ann Flemer (bio)
Deputy Executive Director, Policy, San Francisco Bay Area Metropolitan Transportation Commission (

John Inglish (bio)
General Manager and CEO, Utah Transit Authority (

Kirk Steudle (bio)
Director, Michigan Department of Transportation (

Keith Cole (bio)
Director, Legislative and Regulatory Affairs, General Motors (

Robert Atkinson (bio)
President, The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (

Date: Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Time: 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM
Place: 2167 Rayburn House Office Building

Washington, DC 20515 (map)

Note:  ITS America is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit association that represents several hundred member organizations including public sector agencies, private industry leaders, and academic institutions working to advance the research, development, and deployment of technologies that improve transportation safety, mobility, economic competitiveness, and the environment.  Register here to attend ITS America’s 2010 Annual Meeting and Exposition, which will be held in Houston, Texas from May 3 – 5.  Featured speakers include U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, IBM Chairman, President and CEO Sam Palmisano, and other public sector, private industry, and academic leaders from across the country.

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