Recently, much of the local media has been covering Joe Passanise’s efforts to stop MODOT from closing Highway 40, one of St. Louis’s main thoroughfares, for the next two years.  I have to admit, the prospect of it closing for 2 years doesn’t sound very pleasant to me, especially since I’m acutely aware of how bad traffic is in St. Louis even before it closes, so I went to the website prepared to take action.  What struck me as odd, however, was that the website asked people to direct their letters to Attorney General Jay Nixon.  People are supposed to ask Nixon to take legal action to stop the closure of Highway 40.

How does Passanise claim that Nixon could take legal action?  Check this junk out, from Passanise’s letter to Jay Nixon:

We need the help of your office to stop the Missouri Department of Transportation from closing Highway 40 that is planned for January 1, 2008.

It appears to me that Article I, Section 2 of the Missouri Constitution provides the justification for taking this legal action. This Section states:

“that all constitutional government is intended to promote the general welfare of the people; that all persons have a natural right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and the enjoyment of the gains of their own industry; that all persons are created equal and are entitled to equal

rights and opportunity under the law; that to give security to these things

is the principal office of government, and that when government does not confer this security, it fails in its chief design.”

MODOT could still use a design-build concept on Highway 40 that would permit the highway to be open during construction, but would take longer to reconstruct.  

Aside from the time and cost to everyday motorists, the economic fallout of closing Highway 40 will critically damage the economic engine of St. Louis County.  Small businesses will close and new businesses will look elsewhere to locate.”

Bwaaa? So Nixon is supposed to legally intervene because this action violates the pursuit of happiness??? Since pretty much every governmental decision makes somebody unhappy, wouldn’t this mean that the Attorney General’s office should intervene on every decision? This strikes me as a ridiculous political stunt.  And don’t laws exist whereby people who feel as though their rights have been violated can file their own lawsuits?

Passanise has been described by the P-D as a failed GOP candidate for county executive.  This seems to me like it might be an attempt by him to transfer people’s anger from the highways to Jay Nixon, even though Nixon has absolutely nothing to do with the situation.  If this is what he’s up to, then the local media sadly has dutifully performed their role. I’ve seen the story covered on several local TV stations (all the more remarkable since I don’t even have a TV) and in the Post-Dispatch.

I really hope I’m wrong because otherwise the Post-Dispatch and many other local media outlets just got played.