Top Ten a great honor
It's that time again—National Public Works Week, May 15-21! National Public Works Week gives us an opportunity to remind our residents of the importance of the public works services we provide. There are lots of ways to do this, as evidenced by previous National Public Works Week celebrations. Some create posters for city hall, malls, and other public places. Equipment displays are also popular; some hold parades, and others provide speakers for civic organizations and schools. Proclamations from the elected bodies are often done as a way to bring a higher level of recognition to this important event. Those chapters fortunate enough to have one of the Top Ten Public Works Leaders of the Year [see page 18] are planning their own celebrations. Handled properly, these should attract media attention.
The biggest National Public Works Week celebrations will probably again be for the Top Ten in their own communities. The panel of judges has selected these ten professionals because of their noteworthy career achievements in this field and because their work reflects the highest standards of professional conduct. The Top Ten award is given for exemplary public works performance, not for service to APWA National or the chapters. Its purpose is to honor the recipients, recognize and enhance the profession, and gain support for public works from the general public.
One of the most rewarding experiences for the APWA President is to contact the Top Ten recipients and give them the good news, and I enjoyed making the phone calls as much as my predecessors. I remember when I was notified by then-President Win Westfall in the spring of 1997. Quite honestly, while I was extremely flattered, I was also shocked at the announcement—but not so humbled to recognize that my being honored was also a tribute to the contributions of my team and colleagues in the City of Royal Oak.
Congratulations to this year's recipients of the Top Ten Public Works Leaders of the Year Award. These individuals have excelled in their positions, and the communities and organizations that they represent can be proud of their many exceptional accomplishments.
ASCE's 2005 Report Card
On March 9, APWA Government Affairs Committee Chair Ben Wolfe and I joined the American Society of Civil Engineers and the U.S. Conference of Mayors in releasing the 2005 Report Card for America's Infrastructure at a press conference in Washington, D.C. The 2005 Report Card assigns an overall grade of "D" for the nation's infrastructure, down from "D+" four years ago, and cites an investment gap of $1.6 trillion for needed improvements over the next five years.
At the 2005 Report Card for America's Infrastructure press conference are (from left) APWA Executive Director Peter King; APWA President Tom Trice; Ben Wolfe, Public Works Director, City of Jackson, MS, and APWA Government Affairs Committee chair; and Bill Spearman, Vice President, Woolpert, Inc., Columbia, SC, and member of APWA's Water Resources Management Committee.
I commend ASCE for highlighting the enormous problem we face in our nation—our deteriorating and inadequate infrastructure. As the 2005 Report Card demonstrates, we continue to fall behind in the maintenance and upgrading of some of our most important public assets. As ASCE President Bill Henry noted, Americans are spending more time stuck in traffic and less time at home with their families. "We need to establish a comprehensive, long-term infrastructure plan as opposed to our current 'patch and pray' method to ensure a better quality of life for everyone," he said.
To paraphrase my remarks at the press conference, we cannot afford to ignore this $1.6 trillion infrastructure investment gap that is at the root of our growing traffic congestion, our overburdened sewer systems and our aging drinking water infrastructure. If we hope to remain competitive in the global economy and improve the quality of life in all of our communities, we must reinvest in our public works infrastructure. Most importantly we need to act now, because if we don't it will cost us more in reduced safety, lower productivity and a poorer quality of life in the long run.
I strongly support our efforts to work with Congress and the Administration to elevate the improvement and reinvestment in our public infrastructure to the higher national priority it needs to be. Advocating for public works and infrastructure is one of our major priorities in our strategic plan. We are committed to working toward the goal of ensuring that governmental policy decisions and actions take into account and support the value and necessity of public infrastructure.
I would like to thank Jim Fahey, Manager of Government Affairs of our Washington, D.C. staff, and Kevin Clark, APWA Reporter editor, for contributing to this article.
Editor's Note: See page 5 for more information about the March 9 press conference. For more information about the 2005 Report Card, including grades assigned to the infrastructure categories and state infrastructure statistics, visit APWA's advocacy web page, www.apwa.net/advocacy.