Ode to Builders and Infrastructure Week

I was “energy czar” of New York State ten years ago. Wasn’t nearly as powerful as Peter the Great. More like Nicholas II, executed by the Bolsheviks.

I became the empire state’s czar after Eliot Spitzer, fresh from a governor’s race landslide, asked me to join his administration. At his campaign headquarters, strewn with remains from the victory celebrations, I had one question for the famous sheriff of wall street. How he answered would determine whether I would join him or decline.

Can we build? Can we build a lot of everything? Power plants. Renewables. Transmission. Pipelines. Energy efficiency.

Would the Spitzer Administration push hard to get energy infrastructure built?

Spitzer said yes. And, so, a few weeks later, I moved into a fancy corner office in the ornate state capitol in Albany.

I’m reminded of this story as the nation kicks off Infrastructure Week 2017. Might as well admit to you readers, I’m a builder. And I’ve always been behind builders.

Have always had friends who are do-not-builders. But my heart is with those who devote their time and treasure to constructing or refurbishing infrastructure.

Being a kid from the gritty streets of New York, in the fifties and sixties, it’s clear why I admire the builders of buildings, schools, roads, bridges, tunnels, pipes, wires, substations, plants, ports, and so forth. It was our world, shaking loose from the war effort, and facing up to the cold war. But it was a world of ever-growing promise, optimism, and affluence.

Brooklyn Tech High School, where I went daily via subway, proudly posted its construction in the thirties by the Works Progress Administration. The WPA was one of Franklin Roosevelt’s magnificent programs to put people back to work and make America great again (to borrow a recent slogan). When the Verrazano Bridge was completed, spanning the harbor’s narrows over the Staten Island ferries, we all felt the pride.

For me, building is one of the most honorable works of man. We labor and sacrifice so that we might glimpse the fruit we’ve grown for the feast of future generations.

Join me and celebrate Infrastructure Week 2017!

The magazine for commentary, opinion and debate on utility regulation and policy since 1928, Public Utilities Fortnightly. “In PUF, Impact the Debate.”

Steve Mitnick, Editor-in-Chief, Public Utilities Fortnightly
E-mail me: mitnick@fortnightly.com