I've failed you, Rebecca McKinney
There’s been a story that has been runnng pretty strongly through the Tampa Bay Area for the last week… It’s something that I take a personal interest in… No, that’s not correct. Or it just feels wrong and short stepping for me to say I take a personal interest in it.
Let me start by telling you the situation: A sixteen year old girl by the name of Rebecca McKinney was hit and killed on McMullen Booth road in Pinellas County, Florida last week. She was crossing 6 lanes of highway after the school bus dropped her off.
I tell you that I take what happened personally not because I am related to Rebecca McKinney – I never knew her. I never met her. I take personal interest in this because I feel like I have failed Rebecca McKinney and thousands of pedestrians and motorists around Pinellas County and in the Tampa Bay Area.
I’ve been vocal in the past 6 years about various transit conditions in Pinellas County. You can point out absurdities left and right, which I did, but what it comes down to is change. And from an advocates point of view, I changed absolutely shit.
And for that I apologize to Rebecca McKinney’s friends and family.
I’m not a government official – I just badgered them time and again and didn’t accomplish anything. I’m not a Department of Transportation worker. I’m just a citizen who wanted those assclowns to stop mis-designing roads and thoroughfares and making other bad decisions based on money and not wanting to spend.
The reason I feel I failed her, that I indirectly caused Rebecca’s death, is that I’ve grown tired of the rhetoric. I wasn’t vigilent… I couldn’t have changed things myself alone but I could have kept trying. I should have kept trying. I should have kept writing, I should have stopped being pissed off at the fact certain St. Petersburg Times editors weren’t thinking my letters newsworthy… Or my letters to Pinellas County Commissioners were turned into mush because of political bullshit being spewed from those very County COmmissioners who are out of touch with conditions out there. Heck, I should have started to badger Pinellas County Sherrif’s for their lack of policing the roads. There own cruisers tend to speed instead of doing traffic duty.
And what’s going to come of Rebecca’s death? That also makes me angry – there will be talk, denials, there will be scapegoats made out to appease those upset by what happened. There will be planning, workshops, there will be community forums…
And yet nothing will change. There won’t be vast improvements made for pedestrians. There won’t be driving alternatives for daily commuters who were witness to this accident. There won’t be help for law-enforcement officials to make sure drivers obey the laws of the road. The simplest plan will be adopted, the one that costs the county the least amount of money. Commissioners will applaud it and say it’s a step in the right direction…
And then nothing…
…until the next tradgedy.
A 16 year old girl was robbed of her life, of her future. If the Pinellas County School Board, the Pinellas County Commission, the Pinellas Sheriffs office and the Department of Transportation want to dismiss this like I believe they will ultimately do – it’s blood on their hands. If these bastards don’t think changes are in order – no matter what the cost, for the sake of lives young and old – then let them be escorted out of office post haste.
This is the 21st Century in Tampa Bay and the market is one of – if not the – worst for pedestrians and for motorsts alike. I’m sick and tired of the thrift-shopping solutions for transit woes from government officials.
Rebecca McKinney probably wouldn’t have died if changes had come to how we do things around here.
And for that, I’m sorry. My vigelence may be renewed, but at too high a cost.