Conspiracy theorist explains summer of road construction


BY TOM WILLADSEN • JULY 21, 2010

This summer our community is experiencing an explosion of public works projects.

New sewers are being installed; detention basins are being dug; roundabouts are making a debut; city streets are being rebuilt and Highway 41 is being widened. Even life-long residents of Oshkosh are finding it difficult to get around town because of this flurry of projects.

State D.O.T. officials point out that the improvements to Highway 41 have been on the drawing board for years. County Executive Mark Harris says that federal stimulus money has made it possible for the county to undertake some long-delayed projects. City Manager Mark Rohloff explains that the coincidence of the state needing fill dirt for the new Butte des Morts bridge with the city's building detention basins has reduced costs to the city so dramatically that additional public projects are starting ahead of schedule and under budget. They are telling the public, "We know that all these projects going on at the same time is inconvenient, but because different levels of government are cooperating so well, we are able to get a lot of badly needed public projects done all at once."

This is what "They" want you to believe; but it is not true! I know what is really happening.

I first suspected something was up in May. One day the detour signs at Murdock and Harrison pointed toward each other; later they pointed in opposite directions. I did a little investigating and found that since May 1 Oshkosh has been the site of a top secret, federally funded experiment in human maze running!

I know this is true because when I asked a government official about this in an off-the-record conversation, which I secretly recorded, he said I was "delusional." He added that I am a "crackpot, completely out of touch with reality." And that my theory did not "contain even the hint of a scintilla of fact or plausibility."

Conspiracy theorists know that when government officials talk like this they mean, "You have uncovered the Truth, but I have to deny it for the Greater Good." We know that there is no higher compliment than to be called "crackpot." This official could have called me a "gadfly" or "wingnut," but no, he honored me and my theory with the Name Above All Others: Crackpot.

Open your eyes, Oshkosh! You know how hard it is to drive from one side of Highway 41 to the other. You know how many times you have had to alter your travel plans, to recalculate, to strategize about how best to run errands this summer. There is a reason for this. Scientists have learned all there is to know about how rats run mazes, now they have begun to research how people behave when forced to find their way through an ever-changing series of obstacles. Right now government satellites are overhead, recording our cross-town trips to the supermarket. And next week, my sources tell me, you can expect to find giant blocks of cheese in the parking lot at Fleet Farm, "rewards" for motorists who have been able to find a route there.

I know this is true, a certain government official just hung up on me.

Tom Willadsen's rich fantasy life and vivid imagination hardly ever interfere with his work as Pastor of First Presbyterian Church.  This article originally appeared in the Oshkosh Northwestern.