A technology class came up with an idea: free benches at bus stops. This would help elderly people, the students imagined.
So, they went to work. They designed, then built, a bus stop bench. They put it at a bus stop with no bench.
The Detroit Department of Transportation informed them that this was not an officially approved bus bench. The DDOT said to remove it. It said it would remove it if the students refused.
The students did the right thing. They built another bench. They put it up at another bus stop.
Then they went to the media. “Take a look at this,” they said.
Presto! A human interest story that made local bureaucrats look like dolts. It got coverage.
The DDOT has done the bureaucratic thing. It has refused to take any phone calls from the media. It has played turtle.
The students say they will build a third.
Will the DDOT remove the benches? Will the officials risk a prime-time evening news story on every local TV station? What’s a bureaucrat to do? Enforce the regulations or avoid trouble and let this blow over?