If you were writing a news story about the completion of a very expensive mansion and you knew that the mansion's owner began building it before getting a construction loan and mortgage, and that, even when it was near completion the loan still hadn't come through, you would:
A. Completely ignore that fact and never mention it.
B. Dump on the banker for failing to approve the loan.
C. At least mention the fact in the story.
D. Ask the owner why he started construction without a loan in place and mention it in the story.
Even a beginning reporter would know that the correct answers are C and D, and that the failing answer would be A. And guess what? That reporter would probably never get a job at the Albuquerque Journal.
Because it appears that the Journal doesn't want to print the truth. The evidence was Sunday's front-page fluff story about the allegedly wonderful kickoff to Mayor Richard Berry's $126 million Albuquerque Rapid Transit Project.
Reading it was like eating a dozen sticks of cotton candy, a bowlful of sugar cubes, or downing a half gallon of high fructose corn syrup. It was sickening.
Nowhere in the nearly 1,200-word story was it mentioned that the the Federal Transit Administration has yet to approve the project. That means that city taxpayers could be directly on the hook for the $69 million the city has been hoping to get from the feds and that it still hasn't gotten.
Nowhere was there any criticism of Berry for beginning the ART project before he had the money in the bank for it. And nowhere was there any mention of what Mayor-elect Tim Keller would have to do if that federal money doesn't come through.
Instead, the Journal acted – as it usually does for the Berry administration – like a cheerleader. Cheerleading is fine, but not for a newspaper that's supposed to be an unbiased observer and part of our system of checks and balances.
The Journal put two reporters on the story and it looks like neither of them bothered to ask the supposed dignitaries who filled the first ART bus – including Berry and his wife – how often they ride the bus system in their day-to-day lives and if they would ever ride the bus again after Saturday's photo op.
Berry doesn't ride the bus to work. And I doubt that City Councilor Don Harris, who was also on the photo op bus, does either.
Nowhere in the story was there the fact that in the past five years, bus ridership in Albuquerque has fallen by 25 percent, and nowhere was it mentioned that a mere 1 to 2 percent of people in the metro area ride the bus to get to work.
The Journal's story mentioned some award the ART project received from some national transit institute. So what. Those organizations give awards to everything project, and the awards are basically meaningless.
And then the Journal's story quoted someone who is either a real idiot or just plain uninformed. His name is Dennis Manaietta and he was a passenger aboard one of the ceremonial ART buses. Manaietta said he's hoping his wife will be able to use ART to get to work. Here's en excerpt from the Journal's story:
“Berry said ART is intended to serve a variety of users, from tourists looking to see the Duke City’s most popular destinations to families who live along the route.
“'If you are a working family in the city of Albuquerque and you can shed one vehicle so that both parents can get to work with one less car, that’s a $9,000 raise for you and your family this year,'” he said.
“That’s exactly what Dennis Manaietta, a passenger aboard one of ART’s ceremonial loop rides on Saturday, is planning on doing.
“'We recently lost a car and I’m retired, my wife still works,'” he said. “'She’s hoping she’ll be able to walk out the door, walk two blocks to the station, get on this and go to work instead of buying a new car.'”
Mr. Manaietta, you're an idiot. Your wife can already walk out the door and walk two blocks to a bus station on Central Avenue. Read that again! Your wife can already walk out the door and walk two blocks to a bus station on Central. There are already buses on Central that your wife can take to get to work. She can take the current Route 66 bus, or even the Rapid Ride buses that run along Central. Your wife doesn't need a fancy ART bus to get to work.
But Manaietta is like a lot of know-nothing ART supporters. They argue that they'd love to use ART to get to their jobs, or to Popejoy Hall or to restaurants in Nob Hill. But they never are asked why they don't use the current Central Avenue buses to do those things.
The answer is that they're frauds who will never take any bus, including an ART bus, to go to Popejoy or a restaurant. They just think that you should take the bus everywhere.
Like I said, they're frauds. And so is that alleged newspaper.