ART fiasco: Berry & crowd raped the citizens of ABQ
We know that it's rape when a person imposes themselves sexually on another person who doesn't want it.
Rape is violent, ugly, humiliating, dehumanizing and simply sickening.
So what do you call it when a mayoral administration forces a $135 million public transportation project on a city and its residents who didn't want it, and who shouted loudly and clearly and often and publicly that they didn't want it?
I call it criminal political rape.
(Photo: R.J. Berry led the brutal political rape of the citizens of Albuquerque.)
And as Mayor Tim Keller on Tuesday afternoon ticked off problem after problem with the ART project – problems that could take a year and millions more of our money to fix – I got angrier and more disgusted. I wanted to scream that the former mayor and members of his administration, as well as the city councilors who voted for ART, were frauds and much worse, and that they should be dragged through the streets and humiliated.
Let's be honest, ART was a brutal political rape of the citizens of Albuquerque. When you think about how business owners and residents in the neighborhoods along Central Avenue pleaded constantly, publicly and loudly with the former administration to change its design, or put it somewhere else, you realize just how brutal the rape was.
R.J. Berry and crowed didn't listen to the citizen's pleas to stop. They just kept pounding away with the message that ART was a world-class project that would reshape a nine-mile stretch of Central and that it would be built their way.
In 2015 and 2015 there were several public meetings concerning ART. City officials tried to control the agendas and the tone of the meetings. Residents and business owners called the idea of putting dedicated bus lanes down the middle of the street insane, and they again pleaded with the administration to change the design.
Again, they were told to shut up and enjoy what R.J. and company were giving them.
It was political rape.
When residents shouted down city councilors like Isaac Benton and Patrick Davis, they were called trouble makers and ordered to shut up and submit.
That's political rape.
When residents suggested that ART could be run in the right-hand lanes and that there was no need to tear up Central and build skinny little bus platforms in the middle of the street, they were ignored and Berry and crowd raping away.
When residents and business owners appealed to their city councilors about the insanity of ART, the councilors ignored their pleas and cries for help and joined in with R.J and company to keep the political rape going.
And when citizens demanded that ART be put on the ballot for voter approval or rejection – in effect, a very public call to 911 – Berry and company and the city councilors laughed at them and took away their phones and continued the brutal political rape.
And now the long-term consequences of that political rape are becoming clear.
It might take a year before ART will become operational. At least two ART stations have to be redesigned and rebuilt.
The electric buses and their charging systems are, well, right now, unworkable and garbage.
The good things is that the city hasn't paid for the buses and won't pay for them until all 18 of them are delivered and are certified to meet federal standards.
Central Avenue's traffic lanes and traffic signals are a confusing mess, and thus unsafe.
Businesses have failed because of ART construction; they're gone forever.
We have no idea how much money or how long it will take to fix ART. The painful reminder of the rape, and the citizens' pleas for help and their struggle against the political assault, remain.
And then there were the lies about the ongoing political rape of this city's residents. Time after time, Berry and the guy who used to be in charge of the ART project, Michael Riordan, told councilors that the city was basically minutes away from getting the $75 million grant from the feds.
During one council meeting, Riordan told councilors that FTA officials had been in office that past week and had praised ART for being a world-class project.
That can't possibly be true because the FTA can't release funds for a project until they approve all aspects of it and until it meets all federal requirements. The FTA hasn't released the funds, so they obviously knew about ART's world-class problems.
There are many people, Keller included, who believe that we have to move forward on the ART mess and fix it, and that it' a waste of time to point fingers at and attack the previous administration for its total incompetence, or corruption in the matter.
I thought we were past the attitude of telling rape victims that it was their fault and to forget about it and to shut up.
No, we prosecute accused rapists, and if they're convicted we throw them in prison for a long time.
We shouldn't forget. Those people screwed us, and they're still among us – especially the city councilors – and it is likely that they will engage again in political rape of the citizens.
So let's get to it.
R.J. Berry, you are guilty of political rape of the citizens of Albuquerque.
Rob Perry, you are guilty of political rape of the citizens of Albuquerque.
Michael Riordan, you are guilty of political rape of the citizens of Albuquerque.
Trudy Jones, you are guilty of political rape of the citizens of Albuquerque.
Ken Sanchez, you are guilty of political rape of the citizens of Albuquerque.
Don Harris, you are guilty of political rape of the citizens of Albuquerque.
Brad Winter, you are guilty of political rape of the citizens of Albuquerque.
Patrick Davis, you are guilty of political rape of the citizens of Albuquerque.
Isaac Benton, you are guilty of political rape of the citizens of Albuquerque.
Diane Gibson, you are guilty of political rape of the citizens of Albuquerque.
The leaders of NAIOP, you are guilty of political rape of the citizens of Albuquerque.
And Mayor Keller, as state auditor you made passionate pleas for communities to reduce their backlog of untested rape kits. You told us how important it was for rape victims to get justice. Don't tell us now that we need to forget these political rapists and let them go on their way.
And everybody needs to remember this: unless Berry and company are made to pay dearly for their rape of this city, they will rape again.
Stop Berry and Perry and Riordan and the NAIOP crowd before they rape again.