Weekly highlights: ART, ART and more
You really would had to have been living in a cave and without your smart phone to miss the big news of the week here. And that was Mayor Tim Keller's bombshell that the $135 million Albuquerque Rapid Transit project is, at this point, a piece of junk. (Story posted below).
The Chinese company, BYD, that was supposed to have delivered 20 electric ART buses to the city by early October of last year, has only delivered 10 so far. The firm said it'll get all the buses to the city by early February. That's all fine, but what if those buses don't work and can't be charged?
ART's problems could take up to a year to fix, and the city might never get the $75 million from the feds it was hoping for. That has caused some people to say that the city should cut it losses and junk ART and put Central Avenue back to four lanes of traffic.
Why spend even more time and money on this monumental boondoggle?
Another question that arises is what does the city do with Central between now and the time that ART is operational? Do we let motorists use the so-called bus-only lanes? It really could be a year before this thing is fixed.
Stay tuned for more nuttiness from this public works project that nobody but the bureaucrats and developers wanted.
- Former Albuquerque cop Jeremy Dear, the officer who often failed to turn on his lapel camera, won't be getting his job back. On Thursday, a state court judge ruled that the city had legal grounds to fire Dear in 2014. Dear fatally shot 19-year-old Mary Hawkes in April 2014. It turned out that Dear's lapel camera had become unplugged and the shooting wasn't recorded.
- The ACLU on Thursday sued the city of Albuquerque over its pedestrian safety ordinance, claiming it violates the constitutional rights of panhandlers. This could lead to the first confrontation between Mayor Tim Keller and the City Council. The council approved the ordinance last November by an 8-to-0 vote. Democrats and Republicans supported it. If Keller, who is a progressive, doesn't want to defend the city in court, he could be in for a battle. That's because the council, and not the mayor, is the city's policy-making body. And the city attorney works for the mayor and the council. We'll see what happens here.
- Just in case you were starting to feel better about ABQ's economy, don't. The Milken Institute's annual study on local economies said ABQ's economy ranked 160 out of 200 major metro areas. Maybe someday we will have reason to cheer about something here.
- What a difference a new police chief makes. It took the Northeast Area Command's Community Policing Council just one email to get new APD Chief Michael Geier out to one of their meetings. By contrast, that CPC had to wait a year before former APD Chief Gorden Eden came out and talked to them. Geier really is a blast of fresh air.
- Three people who worked for or with the Martin Luther King Jr. State Commission were indicted Friday on charges of fraud and embezzlement.
- Gov. Susana Martinez dropped a proposal that is undoubtedly DOA in the state Legislature. She wants to give legal immunity to cops for things they do in the line of duty, even killing people.
- The New Mexico Supreme Court on Thursday gave lower court judges guidance on when felony defendants can be held in jail before trial. The court said that defendants charged with a capital crime don’t have a right to pretrial release. The Court also said that prosecutors can present evidence without calling witnesses in pretrial detention hearings.
- In what was mostly a feel-good PR moment, Mayor Tim Keller said Thursday that he has joined the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda, which seeks to abide by the requirements of the Paris Climate Agreement.
That's it for now. Remember, all ART all the time!