Dinelli: Puking over ART
I think I am going to puke if I hear one more time the metaphor “let’s make lemonade out of the lemons” when it comes to the ART bus project and what City Councilor Isaac Benton has to say about the project.
On Sunday, January 28, 2018, Channel 4 reporter Jen French did an exhaustive “Eye On New Mexico” report dedicated to the ART Bus project.
Albuquerque City Councilor Isaac Benton was the only guest interviewed on the program and Channel 4’s failure to have at least one opponent of ART to take issue with Benton was disappointing.
It was very painful to watch Benton pathetically drone on and on and continue to defend and promote the ART Bus project as he did for the past three years.
Not at all surprising is that Benton now blames the Berry Administration for all the problems for the project.
It was the Albuquerque City Council and Benton who failed in their oversight responsibilities of the project and failed to press the previous administration for answers and the truth.
Least anyone forget, the Albuquerque City Council voted to approve and authorize the spending of a $69 million dollars federal grant money that has yet to be paid to the City and that congressional committees have reduced by $20 million.
Benton now wants to make lemonade out of a liquid that should be “flushed”.
Benton is a licensed architect by profession and he should have been able to identify early on the design and construction problems with ART, but he did not, and instead said it was the Mayor’s project.
City Councilor Pat Davis is also getting into the “come to the rescue act” by questioning the bidding process on the buses.
It is an embarrassment that Davis is now wondering if the city picked the best bus vendor.
Davis claims he has found out the City is paying millions more for the electric buses than another low bidder.
It was Davis who supposedly secured a bus platform for his district to the tune of $1 Million.
What Benton and Davis both did was get into heated and ugly exchanges with voters at City Council meetings and administration presentations on ART.
More than once, Benton went so far as to berate and humiliate opponents of ART, especially when addressing the audience at city council meetings when he had exclusive control of the meeting as President of the Council.
One exchange I do remember is when Benton was very condescending to a woman in a wheel chair when she said she was a bus rider and was concerned about wheel chair accessibility and being able to safely get to the platforms in the middle of the road and dodging traffic.
Benton assured the lady the architects and contractors knew what they were doing.
Now that the bus platforms have been built, it turns out that they are not in compliance with Federal handicap accessibility requirements.
A few of the platforms will have to be demolished or at the very least modified.
All the problems with ART are so bad, it was announced by the Keller Administration that it will probably not be up and running for at least a year.
City Hall needs to recognize the ART Bus project is never going to be a success in the long run, even if the “kinks” are worked out with the electric buses and the platforms.