It was another big week for news, what with the state Legislature starting to wind down its 30-day session and the University of New Mexico saying it will suspend football coach Bob Davie for 30 days.
- But for me, the really big news was a story that I've been following for a long time and that other media outlets don't seem to care about. And that's Albuquerque's plunging bus ridership. Since 2012, bus ridership here has fallen by a massive 25 percent!
That figure is astounding, and it means that for the past five years, city residents have been fleeing public transportation in droves. And yet, we've just thrown $135 million at the unnecessary, the idiotic and the broken Albuquerque Rapid Transit project.
And it isn't just Albuquerque that's losing public transit riders. Nationally, public transportation ridership was down by 3.1 percent for the first nine months of 2017 compared to the previous year, according to the American Public Transportation Association. Through the first nine months of 2017, there were 7.6 billion boardings, or unlinked passenger trips. That compares to 7.8 billion boardings through the first nine months of 2016.
Why do we continue throwing massive amounts of money at a mode of transportation that people are rejecting?
- And, of course, there is the whole Bob Davie affair at UNM. A report from the school's Office of Equal Opportunity said that Davie made offensive remarks to African-American players during a football camp in Ruidoso May of 2017. Four black players were sitting on a golf cart and Davie told them, "What are you doing on a white man's tractor?" the OEO report said.
- Then we've got the continuing whining of Bernalillo County District Attorney Raul Torrez, who is asking the state Legislature for an extra $5.4 million a year in his budget. Torrez says he can do his job of prosecuting criminals because he doesn't have enough attorneys. But Torrez hasn't really answered the question of why his office has 45 vacant positions, 18 of which are attorneys?
The good news is that state lawmakers don't appear to be buying Torrez's whining.
- The U.S. Marshal for New Mexico, Conrad Candelaria, resigned suddenly - really suddenly because his resignation took effect last Saturday! No one will say why Candelaria resigned so suddenly. But something must have happened.
- Activist Maria Bautista on Friday filed a complaint against the law license of former city CAO Rob Perry. The complaint said that Perry orchestrated a conspiracy to undermine the reform process at the Albuquerque Police Department. The complaint said the conspiracy led to city employees, including former City Attorney Jessica Hernandez recording the independent monitor in the case at least a dozen times.
- The Albuquerque metro area has now spent a decade wandering in the jobs desert.
The area still hasn't recovered all the jobs it lost during the recession. We have fewer jobs today than we had 10 years ago.
- A proposed 2-cent a gallon gas tax hike in the city went away because the City Council hadn't acted on it for a year. Good news for all of us!