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Editorial: Why ART?

Editorial: Why ART?

Berry, a contractor, wants to throw most of the $119 million earmarked for the Albuquerque Rapid Transit at his contractor buddies who, in turn, will reward him with campaign contributions as the 2018 gubernatorial race gets under way.

Because the Mayor Needs Some Kind of Accomplishment

Let’s just say it straight out.

Mayor Richard Berry is running for governor and trying to use taxpayer money to do it.

Berry, a contractor, wants to throw most of the $119 million earmarked for the Albuquerque Rapid Transit at his contractor buddies who, in turn, will reward him with campaign contributions as the 2018 gubernatorial race gets under way.

As governor, he’d be in a position to hand out hundreds of millions in construction contracts – making money spent on ART small potatoes.

Why else would a Republican mayor run roughshod over a business community that vehemently opposes ART as a desecration of Historic Route 66 and insist on building a transportation system that could be obsolete within 20 years?

Why else would he existentially threaten the legion of small businesses that have turned Nob Hill and the UNM communities into a postcard for Albuquerque’s quirkiness? The New Mexico Restaurant Association, which represents hundreds of mom-and-pop businesses along Central opposes ART. So do almost 40 neighborhood associations.

Why else would a mayor so fundamentally misrepresent the project to the federal government, telling them there was no opposition when, in fact, hundreds of angry postcards are hitting the mailbox of the Federal Transit Administration?

This is a mayor who, if you think about it, has accomplished little in his six years in office. ART conveniently does double duty as a resume item as well as a source of campaign contributions to help him get his next job.

ART was originally proposed in 2010 by the Middle Rio Grande Council of Governments. As envisioned, it was to run along University from Menaul to the airport – a route that would have had little to no opposition and would have actually served a purpose.

But Berry hijacked the project from MRCOG, unilaterally announced it would span the length of Central, applied for the federal grant, then backfilled with a series of sham public meetings that blew up in his face.

Now, Congress has announced they’ll cut back the federal share of ART funds for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1, leaving a $19 million funding gap. Opponents continue to make their case that ART shouldn’t be built. A federal judge will likely decide ART’s fate in late July.

The manner in which this project has been shoved down Burque’s throat suggests ART was never about the transportation or economic development. Instead, it’s been about padding Richard J. Berry’s political resume.

 – Dan Vukelich

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The following two tabs change content below.
Albuquerque’s definitive alternative newspaper publishing an inquisitive, modern approach to the news and entertainment stories that matter most to New Mexicans. ABQ Free Press’ fresh voice speaks to insightful and involved professionals who care deeply about our community.

Latest posts by ABQ Free Press (see all)