State Favors I-25 With Boondoggles
Words carelessly chosen can be so hurtful. I find “scrawny” particularly odious, as in “scrawny old man.” “Lanky” might work. Or even the more benign “sprightly.”
Words. Here’s one that is the gut shot to people have spent years and years working on a project to benefit fellow citizens. Boondoggle. Ouch. Boondoggle!
It’s been a recurrent word in New Mexico newspapers and on television recently, most often describing the Rail Runner but also referring to Spaceport America.
(May we take a tip of the hat moment to the person who was brazen enough to name our spaceport “Spaceport America”? How cheeky. It’s like Dallas calling the Cowboys “America’s Team.” I challenge any Dallas fan with “America’s Team” on his sweatshirt to go to Lambeau Field and wade into a bunch of guys with cheese wedges on their heads and 24 empty cans of Budweiser at their feet.)
Let’s look at the word boondoggle and see if it fits. Here is a definition: work or activity that is wasteful or pointless but gives the appearance of having value.
Certainly, participating in the growing space adventure industry is not pointless. That we have spent a couple of hundred million dollars and not done much participating might seem a little wasteful. Some in the Legislature want to cut future funding to what they believe is a pie in the sky venture.
I prefer selling the whole shebang to Jeff Bezos and let Amazon run it, but that one isn’t going to fly. To be honest, the jury is still out on the Spaceport. It might fairly be called a potential boondoggle.
Bill’s Choo Choo is most certainly not pointless. Conceived by the Richardson administration and funded by the Legislature, the Rail Runner carries passengers between Los Lunas and Santa Fe. How sweet is that!
The Choo Choo has what appears to be looming financial problems. According to a story in the Albuquerque Journal, it cost taxpayers $284 million to operate the Rail Runner in fiscal 2014. But there is a bright side. During the same period, the Choo Choo hauled in revenue of $2.8 million, leaving a deficit of only $281 million and change.
I am not a numbers guy, but those totals remind me of my friend Barney who years ago got a minimum wage job and went out and bought a Lincoln. It didn’t work out for him and the Rail Runner probably won’t for us. Let’s put on our “really kind guy” hat and call Bill’s Choo Choo a borderline boondoggle.
Here’s the elephant in the room. New Mexico discriminates in many ways, and there is no doubt that unless your town is located near the I-25 corridor, you are not benefiting one iota from boondoggle spending.
You give me a choo choo from Lincoln County to Albuquerque and I won’t care what it costs. Like most Americans, I am offended only when others are the recipients of government largesse. Give me a train and I’ll tell State Rep Zach Cook he’s the best thing to happen to Ruidoso since they invented horse racing.
Tell Clovis Spaceport America is moving to Curry County and see if those folks don’t get interested in high-flying ideas.
Here’s the deal. I don’t mean to come off as a crotchety old coot, or even a scrawny one, but if the state is going to waste money, then by golly it needs to waste it also on those of us who live in communities without onramps.
(For those of you who spend their evenings sitting upright in straight-back wooden chairs, I'm mostly kidding. But I would like a choo choo.)