August 09, 2012If you have any doubts about how this country got $15 trillion dollars in debt you need go no further than Meadowview Road for your answer.
The city held the ribbon cutting for the new $20 million bus maintenance building on Meadowview Road this summer.
The entire ceremony could have been a Saturday Night Live skit. Mayor Robbie Perkins started things off by introducing Congressman Brad Miller as Congressman Mel Watt. Both are congressman but they don't have much else in common.
And the master of ceremonies got more names and titles wrong than right. Congressman Howard Coble was recognized as being a member of Congress, but Congressman Miller was introduced as simply "Brad Miller." The MC did get the name right that time but later tried to introduce Congressman Brad Watt and nobody came up to speak.
But what gave it the Monty Python feel was that just about all the speakers talked about the importance of public transportation, yet everyone drove or was driven in private cars to the event, just as they travel everywhere they go. And the bus maintenance facility has a huge parking lot because you don't expect people who work on buses to take a bus to work.
"Public transportation is great, but it's not for us" is what would have been more honest. City Councilmember Marikay Abuzuaiter did say that she had ridden a Greensboro bus several times.
But the building cost $20 million – a $20 million building to provide a nice place to change bus tires and check the oil. It is beyond absurd and the city never would have paid for it with city tax dollars, but because it was built with federal money, which everyone considers free money, why not spend $20 million? No doubt the city would have spent $40 million, $50 million or $100 million if there were a federal grant for that amount available.
The old site was less than 2 acres, which was too small to park all the buses, but the new site is 17 acres and the building is huge.
I could use a new four-wheel drive vehicle because my truck is 20 years old. It doesn't like to start in the rain and is beginning to have some serious maintenance problems. But that doesn't mean I need to go out and buy a $160,000 Maserati SUV. There was a lot of talk about how outdated the old maintenance facility was, and maybe it was, because like 95 percent of the people footing the bill for the old facility I was never in it. And very few of the people footing the bill for this building will ever be in it because it is mainly for bus drivers and city employees.
Another part of all this that gave it a slapstick feel is that here you have this brand new huge building with tons of air-conditioned space and the speeches were given under a tent on the asphalt parking lot that was more than hot and would have been unbearable without fans on every pole.
But the idea that Greensboro needs a $20 million facility to repair buses is just mind-boggling. It really does explain how the most powerful country in the world got $15 trillion in debt.
The city employees and the bus drivers get to work in a beautiful new building, but what advantage is it to the taxpayers who ultimately foot the bill for things like $20 million new bus repair facilities?