I read Gene Grant's opinion piece [“Around and Around,” Oct. 18-24] on the proposed roundabout at Rio Grande and Candelaria with great interest. I was pleased that he chose to reference my opinion piece previously published in the Journal. However, I'm sorry that Gene chose to ignore the main question that I have raised: Why is so much attention (and money) being showered on this particular intersection? Data given by roundabout proponents and the public relations company they have hired to sell this project to the public are misleading at best. It is totally insufficient to cite the number of accidents at an intersection in a given year and then say, "See how bad it is?" By contrast, professional transportation planners use what are known as comparative crash rates. These numbers reflect the ratios of accidents to traffic volumes at each intersection in the Albuquerque Metropolitan Planning Area over extended periods of time. This AMPA data is produced by UNM's Department of Government Research and provided under contract to the Mid-Region Council of Governments as the basis for all traffic planning in the metropolitan area.
This data clearly indicates that there are serious traffic issues in the North Valley. They simply don't happen to be at the Rio Grande and Candelaria intersection. In fact, three intersections in the area make the list of the top 20 most dangerous intersections in the entire metropolitan area. They are Rio Grande and Central, Rio Grande and I-40, and Candelaria and 12th Street. All three of these intersections have crash rates that are far higher than Rio Grande and Candelaria. If roundabouts are indeed as beneficial as their proponents claim, and if we are to spend millions of dollars in their construction, then obviously these are the intersections we should be focusing on.
If the proposed Rio Grande and Candelaria roundabout does nonetheless proceed as planned, then its proponents will simply confirm what already seems evident: namely, that public safety is not in fact their paramount concern. What the real considerations at play here may be I leave to the proponents to explain.
In a speech in 1858, Abraham Lincoln said, “You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all the people all of the time.” For the last 30-something years, about half the people have been fooled time and again, bringing us to the situation we find ourselves in today.
In 1980 Ronald Reagan was elected president on a platform of tax cuts, deregulation and smaller government. The economic plan was referred to as supply-side, trickle-down or voodoo economics. The people and the Congress bought it, and thus began the extreme acceleration of the wealth gap between the very rich and everyone else. Deficits and debt skyrocketed. Deregulation of the savings and loan industry resulted in a complete meltdown in only three years, and billions were spent to fix it. The great communicator had fooled most of the people, including himself, and was re-elected in a landslide.
Need we say much about President George W. Bush? A more inappropriate, incompetent, frat boy delinquent could not have come out of central casting. And about half of all voters were fooled. He starts an illegal and disastrous war based on false claims of WMDs, etc. and is re-elected. Fooled again. His tax cuts and war spending further accelerated the wealth gap and turned a surplus into a huge deficit. Then there was Hurricane Katrina and the financial collapse, among other faux pas. Foolishness has consequences.
Then there is the whole thing about climate change. For a while it was a settled issue. Then big industry—especially big oil, in an effort to avoid having to do anything that may diminish profits—began a PR campaign to cast doubt on the whole idea. Many millions, in this country at least, were fooled by the propaganda, and so nothing has been done about it. Being fooled about this will have very serious consequences, and parts of N.Y. and N.J. are underwater.
Now comes Mitt Romney, the poster boy for corporate raiders, predators, vultures and job off-shoring who is a whiz at extracting millions from ailing and not-so-ailing companies by dismantling them and/or shipping them to China. None of this is a secret. But this same Mr. Romney is running on a platform of jobs, jobs, jobs, tax cuts for the rich and spending cuts for the poor. And he’s set to get about half the votes. Some people can be fooled all of the time.
[Re: “Keeping Their Word,” Nov. 1-7] As mentioned in your article, we don't give Kindles to 3-year-olds (at least not always, but the media capabilities of e-readers have opened a Pandora's box of options for children's book creators). And babies love books, so parents and relatives keep buying those books. When the music industry changed so dramatically with the easy entre of online ordering, the rapid change was facilitated in part by the near-unanimous agreement of consumers young and old that the new product was more desirable. That decision wasn't made by vote, by discussion, or by mandate. Consumers just began to use the new method of presentation and access en masse. We voted with our wallets.
As long as we raise babies in a tradition of books, actual ink on paper books, we create an early life memory love affair that preserves books in our hearts, and keeps us visiting the wonderlands that hold those treasures. Bookstores need to recognize their place in our psyche and actively court it. If they build engaging spaces filled with visual treasures, babies will come. They will come, and their parents will follow, wallets in hand.