Monday, July 19, 2010

Cloth Infests Regional Transportation Authority

The Cloth cancer extends dramatically farther than economic and downtown development. Sunday's Star has a Rob O'Dell, Andrea Kelly co-written piece about the financial crisis facing the $2.4 billion RTA project. From the article:

The cost overruns the RTA is trying to contain come almost exclusively from the planning and design, or "soft" phases of the projects, even while construction bids are coming in below budget....The pre-construction work usually requires about 15 percent of the total project budget, but lately has been eating 25 to 40 percent, and in one case as much as 70 percent of the initial budget.

Years ago, involved in workforce and economic development, I scratched my head as I watched overpaid suits talk endlessly about strategic plans, blueprints, initiatives, projects, studies, surveys, year after year, while nothing actually happened. "Cloth" refers to the dynamics that enable this to continue indefinitely, a circus where the clowns in the ring, TREO, MTCVB, DTP, and others squander around $10 M/year. Then, I thought it was limited to economic development.

A larger circus emerged, making the Cloth distinction clearer: arrogant suits not held to account, fictitious projections about great things to happen, and false or misleading assertions about both results produced and the financial implications. With Rio Nuevo, the dollars soared into the hundreds of millions. I started blogging about Rio Nuevo in the spring of 2008. Probably for reasons having nothing to do with this blog, Star reporter Rob O'Dell started writing about Rio Nuevo later that year, and he has been covering it to this day.

Now a larger circus still.

The RTA hired a contractor to estimate project costs for all of the proposed transportation projects in October 2005, while creating the plan that was later put to voters. Those estimates were $250 million more than they showed on the May 2006 ballot.

Hayes said the local governments agreed at the time they should — and could — deliver projects at less than those estimates, so the numbers that appeared on the ballot were reduced based on their word. In reality, many projects have cost more, not less.


Oh, god. I guess that about says it all.

Oh, wait.

8 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This really isn't funny anymore. TREO cloth crap is one thing. This is large scale crime.

People belong in prison.

7/19/2010 11:40 AM  
Anonymous Thomas said...

I'm speechless. Seriously. They paid an expert to estimate the numbers, and then just discarded his expertise to make up their own. These people are positively SHAMELESS. They just say and do whatever they want.

7/19/2010 3:07 PM  
Anonymous Observer said...

O'Dell and Teya Vitu were covering Rio Nuevo before x4mr got involved, as x4mr knows because he cited articles from these reporters in his TIF for TAT series.

However, I know for a fact that x4mr drew A LOT of attention in spring of 2008. Remember the comments from Travis and Policon? It was also around that time that x4mr met face to face with Bruce Ash, Joe Higgins, and who knows who else.

I think x4mr is confusing Teya Vitu's October 2008 article as something O'Dell did. This is the one that has the chronology almost exactly like what x4mr wrote six months earlier, and it is virtually certain that Vitu saw x4mr's blog, because I know for a fact that Vitu worked up an article on SAIAT, but it got killed.

7/19/2010 7:00 PM  
Anonymous Observer said...

I forgot to mention that the Vitu article is actually about Lot 175 and the DDC, another dark corner in the cloth closet where public funds are doled out to the corrupt and connected.

As far as I know, x4mr's Rio Nuevo chronologies are the only ones that have been written. They were all in 2008. I consider it to be some of his best blogging.

7/19/2010 7:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The election was stolen.

7/19/2010 8:12 PM  
Anonymous Robish said...

There is another aspect to the RTA project soft-cost overruns and it relates to another of Tucson's systemic problems (Cloth being one). Much of the problem here is neighborhood over-activism and the fear of the politicians to stand up to them.

Grant Road and 22nd Street planning have involved a LOT of public involvement, for example. Each of these major projects creates a need for a public task force made up of neighbors and businesses in the affected corridors, with consultants to babysit them.

Advocates for the poor, and NIMBY neighborhoods around 22nd have created a major obstacle on the basis of environmental justice arguments. There have been something like 125 public meetings on 22nd Street alone. Every one of those meetings involves money spent on mailing meeting notices, and lots of consultants.

Downtown Links had a committee that took two years to approve an alignment because the artists-in-residence of Dunbar Spring neighborhood raised hell over the threat of knocking down warehouses and getting too close to their bicycle-oriented 'hood.

That's a lot of cheese spent on Gordley Design, Kaneen Advertising, professional facilitators, punch, and cookies.

The Broadway widening promises to create more controversy, which means more meetings, facilitator time, consultants, mailings, punch, and cookies.

7/19/2010 9:32 PM  
Anonymous AnotherAnon said...

CLOTH ALERT --
Snakeoil salesman Snell on Arizona Illustrated. Promising big economic development growth in Tucson..

Yeah, right, Joe.

7/20/2010 6:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Snell is a sociopath. Every paycheck he gets is tantamount to theft from the Tucson taxpayer.

He has delivered nothing in five years, and will deliver nothing in the next five years.

TREO is a pathetic set of actors on a stage before a rigged audience paid to clap.

7/20/2010 9:32 PM  

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