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Last modified: Thu May 8, 2014 13:04:40

An Open Letter to Michael Riordan, Acting Director, Municipal Development Department

Subject: Setting The Record Straight On Recent DMD-GABAC Interactions

Dear Mr. Riordan,
Having served on the Greater Albuquerque Bicycling Advisory Committee (GABAC) for four years and as Chair for past 16 months, it is clear to me that your department is deliberately stonewalling and ignoring GABAC, not allowing it function as an adisory committee as outlined in the Boards and Commissions Ordinance (14-13-3-6). For this reason, as you know, I have resigned from GABAC. But before I try to forget entirely about all the time and energy I wasted on GABAC, I think the citizens of Albuquerque should know about the kinds of things that you and the department you direct are up to
I placed an item on the April agenda to discuss recent DMD-GABAC interactions on the April agenda - specifically three points that I thought captured the situation pretty well. You attended the April meeting (I assume because this item was on the agenda), but instead of making an honest attempt to address my points at all, you came with a premedidated character assasination of myself, based on untruthful statements, red herrings, and misleading innuendos. Not being well versed in the skills required of a politician, I was taken aback by this and did not really know how to respond to this entirely inappropriate personal attack. Being a scientist, I was trained not to make statements unless I have the facts and data to back them up. Unlike yourself, I do not consider something to be truthful or factual simply by virtue of the fact that I say it is so. Having now collected the facts and data, I would like to set the record straight
For reference, and for anyone else wishing to verify the statements I have made in this letter regarding what happened at these meetings, I obtained and am making available here the recordings of the March and April GABAC meetings.
March GABAC Meeting:
April GABAC Meeting:

Point #1
From November 2013 through April 2014, DMD's designated liason to GABAC missed three entire meetings and left early from two meetings, all without prior notice or explanation.
During the April meeting, your response to this point (April 2:01:00-2:01:35) seems to indicate that you consider this to be an acceptable level of performance from a senior member of your staff assigned as the liason to an all volunteer citizen advisory committee. I find it entirely unprofessional and disrespectful to the commitee members
Point #2
From November 2013 through April 2014, DMD did not present a single word of staff reports or presentations of DMD-led projects involving bicycle infrastructure.
I have no way to verify your statements that nothing has been ongoing (April 1:54:40). However, Diane Sholtis clearly stated that the University Blvd project "was presented here in the last six months." (April 1:55:20) This is simply not true. The agendas and minutes of recent GABAC meetings are available to anyone who wants to check. University Blvd. is not on any agenda or in any minutes of a GABAC meeting in the last six months. Again, sayaing something is the case does not make it so.
Point #3
DMD staff are preparing GABAC meeting minutes in a way that is biased and does not reflect an honest and truthful accounting on what happens at the meetings.
As an example, I offered the following paragraph from the draft March minutes submitted to GABAC for review:

"Another refinement to the design is the width of the trail. Previous comments regarding the need to separate bicyclists and pedestrians has been accommodated with this change. The multi-use path will be 8-feet wide and the bicycle facility will be 10-feet wide and have a 6-foot wide sidewalk. Bicyclists will not have to mix with the pedestrian traffic unless it is by choice."

The response I sent, and which I read at the meeting (April 1:46:35) included, "The last paragraph summarizing the Paseo/I-25 presentations does not reflect my understanding of the presentation. The bike-ped bridge will be 12 feet wide total, meaning 4 feet for cyclists in each direction, and 4 feet for pedestrians moving in both directions. The bridge is only a very small portion of the project. The remainder of the path is 10 feet in wide in total. The fact that there is a separate sidewalk (even closer to high speed traffic) does not preclude pedestrians from using the path. In fact, Bert said several times during his presentation that the separate pth was designed to be multiple use. Thus the claim that bicycle and pedestrian traffic has been separated, and the last sentence in particular that quote Bicyclists will not have to mix with the pedestrian traffic unless it is by choice, unquote are both completely wrong." Your responses to this included:

"On meeting minutes, I'll just defend to my staff on that one... that's what Mr. Smelker said in his statement...." (1:59:00)

and

"I was here, that's what they said." (April 1:59:35)

Well, I have listened to the recording of that presentation several times and neither Mr. Thomas nor Mr. Smelker say anything close to "bicyclists will not have to mix with the pedestrian traffic unless it is by choice" at any point during the presentation. You were absolutely wrong and probably deliberately lying. The phrases "multiple use" and "bicycle and pedestrian" are used at least 15 times in reference to the design plans. Near the end of the presentation, Mr. Smelker says,

"This project has been combining both ... pedestrians and bicycles along this route." (March 33:19).

I suggest that if you wish to defend your staff, make sure their actions are defendable, and then get your facts straight.
Finally...
I would like to address the following issue that you brought up at the April meeting, despite it having nothing to do with the issues on the table:

"Steve, you run the only Board that requires a seurity guard to be here, as well. That's telling." (April 2:01:35)

While I was wrong when I said "No one on this Board asked for a security guard" (April 2:02:14), you responded with:

I know, my staff did, and some of the public that attend these meetings did."

Well, that is also completely untrue. I tracked down the e-mails that explain why there is a security guard at GABAC meetings. In fact, the presence of a security guard has nothing to do with me, unless you consider the fact that I basically weighed in in favor of having one present at our meetings. The presence of a security guard has to do with one of the Committee members feeling threatened by a regular attendee of GABAC meetings. As a result of this, the request for a sucurity guard came from Melissa Lozoya - who at the time expressed a similar concern to me verbally about the same person. Here is a copy of some of that e-mail thread.
Considering all of the above, I think it's a lot more "telling" about you than it is about me. What it tells me, pretty clearly, is that you are a fatuous, petty and dishonest person. Your behavior is unfitting of someone in an influential politically appointed position. You should resign or be fired

-Steve Mathias