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Sunday, October 20, 2019

Mayor Orr and the City Council are squandering more money on the city's ill-conceived street projects

BY RICHARD JOHNSON

Sometimes I feel bad for the mayor. 
It’s like she has the Midas touch in reverse. Instead of turning garbage into gold, everything she touches just turns to crap. If I was a project manager, I’d ask her to not  do a video on my site so my project had a chance of success. 
Let’s look at two projects: Nationway and Central Avenue.
I remember the video on Facebook last year. The mayor was driving a machine while it chip-sealed Nationway. Hard hats, smiles and a political promise being fulfilled. What could go wrong? 
Who knew that
Chip seal melts on Nationway.
one day hitting 95 degrees could unravel the whole success story? I’ve already covered chip seal (https://cutt.ly/VeaHENv), so there is no reason to beat that dead horse. But to every disgruntled motorist on Nationway, it’s a constant reminder of another failure. 
I guess it was paved with good intentions.
Now the City Council has to approve money to have it fixed again. To hear engineers say that double chip seal doesn’t work in this environment is disturbing. Cheyenne isn't some isolated beacon. There are hundreds of cities dealing with road issues. If you know it doesn’t work, why do it in the first place? 
Granted I’m only an armchair engineer watching YouTube channels on the basics of road construction, but seriously, no one on the city engineering side or the contractor side said this may be a bad idea? Don’t they have conferences in Las Vegas on this? 
Good thing those government contracts spend well at the craps table. I hope this $573,892 doesn’t come up snake eyes. Oh crap, we’re flying coach back home. It’s cool, it was a testing scenario, we'll just be back next year. Maybe the dice will be hotter than asphalt in July?
In the summer of 2019, another video dropped about downtown curbs for Cheyenne Frontier Days. Since all the concrete contractors couldn’t fit a surprise job into their schedule, an asphalt contractor was called in to “fix" the curbs. 
When the contractor said it didn’t do concrete, it was told, "Doesn’t matter. The mayor wants this done." Never mind it’s a state highway or that city code says the property owner is responsible, it needed to get done. 
Once a business owner showed the new curbs on social media, all hell broke loose.
July's asphalt curbing on Central Ave.
A city employee was forced to ride shotgun with his boss to go live at the scene of the crime. With a swagger of civic virtue, the city boss let the business owner know that he needed to fix this and, in true Terminator tone, departed the scene with, “I’ll be back!”  
The bluster quietly subsided when it was discovered that the business owner leased his space, so the mayor needed to talk to the political big fish who just dropped $2 million on a place notorious for mayoral bar tabs.
So here we are in October with the city footing yet another bill on a state highway as idle threats are forgotten because of rich friends. 
Mind you, this is the same mayor who told me to fund raise for an elderly man’s driveway that the city destroyed but couldn’t find the money to repair. Rich man’s war, poor man’s fight, I guess.
The only thing that seems more consistent than the weather is city employee turnover. It’s no wonder Cheyenne can't have a consistent method of infrastructure repair because it’s always someone new at the helm. 
The contractors are probably throwing anniversary parties for city employees who make it one construction season. At that same party, those employees are probably offered new jobs and better benefits cause the contactor party-planners know they can survive Dante's rings of hell!
The Farmer’s Almanac already has predicted Cheyenne to be hit this winter with seven severe storms. That means next year's political banter will be much the same as 2016. Except this time we will hear, “I tried my best, but all those mean ‘men’ on council wouldn’t let me fulfill my mission to improve our ailing infrastructure. Don’t believe those disgruntled employees who say I threatened their job if I wasn’t reelected or that I used language that would make the governor blush.” 
The writing is already on the wall like a “test scenario" graffiti ordinance.
By the way, the Nationway project was passed unanimously by City Council on the consent agenda on Oct. 14.

Richard Johnson is a former City Council member from Ward 3 on Cheyenne’s east side. He also is a regular contributor to Truth to Power.

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