Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Absolutely Unnecessary Things that Albuquerque Spends Money On: Hovercrafts

Talking with a friend in Albuquerque last night, I learned something that boggled my mind: the Albuquerque police department has a hovercraft.

Let me repeat that. Albuquerque has a hovercraft.

A city. In the desert. With a shrinking river. And they got.....a hovercraft.

There's so much one can say here: another of Marty Chavez's ridiculous and stupid self-promotion efforts? The worst waste of taxpayer dollars in Albuquerque? The complete futility of this hovercraft beyond the issue of river rescue on a body of water that's disappearing? The fact that a lifeboat, which would have been much cheaper, could have been used instead to the same effect? Does the hovercraft get used more in parades than in police work?

I think my favorite part of this is the hovercraft-manufacturer's website, which puts the "balloon fiesta water rescue" images up all over, as if to show the hovercraft's utility, yet in every picture, the hovercraft is either A) unoccupied, clearly to be photographed for publicity, or B) sitting there while there are no balloons in the water. The smile on the officer in the first picture says it all, just screaming, "I cannot believe we convinced them to buy this thing for us!"

To be clear, hovercrafts can have their uses, as the company's page shows. There are some much more compelling pictures of a "Mud/Ice/Water rescue" at Anchorage airport. That is a circumstance in which a hovercraft seems like a defensible purchase. But Albuquerque, with its one shrinking river?

And for those who still can't believe it, you just have to see the police report from June 30th of this year: "APD deployed the hovercraft and ATVs manned by Open Space personnel and APD divers" when a boy fell into the river. And in a sad turn, the boy was not recovered, and while his presumed death is indeed tragic, it prompts the question: if the hovercraft cannot do the one thing it was ostensibly purchased for, why get it?

Oh, right - so you can show it during parades and take pictures of it with balloons in the sky (not the water) behind you.