What's going on, Albuquerque?
I don't think that courthouse landscape fix had anything to do with earmarks. The story in the Journal said that there was money in the budget to fix the leak, so the judges asked the GSA to fix the leak. The GSA went all medieval all over it.
Indeed, though, my main question throughout this whole thing has been "why in the hell didn't they put in xeric landscaping in the first place--and did they need a fountain?"
As I recall the issue of xeric was raised during the construction. However, the then Chief Judge at the time apparently took umbrage at any notion that any nod should be given to City policy by a Federal fiefdom and decided in favor of the lawn.
Albuquerque won another crown: http://geekswhodrink.com/546 (The first place team should look familiar to ABQ quizzers.)
I think it's misleading to say that the leak cost $3.4m or that the GSA went "medieval." They identified a problem and, instead of putting a bandaid on it, took a proactive approach and seized an opportunity to make some real improvements to the property to reduce long-term operating costs.
When you consider that a public building has a life expectancy of at least fifty years, lifetime operating costs often approach 4-5 times the initial capital cost of constructing the building. Any efforts made to reduce these expenses - such as the water cisterns and solar panels - save a lot of money in the long run.
Sure, it's not what the judges were expecting when they made their initial complaint about the leak, but I think it is a good project with sound reasoning behind it.
I wasn't necessarily implying that "going medieval" is a bad thing...
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