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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Water And Garbage Bills Go Up While APD Lawsuit Settlement Cash Goes Out The Door, Plus: Campaign '14 Does Some Time Travel; Martinez Camp Tries To Create Stormy Weather For Dem Hopeful Alan Webber 

Mayor Berry prides himself on being a solid money manager and fiscal conservative but with the police department drama costing us millions in lawsuit settlements--nearly $25 million since 2010--do those labels hold up under close examination?

The city will soon add $2 a month to your garbage bill and water bills are set to go up another $3 a month. That's $5 a month or $60 a year for all homeowners.

What if we only had to pay out $5 million in lawsuit cash instead of $20 million? Could we have used those funds to forestall these rate increases? Sure seems that way. And would not a true fiscal conservative get in front of the APD runaway train and stop it before it cost taxpayers so much?

And get ready for it to get much worse. With another three fatal police shootings in the past five weeks drawing close scrutiny, the lawyers are lining up.

We think it's making these kinds of connections that keeps blogging so relevant to our community. . .

TIME TRAVEL

Campaign '14 is doing some time travel.....

Among the Dem candidates for Governor Alan Webber has the most cash in the bank so it's not a stunner that the camp of Governor Martinez has him in their sights. They've been shopping a story about how Mark Rudd, a long ago (very long ago) member of the radical group Weather Underground has given a donation to Webber and let his house be used for a Webber fund-raiser.

Rudd also gave a donation--$250--to Dem Guv hopeful Howie Morales. Rudd also gave donations to Dem State Auditor candidate Tim Keller and Dem Sec. of State candidate Maggie Toulouse Oliver (more on that below).

Rudd long ago denounced his ties to the Weather Underground and its call for the violent overthrow of the US government that was heard in the din of the 60's Vietnam protests. He has lived a quiet life in ABQ since 1978, retiring as a math instructor from CNM, not exactly conjuring up the image of a terrorist about to fly a plane into the Roundhouse. Of course,  the GOP portraying Rudd as a terrorist implies that Webber is an extreme leftie not fit to be governor.

SHIFTING GEARS

The Martinez camp is happy to shift the political conversation away from those controversial leaked audio tapes of Martinez in 2010. In them her top campaign aide Mark Kennicott refers to former House Speaker Lujan as a "fucking retard."

We're hearing from both R's and D's that Martinez erred by not quickly apologizing for that comment and others that ruffled feathers and them moved on. Without an apology there is the potential for TV spots and more backlash. (We are also being told by our Alligators that there is a good chance we will be hearing more leaked audio tapes of Martinez in the days ahead).

Meanwhile, Webber, who along with the rest of the Dem candidates have been tiptoeing ever so quietly through this campaign may be getting the hint that the best defense against the Martinez assault is a strong offense. Otherwise, they are going to be defined (and maybe defamed) before the Fourth Of July fireworks are fired off.

NEED A POLL

Martinez is the only Guv candidate up with TV ads and they should serve to contain possible damage caused by the leaked audio tapes. But they have made the snoozy primary season more interesting, Whether they are having any impact on her approval ratings remains to be seen.

A Common Cause December poll had her approval rating among registered voters at 55%. A late March PPP poll had her approval rating at 52% positive and 40% negative. Not bad, but no longer in the stratosphere. We await new polling.

NOT IMPRESSED

It was KRQE-TV that first bit on the Rudd-Webber story, but veteran ABQ Journal reporter Mike Gallagher was not impressed. He said on his Twitter account @MgallagherMike:

"Isn't there a statute of limitations on relevancy?" Voters will have to look him up in Wikipedia
to know who he once was."

Slate magazine came with this defense of the Santa Fe businessman who has loaned his campaign some $450,000:

The TV version of the report is even rougher—Rudd is introduced as a "well-known American terrorist." But all Weather Underground members are not Bill Ayers. KRQE blithely notes that Rudd had criticized the group "in recent years." He'd been doing that since 1990, at least. Rudd has long been the most apologetic of the Weather Underground's leaders, a fact not lost on his peers (Bill Ayers doesn't even mention him in his memoir.

ALLIGATOR ANALYSIS

One of our Dem Alligators has this insightful take on the battering of Webber by the Martinez operatives:

This hit on Webber is an indication of what's to come. People sometimes forget that this is a low turnout off-year election. Republicans are out to motivate their base and grab some independent men. They will attempt to define Webber early as ultra-liberal.

And What do all the probably Dem statewide candidates (besides AG hopeful Hector Balderas) have in common? They are white and they are liberal. If Webber is the Guv nominee and  Martinez can define him early and end her race early, Republican operatives will move to take down Auditor candidate Tim Keller and Sec. of State contender Maggie Toulouse and maybe some more.

THE GLOBAL DETECTIVE

Webber
Did you know? Alan Webber fancies himself  "The Global Detective." A description of a book by that name that Webber authored is on Amazon:

Meet Alan Webber, aka The Global Detective. If you've ever wondered how business is changing, where you can find new thinking and innovative start-ups, if you're troubled by global competition or have a hard time making sense of this next generation of young people in the work place, you've come to the right place. The Global Detective is on the case.

Hmmm. The Global Detective hooks up with Mark Rudd.

Governor Martinez, we may have something here for you. . .

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

E-mail your news and comments. (jmonahan@ix.netcom.com)

Interested in reaching New Mexico's most informed audience? Advertise here.      

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2014. Not for reproduction without permission of the author

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Yet Another Fatal Police Shooting As City Council Nibbles At Margins Of Crisis; What It Will Really Take To Turn It Around, Plus: The State Of Our City; Veteran Journalist Sees Us Dying On The Vine, And: Jeff Watch: Renegade Dem State Rep Tossed From Ballot 

ABQ City Council
Only hours after the latest fatal police shooting the ABQ city council nibbled around the edges of the APD crisis, tossing around some feel-good proposals. One is to have the APD chief elected and another would give more power to the Police Oversight Commission.

But the real solutions require gutsy moves that our political, business and media leadership are so far unwilling to embrace. Chief among those is the hiring of a new police chief from out-of-state and the replacement of the key command personnel by that new chief. That would be the beginning of the major cultural change necessary to reform the department.

Another change that would speed up reform? Indictments of police officers for criminal violations in connection with the 24 fatal shootings since 2010. Justice is investigating several of the shootings for such violations but no indictments have been issued.

With Mayor Berry appearing unwilling to make the sweeping personnel changes needed, it's easy to see future APD and mayoral resistance to Justice Department reforms. If Justice and the city do become adversarial--as we predict--it will be a very long three years ahead. A new Mayor does not take office until December 2017.

THE LATEST SHOOTING

The news of the early Monday morning fatal police shooting of 19 year old Mary Hawkes--an auto theft suspect--sent the city reeling yet again. Demonstrators soon appeared at the shooting scene near Wyoming and Zuni and our long city nightmare continued.

APD Chief Eden says an officer on foot was chasing the woman who he said turned around during the chase and pointed a gun at the officer. She was shot and killed. It was the first woman killed by APD since the long string began in 2010.

More on her:

Mary Hawkes is the daughter of former Belen Police officer and retired Valencia County Judge Danny Hawkes. As a judge, he started a program to bring the magistrate courtroom to schools so kids can see the consequences of taking drugs and drinking and driving. He is well-known for trying to help troubled kids turn their lives around, adopting and fostering children like 19-year-old Mary. But she had been arrested at least four times in the last year on charges including shoplifting and drinking. Sources say the retired judge also has a son who works as an Albuquerque Police officer.

This was the third fatal police shooting in only five weeks. And Justice--even as it scrutinizes ABQ--has been embarrassed by two shooting incidents in the city in recent weeks by the US Marshall's office which falls under its purview.

The level of trust in APD's version of any police shooting is widely suspect in many quarters. Those versions have been found wanting by juries that have awarded millions of dollars in lawsuit settlements and brought the US Justice Department to town to investigate excessive force allegations.

THE STATE OF THIS CITY 

Joe Monahan
If there were ever an existential crisis, ABQ has got it. The public policy machinery of the city is broke, with a city council and mayor pedaling furiously on a stationary bicycle. The city--never an isle of serenity--seems more riddled with crime than ever. The lack of jobs (mostly for the under classes) and the continuing effects of the recession are debilitating. Police are facing tougher thugs and more suspects who are mentally ill. That leads to even more of the now infamous confrontations that test their mettle and training and which too often end in death.

As for the economy, it seems drugs and crime is the new growth engine in 21st century Albuquerque.

Perhaps worst of all it is a city that is riddled with a striking citizen apathy that has contributed to the decline in the quality of life for a great many of its residents. Only recently has that apathy been   pierced, sparking hope that perhaps finally the turning point is here,

We read an article recently about the spirituality of New Mexico and ABQ and of their natural beauty and enchanting cultures. Appreciating those qualities, we were told, is what makes one a New Mexican. That prompted this thought:

Appreciating the state's great legacy, its arts, culture and natural beauty today means putting a clothespin on your nose to avoid the smell of the social sewer that swirls around us.

The police shootings, the lost jobs, the petty political players and lack of leadership, the social conditions crisis manifesting itself in even more horrific child abuse cases and on and on and on. It makes the like of Georgia O'Keeffe seem much less relevant and overwhelms even the most loyal New Mexican.

IS ABQ DYING?

Wally Gordon
So many are bemoaning the post-recession ABQ. Wally Gordon, a veteran NM journalist of "The Independent" newspaper serving the East Mountain area, goes as far as to wonder aloud if ABQ should be considered a dying city:

Cities, like people, are works in progress. They have life cycles. . .They are born and grow and thrive. And they shrink and wither and die. Once the process of disintegration gains momentum, a city may reach a turning point and its fate may become irreversible.  Has Albuquerque reached that turning point? Has it arrived at an irreversible point of disintegration? Is it dying?

It is almost impossible to be certain of a turning point until it is in the rearview mirror. There are ample signs, however, that Albuquerque may be there. In major respects it is one of the nation’s failed metropolitan areas, among those with the worst economy, the least effective political leadership, the most unimaginative business community, the most violent police force, the worst child protective services, the highest poverty rate, the worst high school and college dropout rates, the least educated workforce, the greatest government dependence and the worst media news.

Business in Albuquerque is at a standstill. Shopping malls stand abandoned, dilapidated and empty. With a shrinking workforce, Albuquerque has fewer workers than in 2007. Uniquely in the West, more people are leaving than moving in. Commercial construction has not recovered. Housing sales and construction have not recovered. Government services and education, curtailed during the Great Recession, have not recovered.

. .. .Cities do die. Witness Detroit, St. Louis, New Orleans, Buffalo, Pittsburgh and Baltimore. . .These cites, of course, still exist, but only as shadows of what they were in the 1970s. Athens, Greece, once the most important city in Europe if not the world, with a population in the 5th century B.C. of perhaps 300,000, declined to a village of 5,000 by the early 19th century. Although it’s metro area has added 3 million people in the past two centuries, it has never recovered anything remotely resembling its former glory. So the question is less whether Albuquerque will find life after death than what the postmortem city will be like.

Food for thought, Wally. Much food indeed. . . .

JEFF WATCH

Rep. Jeff
How big a deal it will be won't be known until after the November election but right now it looks pretty big. Renegade State Rep. Sandra Jeff was tossed off the ballot Monday for failing to have the required number of valid petition signatures. The deed was done by a district court judge. Jeff of the Navajo Nation will likely appeal to the NM Supreme Court.

The state House is narrowly divided--37 Dems and 33 R's.  If the R's could hold all their seats and pick up three they could take control of the House for the first time since 1952. But Jeff has voted with the R's on several key issues. If she stayed around the R's might need to pick up as many as three seats--she could bolt and support someone other than Kenny Martinez for speaker.

How likely? Well, Jeff's lawyer for the petition case is notorious GOP attorney Pat Rogers who is also NM's GOP National Committeeman. The R's wanted Jeff that much.

As for Jeff's House seat, there are two other Dem primary candidates running, but the R's did not field a candidate. The winner of the June 3 primary will in all likelihood take the seat. Jeff could still run as a write-in candidate.

The Dems have had little good news to celebrate in recent years. This news finally gives them something to celebrate

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

E-mail your news and comments. (jmonahan@ix.netcom.com)

Interested in reaching New Mexico's most informed audience? Advertise here.      

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2014. Not for reproduction without permission of the author

Monday, April 21, 2014

Release Of Latest Police Shooting Video Shows APD Culture Still Defensive, Plus: More Fallout From The Leaked Guv Tapes; Is There A Word We're Missing?  

There was another fatal police shooting in ABQ Monday morning on Zuni near Wyoming.

Justice Department or no Justice Department, APD continues to play the game the way it always has. That was clear late on Good Friday afternoon when APD decided to finally release the police lapel  video of the fatal March 25 police shooting of 38 year old Alfred Redwine.

Dumping news near 5 p.m. on a Friday (especially a holiday) is  an old (and tired) technique of trying to bury bad news. While everyone is waiting for a more open and transparent APD to help begin healing the terrible damage inflicted on the city's reputation, we get the same block and deflect tactics that have shattered APD's credibility.

As for the Redwine video, which took nearly a month to release, it is indeed bad news for APD. None of the video shows Redwine firing on officers. He may or may not have fired a gun into the ground prior to or after being shot. It remains ambiguous whether the shooting was justified. So here we go with more lawyers, more lawsuits and probably more tax dollars out the door. . .

The final cost of the years-long APD debacle will be tens of millions of dollars. Some of it will go out in small chunks--like this:

The city has settled the latest in a string of lawsuits filed after APD arrested or cited people who were giving food to the homeless downtown. All the charges were thrown out. Those suits have now cost the city nearly $100,000. . .In the summer of 2010, an APD sergeant emailed other officers, saying the city wants them to cite and arrest people frequenting the area and feeding the homeless. It said Mayor Berry’s public safety director at the time, Darren White, is “allowing us to take off the gloves.”

That reference to White in 2010 is important because many observers believe that it was his elevation over the ABQ police chief that reinforced an "us vs. them" culture that had taken hold and that contributed mightily to the APD crisis. Michael Corwin--a critic of the administration--is one of those: 

This email should leave no doubt that it was in fact Darren White's elevation by Mayor Berry to be the boss of APD by changing the responsibilities of the public safety director that led to the increase in constitutional violations by APD including shootings. Thanks to White people were criminally charged with feeding the homeless. Criminal cases that were later tossed by judges that led to civil rights lawsuits and the city paying out six figures.

RAISE TAXES?


A number of city councilors are saying we should consider raising the ABQ gross receipts tax by an eighth of a cent to raise $16 million a year for mental health programs. Many of those shot and killed by APD have been mentally disturbed. But if those councilors look closely they will find we don't need to raise taxes. For example:

University of New Mexico Hospital (UNMH) had an ending cash balance of $209.5 million for fiscal year 2011.

And then there are the hundreds of millions in state reserves and the billions in the state permanent funds. The state doesn't have a cash shortage when it comes to revamping the mental health system. It has a shortage of willpower.

ABOUT THAT TAPE

That secret tape recording of then-Guv candidate Martinez talking with top campaign aide Matt Kennicott could be even more incendiary. Kennicott relays to Martinez in the October 2010 tape that then-House Speaker Lujan "sounds like a retard" when he speaks in English. But is something missing? ABQ Journal reporter James Monteleone tweets that there indeed appears to be:

Re-listening to Kennicott tape about Lujan and it's worse. I think he actually calls him "f**king retard" 

We also took another listen and it seems clear that Kennicott says the now deceased Lujan sounds like "a fucking retard."

Kennicott--now a spokesman for the state Human Services Department--says he was simply relaying a story to Martinez from another source who made the derogatory comments about Lujan.

Saying someone sounds like "a fucking retard" demeans and degrades Lujan and all who suffer from mental illness. Is Kennicott saying that his story teller used the phrase "fucking retard" and that he was just relaying that to Martinez?

Martinez prides herself on being "tough" and refuses to apologize to the public or the Lujan family or in any way discipline Kennicott.

Will the forlorn Democrats decisively determine that Kennicott said "fucking retard" and make an issue of it? You know what would happen if the shoe was on the other foot. . . .

GUV RADIO ADS

The audio tapes leaked to Mother Jones magazine have entered the Dem Governor primary, but not exactly with a bang. Alan Webber came with a radio ad that seized on comments Martinez made about school teachers getting several months off a year and suggesting they don't deserve raises. He made a small buy on four radio stations in ABQ, Santa Fe, Taos and Las Cruces.

Lawrence Rael went up with a small radio buy over the weekend. It's a spot on the state's lousy economy--not on the controversial tapes--and airs in both English and Spanish. Rael isn't saying what stations he bought.

At this stage in the proceedings--with the first absentee votes set to be cast May 6--you would expect TV ads--not radio ads. But everyone is holding back their firepower--mainly because their financial firepower is quite limited.

Some analysts think if one of the candidates started pounding away at Martinez they might actually raise money from a more energized Democratic base.

DEM CHANCES

As for unseating Martinez in November one of our Senior Alligators says:

If the Dems are going to get a shot at Martinez they are going to have nationalize this election--generate interest outside of the state to take her out and get the money in here to do it. They will need to do things like getting Obama and Biden in here to remind people that this is a Democratic state and despite the Governors posing as a "bipartisan" leader, she is a hard-core Republican. The Republican have the fear advantage--Democrats are afraid of them. Unless that changes, there will no change....

In an editorial on the audio tapes and Governor Martinez, the Santa Fe New Mexican comes with the kind of tough talk about the Guv that the famished Democratic base is waiting to hear form their Guv contenders:

It is troubling that Governor Martinez has allowed a culture in which these comments and other offensive remarks by her staff are deemed acceptable. It is deeply disappointing that instead of speaking out against this offensive language, Governor Martinez has tolerated it and even rewarded this type of behavior by making this individual a spokesman in her administration.

PETE AND SON


Here's a little exclusive for you. We believe it's the first public photo of former NM US Senator Pete Domenici with his son Adam Paul Laxalt.

Also pictured are Domenici's sister Thelma and son Pete Domenici Jr.

Adam Laxalt is a lawyer who is seeking to become attorney general of Nevada and the photo was snapped at a fund-raised the elder Domenic hosted for his son.

The state was stunned in February of last year  to learn that Domenici had engaged in an extramarital affair in the 1970's and that the mother of Adam is Michelle Laxalt, daughter of former Nevada GOP Senator Paul Laxalt. Michelle was a 24 year old lobbyist at the time of the affair.

Domenici, now approaching 82, says he has made amends with all concerned. The fund-raiser sold ticket for $1000 and $500 a piece and was held at ABQ's Scalo restaurant. Governor Martinez was listed on the invite as a "special guest."

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

E-mail your news and comments. (jmonahan@ix.netcom.com)

Interested in reaching New Mexico's most informed audience? Advertise here.      

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2014. Not for reproduction without permission of the author

Friday, April 18, 2014

Readers React To Those Leaked Audio Tapes And Their Governor's Response 

You wouldn't expect anything different. There will be no apology from Gov. Martinez for any of the off color and often profane remarks disclosed on that leaked audio tape this week and incorporated into a Mother Jones magazine article that blasted her and her administration.

But that doesn't mean Martinez isn't taking hits for the remarks which included an aide referencing former House Speaker Ben Lujan as a "retard." On those tapes Martinez also showed a startling lack of knowledge about NM as she talked with aides in the Oct. 2010 taped conversation. We turn it over to the readers;

Joan Fenicle writes:

I found the ignorance more telling than anything. For example, having to ask someone to remind her what the Dream Act is. If they think the national GOP is going to embrace her, they need to rewatch her speech at the last national convention where every time she spoke in Spanish the audience sat on their hands.

A reader writes:

It is quite telling to hear Gov. Martinez on tape ignorantly bashing the NM Commission on the Status of Women since she accepted a 1997 Governor's Award for Outstanding Women through the auspices of the Commission and regularly touted the award in later campaigns, including her last campaign for DA.  The information is from a Las Cruces Sun-News report.

Michael Corwin writes:

As a professional investigator something in the Mother Jones article caught my eye. That's Susana Martinez's use of an investigator in her district attorney's office to run license plate information to identify people during the campaign. That's illegal under both federal and state law, and on its face appears to violate the governmental conduct act, which prohibits using state personnel and resources for political purposes.

Following the 1989 murder of Rebecca Schaeffer, a young rising star, the federal government and most state governments, including New Mexico, curtailed access to motor vehicle information. Identifying individuals working for a rival political campaign, or those who through free-speech opposed Martinez's bid for office, would not fall within the permissible uses of either the federal or state law.

Accessing motor vehicle records leaves a trail. Federal and state government law enforcement officials should examine Martinez's DA investigator's access logs.

The Santa Fe Reporter did get on the license plate story and ran into a brick wall. The state says it has destroyed any records relating to the checks and the FBI is not responsive. From the SFR.

Reader Jim Moore writes:

In recounting the Mother Jones article did  the ABQ Journal conveniently leave out the part about  criticism of Martinez by former NM GOP Chairman Harvey Yates?? He called her out before on the Downs racino deal. Whatever one might think of Yates and his oil-based wealth, he's not cut from the same cloth as Susana and her boys and criticism from the old guard of the GOP hardly qualifies as a "desperate" liberal attack. I wonder if any reporter is trying to get a copy of Yates' ten-page letter.

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SENATE DEMS

From a news release from state senate Democrats:

A voice recording reveals Health and Human Services Department Communications Director, Matt Kennicott, referring to late Speaker of the House Ben Lujan as a “retard” after he and the governor share a chuckle regarding Lujan speaking in English.

“I’m stunned that our governor would allow such a term to be used in her presence with no repercussion. That is inexcusable,” said ABQ Senator Bill O’Neill. “What’s even more disturbing is that she not only didn’t call him (Kennicott) on his use of the word but that she later appointed him as the spokesperson of an agency that provides services to the developmentally disabled population. ‘Retard’ is such an offensive term to any family affected by disability…and to use it in reference to the deceased speaker Ben Lujan? That is so outrageous!”

Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez  is disappointed not only by the vulgar and derogatory terms that were used, but by the messages conveyed in the recordings. “Allowing her staff to mock those who sound different than they do is an insult to the late Speaker and those who grew up speaking Spanish as their first language. Being bilingual is a source of pride and should not be denigrated by others, especially by a governor who touts the diversity of New Mexico.”

Reader Kimothy Sparks writes in support of Gov. Martinez:

Mother Jones is a left liberal rag not even worth using as toilet paper and they come out with a hit piece on our Governor regarding comments that were made in strategizing. . . As a result of the Mother Jones article, I am even more of a Martinez supporter than I was before. In fact, I sent her another check  for her brashness and honesty.

Diane Denish was and is a bitch and I am sure she has used that same term non-sparingly in describing her political opponents. Ben Lujan did sound challenged when he tried to speak English. He had been in power for too long. Teachers do get 2 1/2 months off a year as Martinez said. 

I am so positive that Democrats Richardson, Denish, Colon, Lujan, Heinrich, Udall, and whatever other liberal you want to pull out of the closet, have used  "salty"  language but  you don't have them on tape or some panty-waist traitor turning on them and releasing the tapes that may have them on it.

EVEN MORE MAIL

Theresa Trujeque writes:

I am appalled that the Governor defends her use of the word "bitch" but fails to even touch on the fact that her Deputy Campaign Manager in the 2010 election made a very disparaging remark against House Speaker Lujan. I don't know how long Matt Kennicott has been in New Mexico but he should know that most of us Hispanics speak with a Spanish accent. Why did she not reprimand him and why is he still on staff? Of course, we all know why. She is bought and sold by non-Hispanic males.

Dem consultant Stephen Clermont writes from DC:

Hi Joe, great coverage  of Susana, Jay, the tapes and the collapse of the NM media. There's one point from the Mother Jones piece  and the National Journal storyfrom November  that cannot be emphasized enough--this is a pure Republican on Republican crime.

Susana and Jay have pissed off the wrong people in Harvey Yates and other powerful and wealthy Republicans and this is their revenge. Despite the presence of these tapes in Mother Jones, it’s clear from the National Journal story where this disenchantment is coming from. They know they probably can't stop her in New Mexico but they know they can hurt her nationally. It also doesn’t help Susana that New Jersey Governor Christie is effectively finished. The 2016 GOP presidential nominee is likely going to be far more conservative and won’t be looking to balance the VP slot with someone like Martinez who decided to take Obamacare Medicaid money.

Democrats are not capable of causing her the type of damage these two stories have. Consultants/hacks like McCleskey and politicians like Susana come and go but people like Yates are around forever. They are making that known.

Loyola Chastain writes:

My concern is that "...as the guardian of her mentally disabled sister, Leticia," she allows someone to say that Ben Lujan sounds like a "retard?" This shows a lack of courage and conviction to stand up to someone who is using a word that could easily be used on her sister and a word that was used on people like her sister before it became a derogatory term. Does she aspire to higher office in America? I don't know, but what I do know is that don't want to be represented by and won't vote for such hypocrisy. Thanks again, Joe, for the sunshine you provide in covering NM Politics.

A reader writes,

Joe, thanks for staying on the Mother Jones story. Que Verguenza! (translation- How Shameful!)

Republican reader Rick writes:

Something that seems to be falling through the cracks. I am a Republican, and agree that foul language in private should not be held against the governor. Jay McCleskey and his crew are trying to make the article about that one small fact. However, I think the article points to not just the petty, vindictive nature of the Gov and the people she surrounds herself with, but also screams of a totalitarian mentality. Not just in the political arena but in every arena.

From the article: " Martinez's crew saw enemies everywhere. A former staffer recalls the campaign on multiple occasions sending the license plate numbers of cars believed to be used by opposition trackers to an investigator in Martinez's DA office who had access to law enforcement databases. In one instance, a campaign aide took a photo of a license plate on a car with an anti-Martinez bumper sticker and emailed it to the investigator. "Cool I will see who it belongs to!!" the investigator replied."

Having had dealings of a personal nature with McCleskey, I can tell you that government resources are used to crush, suppress, subdue and "dig up dirt" on not just people in politics, but anybody that opposes him, his agenda, or his desires.

What I think the real point of the article is, is the selfish nature of the Gov (both shadow and figure head) and their "win at all costs" approach to politics, life and of course business. The people of NM suffer, while a select few consolidate their wealth and power, and crush anybody that dare say otherwise.

WELCOME ABOARD

On the topic of the APD crisis, Mayor Berry is running into a headwind from more media types. Welcome aboard, Leslie. We've been waiting for you.

CERVINI'S LAMENT

We continue to get mail over the April 4 lament of political PR pro Chris Cervini about his having to leave NM to find better opoporutnies elsewhere (his full post is here). Cervini's onetime boss, former Lt. Governor Diane Denish, writes of the diss on Cervini on the Wednesday blog:

Unfortunately, reader Reuben Montes failed to do his homework. Chris Cervini never made a 6 figure salary in state government. He made a name for himself the last 8 years in the private sector as a respected public relations executive in healthcare with a national firm. He was most certainly not jobless when he left NM. 

 Chris is a native New Mexican who wanted to come home--and did. At first, he enjoyed the optimism that swept in with our administration and served us well in state government--getting things done. Like the other professionals he profiled in his blog post, he could see the lack of leadership in the business community and the insistence that we stick with the status quo. He is saying out loud what many people are whispering. He shared his ideas about how to do it better and even pointed out that he was associated with me. New Mexico is the loser when young professionals like Chris Cervini and his wife, Georgette, depart.

And reader Steve Dick on the same subject--Wednesday's Montez letter slamming Cervini:

Reuben Montes' comments show a complete misunderstanding of what is going on. I am a native New Mexican, born and raised, went to NMSU for two degrees (and a stellar education there). But yet, it is virtually impossible for me, as an engineer, to find work in New Mexico. Everywhere else I can find offers quite easily. But not New Mexico. So sure, raise me to love the state, train me well with the schools that are available, but then tell me "good luck and write when you find work." No, that isn't how this is supposed to work.

I have the strongest desire to be able to live in the state, but between the mediocre business leaders and the even more mediocre political class in the state the only way it looks like I can move back to New Mexico is when I retire to take advantage of the cheap unskilled labor force that will work for peanuts when I return. That is not what I want and the state deserves better than that.

While Montes may revel in the fact that Chris Cervini has to leave because he is a Democratic political operative, his is only one of many professions where it is no use to stay because people want to be able to provide food and shelter for their families. Cracking wise because he is a former Big Bill employee is knee jerk. New Mexico is going downhill on a bullet train. The sooner the "business-oriented" disciples of the Republican Party realize that Governor Martinez is taking the state down with her Nero approach the better off everyone will be.

Happy Easter, New Mexico.

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Mama Mia! Mother Jones Marks Martinez As A Petty Player And Lays Into Shadow Governor Jay; Latest National Media Blow Further Lays Bare The Guv's Image Versus Her Reality, Also: Impact On Guv Campaign Analyzed And Local Media Treatment Of Latest National Scoop 

Sometimes it's best left for others to say. And so it is today in the aftermath of that Mother Jones piece that follows others in unmasking Governor Martinez and her Shadow Governor Jay McCleskey. From Salon:

The result is a really enlightening peek into what this sort of administration actually sounds like on the inside. By “this sort of administration,” I mean one run by a bunch of petty assholes who play-act like politics in a Mamet-scripted masculinity contest. It’s easy to imagine that the governorship of George W. Bush wasn’t entirely dissimilar, with a checked-out executive and a powerful political operative running the show. Other recently released internal communications suggest a similar environment in New Jersey.

Bad boy behavior (and now bad girl) has run amok in the Martinez administration. It includes Chief of Staff Keith Gardner caught on tape calling a state senate leader a cocksucker and saying he uses private email--not government email--so he won't go to jail. And then there's political adviser McCleskey's private email saying "Buster screwed us" as the administration apparently tried to wire the lucrative ABQ Downs racino deal. And, of course, Republican lawyer/lobbyist Pat Rogers making racist comments about Native Americans and as a result being forced out of the Modrall law firm.

The image that the Governor and the Fifth Floor so carefully craft for public consumption is so diametrically opposed to who they truly are that they make Jekyll and Hyde look tame.

The cynicism and narcissism exhibited by Martinez and her Anglo entourage in the room where the leaked audio was recorded in Oct. 2010 is palpable. But, as Chris Rock says, "If it's all White, it's all right."

Top campaign aide Matt Kennicott likens the now deceased House Speaker Ben Lujan to a "retard." But Martinez--who showcases her developmentally disabled sister at every opportunity, including in her latest TV ad--doesn't utter a peep of protest.

Kennicott apologized for the comment, but no one in the inner circle of Susana has to worry about being fired. Not when your exit interview might be with the FBI.

(Adding insult to injury Kennicott is now a top figure at the state Human Services Department that administers mental health programs.)

The Speaker's son, northern Dem US Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, reacted:

“These disrespectful comments about Speaker Luján and my fellow New Mexicans are appalling and disgraceful. It is sad that a Martinez official believes that New Mexicans who speak with a Spanish accent have a disability or that they use such disparaging terms. It is troubling that Governor Martinez has allowed a culture in which these comments and other offensive remarks by her staff are deemed acceptable.

Does the Governor have the class and character to pick up the phone and apologize to the Lujan family?

JUST STARTLING

The ignorance Martinez shows on the leaked tapes about the state she hopes to lead is stupefying:

"What is podash? Or ashpod? WIPP?"

Uh, that would be potash, Susana, the stuff used for fertilizer that is a prime driver of the Carlsbad area economy. And you really didn't know in 2010 what WIPP was? Really?

In that declaration of startling public policy illiteracy all of the worst fears about the true purpose of this administration are realized.

HACK ATTACK

Of course, at this point in the proceedings we must issue the standard rejoiner that all of us--both locally and nationally--who dare write or criticize the administration are sexists, racists, political hacks and misfits. Hold it. Are they describing us or themselves?

WHAT THE HELL?

Speaking of sexism. From the article:

The state's Commission on the Status of Women, a panel created in 1973 to improve health, pay equity, and safety for women.

"What the hell is that?" Martinez asked.

"I don't know what the fuck they do," replied her deputy campaign manager, Matt Kennicott.

"What the hell does a commission on women's cabinet do all day long?" Martinez asked.

WHAT IT'S ABOUT

McCleskey
The last thing this is about is the use of "salty language" as the Martinez camp tried to spin. Even Diane Denish would agree that Martinez calling her "a little bitch" is hardly news. She's been called that and more in a lifetime in politics.

No, the story has been and continues to be the stranglehold that McCleskey and his acolytes have on the state and city governments, the disastrous results from allowing a political consultant to craft state policy and Governor Martinez's contrived image that is thrown up like a smoke screen to disguise what is really happening in this deeply troubled state.

JAY'S GREATEST HITS

Speaking of Jay he reprises his hit man role in the Mother Jones piece, screaming in capital letters in a text message about former ABQ GOP state Rep. Janice Arnold Jones:

"I HATE THAT FUCKING BITCH."

That kind of borderline personality behavior is old hat around here. The news is the long and painful disclosure to the mass public that Martinez is Jay's clone.

RAEL RAILS

Democratic Guv candidate Lawrence Rael was first out of the gate with comment on the Mother Jones piece. He earned a TV shot for it, a rare event in this sleepy primary campaign. And in a move that got to the heart of the political impact--he released his response first in English and then in Spanish:

New Mexico is a state that is proud of its diverse heritage, including our broad linguistic roots: we may speak with different accents and sometimes in different languages, but we are proud of who we are and where we came from. Her views on women are equally appalling and disrespectful. Gov. Martinez claims to work in a bi-partisan, respectful manner, but it is increasingly clear that the truth is quite the opposite. Her comments about teachers are particularly telling: say one thing, but do and mean another. Her blatant wiliness to deceive New Mexicans and cover up her true beliefs, in order to win elections, are proof that to Gov. Martinez, the truth doesn’t matter.

Rael was born in Sandoval County and has a touch of a Spanish accent--not as heavy as the one Speaker Lujan had--but he is representative of many in the Spanish north and that's where that "retard" comment is going to hurt Martinez.

No one is delusional about the impact of the comments. With millions in campaign money and no singular comment that would cause her polls to immediately plummet, the Martinez machine will keep on keeping on, But this is yet another round of ammunition delivered to the Dems free of charge by the national media. If and when they find a gun to fire, they could be dangerous. 

MEDIA AND MOTHER

Noticeably absent in posting any mention of the Mother Jones piece on their websites during the day Wednesday were the ABQ Journal and KRQE-TV.

The Journal has been an arch-supporter of the Governor's. Previously, one of its editors dismissed a revealing National Journal piece on Martinez/McCleskey as a rehash and maintained--erroneously--that the Journal had covered the explosive information contained in that piece. They may have a more difficult time dismissing audio recordings never heard before as a "rehash."

The Journal did do a story for today's print edition. They dutifully report the piece--but with no context, no reference to the previous National Journal article, no mention that McCleskey is trying to get Martinez on the '16 prez ticket and no mention of McCleskey as a key figure in the article and the administration. As journalist Sherry Robinson said recently:

The Albuquerque Journal. . . .has been so blatantly pro-Martinez as to sacrifice its credibility.

The pettiness and vindictiveness revealed on those audio tapes was enough to have even ardent Susana backer Scott Stiegler of conservative talk station KKOB-AM radio calling for a time-out on his love fest with the Fourth and Fifth Floors. "I have a problem with this" he told his audience. . . .

KRQE-TV has done a bang-up job on the APD crisis and aggressively questioned ABQ Mayor RJ Berry. But when it comes to Governor Martinez the station still can't seem to bring itself to provide hard-hitting coverage. They were the odd man out in TV land in not covering the audio tapes on their website. KOB and KOAT also covered the story on both their early and late newscasts. KRQE covered it only at 10 p.m.

Producers are insistent that there is no bias at the station, but the way its news department handled the big political story in comparison with its rivals doesn't help their argument.

In addition, the one-hour long 9 p.m. KASA-TV news produced by KRQE had no mention we saw of the Mother Jones piece. What was it? Dean Staley's poker night?

Why is it the national media--the National Journal, Mother Jones and Real Clear Politics--that has to tell us of the seamy underbelly of New Mexico government? With the exception of NM Politics with Joe Monahan and a few other "alternative"outlets, the mainstream media has too often turned its back on reporting the real story. And that's why they are getting their asses kicked by the nationals.

Another example of all this came on Twitter from Las Cruces based journalist Heath Haussamen who came to the defense of Kennicott who made the retard comment about Lujan:

There's a difference between saying words were racist and calling a person racist. We know Kennicott's words, not his heart.

Okay, so we can go around using the "N" word but that doesn't make us a racist because that is not what is in "our heart?" This is the thinking of the state's "journalists?" Please, bring on the bloggers. . . .

The real Martinez story is only going to get bigger as her camp promotes her for the 2016 presidential ticket. The media that refuse to cover it--or cover it up--are only going to look even smaller.

WE'RE EVERYWHERE

It seems New Mexico is making more national news than New York. There's the radiation leak at the southern NM WIPP site--(you know about that one, don't you Guv?), the national scandal over APD and the Justice Department intervention and now the audio tapes of the nation's first Hispanic female governor acting out a high school locker room mentality with her tough boy home boys. Of course, businesses and tourists will be flocking here to see all of these spectacles in person. What? They won't?.. . . .

JEFF WATCH

The most watched state representative is back in the news. Dem Sandra Jeff is still not out of the woods when it comes to getting on the June 3 primary ballot:

Rep. Sandra Jeff is still not assured a spot on the  primary election ballot, after the Supreme Court reversed a decision by a Gallup district court judge and sent the case back for an additional hearing.
The Gallup judge had previously dismissed an attempt to bump Jeff, a maverick Democrat, off the ballot for failing to turn in enough valid voter signatures. In that ruling, the judge found Jeff had not been provided adequate notice of the allegations against her. However, the Supreme Court today ordered a Friday hearing be held on the merits of the candidate challenge.

Our money is on Jeff to make it, but maybe that's because she makes blogging fun and it would be tough losing her. . . .

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Fallout Is The Theme--From Those Dem Guv Money Reports And The Ongoing APD Crisis, Plus: A New Mexican's Lament Over Leaving The State Gets Dissed  

Before we get started, Wednesday morning Mother Jones magazine came with a scathing piece on Gov. Martinez  replete with some embarrassing audiotapes that were leaked to the DC based liberal news outlet. More on that later. . . .

Fallout is our theme for the day--fallout from those Dem Guv finance reports and the continued fallout out from the APD crisis. Let's start out on the campaign trail. . .

The day after a disappointing money report that showed him with only $46,000 in the bank state Sen. Howie Morales came with an endorsement from AFSCME--the government workers union that is known for turning out the vote for candidates that turn them on.

The union represents 12,000 workers in the state so the approval of this stalwart Dem group is nothing to sneeze at. The teachers union was instrumental in guiding Morales to an important win at the Dems March preprimary convention. Can AFSCME be another guiding light?

The political pros will tell you that a strong ground game--like the ones run by the unions--can add anywhere from two to five points for a candidate. That's good for the Silver City senator, but he still needs cash to compete on television. If this endorsement brings in a large chunk of the money he needs, it would be icing on the cake. . . .

TV is not quite as important in a primary election as in a general. That's because hard-core voters turn out in the primary and they can be motivated more easily. Still, folks in their 60's and 70's who vote heavy in primaries rely heavily on those TV ads and news clips to help them decide. For them, if you don't have your  image flying through the airwaves, you don't exist...

Lawrence Rael is fighting it out with Morales to be the chief challenger to Alan Webber who has put up his own money to help him carry a cash balance of $440,000 into the final weeks.  Rael also loaned himself a bunch and has $225,000 in cash. With Morales getting that AFSCME endorsement Rael may want to force Morales' hand and get up on TV quickly....

For Gary King, it's all about the TV time. Will he write a personal check to come close to matching Webber's buying power? King only had $89,000 in his kitty as of April 7. That's a long ways from $400,000 and a big personal gamble for the attorney general to get there. . . .

BERRY PATCH

The Berry administration was rocked Tuesday by the resignations of three members of the city's Police Oversight Commission. It was another development ion the ongoing crisis that has besmirched the city's reputation around the globe, brought a scathing report over police shootings from the Justice Department and has had Berry scurrying to try to stay ahead of the curve.

The three members who resigned the panel did so to protest the toothlessness of the commission. It can't reverse decisions of the police chief or independent review officer. The resigning members said that civilian oversight is a joke and they did not want to continue to serve because doing so would only mislead ABQ into believing it has genuine civilian oversight. . . .

No public polling of Berry's popularity has been done in the wake of the biggest local news story to hit the town in decades. How's he holding up? He won re-election with nearly 70% of the vote last October. But after this mess that seems so very long ago. Is he still thinking about running for Governor some day? Well, perish the thought---please. . .

And what's the hold-up with the APD police video of the fatal shooting of Alfred Redwine on the city's west side? Weeks ago we were told it was "being processed" and not ready for release. Just what does that video show? Do we have another James Boyd shooting on our hands? If the administration wants to restore the luster to the image of the APD they might want to start getting information out in a timely manner, instead of holding back and raising suspicions. Just a suggestion. . . .

A reader writes that maybe because APD has been so bad off, the troubles at the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department are flying under the radar. But there are troubles for Sheriff Dan Houston. The news:

Bernalillo County attorneys have agreed to pay more than half a million dollars to a former Sheriff’s Office employee who sued the county and Sheriff Dan Houston in October 2012, alleging that she was mistreated after raising concerns of discrimination against Hispanic women in the Sheriff’s Office. Jennifer Vega Brown will receive $570,000.

We'll probably be hearing more about this in the weeks ahead because Houston is being challenged for the GOP sheriff nomination in the June primary. He is seeking a second four year term, but Scott Baird, a retired Chief Deputy at the department, is trying to stop Houston from getting the party nod. The GOP nomination is worth something. The R's have a good record in winning the office.

DATELINE RIO RANCHO

Republican Greg Hull scored an easy victory over his Dem opponent in the Rio Rancho mayoral run-off election Tuesday. Hull took 64.9 percent to 35.1 percent for Mike Williams. The R's also scored a win in the lone city council run-off that voters decided. Shelby Smith defeat Tom Buckner 60.9 percent to Buckner's 39.1 percent. (Election results here).

Steve Cabiedes, longtime political operative, came with the analysis:

Rio Rancho has been traditionally Republican so the mayor's race isn't much of a surprise. If there was a chance for Dems to score it was in the city council race because that district has a high Dem registration. But the low turnout of 12.5% in the district is not sufficient for a Democrat to get elected.

In the mayor's race the turnout was 11.4% of the city's 57, 488.

DOWNTOWN POP

It was looking as if we might lose forever the historic downtown El Rey Theatre, but help is on the way:

It looks like new shows will be coming to Downtown Albuquerque’s El Rey Theater in about a month.
Local promoter Christopher Meyers and his partners have signed a five-year lease to operate the 14,000-square-foot El Rey. The theater became available last December after Hobbs-based Invision Entertainment stopped operating after a renovation and short run of offering Mexican pop acts.

THE CERVINI LAMENT

Cervini
That lament we ran April 4 from ABQ PR specialist Chris Cervini about how he was putting New Mexico in his rearview mirror went viral, with Facebook and many other postings. It also drew the scrutiny of reader Reuben Montes who writes:

Hi Joe: I know it's been a few weeks since your blog post on this but I found it odd that his "lament" about being forced to leave NM never mentions having pulled down a six figure salary while chief of staff to former Lt. Governor Diane Denish. I was similarly surprised that you described him as a "longtime Dem political operative" but you also neglected to mention his association with Denish.

He goes on to bemoan our state's economy as being "completely propped up by extractive industries and government jobs." Apparently "government jobs" are just dandy when you've got one, even an exempt one, and especially when you're pulling down 100 grand. He also makes a thinly veiled political jab when writing that he and his girlfriend arrived in 2002 (read: when Governor Richardson was elected) and the economy and everything was buzzing. Certainly, not the case now in this post Big Bill era.

But, alas, when your people are out of power so are you. Consequently, you're left jobless. These are the inherent risks of working for an elected official. His tail between his legs rant really left me unsympathetic. Anyhow, good luck Chris. You won't be missed.

Heck, Reuben. The way you rubbed it in maybe Cervini will stay around and run for elective office to get back at you. . . .

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Webber And Rael Top Dem Guv Fund-Raising Reports, But Race Still Hasn't Caught Fire As Susana Adds More To Her Bulging Coffers, Plus: Readers Weigh In With Fresh Angles On APD Mess 

The anemic five way race for the 2014 Democratic gubernatorial nomination failed to get a booster shot Monday when the contenders filed their financial reports covering the last six months.

The most obvious trend was how little the Dem hopefuls have raised and how commanding a cash position Governor Martinez continues to hold.

It was independently wealthy Santa Fe businessman Alan Webber who provided a mini-headline by pumping $450,000 of personal cash into his effort. His total fund-raising came in at about $811,000.

Months ago the Alligators said Webber would probably come with about $500,000 for the primary and he's now very close to that number. With cash on hand of $440,000 Webber outpaces his closet rival in that category--Lawrence Rael--by nearly two to one. Veteran government bureaucrat Rael reported $228,000 cash on hand as campaigning for thee June 3 primary intensifies. He came with a $177,000 loan to his campaign.

Gary King reported $89,000 in cash on hand. He loaned himself $100,000 during the period.

State Sen, Howie Morales has $46,000 in cash. He loaned himself $25,000. State Sen. Linda Lopez had $19,000 in cash on hand at the close of the reporting period April 7.

Then there's the Guv. She didn't have to loan herself a dime. She raised about $1.4 million during the last six months--despite the blackout for fundraising for her and the state Senators during and near the legislative session. She now has $4.2 million in cash and is already spending it on the first TV spot of the '14 campaign.

Independent analyst and former ABQ City Councilor Greg Payne says the money reports show Democrats have failed to excite their base voters and donors:

The messaging has been weak and the campaigns absent. For example, not one of the Democratic candidates showed up at the recent ABQ city council meeting that drew hundreds who protested the fatal shootings by the ABQ police department. This is a low-risk, low-reward field that is largely being ignored because no one sees them as a threat to Susana.

Payne now sees Webber and Rael as the front-runners for the nomination:

Neither have been especially invigorating, but what energy there is out there belongs to those two.

Money does talk--especially on TV--which remains a fundamental campaign pillar. Right now only Webber has enough to make a large buy and cover other campaign expenses. If he goes essentially unchallenged on the tube our analysts see him in a strong position come June 3.

ALLIGATOR ASSESSMENTS

We asked a number of our Alligators for specific comments on the finance reports. From Washington one of them comments on the Guv's standing,

I believe Gov. Richardson had over $5 million in his re-election account at this point in the campaign. Martinez lags that, but her team has to be comfortable where they are--especially when compared to the Dems. Her fund-raising could actually lag if donors don't see this as much of a race. But given the anemic fundraising of the Democrats and her strong poll numbers, it is not like Martinez needed to push hard to raise money.

On Alan Webber:

He did what he had to do, even though the GOP is criticizing him  for self-financing after he said he might not. He is doing about what we expected with his own money. He has a huge burn rate, with lots of staff, and expensive consultants to pay. Webber will now use most of his money to raise his name ID with TV ads.

On Lawence Rael:

That he had to loan himself $177,000 shows he had a tough time raising money. That plus his third place showing at the pre-primary convention are negatives. Still, with $228,000 in cash he will be on TV and if Morales can't get there, Rael will become the chief Hispanic challenger. Also, Rael is showing more moxie than Morales and that is helping.

On Howie Morales

He's looking shaky, considering he won the Democratic pre-primary. $46,000 cash on hand is not enough to compete. It's a big disappointment. However, he is a candidate who can expect outside help (such as teachers unions). He will need that help in the next few weeks if he is to get on TV and again become a bona fide contender. 

On Gary King:

A very rough report for him. He spent more than he raised including a $100,000 personal loan. Alan Webber's TV ads will eat into his support first. King now has to decide if he is going to throw more of his personal money at the race to keep in the running. 

On Linda Lopez

You got what you expected. Linda has never been a big fund-raiser. With only $20,000 on hand, this becomes a purely symbolic candidacy. 

STATE HOUSE ACTION

Democratic state House Speaker Kenny Martinez is working hard to build a war chest to keep the chamber under control of the Dems and him in the Speaker's chair. Martinez's political action committee reports raising about $69,000 the past six months and now sports $114,000 in cash on hand. Meanwhile, SusanaPAC, run by Guv political adviser Jay McCleskey, and which will be the main vehicle to win the House for the R'S, reports raising $208,000 for the period and has $68,000 cash on hand.

THE BLAME

Our blog Monday that assigned blame for the APD crisis and the damage done to our city's reputation directly to Mayor Berry as well as the city council brought reader reaction:

Joe, There are two groups that we should not exempt from blame. First, the Albuquerque business community who gave Berry almost $1,000,000 to his re-election campaign. Even with APD burning down and Albuquerque's economy collapsing, the business community ignored everything and gave Berry money to win the October election.  
Second, the 81% of Albuquerque voters who ignored everything during the election and stayed home.  They must blame themselves. And the 19% who did vote--the majority of them for Berry. They too ignored the facts and voted the party line.

Reader Charles Arasim writes of APD, DOJ and a reader comment here:

Joe, I appreciate your post today...spot on on all points. Being that I am one of the community advocates that has met with the DOJ. I am pushing another meeting with the DOJ and demand that at least one of us be present at any meeting the department has with any representative from the city. The back door deals have to stop now... As to your reader that thinks this a local issue and does not have the attention of President Obama or Attorney General Holder, he has no idea. There is no doubt this is being closely watched by both of them. My fear is that they are trying to contain it as the outcome will most definitely effect law enforcement across this country for decades to come. The whole world is watching.


Attorney Rosario Vega Lynn writes of reader Oliver's contention that ABQ is a cow town and the powers-that be in DC don't give us a second look:

I don't think Albuquerque is The Big Nothing. It is that kind of mentality that has kept people apathetic for too long. The "I don't have to do anything because it won't matter" attitude is what kept people from voting during the last mayoral election. Obama gave his condolences about recent shootings which involved three people. We have had 37 shootings since 2010. I think that, at the very least, merits a comment from our president and I think that merits a comment from Attorney General Holder. I also think the city council needs to get new attorneys and stop relying on David Tourek who clearly has a conflict. For some unknown reason, the city council seems to believe that the actions of the city are acceptable and they "can do nothing." Why do they believe that? My only conclusion is they are getting bad legal advice.

Another reader agrees:

Joe, the response that ABQ is of little consequence if off the mark. It is another ploy to tone down the APD crime scene. In 2012 ABQ was the 32nd largest city of these United States- we have 2 US senators the same as California, NY and Texas. We have two of the major National Labs responsible for maintaining the Nuclear Arsenal of the US. In the financial world NM PERA often is cited as a significant pension fund. But keeping things 'In perspective" as your reader wrote, we are not a top 20 city or state; but with Attorney General Holder in my mind--he was watching instead of participating. Significant change in this nation started in Selma, AL. and at Kent State University in Ohio as well as other small cities.

AWOL MAYOR

The venting over the performance of ABQ Mayor Richard Berry when it comes to APD continues. Reader Jason Fejer writes:

Was anyone really surprised that Mayor Berry did not attend the recent city council meeting where hundreds of citizens protested APD? Mayor Berry decided to skip the meeting, addressing APD issues and problems this administration has long ignored. Berry has a carved out a pattern of ducking out of any venue that might harbor an opposing view or difficult questions.

Leading up to the mayoral election in September of 2013, Mayor Berry opted out of a Public Safety Forum hosted by the police and fire unions. I suppose it is too much to ask of an elected official speak on public safety policies and issues in a room filled with those sworn to protect the citizens of Albuquerque. His failure to acknowledge the first responders is a huge reason why the APD spun out of control under this administration.

The Mayor has also shown his reluctance to attend meetings regarding his plans to redevelop the Bosque. He has either been a no show or cancelled events that had large numbers turn out in opposition of Mayor Berry's plans.

When will Albuquerque realize that Mayor Berry lacks the vision and confidence needed to change the current trajectory of this city? The "steady and responsible leadership" he centered his re-election campaign on has turned out to be a "steady decline and inability to responsibly lead."

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