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Thursday, April 08, 2010

ABQ Cops & Robbers: Who's In Charge? Plus: More From The Economy And UNM Beats, Also: Harvey's History Lesson 

White & Campbell
The question of oversight of the ABQ Police Department jumps back into the fore in the wake of the deaths of two young women who were eating lunch parked in their car when a bank robber being chased by the cops slammed into them this week. APD Chief Ray Schultz and Public Safety Director Darren White, responding to criticism from the family of one of the women who died, maintain the high speed, 13 minute crosstown chase that led to the fatal accident was done by the book and that officers were justified in their actions.

They may be right, but who will judge? That's the key question to Senior Alligators monitoring the action. They again point to the under reported reorganization under Mayor RJ Berry that for the first time in city history has the police and fire departments reporting not to the civilian chief administrative officer, but to the public safety director who is also a police officer. Here's what we're getting for you:

I've attached the new City Organization Chart signed by Chief Administrative Officer David Campbell dated March 26. It confirms that Darren White has clearly consolidated exclusive authority over police and fire and that the only civilian oversight over both departments, both paramilitary in nature, is the Mayor himself. All prior Public Safety Directors reported to the CAO just like all other City Hall directors.

White has two departments and one small division to supervise, reflecting 52% of the city's general fund budget. Campbell has 16 Department heads to supervise, reflecting 48% of the General Fund Budget.

This is a major shift in power away from the chief administrative officer who is given day-to-day management responsibility by the City Charter. It was not approved by the City Council.

Thia mayoral administration is young, but if there are more serious incidents involving police, look for this matter to be pulled out from under the rug where it has been swept.

MORE CITY BEAT

And another of our City Hall Alligators is working on the city's fiscal crisis for us. He comes with this:

..The ABQ Public Schools is laying off 153 double-dippers to balance their budget. This would be a great idea for the City. The last count I have is that the city has 225 double dippers. If each is making $50,000 per year (salary + benefits) the city would save almost $12,000,000 annually. Most of the double dippers are in higher paying positions so the savings would be greater.

Of the 115 that APD has, only about 25 work in uniform patrol. The rest of them ride desk duty. With APD possibly 75 officers over their authorized strength (refer to
KOAT report I sent), APD could lose at least 75 double dippers and still be at 100% of their authorized strength...Lots of talk around city hall of getting rid of the double dippers before any pay cuts or layoffs. I have my big ears open, will hopefully hear more...

By the one way, one of the double-dippers is Lou Hoffman, director of the city's Department of Finance and Administration, who retired from the city and went back to work under Berry. We don't think he'll be getting laid off, though.

Mayor Berry has proposed that all city employees take a three percent pay cut to help resolve the $60 million shortfall that is projected for the budget year that starts July 1st.

UNM BEAT

You have to start wondering just a wee bit if even real estate around the University of New Mexico is going to take more of a hit as this relentless Bear Market grinds on. The school quietly announced that six employees in the Office of Capital Projects have been laid off. Jobs and demand for homes and rentals go hand in hand.

New Mexico's public institutions are structured for a steadily growing economy and lots of revenue from oil and gas royalties. When will that reality return?

Meanwhile, in our first draft on a UNM report Wednesday, we blogged that UNM President Schmidly would lay off a UNM vice-president. Actually, the VP in question will retire and the post won't be filled. UNM had a statement on that and other aspects of the report:

The vice presidency for Rio Rancho operations has been vacant and will be eliminated. In addition, there is an impending retirement in the VP ranks and that position will not be filled. This was reported in the Journal.

Also, UNM is working on $6 million in cost containment measures. Reducing the frequency of office cleaning is just one of them, and given the historic rate of turnover in the janitorial ranks, we are confident any reductions will be handled through attrition. This was also reported.

It's duly noted that no janitors will apparently be laid off, but released through attrition.

What would the university community notice more--the employment of fewer janitors who keep the campus clean and sanitary or the 19 UNM vice-presidents collecting $4.5 million in annual salary? The necessity of the VP's in these times seems much more ambiguous than those of the janitors, doesn't it?

THE ECON BEAT

The Bear Market continues to hammer the heads of the local politicos who are desperate to announce some good economic news. Look what happened Wednesday. Just as big Bill and Rio Rancho Mayor Swisstack were announcing the landing of a $500 million solar energy manufacturing plant that they said would employ up to 1500 by 2014, Signet Solar announced it is canceling its ballyhooed $840 million Belen solar manufacturing facility that they claimed would employ 600. They could not line up the financing for the project.

The solar industry is notoriously competitive, with China's low pricing hanging over its head. The Rio Rancho deal may or may not succeed. The 1500 jobs are "planned" not certain. And financing has been secured for some of the $500 million, not all of it.

The good news is that the city of Rio Rancho is not plowing a ton of taxpayer money into this deal, and the state seems to be providing traditional financial help, not the over-the-top munificence that Governor Richardson and the Legislature have showered on wealthy corporations like Hewlett-Packard to attract jobs.

THE CAMPAIGN

A reader writes:

You mock (GOP Guv candidate Susana) Martinez for talking about border security and prosecuting Mexican drug cartels. Did you see where Governor Bill Richardson is this afternoon? He is touring the border with the Governor of Arizona and holding a press conference about getting tough on border security in response to the cartel violence. Are those two Governors are spending time looking tough for the cameras on the border if the public is unconcerned with that issue, or because voters think that is an issue for their Attorney Generals? Martinez is the only candidate with a record fighting the cartels.

HARVEY'S HISTORY LESSON


State GOP Chairman Harvey Yates Jr. reached back into history Wednesday to come with this entertaining missive:

Today marks the 80th anniversary of the death of Octaviano Ambrosio Larrazolo, the second Hispanic elected to govern the state of New Mexico and the first Hispanic U.S. Senator. In remembrance, Chairman Harvey Yates Jr. issued the following statement:

“On this day, we remember the personal achievements and contributions of New Mexico statesman Octaviano Larrazolo, a Democrat-turned Republican, who earned his place in history when he was elected the first Hispanic to the United States Senate.

“Although likely for different reasons, Larrazolo’s disenchantment with the Democrat Party is not unlike the sentiment felt by many Hispanics in New Mexico today.

Many conservatives have come to realize that the leftward swing of the Democrat Party leaves little room for them. As the Republican Party did during Larrazolo’s time, we extend a warm welcome to these and all New Mexicans and invite them to examine which political party currently aligns most closely with their values.”


Thanks for that, Harvey. Larrazolo is best known for being elected New Mexico's Governor in 1918, but in 1922 the Republicans refused to nominate him for another term because he wanted to strengthen the income tax law and also supported a woman's right to vote.

He might be what you would call a moderate to liberal Republican, which today is a nearly extinct species and a chief reason for the near demise of the modern New Mexican GOP. Those disenchanted voters Chairman Yates speaks of are out there in droves, but they are not joining the R's whose tent has shrunk, but instead opting to become independents. The Republican Larrazoloites of the 21st century are homeless.

JANICE AND NEW JERSEY

GOP Guv contender Janice Arnold-Jones isn't speaking with a Jersey accent yet, but she is sure feasting on New Jersey politics. First, she had a fund-raiser there and now she's bringing in Christie Todd Whitman, a former New Jersey governor, for a $250 event April 15th. Real estate heavy Roger Cox will host the ex-Guv at his home.

Why is Janice so Jersey? Her chief political consultant is from there.

PETE JR. SMACK DOWN

Another smack down for GOP Guv hopeful Pete Domenici Jr. from a Dem Alligator on high-alert:

(Domenici) issues a challenge to his supporters to raise $10,000 by a “deadline” of April 11 for the April 12 state filing date for candidate reports. As you know, the last date to accept money for the April 12 filing was April 5--so money raised between the 6th and 11th can’t be included in this report. It’s as if his campaign is completely clueless.

Domenici's campaign wrote:

..It is important that we raise funds and maintain our lead...The deadline for this challenge is April 11, 2010, or if you’re unable to help at this time, any contribution you make at any time will assist our efforts...


It may seem picayune, but for candidates without any record of public service, the only thing we have to judge on how they would run the government is how they run their campaigns.

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