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Friday, June 24, 2011

Changes At The Top As APD Problems Widen? Plus: Tragic Farce: UNM's Chris Garcia Busted In Call Girl Ring, Also: Libs Look To Griego To Thwart Marty 

White & Schultz
The widening problems at the ABQ police department brings into question the survival of longtime Police Chief Ray Schultz as well as the fragile political standing of Public Safety Director Darren White.

Mayor Berry has been nowhere to be seen or heard when it comes to the damaging headlines, but talk of a stolen car ring within APD, numerous fatal police shootings, inappropriate Internet postings by officers and a city council showing its first signs of discomfort with White point to a change at the top--sooner or later. Schultz has held the top post since 2003. White came in with Berry in December 2009. He was tagged with a vote of no confidence from the police officers union and has tangled recently with Councilors O'Malley and Sanchez.

ABQ GOP City Councilor and congressional candidate Dan Lewis says a US Justice Department investigation may be necessary. That is significant. He is separating himself from the Republican administration. The council has five R's and four Dems. The APD scandals make it more likely that down the road an R--maybe Lewis--could join with them in demanding changes at the top.

Key questions going forward: Where was the oversight? Will civilian supervision of the department in the form of the city's chief administrative officer be restored? How long can Mayor Berry maintain his silence? Events are signaling that his preferred role as a caretaker Mayor are coming to an end.

FALLING FROM THE PYRAMID

Garcia's book
There was momentary relief from the travails of the APD when something on the order of a tragic farce burst into the news.

The New Mexican political community was especially stunned and saddened to hear that Dr. Chris Garcia who taught thousands of state residents political science, came into their living rooms for decades as a political analyst and served as an interim president of the University of New Mexico had been arrested in a prostitution sting.

The first reaction among many politicos was "Say what? That Chris Garcia?!"

Garcia, 71, is charged with promoting prostitution by securing "talent" for a website that trafficked in call girls. He faces a fourth degree felony charge, among others. He adopted as his Internet handle the nickname "BurquePops," giving the drama its farcical sense.

Garcia, an ABQ native, first came to the attention of the state's political scene in the early 70's when he and fellow poly sci professor Paul Hain launched the "Zia Poll," one of the first of its kind here. The duo later authored a popular college textbook: "Governing New Mexico." Together they helped make their UNM department a stand-out. Garcia has also authored numerous other books and is an expert on Latin America as well as New Mexico.

Garcia's fame accelerated when he teamed with anchorman Dick Knipfing in the 1970's for KOAT-TV's election night coverage. He would become a fixture there and later on other media outlets. His success served as an example for Hispanic New Mexicans and his legacy as a leader was solid--until now.

The fall from the top of the pyramid is steep and painful. We can only hope that those Garcia mentored and taught remember him mainly for those heady years at the top and not for his short-lived tenure as "BurquePops."

ERIC AND MARTY

Not to rain on the progressive parade, but the endorsement of State Sen. Eric Griego by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee for the Dem nod for the ABQ US House nomination would have been a lot more compelling if Griego actually had progressive opposition. But he is it--the sole progressive in the race. Having said that--the endorsement--the first from the group this cycle--will help Eric raise badly needed funds. The PCCC raised a quick $10,000 on the heels of the endorsement. His main foe at this point is former Mayor Marty Chavez, with progressives shuddering over our Thursday blog in which we broke the news that Chavez is preparing to make his entry. This sets up a potentially bloody primary between the two longtime foes.

As all of us know, Griego has a lock on the liberals and Chavez will play for conservative and moderates. There is room for a third major candidate which could determine the course of this race. We watch and wait.

EQUAL SPIN TIME
Payne
The newly inflamed political atmosphere downtown will likely play a role in the most-watched race of City Election '11. That's the Trudy Jones vs. Greg Payne contest in the ABQ NE Heights. Earlier this month we ran info from Judy on how she is framing the campaign in which she is seeking re-election to another four year term. Now here's fellow Republican Payne, who once held the seat he is now seeking to reclaim Oct. 4:

Greg Payne is a third-generation resident of Albuquerque and an honorably discharged veteran of the U.S. Navy. As our State Representative, Greg sponsored the first bill to stop New Mexico from issuing driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, fought the purchase of Gov. Richardson's jet and was one of only three legislators to vote "No" on Richardson's 2005 budget - a budget that increased spending three times the rate of inflation.

As the Director of ABQ RIDE, Greg turned the city's transit system around by cutting upper management positions, focusing resources on the bus fleet while increasing ridership and decreasing customer complaints....Greg will cut wasteful spending, fight to lower our sales and property taxes, reduce the city's bond debt and focus the budget on basic services like police and fire--not just at election time but all the time.

Now that the niceties are out of the way, it won't be long before the fur starts flying in the Jones-Payne duel.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2011
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