Wednesday, August 03, 2011

More Trouble For Berry; Religious Right Turns As Public Safety Turmoil Continues, Plus: Union Power For Eric Griego; Can Marty Chavez Answer? 

Berry Prays (Journal)& Pastor Smotherman
Mayor Berry makes no secret of his Christan faith, even joining a prayer group on ABQ's Civic Plaza last year as shown in the accompanying photo. So it is with more than passing interest that two prominent ABQ area pastors have emerged as thorns in Berry's side.

First, there is GOP ABQ City Councilor Dan Lewis, the pastor and a founder of the SoulRio Church on the city's West Side who this week broke with Berry and supported a Department of Justice probe into the numerous fatal police shootings in the city. Then there's Pastor Steve Smotherman, leader of ABQ's Legacy Church which attracts thousands to its services and is a city political force on the right.

Smotherman recently waded directly into city politics with a call for the resignation of Public Safety Director Darren White, prompting talk that Smotherman, like fellow pastor Lewis, could find his way from the evangelical to the secular world and eye a run for public office. From his News and Views web site:

Steve also called for the resignation of NM Atty General Gary King and Albuquerque Public Safety Director Darren White. Enough of the monkey business of these two. King is just plain incompetent and White has seen the Police Dept. disintegrate right before his eye’s with all the Police shootings of civilians and now this whole mess with his wife’s accident and him driving her away…..leaves a dark cloud that we may never know the truth of what has happened.

The time has come for a Federal Investigation of the Albuquerque Police Dept with all the shootings. Councilman Dan Lewis has suggested that. And then there is the Officer Levi Chavez case--the killing of his wife and the cover-up involving APD and the Chavez family’s involvement in stolen cars!!!

This is a very dark and deep sewer that can no longer be ignored by Christians! Pastor Steve called for Governor Martinez and Mayor Berry to be more involved with the King and the White situations.

White has since resigned as public safety director because of the controversy that ensued over his involvement in the scene of his wife's July 6 one car accident.

Also, the city council voted Monday to ask the Department of Justice to investigate the police shootings. Lewis was the only council Republican supporting the probe.

It's usually the left of the political spectrum that is most watchful of police power, but in this case conservative Christians Lewis and Smotherman are with them, going as far as calling out Berry and Martinez to be more engaged.

Could Smotherman make a run for mayor and make Berry bleed on the right and thus endanger his chances for re-election? It's too early to size up the Oct. 2013 city election, but it's safe to say while Berry's spiritual health may be in good shape, his political soul appears increasingly in danger--from both the right and left.


Looking over that SoulRio church web site leads to thorny questions for Councilor Lewis who hopes to become the GOP nominee for the ABQ congressional seat being vacated by Dem Martin Heinrich.

His vote Monday to have a federal probe of the police shootings added dimension to his political character, breaking him free from the hard-right of the GOP. But opposition researchers for the Dems are sure to try to trap Lewis on the far right and press him on his views on creationism, abortion, gay rights and other hot button issues that are always tricky to handle in the moderate ABQ district.


On the heels of Monday's city council vote asking for a Department of Justice investigation into fatal police shootings comes this reaction from the department:

The Department of Justice said Tuesday it is reviewing allegations against the Albuquerque police department to determine if it should launch an investigation into the recent escalation in police shootings.

A spokesman for the department confirmed the review is under way a day after the city council — under increasing pressure from civil rights advocates and the families of some of the 13 people killed by Albuquerque police in recent months — narrowly agreed to ask the city to request an independent DOJ probe.

Mayor Berry's office declined to say whether he would sign or veto the measure. But his approval is not needed. The DOJ can open an investigation on its own if it finds a pattern of potential civil rights abuses.

Do you get the feeling that the lid is about to be blown off? We know APD Chief Ray Schultz must feel that way.


On the Dem side of the ABQ congressional race, State Senator Eric Griego has received a major boost in his campaign against former ABQ Mayor Marty Chavez. The AFSCME union announced it will back his candidacy:

"Eric is a true believer. He has never been afraid to stand up for those that do not have a voice, for hard-working, middle class families who are struggling every day. Eric is exactly what we need..."

With a strong liberal base Griego can lay claim to being the early front-runner for the nomination. That may stun some who see Chavez's superior name ID and fund-raising ability carrying the day. But the AFSCME endorsement--it means money and major manpower--and the closing of ranks behind Griego by liberal state lawmakers has him--for the time being--where he needs to be. Chavez, who has popularity issues in the Dem Party, will need to show some muscle soon to prevent a gradual closing of the ranks behind "true believer" Griego.


We opined that there was a "big disconnect" for Governor Martinez when it comes to issues surrounding illegal immigration because her grandparents on her father's side have been discovered to have entered the USA illegally, but her immigration positions are as tough as nails. Reader Jim McCaughey differs:

I am sure most families have something in their history that they are not too proud of. But, to follow your logic, if your brother is addicted to heroin, you should be in favor of legalizing heroin. Otherwise, it is a "big disconnect." If old Uncle Willie gave away $26 million in taxpayer dollars to his cronies, should we make that legal or find ways to stop it in the future? I don't see a big disconnect in doing that.


From Santa Fe, Joseph Montoya Jr., the son of the late Democratic US Senator Joe Montoya ('65-77), alerts us to this news:

Margaret Larragoite, 84, passed away July 31. If you recall, she was the manager of my Dad's office in Santa Fe for many years. She then went on to serve as chief clerk to the state senate for many more years until her retirement.
Regards, Little Joe Montoya II

Thanks, Little Joe. Besides your Senator father, Margaret was a key player for State Senator Manny Aragon who for years held sway as the powerhouse of the upper chamber.

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