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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Berry Claims Chief Schultz "Best Ever" But What Does Record Say? Plus: Reader Wonders If Pope Will Soften Susana, And: A Bruce King-Dennis Chavez Story  

APD Chiefs Schultz & Stover (Bralley)
For the first time in its history the ABQ police department is the target of a Department of Justice civil rights investigation and a lawsuit over a wrongful police shooting just ended with the city being slapped with a judgment for over $10 million--believed the largest in its history. Yet Mayor Berry says of departing APD Chief Ray Schultz: "By far, the best police chief APD has ever had."

It's one thing to give Schultz a pat on the back for his 30-year career--surely it had many bright spots--but the mayor's rewrite of history is over the top.

The best chief ever when there have been 18 fatal police shootings since Berry took office and prompted the federal civil rights probe of the department with no guarantee that it won't eventually turn into a criminal investigation? And when millions of dollars in taxpayer money is going out the door because of the shootings? Don't think so, Mayor.

Berry came to ABQ in the early 80's so he probably doesn't remember much about the tenure of APD Chief Bob Stover ('73-'80) who many consider to be the best chief in the city's modern era. Stover served another stint as APD chief from '90 to '94. He went on to win election as Bernalillo County Sheriff and later served as the city's chief administrative officer.

Stover had his share of problems, especially in the 70's when the city hit the #1 spot on the FBI's crime list, but he ran the department with a firm hand and the cowboy culture that has infected Schultz's regime was kept in check. And the city's checkbook did not suffer nearly the damage it has under Schultz.

The newspaper argues that "it's fair to question whether anyone can succeed" as a chief given the demands on a police chief. Of course, they can. There are successful chiefs in cities across the nation. It is not the demands on the office that have been out of control in ABQ, it has been the apparent loss of command and control by the current chief.

Schultz's fatal error--the one that will keep him from being recognized as a great chief--was staying too long. Berry's error was reappointing Ray when he won election in 2009. He did so at the urging of Darrren White, the former sheriff who became Berry's public safety director. White--in an unprecedented move--took direct control of the department bypassing the city's chief administrative officer who left in disgust.

Chief Schultz will be amply rewarded for his years of service as chief--as he should be--but the Mayor may want to consider talking about reforming the department for the future rather than trying to rewrite history.

NEXT CHIEF

Berry says he will launch a national search for a new chief, but will consider applicants from within the department. There are probably some good ones there, but if there was ever a time we need an outside chief to come in, it is now. And the timing is good. The Feds are already an outside force looking to clean up the place so an outside chief will not meet with as much resistance. In a couple of years, the department may be ready for a chief from within its ranks. Berry could also encourage retirements among Schultz's chief lieutenants. That way you get a clean break with the past.

As for exactly when Ray Schultz departs as chief, Berry says:

Chief will be around--my best guess is--probably until through end of July plus or minus there--unless something changes.

The mayoral election is in October.

MARRIAGE GO ROUND

Geno Zamora
Given the large gay community in Santa Fe, it's no surprise that the capital city is fast turning into ground zero for the gay marriage debate in the state. Mayor Coss and City Attorney Geno Zamora advanced their troops further on that front Tuesday, with Zamora arguing current law allows same-sex couples to get a license from the county clerk and tie the knot:

Marriage law in New Mexico is gender-neutral and does not define marriage as between a man and a woman,” said Geno Zamora, City Attorney. “New Mexico already recognizes valid marriages performed in other states between same-sex couples; it would violate our state’s constitution to deny equal rights in our own families.”

Mayor David Coss and Councilor Patti Bushee say they are sponsoring a resolution expressing support for gay marriage in New Mexico and encouraging County Clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Meanwhile, Zamora who ran for attorney general in 2006 is considering another run in 2014.

MORE ENLIGHTENMENT?


Reader Joe Barela writes from Rio Rancho:

It was encouraging to see that Governor Susana Martinez was asked to be part of the US Delegation for Pope Francis’s inaugural mass. Let us hope and pray that this trip for her will provide much needed enlightenment to deal with our State’s working poor, the weak, the uneducated, the immigrants and our environment. Let us all hope that the mean vengeful spirit she and her 5th floor cronies have exhibited over the last three years is a thing of the past and that her new challenge in life is to become a leader that exhibits compassion, cooperation and compromise to do what is right.

Reader Jeanne Tatum of Ute Park, NM in Colfax County sees political benefits in the Rome trip for Martinez:

...Old school Hispanic Democrats are going to have a higher level of respect for her as a state political leader because of this papal visit. The only thing better would be to get a photo op with Pope Francis  that she can hand out to the faithful/ Plus, she gave it the proper level of respect, enthusiasm and grace that a die hard Catholic would understand. This was definitely a win-win for her.

The other Martinez win referenced by Jeanne is the recent legislative session.

There are no announced candidates against Udall who next year will seek a second, six year term.

Reader John Cordova writes from ABQ:

Former NM Governor Bruce King told me a story about advice he received from US Senator Dennis Chavez when Bruce was Speaker of the NM House. A vote on whether to have a Pancho Villa State Park was on the floor and Bruce opposed it. However, the state reps voted in favor, so Bruce went along. There was a pay phone behind the Speaker's podium and it rang within a minute or two of the vote. It was Chavez calling King from Washington to tell him to never vote in favor of something he didn't believe in because it was apt to haunt him later. Bruce agreed it was good advice and tried to adhere to it. Our Democratic legislators of today could stand to reflect on Chavez' advice now.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2013 
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