Friday, July 19, 2013

Some Southern "Hospitality" For John Arthur Smith As Impatience Grows Over State's Bottom Of Barrel Rankings, Plus: After Chief Schultz, What's Next? Analysis of APD Future And Mayor's Race 

Raquel Roybal At LFC Meeting
When New Mexico sank to dead last in the nation in the rankings for child well-being, we noted that we had lost our longtime fall back slogan--"Thank God For Mississippi."

Usually, we could count on the Magnolia State to come in 50th in most rankings and we'd be at 48th or 49th. Well, no more and that point is being driven home to John Arthur Smith, the powerful chairman of the state Senate Finance Committee.

Demonstrators appeared at a hearing of the Legislative Finance Committee Thursday to present a sarcastic "Thank You" card to Smith from "The People of Mississippi." (Video here of protest at LFC hearing organized by activist group OLÉ NM).

Smith has refused to allow a vote in his committee on a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow New Mexicans to decide if they want to appropriate about $110 million a year for ten years for very early childhood education (ages zero to 5) and other programs. The money, advocates say, would finally allow us to wage a full scale battle against the social conditions crisis that haunts the state. That was reemphasized by the Anne E. Casey Foundation finding us 50th in the nation in child well-being.

Smith, a staunch conservative from Deming who helps lead a governing coalition with Senate Republicans, has refused to allow Senate Finance to vote on the amendment, saying he did not want his members criticized for any vote they may take on the measure so he killed it.

Say what, Senator Smith? Aren't the Senators elected to vote on stuff just like this? Or is John Arthur going to switch his nickname from "Dr No" to "Big Daddy" the protector?

In any event, just for old times sake let's all say it together one last time: "Thank God For Mississippi!"


Banks, Berry and Schultz
Inside or outside? That's the really important question facing the city and its police department as it embarks on a search for a new leader of the guys and gals in blue.

When Mayor Berry announced Thursday that he has named Deputy Chief Allen Banks as interim Chief to replace Schultz who says he will retire August 3, the speculation immediately commenced on who would end up with the job permanently at the very troubled department.

With the department under a federal civil rights investigation for numerous police shootings and the city faced with potential lawsuits totaling in the tens of millions of dollars; with the Levi Chavez trial revealing a culture where officers have numerous sexual affairs with one another's spouses; with the department unable to attract enough recruits and with civil rights and business groups both losing confidence in the current APD leadership, it is obvious in this corner that Mayor Berry needs to go outside for the new chief.

Berry says he will conduct a national search. But he will not have to make a decision until after the October 8 election, so if he goes inside for the new chief any upset over it will not have as much political impact.

Banks and just about all the other top brass at APD are close allies of Schultz. Hiring one of them threatens to give us more of the same. In other words, more of the darkest years the department has ever experienced.


Schultz getting out of the way is good for Berry. His mayoral foes could have used him as a lightning rod in the final weeks of the campaign, but they still have plenty of fodder, including the outlandish Levi Chavez trial. An Alligator writes:

The Mayor may be trying to eliminate Chief Schultz as a campaign issue, but I can see TV ads featuring Levi Chavez used against the mayor. Levi has to have major name recognition right now, and probably despised by many women voters, in particular, after the high-profile trial.

While Berry was announcing the naming of Banks, politics loomed. On his Facebook page he released this news:

Seasoned political professional Missi Sousa wiil manage my re-election campaign. She is a true professional...

Sousa served as national voter contact director for the Romney presidential campaign. She also has experience in Republican politics in Maryland and Indiana.

Dana Feldman, the wife of Adam Feldman, a political operative with deep ties to political consultant Jay McCleskey, managed Berry's 2009 campaign. McCleskey did the heavy lifting.

Adam Feldman is now in Kentucky working a US senate campaign. Dana Feldman is now a deputy director of the city Cultural Services Department.

McCleskey, aka, "The Shadow Governor," because of his influence with Governor Martinez, has become a political hot button because of his fierce attacks on Dems of all stripes and his intimidation of the NM media. (Got that, Kent Walz?)

Jay is expected to handle Berry's advertising campaign, but no doubt will try to keep himself below the radar.

The FBI has reportedly asked a former Martinez campaign staffer about "consulting payments" made to McCleskey as they sniff around about the controversial ABQ Downs racino lease awarded by the Martinez administration. That ought to keep Berry, Jay and Nicole McCleskey, his pollster wife, on their toes and lawyered up and ready to go. :)


Mayor Berry said of Schultz at an afternoon news conference:

Chief Schultz is a tremendous leader and has brought about real change at APD. During the past three years Albuquerque has seen the three lowest FBI crime rates in the last 20 years; auto thefts are down by almost 20%, murders are down more than 25%, and rape is down almost 15%.

Mayoral challenger Pete Dinelli sees it in a different light:

Chief Shultz’s departure should have occurred long before the department was destroyed by his leadership. APD does not need the appointment of an interim chief who will support and carry on the same failed policies embraced by Mayor Berry. As Mayor I will bring change to the department and will remove the Chief and the Deputy Chiefs to restore public confidence. Three and a half years ago when I left as Chief Public Safety Office, the department was the best staffed, best equipped, best trained and best funded department in the city’s history. Today APD is in a complete staffing meltdown and being investigated by the Department of Justice. I am determined to restore public confidence and faith in the department.

Berry supporters are now taunting Dinelli for once having called Schultz "the finest chief" the city ever had. But that was before the dead bodies were stacked like cord wood around town and which are going to cost taxpayers millions in lawsuit settlements.


Kat White
The fatal shootings started when Berry put GOP politico Darren White in charge of the APD as well as Chief Schultz. Coincidence or not? You decide. (Hat tip to Fox News).

White was later forced out as city public safety director over allegations that he tried to influence the investigation of an auto accident involving his wife, Kat White. We covered the sordid affair in our blog of July 12, 2011.

Since then a wounded White and his allies--which apparently include the sitting Governor of our fair state--have gone off the rails, publicly accusing us on social media of being a liar, a whoremonger, a dastardly tool of the Dems and just an all around really bad guy.

Hey, we've been known to party, but that's a bit over the top. Should we call Archbishop Sheehan and ask for confession?

All we can say in response to the emotional, personal attacks on your blog from Governor Martinez and her attack dogs is: "Let's see who gets indicted, Susana."

(That's a shout out to Keith Gardner, Dan Mourning, Pat Rogers, Ryan Cangiolosi, Jay McCleskey, Darren White and Adam Feldman. )

(Darn, can't we get the disgraced Dan Foley and "Lightning Rod" Adair on that list, too? Well, they've already paid the price, haven't they?)

The appointment of Banks, the first African-American to lead the department, did not pacify longtime APD critic Silvio Dell'Angela:

Wasn’t there anyone better than Banks who is cut from the same cloth as Schultz? Was this just another Berry campaign PR stunt to diffuse criticism of the two recent shootings of African Americans?


Joe Monahan
So at first Governor Martinez, Jay McCleskey and the ABQ Journal say there is no FBI probe of the Downs deal--the awarding of the 25 year lucrative racino lease--but now Journal investigative reporter Mike Gallagher reshapes the narrative. There is an investigation as first reported by the Santa Fe Reporter:

At least two witnesses in the FBI’s email investigation said they have also been separately interviewed about what they know about the Expo-Downs contract. The Downs owners contributed more than $70,000 to the Martinez campaign.

The FBI investigation hasn’t reached the grand jury stage, nor have any subpoenas been issued.

The money line? "The FBI investigation..."

KRQE-TV insisted that the Santa Fe Reporter had it all wrong when they said, according to their sources, that there was no FBI Downs probe. Now it is abundantly clear that the FBI is indeed probing the Downs deal. Isn't it time for KRQE-TV to admit it was in error? That its sources had it wrong? That there has been a separate federal probe of the Downs deal--apart from emailgate?

It is now up to the new US Attorney and the FBI to bring the truth of the Downs deal to light. New Mexico can handle the truth--and benefit from it.

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