Thursday, January 30, 2014

First Stop For Banks Is The Bank; Outgoing APD Chief Scores Big Payday, Plus: Who Will Be Permanent Chief For Berry's Troubled Cop Shop? A Top Name is Floating, And: Defending Michael Sanchez  

Banks and Berry
APD interim Chief Allen Banks hedged his bets and it paid off big time for him. How it will play out for the city of ABQ and the troubled department he will soon leave is the question du jour.

Banks, a 20 year APD veteran, will pull down $140,000 a year as the new police chief for Round Rock, TX, a city of about 100,000 near Austin. Combine that with an APD pension of at least $80,000 and that's a cool $220,000 a year for the public servant.

And how much cash will Banks get for all his unused sick leave? Six figures worth? Yep. $163,000 say media reports. It seems Mr. Banks just beat the daylights out of this recession that continues to haunt the state and city.

Banks, who announced his new job Wednesday, appeared to be Mayor Berry's favorite to become permanent chief, despite the national search Berry has touted. But Banks' performance as chief has been met with derision. His penchant for secrecy in the recent beating death of 9 year old Omaree Varela, APD's resistance to providing public records on past police shootings, more police shootings on his watch and Banks' uninspiring performance when he did appear in the media, had to have Berry realizing that Banks was in over his head. Banks got the message.

And maybe Governor Martinez did too.

Soon after Banks announced Wednesday morning that he is out of here at the end of February, the name of Gregg Marcantel, Secretary of Corrections under Martinez, began seriously floating in law enforcement circles as a possible permanent APD chief.

Marcantel is a Marine Corp veteran as well as a veteran of the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department. He has led the state corrections for over two years with no public scandal and absent any headline-making incidents at the state's prisons.

The thing about a potential contender like Marcantel is that he comes from outside the culturally polluted APD but does not come from outside the state. He might be the kind of compromise candidate those pushing for reform are able to accept as well as those who fear a wholesale repeal of the status quo.


Mayor Jim Baca in the late 90's was the last mayor who brought in an outside police chief--Jerry Galvin. He won kudos for being smart, ethical and professional. But he was said to have been undercut because he was not able to bring in some outside deputy chiefs and commanders. Galvin was hamstrung by the APD command staff culture that resented outsiders. He was also hamstrung by a department that could not keep up with attrition because of the requirement that all APD applicants have some college courses.

Under Mayor Berry APD  again has that college requirement and the department is short over 200 officers. Our police observers say if APD is to be restored to proper stafing, there must be a way for noncollege people to apply. Also, and most important, if a new chief comes from the outside he will also need to bring in his own deputy chiefs and commanders. If not, history could repeat and the new chief could fall victim to the same insider undercutting hat hurt Chief Galvin.

As for Marcantel as a possible APD chief we asked retired APD Seargent Dan Klein, who has worked with him, for a first take:

APD command staff will still view him as an outsider, but I worked along side him when he was with the Sheriff's office and I was APD. I found him to be highly professional and ethical. He has smart ideas and given the right people at deputy chief and commander he can turn APD around. Mayor Berry will need to provide him the ability to pick outsiders for his command staff...

APD is the target of a US Justice Department civil rights probe because of all the police shootings--many of them fatal--that have occurred since Berry took office. The shootings and other problems are costing the city tens of million dollars in lawsuit settlements--a cost that is only going to escalate in the months ahead. Justice is expected to call for any number of reforms to turn the department around and that is also expected to cost the city.

For Mayor Berry. getting this chief selection right is imperative to restore confidence in APD here and nationally. It is also crucial for any future political ambitions he may harbor, although his handling of APD may already be the black mark that spells the end of those ambitions.

For Governor Martinez--a former district attorney who is seeking re-election this year--it has to be nerve wracking to see the continued unraveling of the state's largest police department. If she wants to bail Berry out and has a candidate who has the street cred--and who will be allowed to reform the department without political interference--bring them on.


Sens. Smith & Sanchez (ABQ Journal)
NM Dem Party Chairman Sam Bregman was castigated by state Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez for saying Dem Senate Finance Committee Chairman John Arthur Smith should become a Republican if he won't schedule a committee vote on an early childhood education constitutional amendment. Sanchez and other Dems said Bregman should not be meddling in the affairs of the Senate, but is that really that unusual? Look at this news:

The Arizona Republican Party formally censured Sen. John McCain on Saturday, citing a voting record they say is insufficiently conservative. The resolution to censure McCain was approved by a voice-vote during a meeting of state committee members in Tempe, state party spokesman Tim Sifert said. It needed signatures from at least 20 percent of state committee members to reach the floor...

Sanchez came in for quite a blog bashing for his continued support of Smith. Here's longtime Democrat 
Theresa Trujeque defending Sanchez:

I am not going to throw stones at Senator Sanchez for defending Senator Smith. It's so easy to criticize an elected official when we disagree with them and lose perspective of their accomplishments and principles, and as Democrats, we often do so at our own peril. Senator Sanchez has a long list of progressive issues he has fought for including the creation of the lottery scholarship, increasing the minimum wage, and opposing the ban on drivers licenses. He is the best ally and advocate Democrats have in the Senate. . . How many times has he stood up to the Martinez administration? So many times that as you will recall, the Martinez administration tried their best to defeat him two years ago.

I admire Senator Sanchez for standing up for what he thought was right even when it entailed supporting Senator Smith, who is unpopular with the left wing of our Party. I trust Senator Sanchez to make the best legislative decisions at the most critical times and ensuring that our priority bills are passed.. .We are so lucky to have Senator Sanchez's leadership in the Senate fighting for our democratic values and never backing down.

Meanwhile, Sen. Sanchez has a new target in his sights--Sidonie Squier,  cabinet secretary for Human Services. He's introduced a resolution that calls on the Senate to express the Senate's

"lack of confidence in the ability of the Secretary. . . to fairly and faithfully execute the duties of that office...Secretary Squier's stewardship of the programs that assist New Mexico's most vulnerable residents has been marred by her decision to halt funding to behavioral health care providers serving the vast majority of New Mexicans who receive behavioral health services through medicaid; and Secretary Squier's decision to halt the funding was based on unproven allegations of fraud that she has refusedto reveal to the accused, the legislature and the public.


Reader Joe Craig sends this news item headlined:

"Cow Farts Cause Barn To Explode In Germany."

He offers this comment: "That could be the Roundhouse with all the gas up there..."

At the Capitol today gay marriage supporters say they expect hundreds to take part in a Marriage Equality Rally and lobby day at the Legislature. The rally at the Capitol takes place at noon. . .

Reader Nash Garcia reports Kiplinger ranks NM the 9th worst state in which to retire, mainly because of the gross receipts tax but also because of crime and poverty.

Come on, Nash. You and Joe Craig are acting like ants at the Roundhouse picnic.

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