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Friday, January 10, 2014

Friday Clippings: Omaree's Legacy, Treasurer Race Update, Berry's APD Problem And Nice Guys Finish First 

The horrific death of Omaree Varela has laid bare the very serious issues the state has in protecting children but this reader says it also pointedly lays bare the social and economic gap that is today's New Mexico:

This is a a video of the memorial service for Omaree. Where is Gov. Martinez? Where is Mayor Berry? Where is ABQ Police Chief Banks? Where are the city councilors? Where are the citizens? Any other city would have had all the politicians there, but not Albuquerque. Why wasn't this memorial full of outraged citizens? The politicians will show up for fund raisers (even going out of state) but where are they for Omaree?

We know the ugly truth. In life, just as in death, Omaree was ignored by those in power and by the community at large because of his economic status. He was poor and we never would have heard anything about him had he not been murdered. Even in death he was ignored. What has happened to Albuquerque? 

Apathy hangs thick in the air in ABQ but Omaree has awakened many. Maybe it's not too late to schedule another memorial service where that awakening can be demonstrated.

THE MEDIA AND OMAREE

Some exceptional news reporting has resulted from Omaree's death. KOAT-TV news has been especially hard-hitting and persistent as it works to hold government officials accountable. As with many stories, those officials are hoping the story will go away. But after being stonewalled reporter Anna Velasquez came with a much needed hit on APD:

For the past several days we have asked APD to talk with us about Omaree's case...and how the department processes child abuse investigations. APD has not answered our latest request. We feel this is important , for police to talk with us about their role in protecting children and we will continue to insist they do so. We are also requesting important documents to shed the light on the problems in the system and to find out exactly what went wrong in Omaree's case...

The ABQ Journal has also risen to the occasion and slowly but surely the whole story is emerging. "Afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted." That's always the story.

Attorney General King, seeking the Dem nod for Governor, is going to undertake an investigation into Omaree's death. The Governor's office says King is trying to exploit the boy's death for political gain. Maybe so. But the American system is about holding your foes feet to the fire. It is the self-interest of both sides--the debate between the two--that ultimately benefits the public.

We've got a 9 year old boy who cried out for help from our state dead at the hands of his own mother. If that doesn't enter the political arena, we ought to revert to a dictatorship. Let the investigation--and  debate--begin.

CALL HIM STEVE

A reader who says "just call me Steve" writes:

Regarding New Jersey Governor Christie's problem with his staff causing traffic jams to punish the mayor for not endorsing Christie. I hope Susana will use this as a learning experience that this is what happens when you turn over the control of your administration to political advisers and top staff members....

Martinez's campaign expressed her confidence in Christie. Meantime, NM Dem Party Chairman Sam Bregman wisecracked:

Hopefully, Governor Martinez will not do anything to cross Governor Christie. Otherwise, if he were to become President he might shut down I-40 and I-25.

TREASURER RACE

Veteran government official Rick Lopez of Santa Fe says he will seek the GOP nod for state treasurer in the June primary. He says he will bring "conservative values" to the office that has been controlled for decades by the Dems.

The Lopez entry brings us back to speculation that Demesia Padilla, the state taxation and revenue secretary, might seek the GOP treasurer nomination. Doesn't look as though that is going to happen.

Three Dems are vying for their party's treasurer nomination.

BERRY'S APD

A reader writes:

Mayor Berry says the ABQ police department is fully funded for 1,100 officers yet the force remains at least 200 short. The media reported that unused money for vacant positions is returned to the general fund. Convenient, huh? 

How many millions of dollars does this add up to after years of a shrinking department? APD can't recruit new hires, old hires are running for the doors and a contract is still not in place despite years of reduced pay.  Tens of millions of dollars have been paid out for police lawsuits and the City's excuse is that they have raised hiring requirements resulting in the staffing shortfall. By appearances only, it looks like the City is not serious at all about increasing the number of officers available to respond to call for service. It is not a problem until it is you that has to make that call to 911.

THE FAIR'S FALL

The NM State Fair is in a secular decline, hammered by changing social rends and an economy that has especially hammered lower income households that have been the most ardent patrons of the annual event. This year's statistics--revenue down 9% and attendance down about 4%--continue the years long trend. The Fair is a shadow of of its former self. What will it be in five or ten years?

THE BOTTOM LINES

Allen Weh this week made official his candidacy for the GOP US Senate nomination. Reader JD Robertson has some thoughts:

A while back I suggested to your readers that there was little use analyzing Mayor Berry's chances of winning a second term because for some inexplicable reason Joe Sixpack considered him a "nice guy" and that he would be a "shoo in" for that reason alone. He won easily.

Applying that same reasoning, I suggest to you that Allen Weh will not be successful in his quest because he is not a "nice guy." For some inexplicable reason Joe Sixpack does not like him and will not vote for him. Have a nice day, JD.

And we thought "nice guys" finished last....

Thanks for stopping by this week.

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