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Wednesday, April 09, 2014

City Hall's White Hue Becoming Noticeable In APD Crisis; Where Are The Faces Of Color? Plus: New Deputy Chief Hire Questioned, Reawakened City Council Examined, And: Susana Makes '14 TV Debut 

Mayor Berry
As one wag put it, Mayor Berry could hire the Pope and they'd still complain. And so it is with Berry's decision to hire a 4th deputy chief to oversee the Justice Department reforms that are going to be ordered Thursday.

Never mind that Bob Huntsman, the retired APD commander named to the new slot, may be just dandy, but it is yet another White face in a sea of brown, black, red and yellow that is modern day Albuquerque. Where are those faces as we face down the most serious APD crisis in history?

The Anglo dominance of the city administration is overwhelming. It includes Mayor Berry and his PIO, Chief Administrative Officer Perry, City Attorney Tourek, Police Chief Eden, Crime Center Director T.J. Wilham and now Huntsman.

ABQ's population is 47% Hispanic, nearly 5 percent Native American and 3 percent African-American. That's 55 percent. The entire Anglo population is 41% Where are the faces of color in the halls of power at City Hall and APD? They are few and far between and it is compounding the trust problem between the government and its citizens. Not to mention that many--if not most--of the 23 police shooting fatalities since 2010 have been Hispanic and African-Americans.

It's yet another matter for the Justice Department to remedy as we look for a top to bottom rebuilding of a deeply dysfunctional department--one that is not only isolated from the community by a runaway culture but by ethnicity.

WHY SO FAST?

Criticism of the Huntsman appointment: It seems rushed and designed to trump the DOJ. Why could it not have waited? Why could it not have been done in consultation with the DOJ whose reforms Berry wants Huntsman to oversee?  Is this another political hire? The job was obviously not put out to bid. And why hire an old APD hand if you are truly intend to go in a new direction? And many more. . .

We all know the bottom line. Thursday is do or die. We either get an announcement that a Federal Monitor will be appointed by DOJ who has the full backing of a Federal court to implement change and who will oversee Huntsman and Eden--and not the other way around--or we muddle through with some kind of compromise that sets up both the city, the DOJ (and the White House) for deep trouble down the road. . .

OUT OF THE COMA

Now more insightful analysis and commentary from a Senior Alligator who speaks of the recently reawakened ABQ city council:

All of a sudden we have city councilors who are taking police issues seriously. Where have they been the last 4 1/2 years? I see all sorts of ideas coming from our now awakened council but not a single proposal to repeal laws that make being poor and homeless illegal. Remember the ordinance that prohibits sleeping in your car? Well, why doesn’t the council repeal that law that is only directed at the poor? This law puts police in direct conflict with a poor person, instead of getting that person help.

From the LA Times as ABQ continues to make the wrong kind of national news:

"They treat you like you're out looking to cause trouble every time they talk to you," Michael Gonzagowski said. For him, the (Alfred) Redwine shooting was the last straw. ABQ Police Chief Gorden Eden said Redwine was armed and fired a gun before officers shot him during a standoff at a public housing complex. But Wynema Gonzagowski, a 53-year-old film technician who said she witnessed the entire incident, said she didn't see a gun on Redwine and that he had his arms down, with his palms out, when officers shot him."They didn't warn him, they didn't tell him to freeze and get on the ground or to put his hand behind his head. They just opened fire," she said. Since 2010, Albuquerque police have shot 37 people, 23 of them fatally. The shootings have prompted the U.S. Justice Department to open an investigation into police conduct.

APD still has not released lapel video of the March 25th shooting of Redwine in a SW ABQ neighborhood. The chief has previously said the video is being "processed."

SUSANA AND THE TUBE

It may be like this the entire year--Democrats trying to play catch-up with Governor Martinez who is armed with a massive war chest and who began spending it this week on the first TV ad of the '14 campaign. Meanwhile, the five Democrats seeking their party's nomination in the June 3 primary are desperately trying to raise the money needed to get up TV ads of their own. Right now, they are all dark.

Martinez, as expected, comes out of the gate in positive mode, touting what she sees as her administration's accomplishments. But what stands out for us about the ad is how she twice directly appeals to Hispanic voters in her 60 second spot.

At the front of the ad we are reminded that  Martinez is "the first Hispanic woman governor in American history." And the tag for the ad is "She's our Governor--Susana Martinez"--with the stress on "our." It's a clear play on ethnic pride.

And therein lies a key Dem problem--reclaiming Democratic Hispanics who strayed to Martinez in 2010 and made possible her victory.

As for the ad's optics, Martinez does well reading her prepared script and comes across as approachable and earnest. It's this persona not the policies which Democrats have failed to indict that continues to carry the day for her.

The bulk of the ad deals with what Martinez perceives as her major accomplishments and it underlines just how thin the gruel has been in Santa Fe these past four years. So thin that the ad pounces on esoteria like "export growth" to bolster the incumbent, saying New Mexico is "#1 in export growth." That was true at at one point in her term but not now:

 . . .The state, overall in 2013, lost $200 million in exports. . . U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis said . . . ;New Mexico, in total, exported $2.71 billion in 2013. However, state exports in 2012 for the state were $2.96 billion. Overall, the state lost almost seven percent of its exports in 2013.

And the ad trots out that favorite canard of the Guv--that she solved the largest state deficit ever and did it "without raising taxes."

But taxes were raised by her predecessor to solve the budget shortfall and further, as Democratic state Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino has pointed out:

She did not inherit the largest deficit in New Mexico history. Martinez was sworn in on January 1, 2011. The budget gap then was nowhere near as bad as the ones faced by the previous administration and Legislature in the Januarys of 2009 or 2010.

And as the AP noted, the elephant in the room---the terrible jobs environment here--is entirely ignored in the TV spot:

The ad doesn't mention that New Mexico ranked last regionally in job growth in the 12 months ending in February.

And even as Martinez was making her '14 campaign TV debut the news that has haunted this Governor's term since its inception kept coming:

New Mexico was one of three states that lost jobs in the 12 months that ended Feb. 28, and its manufacturing sector suffered the highest rate of job losses of any state, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. New Mexico’s manufacturing sector shed 1,800 jobs over the year, for a 6.1 percent decline. The industry has had 15 consecutive months of over-the-year monthly job losses. . .  At February’s end, New Mexico had 812,100 nonfarm jobs, 4.4 percent below the peak of 849,700 in February 2008, the BLS said.

And those are not government jobs being lost which the administration continues to cite as the main reason for the state's economic decline. We are declining in a variety of sectors and our population stagnation bears witness to it.

The producers of political ads on all sides are so cavalier these days that they often don't even cite citations for the facts they assert. Such is the case with Martinez's first ad.

The money is so huge--and the audience already so skeptical--that even aggressive fact checking by the media and the opposition often fails to debunk even the big whoppers. And it is the negative ads that seem to move public opinion  more. We bet prosecutor Martinez will enjoy that aspect of the campaign much more than trying to make a hearty stew out of a record that in reality is the aforementioned thin gruel.

EXPORTING SOMETHING

Reader Troy Williams writes of the Guv's first TV spot:

Susana's TV ad claims we are #1 in something--export growth. I think I may agree with her--we are exporting New Mexicans right out of our state--quicker than any other state.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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