Thursday, April 03, 2014

Political Chutzpah: Mayor Berry Points Finger At Justice Department As He Tries To Get Ahead of Justice Train Roaring Towards ABQ; Command And Control Of APD At Stake As Climax Nears Of Fed Probe Of Fatal Police Shootings  

In a move that may well be remembered for its audacity, Mayor Berry, who has had over four years to reform the runaway culture at APD, called a news conference Wednesday to hector the US Department of Justice (DOJ) to hurry up and conclude its 16 month investigation into APD so he could start implementing reforms.

"I don’t feel like I can wait any longer to take actions," Berry said without even a hint of irony.

Justice hurry up? After the city has endured 37 police shootings--23 of them fatal--since Berry took office in 2010? This from the the Mayor who originally opposed the DOJ probe? My, oh, my.. . .

Berry's run for cover immediately got the rumor mill spinning that a Justice announcement of the outcome of its lengthy investigation--accompanied by an outright takeover of the department--was imminent.

One could only speculate how the folks at Justice felt when Berry made it appear that they were the ones doing the foot-dragging and that he was now Eliot Ness leading the reform brigade.

Reader Tom Grover came with the counter spin to Berry's late innings gambit:

Only in New Mexico do you have nearly 5 years of police mismanagement by Berry (who vetoed the request from the City Council in 2011 to bring in the DOJ), and then when DOJ is about to announce the worst outcome for Berry and friends, he holds a news conference and basically says: "Hey, DOJ what's taking you so long?

Berry also said he wants to "negotiate" with the US Justice Department about DOJ monitoring proposed APD reforms. But the critics bayed that Berry doesn't need to negotiate--he needs to happily surrender to a full scale Justice takeover of APD on behalf of the long-suffering people of ABQ.

Longtime APD critic Silvio Dell'Angela put it this way in a letter to the DOJ:

The appeal by the Mayor to limit your actions should have insulted your intelligence and the intelligence of all citizens. We want a complete takeover by the DOJ of APD and not his limited initiative that allows him and his unqualified appointed Chief Eden to remain in charge.

We don't yet know the answer to the all-important question: Who is going to have day-to-day supervisory authority of the ABQ police department? Berry, Chief Eden and CAO Perry--or the US Justice Department through an appointed Federal Monitor? 

In other troubled cities Justice has moved to name a sole Federal Monitor with ultimate power. Mayor Berry is pushing to keep command and control under him and have one or more Justice monitors observe and evaluate as his administration implements. Supervisory authority would remain under his roof. But that's the same roof that is leaking. If Justice doesn't go for complete control in ABQ, it would be like putting a coat of paint on rotting floorboards.


It is the prospect of losing command and control of APD that puts dread into the hearts of Berry, Chief Eden and his chief administrative officer Rob Perry.

But under their watch the fatal police shootings have continued, with video of the recent killing of homeless camper James Boyd shocking the nation and turning the tide against them.

Berry also said he wants to hire a deputy chief to oversee his reforms and that of Justice and that Chief Eden has "sweeping reforms" in mind.

But where were the sweeping reforms as the bodies began to fall from APD bullets dating back to 2010?.

Shooting after shooting was spun as justifiable, even as lawsuits over them cost the city millions and will cost millions more in the years to come.

Only now that change is practically being shoved down the city's throat does the administration insist that it is ready do its job.

President Obama and Attorney General Holder don't need to "negotiate" a half-baked agreement. They need to lead this city out of the wilderness by taking complete control and restoring a civilized culture at the ABQ police department.


APD still has not released full video of the fatal shooting of Alfred Redwine, even though it took place nearly two weeks ago. They said shortly after the shooting that the video is being "processed." There are questions about what exactly Redwine was doing prior to being shot. Police and some witnesses say he fired a gun. At someone? Into the ground? We won't have answers until the "processing" of the video is completed and released.


Reader Stan Fitch writes:

Albuquerque voters had the opportunity to oust Mayor Berry on October 8, 2013. According to your blog at the time, liberal voters decided to stay home because the election lacked hot-button issues (the vote on banning late-term abortions was delayed until November 19). Since October 8 came the execution of homeless man James Boyd. Suddenly, the left is coming out in droves to protest APD. Where were the liberals and their personal convictions on October 8? As American citizens, one of our greatest duties is to get out and vote. The evidence speaks that the left would prefer to riot and protest instead of vote.


Renegade Dem State Rep. Sandra Jeff lashed out at Conservation Voters NM this week, saying the group had racist motives when it financed an unsuccessful challenge to her petition signatures and tried to get her kicked off the June 3 primary ballot. A judge kept her on. CVNM comes with this response:

In response to Rep. Jeff’s allegations of racism, CVNM points out that the other two candidates in the race are Navajo, and the suit was brought by a Navajo constituent. “Rep. Jeff broke the rules by not providing enough valid signatures from eligible voters, and we support the plaintiff Larry King in seeking justice,”  This is about protecting the civic process and promoting democracy.”


A reader asked Wednesday if the Dem leadership of the Legislature would consider asking the Governor for a special session to deal with needed mental health programs--just as they are considering a special session to attract a giant battery factory being built by electric car maker Tesla. A spokeswoman for the Senate Dems says that a recent statement from them addressed that concern:

“A solid commitment on Tesla’s behalf has to be made to warrant a special session. Other critical issues that were not included in the last session could also be addressed such as the behavioral health crisis and over-testing issues plaguing our schools.”

Our reader--who wants to stay unnamed--responds to that, saying:

You can't hide a mental health session behind Tesla and expect to fully deal with the issue. 


And now ladies and gentleman yet another installment in the series of tales from the self-proclaimed "Most Transparent Administration in State History:"

Gov. Martinez has clamped down on the Legislature's watchdog committees in what lawmakers consider an attempt to limit their oversight of the Republican governor's agencies. Administration agencies are telling the Legislative Finance Committee and the Legislative Education Study Committee their requests for information must go to the governor's chief of staff to be approved before information will be provided. The committees typically contact agencies directly to seek data and documents. LFC Chairman Rep. Luciano "Lucky" Varela of Santa Fe says the governor is "drawing the battle lines." House Republican Leader Donald Bratton of Hobbs says the new policy could create a bottleneck for getting information.

Now this would not have anything to do with unwanted information getting out on the campaign trail, would it? Not a chance. Could never be that. Not in a hundred years. . .

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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