Tuesday, April 08, 2014

The People Speak: Large Crowd Jams ABQ Council Meeting Over APD Crisis; Mayor Berry Hit For Being A No-Show; DOJ Comes Thursday; Will They Lower The Boom? Plus: Is Allen Weh Presuming Too Much, And: Susana Starts Beating Up On Dem Guv Rivals 

Those who protest APD polices don't call him the invisible mayor for nothing. Wherever they are, he isn't.

And so it was again last night as an overflow crowd packed into city council chambers to vent to the nine councilors over 23 fatal police shootings that have occurred since Mayor Berry took office in December of 2009. They were hoping to also vent to the man who presides over their city government, but he chose not to attend.

This wasn't an ordinary city council meeting like ones mayors have routinely ignored for years. This was one of the largest public hearings before the council in 40 years of modern city council history.

About 150 people signed up to speak. . .The chambers hold about 240 people, and nearly 140 others watched from elsewhere. A room on the ninth floor was filled to its capacity of 86 people. . .One man shouted “the fish rots from the head” when a speaker pointed out that the mayor wasn’t there. More than 50 people sat outside City Hall watching the meeting from two televisions with speakers. 

Nearly 400 ABQ citizens show up for a meeting (with many more watching at home on gov't TV) and the Mayor doesn't show but sends a note apologizing for his absence? All he had to do was appear for a minute or two, welcome the crowd, note their concerns and then lower the temperature by leaving. That's simple respect for hundreds of citizens you were elected to represent--not just the comfortable affluent nestled in the far Northeast Heights.

Just why did the mayor stay away from the center of ABQ politics and policy last night--a decision that was roundly booed by those who did show? This tweet during the council session explains that Berry was discussing the APD problems but before a select group of his choosing:

Just had a great conversation with & other young professionals in . Good stuff.

Berry would have endured some boos if he showed his face at the council meet, but isn't that what being a real leader is all about--standing up and taking the heat and showing your face when the going gets tough?  Not hiding out with friendly faces who fawn over you? But showing up at council would result in an unpleasant TV picture and when your co-Mayor--"The Fifth Floor"--tells you not to do it...well...you just don't.


The Dept. of Justice will announce Thursday morning the findings of its 18 month civil rights investigation of APD. As KOB-TV's Stuart Dyson reported the only significant question on the table is what Justice sees as its future involvement with APD. Will it appoint a federal monitor who would have the full backing of a federal judge to implement reforms or will we get something less that leaves it up to Berry and Chief Eden to comply voluntarily with Justice's recommendations?

It is the full federal monitoring that even many in the conservative business community have got to be hoping for. Anything less is going to continue the animosity and distrust between the administration and a large swath of its citizenry. That's bad for the city's image, bad for business and bad for the cops on the beat who are already operating under enormous pressure....


I'm dating myself but I recall attending the very first ABQ city council meetings in 1974 when we adopted the current Mayor/Council form of government. Our first Mayor--Republican Harry Kinney--attended just about every council meeting--even sitting at the dais with the councilors. That tradition faded in later years and the chief administrative officer began representing the executive branch, with the mayor showing up on occasion. We missed Harry Kinney while watching the hours-long city council meeting last night. . . .

It was uplifting to hear so many people--young and old--express their deep caring for ABQ last night--especially the young people who said they plan to spend their lives here. Sometime it feels as if this city is adrift with people coming and going. But this is home to hundreds of thousands and this APD crisis has moved them. Something good has to come out of that. . . .

It has been disheartening to witness the institutional breakdowns we have seen the past few years--in the mayor's office, the city council, the police department, the prosecutors, the business community, the media as well as a population encased in apathy.

This is still a pretty good system of government that provides a last resort--public protest. Ultimately, it is the people that can correct the widespread dysfunction.


Is Republican Allen Weh getting ahead of himself? He says his run for the GOP US Senate nomination against Las Cruces attorney David Clements is a walk in the park. Here's Weh's campaign in a recent letter to supporters:

Weh won a majority of delegate votes at the Republican Pre-primary State Convention and is the presumptive nominee who will challenge Democrat Tom Udall in November. If elected, Weh is expected to be one of only three combat veterans in the entire Senate.

But observers are not ready to "presume" that Weh is the "presumptive nominee." Clements stunned Weh at that preprimary by getting an unexpected 47 percent of the delegate votes against the former GOP chairman. Now Clements is working to get cash from the Sen. Rand Paul wing of the party. He says:

It is an honor to receive the endorsement and support of the Republican Liberty Caucus. I am proud to stand with RLC endorsed candidates like Senators Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee and others who uphold the principles of liberty. The US Senate needs more voices like theirs to be raised against government overreach.
Weh can afford to pump personal cash into his campaign, The question on the table is whether Clements gets money from out-of-state Libertarian and conservative Republican groups?

If he can raise money for a sizable TV buy, we are going to get a race. If not, then Weh will have the permission of the Alligators to call himself the "presumptive nominee."


A big quarter of fundraising for southern Dem congressional candidate Rocky Lara. She will report she raised over $300,000 in the first three months of the year, one of the biggest quarters ever for a challenger to Republican Rep. Steve Pearce. Lara says she will report having more than $440,000 cash on hand when reports are filed in mid-April. Pearce already has $1 million stashed away.

Lara's strong fund-raising means we are going to have a much higher-profile campaign than the R's may have wanted or expected. It means Lara will be able to make her case against Pearce on statewide TV.


In a new fund-raising pitch Governor Martinez unloads on Dem Guv candidates seeking their party's nomination and the right to take on the Guv in November. A sampling:

The ABQ Journal reported that Attorney General Gary King's top corruption prosecutor complained that King may have broken state law by how he tried to raise money from government employees.

KOB-TV reported that a man who made national news when his ranch was accused of torturing and abusing children held a fundraiser for Democrat Howie Morales. The man wants to help Morales, because our approach to fighting child abuse has apparently been too tough.

And ultra-liberal Alan Webber has been raising money at exclusive champagne brunches. . .hoping to raise campaign cash from a network of national liberals. Webber is a darling of the Left and extreme environmentalists for promoting radical policies, like having the government mandate a $4.50 per gallon minimum gas price. . .

Dems you better get your boxing gloves on, because Susan is getting into the ring. She will also start her first TV ads of the '13 campaign today.


A reader writes:

Joe, you keep an eye on NM's economic and health statistics, so I thought I would send this along. Finally, a ranking where New Mexico places on the right end of a scale -- obesity. We are among the 10 states with the lowest obesity rates.   I have some quibbles about how the data was determined by Gallup, but these days I will take any good news about our state that I can.

Now that's a weight off our shoulders---or hips. . . .

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