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Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Two ABQ Westside Legislators Urge Justice Dept. To Go All In And Name Federal Monitor To Run Troubled APD; Plus: Renegade Rep. Jeff Strikes Back At Groups That Tried To Keep Her Off Ballot, And: Susana And Tesla; Time To Lower Expectations? 

Rep. Maestas
Two prominent ABQ Westside state legislators told us Monday they are now in favor of having the US Department of Justice appoint a Federal Monitor to oversee the deeply troubled ABQ police department.

State Rep. Antonio "Moe" Maestas and state Senator Jacob Candelaria--both Democrats--say the time has come. From Maestas:

If you truly want to support APD and its officers, you will support the appointment of a  Federal Monitor who can implement the changes needed to make APD the best constitutional police department in the nation.

A Federal Monitor would essentially become the chief of police. The current chief would act under his direction. The Monitor could be appointed for up to five years and would work in conjunction with a Federal judge.

Seattle's police department is one of the USA cities whose police department has been under the  purview of a Federal Monitor

Maestas said that ABQ Mayor Richard Berry--who opposes having a Federal Monitor for APD--"has had his head in the sand" when it comes to addressing the systemic issues that have resulted in 37 shootings--23 of them fatal--since Berry became Mayor in December of 2009. He says:

APD has refused to take responsibility. They have refused to even listen. The Mayor has had his head in the sand since the get-go. As the shootings increased, he kept telling the community there was no problem. The Mayor and police chief should not wait for the Justice Department. The time has come for them to invite in a Federal Monitor. The men and women of APD and the citizens of ABQ deserve no less.

Maestas told NM Politics with Joe Monahan that he hopes the city's elected leaders and the business community join him in calling for a Federal Monitor. That was the case recently in Newark which also has a troubled police department.

The Chamber of Commerce and other business groups need to get involved. We have taken a severe hit nationally because of our APD problems. On top of the tragic loss of human life, our economic prospects are suffering. We need to work together as they are doing in Newark and treat this as an opportunity.

The most recent APD fatal shooting took place March 26 five blocks from Maestas' home. Alfred Redwine was shot and killed by an officer. APD said he was armed with a gun at the time of the confrontation. The police lapel video of Redwine being shot has yet to be released.

It was the March 16 APD shooting of homeless and mentally ill camper James Boyd that galvanized public opinion and sparked widespread protest. The FBI is investigating the Boyd slaying.

Candelaria, a freshman senator who has been high-profile, said appointment of a Federal Monitor would "bring the city together."

We're past tailing about the problem. We need action. People are frustrated--as seen by that Sunday protest--and if we don't see progress--frustration is going to grow. We can't reject outside help that could bring us together.. . .It's heartbreaking to see the city I love become known nationally for these shootings.

The Justice Department has been investigating APD for possible civil rights violations for using excessive force. The investigation has been underway for a year and half. It is up to Justice to decide whether a Federal Monitor is appropriate for ABQ.

Maestas appeared on the Fox News program "The O'Reilly Factor" on Monday to discuss APD.

NEW HOSPITAL?

The ABQ Westside Chamber of Commerce says its time for the biz community to act on mental health issues in light of the controversial APD killing of camper Boyd:

Given recent events, a mental health hospital is needed now more than ever, according to mental health advocates, religious leaders and the Westside Chamber, who will gather today at a press conference to promote a much-needed facility to deal with mental illness in our community.

That's an idea sure to generate some long overdue debate. Dan Serrano and other Westside leaders will unveil the proposal at a news conference today.

JEFF WINS

A challenge to the petition signatures of renegade Dem State Rep. Sandra Jeff has failed, and she's boiling mad over the groups that tried to take her out. After a McKinley County judge decided not to kick her off the June 3 primary ballot in which she has two challengers, Jeff blasted away:

I'm very disappointed that so called "progressive" and "Pro-Navajo" Democrats and even Democratic Party leadership went so far as to say that registered Navajo voters who only have "P.O. Boxes" should be disqualified and excluded from the democratic process just because they live on the Navajo reservation! Such action shows how out-of-touch and even racist these "progressive Democrats" are against Navajo voters. Shame on You Conservation Voters NM and the Native American Voter Alliance for what you tried to do against our Navajo voters and elders.. . .

The case will be appealed to the State Supreme Court but Jeff is back in the driver's seat.

Jeff has sometimes sided with House Republicans and has been a deciding vote for the conservative position in the closely divided chamber. Controversial Republican attorney Pat Rogers assisted her with her court case.

Jeff is now the favorite to win the primary. There is no R running in the NW NM race so it looks as if Jeff will continue to be a thorn in the side of the House leadership (as well as great blog copy).

THE TESLA TEASE

Governor Martinez might want to start tamping down expectations about landing that giant $5 billion Tesla gigafactory that will produce batteries for electric cars. For weeks our Alligators have been pinpointing Nevada as the odds-on front runner for the site and other observers now see it that way:

Northern Nevada is the front runner to land Tesla Motors’ $5 billion electric battery factory, though the California automaker is still talking to Texas, Arizona and New Mexico officials about incentive packages for the 1,000-acre site selection. Multiple business and political sources in the Phoenix area say the Reno area in northern Nevada is the odds-on favorite to land the Tesla plant. . . 

Either way, Tesla may be an issue in the Guv campaign. If we land it, the Martinez camp will be swinging from the chandeliers. If we don't,  Dems can point to the social conditions crisis here (think APD shootings, education etc.) as reasons Tesla decided to stay away. 

Reader Jeff  Baker comes with this on Tesla: 

Joe, Tesla needs $5 billion to open a new battery factory. So far, it has raised $2 billion. Panasonic, which Tesla expects will kick in the other $3 billion, may be getting cold feet. What are the odds someone will ask Governor Martinez and the Legislature to tap the Permanent Fund if Tesla agrees to build its factory in New Mexico?

Using the  Permanent Fund for Tesla? Now that's about as wild as it could get.

SOS RACE

Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver wants to keep the Democratic North in her camp in order to take out Republican Secretary of State Dianna Duran this fall. That's why the recent endorsement of Oliver's candidacy by Public Regulation Commissioner Valerie Espinoza matters.

Espinoza is a former Santa Fe county clerk who turned against Democratic Sec. of State Mary Herrera who lost the office to Duran amid ethics allegations. Espinoza toyed with her own run for the SOS office but went for PRC. The Dem ticket this fall is going to be heavy on the Anglo side and motivating Hispanic voters is going to be important for Oliver.

Meantime, Duran is determined to keep the office in the R's hands. She recently keynoted the Los Alamos Lincoln Day Dinner and national groups are lining up to pump money into the contest to keep the office in the R column, In 2010, Duran became the first R to be elected secretary of state since 1928.

 Both Duran and Oliver are unopposed for their party's nominations in the June 3 primary

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