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Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Personality Of ABQ City Council Finally Emerges And It Isn't Pretty, Plus: Plenty Of Suggestions For APD Reforms Council Claims It Hasn't Heard, And: Manny Aragon Update 

Berry And Councilor Ken Sanchez
One disruptive meeting in 40 years and the ABQ city council is ready to move into Mayor Berry's bunker. What gives?

The nine councilors--sometimes known as "The Nine Blind Mice"--went into a tizzy in the aftermath of Monday's meeting in which protesters--many of them relatives of those who have been slain by APD--forced the council to cancel its meeting. Rather than discuss the content of what provoked such over-the-top emotion, the council retreated into a discussion of how it can stop future outbursts. Talk about missing the forest for the trees.

And then in comments dripping with both sanctimony and arrogance, a number of the councilors claimed the protesters were not worth listening to because they had no "suggestions" and that the council's important deliberations about APD were being unfairly interrupted.

No suggestions? The protesters, the bloggers, the letters to the editor, the opinion columns and TV news have been bursting for four years with APD criticism and recommendations. We've been tearing our hair out over it and that's pretty precious stuff for a gentleman of a certain age. Now after millions in lawsuits, blood in the streets and a federal intervention--now you tell us you need suggestions?

It is this city council that has been without suggestions, without oversight of APD, without leadership, without compassion, without vision and without bravery. All of that has contributed mightily to the dastardly reputation our city has earned and the reinforcement of a run amok APD culture that stains both the good officer as well as the bad.

Now, instead of finally seeing the light and pressuring the administration for major reforms we have a rudderless, do-nothing, cover-your ass-at-all-costs city council climbing into the Berry bunker and adopting the same "us vs. them" culture that's caused so many of our APD problems. At this rate, the Justice Department will be here for a decade. . . .

SUGGESTIONS?

As for the "suggestions" the see-no-evil, hear-no-evil council pretends not to have heard, could it be that they have heard them but just don't like them?

To list only a few:

--Call on the mayor to hire a police chief from outside the state with no connections to APD or NM law enforcement, giving us a fresh start.

--Upon hiring of that new chief urge him to replace the top command staff of APD

--Pass a resolution expressing no confidence in the leader of former Chief Ray Schultz (too late for that one).

--Consider a resolution of no confidence in new Chief Gorden Eden. You don't have to approve it, councilors, you just have to consider it and discuss it.

--Conduct a special oversight meeting on APD with the mayor and chief in attendance to answer questions from both the councilors and those they receive from their constituents.

--Reserve a portion of the police department budget for a social programs unit in APD that deals exclusively with calls over the homeless and mentally ill.

--Make sure the Federal Monitor selected to oversee Justice Department reforms is not an appendage of the current administration.

--Devote more funding to social programs citywide that give people a hand-up and start to break the cycle that we are trapped in.

The suggestions go on and on and on. The councilors--who each have a $50,000 a year aide--could easily become expert in police matters and make even more suggestions for righting APD and restoring the reputation of this city beloved by so many.

The problem is not the relatively minor annoyance of protesters interrupting a city council meeting. The problem is the head-in-the-sand, apathetic, inactive and now freshly defensive ABQ City Council.

NOT READY

A reader writes of the City Council:

That meeting really puts the face on this so-far faceless council. Clearly, they excel at giving out awards to the Girl Scouts, and passing memorials. But when the going got tough, they showed their true colors and sat back looking like they'd finally been caught in the act--doing nothing. And forget about any of them running for any higher office. The image of the councilors wandering around looking dumbfounded will make a great TV ad.

That council showed Monday night they are not equipped to tackle the tough stuff. Not one of them. And for those that say there was nothing they could do to stop the protesters, that's hogwash--had they done something months or years ago except sit on their hands, they would have more control over this issue. If they were real politicians with some savvy and some huevos they would at least shut off the public's microphone a la Mayor Daley in Chicago!

And the ridiculous claims by the City Council seem to know no boundaries. Look at this:

Two city councilors say the protest that halted Monday’s meeting could end up costing the city about $200,000 in borrowing costs. That’s because the agenda included an ordinance authorizing the refinancing of some city debt. The city couldn’t complete the transaction because the approval didn’t happen, and the market looks less favorable now, officials said. Councilors Trudy Jones and Ken Sanchez expressed concern about the delay.“It looks like we have a lost about three basis points,” Jones said, or about $180,000 to $200,000.


First, interest rates change on a daily basis. They could go right back to where they were before the council disruption or even lower. More important, what about the nearly $25 million in lawsuit settlements we've had to pay out since 2010 because of APD malfunctions?  What about the millions more we will pay for even more lawsuits? What about the millions it will take to implement the justice Department reforms? Where is the outrage from councilors over that?

It seems the spin skills of the city council are rusty indeed. That happens when you allow yourself to comfortably nest in irrelevancy for four years.

BOOTIE FOR ALFONSO

Alligators wondered if Las Vegas Mayor Alfonso Ortiz was getting any special consideration from the Martinez administration for endorsing her in a TV spot. A Dem state Senator writes:

Joe, I'd say Las Vegas Mayor Alfonso Ortiz is simply providing tit for the tat he got from Governor Martinez. She included in the her capital outlay projects his community's $11 million request for a dam. He was working hard during the session to get that badly-needed water project included. His appearance in her campaign ad is his way of saying thank you to her for agreeing to include it. That's either honest gratitude or good old fashioned New Mexico political pay to play, depending on your perspective.

LOVE ALL AROUND

The National Education Association NM (NEA) came with an endorsement in the Dem Guv primary Tuesday. So who got the coveted prize? How about all five? Yep. . . .

MANNY UPDATE

Friends of former state Senate powerhouse Manny Aragon report he is now out and about. They say he is still on probation for the corruption charges he was convicted of and for which he served four and a half years in federal prison, but his movement is not as restricted.

ANOTHER EPISODE. . .

And now gentle reader, yet another episode from "Tales of The Most Transparent Administration In State History":

 District Court Judge Sarah Singleton has set a mid-May deadline for Gov. Martinez to comply with an April 2013 public records request by the fired CEO of New Mexico’s Finance Authority, Richard May, a former Beltway Republican who says he was a scapegoat in an audit that identified fraud in NMFA.

May’s October lawsuit, filed 174 days after he requested the records, alleges that the Martinez administration “purposefully and intentionally delayed, failed, and refused to produce copies of properly requested public records,” which “may be embarrassing or show excess and abuses of the powers and authority.” May’s Inspection of Public Records Act request asks for years of communications and other records involving the Finance Authority and the special audit of NMFA’s finances.

PLAYING ROUGH

Gov. Martinez is getting roughed up from the left--very roughed up. She's described as:

. . . .a radically industry-friendly state governor with national political ambitions who has a reputation for slander, hypocrisy and trying to rewrite laws in her favor.

Well, at least they didn't call her a "retard."

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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