Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Around The Roundhouse, Berry Reacts To Magazine Hit, APD And The Biz Community And PNM And You  

Let's kick off this Wednesday with the latest scuttlebutt from the Roundhouse. There, the wall-leaners are expecting Republican backed bills on right to work and repealing driver's licenses for undocumented workers to get brisk treatment in the GOP controlled House. That way they can send them over to the Dem controlled Senate and put it under pressure to vote on the controversial measures. House committee hearings on the bills start Thursday. . .

Here In River City, Mayor Richard Berry sat for a TV news interview about that New Yorker magazine article on APD that we blogged Monday and that shook the rafters at City Hall. Berry insisted the city is making progress in reforming the troubled department. He also said that excluding the office of Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg from a recent fatal police shooting was not retaliation against her for charging two police officers with murder in another fatal police shooting:

First of all, that’s nothing like retaliation. The city attorney had a concern … brought that up and we’re asking for a third party to mediate that. That’s nothing like retaliation.

Berry's quote to the magazine that he was not going to engage in the "blame game" over APD fired up his critics, but he stated it again in the TV interview.

The APD crisis has become to Berry what Vietnam was to Lyndon Johnson--it's sucking all the oxygen out of the room. A reader came with this on the Berry interview:

The first thing out of his mouth is blaming the prior administration. Does this guy not accept that he has been mayor the last five years and that he kept Ray Schultz as APD chief? When he blames the prior administration he is blaming Ray Schultz, yet Berry kept Ray Schultz. The majority of police shootings happened under Berry! Did I say that Berry kept Schultz?

Berry repeated that he is sticking by his "self-imposed" term limits and will not seek a third term in 2017.

Berry has been described as being in the bunker but gets credit for facing the music--or his version of it--in recent media exchanges.

The full nearly 15 minute interview can be seen here.


A reader of the Democratic persuasion comes with more reaction to that New Yorker  piece and how the business community fits into the picture:

The business community does not fully understand how the city's violent crime reputation and APD's reputation is affecting economic development. The predominantly Republican business community do not want an activist mayor and do not hold Berry responsible in any manner for Albuquerque's failing economy. 

The business community has bought into Berry's rhetoric and policies, and will always support him so long as he advocates "right to work", opposes increases in the minimum wage, continues his union busting and opposes any and all tax increases. 

Berry's support of the reduction in state corporate tax rates two years ago and the repeal of the "hold harmless" tax provision will soon have a major impact on Albuquerque's gross receipt tax revenues, but Berry's answer to replace lost gross receipts revenue will again be to cut city services, and the business community will agree and support his efforts.


A major rate increase proposed, the city of Santa Fe talks about starting its own electric company and the clean-up plan for the controversial San Juan coal-fired generation plant. All are matters that have been much in the news in recent months so the electric utility at the center of them--PNM--has come with a website devoted to them and the company's perspective.

The rate case is before the state Public Regulation Commission (PRC) and will likely be decided early next year. The overall increase is about 12% (14% for residential users). Our view: That's way too much in a state that is struggling economically. 

The Santa Fe plan to have taxpayers buy out PNM and create a city owned utility will also be around for many months. Our view: A bad idea. Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales has plenty of other things to keep him busy. Changing the light bulbs is as close to electricity as the politicos ought to get.

The agreement on reducing coal emissions at the San Juan generation station has met with split views in the environmental community. Our view: It seems we need something tougher but we want to hear more debate. 


Back to the Santa Fe scene for a minute. The debate over reinstating the state tax on food is getting a lot of attention, even though Gov. Martinez put the measure in an early grave when she indicated she would veto any such bill. Now Fred Nathan of Think NM, the leading opponent of the reinstatement drive, informs that the ABQ Chamber of Commerce also opposes the food tax. Someone call a priest. The Last Rites are in order for this one. . .

For those who can't live a moment without the Legislature, there are two new blogs covering the action. The NM Political Report--funded by liberal advocacy group ProgressNow NM--is up and running. And from the right of the spectrum and pushing the Martinez agenda is the NM Political Journal with former Roswell state Senator Rod Adair who recently left the Secretary of State's office.


Pearce & Blogger
GOP Congressman Steve Pearce's office says the insider who said here that Pearce no longer attends meetings of the state's congressional delegation had it wrong. There have been no delegation meetings for "several years," according to Pearce's office. We go back to the Sen. Domenici days when delegation meetings were common. Things change but we're not sure that this change is all for the better.

And Steve's office and I are communicating once again--just like the old days when this photo was taken on Capitol Hill. What a pair. . .

The customary ten lashes with a wet noodle will be administered for that erroneous insider report which isn't too bad considering this:

A high-powered group of U.S. senators is demanding that Saudi Arabia cancel the "barbaric punishment" of a blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes for criticizing the country's clerics, saying the floggings are particularly troubling in the wake of terror attacks driven by "religious intolerance." Blogger Raif Badawi has been ordered to endure 20 weekly sets of 50 lashes until he is whipped 1,000 times.

Needless to say, Saudi Arabia has just been scratched from your blog's bucket list.

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