Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Vox Populi: Readers Speak (And Vent) On The Issues Of The Day And That's A Good Thing 

Time for another enjoyable edition of vox populi where readers chime in on the events of the day. We start off with reaction to May 7 blog featuring comments from Kathryn Carroll on how ABQ stands up to Tucson in the wake of the big economic slowdown:

Your writer was spot on. The Mid Rio Grande Council of Governments hosted a economic development session last week with political and business leaders from the four-county area. The city of Albuquerque didn’t send anyone and neither did Bernalillo County. There was a strong contingent from Rio Rancho, including its Mayor. The lack of energy, excitement and inspiration was noticeable. Heads were looking down at smart phones more than they were at the presentation. A few remarked on the lack of ambition, passion and leadership on economic issues. We simply have a disinterested, lackluster mayor and council. What are they doing? What are their plans? Who knows? In stark contrast, Mayor Rothschild in Tucson publishes his plans on the city’s web page and citizens can track his progress. Tucson appears open and interested in ideas and action. Albuquerque seems to just meander along.  Do the minimum to get reelected, don’t ruffle any feathers, keep your head down. It’s very disturbing

Reader Jeff Nordley writes:

Interesting comparison between Albuquerque and Tuscon. I can't help but note that the decline coincided with the election of a "pro-business" Republican to run our largest city and the election in 2010 of a scorched earth Republican to run our state. As there are certainly other factors at play, I am sure it is just a coincidence.

This anonymous reader has some firm opinions on equal pay for women:

The recent Equal Pay bill passed by the Albuquerque City Council should be retitled the Partial pay or Unequal Pay Revisited bill. What a disappointment for women in our community that self-described women's advocate, Martha Burk, actively supported less than 100% equal pay for women. She endorses this mushy, unenforceable, non-transparent ordinance to institutionalize the right to pay less?

So here is what we get. Mayor Berry gets a headline for his soon-to-be Governor campaign, City contractors still get to pay women less and get rewarded for it, and unequal pay gets celebrated as equal pay and a trend setter nationally? Even more unfortunate, Councillors Diane Gibson and Klarissa Pena were used as tools to craft the compromise. Councillor Gibson did exactly what her opponent in the last election, Janice Arnold Jones, would probably have done -- support the Republican Mayor but not the basic principle of Equal Pay. Is this the value her constituents voted for and more importantly, that she campaigned for?

Maybe it's not just a lack of leadership, maybe it's a lack of courage. On this issue, a backbone beats a wishbone every time.


Mayor Berry's reaction to the scandal involving former ABQ police Chief Ray Schultz and the "greasing" of a contract for Taser's police lapel cameras for APD brought reaction, Berry said "there will always be something like that in a city of this size.. . " Veteran NM journalist Wally Gordon wrote:

Joe, the mayor’s comment “there will always be something” sounds like an echo of former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's comment about US soldiers passively watching looting during the Iraq war: “Stuff happens.”

Reader David O'Neill wrote:

Can the taxpayers of Albuquerque sue the Mayor for specific performance? He's becoming a real embarrassment and has been for a while.  I've lived in several cities and monitored the politics of several. San Antonio, New Orleans before Katrina and Tucson. Killing a suspect every month for two years isn't normal, but so is nothing about APD and this (zero's) tenure as Mayor. He's becoming Baghdad Bob of the first Iraq war, or Nero maybe.

Former APD officer and now lawyer Tom Grover:

If a department's supervisor, commander, or even its very chief shows that its OK to put their thumb on the scale, rig a bid, or enrich themselves by virtue of the public office they hold, are they not modeling unethical behavior to all the line officers and detectives?

What does it say when the mayor orchestrates a press release between his personnel and the State Auditor only so that he will be out of town and can't face immediate questions?

What does it say when the city's chief administrative officer asserts that not only were there no issues with the Taser contract but everything was in compliance, when the gap between that statement and reality includes violations of criminal statutes?

Berry's comments about "there will always be something" regarding this mess is terrifying because he either simply does not understand that no, things like Dept. of Justice and criminal charges against a police chief are not "always something" that faces a city or he chooses not to appreciate the scale of this mess and the effect it is having on our city and region.

Another reader gets basic:

You've heard the term, "shit happens?" Berry seems to be saying "corruption happens."


Finally, a reader busts us for our incorrect use of the word "cement." in describing a photo of Gov. Martinez. We joked that she was pouring it in order to encase State Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez:

As a devoted reader I bring to your attention the error in your May 6 column. Gov. Susana Martinez wasn't pouring cement, she was pouring concrete, which contains cement, aggregate, sand and water, plus additives to strength and cure it depending on the environment. If she were pouring cement, she would have been covered in gray dust -- now that would have been a photo opp! As someone who spent far too much time as a college student pouring, mixing, testing, inspecting and even breaking concrete in massive pressure-test machines, I felt it my duty to set you straight.

More vox populi to come. . .

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