Monday, August 03, 2015
All Crime All The Time Prompts Citizen Petition As Mayor Deflects, Plus: The UNM Contract Debacle And More Spacing Out for Spaceport
We opined in a recent column that the crime wave seems to have taken on the characteristics of a wildfire and Mayor Berry and his administration have lost control of events. One of our readers--Milton Bluehouse--was prompted to start circulating a petition demand that the Mayor get a handle on what's happening. Not surprisingly, he and APD offer soothing bromides, denying there is even a problem:
After a 30-minute high speed chase, leading to an eight-hour SWAT standoff, the petition was created. “The constant sound of sirens, created this sense of anxiety and fear that we needed to do something to address crime,” said Milton Bluehouse. . “It’s an ongoing conversation that I’ve had with my neighbors and I just thought, hey we need to create a petition in order to draw attention to crime in our communities."
. . . (APD spokesman) Tanner Tixier said crime is not up. . . APD points out most of this summer’s crimes have been committed by the same small group of people. “We have to keep catching them again and that’s got to stop,” said Tixier. The Mayor said he agrees “Over 90% of the murders we’ve had this year have been committed by repeat offenders. “We need to give the judges the tools that they need to keep folks we should be afraid of in jail."
Reader Ron Kathman responds:
How about the deliberate and premeditated apathy on the part of our city's political and business leaders? They seem to think that if they pretend that crime is not a problem here, then crime will not be a problem here.
So the Mayor says he is pretty much helpless to stop the crime outbreak unless the state Constitution is changed to make it harder for repeat offenders to get bail.
That sounds like an odd message to send to the criminals who seem to have caught on that it's open season for them in a city that has a severely understaffed APD, near historically low response times, sapped morale, botched training and a DOJ court order handing over its head. But let's just hold up a copy of the Constitution and bellow to the criminals: "You guys are really gonna get it now!" Thanks, Mayor. Everyone feels so much safer now.
NO STEPPING STONE
In ABQ, Mayor Berry hungrily eyes the '18 Guv race, but political pros point out his ongoing problems with law and order in the city make him easy prey for an effective negative TV ad campaign.
Folks around the state don't cotton to "big city" mayors and their big city problems. We can't recall anyone gong directly from mayor to major statewide office. Maybe Gonzales or Berry will break that trend but there is plenty of reason to be doubtful.
THE UNM DEBACLE
The issue is how much politicization the public will tolerate at UNM, and as we know from Big Bill's term and now Susana's, the answer is more than you would expect. But the hiring of Marc Saavedra, son of former Dem State Rep. Kiki Saavedra, crossed the line and his contract as a consultant for the UNM Health Sciences Center will be canceled. Outrage followed Saavedra's hiring because of his three DWI convictions. He was formerly the top lobbyist for UNM but was let go after his last DWI.
It is quite the sight to see powerful administrators like UNM President Bob Frank (who with perks pulls down about half a million a year) and Health Sciences Director Dr. Paul Roth (who pulls down $650,000 a year) squirm in the limelight over this. Their huge budgets from Santa Fe make them especially vulnerable to political maneuvers. The only way they can stop it is by publicly standing up to the politicos and fighting it out in the Legislature. But the Saavedra debacle--which they had to see coming--shows the UNM temperament is to go along to get along--often meekly. You understand the reasoning but it's embarrassing to watch.
The critics call the stalled-out NM Spaceport, financed with taxpayer approval to the tune of about $220 million, a boondoggle. Well, what about the accident disabled WIPP? It makes the Spaceport look like a bargain:
Federal officials said that the March 2016 target to resume operations at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant outside Carlsbad. . . must be pushed back due to “unanticipated issues.” “Over the past several months a number of additional activities have been identified that need to be added to the project schedule, including safety related activities that are required to be completed. . .” the Department of Energy said. The department said it expects a new resumption of operations date and new cleanup cost estimate – currently at $500 million – to be announced in the fall.
That's half a billion and we're just getting started. Is it possible WIPP will not re-open for many years and remain a cash guzzling hole in the ground? Yes.
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