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Monday, October 26, 2015

Berry Deflects ABQ Crime Crisis To Santa Fe Signaling Major Campaign Theme Against Senate Dems, Plus: Alligators Pounce As City Endures Horrific Crime Outbreak; Former Mayor Calls For Council Action; Berry Mayoral Foe Blasts Away, And: New Name Floated For SOS Slot 

Mayor Berry (Rosales/Journal)
If he had a magic act ABQ Mayor Richard Berry could dub himself "The Master of Deflection." He put on another sold-out show Friday as he laid the entire blame for the city's crime crisis directly on the New Mexico Legislature.

Beside completely ignoring his administration's own abysmal record of managing APD for six years, the deflection was also a clear political declaration that the Governor's political machine will be making crime and punishment its major 2016 attack theme as it works to oust enough Democrats from the state Senate to form a Republican majority or get close to one.

Berry issued a call to arms to citizens to get them engaged in the 2016 legislative session as emotion hung thick over the city in the wake of the horrific road rage related murder of 4 year old Lilly Garcia and the shocking shooting of APD officer Daniel Webster, only hours after Lilly died. At the moment of the little girl's passing, the city might have been ready to turn against Berry or at least start asking the tough questions we and others have posed for years, but then the brutal shooting of officer Webster came and things quickly turned into another rally around the flag atmosphere.

Berry was embarrassed last year when the Senate swiftly dispatched him when he sought to allow retired police officers to be rehired while still receiving their public pensions, a practice often reviled and known as "double-dipping." But he is again putting that one at the top of his wish list. The odds are he will again be shown the door, but this time the rejection will be used in the '16 Senate campaigns.

Ditto for another of Berry's pet proposals--a constitutional amendment that would allow judges to hold people in jail without bail if the defendant is a danger to the community. If that goes down in the Senate--as it likely will--look for the robocalls to go up against Dem Senators.

The mayor's deflection may be smart politics but it does nothing to decide a future course of action to resolve the worst law enforcement crisis in the history of the Duke City. As the Eagles sang: "It's another tequila sunrise, this old world till looks the same. Another frame."

ALLIGATOR ALLEY

What are the Alligators to do?  They continually point out the misinformation emanating from City Hall and the Mayor about crime and APD and the administration keeps repeating the misinformation. Well, the Gators have a long view (having populated La Politica for over 400 years) so they are not about to let this mayor--or any other--not be called to account for their action or inaction. Here's a latest sampling:

The shooting of APD officer Daniel Webster and the shooting death of 4 year old Lilly Garcia are tragedies; but they’re tragedies that have become a part of life in Albuquerque. Albuquerque has become a very dangerous city.

After the latest round of shootings a local TV news station aired commercials urging people to “Stand Strong.” But what does that mean? Continue to ‘stand strong’ with the leadership that has failed Albuquerque? Instead of urging people to “Stand Strong,” the community should be urged to “Stand Up.” Stand up and demand accountability from the person who purportedly runs this city.

R.J. Berry has been mayor since 2009. You can almost pinpoint the decline in the city’s economy, the decline at APD and the decline of the city’s civic culture to that specific event. So why isn’t this mayor being held accountable? Former Mayors Marty Chavez and Jim Baca would have been, and were. Why the different standard for an Anglo Republican than a Hispanic Democrat?

Until Berry is called out and held accountable for what has happened to the city under his watch, people can stand strong all they want, but nothing will change. Not until R.J. Berry starts to feel some real political heat and understands his laid-back smoke and mirrors act won’t work anymore.

Speaking of former Mayor Baca, he says the repeated outbreaks of violence are ruining the city's reputation and are cause for the City Council to consider a vote of no confidence in Berry and Eden:

The City Council has stood by while gun violence, economic decay, and police problems have devastated our city. Perhaps it is time for a vote of no confidence to be taken by the Council. I don't say this lightly. I have been a Mayor and know just how tough the job can be. But being a Mayor means more than continually saying the phrase, "thoughts and prayers, " every time another person dies by gunfire. And it means standing up front to talk about our economy and what needs to be done to pull Albuquerque out of its last place position in every measurement list for prosperity. The events of the last two days are further hammering Albuquerque's national image into the ground. Our current leadership is helpless and inadequate.

DAYS OF DINELLI

Pete Dinelli
And then there's Pete Dinelli. You remember him. He ran against Berry in the 2013 mayoral race, only to be defeated in a landslide as he was derided as a Captain Negative. But even his foes have to grudgingly admit that Dinelli and his analysis critical of Berry and APD are being vindicated.

Dinelli, a former ABQ city councilor and onetime BernCo chief deputy district attorney, is back today in the aftermath of one of our most horrendous crime weeks ever:

What have Chief Eden and the Mayor done to address crime in Albuquerque and to reduce gun violence? Nothing! Albuquerque’s crime rates are clearly out of control. Berry and Eden must be held accountable and not be allowed to just blame our criminal justice system and other elected officials when they have not taken action themselves. 

Berry and Eden know it is easier to condemn our criminal justice system instead of taking any responsibility for what is happening. They broke it, they own it. APD is seriously understaffed, morale is extremely low, and APD is having serious problems patrolling our streets in an effective manner. Only 404 sworn police officers out of a department of 860 are patrolling our streets. They are handling 69,000, 911 priority 1 calls for service each year, with response times going from 8 minutes 56 seconds to over 11 minutes. That endangers public safety. 

Mayor Berry and Chief Eden need to stop condemning our criminal justice system for these recent tragedies and take aggressive action. 

 APD is top heavy with overpaid management and it needs to be reorganized, restructured and streamlined to get more police officers patrolling our streets, return to community-based policing, double down on recruitments, increase the number of police academy classes and increase police officer salaries across the board for rank and file officers, not management. Berry and Eden condemning our criminal justice system does nothing to reduce crime nor solve APD’s problems and neither does Mayor Berry saying Eden has APD on the right track.

Hey, we'd offer equal time to the Berry brigade, but they already get that every day in the local newspaper.

SOS NAME GAME

Duran (Bralley)
Another prominent name has surfaced as as a possible replacement for ex-Secretary of State Dianna Duran who resigned last week after cutting a plea bargain deal with Attorney General Hector Balderas over criminal corruption charges. The new name is that of former ABQ GOP State Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones who tells us "it would be an honor" if Gov. Martinez picked her to replace Duran.

Arnold-Jones, 63, won a reputation for advocating government transparency during her legislative tenure. She ran unsuccessfully against Martinez for the 2010 GOP Guv nod and was the 2012 GOP nominee for the ABQ congressional seat. She lost that contest to Dem Michelle Lujan Grisham, 59 to 41. Mayor Berry appointed Arnold-Jones to fill a vacant city council seat in 2013, but she was defeated when she ran for election.

Insiders have been citing Valencia County GOP State Rep. Kelly Fajardo as a good fit for the SOS job, but she would have to leave her House seat and the House is only narrowly controlled by the GOP,  leaving them vulnerable to a Dem gain.

Arnold-Jones
The Arnold-Jones speculation raised questions as to whether she would be the strongest candidate to keep the seat in GOP hands. Other R's are pushing for a Hispanic surnamed woman to get the appointment which the Governor will make in the next several weeks.

The probable Dem nominee for the '16 SOS contest is Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver.  She lost to Duran in 2014. The winner will serve the final two years of Duran's term. The SOS slot will be on the ballot again in 2018 for a full four year term.

Back on the Duran debacle, AG Hector Balderas has been taking some heat on social media for cutting a deal with Duran that does not include her losing her state pension. Reader George Richmond opines:

So she saved her pension....which was all she really cared about. Hector caved in...

But the AG comes with this:

Aggravated fines under 31-18-15.4 cannot be sought by the State absent a trial. As drafted, the statute requires findings of fact to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt at trial by a jury. We filed a notification to use this statute in case we went to trial. This plea is in the best interest of justice and the citizens of New Mexico.


On September 30 we quoted a source close to the AG as saying there would be no plea bargain in the Duran case. Why the plea? The AG's backers say the plea will save hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs in impeaching Duran in the Legislature and that she has had to fess up to her wrongdoing. Critics say the AG's case was not all that strong and avoiding a trial was necessary.

DON'T LEAVE

It has been a very troubling time in ABQ but attorney Jeffrey Baker says don't throw in the towel:

Joe, All of us--whether we live in Albuquerque, Sacramento, Houston,or Philadelphia--fall into a rut of criticizing where we live. We want our cities to be better than they are, to reach their potential. For those of us in Albuquerque, it is important to remember and honor the good stuff--whether it is the Balloon Fiesta, the Zoo, local theater, the Tram, or neighborhoods rich with history. Ask your readers for a top  list of “Why I still live in Albuquerque.”  There are a multitude of problems and challenges here, but unless we acknowledge the good stuff, we might as well pack up and leave.

Thanks, Jeff. If readers want to pick up his challenge, they are welcome to email in their top five. The best entry will win lunch for two courtesy of yer little 'ol blog.

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