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Thursday, November 05, 2015

ABQ Chamber Of Commerce Shrinks As City Stagnation Drags On, Plus: Senate Dems Plan Hit On Berry, And: More On Crime And The Coming '16 Campaign 

Maybe we should call it the Lesser Chamber of Commerce. Like so much else around here the business group--the Greater ABQ Chamber of Commerce--is being downsized. From a high of about 30 employees the Chamber has shrunk to 12, with three laid off just last week.

With business formation in ABQ at a glacial place, many others shutting their doors and fewer willing to put up a hefty fee to join the Chamber, it's no wonder. Also, where's the value of the membership?

The Chamber, under the stewardship of Terri Cole for decades, continues to spout the same tired bromides of cutting taxes and regulations. We've done plenty of both and it's not working.

The other problem is the Chamber and Cole have become down-the-line advocates for Gov. Martinez and Mayor Berry. They support everything--and we mean everything-- the GOP pair proposes and they do it without a peep of dissent. A board meeting of the Chamber must be akin to a session of the Politburo.

But when you have businesses and the Chamber as scared as a turkey in November that state and city government contracts will be pulled from them if they dare walk a different path, it's easy to understand.

Like its membership, the Chamber's ideas are showing their age. This is no longer a boom town where folks from across the USA are flocking to. This is a city with an economic and social conditions crisis that businesses are shying away from. Employment and job creation is at or near historic lows.

Fresh ideas, fresh blood and pressure on the politicians to invest in this economy. Admit there's a problem and talk about it. That's what the Chamber needs. Until then, like so much of our city it will remain a shadow of its former self. Don't say we didn't tell you. . .

DEMS AWAKEN

It looks as if the state Senate Democrats have finally realized that the Guv's political machine is coming for them next year. Look at this:

Albuquerque Area Senate Democrats will Hold a Press Conference to Discuss Solutions for Albuquerque’s Crime Crisis. The number of police officers on the street has dropped by 30 percent, violent crime has increased by 20 percent and response times are up 20 percent since Mayor Berry took office. Senate Democrats will discuss the reasons for the crisis in Albuquerque and solutions to end it.


Senate Majority Leader Sanchez has staffed up by adding Isaac Padilla, a former policy analyst for Dem Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham as well as the ABQ City Council. Padilla has been advocating for a more aggressive tone against the Guv, Berry and the R's.

It has become evident in recent weeks that the R's are going to try to hang the violent crime problem around the Dems necks. Reader Richard Flores writes this about that developing theme:

Ultimately, I don't know what the answer is, but I certainly don't agree that liberal legislators or judges are responsible for the deaths of APD Officer Webster and the four year old victim of road rage. I do, however, believe that our criminal justice system is broken, and that something needs to be done to keep dangerous repeat offenders and career criminals off the streets. 

 I understand how the Guv could use the theme of "turnstile thugs" for political purposes, just as others have used similar messages to gain an advantage in a political campaign (remember Willie Horton). Conversely, I don't believe that an informed constituency will automatically buy into the machinations of the governor's campaign to "fix the blame" on liberal legislators. Those that will buy into this message are entrenched conservative voters that predictably always look for a "bogey man", be it criminals, gang bangers, immigrants, and more recently, turnstile thugs. 

 It is clear that street violence in Albuquerque is a serious problem, but a narrow and restricted focus on how to address the perceived problem will not work either. Perhaps the answer is multidimensional, including lax gun control laws, lack of opportunity, school drop outs, a tanked economy, voter apathy, a shortage of police officers, etc. Maybe the next step is for the Governor to show some leadership and work with the legislators to try to fix the problem instead of fueling the fires of discontent.

Meantime, the all clear signal has not been given to Gov. Martinez when it comes to pointing the finger over repeat criminal offenders roaming the streets. A reader in the know writes:

Somehow the Governor has forgotten that the thug who killed officer Webster was prosecuted by her office when she was Dona Ana County district attorney and not by the ABQ DA. In fact, her Deputy DA --Susan Riedel--made the plea bargain that let him plead to voluntary manslaughter instead of murder. It might have been appropriate but it would be fair if the pro-Martinez media outlets would tell “the rest of the story.” Please don’t use my name, I am in a hotbed of GOP folks.

Thanks, anonymous. We did find one media reference to the Dona Ana County district attorneys office role in the plea bargain with Davon Lyman who is accused of Webster's murder.

THE BOTTOM LINES

Gibson
The long process of reforming APD includes public participation, like this event tonight:

City Councilor Diane Gibson will host a community meeting for the Albuquerque community to meet with James Ginger, Ph.D., the Independent Monitor of the Albuquerque Police Department, And members of his monitoring team. Councilor Gibson will be joined by US Attorney Damon P. Martinez, City Attorney Jessica Hernandez, APD Chief Gorden Eden, APD Assistant Chief Bob Huntsman, and APOA President Stephanie Lopez. The meeting will be held from 6 - 8 PM Thursday, November, 5, at Sheraton at Uptown 2600 Louisiana Blvd NE.

In our first draft Wednesday, we got our senators mixed up. We said the constitutional amendment reforming bail laws in the state was being sponsored by Senator Tim Wirth. Actually it is sponsored by Dem state Senator Peter Wirth. Tim is a former Senator from Colorado.

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