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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Wheels Still Coming Off The ABQ Crime Train, Plus: Arguing ART; Prayers To The Judge, And: NM In Philadelphia 

Here in ABQ this sizzling summer of '16 the wheels continue to come off the crime train, with auto theft--a favorite pastime of the thousands of meth heads that populate the city--skyrocketing (up 45% in '15). It's a woeful tale of an understaffed police department patrolling less and making fewer arrests. It also speaks to the high unemployment rate. And. . .

It also speaks to the utter failure to engage the drug problem more directly. Bernalillo County Commissioners continue to sleep at the wheel and sit on $20 million that is generated annually from a tax with the specific purpose of addressing pressing "mental health" and addiction problems.  They are "studying" what to do. But they've apparently done enough studying to know they want to divert some of that money into a program only tangentially connected to mental health. Come on, Commissioners. Shake a leg or else give us free ignition locks. . .

A county employee phoned this week to report the unsavory discovery of human feces on downtown's Civic Plaza and what he described as a "Hooverville" for the homeless sprouting up on grassy areas near the plaza. Well, perhaps when the human excrement starts showing up on the well-manicured lawns of those residing in the wealthy precincts of the city, we'll get something done. . .

Meanwhile, the collective consciousness of the business aristocracy continues to operate under the delusion that the $35 million glorified college dorm known as "Innovate ABQ" is somehow going to resolve a drug-fueled crime epidemic and other deteriorating social conditions that have made us a fly over zone.

Or how about running a rapid bus line down the middle of Central Avenue that promises to wreak havoc with small businesses as Mayor Berry zealously promotes it over their objections? It's a $100 million mayoral joy ride that, if built, will end with a crash and burn.

Even the atheists who own businesses along the ART bus route are praying that Federal Judge Kenneth Gonzales derails it. If he's listening carefully to the testimony in the hearing he is presiding over this week, he shouldn't have much trouble answering those prayers.

The city is as desperate for a favorable decision from Judge Gonzales as the opponents. Look at this. They've set up a "loan fund" for businesses impacted by the construction. Guess the mayor realizes that this project is going to threaten the livelihoods of hundreds of businesses and their employees. Still, Berry insists on railroading it through. His legacy could end up being his stubbornness once the wrongheadedness of ART is fully revealed.

AT THE CONVENTION

Haaland in Philly
New Mexico has had a nice little run at the national political conventions this summer. A Los Alamos optometrist, Lisa Shin, was a speaker at the Republican confab and Wednesday at the Democratic gathering in Philadelphia, NM Dem congressional reps Ben Ray Lujan and Michelle Lujan Gisham had a chance to speak. Ben Ray is chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee so he landed a choicer spot later in the evening and more time to make his point. Video here.

Hoping to make inroads in the Republican-controlled US House, Lujan came with this broadside of the GOP and Trump:

For nearly six years, Republicans have held the majority in the people’s House. But clinging to that majority is the only thing they’ve accomplished. . .For nearly six years, they’ve been afraid to stand up to the birthers and bigots and conspiracy theorists – like the one they just nominated for President. Millions of Americans who don’t consider themselves Democrats have now joined us in rejecting Donald Trump’s bullying, his racism, his attempts to divide our American family. Growing up, my grandparents shared with me the age old wisdom: Dime con quién andas, y te diré quién eres. Tell me who you walk with, and I’ll tell you who you are.

Rep. Lujan Grisham's speech is here. Video of Senator Udall and NM Dem Chair Deb Haaland announcing the presidential votes of the NM delegation is here.

Reader Sybil Wertheim has thoughts on our question about supporters of Bernie Sanders getting more involved in local races for Governor, ABQ Mayor and the Legislature:

I am delighted to see your admonition to Bernie supporters to do more than rail against Hillary. It should be all about local, state and congressional races. The top will take care of itself (my opinion). I saw this first hand when I worked for (then-Congressman) Martin Heinrich in his office in '08 when Obama was amping up the excitement of younger people. On the phone they would tell me (many times) that they voted early for Obama and when I asked about Heinrich etc. they said "who" "what"? It's very demoralizing when folks in a position to do so, only talk about the top of the ticket.

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