Wednesday, March 22, 2017

ABQ Free Press Ends Print Run; Will Stay On-Line, APD Street Cred Hit In Martens Case, And: A Letter From Austin Lamenting What's Happened To Our Beloved Duke City  

The ABQ Free Press was tilting against the windmills when it launched as a print publication a couple of years ago in an increasingly digital environment. That run has now come to an end. The weekly has discontinued its print edition, but will still be up and running as an on-line publication. The feisty journalism delivered by writers like Dennis Domrzalski will still be available there.

ABQ attorney Will Ferguson, the publisher of the outlet who has financially backed the enterprise, will now do so on-line as the outlet works to monetize what editor Dan Vukelich says will be a "robust" Internet presence.

Speaking of the Free Press, retired police sergeant Dan Klein recently authored an opinion piece that earned a good deal of attention:

APD is fond of saying, “If you see something, say something,” especially when it comes to the abuse of children. . . But the events leading up to the murder of 9-year-old Victoria Martens say otherwise. After another 9-year-old, Omaree Varela, was killed in December 2013, APD Chief Gorden Eden promised that the department would do a better job of protecting our children. Taxpayers paid for a study that came up with new guidelines to ensure that our most vulnerable children would be protected. Three years after Omaree’s death, it appears that the only change at APD has come in its ability to spin the news. It ignored its own policy in the case of little Victoria, who in August 2016 allegedly was drugged, beaten, raped, murdered and mutilated by her mother and two others.

As for APD, its funny how the town barely blinks at news like this that in a different time would have had people in an uproar:

The City of Albuquerque reached a settlement agreement with the family of a woman killed when an Albuquerque Police Department officer ran a red light and caused a crash. The city will pay $8.5 million to Ashley Browder's family, according to a press release from the law firm representing the family. The 21-year-old Browder died on Feb. 10, 2013, when then-APD Sgt. Adam Casaus sped through a red light at Paseo del Norte and Eagle Ranch Road and collided with Browder's car. Ashley Browder's sister, Lindsay, was seriously injured.

$8.5 million out the door with more millions to come. What a malignancy on City Hall.

And the APD news rolls on. . .

Now some of the City Councilors are being accused of trying to wiggle out of their responsibility to rebuild and fully staff the severely understaffed and troubled APD. The Council has approved spending $50,000 to study a consolidation of APD with the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department. One of the mayoral candidates, Republican Dan Lewis, is behind the study. He's going to find just how unpopular that idea is when the campaign is fully joined. Meantime, the current mayor, RJ Berry, has his hands full. . .

The unpopular ART project that is tearing up Central Avenue to put in rapid transit has Berry taking hits citywide. Now there's the news that the federal funding for the project is threatened and could lead to a fiscal nightmare for the city. Reader Melanie Majors jokes:

Well, after the budget news about ART, I don't know if there will be a rail around to run Mayor Berry out of town with!


Reader Paul Nixon, formerly of ABQ and now of Austin, writes:

Hi, Joe. I’ve been reading your blog for many years, dating back to the time when I worked for two Attorneys General in New Mexico. Although I’ve been living in Austin since I left Albuquerque in 2007, I still  keep an eye on what’s happening because I vowed one day that I would return. But it’s shocking to observe, even as an outsider, what’s happening there:

--The explosion in crime.

--The mass exodus of population from the state.

--The continued cutting yo the bone (now into the marrow?) of education funding.

--The ridiculous compromise on predatory lending affecting New Mexico’s most dire population.

--No impactful movement on ethics oversight.

--An ABQ mayor seemingly hell-bent on tearing up an historic and vibrant section of his own city for a project whose funding is now in serious jeopardy from Trump’s budget cuts, and worst of all. . . 

--An entire population of proud people suffering from low employment, high poverty, and lack of hope or opportunity.

I don’t believe you’re using hyperbole when describing these issues. Yet, it’s almost as if the leadership there in New Mexico is only arguing over who gets to ride shotgun in the fire truck while Rome burns. As someone who dearly loves the state and its people, what can I or anyone else as non-residents do to help turn things around? I always brag how I worked for the people of your great state and try to recommend that people visit as often as I can. But I’m almost starting to fear that they would be a crime victim or see the sad shape of the cities and population. It’s not a rhetorical question that I ask: what can I do to help?

Thank you for reading and thank you for the effort you put into your blog. Please send me the New Mexico Politics with Joe Monahan t-shirt.

Thanks for that insightful missive, Paul. There's not much we can add except to say the last of the t-shirts went to Jay McCleskey, Pat Rogers and Mickey Barnett. But we hope to have a new batch ready real soon.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

E-mail your news and comments. (jmonahan@ix.netcom.com)

Interested in reaching New Mexico's most informed audience? Advertise here.

website design by limwebdesign