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Thursday, June 29, 2017

Pre-Fourth Fireworks: Chamber Public Safety Award For Mayor Berry In The Middle Of The Crime Crisis is Scorched And Scorned, Plus: The Latest Action From Candidates Who Hope To Replace Berry 

Mayor Berry
The news that Mayor Berry will be given an award by the ABQ Chamber of Commerce for advancing public safety set off the pre-Fourth of July fireworks, with most of those weighing in offering withering comments on the Chamber's decision and on Berry's dismal record in the public safety arena.

Coming as it did in the middle of an epic crime crisis, the outrage was fever-pitched but not without humor. One of our Alligators joked:

What's next? (Former APD Police) Chief Ray Schultz gets an ethics award from Taser?

Others commenting were not prone to humor, calling the award "disgusting" and "shameless," among the less profane adjectives.

The Chamber, led for decades by its president and CEO Terri Cole, has been scored repeatedly in recent years for not demanding more results on the crime front from the Berry administration, even as Cole and the chamber decry the damage being done to the city's economy by the wave of criminal activity.

In olden days the likes of GOP US Senator Pete Domenici would pay a visit to the 11th floor of City Hall and demand that Berry right the ship, but Pete's long gone. Add to that the shrinking economy. That has made the major contractors hungrier than ever for new government spending projects. They are all members in good standing of the Chamber,  NAIOP and the Economic Forum, business groups that have kowtowed to Berry even as crime and the economy have tanked his approval ratings and brought economic development here to a near halt.

Berry has rewarded them handsomely, with $300 million in construction contracts going out from the city this year alone. It's a final burst of pork barrel pending to cap his eight year run which ends December 1.

In that context the Chamber's bizarre award seemed more for Berry's substantial "public spending" rather than "public safety" as the Chamber again turns a blind eye to the crime crisis, one of the worst in the nation.

(And that the Chamber of Commerce constantly crows for more "free enterprise" but actually is heavily weighted with folks who make their livings off of the government is lost on only the very few).

Terri Cole
Writing for the ABQ Free Press, Dennis Domrzalski provided this provocative context for the mayoral award:

The chamber will give a public safety award to the worst mayor in the city's history, a mayor whose city is literally on fire when it comes to crime. That's why Albuquerque has always been, and will always be, an economic and social backwater, a place of self-and-rigidly-imposed mediocrity. . . Under Berry’s watch, the Albuquerque Police Department has been decimated, we’ve become one of the most dangerous cities in the nation, criminals are laughing and residents are fleeing to other states. 

For that, Cole and the chamber she has run for 35 years are giving Berry an award. Only in Albuquerque are public officials who are total incompetents and failures feted with dinners and awards. And that’s why Albuquerque has always been, and will always be, an economic and social backwater, a place of self-and-rigidly-imposed mediocrity. It’s no coincidence that Cole is giving a failed mayor an award. Cole and her organization, and pretty much every other business and political group, are part of a small clique of people who have run this town for decades. Their faces and names never change. . . 

THE RAGE GOES ON

Attorney and former APD officer Tom Grover, who often is hired to handle cases involving APD, was also roused to comment over the Chamber's award, an award that at first glance seemed like a political satire but is for real and will be given to him today at  5 p.m. at the ABQ Museum:

While the general contractors involved in ART, Paseo's overpass and other infrastructure projects may have benefited from Berry's tenure, the rest of us have not. Our city's budget is hemorrhaging millions of dollars because of the Dept. of Justice reforms ordered  over APD's mismanagement, our economy has tanked, our quality of life is suppressed because of crime and our primary protectors against crime--APD--has been decimated by its leaders. They remain uncommitted and motivated solely by personal enrichment and personal resentment. 

When has Chief Eden or his crew taken ownership of anything? It's always some other guy's fault. Well if anybody needed evidence of their delusion, one only needs to look at what this faux "award" and recognize what it means: failure. I loved being a police officer until it become unpalatable because of  leadership's corruption. In the years since I've left APD and fought to correct it's misdeeds by Chief Schultz and Eden, I'm amazed that it has gotten worse. This award does nothing but embolden continued bad behavior by the Mayor and his police chief. 

(By the way, a biting comment on the crime wave on the Wednesday blog that came from Veronica Garcia was not from the Veronica Garcia who is superintendent of the Santa Fe schools.)

ON THE TRAIL

Ricardo Chaves
Meantime, on the mayoral campaign trail, Dem Tim Keller has scored an important endorsement which raises the question of whether an independent political action committee will be formed to buttress the $380,000 in public financing he is receiving. The news:

The American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees Council 18 has endorsed Tim Keller for Mayor of Albuquerque, the union’s local chapter presidents announced today. AFSCME Council 18 represents about 2,000 City of Albuquerque employees and an additional 3,000 workers who live in the city.

Will unions be part of a PAC that weighs in with advertising and manpower for Keller? That's the talk.

This is just the latest of many union endorsements Keller has received and that positions him well for the October 3 election. Republican Dan Lewis put out a fundraising message this week saying "all the polls" show that he and Keller are most likely to face each other in a run off election on November 7th. If no candidate gets 50 percent of the vote Oct. 3, which is highly unlikely, the two top vote-getters will advance to the run-off.

Lewis is trying to shake off the challenge he is receiving from fellow R and BernCo Commissioner Wayne Johnson by dismissing Johnson's candidacy as a nuisance and arguing this is already a two man race. The new finance reports will be released July 15 and will reveal more about who stands where.

And in case you forgot, there is a third Republican in the eight person mayoral field. That would be 81 year old businessman Ricardo Chaves who is luring voters to a Sunday event by offering free barbecue:

Chaves, the only veteran running for ABQ Mayor, will be hosting a FREE BBQ in appreciation of ABQ's fellow veterans, service members, and their families this Sunday, July 2 from 1 pm-4pm at his campaign headquarters located at 1018 4th Street NW (4th/Mountain). This event is free, catered by Rudy's BBQ, and is open to all who appreciate our military men & women.

Free barbecue and free Fourth of July fireworks. Now that's making America great again.

AT THE MOVIES

Finally, reader Eric Lucero comes with some film reviews for the long holiday weekend ahead:

Dean (PG-13) Comedy/Drama *** Stars out of 5 This little picture showcases the ample talents of actor/writer Demetri Martin who through quirky impulse stars in the title role as the cartoonist son who can’t quite cope with his mother’s sudden death.

Dean returns to his boyhood home and immediately tangles with his equally distraught father played competently by veteran actor Kevin Kline. How we deal with and accept life’s travails is what defines us. Martin clearly understands this. Yes, this short runner is a diamond in the rough. The plot’s rocky road to resolution seems contrived and there’s the obligatory happy ending, but Martin, in his directorial debut, makes the journey worthwhile.

A Quiet Passion (PG-13) Historic Bio-Drama **** Stars out of 5 ‘Passion’ is a specialty picture that vividly illuminates the life and times of Emily Dickinson, one of America’s greatest poets. Director Terence Davies (The Deep Blue Sea, 2011) has a reputation for blending known histories with personal memories in order to create a plausible, flowing and compelling narrative. He succeeds quite nicely with ‘A Quiet Passion.' Davies reveals to us the highlights of Dickinson’s creative years which are populated with memorable characters. This bio is about Dickinson the feminist ad her creative duality both a submissive woman of her times but also as a ‘polite rebel.' At the end of her life in 1886, at age 55, Davies’s characterization leaves no doubt that Emily had already transcended the world of her time. She knew such famous poetic men of her age as Thoreau and Wadsworth and though she lacked their renown today she’s rightly remembered as a giant among giants.

Happy Fourth of July, New Mexico!

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