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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

They're Back: Readers Opine On the Big Issues Of The Day In NM And ABQ In Our Latest Edition Of Reader Vox Populi. 

The readers write and we report. . .

A lot of comment on our Tuesday blog on the latest developments in the ongoing ABQ crime wave. Reader Dennis Maez wrote on our Facebook page:

Again, Joe Monahan hits the nail on the head, this time with a really big sledge hammer. The Mayor, Police Chief, the whole current city administration along with the DA are blaming the Supreme Court for the "crime wave." Everyone is so incredibly tired of the finger pointing and the blame game. There could be 30 to 35 more cops on the streets each shift starting today if we had an innovative police Chief that would order every officer not assigned to Field Services (detectives, admin, academy staff, etc) to work one shift a week as a street cop.  There really isn't any function of a police department more important than answering the call when someone's life is in danger. 

Also, we need to be arresting those who offend repeatedly--until these bad guys get tired of going to jail, even if it's a revolving door, and they move on. Quit worrying about the policies of the district attorney and the courts and arrest bad guys until they get tired of being arrested and Leave! So much can be done, but it takes leaders that will lead. Maybe that will come in December when we have the next mayoral election. 

THE FEAR FACTOR

This comment from ABQ reader Veronica Garcia (not the Santa Fe school superintendent Veronica) will resonate with those of you who have been in town a while and are seeing, hearing and feeling much the way she is:

It's so true, we have to be vigilantes in this city. My eyes are constantly moving and watching for the possibility that I may need to protect myself, my stuff or others. I can't just relax and go to the grocery store and walk in. I have to be paranoid and prepared for a possible hit on me! Homeless drug people are aggressive. If you stop giving panhandlers money ( their job) they will move away! Stop paying them! 

Garcia's fear of everyday life is one of the the worst repercussions from the crime crisis that has turned ABQ from a laid-back city--where crime was always prevalent but contained--into a war zone that continues to claim more acreage monthly. That fear ripples out and blacklists this city across the nation.

DO THEY KNOW?

This anonymous reader is concerned about the candidates lining up to become the next ABQ area congressional representative, replacing Dem Michelle Lujan Grisham who is running for Governor:

With the stench of a possible base closing commission--a BRAC which could impact Kirtland Air Force Base--and Los Alamos Labs on the ropes and its funding possibly threatened because of safety concerns, are any of the Democrats running for Congress in ABQ equipped to deal with these major issues and the possible losses in employment? Have any of them talked about defending our major installations? Have any of them ever been to the Los Alamos Labs or toured Kirtland operations?  Will they seek to join the House Armed Services Committee in Congress? I wonder . . .

A pointed observation since KAFB and Sandra Labs here are the region's major economic driver.

NO ONE WATCHING?

Hector & Michelle
Attorney General Hector Balderas, who toyed with the idea of seeking the Dem nod for Governor next year, never did and this week he formally endorsed Michell Lujan Grisham for the nomination. That brought this Alligator comment:

What's with MLG rolling out major endorsements in the middle of summer when no one is paying attention?

Hmm.. Maybe they'll do it again when everyone is paying attention? Just don't ask us what's up with the goofy pictures of Hector and Michelle that we've been running. Either they're having a whole lot of fun, or Jeff Apodca's campaign has their photographer on his payroll.

LEADERLESS AMID CRIME

Reader Michael Corwin, a longtime critic of Gov. Martinez and Mayor Berry, takes us back to the crime crisis:

The "leaders" who are blaming NM Supreme Court rules for the ABQ crime crisis are simply proving what we already knew. They are not leaders. Period. But, if we are looking for explanations for the serious destabilization in our city and state that has taken place, let's start with Governor Martinez's gutting of the behavioral health system  by alleging widespread fraud that was never there. 

Gutting treatment services to substance abusers, and those with mental health issues leads to...drum roll please... increased problems stemming from substance abuse and mental health issues. Exactly the kinds of folks committing the petty crimes downtown that are demoralizing to our quality of life.

Then there's Mayor Berry's fluff piece marketing campaign touting his "innovative" approach to homelessness, which has lead to an explosion of homeless people panhandling at every major intersection in the city. Then there are the business boosters, like the Chamber of Commerce, who have no clue how to boost business, so instead they cheerlead the failing policies of Martinez and Berry.

Reader Mick piles on:

The threat high-tech company LAVU made about leaving ABQ put the spotlight on the effects of downtown crime. And hizonner seems to think that his new development at First and Central NW will fix all of downtown's problem? Wait until the new tenants have to put up with all of the antics that LAVU and the Chamber of Commerce--also located downtown--have had to. Not a good thing. There's more, but maybe your column will generate some fire and heat where it will do some good.

REFORMED REPEATER

Reader John Adams wrote on our Facebook page:

I could chime in on many facets of the crime wave, particularly about the gross lack of rehabilitation available for those so called "repeat offenders" but I have to go to work as I am one of the majority of repeat offenders who actually straightened out his life.

Good for you, John, and good luck.

THAT OTHER CRISIS

Reader David Ley takes us to that other crisis--the one in behavioral health--that has been so much in the news in recent years:

The State has settled one of the alleged 2013 fraud cases against one of the behavioral health providers for .02% of the initial claims. Alleged over billing was so low that the state financial staff said they could not extrapolate it.

Please note, this is the same provider that then Human Services Secretary Squier and Governor Martinez both publicly attacked for using a private plane to fly from Las Cruces to Santa Fe (in order to attend state meetings). This was held up as exhibit 1 of alleged corruption, as they found this provider guilty in advance of due process.

The state then decimated the state behavioral health system on these justifications and wasted millions of dollars, besides interrupting critical services for vulnerable populations. I remember that during this time, there were lots of muttered suggestions that these varied providers were shady or engaged in poor business practices. I truly believe that mistrust and fragmentation was what allowed the state to get away with this.

Jim Farrell, who is a spokesman for the NM Senate Democrats, also wrote about the behavioral health settlement:

The state Human Services Department has settled with at least one of the accused 15 behavioral health providers - in this case, SW Counseling of Las Cruces. We wonder about the other 14 provider organizations that were maligned, and mostly put out of business, though. But this one is remarkable--after accusing SW Counseling of defrauding Medicaid of $2.8 million, HSD settled with them for $480. The damage has been done, as this story spells out.


We still wonder what was ultimately behind the administration's charges of widespread fraud when it turns out to be so obviously wrong. Follow the money is always a good place to start. But what money? Campaign funds? Money for the providers who were brought in to replace those kicked out? Perhaps an enterprising reporter will someday piece together this dark episode in its entirety.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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