Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Meet The New Boss, Same As The Old Boss; Chief Schultz Stays; CAO Ed Adams May Survive; Berry's Latest Picks And What They Mean On How ABQ Is Led 

Schultz, Berry & White
You're a new mayor with no executive experience and the culture of City Hall looks about as familiar as a map of Slovakia. So what do you do? In the case of ABQ Mayor-elect RJ Berry you keep around a lot of old faces who know plenty about government geography and let them map out the details of what's to come.

Maybe you really do want a lot of change, but not before you at least learn where the bathrooms are, so you keep ABQ Police Chief Ray Schultz on the job, give Darren White, the Sheriff turned public safety director, a beefed up portfolio and keep Mayor Chavez's Chief Administrative Officer, Ed Adams, but bump him down to Chief Operating Officer (That word from KOB-TV).

Mayor-elect Berry says he is a big believer in experience, and through these appointments seems to readily admit he has yet to accumulate enough of it to make any bold strokes.

"He is sending a signal that he is not going to micromanage. These are experienced personalities who know their way around. He will not be a hands-on administrator. I think we will see him much more in the figurehead role than we did Mayor Chavez," analyzed Mike Santullo, communications officer under ABQ Mayor Ken Schultz (1985-89).

But by design or happenstance Berry has formed a team of rivals that will keep power in check while he's off cutting ribbons or addressing the Rotary Club. The new chief administrative officer, David Campbell, will be checked by the old CAO and now COO Ed Adams. If David screws up, Ed is ready to take over. And if Ed screws up, David will be ready to call him out.

For White, who it appears will be more deeply involved in police department operations than previous public safety directors, the check on him will be that increased power. He is going to own police department failures and infighting as well as successes. There will be plenty of both.

And checking all of the above is the nine member city council where grumbling broke out only moments after it was announced last night that Schultz and Adams--both Republicans--would be retained.

Councilor O'Malley
Councilor Brad Winter scored the new mayor on KOB-TV for not delivering on the change he had promised. The powerful police union leadership signaled approval of the Schultz retention, but Winter warned that is not an opinion shared by many rank and file cops.

Councilor Debbie O'Malley wasn't pleased with the possibility of Adams becoming COO, saying the culture he represents needs to change

And Alligators were snapping at Berry, chiding him over his campaign TV spots that unloaded both barrels on Chavez for the runaway property crime rate in the city, yet he retains the chief who presided over what Berry said was a failed policy? In that regard, Chief Schultz, who tried to position himself as an agent of change as his reappointment was announced, was doing the big stretch.

Then there were those West Side serial killings of young women that have dominated news of the department. Wouldn't now be a good time for some new faces at the APD?

Well, who is to say that Schultz, chief since April '05, and Berry's Team of Rivals on the 11th floor will be there a year or two from now? While Schultz is the first chief to be retained by an incoming mayor in the modern era, the long knives are out for him and one big mistake will have the peanut gallery calling for his ouster. How long he wants to live with a sword over his head is anyone's guess.

Berry was as surprised as anyone over his first round election victory and while he may have been caught unprepared to fully take the helm, he is smart enough to know it. The question is does he grow from here and gradually take back some of the power he is so generously doling out, or is what you see what you get for the next four years?

T.J. Wilham
While Berry is talking about running a tight fiscal ship, that isn't stopping him from creating a new public information slot. In fact, in addition to keeping the police and fire department PIO's, incoming Public Safety Director Darren White will get his own communications staffer. That's a new position and to be held by ABQ Journal police beat reporter T.J. Wilham. He will do spin patrol for the city’s public safety departments such as police, fire, emergency management and the Safe City Strike Force.

Observers immediately asked why the job was necessary. To help White garner more publicity? He sure doesn't need much help doing that. And It seems the responsibility of the APD and fire department PIO's is being substantially reduced with the addition of Wilham, so will self-described fiscal conservative Berry also reduce their salaries or working hours?

The ABQ Journal says Wilham will make $75,000 and that that is less than his predecessor, but Wilham has no predecessor. There has never been a PR flak to oversee public safety agencies. Chris Ramirez, who will handle PR other than public safety for Berry, will also make $75,000. That is less than Deborah James who held the job under Mayor Chavez, but together the two new PR spinners are making $150,000, considerably more than James and, I believe, her one assistant.

Well, Mr. and Mrs. Albuquerque will look the other way on this and other patronage plays---for now. But tight economic times--and a more grouchy city council--should keep the leash from getting too long.


Mayor-elect Berry also isn't showing any fiscally conservative stripes when it comes to the issue du jour---double dipping by government employees. Tito Madrid, his pick to become constituent services director, has been retired from the state environment department for 10 years, drawing a monthly retirement check. Now he will add his $75,000 city hall salary to that retirement.

(What about other new mayoral appointments? Double dippers? Maybe the newspaper can give us a story.)

Double-dipping has become a red flag for the electorate who see the retirees taking the jobs of a new generation and also costing taxpayers money because the retirement contributions for these jobs are paid by the government agency they work for, not the double dipper.

During the campaign Mayor Chavez asked his double dippers to make a choice--either city employment or retirement. We did not see Berry quoted on the issue, but we watch what they do, not what they say. In this case, that appears to mean the green light for double dippers, unless the Legislature flashes the stop sign.


With the death of Bruce King last week, there are now five living former Governors. They are: David Cargo, 80, (1967-71); Jerry Apodaca, 75, (1975-79); Toney Anaya, 68, (1983-87); Garrey Carruthers, 70, (1987-91) and Gary Johnson, 56, (1995-03).

There have been 26 men who have served as Governor since statehood in 1912. We had Spanish Governors from 1598 to 1822, Mexican Governors from 1822 to 1846, Pre-Territorial Governors from 1846 to 1851 and Territorial Governors from 1851 to 1912.

A records check shows that since 1598, Bruce King, who served three, four year terms, served longer than any New Mexico Governor under any flag.


The jockeying goes on for the Sheriff's chair. The Bernalillo County Commission will meet Nov. 30 to name a replacement for Republican Darren White who resigned to become the city's public safety director. From our email:

...You have neglected to mention the candidacy of Manny Gonzales for Sheriff. When he announced September 26, there were over 400 supporters on hand...Manny is a lifelong resident of Bernalillo County...served honorably in the military, and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Management...He is a Captain with the Sheriff’s Department...Manny has spent his entire career in public safety...He is an effective administrator, a knowledgeable and first-rate police officer..Make no mistake about it, he is a strong contender.

The commission--three Dems and two R's--will pick someone to fill out the remainder of White's term. It runs until 2011. Gonzales and others are lining up for the 2010 election to go after the next four year term.

ABQ Public Schools Superintended Winston Brooks and APS School Board President Marty Esquivel disagree with those who argue that NM public school districts are top heavy with administrative costs. But the latest edition of the Legislative Finance Committee newsletter makes the case:

New Mexico spends less of its public school dollar on instruction than the national average and, while it spends about the same on school-level administration, it spends 40 percent more on state and district-level administration, according to the Digest of Education Statistics. Nobody wants to cut classroom spending but maybe we can save on spending outside the classroom.

But administrators and school board members are going to have to reckon with reality if we are going to trim the administrative ranks. It isn't easy. Superintendent Brooks claims only 1 percent of the billion dollar plus APS budget is for administration. Just what does the Super consider administrative costs? Sounds like good subject for a legislative hearing.


When stats were released on attendance for the 2009 NM State Fair, they showed a slight increase over last year. But that is far from the story. Again, from the LFC newsletter:

Attendance at this year’s State Fair increased by 1.5 percent but paid attendance was down 20 percent. Overall total revenue for the 2009 fair was down 8 percent...

The persistent recession is the obvious factor for the decline, but the fair may have been remiss in not cutting prices enough.

This is the home of New Mexico politics. Email your news and comments. Interested in advertising here? Drop us a line.

Not for reproduction without permission of the author
website design by limwebdesign