Thursday, May 23, 2013

New Mexico 2013: Praying For Rain And Lighting Church Candles For Jobs, Plus: APD And Its Long Haul Ahead, And: Souping Up Downtown ABQ 

Saint Isidore
How dry is it?  It's so dry they've brought out Saint Isodore the Farmer to try to coax the skies into wetting our Land of Enchantment. We're now so parched it's making the history books:

New Mexico is slipping further into drought, having marked the driest two-year period in nearly 120 years of record-keeping. National weather forecasters and water managers...say the last 12 and 24 month periods have eclipsed even those dry times of the early 20th century and the 1950s. 

For the first four months of this year, New Mexico has seen less than half of its normal precipitation, with communities in the south and along the Rio Grande Valley seeing even less.

And more:

A continued dry spell has prompted the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District to enact a full closure in Valencia, Socorro and most of Sandoval county. The trails west of the clear ditch in Corrales will still be open but the forest area is closed. 

The restrictions went into place at 8 a.m. today and prohibit access to visitors for any reason until further notice...

New Mexico 2013: Praying for rain and lighting church candles for jobs. Someone open the pool already, everyone needs a break.


There is a season for everything and we suppose the rains will eventually come and the jobs picture will improve. Both may happen before the mess at the troubled ABQ police department is over and done with.

The epidemic of police shootings that prompted the US Dept. of Justice to launch an investigation of the troubled department is going to cost city taxpayers millions and millions (The city has already lost one  shooting case costing us $10 million. It's appealing) and they are going to take years to resolve.

How much do you think this one will be settled for?:

The family of a young woman killed in a car crash with an Albuquerque police officer in February has filed a wrongful death and civil rights lawsuit, claiming the police department has a “widespread custom and practice” of illegal and unsafe driving by its officers. The lawsuit names the city, the police department, Chief Ray Schultz and the officer involved, Sgt. Adam Casaus. It alleges the department ignored Casaus’ “propensity for disregarding traffic laws” when he was hired and kept on the police force--although an attorney representing him said Casaus has no history of reckless driving...

Soon-to-retire police chief Ray Schultz will be doing laps in a Scottsdale pool while all the lawsuits prompted under his watch are hashed out in the courts.

Mayor Berry is looking solid for his October re-elect, but the big money that we are looking at going out the door is a shadow that will follow him. And that includes the millions it is likely to cost the city to implement reforms that the Department of Justice is going to recommend.

A veteran law enforcement leader spoke to us recently of the new element of criminal that ABQ cops face. You see it for yourself in the nightly rundown on the evening news. It explains in part why the public has yet to hold Mayor Berry and Chief Schultz fully accountable for what appears to have been mismanagement of the department that unleashed a culture that culminated in the numerous police shootings.

The recent SurveyUSA poll for KOB-TV says 42% of the public is "somewhat confident" in the integrity of APD and 21% is totally confident. In the mayoral race, Mayor Berry leads Dem Pete Dinelli by 40 percentage points.

The public has long been cowed by the violence and mayhem that is the dark side of ABQ's culture. It sees the police shootings in that context--not as a management or leadership issue. They may change their minds as the millions in lawsuit payments mount and hit them more directly.

Meanwhile, because of a public made myopic by a fear of crime (and not unjustifiably) outside forces have had to come in to make the needed corrections. That's why the Justice Department is here and why much is expected of them.


Downtown ABQ has been especially flattened by the economic doldrums. It's pretty much a dead zone which is why hopes are being raised that the new ownership of the Hyatt hotel will pump some energy and vitality into the city's core.

The downtown Hyatt has been a disappointment for most of the years it has operated since 1990. Its had its good years--but few and far between. Local hotelier Jim Long is the new owner. Maybe he can soup up this downtown landmark ala the Hotel Andaluz that is right around the corner.

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