Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Mother

That long awaited Mother Jones article hit the streets today.  It is a pretty revealing and accurate rap sheet on the real Governor Susana Martinez and her frat boys advisors.  Will it make any difference in the run up to the election?  Don't hold  your breath because all of the money she has will paint over it.

Early Golf

Off to play early golf today.  I will ponder the letters of resignation from the Police Oversight Committee who stated they have no power and are not independent.  This latest pummeling of Mayor Berry and his minions is astonishing since the last straw for the Commission occurred just last week when they were told they should butt out by the City Attorney's Office.

More later.  But in the meantime it would be interesting for you to read up on our private prisons in this country.  Something that has always bothered me greatly.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Misc.

The fundraising reports for statewide offices came in yesterday.  The democratic primary for Governor is showing that all the candidates together can't match Governor Susana Martinez's fossil fuel funded campaign.  My take on the Dems is that Gary King has no money left, (what has he spent it on?), Alan Webber of Santa Fe is using his wealth to get a leg up on the other candidates.  And that Lawrence Rael  had a respectable showing.  The guy who won the State Democratic Primary Nominating convention has raised peanuts.  Howie Morales proves that the Convention is no indicator of an ability to run a well funded campaign.  The Governor's $5 million fund will only grow out of sight as the Koch brothers and their ilk start funding independent advertising to make all the Dems look like left wing commies.

The right wing crazy rancher in Nevada, Clive Bundy,  and his terrorist and assault rifle armed militia friends have once agains said 'screw you' to the American middle class taxpayer.  He refuses to pay for grazing his desert killing cows on BLM lands.  This guy has been a dangerous presence in that state and seems to want his standoff to end up in violence.  The BLM backed down from collecting his million dollar debt to American citizens once again.  It was wise for the feds to back off a little, but that money needs to be collected and he needs to be thrown off the land, which isn't his.  It is public land.






Monday, April 14, 2014

Brainstorming

We had a boisterous dinner at Ned's last night.  All of us old guys know how to solve all of the world's problems, naturally.

One idea that dribbled out was the fact that prisons for profit have to be retooled.  We have more prisoners than ever even as crime continues to fall, despite what the police blotter regurgitating local TV news stations think.

But, if the private prison corporations are good at handling inmates, why don't we enact some sensible legislation that would allow them to convert some facilities into centers for care of mentally incompetent homeless people like the ones APD has been gunning down.  I know there would be hurdles to jump legally, but this is something one of these corporations should think about.  Better caring for the sick rather than keeping non violent inmates in jail.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Road Ahead

While playing golf the other day a lot of the guys in our two foursomes were lamenting that Mayor Berry looks weak for not attending the APD gripe session at the City Council last week.  Most of these guys voted for him.  He does look like a man who wants to avoid stress for sure.  He can always fall back on the good ink he gets from the editorial board at the Albuquerque Journal.  He is after all, a republican.

One of my golf buddies asked what I think Mayor Berry should be doing at this point.  Now that the DOJ has stated what is obvious, Berry then immediately left the city council and public on the sidelines in hiring a couple of guys to help straighten things out.  They were contracted at an amount just under the requirement that would have triggered letting the City Council have a say in the selection.  And of course they said little because now they don't have to take the heat.

So, what Berry needs to do now is invest about a quarter of his time in actually involving himself in seeing that things get fixed.  He should demand a daily briefing about what tasks and mileposts have been achieved in fixing the police department.  Of course, that assumes someone will set out tasks and milestones and let the public be informed of them.  Will we see such a list?

Berry needs to reach out by having some town halls of his own where he can just listen to folks give suggestions.  Sometimes some great ideas can be had by doing that.  Also, it might be good for Berry to stop listening to the folks who got us into this predicament.  And his political advisers have to realize that he is no longer just the nice guy they like to portray him as.  He is now seen by many as not being up to the job.  His actions in the past couple of years of saying he was remaking APD seem like fluff.  Things got worse because he just didn't pay enough attention.  I can't imagine he ran his business like that.  Honestly, I want him to succeed in fixing this mess.  Our economy is in bad enough shape that the continued national press coverage of our problem police department is hurting us even more.

On another APD issue, how is it that former Chief Shultz  was able to sign a multi million dollar contract with the people who manufacture Tazers to supply APD, and then sign on to working for them a short time later?  I don't think this passes the smell test, and it might even be illegal.  I have heard media people say they are just to busy with other APD stuff to handle this one.

And, once again, where is the Office of Medical Investigator report on how the suspect who shot a police dog was killed?  This is definitely one I want to hear about. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Generational

One of the hired guns that Mayor Berry wants to fix APD said that problems in that troubled force are not generational.  I know a lot of folks that would disagree with him.  One of them is one of my favorite commenters and writers, Bubba Munster.  I wanted to put this comment of his on the main page because it is though provoking.


At the APD hiring web site, on the benefits and salary page:

http://www.apdonline.com/benefits.html

it lists as a benefit "Tuition Assistance and Educational Leave". It also lays out how having a degree significantly increases your salary.

Such benefits are typical of government workers who collectively bargain, and for union police departments, as APD is.

An assistant chief at the Texarkana, TX, police department told me he had a degree. I asked what in. He said, "General Studies."

So he might have taken classes that interested him, or were easy, only to increase his salary. Who knows? Like at APD, his classes were paid for.

Any education is apt to favorably affect human development. Knowledge will likely lessen small minded thinking, prejudice, and increase self esteem.

But as far as cops not being thugs, things like education, who the leaders are, what the training is, who the mayor is, while they all may play a role in determining whether a cop is going to be a thug or not, the overriding factor is society.

When a cop walks down the street, what does he or she think his or her role is? What is expected of them?

Look at it this way. You may have an education, and not be a thug, but it's not the education that makes you use manners and be genteel so much as it is the kind of people you associate with - the norms of your society, its shared beliefs about what appropriate behavior is.

On the street, everyone's a punk and a thug. That's your peer group. That's who you play to. You can be educated and be a thug. You can be trained in something, come from a respectable family, and be a thug. George Orwell's "Down and Out in Paris and London" is the classic demonstration of how a personal devolution takes place when someone finds themselves in a meaner and more desperate set of conditions.

Society is very fractionalized, in that when you walk down any street, or into any office building, you very rarely speak to strangers or engage them in any way. Most people don't even make eye contact in public. In that context, in that kind of overall society, police play a psychological role. Furthermore, society holds the cop up as some kind of heroic archetype. Every criticism of police comes with the qualifier that there are lots of "good cops" - despite the fact that these good cops are who make up the society of police.

When society decides it wants to be kinder and gentler, it will be. When society decides US wars of aggression must cease, they will. When society decides to live under a different system, where cooperation is better than competition, aggression and violence will diminish at all levels of society, and when society decides it doesn't want thugs for cops, it won't tolerate them, or reward thuggish behavior.

Friday, April 11, 2014

After Taste

The after taste of the 2014 meltdown of APD is strong and it isn't good.  The feast leading up to it lasted 12 years or so with the training and flawed recruitment of police officers into a Marine Corp type department rather than a community police department.

But, we know this can be fixed and the Department of Justice has laid out a road map to use as guidance.  It is to bad they don't want to stick around and direct traffic.  One just doesn't get the feeling that Mayor Berry and  his inept new Chief have the capacity to do it them selves, nor does the City Council.  The new deputy chief they hired earlier in the week might be able to help, but he is immediately hamstrung from the fact that he is seen as an insider who retired from APD.  It is a difficult position for him to be in.

Former Mayor Marty Chavez ran an op-ed in the Albuquerque Journal this morning basically saying everything was fine at the department when he was Mayor.  He wrote that because so many people think that is when the department started it's decline.  The Journal added as postscript that said the college requirement for cadets was dropped in 1999 when I served as Mayor.  As I recall we dropped the degree requirement but still insisted on at least two years of higher education.  We had trouble recruiting and Chavez used that to say we were soft on crime when he ran against me.  No, we just wouldn't hire bad candidates.

So, we are now at a point when the only direction we can take is to make things better.  I have a feeling that the media will need to be a watch dog since DOJ has ducked out and there is no strong political leadership.  The media has done a good job on this issue.  I watched KRQE last night and have to say their coverage of the report from many angles was excellent.  The Journal has also done a great job on the news side, but of course their editorials have been focused on defending Mayor Berry.

There are still a lot of good officers in APD.  We depend on them and support them. They haven't let us down, but their leaders have let them down.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Whining After all

Okay, just got back from a great session at Betty's Bath and Day Spa.  I read the DOJ report and will whine after all that it looks like it is back to square one with the Albuquerque Police Department.  They haven't been doing much of anything right.  Lack of leadership at all levels.  Violations of civil rights in killing suspects.  Overuse of force generally.

Complete rebuild is necessary.  Is the Mayor and City Council willing to stand up to the APD?

Now, it is front page news on the New York Times website.

No Whining

A day off from whining today.  I have an important appointment at Betty's Bath and Day Spa.  I will be on a massage table while the DOJ does their thing to ABQ APD.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Hope Springs Eternal

The republicans in the US Senate give us hope.  They blocked passage of equal pay for women legislation this morning via threatened filibuster.  They give me hope that all is not lost in keeping the Senate Democratic.

So, the question that occurs to me is one of Susana Martinez's support from the same powers in the GOP that see it important to keep women's earning power at a disadvantage with men.  Sure, she will say she thinks the playing field needs to be leveled, but she is taking money from these same GOP right wingers.  And now using it on TV ads that are nothing more than unbelievable masquerades on reality in New Mexico.

I take heat for saying that money always gives an advantage over grass roots efforts.  80% of the time it does.  Not good odds.  But with dunderhead votes to devalue half the population maybe the one in five odds now look good for us.  Let's hope so.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

In the Mayor's Head

It is not an easy job being a Mayor.  Mostly you are not given a lot of compliments because local government is so accessible to the citizens.  So they normally tell you what is wrong rather than what is right.  As a Mayor I rarely got a compliment like, "Hey, thanks for efficiently picking up the garbage every Thursday and thanks for delivering water that is clean!  Good Job!"

No, it was usually, "Why can't you fix the potholes in my alley you worthless SOB!"  But, that is just the way it is when you exist as a Mayor.  You have to be able to stand up to it no matter how unpleasant it is.

That is why I can't understand why some advisor would tell the Mayor to 'run away' from the APD venting session at the City Council meeting last night.  It looks like a cowardly thing to do to many people.  I think Mayor Berry could have shown up at the beginning of the meeting to say a few words and then quietly removed himself.  Yes, it would have been difficult to endure but that comes with the  difficult job of being Mayor.

It is not to late for Berry to get some decent advisors on board and staff up with some folks who are not politically driven on every single issue. 

Monday, April 07, 2014

A Tax Saving Idea

Since we can no longer abide the editorial performance of the Albuquerque Journal's neo con Editor and owners, the Lang family, we should at least extract some sort of pain from this publication.  In this day and age the state and local governments of New Mexico pay a fortune for legal advertising in the Journal.  Why should that be happening in the year 2014 when some enterprising person might just open a website that would do so just as efficiently and at about 10% of the cost?  Sure, there would  have to be some sort of legislation passed in the State Capitol and City Halls, but I can imagine that a law that gives an option for online legal ads would be good.  And while we are at it, lets start charging a gross receipts tax on the sale of newspapers.  Why should they be in the same category as food and medicine?  Well, I guess they would qualify as bad medicine.

Seriously, when one feels helpless in the face of barrels of ink, there are ways to get some satisfaction.