When And Where Do We Begin With Stopping Gun Violence?

Alan Webber is a New Mexico progressive Democrat who is running for Mayor of Santa Fe and who has also run for Governor.

Mr. Webber is a successful businessman, having worked in government and in journalism for a number of years.

Mr. Webber sent out an email regarding the Florida high school mass shooting that caught my eye, no so much for promoting his candidacy for Mayor, but what he said regarding responsible gun control and the National Rifle Association.

What Mr. Webber said in part is:

“… [W]e must call out the NRA at every opportunity. Congress, spurred by the NRA, has put legal limits on what city governments can do to stop gun violence. … even common-sense measures like one to keep guns out of the hands of violent offenders—which most law enforcement officials support—isn’t possible at a city level, because of the NRA.

Long ago, the NRA exceeded their charter. The NRA was founded in 1871 to promote “training, education, and marksmanship.” They added the NRA Foundation in 1990 to “raise millions of dollars to fund gun safety and educational projects of benefit to the general public.”

But today, [the NRA] is the single greatest opponent to laws that would help prevent what [happened in a Florida High School] as well as seventeen others school-based shootings since the new year. Seventeen shootings since January 1. That’s more than two school shootings per week

We have a deadly epidemic on our hands. And yes, there are many components to the epidemic– we need more mental health treatment facilities, more parental involvement, better education, early intervention in cases where young people are crying out for help – and more. But no one can deny that the NRA isn’t part of the problem. So let’s start there. Let’s start by calling out the NRA for what they are: complicit in this deadly epidemic” according to Alan Webber’s email.

What caught my interest is when Mr. Weber proposed and said what he felt we must do and where we can begin to deal with the epidemic of gun violence.

WEBBER SPECIFIC PROPOSALS TO BE CONSIDERED

The specific proposals outlined in Mr. Webber’s email are as follows:

1. Implement background checks on the sale of all guns.

2. Close the “Charleston loophole” or “delayed denial” where federally licensed dealers can sell guns if three business days pass without FBI clearance.

3. Update and enhance the federal National Instant Criminal Background Check system (NCIS).

4. Institute mandatory waiting periods for all gun purchases.

5. Enact a gun violence restraining order/extreme risk protection process to temporarily prohibit an individual deemed by a judge to pose a danger to self or others, from purchasing or possessing firearms or ammunition and allow law enforcement to remove any firearms or ammunition already in the individual’s possession.

6. Implement handgun licensing, permitting, training, and registration.

7. Ban bump-fire stocks and other dangerous accessories.

8. Ban future manufacture/sale of assault weapons, regulate existing assault weapons under the National Firearms Act of 1934, and initiate a federal gun buyback program.

9. Impose limits on high capacity magazines.

10. Make gun trafficking a federal crime and punish.

11. Repeal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) to eliminate the corporate gun industry special protection from civil justice law that no other industry enjoys.

12. Restrict and penalize firearm possession by or transfer to a person subject to a domestic violence protection order or a person (including dating partners) convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor.

13. Prohibit firearm sale or transfer to and receipt or possession by an individual who has: (1) been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor hate crime, or (2) received from any court an enhanced hate crime misdemeanor sentence.

14. Repeal the Dickey Amendment to adequately fund government research on gun violence.

15. Institute child access prevention/safe storage requirement.

16. Provide resources and treatment for people with mental illness.

17. Enhance accountability of federally licensed firearms dealers.

18. Implement micro stamped code on each bullet that links it to a specific gun.

19. Produce ‘xmart guns’ with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) or biometric recognition (fingerprint) capability.

20. Limit gun purchases to one gun per month to reduce trafficking and straw purchases.

21. Prohibit open carry of firearms.

22. Digitize ATF gun records.

23. Require licensing for ammunition dealers.

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS

A few of the proposals are already in existence in one form or another and some of the proposals have been been around for a time, but congress has failed and refused to act.

Gun trafficking of certain firearms is already a federal offense, but the penalty could be increased substantially.

Allowing the “open carry” of firearms is embodied in the New Mexico constitution and therefore any prohibition would require a constitutional amendment.

One area in particular that needs to be considered is the prohibition of the manufacture and sale of “ghost guns” which are guns that are manufactured and sold in parts without any serial numbers to be assembled by the purchaser and that can be sold to anyone.

Another gun technology that is available is the personalization of handguns and rifles that are computer chipped programed with fingerprint identification and can only be discharged by the owner.

Still another proposal is the requiring the purchase of “liability insurance”, as is the case for automobiles, with each handgun sold and at the time of sale.

CONCLUSION

Mr. Weber acknowledges that there are many proposals that people may not agree with, but the point is that it is long over due to begin the discussion and force our elected officials, both on a local and national level, to take action.

Unless we begin now with responsible measures to deal with gun violence in this country, we will never complete the journey and eliminate mass shootings and we will be waiting for the next news cycle, the next mass shooting and watch funerals.

What We Hear Is The Sounds Of Silence

Another mass school shooting in the United States as a former student opened fired with a semiautomatic rifle at a Florida High School.

The killer, equipped with a gas mask and smoke grenades, set off a fire alarm to draw students out of their classrooms shortly before the school day ended so he could start shooting them.

Seventeen people killed, 12 wounded by the nineteen year old suspect that had attended the school but had been expelled for disciplinary reasons.

There have been EIGHTEEN school shootings in the United States six weeks into the new year, with one occurring in New Mexico.

None of the shooters were religious fanatics or religious terrorists.

We will now go through the two-week news cycle of outrage, mourning and demands for action.

We will hear and now endure the news accounts of the funerals and eulogies given of the dead.

We will hear the biographies and see photos of the innocent children and victims killed who had their entire lives ahead of them.

We will hear from the students and watch the news footage of the kids walking or running from the school in terror.

We will hear from the parents who have children at the school say how they ran desperately to the school after hearing the news to look for their kid.

We will hear and see the crying parents talk about the loss of their children and how they are making funeral arrangements.

We will hear the interviews of the survivors and witnesses of the shooting, with some interviews done in hospitals of those recovering from their gunshot wounds.

We will hear the newscasters warn “the images you are about to see may be too graphic, so you may want to turn away” from your set.

We will hear how survivors who were shot will have to endure a life time of pain, suffering and physical infirmity from their wounds.

We will hear from the psychologists and psychiatrists about post traumatic stress disorder that the survivors will need to be treated for with counselling given to the children on how to cope with death and loss of their friends.

We will hear the news accounts of the heroes and first responder’s reactions during the shooting and of those who lost their lives and of the lives they saved.

We will hear of the background and life of the troubled shooter and the mental illness he endured and what a broken person he was.

We will hear how easy it was for the killer to get the guns.

We will hear about the killer’s FACEBOOK posts or YOUTube videos that gave hints about what he was about to do.

We will hear how many were not surprised or who were shocked at what the killer did.

We will hear from the parents or relatives of the killer say that they are deeply shocked and saddened by the actions of their relative.

We will hear the killer’s parents condemned for not being good parents.

We will hear no real satisfactory explanation nor what motivated the killer to kill and murder innocent people.

We will hear about the killer’s arraignment, the charges he is face with and the likelihood he will be sentenced to death or spend the rest of his life in prison or in a mental institution.

We will hear from the prosecutors that this is the very type of crime that the death penalty is deserved to be imposed.

We will hear corrections official declare that the defendant has been placed on a suicide watch or that he has attempted suicide.

We will hear that the defendant has been declared incompetent to stand trial.

We will again hear about the mass shootings that occur in Orlando, Florida (49 killed, 50 injured), Blacksburg, Va. (32 killed), Newton, Conn. (27 killed) San Ysidro, Cal (21 killed), San Bernardino, (14 killed), Edmond Oklahoma (14 killed), Fort Hood (13 killed), Binghamton, NY (13 killed) Washington, DC (12 killed), Aurora, Colorado (12 killed).

We will again hear about the largest mass shooting in this country’s history that occurred in Las Vegas, Nevada with at least 59 dead and at least 515 wounded.

We will hear once again how the shooting can only be described as an act of “pure evil”.

We will hear calls for congress to enact responsible gun control laws and restrictions such as extensive background checks, prohibit the sale of “bump stocks”, outlaw gun shows, prohibit the manufacture and sale of the the AR-15, prohibit the sale of firearms to anyone 18 or younger and outlaw the manufacture of high capacity clips.

We will hear the public demand more security of our schools with armed guards, metal detectors.

We will hear about the steps schools can take or need to take to prevent further school shootings, including to allow teachers to arm themselves.

We will hear the statistics that this is the third largest mass shooting that has occurred in the United State within the last 5 months and that there have been 96 mass shootings in the country since 1995.

We will hear from those trying to look “presidential” or running for congress or re-election and take advantage of the tragedy and making all sorts of promises to end gun violence by enacting gun control.

We will hear the National Rifle Association (NRA) orchestrate opposition to any and all kind of gun control and campaign against anyone who advocates for gun control.

We will hear again the mantra “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”

We wilL hear again if you take away guns from the law abiding, only the criminals will have guns.

We will hear about the influence the NRA has over elected officials and hear about the millions of campaign contributions given to those running for office, both on a national and local level.

We will hear congressional leaders say this is “no time to talk about gun control” and that we need to have that discussion later and then condemn those who do try and talk about gun control as “politicizing” the tragedy saying they have no respect for the dead and injured.

We will hear the names of the elected US Senators and US Representatives who have accepted millions in campaign donations over years and claim how the contributions do not affect their votes.

We will hear again, and again and again gun owners and gun advocates say the only way their guns will ever be taken away from them is when their gun is “pried from their cold dead hands”, even the high capacity magazine rifles designed only to kill people or used by the military to inflict as much death as possible.

We will hear President Donald Trump and the First Lady express sorrow and condolences to the victims and their families, yet no condemnation of the NRA.

We will hear the President’s words when he travels to Florida to console family members, go to the school and take a tour, visit the wounded but hear no condemnation from him of the NRA nor hear him advocate any gun control.

We will hear the reduced news coverage as we move on to yet another crisis created by a Presidential tweet.

We will hear in a few weeks or months of another mass shooting in the United States.

We will hear the “Sound of Silence” with nothing done to prevent further mass shooting tragedies.

We will hear the gun advocates and the NRA to continue to bow and pray to the “neon gun gods” they have made.

We all need to hear the lyrics of Paul Simon’s “Sounds of Silence” as the gun control debate rages on in this country and when we have another mass shooting:

“Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence

Fools, said I, you do not know
Silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you
But my words, like silent raindrops fell
And echoed in the wells of silence

And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming
And the sign said, the words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls
And whispered in the sounds of silence”

CONCLUSION

May God bless the children, the victims and the families of this tragedy.

Please, Lord bless this country in these turbulent times.

Give us the guidance and wisdom to handle yet another mass shooting tragedy.

“ABSENCE OF MALICE”

On February 7, 2018, the Albuquerque Journal published on its editorial page an inflammatory political cartoon depicting a frightened white couple holding their hands up apparently being robbed by two MS-13 gang members pointing a gun at the couple, and depicting a terrorist strapped with lighted bomb fuses and holding a bloody machete.

The man is quoted telling his wife: “Now Honey … I believe they prefer to be called ‘Dreamers’ … or future Democrats …”

The cartoon sent the clear, false and inflammatory message that all dreamers and Democrats are criminal gang members and terrorists willing to kill or commit suicide to kill.

The cartoon was swiftly condemned by readers and elected officials, both Republican and Democrat, as being “misguided”, “bigoted”, and described as an example of “ignorance, racism and hatred”.

A protest erupted over the cartoon at the Journal Center and others called for people to cancel their Albuquerque Journal subscriptions.

Within two days, the Albuquerque Journal issued an apology and said it would better screen political cartoons it publishes on its editorial page.

In describing the Journal’s rationale for choosing to publish the cartoon, Editorial Page Editor D’ Val Westphal said “the mission of an editorial page is to explore all sides of an issue, to make people think and debate and examine closely the opposing view of an argument. Unfortunately, this cartoon did not inspire that kind of discussion.”

Under the United States Constitution First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and of the press, the Albuquerque Journal had every right to publish the political cartoon on its editorial page, but that does not mean it should have published it.

Publishing the cartoon reflected very poor judgment or lack of common sense by the editors.

The Albuquerque Journal’s apology was viewed by many as an effort to control the damage and lacking sincerity and somewhat hollow.

“ABSENCE OF MALICE”

Our first amendment rights of free speech and of the press have limitations when it comes to libel, slander, and malicious statements that harm others or to insight murder or violence.

An act of malice involves the intentional commission of a wrongful act, absent real justification, with the intent to cause harm to others.

In other words, an act of malice is considered an intentional violation of the law that injures another individual in some manner.

“Absence of malice” refers to the legal defense against charges of libel (written) defamation, and is used in journalism to illustrate the conflict between disclosing damaging personal information and the public’s right to know.

If something is published or telecast with an “absence of malice”, there is no liability owed to the person or subject harmed with the publication considered freedom of speech.

In the context of civil defamation actions for libel and slander for damages, a person who is found to be a “public figure”, such as an elected official, cannot succeed and recover damages in a lawsuit for false statements unless there is proof that the writer or publisher acted with actual malice by knowing the falsity or by reckless disregard for the truth and there must be actual and provable damages.

A LESSON LEARNED FROM A CLASSIC MOVIE

In the 1981 classic movie “Absence of Malice” starring Paul Newman and Sally Field, there is a scene where a Deputy United States Attorney was sent in from Washington talking to an elected District Attorney, an appointed federal Assistant United States Attorney and a newspaper reporter after the Assistant United States Attorney and elected District Attorney leaked information in a federal case to dupe a newspaper reporter to write a false and misleading article.

The newspaper ran the false, front page story where the woman subject of the story committed suicide because of it.

Before committing suicide, she ran around her neighborhood desperately trying to pick up all the delivered morning newspapers so no one would see the front-page headline and read the false story.

Although the newspaper story was false, the fact that the reporter and paper were duped, there was an “absence of malice” by the newspaper thereby negating liability for the woman’s death.

The Deputy United States Attorney said something to the duped reporter that has always stuck with me during my public service career as a prosecutor and elected official:

Elected and government officials and readers cannot demand, instruct or tell the press or any reporter what to write, how to write it, when to write it, what tone it should take, nor what sources are used, but they damn well can demand and expect the truth and accuracy in the published reports and are entitled to corrections and retractions.

Sometimes apologies and retractions are simply not enough to repair the damage done.

In the movie, the Assistant United States Attorney was fired, the elected District Attorney was left to deal with a negative publicity nightmare that would have an impact on his reelection, while the reporter became the news with the newspaper’s credibility undermined.

DIFFERENT STANDARD FOR POLITICAL OPINIONS AND RHETORIC

I once listened to a very prominent civil rights attorney who worked for the ACLU give a presentation to a civic group.

The civil rights attorney said private citizens can walk up to a uniform police officer and call them any name in the book they wanted to, even using the “F word”, in protest, and he said it is protected free speech.

He then went on to say “But why the hell would you do anything that stupid to anyone who is carrying a gun?”

There is a very old case taught in law school where the United States Supreme Court found free speech does not mean you can stand up in a packed theater and falsely yell “fire” causing a stampede for the exits.

The point is, protected free speech and of the press have limitations that requires the use of common sense.

What is true and can be expected is that newspaper editorials, editorial political cartoons and for that matter political opinions do not have to be accurate nor even be truthful for the reason editorial content and political opinions are considered protected free speech, especially against public figures or elected officials.

Just because something is protected free speech does not mean you go ahead and publish it or even say it.

The public and voters need to hold responsible and accountable those who publish or voice political opinions for what is said in editorial opinions or reflected in the political cartoons when violence against others, hatred and racism and bigotry toward any class is being promoted.

CONCLUSION

What is troublesome is the level of political discourse in this country that is being held out as “free speech” or of the press that has violent overtones, that promotes violence, promotes racial discrimination, promotes religious intolerance against others, and promotes hate and distrust of others, and that denigrates women and minorities.

Too much intolerance is being promoted by our elected officials and public figures and the press seems to go along with it when it publishes political cartoons such as the one published by the Albuquerque Journal.

President Donald Trump has done more than his fair share of promoting intolerance, racial discrimination, promoting religious intolerance against others, promoting hatred and distrust of others, and he denigrates women and minorities.

After watching what has been happening in Washington during the first year of President Donald Trump’s term, we must wonder what is our country coming to, what are we becoming as a nation, and realize what we are we doing to ourselves and our freedoms.

We are a nation of laws and institutions, and I am absolutely confident things will unfold as they should in Washington despite so called “free speech”, “freedom of the press” and political cartoons that are nothing more than promoting violence, discrimination, racism, hatred and bigotry against others.

As Americans, we need to come together, be tolerant and respect each other, confront our demons and set aside our differences and come up with solutions.

We must seek within ourselves to find solutions to our problems and our differences, without violence and hatred and contempt for each other before we destroy ourselves, our country and the freedoms we cherish in this country, including our freedoms of the press and speech.

We should not forget what happened in 2015 when two terrorists forced their way into the offices of the French satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris when it published a satirical cartoon involving a religious figure.

Armed with rifles and other weapons, they killed 12 people and injured 11 others at the newspaper because they considered the cartoon published sacrilegious.

What happened in Paris could happen here in the United States one day on some level if we are not careful and use our common sense when we exercise our freedoms of speech and the press.

“The ABQ Journal: The only newspaper that resents the town it covers.”

For many of my FACEBBOK friends who do not know him, Joe Monahan has been a political blogger in New Mexico for a number of years reporting on New Mexico politics.

I have known Joe for 35+ years where we have had spirited discussions where we have disagreed and can still talk to each other no matter what is said.

Joe posts articles four days a week, Monday through Thursday, on his blog:

http://joemonahansnewmexico.blogspot.com/

Joe is a solid journalist and has and has an understanding of New Mexico’s news industry better than most.

Many years ago, there was a Santa Fe radio journalist who has since past, by the name of “Ernie Mills” that had a program called “Date Line New Mexico” where he would say “a little birdie has told me” and meaning a confidential source, and at the end of his program he would “Don’t say we didn’t tell you!” and sure enough the things he would predict would happen.

Over the years, Joe has replaced Ernie Mills when it come to giving insight of what is happening in the news and with confidential sources he calls “alligators”.

Below is Joe Monahan’s February 12, 2018 post on his blog New Mexico Politics with Joe Monahan where he saying so much more than what people have been thinking for so many years about the Albuquerque Journal:

TROUBLE AT THE JOURNAL AND WHAT ITS TROUBLES STEM FROM

The good news for the ABQ Journal is that the cartoon that caused such an uproar, well, caused such an uproar. It spoke to the relevancy (if still waning) of the only paper in town. The bad news? The cartoon again revealed the identity crisis the Journal now struggles with. Here are the key points:

–The state’s population is now over 60 percent majority-minority, with Hispanics making up nearly 50 percent of that total. In BernCo 65 percent of the population fits the majority-minority definition. If the media can’t stay in touch with that dramatic demographic change, it’s in trouble.

–The Journal has an aging, Anglo leadership which represents the demographic that is shrinking here. The publisher, the senior editor and the editor are all well into their 60’s. All joined the paper when the city was a drastically different place economically and socially.

–That’s not “ageist.” It’s just a matter of fact that keeping up with and truly understanding marked cultural change is more difficult when your point of reference is a world and decades away.

–The trouble the Journal is having adjusting was laid bare in the October mayoral election when for the first time they endorsed two candidates as they tried to navigate the new electorate that apparently so baffles them.

–The paper needs to attract more younger minority journalists who are tapped into the city’s new zeitgeist and who can bring the paper more fully into the community.

All of that is a tall order for the 125 year old Journal which was founded by and for the town’s new Anglo business interests who began to build the city in 1880 when the railroad arrived.

The Journal has adhered to those roots, catering to the local business community and quite often to the Republican Party. But corporate America has driven prominent local businesses from the picture and we now have the aforementioned demographic shift to a majority minority population. On top of that, the Republicans have been sent into hibernation in Bernalillo County, possibly for many years.

In other words the constituency the Journal is so accustomed to serving has shrunk and continues to shrink while the new constituency and its agenda is being ignored and waits restlessly for its majority voice to be recognized.

Whether the paper is even profitable at this point or being carried by the Lang family’s real estate interests is unknown, but just about all newspapers today face financial challenges. The current publisher–William P. Lang–is known for his business acumen, but according to one source who spoke with him directly, he does not have a deep interest in day to day news operations.

Rather than fight for survival amid even more sea changes that are coming to the state’s population and economy, this would seem a good time for the Journal’s publishing family of nearly 90 years to sell the operation. But are there any buyers? Papers in DC, LA and Las Vegas have all gone to billionaires who are willing to assume some risk in exchange for the power of the publisher. But there are no billionaires here.

The often brilliant and now retired public relations executive Lanny Tonning once said: “The ABQ Journal: The only newspaper that resents the town it covers.”

That may or may not be true but unless there is a reshaped agenda and leadership at the state’s largest paper what it says in the future–no matter how controversial–may be greeted by the silence that accompanies irrelevancy rather than citizen demonstrations and condemnations from politicians.

Political Cartoons Done The Right Way

On February 7, 2018, the Albuquerque Journal published on its editorial page an inflammatory political cartoon by national syndicated political cartoonist Sean Delonas depicting a frightened white couple holding their hands up in the air apparently being robbed by two MS-13 gang members pointing a gun at the couple, and depicting a terrorist strapped with lighted bomb fuses and holding a bloody machete.

The man is quoted telling his wife: “Now Honey … I believe they prefer to be called ‘Dreamers’ … or future Democrats …”

The cartoon sent the clear, false and inflammatory message that dreamers and Democrats are criminal gang members and terrorists willing to kill or commit suicide to kill.

The political cartoon was from a nationally syndicated cartoonist with no understanding of New Mexico nor of its communities.

The cartoon was swiftly condemned by readers and elected officials, both Republican and Democrat, as being “misguided”, “bigoted”, and described as an example of “ignorance, racism and hatred”.

A protest erupted over the cartoon at the Journal Center and others called for people to cancel their Albuquerque Journal subscriptions.

Within two days, the Albuquerque Journal editors issued an apology and said they would better screen political cartoons it publishes on the Albuquerque Journal editorial page.

I remember in 2015 when two terrorist forced their way into the offices of the French satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

Armed with rifles and other weapons, they killed 12 people and injured 11 others at the newspaper.

It could happen here in the United States if we are not careful.

ALBUQUERQUE JOURNAL POLITICAL CARTOONS BY JOHN TREVOR

After the Journal’s publication of the controversial political cartoon, I recalled that I was the subject of seven political cartoons by John Trever when I was on the City Council in the late 1980s and later from 2001 to 2013 when I went to work for the city and ran for Mayor.

I have been an Albuquerque Journal subscriber for 35 years and throughout my 27 year career as a public and elected official.

For close to 35 years, John Trever was the political cartoonist for the Albuquerque Journal, is retired, and was nationally recognized winning awards as one of the best political cartoonist in the United States.

Trever, being from here, has a clear understanding of New Mexico and its people and most importantly understands New Mexico politics and its diverse people.

I cannot recall anyone of John Trever’s cartoons ever generating the level and harsh criticism as has the Sean Delonas cartoon nor the Albuquerque Journal ever issuing an apology for a John Trevor cartoon.

I was the subject of seven (7) Trevor cartoons when I served on the Albuquerque City Council from 1986 to 1989 and from 2001 to 2013 when I was a Deputy City Attorney and later ran for Mayor in 2013.

Below are all the political cartoons where I was depicted with a narrative on each one:

“DINELLI THE MENACE”

Below is my favorite Trevor cartoon of me. I burst out laughing when I saw it the morning it was published. Trever told me he dressed me as “Dennis the Menace” because of what I said about the Mayor’s press spokesman Mike Santullo, a former and well know radio talk show host. After reading my comments and opinion, Mike Santullo fired off a profanity laced letter threatening to sue me and it was given to the press. Former Mayor Shultz Spokesman Mike Santullo is depicted as a pit bull going after me while I was intentionally provoking him with a stick and giving him the “raspberries”. Any one that knows me knows I am not that way! (SARCASM ABSOLUTELY INTENDED) Back then Mike and I were exchanging back and forth some very harsh words about each other and the press had a field day. The caption reads “Dear, dear, look at that vicious animal threatening the Dinelli boy! I tell you they should ban those pit bulls” as the couple drove by “Schutz City Yard”. Over the years, Mike and I have mellowed and we are friends, but damn we sure did accomplished a lot back then despite our differences and ourselves!

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“THE BLACK ROSE INCIDENT”

Below is another Trever cartoon published by the Journal when I was a city councilor. The “black rose incident” was when two APD union officials went to Santa Fe and placed a “black rose” on the desk of a State Representative Cisco McSorley, now a State Senator, with a cartoon of a person with a knife in his back that had the caption “Thank you for all your support.” The police union was upset that the State Representative did not vote for a measure they wanted. A “black rose” symbolizes death, hatred or farewell in some cultures and traditions. I was asked by the Albuquerque Journal what I thought about what the union officials did and I said the black rose and the cartoon were intimidation and threatening of an elected official. I also said I felt that the Union reps should be fired. All hell broke loose but I again thought the cartoon was funny. The caption says “A little early for the balloon fiesta, isn’t it?” with me blowing up a hot air balloon in the shape of a black rose as I stood in front of City Hall.

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“ALBUQUERQUE CHAINSAW MANICURE”

The below Trever cartoon was published when I was Chairman of the City Council Finance Committee. We were faced with making $10 million in cuts to a $450 million budget. Mayor Schultz was upset with me and the City Council for doing it and made it known in uncertain terms. The cartoon has Mayor Schulz sitting in a barber chair while his hair was being cut and I was pictured sitting down on a stool and giving him a manicure and clipping his fingernails. Schultz was known to get manicures. The caption reads “Albuquerque Chainsaw Manicure” with me clipping Mayor Schultz’s fingernails. The barber appears to be longtime City Councilor Pat Baca who I served with on the City Council at the time.

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“HARMONIC CONVERGENCE AT CITY HALL”

The below John Trever cartoon was published by the Journal in 1987 when I was on the City Council. The city council was having public hearings on the “Quality of Life” 10-year quarter cent tax that we enacted to fund the construction of the Balloon Museum, the Children’s Science Museum, the Botanic Gardens and the Aquarium/Bio park as well as acquisition of critical open space in the Sandia Foothills to complete the Elena Gallegos area. The tax package also originally had funding for a performing arts center that was later voted down by the public. “The Harmonic Convergence” was the name given to one of the world’s first globally synchronized meditation events to coincide with the planets aligning in the solar system. (No joke). Pictured from left to right are City Councilor Steve Gallegos, Mayor Ken Schultz, City Councilor Fran Hill, myself and City Councilor Pat Baca, with all of us beating drums. We are chanting “Quality of Life … Quarter Cent, Quality of Life Quarter Cent, Ommm” and the caption reads “HARMONIC CONVERGENCE AT CITY HALL”.

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“WELL THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD”

This Trever cartoon was published when I was a city councilor sponsoring zoning regulations restricting pornography shops and theaters to only certain zones. To the left is an XXX bookstore and a “city hall adult theatre” is across the street with a marquee that reads “NOW PLAYING ‘Erogenous Zoning’. See city council do kinky things with first amendment”. What made me crack up is the ad poster on the right that says “Dinelli Does Central”. Also note the fire hydrant that appears to look like two large breasts. The caption from the XXX bookstore owners “Well, there goes the neighborhood” is classic. State Senator Manny Aragon, Pro Temp of the State Senate at the time, was also the City’s trial attorney appointed by Mayor Schultz and he essentially spoke against the ordinance changes saying we would be violating people’s constitutional rights of free speech. To me it was well settled law in the country that Cities had the right to designate zoning where XXX rated businesses could be located. Senator Aragon became visibly infuriated and upset with me when I asked him during the City Council meeting if he was representing the XXX rated businesses or the City. After our very public exchange, our friendly relationship was never the same. The zoning ordinance changes passed and as I understand it are still the law limiting where XXX stores can be allowed in the City. During the next legislative session, Senator Aragon summoned me to meet with him in his Senate Pro Temp Office and we had a very blunt talk and agreed never to discuss matters again with each other in public. It took years for us to set things aside and be civil to each other. That’s politics.

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“SUING THE LITTLE VANDALS”

This Trever cartoon was published by the Journal when I was Deputy City Attorney. At the time I had filed over 129 civil lawsuits suing over 300 graffiti vandals and their parents to collect city cleanup costs and damages. We settled virtually all the lawsuits and collected about $250,000 in damages and lawsuits stopped the graffiti. This Trever cartoon was published when I filed a civil lawsuit against the vandals setting off fireworks in the Bosque and the lawyer in the glass looks a lot like me.

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“2013 MAYORAL RACE”

The below John Trever cartoon was published in 2013 during the Mayor’s race. Mayor Berry was said to be “Mr. Positive” on Albuquerque, very personable and likeable but in total denial about high crime rates, the Albuquerque economy and a police department out of control and declining in numbers. I was said to be a pit bull prosecutor, and retired APD Sergeant Paul Heh was known for being gruff and saying “I call bullshit!” at a debate forum sponsored by NAIOP, a contractor and development group. The NAIOP forum was filled with a large number of Berry supporters and city personnel and I remember being “booed” by about half of the NAIOP audience when I said I supported union participation in city building projects. Notice how Trevor blacked out the “s” word. My eyebrows made me look mean or angry as did the expression on my face. Throughout the campaign I was always being told I never smiled, was too serious to be running for office and that I was just not “likeable” enough. I was told that I needed to start smiling more if I was ever going to get elected. The problem for me was I could not help being a former prosecutor, I could not talk about the city’s high crime rates and our poor economy with a fake smile on my face. One comment made by Berry during that NAIOP forum was when he said words to the effect “I do not want to live in a world that these gentlemen live in, a world where there is a cloud to every silver lining.” One thing for sure, Sergeant Heh and I never lied to voters about what was happening with our high crime rates and the economy. Notwithstanding, Mayor Berry won by a landslide with only 19% of the voters voting in the lowest municipal voter turnout since 1977. Four years later, people finally figured out Berry and believed what Paul Heh and I were saying and Berry left office disliked with an approval rating in the low 30%.

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“JOHN TREVER CARTOON COMPILATIONS”

John Trever has published four compilations of his cartoons and this is a photo of the cover of the one published in 2007 that he autograph for me. The title “Manana Republic” says it all especially having Tony Anaya, Bruce King, Gary Carruthers, Bill Richardson, Gary Johnson, Manny Aragon, Jeff Bingaman and Pete Domenici sitting in a hot air balloon with the state capitol building as the gondola and they are all pointing in different directions. All that would be needed now is Susana Martinez eating and throwing pizza from the gondola.

You can contact John Trevor or the Albuquerque Journal, PO Box Drawer J, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87103 for more information on the availability of Trevors books. The are a must have for all New Mexico politicians and a cartoon history of New Mexico politicos.

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CONCLUSION

I believe most elected officials would say they considered it an honor to be the subject of a John Trever political cartoon and they were often framed as a badge of honor, which is what I did myself.

Mr. Trever was able to make a point without being mean and hateful and his cartoons are downright funny.

John Treveor is pretty much retired and on occasion you will see one of his cartoons in the Albuquerque Journal.

Perhaps one day the Albuquerque Journal will find and hire another like Tever because in the age of Trump and what is happening in Albuquerque, we could sure use a cartoonist like Trever again and we all need a good laugh now and then.

Senator Smith Tells DA Torrez He Now Has Enough Rope To Hang Himself

Bernalillo County District Attorney Raul Torrez was asking the state Legislature for a 30 percent increase to his current budget of $18.2 million, or a $5.4 million increase.

Torrez wanted the 30% increase in his budget to hire an additional 34 attorneys.

Torrez has said a lack of resources is the reason his office cannot even come close to prosecuting all the pending felony cases in his office.

According to Torrez, there are simply too many criminals and not enough staff.

“If we don’t get sufficient resources in this legislative session I would think several thousand felony cases simply will become too old, too stale for us to act on. It’s not justice” Torrez has said in the past interviews.

The Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office employs 300 full time personnel which includes 118 full time attorney positions.

DA Torrez currently has 45 vacant positions which includes 18 vacant attorney positions that he has not been able to fill in the last year he has been in office.

The House Appropriations Committee recommended a $2.3 million increase in the Bernalillo County District Attorney budget.

When the House version of the budget went to the Senate Appropriation Committee Chaired by Senator John Author Smith, the appropriation was increased to $4.2 million at the insistence of the Bernalillo County delegation.

The net result is that Torrez secured a $2 million increase for the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s office from the Senate Appropriations committee.

Torrez now has a $21.5 million-dollar budget to run his office.

Frankly, I seriously doubt District Attorney Torrez will be satisfied given his past statements and constant complaints and accusing the courts and defense attorneys for our high crime rates.

During his campaign for election, he said our criminal justice system was broken.

Less than six months after being sworn in as Bernalillo County District Attorney, Raul Torres blamed the New Mexico Supreme Court’s Case Management Order (CMO) for Albuquerque’s increasing crime rates.

The CMO was necessitated by the fact that so many defendants were awaiting arraignments or trials and being held in the Bernalillo County Detention Center, or jail, for months, and at times years, to the point that the jail was becoming severely overcrowded exceeding its capacity of approximately 2,200 inmates.

Torrez had his District Attorney Office issue a report that outlined the so-called problems he perceived since the issuance of the Case Management Order by the Supreme Court in February, 2015.

The main points of the DA’s report was that defense attorneys were “gaming” the court mandated discovery deadlines under the CMO to get cases dismissed by demanding evidence they are entitled to under the law and the Rules of Criminal Procedure and asking for trials instead of entering into plea agreements.

In response to the Torrez report, the Courts did their own case review of statistics and found out the it was the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office that was dismissing the majority of cases.

With his successful effort to increase in his budget, the ball is now in District Attorney Torrez’s court and he will have to produce.

Senator John Author Smith sent Torrez a very strong message by actually saying on camera in an interview many feel Torrez has now been given enough rope to hang himself with the increase in budget.

http://www.koat.com/article/senate-finance-calls-for-2-million-more-for-bern-co-da/17009425

Senator Smith also noted Torrez is still very new to the job and the verdict is still out if he is capable of managing the office and producing results.

If there are no real results over the next year in hiring and filling the vacant positions and clearing out the felony case backlog, Torrez will be hard pressed to justify any more increases in his budget and his management of the office will be questioned.

Further, Mr. Torrez’s constant complaining during his first year in office of lack of resources and personnel will no doubt fall on deaf ears and come back to haunt him, especially when he runs for reelection and if there is no serious reduction in the backlog of felony violent cases and a reduction in crime rates as he promised.

As Senator Smith put it, the Jury is still out on DA Torrez management of the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s office.

We will have to wait a full year for the verdict during the 2019 legislative session if Torrez is successful in reducing the criminal case backload in the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office, but given his past mode of operation and attraction to TV news cameras, do not be surprised if he says he still does not have enough resources to do his job.