Mayor Fails to Address Real World Problems

This is the link to my Albuquerque Journal Guest column published TWO years ago on August 28, 2014 and entitled “Mayor Fails to Address Real World Problems”…/mayor-fails-to-address-real-wo…. I post this now because Mayor Berry appeared recently before his buddies at the Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce to talk about his $60,000 study on why Albuquerque has such high crime rates and what he intends to about them. This is the first time in seven years of being in office I can recall Berry has acknowledged Albuquerque has a crime problem, but he again blames everyone else and tries to say things are not that bad under his watch compared to THIRTY years ago! What I said three years ago during the campaign still holds true today, but things have only gotten worse with increased crime rates, APD and our economy.

Failed Leadership to Diversify Economy

Blaming “mindset” and our reliance of federal funding for a failure to diversify our economy ignores the fact that there has been a complete failure of leadership by the business community and elected officials to do what needs to be done to diversify our economy.

Organizations such as the Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce, the Economic Forum and the National Association of Commerce and Industry (NAIOP) must share some responsibility for having done little next to nothing over the last eight years to to attract new businesses to Albuquerque.  The City of Albuquerque under the Berry Administration has failed to attract one single corporation to re-locate to Albuquerque.

The City of Albuquerque could use all sorts of financial incentives for economic development such as tax increment districts (TIDS), industrial revenue bonds, even fund and economic development investment program for initial start up funding with claw back provisions. The City should be concentrating on growth industries like health care, manufacturing, transportation and shipping and especially the film industry which I think is Albuquerque’s future. Public-Private partnerships in the growth industries where ever possible should be developed.

Albuquerque can turn itself and our economy around with an aggressive and massive investment to reinvent itself like has been done by great American cities such as Pittsburgh, Oklahoma City, Columbus, Denver and others that have invested billions in their communities.

Albuquerque’s taxpayers must be convinced by its leaders of the importance of investing in major projects, and not just cram such projects down our throats like the ART bus project.

Berry Administration Gambles on Federal Grant Being Approved

The injunctions are denied but the two federal lawsuits and the appeal still continue. The Berry Administration is gambling with taxpayer’s money to cram ART down taxpayer’s throats.  Note the fact that the City bears the risk of starting work before the Court of Appeals and the District Court make a final decision in the cases. Also remember the Federal money has yet to be approved.   What this means is, taxpayers just may wind up footing the bill on two major fronts for Berry’s Boondoggle:  the Plaintiff business owners and opponents of ART in the lawsuits could prevail against the City for millions of dollars in damages which will have to be paid by the City. Also, if the Feds wind up denying the $69 million grant, the City will have to find the money elsewhere in the budget.

Enforce Existing Nuisance Laws to Clean Up Neighborhoods

This is what you call trying to re-invent the wheel for publicity sake.

In 2004 when I was a Deputy City Attorney and head of the Safe City Strike Force and when the City was taking aggressive enforcement actions against  nuisance properties, both residential and commercial,  the City enacted the Vacant Building Maintenance Act.  It actually requires property owners to register their vacant buildings, repair them and keep them maintained. The Albuquerque Uniform Housing Code and the Albuquerque Commercial Building Codes also have numerous provisions allowing city enforcement actions against  both residential and commercial properties that endanger the public health, safety,  and welfare and that are blighted properties.

Under existing ordinances, civil and criminal action can be taken against property owners and the properties  that have become a nuisance and a danger to public safety.  Under existing city ordinances, property owners can be cited for code violations in not maintaining their properties up to city codes.  Additionally, Albuquerque has one of the strongest Nuisance Abatement Ordinances in the country that allowed the Safe  City Strike Force to take aggressive code enforcement action against blighted properties, both residential and commercial, that had become nuisances and magnets of crime resulting in calls for service to APD and a drain on police resources.

Existing ordinances allowed the Safe City Strike Force to take  enforcement actions against approximately 1,000 residential properties a year and  over  50 motels along central, vacant strip malls, entire residential areas,  hundreds of blighted commercial and residential properties and properties use to commit crimes such as meth labs, drug houses and violent criminal activity. The City also had available funds that were used to condemn and tear down structures that were beyond repair.

Rather than trying to enact ordinances already on the books to garner publicity and favor, the City Council should provide sufficient funding to enforce existing ordinances that have proven effective in the past.



When You Read The Death Penalty Bill Passed By The GOP…

When you read the death penalty bill passed by the GOP-controlled NM House, you realize just how MESSED UP the Governor and the GOP sponsors are. The statute has all kinds of nasty stuff in it including a provision to examine an “allegedly pregnant women” “in the presence of the court” to prevent executing a pregnant women while she’s pregnant. (Quoting Danny Hernandez who sent me the bill) Under the law, the State will be able to execute the woman after the baby is born, BUT WHO TAKES CARE OF THE CHILD AFTER THE CHILD IS BORN????. Here is the language in the statute:

  1. If there is good reason to believe that a female defendant who was sentenced to death is pregnant, the warden shall call that fact to the attention of the district attorney of the county in which the state penitentiary is situated. The district attorney shall immediately file in the district court of the county a petition, stating the conviction and judgment and the fact that the defendant may be pregnant and asking that the court inquire into the question of the defendant’s pregnancy. It shall be the duty of the district court to inquire into the question and render a judgment. The court may summon three disinterested physicians of good standing in their profession to inquire into the alleged pregnancy. The physicians shall, in the presence of the court, but with closed doors, if requested by the defendant, examine the defendant, hear any evidence that may be produced and make a written finding and certificate of their conclusion, to be approved by the court. The provisions of Section 15 of this 2016 act apply to the proceedings provided in this subsection.
  2. If it is found that the female defendant is not pregnant, the warden shall execute the judgment. If it is found that the female defendant is pregnant, the warden shall suspend the execution of the judgment and transmit a certified copy of the finding and certificate to the governor. When the governor receives from the warden a certificate that the female defendant is no longer pregnant, the governor shall issue to the warden a warrant appointing a day for the execution of the judgment.”

I sometimes wonder why I continue to subscribe to the Albuquerque Journal

I sometimes wonder why I continue to subscribe to the Albuquerque Journal at about $275 a year.

This is the link to the Albuquerque Journal Sunday editorial “New Mexico needs to tackle its crime problem”  

The editorial is so biased, not because of its content, but because it fails to even mention the names of Mayor Richard Berry and Chief Gordon Eden, yet mentions Governor Martinez.

The Journal refuses to hold Berry and Eden accountable for destroying a once great police department and refuse to lay any blame on them for Albuquerque’s rising crime rates.

Six years ago, Berry was quick to take credit for a small reduction in property crimes, but he now blames the judicial system for our rising crime rates and not putting criminals behind bars longer.

Berry’s answer to finding out what is going with Albuquerque’s crime rates is a $40,000 study.

The Journal reporters seem to have lost Berry’s phone number to get any comment and what he is going to do when the Federal Monitor comes down on APD and the failure to implement the DOJ reforms.

The Journal once again gives credit to the Governor for seeking increases in criminal penalties with no mention of the associated costs to taxpayers, especially when it comes to the death penalty.