Over the years, there have been so many times that I have been absolutely nauseated by the actions of the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce (GACC) and what its President and CEO Terry Cole has said and done, especially during the last eight (8) years.
It happened again when I read on the front page of the Albuquerque Journal that the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce and Terri Cole were part of a “task force” established by the New Mexico Legislature to combat the spike in Albuquerque’s crime rates and to more broadly address problems in the criminal justice system throughout New Mexico.
It was the headline below the main headline “Panel begins search for steps to reduce crime” that made me get sick to my stomach that read “Chamber of Commerce CEO calls for ‘more intelligent’ strategy” to reducing crime.
The Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce served as the “host” of the first task force meeting held on March 29, 2018.
Respected and former retired New Mexico Supreme Court Justice Edward Chavez chaired the meeting.
Corrales Democrat New Mexico State Rep. Daymon Ely co-sponsored legislation establishing the task force to develop bipartisan proposals that can be introduced in the next legislative session.
Two dozen or more attended the meeting.
The “task force” includes members of the New Mexico legislature, representatives from the 2nd Judicial District Court, the Attorney General’s Office, Bernalillo County District Attorney Raul Torrez and his office, the New Mexico Fraternal Order of Police, and a variety of state agencies, including the Corrections and Children, Youth and Families departments.
What is absolutely pathetic is that no one from Albuquerque city government, the Mayor’s Office or the Albuquerque Chief of Police nor APD, are members of the task force, though there’s a representative from the New Mexico Municipal League.
Increasing the number of APD police officers was one suggestion to address the problem.
Cole told the task force that businesses considering a move to New Mexico’s largest city used to ask first about the schools, but now businesses want to know about crime and public safety.
Cole, no doubt with a serious and straight face, is quoted as saying:
“Time and time again, [the Chamber of Commerce] have had to answer the question ‘What are you doing about education?’ But the first one now: ‘Is Albuquerque really a safe place? Can we bring our employees there, and will they be safe? … We have to find a more intelligent way to fight crime”.
Cole told the task force that our high crime rates were interfering with economic development efforts, even though she and the chamber have known this for the past eight (8) years as our violent crime rates soared and they remained silent and refused to hold the prior administration accountable.
AGCC PAST NAUESATING CONDUCT
During the last eight (8) years Cole and her AGCC have consistently supported and lobbied for “all crime all the time” legislation advocated by Republican Governor Susana Martinez, both mistakenly believing that increases in sentencing and “incarceration” is the only solution to bringing down crime and totally ignoring mental health care, early intervention and counseling.
Cole and her AGCC supported reinstatement of the death penalty for child abuse resulting in death and for the killing of law enforcement.
Cole and the AGCC have consistently opposed any efforts to use New Mexico permanent fund for early childhood care and intervention programs.
Cole and the AGCC repeatedly supported former Mayor Richard Berry’s attempts to change PERA return to work restrictions and allow “double dipping” as a solution to growing the ranks of APD.
On July 10, 2017, it was reported Mayor Berry and Chamber of Commerce President Teri Cole traveled to San Francisco for 3 days along with a group of Bernalillo County prosecutors, law enforcement officials and business leaders to discuss a program with the San Francisco District Attorney on how to use technology to bring down crime and deal with repeat offenders.
Cole and the Chamber took Berry when he had only a four and a half months left in office and ignored inviting anyone of the candidates for Mayor which would have made more sense.
Then there was the AGCC “Award of Excellence in Public Safety” given to the former Mayor in June, 2017, just seven months before he left office.
Two main reasons the chamber gave then Mayor Berry the award were:
1. Because he secured funding for a government innovation program to “study” approaches to curbing crime,
2. Berry announced a program with law enforcement agencies to coordinate efforts to prosecute repeat offenders
It turns out that it was the first time such an award was given out and Berry was the only person considered for the award.
The GACC giving an “Excellence in Public Safety Award” to former Mayor Berry was like giving an “Award of Excellence in Security Investments” to convicted Ponzi scheme felon Bernie Madoff who is serving a lifetime sentence for stealing billions from people who trusted him with their lifetime savings.
The Chambers award was handed out just days after high tech firm “Lavu” sent the city a letter telling the MAYOR that it was “fed up” with downtown Albuquerque crime and that it was contemplating moving out of downtown and out of the state unless city hall and APD did something about the crime in downtown.
Sure enough, Berry increased police presence in the downtown area diverting police resources from other areas of the city that had even higher crime rates.
The Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce (GACC) has its offices just around the block from Lavu and Terri Cole told the media that the chamber was so concerned about crime in Downtown Albuquerque that it asked its landlord to secure their front door with an intercom system and ability to “buzz” people in after screening.
During the last three year’s, Terri Cole and the GACC have not attended and have been nowhere to be found at any of the Federal Court hearings on the the Department of Justice consent decree and the reports made by the Federal Court Monitor.
There has not been a single business that has relocated to Albuquerque in the last eight years because of the efforts of Terri Cole and her GACC.
Terri Cole and the GACC have been an absolute failure in trying to find a more intelligent way for economic development in Albuquerque.
Albuquerque can expect the same results with Cole’s and her AGCC efforts to bring down our crime rates.