Below is a column written by Rudolfo Carrillo submitted for publication on this blog.
Rudolfo Carrillo is a native New Mexican and was the news and music editor at Weekly Alibi from August 2015 until March 2020, where he used the pen name “August March” to write about Albuquerque culture, history and politics. He is a graduate of the University of New Mexico’s fine arts program. His award-winning writing and analysis have been featured at international academic conferences, in notable literary journals as well as in local media outlets like the Albuquerque Journal. His latest work can be read at Infinity Report with the link here:
EDITOR’S DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed in this article are those of Rudolfo Carrillo and do not necessarily reflect those of the political blog www.petedinelli.com. Rudolfo Carrillo was not compensated for the guest column.
MARCHING TO THE BEAT OF A DIFFERENT DRUMMER: HOMELESSNESS, THE CANDIDATES AND AUGIE’S IDEAS
—How’s the write-in campaign for mayor doing? I asked Augie March the other day, when he stopped by to noodle on the piano we keep in the living room. It’s a decent instrument and somehow ended up there in the corner after spending most of its professional life at a place called Interlochen. Serio. But that’s another story altogether.
In reply to my simple question, March embarked on one of his trademark discourses and began by tossing me a frajo, telling me to go ahead and light the damn thing up because I was old and it couldn’t do much harm at this point anyway.
—I think a good thing for all the current mayoral candidates to do would involve having all three men—and maybe me, too, if they can stand being in such close quarters with someone who still wears English Leather religiously—drive in a fancy motorcade through different parts of the city, winding their way from neighborhood to neighborhood as cameras recorded the whole shebang. Of course, there would be a cameraman in the main limousine, too.
—Well, what would be the point of that? I asked Augie. After all and so far, the candidates have indeed met in public and in virtual forums here in the city. Though there have in fact been a few such events, as I rightly pointed out to March, I had to add the following qualifier: There hadn’t been too much news about the actual issues in the race; in fact, most of the news being reported on this year’s contest focuses on accusations, ethics violations, and PR stunts designed to improve likability.
In fact, in a mayoral forum held Monday night and sponsored by the New Mexico Black Voters Collaborative, Keller used his closing statement, according to local political columnist Joe Monahan:
“to unload publicly on Gonzales for the first time, to tell the audience that, “The Sheriff has been over-policing people of color and doing photo ops.” That statement, of course, comes with its own heap of irony, as Monahan pointed out. But it is worth mentioning that, besides being the king of photo ops in this town, Keller’s administration has had to face its own accusations of discrimination, systemic racism and ageism.
“Keller Jousts With Mayoral Foes; Lands First Public Blows On Gonzales; Starts Making Case For Second Term”, by Joe Monahan, September 27, 2021, in Joe Monahan’s New Mexico.”
“Past city official files whistleblower suit”, by Jessica Dyer, Wednesday, January 27, 2021 in The Albuquerque Journal:
A GRAND PARADE
March pointed his finger toward me accusingly, widened his normally sleepy eyes and with a grave intonation, continued.
—That’s precisely why they need to parade around town with a motorcycle unit, flags, heck, maybe even a high school band on some kinda float or something vaguely resembling our journey into the future. Besides being good for citizen and police morale, it would be a great way to familiarize those three with one of our city’s most dire problems, problems which Gonzales referred to as part of “a crossroads of total anarchy.”
“Mayoral hopefuls face off at forum”, by Jessica Dyer, Monday, September 27, 2021 in The Albuquerque Journal:
—It’s true, Mr. March. I’ve been thinking so much about all those stories about fines in the thousands, pictures of the mayor cuddling shelter dogs and that other fellow bellowing like some sort of follower of the Glimmer Twins that I’ve almost forgotten about the sadness, violence, economic despair and homelessness that continue to haunt our fair burg. The thing is, it isn’t total anarchy: it’s just a whole lot of sad and displaced human beings doing what humans do best, which is being fragile and in need of help from others.
—See, if they started just north of Downtown, they could take a long look at the scores of homeless encampments that are just about everywhere, stretching from just about every freeway overpass to the sidewalks on main thoroughfares and on the edges of industrial parks, too. Maybe they could even talk with ’em. That ought to change some perceptions, by gum!
—Now wait a minute, Augie, the incumbent says he has a plan to get that fixed pronto!
—I wish that were the case, but look in the daily newspaper. It says there that the whole deal is being held up in the planning department by objections from neighbors of Keller’s proposed shelter at the former Lovelace Hospital on Gibson Boulevard. The place is in District 6—the Council district of the notorious Pat Davis—and the folks that live up there reckon they have already had to face an overwhelming homeless population and all the negative things they say go along with that.
“Neighbors object to ABQ shelter proposal” By Jessica Dyer in The Albuquerque Journal, Tuesday, September 21, 2021:
DAVIS, GRILLEY AND WHITE PRIVILEGE
—How does Davis figure into this; and why does his involvement rate the epithet “notorious”? That’s a pretty strong word, Mr. March!
—Well, back in May, Davis apparently caved to business and real estate interests in the area, proposing that the shelter limit itself to only 30 beds. Before that, he called for public input on the project to be extended again, keeping the whole project in limbo. The editorial board at the Journal called all of that “bait and switch at its worst,” and they’re right. Citizens voted on investing $14 million on the project in the hope of giving some hope to a good number of the city’s homeless. Davis’ move seems craven, period. The project just isn’t going to work in Davis’ scaled-down version. The homeless problem has grown way beyond 30 beds. Come to think of it, maybe Davis ought to ride in the motorcade with those three candidates!
“Editorial: Hey ABQ voters, did you OK $14M for just 30 shelter beds?” By the Albuquerque Journal Editorial Board, in The Albuquerque Journal, Tuesday, May 25, 2021:
—And how is driving the candidates—and Councilor Davis, for that matter—around town, through its worst bits, going to help? How is it going to change things for the better?
—If they stick to the 30-bed scenario that Davis is working for, he should definitely tag along. He could be the one that hand-selects the 30 homeless citizens who get to experience life at the new shelter. But in general terms, his inclusion supports the idea that there is a stigma against the homeless among certain other groups of people.
They frighten many folks in the middle- and upper-classes. In fact, another fellow named Grilley that’s running for City Council in District 9 sorta sums up the weird and inappropriate cognitive dissonance and privilege a lot of these objectors to Keller’s plan are demonstrating. Right on his main page, it says this: “Homelessness in our district poses a threat to public health, compromises our security, and costs the city money.” His main focus here seems to be on saving money: the bottom line. Wealth management is big with these white privilege sorts. With outright capitalists, it’s always ‘mercy be damned.’
Rob Grilley for Albuquerque City Council, District 9:
THE MIRACLE OF KELLER’S CORRECTNESS
—Well, maybe if they get it into their heads that these are real flesh and blood human beings with their own stories, their own dignity—and their own frailties—maybe they’d get off their behinds and start doing something proactive to solve this tragic problem; you know, help train them, provide and staff for comprehensive mental health services, get ’em ready to work or learn and contribute to the city. Don’t get me wrong, Keller’s got the right idea on this one; it’s a rarity, I know it.
But he needs to talk about this issue in public more, he needs to be a role model, for Crissakes! If we do the motorcade thing, I’d expect him to be the first one out of the car, shaking hands with and giving out hugs to all those homeless folks wandering through every part of our town. That PR strategy has worked for shelter pets, after all.
—Whoa. What about Manny … and the other guy?
—Of course, Gonzales shouldn’t wear his uniform during the procession. I reckon he’ll stay in the car, because he won’t want to get his hands dirty. Some of those folks coulda been the ones his handlers used to get fake signatures, you know?
And that third candidate, the Republican just plumb doesn’t matter. He’s a ghost of the airwaves and nothing more: I gotta base that opinion on what ol’ Aragon represents. He’s just a disenfranchised former Dem who probably didn’t feel too comfortable with the ascension of women and the consequent progress in the state party and so latched on to Satan himself—represented, in his case, I might add, by that awful criminal nihilist, number 45 who’s constantly mentioned in that man’s radio diatribes.
Anyway, Keller needs to show some real leadership in this matter. For one thing, it’s about time he reins in Davis; Pat is beginning to look like he’s gone rogue. It’s not good for the Democratic Party, even in a supposed non-partisan local governance deal. Then, Hizzonor needs to address the concerns of citizens near the Gibson site as soon and as thoroughly as possible—while he personally weighs in via one of his own famous photo ops—on why this city absolutely needs to take better care of its disadvantaged and marginalized citizens.
—That’s very interesting, August, but I doubt anyone could get all those guys in a limousine at the same time; there’s just not enough head room plus you never told me about your candidacy …
—Well, it goes something like this: I figure some of the politicians I just talked about will read this, consider my words, the proposals therein … And then wake the heck up to what this town really needs in its next mayor. They really ought to drive around town, though, even if it is solito in their personal gasoline-powered transportation device. I guarantee that will have an effect.
If none of that happens—and I ain’t saying it will or it won’t—come election time, folks really will have to start considering the value of voting for a fictive trans-dimensional Situationist instead of what is being officially offered. I’ve always wanted to apply my painting and pizza-making skills to local governance, you know, and this is a great fail-safe—hot, fresh outta the oven with brilliant colors, too.