Fear Of A Brown Planet?

brownplanet“Unfortunate” and “chilling?”

How about insulting and xenophobic?

Local advocates may have held back a bit last week when they condemned Republican Albuquerque mayoral candidate Richard “R.J.” Berry and the New Mexico Republican Party for blaming a brutal murder on the city’s existing immigration policies.

Albuquerque police have charged suspected members of a hardcore El Salvadoran crime gang with murdering cook Stephanie Anderson on June 20 as they robbed a crowded Denny’s Restaurant on the city’s West Side.

In the aftermath of the crime, Berry and state Republican Party executive director Ryan Cangliosi blamed the city’s police policies regarding immigrants for the murder and called Albuquerque a “sanctuary city” for illegal immigrants.

Berry and Cangliosi said they were lamenting the fact that since 2007, city policy bars police from questioning a person about his or her immigration status unless the person is already under arrest or the officer feels their immigration status may be relevant to a criminal investigation.

The city adopted the policy in connection with a 2005 civil rights lawsuit brought by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund involving three Del Norte students who were detained at their school until immigration officials could question them.

In the days since the murder, Albuquerque police revealed that they had arrested one of the suspects, Pablo Ortiz, for DUI in 2008. He served time in jail and was then voluntarily deported to El Salvador. Police don’t know how Ortiz got back into the country and came to commit the murder. But city policies on immigration don’t appear to have anything to do with it.

Late last week, a coalition of advocacy groups expressed outrage that Berry and the Republican Party would attempt to use the murder as a pawn in their political chess game.

“Campaigns like this (against immigrants) have had a chilling impact on Hispanic/Latino communities across the country, resulting in increased discrimination, hate crimes, and racial profiling,” Adrian Pedroza, executive director of the Albuquerque Partnership, a Latino-led advocacy-based coalition, told the New Mexico Independent.

“At a time when we should be coming together to mourn the tragic death of a community member, it is unfortunate that there are those who would use this issue to further a political agenda,” Barbara Dua, executive director of the statewide New Mexico Conference of Churches, told NMI. “This is a time for us to unite, not be divided by fear mongering.”

Advocates say what Berry and the Republicans are claiming is unfortunate and chilling.

But let’s also call it what else it is – a xenophobic attempt to insult people’s common sense by confusing the facts and blurring the line between immigrants and the kind of ganged-up criminals who shoot a woman in cold blood.

Using the specter of crime and public safety to elicit knee-jerk reactions during political season is an old trick.

Did any of you fall for it?

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City Charter Task Force: What the Journal Won’t Tell You

coaI had the honor of serving on Albuquerque’s City Charter Revision Task Force, along with 13 other dedicated individuals. Our group ranged across the political spectrum with diverse interests and was most professionally chaired by former State District Court Judge Wendy York.

Based on the Albuquerque Journal’s story and editorial this week, you’d think all we did over the past eight months, consisting of 17 full Task Force meetings and numerous subcommittee meetings, was argue over the issue of nonprofits – the topic with which the Journal is so clearly obsessed.

Amazingly, the Journal failed to mention – in both its news story and its editorial – that the Task Force actually killed the proposed nonprofit amendment to the City Charter sponsored by Chuck Gara for lack of support and because of gaping holes in its application and constitutionality.

That’s right. Gara’s amendment was withdrawn. Only after the amendment’s withdrawal did the Task Force cast a symbolic vote to request the City Council look at the nonprofit issue, just as the Council will consider the tens, if not hundreds of governance issues, when it takes up the Charter next month.  But if the Journal is your only news source, you could hardly be blamed for believing that the Task Force’s sole accomplishment over these past eight months was sending this nonprofit issue up to the Council for “action” — even though the amendment was killed.

Continue reading

If it’s Friday, it’s time to bury the Perlman story

It is being reported that Mayor Martin Chavez’s right-hand man is out. Bruce Perlman, Chief Administrative Officer for the City of Albuquerque, abruptly resigned this afternoon. (NM Independent)

Chavez made no comment about his long-time friend’s departure. But curiously, the Mayor’s office announced that Perlman’s replacement has already been named — Chief Operations Officer Ed Adams.

Before coming in as CAO three years ago, Perlman was a chief bag man for the Mayor. He was one of the ring leaders of ABQPAC, Chavez’s notorious slush fund. The City Ethics Board found Chavez guilty in that affair. Continue reading

Greenwashing Mayor Introduces the New Art of Ethics-washing

Dan McKay reported in last Friday’s Journal that Mayor Martin Chavez is taking on the issue of ethics at City Hall. McKay writes:

Mayor Martin Chávez says he wants to transform the ethical culture at City Hall– starting with new training for employees, independence for the city clerk and termination for those who flout the rules.

Chavez says, “…we want to weed out the bad apples.”

Also on Friday, this website featured an investigative report by Pulitzer Prize winner Eileen Welsome about Chavez’s relationship with Marc Schiff, the architect who pled guilty to felony charges connected with the Courthouse scandal. That cozy mayoral connection appears to have resulted in the public getting overcharged millions of dollars for the design and construction of the Balloon Museum. Continue reading

Albuq. Journal: Read the headline, miss the story

Mayor Martin Chavez’s U.S. Senate bid may have collapsed in the face of abysmal poll numbers but that doesn’t mean there will be any abatement of the Albuquerque Journal’s bend-over-backwards favorable reportage of his administration. Continue reading