A jubilant Dem watch party
People spilled out of the ballrooms and into the hallways. About 2,000 Democrats attended the results watch party at the Embassy Suites in Albuquerque.
Folks celebrated Democratic victories even before they were certain. Sam Bregman said at just after 8 p.m., still early in the evening, that presidential candidate Mitt Romney was "on the ropes" and would be defeated.
City Councilor Ken Sanchez was all smiles as he worked the room, as did Brian Colon and many other Democrat candidates, officials and campaign workers. State Rep. Gail Chasey, who was re-elected to her legislative seat was beaming from ear to ear, not just for herself but newly elected congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham.
Lujan Grisham said the progressive core values need to reach a broad group of citizens. "And the kinds of issues that we need to be passionate about are for women and people of color and persons in poverty. These are the issues I am going to be so proud to work on."
The party will likely be going strong for a while.
Tips for avoiding long lines at certain polls
Lines at Jefferson Middle School have shot out the door and down the sidewalk. The Student Union Building voting site on UNM campus has lines an hour or so long. Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver tweets that waits are longer than 30 minutes at Rio Bravo, Siesta Hills, Van Buren, Del Norte, McKinely, Cibola and Hayes. But the wait is less than 15 minutes at Downtown sites, including Washington Middle School and the Clerk’s Annex. Scope a map of polling locations and wait times. You can vote at any one of 69 convenience centers.
The wait at the polls doesn’t look bad
I was in line by 7:04 am at Jefferson Middle School, and there were at least 50 folks ahead of me. Thank goodness for the bake sale being held in the lobby: The scones held me over until it was my turn. When I left there, were slightly fewer people in line. It was great to see the diversity of voters who turned out early at this neighborhood polling station.
We’ve heard reports of differing waits at the polling locations. You can vote at any of the 69 convenience centers. The county clerk has a color-coded system that will show you what the wait will be like as you head in on your lunch hour. It’s looking pretty good around the city, with green 15-minute waits at most locations.
Or, try the clerk’s new app on your smartphone. Download it at Apple’s App Store or the Android Play Store for free. Just search for “BernCo,” “Bernalillo County” or “My Vote Center.” If you don’t have those services, you can get it right from the bernco.gov home page. There it’s called the Wait Time Feature for My Vote Center.
In our Election Guide, we summed up everything you need to know about voting today.
Speak your mind on APD today
In the Alibi that’s on stands right now, I took a look at the numerous police studies cropping up this year. In addition to a variety of investigations, the Albuquerque Police Department is undergoing a voluntary accreditation process that happens every three years. Reviewers from a group called Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies arrived in town on Saturday.
Today they’ll be hearing from the public. If you’d like to make a comment, go to City Council Chambers in the basement of City Hall at 5 p.m. If you can’t make it, you can also call 768-2465 tomorrow between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.
On Thursday, Mayor Berry vetoed the City Council’s request for a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into APD. He said he wasn’t sure whether the Council’s vote on the matter violated the Open Meetings Act. But the feds are deciding whether to look into the department anyway.
APD officers have shot 19 men and killed 13 of them since January 2010. There has been a rash of offensive social media comments and allegations of misconduct. The Justice Department takes complaints from private citizens, municipalities and advocacy groups, among others. The feds look for a patterns of misconduct. Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Perez met with city officials and community members but did not offer comment on whether the Justice department will take on the task.
This Just In
Independent Review Officer releases findings in the Darren White investigation
The city's Independent Review Officer William Deaton cleared former Public Safety Director Darren White of any wrongdoing by exerting his position at the scene of a car accident involving White’s wife, Kathleen. The city released a redacted copy of Deaton’s investigation summary. Interim City Attorney Robert Kidd says the names are blacked out due to an union-city administration agreement.
Deaton also found there was enough evidence to investigate Kathleen of DUI when on the morning of July 6, she crashed into a curb and told officers she was taking prescription drugs. White showed up with lights flashing and took her to the hospital himself. Allegations started circulating immediately about White trying to intimidate officers and of Deputy Chief Beth Paiz putting pressure on one of the responding officers to change drug details before turning in the accident report. Deaton’s findings say that paramedic and other witnesses at the scene did not think White was throwing his power around to remove his wife from scene. Nor did White intimidate them, the findings say.
Deaton said he did not find any wrongdoing on the part of Deputy Chief Paiz asking a responding officer to take out references to prescription drugs.
Deaton found enough evidence showing White abused his city vehicle and should not have used his lights in responding to the scene. The City Attorney’s office and the Mayor's office released statements declining any comment on the report.
On July 25, the City Council’s Internal Operations Committee approved asking the full Council to request the city’s new inspector general do an independent look at the incident. Council members have said they do not think Deaton’s office is the proper entity to do an impartial investigation. The next full Council meeting is set for 5 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 1, in the Council Chambers in the basement of City Hall.
Father escorted out of Police Oversight Commission meeting
Research firm MGT of America is evaluating the effectiveness of the Police Oversight Commission and the Independent Review Office in addressing citizen complaints. The city hired the firm in May on a $40,000 contract.
An MGT analyst observed the Thursday, July 14 commission meeting, during which local attorney Steve Torres was escorted away by two Albuquerque Police Department officers. Torres' 27-year-old son Christopher was killed by APD in April.
As the commission discussed the August officer-involved shooting death of Enrique Carrasco, Torres attempted to ask a question. After several verbal attempts by Chairman Bambi Folk to stop Torres from talking out of turn, two uniformed APD officers moved into place and physically escorted Torres out.
(To view the full meeting, go to the city’s GOV TV site. Scroll down to the section titled Police Oversight Commission.)
Earlier in the meeting, Torres accused the commission of not fulfilling its function and rubber-stamping most of APD’s behavior. Other public comments also claimed the commission merely justifies the force's actions. “How can you sleep at night?” Mike Gomez asked. He is the father of 22-year old Alan Gomez, who was killed by police in May.
In an interview with the Alibi, Internal Review Officer William Deaton said the IRO and the Police Oversight Commission have a broad reach but do not have power to impose penalties—only to make recommendations. Deaton’s findings can be ignored or discarded by the Police Oversight Commission or by the city’s chief administrative officer.
For instance, it was Deaton’s opinion that the shooting of Kenneth Ellis III, a 25-year old Iraq War veteran, was not a reasonable use of force and the shooting should not have happened. The Police Oversight Commission disagreed, rejected his opinion and called the shooting justified.
Deaton said MGT analysts will be around in the coming weeks, gathering more information and data for their study.
Lost Dog (or Cat or Horse or Cow ... )
While humans seem to love loud, bright, exploding Fourth of July fireworks our furry friends hate pyrotechnics. For dogs, cats, horses and other farm animals this is one of the most stressful and dangerous times of the year. 2010 was especially rough, because the holiday stretched over several days. The noise often drives pets to run away, especially if left outside and unattended.
“We have a higher volume of stray animal calls and a higher volume of barking complaint calls on July 4 than on almost any other night of the year,” says Capt. Albert Marquez of Animal Welfare’s Field Services Division.
Kennel workers are expecting an unusually high volume of stray pets at the Eastside and Westside shelters this week. Should your pet get lost and end up at either shelter, Animal Welfare wants to expedite the process: If your pet already has a microchip, a license and is spayed or neutered, he or she will be returned to you free of charge. Owners will not be charged a reclaim fee. All you have to do is pick up their lost pets at the shelter.
If your pet has gone missing, check Albuquerque’s Eastside or Westside shelters immediately. Or you can get help by dialing 311.
Fourth of July: Waking Nightmare for Princess Fluffilyaya
While humans love loud, bright, exploding Fourth of July fireworks, our furry friends hate pyrotechnics. For dogs, cats, horses and other animals, this is one of the most stressful and dangerous times of the year—especially this time around, because the holiday weekend stretches over several days. The noise can drive pets to run away, especially if left outside and unattended.
“We have a higher volume of stray animal calls and a higher volume of barking complaint calls on July Fourth than on almost any other night of the year,” says Capt. Albert Marquez of Animal Welfare’s Field Services Division.
Since the noise of fireworks can stress cats and dogs into running away, the city animal welfare folks strongly suggest you keep your pets inside as much as possible at night and to some extent busy. Give them something to chew on or play ball with them. If your pet gets especially stressed, they recommends you ask your veterinarian for some sort of medical help to calm your pet down.
With the holiday weekend stretching into the beginning of the week for many people, kennel workers are expecting an unusually high amount of stray pets into the Eastside and Westside shelters on the mornings of July 3, 4 and 5. Should your pet get lost and end up at either shelter, Animal Welfare wants to expedite the process. If your pet already has a microchip, a license and is spayed or neutered, he or she will be returned to you free of charge. Owners will not be charged a reclaim fee. All they have to do is pick up their lost pets at the shelter.
If your pet turns up missing during the weekend, please check Albuquerque’s Eastside or Westside shelters immediately. Or you can get help by dialing 311.
Beware the Antifreeze
Dog and cat owners should be aware that there have been antifreeze poisonings reported in the neighborhoods near Fourth Street and Montaño. Antifreeze, which has a sweet taste, is deadly to humans and animals. Even a very small amount licked off paws can cause an agonizing death for a dog or cat. People should try to keep their animals in their yards and be aware of containers in alleys, lots or public areas. If anyone finds anything, please call 311 and ask for Animal Welfare Department.
Update from the New Mexico Symphony Player's Association
On October 13, the New Mexico Symphony Player's Association voted against the NMSO's management's last, best and final offer (see "A Sour Note" in the Alibi's News section, printed October 8-14, 2009). The musicians have been without a paycheck for six weeks and have had their health insurance canceled.
"The musicians are determined to preserve the high artistic standards that the orchestra has achieved as well as maintain our dignity as professional musicians," said Richard White, member of the New Mexico Symphony Players Association negotiations committee.
The musicians union and management used the services of a federal mediator, and the case is still open. In the end, considering other changes proposed by the symphony management, the proposal would mean that each individual pay check would be 43 percent less than what they had received last year. The second year of the proposed contract includes a financial contract re-opener which would allow for further salary reductions.
The musician's union attorney Andrew Lewinter is asking that the NMSO management come back to the table and commit itself to bargain in good faith and find an equitable compromise.