Tears flowed down the face of Sylvia Fuentes as she spoke to the City Council at the Monday, Nov. 15 meeting. She begged councilors to take a hard look at police training and the culture behind 2010’s steady pace of officer-involved shootings. She talked about those victims who were mentally ill and not criminals firing weapons at officers.
In July, Fuentes’ only son was killed when police were called to a domestic incident at his apartment. Fuentes said her son, Len, was schizophrenic. She condemned the shooters and the knee-jerk reaction of supervisors and mainstream media to protect all cops. But she praised police on the street and placed herself among those who include the safety of hardworking officers in their daily prayers.
“Up until July 27, 2010, I had nothing but praise for the Albuquerque Police Department,” Fuentes said. “But on July 27, 2010, I saw a different kind of officer: one that will kill because he could. And that is why I am here, because of officers like him.” Several councilors questioned City Attorney Rob Perry about the shootings, but Perry's answer didn’t make much sense. He confused Len Fuentes with another man who, according to APD, broke out a police car window to try to stab an officer in August. Public Safety Director Darren White tried to turn the conversation into a funding request for lapel video cameras for police.
On another note, Burque’s favorite nudist, Don Schrader, showed up to address the Council over the cancelation of the annual Pornotopia adult film festival. Schrader questioned the city’s reasoning for prohibiting a weekend of movies celebrating sexual pleasure when it allows flicks to be shown every day that glamorize violence, rape and murder. Councilor Isaac Benton asked for some clarification about the zoning regulations that struck down the festival and said he agreed with Schrader.
No Beer at the GameThe University of New Mexico wanted the city to approve limited alcohol sales at The Pit, the football stadium and the Student Union Building. Representatives said beer and wine would only be sold to club- and suite-level fans, about 1,500 people at each basketball and football game. UNM already holds limited governmental liquor licenses for the faculty and alumni clubs on campus, as well as the Championship Golf Course. The university sits on state land and is a separate constitutionally created entity from the city. But as a matter of protocol, the state's Regulation and Licensing Department said it would not authorize the proposed sporting event licenses without the city's OK.
UNM attorney Meg Meister ruffled the Council’s feathers ruffled when she started the conversation by saying the city does not have jurisdiction over the university, and that the Council shouldn’t even take up the matter. “UNM must protect its constitutional status and not submit to the jurisdiction of a local government body,” she said. She reminded everyone several times that the city owns a governmental liquor license at Isotopes Park across the street. Councilor Brad Winter was among three council members arguing that UNM is responsible and will keep tight control over sales. Several others, led by Councilor Dan Lewis, said alcohol does not belong on school grounds and that approval is not in the best interest of public safety. The Council voted down booze at university ball games 6 to 3.
Across the country, universities are allowing alcohol sales at sporting events to raise much-needed revenue. According to a speaker in support of the licenses, UNM and Brigham Young University are the only two members of the Mountain West Conference that do not sell alcohol at their sporting events. While it doesn’t seem like a good idea to approve booze sales willy-nilly in a city already struggling with the problems caused by alcohol abuse, there are two larger issues here: hypocrisy and jurisdiction. First, the city permits alcohol sales at Isotopes games where crowds are full of families and children. Restaurant beer and wine licenses are approved routinely. Saying “no” to limited licenses for UNM appears arbitrary. Second, the state should only ask the city for an opinion as a courtesy. It is state land and a state licensing agency operating on a state budget.