Year in Review
Best and Worst of 2010
Immigration took center stage around the nation after Arizona passed SB 1070, a law that would have required state law enforcement to question people suspected of being in the country illegally. Protests erupted nationwide. The immigration debate filled the mouths of politicians, particularly during election season, with most calling for comprehensive federal reform. One such measure was the Dream Act, which would have created a path to citizenship for those who came into the states illegally at a young age. Because the topic had grown so political and polarizing, the bill failed in the Senate on Dec. 18.
Worst: A citizenship check
Immigration and Customs Enforcement was allowed to set up shop in the Prisoner Transport Center. Since May, everyone who is arrested in Albuquerque has to have a face-to-face with an agent. Civil rights advocates point out that everyone who is arrested—not just convicted of a crime—is forced to talk to ICE. Other advocates took issue with the policy, saying that sometimes victim and aggressor alike are arrested during a domestic violence dispute, especially when there's a language barrier.
Best: The Hispano/Mexicano debate
Liza and Derek Minno Bloom moved to Albuquerque from New York City. After observing an arrest in Burque—which led to Derek being arrested himself—they decided to start a group that would witness police interactions with civilians. Albuquerque's Copwatch began holding meetings in the fall. By the end of the year, the observers had gone out five times, and the reaction, says Derek Minno Bloom, has been mostly positive. "We have also seen that a lot of people are not aware of their rights,” he says, “so it has been good to have lots of conversations about our rights." The police department has, for the most part, been respectful, he adds.
Worst: Officer-involved shootings
Worst: Systems fail an Iraq War veteran
Kenneth Ellis III had stopped participating in an inpatient Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder program. The VA Medical Center wouldn't comment on why he left, but his mother says he had been kicked out. He was pulled over on Jan. 13 because his car had the wrong plates. In front of the 7-Eleven at Constitution and Eubank, the 25-year-old Iraq War vet stepped out of his vehicle with a gun to his head. He was talking to his mother on his cell phone. Albuquerque police shot him when he refused to drop his weapon. He died, leaving behind a 4-year-old son.
According to data released in November by the Veteran Affairs Department, the suicide rate among young male veterans went up 26 percent from 2005 to 2007, the most recent years for which information is available.
Worst: Emcore shooting
Robert Reza entered the Emcore Fiber Optics office building on Monday, July 12, and shot six people. Michele "Scrappy" Turner and Sharon Cunningham were killed.
Worst: 3,000 deaths in Juárez
Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, is about a four-hour drive from Albuquerque. And it's become known as the murder capital of the world. As of Dec. 15, 3,000 people had been killed there in 2010, reports CNN.
Volunteers and youth at the La Plazita Institute built an open-source lab that was Frankensteined together from the scraps of donated hardware. It's available to the entire community and will do its part to help close the digital divide between middle-class America and low-income minorities.
Best: World Naked Bike Ride
The Duke City Wheelmen Foundation continued to fight for roadside memorials dedicated to cyclists killed by careless drivers. “Ghost bikes” have been installed around New Mexico, despite objections from city and state officials. Debate ensues over whether the bikes count as descansos, roadside memorials protected by state law. Either way, the ghost bikes have continued to go up, serving as reminders to drivers and as places of remembrance for family and friends.
Worst: BP's oil geyser
After years of back and forth, American Cement made an agreement with the people who live near its Albuquerque transfer station. American Cement was looking to operate around the clock, but more than 100 residents spoke up about poor air quality, health concerns and increased traffic. They reached an amenable agreement: The cement company installed bag leak detectors to monitor silos 24 hours a day. Excess emissions are reported to a panel made up of neighbors.
Best: Don't Ask, Don't Tell repealed
On Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010, he sat down in front of the TV and tuned into C-SPAN, though he's not a regular viewer of the channel. "It's got to be one of the most boring things I've ever seen," Loomis says. He was waiting for the U.S. Senate to vote on the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. "The vote happened, and I damn near cried,” he says. His phone started ringing. Friends and fellow vets from across the country began calling to celebrate.
It's one of the civil rights victories that will define this generation, says Jesse Lopez, president of Albuquerque Pride.
Robert Quintana worked for months to bring Taos its first gay pride festival. He died at age 29 just weeks before the event. But friends, family and fellow organizers, including Albuquerque's LGBT leaders, helped put the celebration together anyway. In late August, Taos celebrated its first official pride weekend in Quintana's honor.
Worst: Porn festival screwed
Pornotopia, Self Serve sex shop's annual showcase of positive pornography, was given the runaround by the city's Zoning Enforcement. A month before the festival, Molly Adler and Matie Fricker discovered their one-time "special use" permit for the Sunshine Theater had been shot down. The Self Serve owners planned a protest show with burlesque, music and satirical skits in early November. But the city told event organizers that zoning enforcers would attend and scrutinize the event, so that was canceled, too.
Worst: Iraq War protesters lose to APD
Eleven demonstrators filed suit against the city and the Albuquerque Police Department. They waited almost seven years for their day in court. In 2010, they testified that their civil and constitutional rights had been violated, and that APD's extreme reaction had a chilling effect on free speech. The jury returned a verdict after three hours of deliberation: None of the charges stuck.
Best: Paolo Soleri demolition halted
Alumni, concert promoters, city councilors and the architect Paolo Soleri himself came out against the theater's destruction. Fellow architect Bart Prince wrote a column for the Alibi in July upon hearing of the Paolo Soleri’s planned destruction: "The creators have been the few who have used their minds to bring forth something from nothing. The destroyers use emotion and force to turn something into nothing.”
Best: Sunshine Portal opens
Who has the biggest salary in state government? What is New Mexico spending your tax money on? Find those numbers and more at sunshineportalnm.com. The portal kicks down government's door, says Sarah Welsh, director of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government. The site was launched six months ahead of schedule in mid-December and allows anyone to keep an eye on the government's wallet. (And while you're at it, check out Mayor Richard Berry's transparency site for the city at cabq.gov/abq-view.)
Drug Policy Reform
Best: Felony checkbox banned
The Drug Policy Alliance lobbied the Legislature for a measure that should give former inmates a better chance to find a job. As of May 19, it became state law that employers can't include questions about felony convictions on applications. They can still ask about felonies further along in the interview process.
Worst: Legislature fails to pass ... a lot of things
During the 2010 election, ours was the only state in the union without an independent or third-party contender in a statewide race. New Mexico's restrictive ballot access rules make it tough for non-Dem or non-GOP candidates. "If you're minor party, you have to go out and get thousands signatures in a short amount of time," says Richard Winger of Ballot Access News. "Then each candidate has to go out and do it. Pretty soon you're asking people to sign their name and address 20 times. New Mexico is the only state in the country that says a qualified party has to have their nominees go out and do that."
Best or Worst? The new guv