This past weekend, the city’s major daily ran a front page feature about the anti-abortion movement in Albuquerque. Though the paper didn’t refer to adherents as pro-life, the tone of the piece was cautiously affirmative about the role groups like this have in the culture and subsequent political discourse in this city. Referring to participants in the movement as “June and Ward Cleaver with a soapbox” the article went to great lengths to gloss over the extremist beliefs and actions espoused by organizations such as Protest ABQ while passively painting credibility onto their questionable activities. Propagandistic and paternalistic in tone—by virtue of quotes like, “We’re just Christian people who want to see babies’ lives saved and moms protected,” and descriptions including “Bud Shaver, 37, and Tara Shaver, 31, are soft-spoken but articulate and passionate about this issue,”—reporter Rick Nathanson’s piece comes off as incredibly out of touch with the progressive values held by a plurality of New Mexicans who have historically supported women’s reproductive rights.
Change of Venue Denied
Late last week a change of venue motion—sought by the attorney’s for the accused killers of homeless camper James Boyd—was denied by Judge Alisa Hadfield. Former Albuquerque Police Department Detective Keith Sandy and retired APD Officer Dominique Perez stand charged with second-degree murder in the case. Prosecutors argued that a fair trial for the two cops was indeed possible in Burque, while the defense team, including Attorney Sam Bregman argued that such was not possible. They pointed to the 250 or more local media reports generated as but one example why the trial should be moved out of town. Hadfield implied the defense could try such a motion before her again if pre-jury selection questionnaires revealed bias. In a pre-emptive strike to prevent that possibility—and with the likelihood the change of venue motion would be quashed—the prosecution moved on Thursday (before Hadfield’s decision was announced) to withhold both Boyd’s criminal background and the officers’ backgrounds from potential jurors.
Berry to Present at SXSW
Mayor Richard Berry is going to this year’s South by Southwest conference and music festival in Austin, Texas. Hizzoner will be leading a panel on building urban entrepreneurial hubs, writes Albuquerque Business First reporter Blake Driver. The title of the Berry-led presentation is “Bootstrapping Your City’s Innovation Ecosystem,” a topic that Burque’s Economic Development Director says this burg has gotten national attention for, despite a generally stagnant economy, high rates of commercial real-estate vacancies, a homeless problem that literally extends from Tramway to Coors and a rising rate of violent crime exacerbated by a stressed-out and understaffed police department. The panel will also feature the mayor of Sacramento, Calif., another Western city daunted by a slow economic recovery after the 2008 recession struck at jobs, commerce and quality of life. Berry makes his presentation to SXSW on Saturday, March 12, at 12:30pm