There’s an election going on as I write this. More than a few pundits are calling this election one for the ages.
Over at Joe Monahan’s political blog, one of our state’s seasoned political writers—and apparently an advocate of la neta as regards the ribs at El Modelo and the inevitability of Lujan Grisham’s ascent—writes that this New Mexico midterm saw 430,000 early voters. This number may presage an outcome of more than 650,000 ballots coming down the pike before the party is over at 7pm tonight.
That’s fantastic, but whether or not the results can be framed as a referendum on the Trump administration remains to be seen. Certainly, as of this past weekend, it’s clear that many governor’s races across the nation are going to go blue and that the Republicans in the Senate will hold on to their majority. Basically this means the resistance will gain political capital, but that the status quo remains firm.
The House of Representatives is another story. While the editorial board here at Weekly Alibi is confident about the outcome in District 1, the battle for hegemony in the south is still a toss-up. If voters are greeted on the morrow with news of Herrell’s advancement, it should stand to reason that such is the normative result in a region where old-fashioned values and technologies, like those modeled by guv candidate Steve Pearce, still hold sway over visions of a progressive future for all New Mexicans.
On a brighter note, even considering the gravity of today’s citizen-based decisions, the election is finally at a close. That fact alone will allow this news section to cover some of the other pressing issues affecting this city, county and region.
During the past few weeks that Weekly Alibi has been following said election, a number of corollary issues have presented themselves as newsworthy. As we advance through what we genuinely hope will be a revisioning of American politics, the following begins to bubble on the civic stove:
Alibi news correspondent Joshua Lee provides an update this week about the continuously cursed ART project. The deeply disappointing news about the bus line’s latest brick wall raises further questions about the project’s continuance and completion. Of course we urge the mayor to get the damn thing rolling as soon as possible; failing that, it is time to consider abandoning ART and restoring Central Avenue to some kind of drivable sanity.
The move to postpone development of the program until technical issues are resolved also begs the following question: Are traffic ordinances related to the the project still being enforced? From personal experience, it seems that a lot of citizens continue to ignore the ART pavement markings. At a minimum, the city should clarify its position on such matters.
You may have noticed that Weekly Alibi did not endorse a candidate for BernCo Sheriff this year. That’s because this newspaper continues to have issues with the lapel camera policies of the current office holder, Manuel Gonzales III. Gonzales, according to official sources—once again thanks to intrepid Alibi reporter Joshua Lee—believes that dash-mounted cameras provide adequate oversight for his deputies.
However the recent repeat incidences of BernCo Sheriff's deputies being involved in crime-related shootings adds to the pressure to add lapel-cameras to the deputies tool-kit. If in fact the shootings are about a rise in crime in the metro area, as Gonzales plainly believes, then isn’t it common sense to have as much documentation of this blooming Bernalillo County-bound criminal activity as possible.
If deputies are equipped with lapel cameras they become more effective crimestoppers. Their identity as community sentinels should engender respect, should itself lead to a decrease in situations where the BernCo Sherriff’s office finds itself engaged in high-speed chases through city streets that result in bullets being exchanged while citizens walk nearby.
Meanwhile, an email I received today from the administration of Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller invites citizens to participate in a town hall to discuss the “APD Transformation.” This event will feature Keller, APD Chief Geier, Independent DOJ monitor James Ginger and other agents of the US Department of Justice, meeting at the Convention Center East Complex, Brazos Room 115 to discuss the ongoing effort to transform the department through a variety of means, including the implementation of community policing practices. Interested readers should email APDCompliance@cabq.gov to reserve a spot at the table.
The meeting of minds, which is free and open to all citizens, comes at a good time. Recently Keller hired three outside experts to help guide the local police force towards noticeable and sustainable progress. Elizabeth Armijo, from the N.M. State Police was hired to be the new Deputy Chief of Staff and has been tasked with building trust within the Albuquerque community. Former US Attorney Damon Martinez will head up efforts to design and implement department policy. The Real Time Crime Center will get a boost in efficacy thanks to new manager Leonard Nerbetski, who comes to APD from the New Jersey State Police.
We honestly hope this new blood will fortify the force and guarantee its fairness and impartial enforcement of the law here in Burque as the city heads for a possibly tumultuous 2020.
Take out your google or whatever the heck it is you call it and try and find any recent news on the Kirtland Air Force Base fuel spill. You’ll be loath to find anything that came out later than the summer that just floated by. But you can guarantee that collection of millions of gallons of high octane jet fuel—which includes some extra-special petroleum-based poisons like ethylene dibromide, a known carcinogen.
Yet, ironically mirroring a report from 2017 in the New Mexico Political Report, public interest seems to have waned. The news website told a story of a lack of local citizen interest—a situation that lead the Air Force and the State Environment Department to decide that “There isn’t enough community interest in the cleanup of the massive Kirtland Air Force Base jet fuel spill to merit the creation of a [local] Restoration Advisory Board.”
Of course we’re talking about a substance that is as poisonous as it is persistent. Although the Air Force has engaged heroic efforts to clean up their mess, it’s still unclear whether the problem is truly being ameliorated, is part of a larger problem having to do with how the military-industrial complex inevitably poisons the communities where it comes to reside or merely an anomaly which will be solved by the same heroic technology which powers our mighty military. Ahem.
Anyone who hasn’t noticed an upsurge—and so is rightly concerned—in the number and condition of the homeless or desperately poor population in Albuquerque is blinding themselves to the sad truth that this town and its stewards need to take more effective action to lift other humans out of a perpetual struggle for essential services that many of us take for granted. Without shelter, in the absence of nutritious food, without medical or behavioral health services those afflicted by such dire poverty and privation often turn to substance abuse and property crime to counteract the shame and struggle that go hand in hand with homelessness.
Although recent city efforts to contain the problem were advanced by advocates of a Tiny Home Village within the city itself, local neighborhood associations and some merchants have adopted a sad but typical NIMBY response to this credible effort to stem the tide of helplessness and scourge of substance abuse that drive the cycle. Moving forward with community-based, forward-looking and responsibility-
This week the city council decided to move forward with HopeWorks, a program that one hopes will be the beginning of a new pitch against homelessness and its roots.
About a month ago, the local daily reported that the FBI had documentation that showed crime in Albuquerque on the rise in 2017. New Mexico still has very high rates in such notable fields as the ever-popular property crime and violent crime categories.
Looking at the sorts of crimes that afflict Burque, it is interesting to note that at least some of the officer-involved shootings that occurred this year happened after an initial crime, like violent car-jacking or fire-arm-enhanced robbery took place.
At least the cops are still swooping on that stuff; Downtown seems less bright, less populated—especially by monied young folks from the Heights or North Valley—because of the fear of crime in the city. We earnestly hope a clear and civilized police presence, backed by community involvement and mutual movements forward does the job in restoring El Duque’s silvery lustre.