Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Berry may keep some department heads

Photo: MG Bralley
Albuquerque Mayor-Elect Richard "RJ" Berry is hitting the ground running the morning after defeating incumbent Mayor Martin J. Chavez and Richard Romero in the city's 2009 municipal election.

"We're really excited," said Berry. "We rolled up our sleeves last night about midnight, worked until about 4 o'clock, got up this morning, and made breakfast for the family."

Berry said he’ll spend part of the day meeting with mayors from surrounding cities at their monthly meeting.

During a phone call with 770KKOB talk show host Bob Clark, Berry said he was still working out scheduling details for a lunch meeting with Chavez today.

“I'm very pleased that Mayor Chavez has extended a hand,” said Berry who will have to have a majority of his administration team in place by his swearing in on December 1st. “I'm going to ask if I could have some access to the city departments and make sure I can start having some discussions.”

Because Berry captured 43.88% of the vote there will not be a six-week runoff campaign and that will give him more time to prepare for his first term.

“I expect a very smooth transition and I think it's one of those situations where having some time to be able to put a team together and do the things that we need to do to hit the ground running on December 1st that's going to be a real advantage.”

But Berry’s attention could still be diverted. As a state representative he will have to go to Santa Fe, beginning October 17, for a special session focused on balancing the state’s $433 million dollar budget gap. Still Berry welcome the extra time to prepare to lead the state’s largest city.

He is expected to resign his district seat following the special session.

"It's vital,” said Berry. “We've got a lot of work to do. There's a lot of things to transition together.”

Berry, a Republican, is crediting his business and legislative experience for his election over two well-known Democrats.

“It was a matter of putting the message out there and trying to share my vision with Albuquerque and it resonated with the voters,” said Berry. “I think people are ready for a commonsense style of leadership which is something I offer. “

Berry also thinks his pledge to limit himself to two terms played a role in his election.

“I heard from a lot of people that was important to them,” said the mayor-elect. “When I stood up and took that pledge I did hear from a lot of people that was something they were very interested in. I think that helps.”

Berry says he’ll take the time to make the right staffing decisions.

“We've got a number of people that I want to talk to,” said Berry. “The fact of the matter is that I want to make sure that I'm making an informed management decision. “it's going to take several days to weeks to get with the people I need to get with and to have the discussions I need to have to do what I think is best for the City of Albuquerque in these positions . As I sit here today those positions are not filled -- they are not picked. Today, I'm going to be having discussions and we're going to move forward with a pace that is reasonable for the transitions. ”

He also said some city department directors will be retained, but didn’t mention who he thought would make the cut. Berry said each will be reviewed on a case-to-case basis.

“I believe that there are people that get up every day and really do great work,” said Berry. “I think there are folks who do a great job and I want them on my team.”

Republicans running for state office see glimmer of hope in Berry win.

After the 2008 election, where state democrats won took control of all five congressional districts, and with only one Republican holding a state office, Republicans are beginning to sense a glimmer of hope for next year's statewide offices.

Republican businessman Allen Weh is one of them:
Yesterday, the people of Albuquerque chose a businessman and a fresh face instead of retaining a career politician to serve as their Mayor. I extend my congratulations to Mayor-elect Berry on his victory. There is little question that his promise to run city government in a fiscally responsible manner and keep it small and efficient is what a lot of voters wanted. Similar change is necessary in state government, and I intend to deliver that a little more than a year from now when we move New Mexico in a better direction. I extend my best wishes for his new administration and look forward to working with Mayor-elect Berry to achieve the reforms that are so badly needed.

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Berry avoids mayoral runoff with general election victory

Photo: MG Bralley
Albuquerque's Mayor-elect Richard Berry says he's ready to roll-up his sleeves and get to work.

State Rep. Richard Berry avoided a runoff election and defeated three-term Mayor Marty Chavez and Richard Romero, both Democrats, in Albuquerque's 2009 municipal election on Tuesday night.

With all 186 precincts reporting, voters sent Berry to the 11th floor at City Hall with 36,466 votes or 43.83% of the total vote.

Berry, and his campagin staff, celebrated with hundreds of his supporters at the Sheraton Uptown. He told the crowd that he will focus on the job at hand and pledged to bring "commonsense leadership" to city hall.

"Bottom line is I want to serve Albuquerque. This is a great city. I want to take a commonsense approach to government. Take my business experience, my legislative experience, and just roll up my sleeves and try to move Albuquerque forward."

A city rule, which requires mayor's to devote their full attention to the post, means Berry will have to resign his seat in the legislature. The state Republican Party, will pick a resident in Berry's district, to replace him. The party will give that name to Bernalillo Commissioners who will then forward it to the Governor.

Berry, will be in Santa Fe for the special session beginning on October 17th.

Chavez, term-limited by voters, pledges a smooth transition.

Chavez told his supporters at O'Niell's Bar in Nob Hill that he'd called Berry earlier in the evening and promised a smooth transistion.

"I've spoken to RJ and congratulated him on a great campaign. He and I will be meeting at noon."

Chavez, could only muster 35.02%, or 29,140 votes. Romero, placed a distance third with 20.98% of the vote, or 17,458 votes.

Chavez, 57, told his misty-eyed supporters that it has been an incredible honor to be mayor of his hometown. His only other political loss was in 1998 to Gary Johnson for Governor of New Mexico, offered his perspective on the results.

"All you have to do is look around, to see what we have done together, to transform this community," Chavez said. "I believe in my heart these races and the mayorship, it is not a football game, it’s not a baseball game, with a winner and a loser. It’s a relay race. And each mayor has to move that baton, have to move that team forward. And, I am proud we’ve moved the city of Albuquerque forward immeasurably."

The outgoing mayor, who was first elected mayor in 1993, said someone had approached him at a polling site and told him, "Albuqeurque was like the little ugly duckling, but under your administration it's spread its wings, and today it's like a beautiful swan."

Throughout the campaign both Berry and Romero had criticized the mayor's approach to crime and the city's budget.

In fact, Berry, has been a victim of crime four times in 2009. This spring he even had his work truck stolen. Berry said he'll focus on reducing property crime and end Chavez' "sanctuary city policy for criminal."

"Public safety is number one," said Berry. "I want to do what I can as a mayor to make sure they have the resources they need to not just to do their jobs well, as they do now, but to make sure they get home safe at night.

Republicans will also have control of the city council.

Chavez was not the only incumbent defeated on Tuesday.

City Councilor Michael Cadiagan, who dropped out of the mayor's race in time to run for re-election in District 5, will be replaced by Republican Dan Lewis. With 17 of 17 precincts reporting, Lewis beat Cadigan by nearly 12%, picking up 55.98%, or 6,229 votes to Cadiagan's 44.02% or 4,898 votes.

Republican incumbent Dan Harris easily won re-election defeating David Barbour with 6,392 votes to 1,677.

Democrat incumbent Isaac Benton won re-election by defeating one-time city councilor, and incumbent Bernalillo County Commissioner Alan Armijo.

Ken Sanchez, a Democrat incumbent, was unopposed. Mike Cook received 95.69% of the vote in District 7. Incumbent Republican Sally Mayer dropped out of the race in August.

In December the council will have 5 republicans and 4 democrats.

Voters extend transportation tax, bonds, and charter amendments

Albuquerque voters approved a 10-year extension of a one-quarter cent transportation tax, $159.4 million dollars in general obligation bonds, and all 10 city charter amendments.

Since 2000, the City of Albuquerque has imposed a voter approved one-quarter cent Transportation Infrastructure Tax that provides funding for road rehabilitation, maintenance, deficiencies and transit operation.

Proponents said the tax allowed the transit department to extend bus operation hours by 28% and in the last ten years bus ridership had increase 75%.

Analysts had been closely watching the results of several propsoed charter amendments. With all 10 passing, the city attorney and city clerk will have a bit more independence from the mayor after their appointment and confirmation by city councilors.

And city councilors, who unanimously over-rode a mayoral veto of the charter amendments, could be getting a raise after voters approved a five-panel independent commission to review their and the mayor's salaries.

All the results are posted online here.

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Monday, October 5, 2009

Albuquerque Police Department Innovation Praised

Albuquerque Police Chief Ray Schultz

The Albuquerque Police Department received international recognition today during a session of the International Chief’s of Police Association conference being held in Denver Colorado.

The force was recognized as a semi-finalist along with 24 other police agencies world-wide for the “Webber Seavey Award.” All 24 departments were picked from an international selection of police departments.

The recognition is for APD's Best Practices in police work, specifically in the area of property crime innovations.

The APD innovation addressed the effectiveness in identifying, investigating and prosecuting property crime offenders through increased “Communication and Partnership with Community and the Criminal Justice System Stake-holders”.

Police Chief Raymond D. Schultz pointed out property crimes can quickly become a violent crime:
It is so tragic and common today that property crimes turn violent so very quickly, that we must combat the start of crimes at it’s roots, being property crimes and before they turn deadly.

Property crimes and retail thefts are intrinsically linked and organized retail crime requires APD to become extremely proactive so that property & retail based theft does not further damage a national crippled economy.

Schultz said, “This program illustrates the need for police to engage Community Partners in deploying proactive crime fighting strategies”.

The APD initiative utilizes such approaches as a, “Top 5” offender identification and concentrated enforcement efforts coordinated monthly by all APD Detectives, and follow-up prosecution with the local District Attorneys Office.

High ranking Police Officials mandatory appearances in all “Top 5” sentencing hearings, and very concise measures taking place in our community relationship, their rolls and involvement.

Albuquerque Mayor Martin J. Chavez said, “A partnership with law enforcement, retail owners, and our prosecutors has increased the identification of serial offenders which results in more successful prosecutions”.

Chavez complimented the hard work and cooperative nature that exist every day between the APD and its community:
It is that very special relationship between APD and our citizens that makes Albuquerque one of the finest Cities in the nation to call home for so many families and a destination for so many others seeking this Southwest jewel and the quality of life that exist here in Albuquerque.

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Sunday, October 4, 2009

Filmmaker Michael Moore invited to Education Rally

The American Federation of Teachers' union (AFT), concerned about proposed cutbacks in the state's education budget, has published an open letter inviting documentary filmmaker Michael Moore to their October 9th Demonstration for Education Rally in New Mexico.

The rally is scheduled ahead of a special session, which is aimed at stopping lawmakers from making additional cuts to the state's education budget.

Their invite to Moore follows Albuquerque Teacher's Union President Ellen Bernstein, who published an Op-Ed in Sunday's Albuquerque Journal.

Lawmakers, who are expected to be called back to Santa Fe this month to re-balance the budget, are currently negotiating with Governor Bill Richardson. He has said he wants school budgets exempted for across the board budget trimming measures.

But in recent weeks, some lawmakers like Sen. John Arthur Smith, have said even educations budgets will have to be cut to balance the state's estimated $433 budget deficit.

In her Journal op-ed, Bernstein wrote that that lawmakers already cut the dollar value of schoolchildren during the last session.
Now, we're angry because they are planning to do it again! We're asking them to make the right choices during tough times.
Bernstein also argued:
Lawmakers cut student funding last January in order to balance a $500 million deficit. Ironically, that made the problem worse. When they cut spending, they also reduced the amount of tax revenues flowing into the public treasury. Now, our state budget has another deficit of $433 million. What's the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.



Last week, Dr. Ellen Bernstein, an elementary school teacher and president of the ABQ Teachers Federation, emailed you an invitation to come to New Mexico on Oct. 9 and speak to the largest demonstration of support for public schools in New Mexico's brief history (became a state in 1912).

Purpose of rally, march and demonstration - persuade state lawmakers to:

  • Roll back tax cuts for the wealthiest New Mexicans (passed in 2003 for those earning $295K or more);
  • Close tax loopholes for big, out-of-state corporations (examples: Wal Mart, Target, Starbucks allowed to report profits earned in NM in other states and dodge paying their fair share of NM taxes on profits);
  • Use revenues to restore cuts made by our lawmakers to the value of school children (lawmakers cut student value by $60 each last January to cover $500 million deficit), higher education students and public services; and,
  • Prevent more cuts (lawmakers have another state budget deficit, this time $433 million, and they want to cut student value and public services AGAIN).

We haven't heard from you, yet. Hopefully, that's a sign you're trying to work Oct 9, Santa Fe, into your busy schedule.

New Mexicans love you, Michael !

You were in ABQ at the UNM Pit during 2000 presidential election between Gore and Bush. Thanks to your rally at the UNM Pit, New Mexico was the only state in Southwest to go for Gore. You did that !

We need your help again: Help educators, parents and students stop a second round of proposed cuts to the value of school children, university students and public services.

Please say YES. Please attend, speak-out at Oct. 9 Rally, March and Demonstration, Santa Fe, beginning at noon and going until 3:45 pm.

We'll meet-up at Santa Fe Rail Runner Depot, march 5 blocks to our state capitol, "The Roundhouse", then have speakers andsymbolic activities.

We're thinking of doing what you did in "Capitalism, A Love Story": wrapping the Roundhouse with yellow, crime-scene tape, and making a citizen's arrest, because the NM State Constitution says our lawmakers are required to fund public schools 'sufficiently'. By law, they are not allow to cut the value of school children, college and university student and public services.

Please respond either way. Thank you.

John Ingram
AFT New Mexico

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