Cole, Silverman and all the Marie Antoinettes at the chamber want all of us to eat cake. Instead, let's make them eat our wrath. Demand they fire Cole now.
The “Marie Antoinettes” at the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce don’t know when to stop.
Now they’re putting the blame for Albuquerque’s out-of-control crime and chronically understaffed police department on, god help us, police officers!
Just weeks ago, chamber CEO Terri Cole bestowed upon her friend and benefactor, Mayor Richard Berry, a public safety award. This award was given during a time when Albuquerque is leading the nation in violent and property crime and while its police department has shrunk from 1,100 officers in 2010 to barely 850 today. Or in other words, during Berry’s time as mayor.
Chamber leadership lives in a twilight zone. Behind their gated communities and personal access to Berry and APD Chief Gorden Eden, all is well in the little utopias that the chamber leadership created.
In the July 20 Albuquerque Journal, that “Marie Antoinette” attitude of the chamber reached new lows, when chamber board member Paul Silverman wrote and op-ed pointing the finger of blame for high crime and the poor staffing at the APD.
Holy shit folks, we really do live in 1793 France. Instead of holding accountable the people who have destroyed APD (Berry and Eden), Silverman, in a “Let them eat cake” moment, says the blame for crime and low APD staffing numbers belongs to the police officers and their union.
Silverman blames the police union for not supporting Berry’s efforts to bring back double dipping. He even says the chamber lobbied hard for double dipping, but apparently the police union has more clout. Or maybe it is more facts.
So who and what is the police union? Pretty much every street cop in the city. So, really, Silverman is blaming the cops.
What Silverman ignores is the FACT that a majority of New Mexicans demanded that double dipping be repealed because of abuse and harm to the state pension fund. Yeah, PERA, the institution that manages the state pension fund, did studies that proved double dipping harmed the fund. Who would be on the hook for an underfunded public pension fund? The taxpayer, you and me.
Silverman alleges that many states allow double dipping, but he fails to tell you that many of those states have failing police pension funds because of these double dipping programs (Wall Street Journal July 4, 2017). The police union should be praised for being fiscally responsible with the pension fund. If allowed, Silverman, Berry and the chamber would destroy the pension and then blame the police, again.
Silverman and the chamber don’t give a damn about the facts regarding why APD has lost almost 500 officers during Berry’s tenure. Since they won’t, let me tell you four reasons why Berry is to blame.
First, Berry did away with veteran officer retention bonus plan. Almost 130 left the department when Berry ended this program.
Second, Berry refused to honor a legally signed contract between the police union and the city. After years of fighting in court, Berry had to admit defeat and pay the raises promised back in 2009. By then, hundreds more officers had left. Why would they work for and trust a mayor who won’t abide by city contracts?
Third, Berry enacted a requirement for new police officers to have a college background, while refusing to pay college salaries. The number of new recruits APD managed to hire during the years Berry had this requirement I can count on my fingers and toes.
Four, Berry kept Ray Schultz as chief of police. Yeah, Taser Ray, that guy. Then when Schultz left, Berry hired backroom politician and the not so smartest guy, Eden. Simply put, Berry hired the worst police chiefs he could find, but they were the best politically connected.
Let me digress for one moment regarding the chamber’s activities in the last eight years. Albuquerque still has not reached our employment level that we had before the Great Recession. The chamber is supposed to represent businesses and spark economic development. The chamber has failed, but they have succeeded in protecting themselves, Berry and Teri Cole. They work hard at blaming others and protecting themselves and their interests. That does the entire community a disservice.
The Chamber of Commerce is out of touch with Albuquerque. The other members need to have a “Come to Jesus” meeting with the power brokers on the chamber’s board. The organization needs new leadership. After over 30 years as the chamber’s CEO, Cole (our Marie Antoinette) needs to be fired and new people with new ideas need to replace her. She has created a kingdom that people like Silverman will fight hard to protect, to the determent of Albuquerque citizens.
Silverman and people like him, are always shouting that the “lower class” (police officers, union workers, hourly wage workers, etc.) need to have more personal responsibility and be willing to sacrifice more.
Yet behind closed doors, these well-connected business people bring in six and seven figure salaries, by being well-connected to the politicians they protect. These people never sacrifice for the greater good.
A police officer who wants a better wage and a solvent pension when they finally do retire is not someone to be blamed, but someone to be praised.
The out-of-touch Chamber of Commerce, and the wealthy developers on its board of directors, should be ashamed for trying to blame police officers for a crisis caused by Berry and those who protect him.
Cole, Silverman and the Marie Antoinettes at the chamber want all of us to eat cake.
Instead, let’s make them eat our wrath.
Demand they fire Cole now.
Klein is a retired APD sergeant and former police union member. His business was a GACC member until last year when Klein canceled the membership.