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How Low Can You Go? “Marie Antoinettes” At Chamber Blame Crime On Cops

How Low Can You Go? “Marie Antoinettes” At Chamber Blame Crime On Cops

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What Silverman ignores is the FACT that a majority of New Mexicans demanded that double dipping be repealed because of abuse and harm to the state pension fund.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. 

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Dan Klein

Dan Klein is a retired Albuquerque police sergeant. Reach him via Facebook and Twitter via @dankleinabq.

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  • Aya
    July 21, 2017, 8:14 am

    Seems we’ll argue this one in perpetuity, and never talk about what is actually happening to our city, like cities all over America.
    Think it through, and then you can decide if blaming one faction’s involvement in this mess can possibly be the reason the city is being undone……
    See, the problem is not simply" Crime". There’s a reason people are stealing.
    They have no money.
    They have no money because they have no jobs.
    The politicians accept money from big business, and then they write laws that favor those big businesses.
    You with me so far?
    Big business literally gets to write off the cost of moving overseas as a "business expense."
    They take their jobs overseas, maximizing profits and shareholder benefits, and they leave a bunch of people back home who have no jobs and no money to buy their products.
    Okay. So.
    Now we got jobless people getting on welfare and taking food stamps, and the people who still have jobs are trained to hate them for being moochers and lazy bums.
    Not only are there no job prospects, but a bunch of arrogant tools are calling them names for needing assistance.
    By now they’ve lost homes and cars and they’re living on the streets.
    What in the WORLD would stop them from stealing to survive?
    Nothing. Why not steal from the people who curse you for existing?
    I would too, if I were in that position.
    Keep in mind that the sums politicians take to do this to their communities amount to nothing, less than a penny per life destroyed by loss of jobs, just as a side note. As it relates to character.
    So now you got crime rising because the politicians helped big business run overseas to maximize profits and hide from taxes, while they still use the roads and utilities you and I pay for…..what was their solution?
    Jail the jobless people when they commit crimes, and charge the taxpayer to house them.
    Brilliant, right? You steal their jobs and their prospects, teach them to hate themselves for getting assistance, push them into a corner, then make money on them as inmates when they got no place left to turn.
    Go look at what Aramark and CCA make off of the people in the state.
    Tell me who is banking all that money, and who is giving it to them.
    Anyway, enter the police.
    I know you’re fond of them, Dan Klein, but at some point you should be willing to recognize that they have been tricked into betraying the people they took an oath to protect and to serve.
    They’re being used to create revenue. They’re being told to hate and fear the people on the street, and to act like it. They are being taught to be separate, to hold those without badges in contempt, and to ticket them and arrest them and then to lie about them to get convictions.
    The politicians want it, the jails want it, and the rich country-clubbers want it. Everybody has stock in the industry and wants to see it happen more, so they don’t have to see jobless people being homeless in "their" fair city…..
    Now that the cops are geared up and fully believe they are at war with the people, the people are acting like they’re under siege for some reason. Well, for the reason that they’re under siege, I would guess, wouldn’t you?
    The cops bitch all day about how hard their jobs are, and yup, it’ll feel like that when you victimize more people than you legitimately arrest. They act scared and suspicious and flighty and PTSD-y, and yup, it’ll happen to you when you know full well you’ve lied about say, a thousand people who you’re worried are sneaking up behind you all the time, waiting for a little payback.
    The cops refuse to quit aiding and abetting the politicians who turned them against the people they serve and protect.
    The politicians refuse to quit taking a wee bit of money to betray the whole population.
    The big corporations are a bunch of rich guys who want stock dividend checks so they don’t actually have to work, and they don’t mind stealing jobs away from Americans to increase those checks.
    You want to see crime decrease?
    Tell everyone you know to start buying locally, from businesses not traded on the stock market.
    Tell your cop buddies to stop arresting people for nothing, initiating stops and looking for reasons to escalate the encounter into criminal charges against someone with no money who needs a job, not jail time.
    tell Tell the politicians to Eff off, likewise big business.
    A cop who took the time to listen to the jobless neighbor tell them why they were thinking about robbing their other neighbor, who took that guy to the corner store and said "I know this guy from around. He needs a job and I’ll vouch for him." The cop who championed the neighborhood, and said all the time that the people who was working with needed jobs, not anger and recriminations….Would be beloved by the neighborhood. Does that make sense? Or do you believe hating people for having nothing is actually the solution, here?
    When we’re employing ourselves, when we have jobs to give to people who want to work but have no place to ask for a job..then you’ll be able to tell the criminal from the down-on-his-luck guy.
    When your cops are caring about the community and not lying about them to further a career, you’ll see the public trust them more, interact with them more, and respect them more.
    As it stands, crooked cops telling people not to be crooked is not working.
    Can you guess why?
    Mull it over, it’ll come to you.
    The cops refuse to ever be wrong, and this is the path they’ve elected to go down. It ends in people all over the place hating them, because they’re not being honest, honorable, or decent.
    The politicians are using your beloved police, and they don’t mind having the whole world hate your cops, as long as it gets them money from the corporations. The good cops have other options, and they’re leaving. The guys who are left are the ones who think this "hate everyone, and get them all arrested whenever possible" stuff is fun and exciting. The more of those we got, the less the good man wants to work for the police force around here.
    The corporations are paying next to nothing to the politicians, and they are getting huge returns, because they’re not paying taxes, or living wages…they enjoy every advantage at minimal expense.
    The fix is in people refusing to go to Walmart, and going to the corner store, instead. It’s in creating a demand for stuff made here, and thus creating jobs making that stuff.
    It’s in walking away from these politicians and the corporations that own them.
    The police need to know that they have been betrayed into betraying the people they should be closest to.
    They should be creating and promoting community, not walking into neighborhoods looking for everyone to be a criminal they just haven’t caught, yet.
    The police need to actually start firing the criminals on their force when they find them, not hiding them behind the thin blue line and refusing to hold them accountable. When will that start happening?
    There is no profession anywhere where you do not hold the criminal in it’s ranks accountable, and it doesn’t go to sh*t. And yet the cops insist this is how it has to be for them, or they’ll get discouraged and quit working.
    Holy crap. Think about the implications of even being able to say that as if you think it deserves to be considered.
    it’s a gross attitude. It’s weird. And weak.
    Think about the cops insistence on investigating themselves for wrongdoing. Think about if we suggested that from now on we’d be letting burglary suspects investigate themselves for burglaries they’re suspected of committing. Would you laugh at the absurdity of it, if you heard it was happening? Why? What would make it absurd?
    They divide us as much or more than anyone else, and then they whine about how people hate them.
    Are there any cops with the strength to stand up and say "Enough. I will not victimize my community any more, for the good of a couple greedy rich guys!" ?
    Are there, Dan?

    REPLY
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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.