Joy Junction founder accuses Mayor Berry of political pettiness.
Suggesting that he might be the victim of political pettiness from Mayor Richard Berry, the head of Albuquerque’s largest homeless shelter said Wednesday that the city has pulled its sponsorship of the annual Thanksgiving dinner for the homeless.
Jeremy Reynalds, founder of Joy Junction, said he was told earlier this week that the city would not be sponsoring the event, which has taken place for at least 15 years at the Albuquerque Convention Center.
It means the city won’t pay the $6,000 rent for the facility for the dinner, which feeds about 1,200 homeless people the day before Thanksgiving.
But this year’s dinner will go on because Albuquerque businessman Doug Peterson, principal of Peterson Properties LLC, has agreed to foot the $6,000 rental bill.
Reynalds has long been a critic of Berry. Years ago he criticized the mayor’s Heading Home program as an attempt to cleanse the city’s streets of homeless people that other residents didn’t want to see. And this summer he blasted the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce for giving Berry a public safety award in the midst of an epic crime wave.
Berry’s office did not respond to an ABQ Free Press email asking why they canceled the Thanksgiving dinner.
Reynalds said he was told the city ducked out of this year’s sponsorship because it didn’t want to encumber the next mayor with prior commitments. But the next mayor takes office on Dec. 1, several days after the diner.
Reynalds suggested that Berry might be engaging in petty political payback.
“I think it’s totally bizarre and I hope that it’s not political pettiness,” Reynalds said. “But I fear it may be. It seems bizarre to not want to encumber the income mayor with a much-needed community event for the homeless and hungry. To me, the reason that was given smacks of political pettiness and personal animosity.”
Peterson told ABQ Free Press that he has already written the $6,000 check for the convention center rental. He too suggested that Berry was attempting to get even with Reynalds.
“When there is political payback you never see it overtly. I wish this was a coincidence,” Peterson said. “Hopefully this will end in December [when a new mayor takes office].”