Friday, June 27, 2014

Just to be clear...

Rob Perry, Albuquerque Chief Administrative Officer, is the central character in the systemic problem of police violence, bloodshed, abuse and corruption in Albuquerque. He is the one who is ultimately in charge of police operations, not the mayor or the city council, nor even the police chief.

Perry is a bully, a dissimulator, a condescending prick -- aka what's known in the vernacular as "an asshole." In that, he's fairly typical of city manager/administrator types I've encountered over the years, except that in Perry's case, the rough edges haven't been filed off. He is what he is. I suppose that's a good thing in that there can be no doubt where he stands. He does not stand with the People, he stands with Authority which he sees as his right.

One thing he said in his condescending, assholic interview with KRQE (in the previous post) was interesting. He said that he didn't believe the people had lost trust in APD; he believed that by far, the residents of Albuquerque trusted the police.

As it happens, a poll was released just yesterday that starkly refutes his claim. The Garrity Perception Survey -- which is widely used and widely respected in New Mexico -- shows that far from the majority of Albuquerque residents trusting the police, two thirds of Albuquerque residents don't trust the police.

The question was as follows:
“on a scale of 1 to 5, with five being very favorable and one being very unfavorable, what is your level of trust of police officers?”
 The poll was taken between the last week of February and the first week of March, 2014, so it didn't cover the time since the James Boyd execution in the Sandia foothills on March 16, 2014.

The poll was taken statewide.

The number of responses to the poll question which fall in the 4-5 range (ie: favorable, trusting of police) has fallen precipitously since 2011, most notably in Albuquerque, where trust in police has fallen from 52% to 33%, and in what's deemed "North Central" New Mexico (not sure the boundaries), where trust  has fallen even more, from 57% to 30%. And this was before the Boyd killing.

In no area of New Mexico did a majority of New Mexicans express trust in police. None. Certainly not in Albuquerque.

For Perry to assert his belief that most Burqueños do trust the police is typical of him, but it also shows that he is completely, horribly out of touch with Albuquerque residents. Of course he doesn't serve the interests of most Burqueños, and he doesn't care what they think. He may or may not know what this poll shows, but whether he does or not is irrelevant to what he believes.

Because of the way city government is organized, removing Perry is very difficult. A better approach is to shame him. We've seen that he's immune to shaming by people like Nora Anaya, let alone David Correia, so something else is necessary. He doesn't care about people, he cares about power. And one way to shame people like him is to demonstrate they are factually wrong. Demonstrate his ignorance and arrogance, and point out the consequences his ignorance and arrogance have for ordinary people.

Not only does he not know what he's talking about, he doesn't seem capable of recognizing any fact which doesn't fit with his pre-conceived notions of his own power.  He's also apparently incapable of recognizing the harm his ignorance and arrogance can cause. Needless to say, this attitude has been with him for many years (42 pg pdf, class action lawsuit against Perry and NM Department of Corrections which he headed).

Terms like narcissist and sociopath are thrown around with great abandon on the internet, and for that reason, I tend not to use them, but there are cases where they are appropriate. They were certainly appropriate in the case of Oakland's city administrator Deanna Santana and her choice for police chief, Howard Jordan. Jordan was an inveterate liar and Santana had nothing but contempt for most of the people of Oakland. Both acted to compound the damage already done to Oakland and its residents by years of police corruption and civic outrages against the People. Their lies and contempt reached a point of unsustainability, despite the fact that most of the elected city officials, including the mayor, supported them. They both had to go, and eventually they did, but not before they had done their level best -- or worst -- to destroy what little trust remained in civic institutions. Theirs were shameful performances in every way.

It's hard to say whether Oakland is on the road to recovery after their disastrous reign.

Albuquerque's situation is somewhat similar, in that the police chief and the city administrator are operating contrary to the interests of the People, in a way that harms the civic body rather than helps it. Like Oakland, Albuquerque is a gritty, working-class city, beset with poverty and all the consequences of poverty, overlaid with some extraordinary enclaves of wealth and privilege. The economy of Albuquerque has sputtered and faltered badly during the Endless Recession, partly because of its dependence on government for so much of its economic activity and well-being. There have been so many cutbacks in government contracting and employment over the now nearly-decade long economic downturn, and there has been little private sector economic development to take its place.

Burqueños are poor and getting poorer. That's not the worst of it, though. New Mexicans can cope with poverty; they've been doing it since long before the advent of Norte Americanos and tourist-trapping "The Land of Enchantment." Families, culture, deep roots in a harsh but beautiful land, all contribute to communal strength and an ability to cope with adversity.

When civic authorities set out to make things worse, however, as Mr. Perry and members of his police force have done routinely, through their blind allegiance to power, and their gross misuse of power to harm residents and bring disrepute to the city and its citizens, it's time for them to go. It took several years to dispose of Deanna Santana and Howard Jordan in Oakland, but they were eventually replaced with officials who seem to have the greater interest of Oakland's people in mind rather than service to unelected power.

What people in office such as Mr Perry tend to forget it that New Mexicans are quite as capable of dealing with people like him, just as they are more than capable of dealing with other adversity.

It's time for him to retire...

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