Thursday, September 15, 2005

Abq Mayoral Debate - Observations

marjorie says...

Did folks catch the mayoral debate last night on television? Here are a few observations:

1. Community. Eric Griego made the point several times that we should be building actual mixed used neighborhoods rather than vast housing tracts. I wish this had been a bigger point of debate but kudos to him for making the point. I don’t understand why David Steele would just go on and on about how we need a strong construction industry for a strong economy--and that means building houses. Considering he’s supposedly a planner, why wouldn’t he speak in terms of community building rather than just simply housing? Doesn’t he read? Doesn’t he realize the entire country is in an unsustainable housing bubble? The fact is that we are building the ghettos of tomorrow over on the west side: vast tracts of lower income housing units with very few amenities. Eric is the only one of these four candidates who is passionate and committed to changing how we provide housing in Albuquerque and for this alone he deserves every vote.

2. Public Safety. I want to be safe in my own community as much as the next person. But I think this issue is blown way over the top. It was a constant mantra last night in the debates. Just who are these guys pandering too? In my mind, they are sucking up to the police department but they are also participating in the creation of a cycle of fear. By continually stating that there is a public safety problem they help create a heightened sense of fear on the part of residents. And that issue then becomes a touchstone to be manipulated. It’s a cycle that I find disgusting. Having said that, let’s talk about public safety for a second. What exactly is the issue? Last night, the perennial public safety question was answered by the perennial politicians solution: we need more cops! Are 1000 cops enough? Or do we need more? Marty says it’s enough; the others say we need more. Come now--do folks really think crime is deterred by police officers? Maybe some crime is, but in general the police are called after a crime is committed. The key to solving crime is prevention--if we have to focus on the police to do that we need to move towards a strong community policing model, which is certainly not about throwing more cops onto the streets.

3. Campaign Finance Reform. Thanks to Eric for making sure Albuquerque residents realize the enormous amount of money collected by Marty from developers. I wish he had put it into context a little more--in terms of how much others have gathered and the ramifications of that kind of money. I don’t think the public at large makes the connection between all that media and where the money comes from--despite the fact that campaign finance reform has been such a huge issue in this country for years.

4. Marty the Spoil Sport. On the one hand, Marty is a seasoned politician--he knows how to make a speech (although he makes those awful politico hand gestures that I find so fake. Please, for those of you who do public speaking, don’t mimic the hand gesture--you know, the one with the thumb on top of a loosely closed fist being used to make a point). On the other hand, for a politician he sure is a poor sport. You can feel the resentment that anyone would criticize him just pouring out of him--it came right through the TV into my living room! It brings to mind how awful he was to SWOP youth in 2002. A very benign but effective protest in Marty’s office sent him right over the edge--he proceeded to actually suggest to a reporter that the organization was a terrorist group (which in that post 9/11 climate was exceedingly irresponsible), denigrated the young people in public and the following summer refused to have his picture taken with SWOP youth as part of a larger photo op his own office had staged with non-profits who provide summer jobs. Come on Marty--these are TEENAGERS, all of whom are engaged in their communities. Don’t be such a big baby. Anyhow, the resentment oozing off Marty last night reminded me of that episode. I think Albuquerque deserves a more mature Mayor.