Albuquerque Has Legs

Cops shoot to death homeless man for camping

It seemed completely ridiculous. The resurrected Wyatt Earp was after me and I turned for help to the Tombstone Police Department. But a grizzled desk sergeant would not help because, he told me, “We all belong to the Mighty Brotherhood of Fraternal Fellows, and we await the decision of our union leaders. When the union steward comes, he will tell us what to do.” The Tombstone Police could not do a thing until their police union had decided on the matter. (Background: I Consult An Old Grizzled Police Sergeant, Ersjdamoo’s Blog, January 12, 2015.)

Maybe though the idea is not so ridiculous. Letters to the editor in the New Yorker magazine double-issue of February 23 – March 2, 2015 support there being union control over police actions. What I thought was a ridiculous story turns out to have legs.

The New Yorker magazine letters all deal with the tragic shooting of James Boyd, a 38-year-old homeless man thought to be schizophrenic, who was shot by the Albuquerque, New Mexico PD on Sunday, March 16, 2014. Boyd’s record involves cases where he told people that he was God, or on a special mission handed-down to him directly by former-US President Gerald Ford. When Boyd reached for what seemed to be a knife, police shot him. [1]

In the New Yorker letters…

  • Alan Wagman, a public defender in New Mexico, claims that Police Chief Gordon Eden averred that “provisions in the city’s contract with the police union make it more difficult to discipline officers.”
  • Louis Colombo, a senior analyst for the Albuquerque City Council in the 1990s, claims a former chief administrative officer of Albuquerque recalled to him how “hundreds of officers had turned in their badges and guns to protest a contract proposal he [the administrative officer] had supported.”
  • Fred Abramowitz, one of Albuquerque’s first Independent Review Officers, relates a personnel hearing in which he participated concerning an allegation of excessive force. “The police union ardently defended the cop, and the hearing officer ruled in his favor.”

Calvin Coolidge, when he was Governor of Massachusetts, famously said, “There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, any time.” Coolidge said that in 1919, in response to a strike by the Boston Police. [2] Yet at least in Albuquerque the police now seem to serve two masters: the taxpaying public and the police union.

The police are public sector employees. When government employees band together into a union, their struggle is not against the greedy capitalists but against their fellow citizens – taxpayers who pay their salary. The struggle is not against rich fat cats having wads of loot, but against their neighbors who themselves struggle to exist. Nonetheless, public sector employee unions portray their situation as if they are some sort of oppressed working class and we must all lock arms with them in solidarity.

This issue of the unionized public sector employees who serve two masters is coming to a head in Illinois. There, the new Governor, Bruce Rauner, is talking tough about the State’s deplorable financial situation. He faces off against the Illinois legislature, many of whose members receive money and support from the public sector employee unions. To favor their union supporters, the legislature is making noises about tax increases needed to deal with the Illinois financial woes. (But they have stopped calling it “tax increases” due to the harsh “K” sound – tax sounds like tacks – and now say “revenue enhancements” because that has a softer “V” sound.) The latest slippery maneuver by the Illinois legislature is a seemingly noble sounding idea of a progressive income tax. Mr. Big Mike Madigan makes it sound like only Illinois fat cats will pay and that the money will all go to education. But Jim Dey, local op-ed columnist for the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette, is wary of what House Speaker Madigan is saying. A progressive income tax has a way of creeping downwards into the pockets of the middle class and money for “education” can be shifted around to other things. [3]

——- Sources ——-
[1] “Homeless man shot to death by police after being caught illegally camping”, Russia Today, March 24, 2014. (Updated March 25, 2014.) http://on.rt.com/gojqmj
[2] “No Right to Strike: Calvin Coolidge and the Boston Police Strike of 1919”, by David Pietrusza. Canada Free Press, February 21, 2011. http://tinyurl.com/pwy4hbs
[3] “Rauner, Madigan proposals leave much to be desired,” by Jim Dey. Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette, March 1, 2015. Page C-1.

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About ersjdamoo

Editor of Conspiracy Nation, later renamed Melchizedek Communique. Close associate of the late Sherman H. Skolnick. Jack of all trades, master of none. Sagittarius, with Sagittarius rising. I'm not a bum, I'm a philosopher.
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