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Mayor Chavez and APS and New Media

If you haven’t read Mark Bralley’s account of his most recent encounter with Mayor Chavez’s security detail, I strongly urge you to do so. Here’s a little snippet to get you going:

“You have to leave. You aren’t the press. You don’t have credentials,” APS Police Officer Paul Schaefer said in rapid succession as he took the contact role. “I was told you’re not part of the press club.”

“You’re wrong,” I said.

I looked at a pocket in my photo vest that has a clear plastic front. It’s designed to keep credentials visible yet out of the way. Print journalists often wear credentials on a lanyard around their neck. However, still photographers prefer not to wear lanyards as they interfere neck straps; so the pocket is convenient. I had the pass issued by the Secret Service last week for the Presidential visit to Rio Rancho visible.

“White House Press Pool,” I asked Schaefer, showing him the pass?

“Never heard of it,” Schaefer said.

“Ever heard of the President of the United States?”

Vaguely,” Schaefer said.

“How about the First Amendment,” I asked?

I’ve heard of the First Amendment,” Schaefer said.

“As a matter of fact, when I…” I said, as I dug deeper for my own credentials, which list former and current clients and my own sites; there was also an old State Senate Press pass.

“but I’ve been told this isn’t a public event,” Schaefer said.

“Well it is a public event when you have the Mayor of the City of Albuquerque present,” I said.

Ok, let’s deal with the obvious first. Why does the Mayor of Albuquerque need a security detail on the campus of a local school? Especially, a security detail that acts like the Gestapo. Apparently when Richard Romero was on 770 KKOB with Bob Clark, he raised the same question. I didn’t hear that interview, but I did catch Clark poking fun at the Mayor on another morning.

Clark pointed out that former Congresswoman Heather Wilson did not find the need to travel with a security detail when she moved through Albuquerque. Although, in all fairness, Clark did mention that Wilson was often accompanied by her former communications guy, Enrique Knell, who is known to pack and shoot a camera. Something that leaves at least one Albuquerque Mayor fearful for his… um, actually, I’m not sure how to finish that sentence.

There is of course irony here. I know for a fact that Mayor Chavez considers bloggers part of the new media establishment when it is in his best interest. Consider this email I received from Brent Blackaby on October 29, 2007:

Hi all—

We’d like to invite you to join us tomorrow, Tuesday, October 30th at 5:30pm MDT for a New Mexico blogger conference call with Marty Chavez, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate.

We’re anticipating that the call will last about 30 minutes – 10-15 minutes for some introductory comments from Marty, and 15-20 minutes of Q&A; from you.

Let me know if you’re interested in participating, and I’ll send along a dial-in number on Tuesday. Also, please feel free to forward this invite around to other progressive New Mexico bloggers that you know.

Thanks – and we look forward to chatting with you on Tuesday!

Best regards,

Brent Blackaby
Chavez for Senate

Of course, it’s not just the Mayor who acted inappropriately here. Read Bralley’s post and you’ll find that APS was also less than tolerant of new media members. I can’t tell you how wrong I find that to be on so many different levels.

Now, in the spirit of full disclosure, I have to admit I know Mark Bralley. I’ve even found myself on more than one occasion caught in the crosshairs of his camera.

I don’t remember feeling afraid, but maybe, just to be safe, I ought to look into hiring some private security.