Yesterday, we introduced you to Pat Rogers, the itinerant Republican lawyer who seems committed to stopping progress at every turn in and around Albuquerque. We started our series with a synopsis of Rogers’ peculiar schemes to kill ABQ Democracy Dollars at the Bernalillo County Commision. But the bigger story is that just about every time community organizers in Albuquerque fight to return some agency to the people over corporate interests, or to boost the well-being of workers over big business profits, Pat Rogers is on hand like the grim reaper. Only a lot more smug.
But his ability to swing citizen initiatives isn’t done in a vacuum. The voting members of the county commission and city council are culpable, even some Democrats.
Take the Healthy Workforce ABQ campaign of 2016/2017, for example. Just like with ABQ Democracy Dollars, supporters collected 24,000 signatures to put the question on the general election ballot in hopes of helping Burqueños doing some of the hardest jobs to be able to earn paid sick time while they work.
But then “Democrat” County Commissioner Art de la Cruz joined the commission’s two Republicans to keep the initiative off the 2016 general election ballot and then passed the baton to Rogers who filed suit to keep the initiative off the city ballot in 2017. Rogers lost that suit, but a hostile mayor and city council were able to place the issue on the back of the October 2017 ballot. 6,000 voters either didn’t know to turn the ballot over or were daunted by the city’s 6 pt. print, and the initiative lost by about 700 votes.
What happened with paid sick leave and ABQ Democracy Dollars are the tip of the iceberg of how Rogers and the interests he represents (think Association of Commerce and Industry, the New Mexico Restaurant Association, the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties) strive to maintain their profit margins in a state of good people fed up with a perpetual status quo of poverty, exploitation, and income inequality all around us.
Isn’t it time we out these behind-the-scenes thugs and hold them accountable? Who funds Pat Rogers’ thousands of hours to drown these people-driven proposals in the bathtub? Or the private investigator goons he uses? How do they get away without reporting their expenditures intended to influence each of these elections?
Stay tuned for our ongoing dive into this saga of the modern-day Santa Fe Ring and one of its most prolific villains.