Letter: 'Old time politics' still alive and well

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By The Staff

In Mayor Tony Marquez’s recent  press release announcing that he would not run for re-election, he took credit for “liberating” our city government from “old time politics and the patron system.” Mayor Marquez also stated that he chose to “side with the people.” What “people” was Mayor Marquez referring to? I was not one of them.

As many of your readers may recall from prior news articles, my terrier and I were viciously attacked by a large mastiff dog that exited a Seventh Street property through open gates last August. The animal control officer and police officers on the scene made no effort to follow standard professional investigative procedures. The animal, owned by a “prominent” business family in this community, has remained in the comfort of his own home since this attack occurred. My terrier and I both required emergency medical treatment and extended medical care. Without the assistance of concerned neighbors that evening, the outcome could have been much worse. I am eternally grateful to each of them.

During the weeks that followed, I felt the full force of this city’s “old time politics and patron system.” The police department claimed no responsibility for animal control cases and, therefore, took no statements nor prepared any reports while on the scene for over an hour. The Animal Control supervisor was openly hostile and completely uncooperative when I requested information and documentation relating to this dog attack, which included withholding the rabies certificate and the official “Animal Bite Report” for nearly three weeks. I was told that my request for this basic report was “excessively burdensome or broad” by the city of Las Vegas to delay providing the document.

The “Animal Bite Report” was released to me only after threatening legal action. This report is a disturbing mix of fiction and misinformation. It contains no references to physical evidence or witness statements from the many independent, credible witnesses on the scene. The report strains to shield the owners of the Mastiff at the expense of the victims and the residents of the surrounding neighborhood.

Concluding the city of Las Vegas officials were not my advocates in this matter, I requested statements from the concerned neighbors on Seventh Street who had witnessed the events and had come to my aid that evening. I provided copies of these statements, along with photographs and medical reports to City Attorney Quiñones, who was responsible for the city’s criminal prosecution at the trial requested by the mastiff’s owners. I assumed this trial was set and would be heard in the near future. I scheduled an appointment to meet with Attorney Quinones in late October 2009 to discuss the statements and the evidence I had provided to assist him in preparing an effective prosecution of this case. Mr. Quinones cancelled the meeting without notifying me. His paralegal informed me that the trial date had not been set by Municipal Judge Trujillo. Judge Trujillo recused himself from this case the very next day.

According to the municipal court, the case file was transferred last October to Mayor Marquez’s office to appoint an alternate judge to proceed with the trial requested by the mastiff's owners. I sent correspondence to City Attorney Quinones and Mayor Marquez requesting information. I received no responses. It appears to me that this administration does not intend to prosecute these individuals. As the person who suffered the pain and trauma of this attack, this double standard is outrageous and unacceptable.

The tone and accountability of any government is set by those in charge. I have seen nothing in my dealings with the city that even remotely supports Mayor Marquez’s claim to have “liberated” Las Vegas from the “patron system.” In my case, this administration disregarded the victim, the safety of the entire neighborhood and the potential financial exposure of the taxpayers, to shield the parties responsible for this vicious attack. Their dismissive and evasive actions speak much louder than words.

I must conclude that nepotism and the patron system of government are alive and well in Las Vegas, N.M. Mayor Marquez included a statement in his press release that I do agree with: “The opportunity for positive change in our city rests in the hands of our entire citizenship.” I agree that it is time to demand accountability, a new direction and an end to “business as usual.” As a community, we need to make it clear to those who have sworn to protect and serve all Las Vegans that we expect our public servants to do exactly that, the first time and every time.

Deborah Barrera

Las Vegas