Journal Editorial Alleging ‘Political Shenanigans’ Displays Partisanship of Its Own

October 25th, 2014 · 2 Comments · journalism, regulation, role of government, tax policy, voting rights

By Denise Tessier

“. . .voters should be allowed to help settle the debate. . .” – 2011 Albuquerque Journal editorial, urging voters to support a ballot question regarding red light cameras

The Albuquerque Journal showed a glaring inconsistency last week when it called on voters to reject two advisory questions – on whether marijuana should be decriminalized and whether the county should fund mental health services via a tax – questions that are already printed on this year’s Bernalillo County ballot.

In an Oct 16 editorial that at best was merely hypocritical and at worst, maliciously partisan and undemocratic, the Journal said the two questions “serve no real purpose other than partisan political pandering” and urged voters to vote no on those questions to “register their displeasure” with the Bernalillo County Commission.

Yet in June 2011, when the Albuquerque City Council was split on whether to put to a vote a non-binding question regarding red light cameras, the Journal editorial board advised Mayor Richard Berry to break the tie and put it on the ballot, saying:

. . . while voters do elect officials to make the tough decisions, and public safety isn’t something that necessarily belongs on a referendum, Albuquerque’s red-light cameras should go to a public vote. . .

So, three years ago, the Journal said the issue of red light cameras should go to a vote “if for no other reason than to quiet the talk-radio conspiracy theorists and build community confidence in the program.”

Yet today, when the ballots are already printed up and being viewed by early and absentee voters, the Journal advocates that voters undermine the process and vote “no” to voice their displeasure with the County Commission. In essence, the Journal is advocating that voters throw a monkey wrench into the integrity of the process and forever throw into question whether voters in this election will have cast a “no” against decriminalization and mental health services via a tax or whether they were merely voting “no”– as the Journal urged them – to teach commissioners a lesson.

Correction: The Journal is asking voters to teach Democratic commissioners a lesson, because it was the three Democratic members who voted to put this year’s questions on the ballot, with the two Republican members of the commission dissenting.

Last week’s editorial accused the Democrats of being “more interested in potentially pumping up liberal turnout” than “letting voters know what they would be getting for their tax dollars.” The editorial tried to make the point that placing the decriminalization and mental health questions on the ballot left less room for a fuller explanation of five general obligation bond questions on the same ballot. The Journal urged voters to vote “yes” on the five obligation bonds.

Not only was this editorial position a 180-degree turnaround from its position three years ago, but the Journal came at Democrats with barrels blazing. In addition to accusing the commissioners of trying to pump up “liberal turnout” at the polls, the editorial called the inclusion of the two ballot questions “political shenanigans” that “serve no real purpose other than partisan political pandering.”

Yet three years ago, the Journal urged a Republican mayor to put a non-binding red light question on the ballot.

If the Journal thinks voters will be teaching commissioners a lesson by blindly voting “no” on two critical issues of the day, it’s the Journal that needs to be taught a lesson. Its job is to facilitate the democratic process by informing the public – not to undermine it by urging petty partisanship of its own.

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2 Comments so far ↓

  • Roland

    Note too that the ABQ Journal has urged a blanket partisan vote for Republican candidates for the state legislature. Our single “newspaper of record” has long ago abdicated its responsibility to educate and instead it is a propaganda organ for the Republican party.

  • Bill Tiwald

    I wanted to comment on Urinal political candidate endorsements. The Urinal editorial board supports all Republicans except when a Democrat is sure to win. They endorsed Tom Udall, Michelle Lujan-Grisham and the Democrats running for Bernallilo County Sheriff and Ray Powell. Otherwise, it’s all Republicans. They’re trying to appear “fair and balanced” but only when they’re sure the Democrat will win.

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