Say you pay for a pizza, sit down to eat it and the owner comes by and takes a quarter of it away. Would you be happy?
Then imagine that after taking a quarter of your pizza, the owner makes you pay for a second pizza for the people at the table next to you because he thinks they're more important than you.
Would you pay for it?
I doubt it.
But, thanks to Albuquerque City Councilor Patrick Davis, you, meaning city taxpayers, might be forced to buy that second pizza for somebody else.
That so-called second pizza would come in the form of paying for extra police protection for some businesses that Davis thinks are more important than other businesses.
Here's the background.
Davis has introduced a proposed ordinance that would allow some businesses to band together and work with the Albuquerque Police Department to create “Security assistance Funding Zones” and crime-fighting plans for businesses in their neighborhoods.
Once those businesses put up $50,000 of their money, the city would pitch in $50,000 of your money as a match. The businesses would be able to use the money to buy security cameras and hire private security guards to patrol their areas.
Davis says its a way to fight crime and take some of the pressure off a chronically undestaffed APD.
But there are so many problems with this proposal.
First, why should any of us have to pay extra for more police protection when we already pay taxes for police protection? It's not our fault that Mayor Richard Berry has decimated APD. And no group of businesses or neighborhoods should ever be allowed to buy extra police protection. The cops are supposed to serve all of us equally.
Second, not all businesses in town would qualify for the extra taxpayer money to buy enhanced police protection.
Because Davis' bill lists only certain, preferred types of businesses that would be able to buy more cops. Here are the types of businesses that his bill would give special preference, and your money, to:
“The Council must find that the area meets the following conditions: The area is a commercial or arts and cultural district with significant economic development, art or cultural impact, tourist-related facilities and attractions or tourist-related transportation systems, or is of other significant importance to the city. The area cannot be primarily residential in nature.”
In other words, you have to be part of the arts crowd to qualify for extra police protection and extra taxpayer money. If you're a dry cleaners, or auto repair shop, or nail salon at Zuni and Wyoming, you won't qualify for more police protection no matter how many times your place has been robbed or burglarized.
Third, even if you're one of Davis' chosen types of business, you might not be able to afford the extra money you'd have to put up to buy APD's help. In other words, this is a type of police protection welfare plan for businesses that already have money and are doing well. If you're just making it by, well, screw you. You don't get extra cops, security cameras or security guards. You just continue to get robbed and burglarized.
The bottom line is that this is just a way for wealthier business people and neighborhoods to buy extra police protection.
And where will all that extra police help come from?
From neighborhoods and business areas that don't have much money. You got it, poor neighborhoods.
Cops and APD resources will be siphoned from poorer neighborhoods to wealthier ones.
If well-to-do business owners want to pay for their own private security guards, they should. I have no problem with that. But don't let them get more public police protection simply because they have more money and can buy it. Aren't we sick of wealthy people getting more than their fair share of public resources?
Davis told me that his bill is aimed at businesses in Nob Hill and the UNM area. He justified the potential public money giveaway to them by saying that those types of businesses pay a greater portion of gross receipts taxes than other businesses.
I'll have more on that in another post. But you can bet that the businesses at Coronado and Winrock malls, and the ABQ Uptown area pay more GRT than do the businesses in Nob Hill.
So what did I mean when I mentioned the pizza joint owner taking away a quarter of the pizza you paid for?
The decreased police protection you've gotten from Berry's administration because of the way he has ruined APD. You're paying for a fully staffed police department – or an entire pizza – with your taxes, and you're getting far less than that.
If Davis' privileged and chosen business owners want a deluxe pizza with five or six toppings, let them pay for it out of their own pockets, and let them hire private security people.
And give me back the quarter of my plain cheese pizza you took away.