Not a huge story here - yet. But it's interesting that city officials went to such lengths to avoid answering questions about an event that loses money. The spokesperson counters that the city benefits from the tourism, but how did they weigh that against the loss of all those cops who aren't on the street?
The really noteworthy thing is that the reporter is actually doing his job and asking followup questions. (No Meet The Press gig for you, Mr. Reporter!) The next step? I'd go look up campaign donations from the NRA:
A spokeswoman for Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry told KOB Monday a cursory review of finances reveals the City of Albuquerque loses money by hosting the National Rifle Association Championships each September.
An internal memo signed by APD Chief Gorden Eden states that one sergeant, 41 field officers and 15 public services aides were reassigned off their beats to provide security and traffic assistance for the competition. The payroll of all of these officers' time comes out to about $80,000.
A contract between the NRA and City of Albuquerque reveals the city is obligated to provide telephone lines, buildings, air conditioners, communication tools, storage, fax machines, copy machines, tents, picnic tables, restrooms, ambulance crews, maintenance crews, press officers and custodial staff.
All of these resources are dedicated for an event that is open only to police officers and closed to the public. In fact, during this year’s competition, APD forced KOB’s cameras off the property.
With all this in mind, our news team had one question: How is this event of any public value to the Albuquerque community? Our team thought the question was simple enough, until we posed it to Mayor Richard Berry’s spokeswoman Breanna Anderson.
Anderson refused to allow us to ask any city official this question. Instead, she sent this prepared statement from Assistant Director of Parks & Recreation, Garry Wolfe:
"The city is honored to host a wide variety of high-quality events that bring people from all across the nation to Albuquerque, from quilting conferences to tennis competitions. Regardless of the recreational activities, these events and city venues provide not only quality of life incentives; they also showcase our city to local residents and out-of-town visitors. Visitors bring their out-of-town dollars, which they spend on restaurants, hotels, transportation, etc. which is a benefit across our community. The city has contractual obligations to this long-standing event, as do we a multitude of other events, and we’ll continue to uphold our responsibilities."
Since we had additional questions, we went to Wolfe’s office. But he told us he didn’t author the statement and couldn’t help us. When we pressed forward with more questions, he ducked our camera and slipped out a back door. He then had a city security officer drive his truck from the Parks and Recreation building to APD.