Last Thursday night, I attended the North Valley Coalition’s mayoral forum at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. I was looking forward to a lively discussion between myself and the other two candidates running for mayor.
Unfortunately, Martin Chavez did not attend as planned. According to event organizers, Chavez claimed he had an endorsement meeting with the Fraternal Order of Police, which resulted in his last minute cancellation.
Pete Dinelli, one of Chavez’ public safety deputies, attended in his place. This was not the agreed upon format and the organizers of the forum did not allow Dinelli to stand-in for Chavez. Nonetheless, Dinelli disregarded the agreed-upon rules and the rules of civil discourse in general and succeeded in providing a circus-like atmosphere to the entire proceedings.
The moderator, political blogger Joe Monahan, reminded Dinelli several times (in response to Dinelli interrupting the event with comments such as, “I object! I’m a lawyer, I can do that.”) to abide by the rules or leave the podium. Joe even half-joked that bouncers might be called in if Dinelli’s obnoxious behavior persisted.
The rules were simple. The Mayor could attend and participate, but he could not send a subordinate at the last minute and receive the same privilege as the other candidates.
Dinelli’s rudeness was best described
by one organizer as “nutty.” Another commentator referred to him as a “whacko.” Even Chavez' spokeswoman, while sitting in the audience, was imploring Dinelli to calm down.
Chavez should know that the folks in attendance have lives, jobs, kids and responsibilities that they needed to juggle in order to be there. The North Valley Coalition deserves better. The Native American community that opened up its facility deserve better.
We need change.