Do Tiny Home Project Right, Not Quick

Following is the Guest Editorial Comment by Jeffrey Holland, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, published on September 19, 2018 by the Albuquerque Journal:

When I look at the Tiny Home Village project and think of all the positive outcomes that it might produce, I can easily imagine it helping many people in need. In my mind, there is little reason it should not happen. Then, I am suddenly reminded of the enormous elephants in the room – the city and the county. Neither the city nor the county has substantial proof they can build, run or administer anything like a Tiny Home Village with any measure of immediate success.

Albuquerque residents might or might not be familiar with the Supportive After Care (SAC program) apartments located on county property at 5901 Zuni SE. This is the same location of the county-run Metropolitan Assessment and Treatment Services detox program known as MATS. On this property sits a million-dollar-plus apartment complex built approximately a decade ago to create transitional housing for people dealing with addiction and homelessness.

If I’m not mistaken, it has 12 apartments and can house approximately 40-60 people. I’m fairly certain it has never been at capacity. Over the years, they have tried various types of programming and even housed other programs, such as the women of the Milagros program – called Mariposa under the county. Only recently has it started to operate near capacity. This is not a slight on the county, but it does show how difficult it can be to get something of this magnitude up and running properly.

The 5901 Zuni SE location would be ideal for a Tiny Home Village pilot project due to the already existing infrastructure, security, walled perimeter, access to services, public transportation, etc. I feel this is an absolute necessity before scaling up to what the city/county is proposing.

It is my opinion that we face a very big problem here. A problem that is very realistic. The problem comes in the form of potentially wasteful spending. We have actual proof that this type of endeavor has been tried in a similar fashion, with the result being less than stellar or, at least, so it seems. If the city/county move forward with the Tiny Home Village quickly rather than appropriately, the results could be bad, really bad. If that happens, this will be another ART-type situation and they will never have the public’s trust in this area again. The only people who will lose are those people who need the help: the homeless, the addicted, the mentally ill, etc. …

It is my opinion that for a Tiny Home Village to be accepted, embraced and supported, our elected officials must show the people of Albuquerque it will work, not just tell them it will work. This should be done appropriately, NOT quickly.

Therefore, as much as I want a Tiny Home Village to move forward and for it to be successful, I am beginning to realize I have very little faith in the city/county doing something they have failed at in the past. I am seriously re-thinking my support of the Tiny Home Village until an actual pilot program can show efficacy, competence, trust, fiscal responsibility and accountability. When was the last time we had all those from any governmental project?

Here’s what I would like to see before a full-scale Tiny Home Village moves forward:

• A five-to-10 person/couple pilot project that will outline exactly how much it costs to provide services, support, etc. for a minimum of six months. This will give us an approximate multiplier on how much we can expect a much larger Tiny Home Village to cost.
• A women-only project. The women of our community simply do not have enough resources in this area. Quite frankly, we should be ashamed of this fact. These women face challenges and trauma that most people will never be able to comprehend. They deserve better, and we need to consider this a priority. This population has been ignored for far too long.
• After a pilot program of at least six months, we should see detailed financial accounting, along with tangible results regarding how and why the program is working, and will continue to work moving forward. Positive results cannot be ignored/denied and if it is truly a benefit, positive results will speak for themselves.
• When you can buy a 320-square-foot shed for under $10,000, but a 116-square-foot Tiny Home is projected to cost $17,000 to $20,000, something is a little off. These homes should go out to bid. That is not to say the cheapest bid is the best, but I have a strong feeling we can do better than the current project price per square foot while keeping the homes aesthetically unique and environmentally friendly.

… I’ve seen what it takes to provide services for this population and I have run a 20-unit single-occupancy program for almost 10 years. As a matter of fact, the city/county solicited advice from us for this project.

Let’s do it right, not quick. People’s lives are at stake.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1222571/do-abqarea-homeless-project-right-not-quick.html

ABQ Report: Keller’s Vow of Transparency Goes Black

On September 18, 2018, ABQ Report published the following article “Keller’s Vow of Transparency Goes Black” written by editor and reporter Dennis Domrzalski.

“- APD’s Jennifer Garcia is alleged to also have backdated an IA report in 2016

– City Blacks Out 12 Pages of IA Report

Mayor Tim Keller’s pledge of transparency in city government has gone black—black as in 12 pages of totally redacted information in the police department’s Internal Affairs investigation into wrongdoing by the former head of IA, now-Lieutenant Jennifer Garcia.

On Monday, Sept. 18, the city, after two months of stonewalling, the city finally handed over the IA investigation into allegations that Garcia, while the commander of the IA division, backdated an investigation to make it appear that she had met a deadline to complete the probe, when in fact she had not.

But at least 12 pages of the 50-page document—that is, interviews with eight APD officers and detectives, including Garcia herself—were totally blacked out by the city before handing it over to the lawyer for the ABQReport, Tom Grover.

In July, ABQReport filed an Inspection of Public Records Act request for all the IA documents in Garcia’s case. A few days later, the city denied the IPRA request saying the investigative report that was done by a private, outside investigative firm constituted client-attorney work product. This publication then sued the city in state District Court, asking a judge to order the city to release the report.

Here’s the [link to the] report the city released on Monday:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1LsCwZ3lv0UWRw7xi7iHQ3MRRdlzLUE_P/view

A hearing was scheduled in the case on Monday, and the city changed its mind about the report being attorney work product and released it to ABQReport’s lawyer. But again, 12 pages of the report were entirely blacked out. So much for openness and transparency.

Garcia, who had been promoted to commander earlier this year by APD Chief Michael Geier, admitted that she had indeed backdated an IA investigation on officer Stefan Torres. That’s a violation of APD policy that says:

Personnel will not alter, misrepresent, or make any false statement in any verbal or written report or in any other written document that has been completed in the course of their employment.”

After the investigation into Garcia’s wrongdoing was completed she was demoted to lieutenant, kicked out of IA and reassigned to APD’s Field Services Division. In other words, Garcia lied and she still has a job.

By the way, under state law and policy, being untruthful and lying is grounds for an officer to lose his or her law enforcement certification. Geier has submitted an LEA-90 on Garcia to the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy, but he has not gone as far as to say that she should lose her law enforcement license.

And the Torres case might not be the first time that Garcia had altered IA documents. According to the IA report released Monday, Garcia is alleged to have backdated an IA document in May of 2016.

This is the link to the ABQ Report that has an excerpt of the Internal Affairs Report on the backdating of another document here:

https://www.abqreport.com/single-post/2018/09/18/Kellers-Vow-of-Transparency-Goes-Black

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

Redacting and blackening out of key portions of any report that is supposed to be provided pursuant to an inspection of public records is a tried and true way to avoid transparency and yet make the false claim of being transparent.

It appears that the more things change with APD, the more things stay the same.

For another article on former IA Commander Jennifer Bell Garcia see:

APD Power Couple Of APD Chief Geier’s Own Creation

Dandy “Do Nothing” Don Harris To The Rescue!

District 9 City Councilor Don Harris announced the results of a recently conducted a survey of the Tiny Homes Village, which is a joint City and County project.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1221555/se-heights-survey-says-no-to-tiny-homes.html?fb_action_ids=1905598452907830&fb_action_types=og.likes

Harris represents portions of the Southeast Heights, including the Four Hills area, where five of the six sites have been identified for the Tiny Homes project.

The money to build the village, along with the infrastructure, will come from a $2 million general bond county voters approved in November 2016.

The Tiny Homes Village will be built on one acre of land, it will have 25 to 35 homes in a gated community design.

The projected cost of each tiny home will be $17,000 to $20,000.

Each tiny home will be a mere 116 square feet, constructed on a chassis to save money and make it portable and for lack of a better description, the tiny homes are akin to a “tuff shed”.

The homes will be insulated, have heating and cooling, contain a bed, a desk, a chair and storage space.

Each tiny home will be wired for electricity but the structures will not have plumbing and no running water.

Restrooms, showers, laundry and a kitchen will be in communal buildings that will be built on the site.

Early operational costs for the village are estimated to be $150,000 to $200,000.

DISTRICT 9 CONSTITUENT SURVEY RESULTS

The 3 questions asked in the survey were:

1. Do you support the building of a tiny home’s village with public money?
2. Do you see the Tiny Home Village as a hindrance to revitalizing East Central Avenue?
3. Do you think the Tiny Home project is an appropriate way to address homelessness in the community?

Approximate 725 people responded to the survey.

The survey results were:

To the question of building and maintaining a taxpayer-funded tiny homes village, 83.7% said no, 9.3% said yes, and 7% said maybe.

To the question of whether a Tiny Home Village homes is an appropriate way to deal with the problem of homelessness, 82.6% said no, 9.3% said yes and 8.1% said they were not sure.

To the question “Do you think the Tiny Home project is an appropriate way to address homelessness in community redevelopment and revitalization efforts on East Central”, 86% said they were concerned, 10.8% said they were not concerned and 3.2 percent% were undecided.

In response to the survey results, City Councilor Don Harris had this to say:

“Before taking a position, I wanted to know how my constituents felt about [the Tiny Homes project] … It’s better to support them than it is to take a position without the informed collective judgment of the people I represent. … [The tiny homes village proposal is] extremely unpopular in my district and my constituents want me to do something else. … In other words, they want me to find a different solution to the problem.”

In response to the survey results, Harris wrote a letter to his constituents saying he plans to sponsor legislation that calls for a moratorium on the construction of any tiny home villages in the city until an independent and comprehensive analysis is completed on “the best way to deliver services to the homeless that will generate measurable results.”

In his letter to his constituents, Don Harris writes “I will oppose the implementation of a Tiny Home Village near the East Central corridor in District 9.”

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

The survey results should come as absolutely no surprise to anyone who has been following the issue.

With his survey, his letter and call for a moratorium on the Tiny Homes Project, it is clear Don Harris now knows his constituents are upset.

Don Harris opposing the project now and calling for a moratorium on the project is laughable seeing as he has ignored what has been going on in his district since day one with the project.

There is no doubt City Councilor Diane Gibson as well as County Commissioner Debbie O’Malley, the two biggest proponents and sponsors of the project are not going to be at all too happy with Harris’ late opposition and call for a moratorium give all the time and work that has been going on for the last year.

Initially, after a long process, 30 locations were suggested by neighborhood associations, individuals and city and county officials and the list was narrowed to 6 locations.

Five of the 6 proposed sites for the Tiny Homes Village are in Don Harris’ city council district with one of those location being visible from the freeway and very close to the Four Hills Country Club neighborhood and established businesses.

Three of the locations are South of Central and Tramway as you travel west in proximity to established businesses and homes.

Two of the locations are on or just off of Louisiana and South of Central.

Property owners within 1,000 feet of the various sites were sent letters inviting them to attend a series of public meetings.

Three public hearings were held in August that were very well attended and where comments were taken from property owners.

The most contentious of the 3 meeting where well over 300 angry people attended to voice opposition to the Tiny Homes project occurred on August 9, 2018 at Manzano Mesa Multigenerational Center, 501 Elizabeth SE, which is in District 9.

Don Harris did not bother to attend any of the 3 meetings, including the August 9, 2018 meeting held in his District.

Had Harris attended any one of the meetings he would have known the opposition and be fully informed without his survey.

Don Harris saying “Before taking a position, I wanted to know how my constituents felt about it. … It’s better to support them than it is to take a position without the informed collective judgment of the people I represent” is what is called in politics as CYA or “cover your ass”.

The moratorium call is so rich and typical coming from Harris since during the entire 13 years he has been on the city council, Harris has always done what he damn well pleases despite his constituents’ concerns and their objections including his unwavering support of the ART Bus project and supporting all things Republican on the council.

In all probability, the call for a moratorium on the Tiny Homes project is Don Harris’ way of trying to placate or pacify and calm his constituents down.

Setting aside Harris’ questionable motivations, a moratorium by the City and County on the construction of the tiny home villages is in order until it is confirmed by an independent and comprehensive analysis that the Tiny Home project is the best way to deliver transitional housing services to the homeless that will not have a negative impact on established businesses and residential areas.

The voters of District 9 will soon find out if Don Harris is serious about introducing the legislation on a moratorium and if it is nothing more than a ploy on his part to placate his angry constituents especially if no one else on the city council supports the moratorium.

Below are links to other blog articles on the Tiny Homes project and homeless:

Campus Model Suggested As Solution to Homeless

City’s Plan to Address Homeless Crisis Revealed

Tiny Home Village Creates Giant NIMBY Problem

Endorphin Power Company Take On Tiny Homes Project

Martens Case Failures May End DA Torrez Political Career

On September 14, 2018, State District Court Judge Charles Brown rejected a plea deal negotiated by District Attorney Raúl Torrez with Defendant Jessica Kelley in the brutal murder of 9-year-old Victoria Martens who was stabbed, murdered, dismember and her body burned in the bath tub of her home.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1220857/judge-rejects-plea-deal-for-jessica-kelley.html?fb_action_ids=1903846326416376&fb_action_types=og.likes

The rejected plea agreement would have required Jessica Kelley to testify at related trials of Michelle Martens, Victoria’s mother, and Fabian Gonzales, and to provide statements to authorities.

Defendant Jessica Kelley could have faced 49½ years in prison, but with good time she would likely serve 25 years.

On June 29, 2018, Michelle Martens, the mother of the murdered child, plead guilty to one count of reckless child abuse resulting in the child’s death.

With the plea deal, Michelle Martens faces a possible sentence of 12-15 years, and with good time she could be out of jail within 6 to 7 and a half years a very sharp contrast to the 49 + years exposure of Jessica Kelly.

The rejection of the Kelley plea agreement comes months after District Attorney Raul Torrez announced in June during a press conference that much of the initial facts of the case were “simply not true” to quote Torrez.

According to Torrez, the initial understanding of the case had been derived from false statements Michelle Martens provided to police.

The initial police investigation and reports alleged that it was Jessica Kelley that stabbed 9-year-old Victoria Martens, Fabian Gonzales strangled her while Michelle Martens watched the murder.

During a June 29, 2018 press conference announcing dismissal of many of the original charges against Michelle Martens and Fabian Gonzales, Torrez stated that the evidence revealed that Martens nor Gonzales were not even home at the time Victoria was murdered.

According to Torrez, cell phone data proved that Michelle Martens and Fabian Gonzales were not home at the time of Victoria’s death.

During the June 29, 2018 press conference, Torrez made the stunning announcement that DNA and forensic evidence test results revealed a fourth and unidentified individual.

Michelle Martens was given a plea deal and several charges against Fabian Gonzales’ were dismissed.

RATIONAL FOR REJECTION OF JESSICA KELLEY PLEA DEAL

A “plea bargain” or a “negotiated plea agreement” between a defendant and a prosecutor is where a defendant agrees to plead guilty or “no contest” in exchange for an agreement by the prosecutor to drop one or more charges, reduce a charge to a less serious offense, or recommend to the judge a specific sentence acceptable to the defense.

https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/the-basics-plea-bargain.html

The New Mexico Rules of Criminal procedure are very clear that any District Judge taking a plea must determine the accuracy of the plea and make sure a defendant is admitting to enough essential facts to prove that the defendant actually committed the crime being admitted to by the defendant.

A Judge cannot accept a plea or enter a judgment or sentence on plea agreement without making such inquiry that will satisfy the court that there is a factual basis for the plea.

http://www.nmcompcomm.us/nmrules/NMRules/5-304_11-1-2016.pdf

It is the responsibility of the Judge to determine if the defendant fully understands the plea agreement, and the guilty plea is made freely and voluntarily without any duress.

During the course of the plea proceedings, the prosecution usually is given an opportunity to first outline the plea agreement an give a summary of the facts and details of the case and summarize the plea agreement terms and conditions.

After the initial presentation by the prosecution, the defendant is sworn in and required to testify under oath in great detail what they did and acknowledge that the facts outlined in the plea agreement are accurate.

The facts admitted to by the defendant must satisfy the elements of the crime the defendant has been charged with and is admitting to in the plea agreement.

The plea agreement negotiated with Defendant Jessica Kelley was reported to being 18 pages long providing a factual statement of the murder.

Rather than allowing prosecutors to merely read a statement outlining their allegations against Kelley, Judge Brown questioned Defendant Kelley on the facts which is totally appropriate and allowed and should have been expected given the high profile nature of the case.

District Judge Brown asked one very simple question of defendant Jessica Kelley:

“What happened that makes you guilty of recklessly causing or permitting something that resulted in the death of a child?”

In response to the Judges question, Defendant Jessica Kelley testified she “let an unknown male come in, not knowing he was going to kill Victoria Martens”.

Kelley testified she had no indication the man intended to hurt anyone and thought the man might have been Victoria’s father or a “friend of the family … He did not look like a bad person, he was dressed well and he walked in like he knew the home.”

Jessica Kelley testified she directed the man to the room where the child was sleeping.

Deputy District Attorney James Grayson who presented the plea agreement argued that Kelley was aware that she was too intoxicated to care for the child and that Kelley had been hallucinating and experiencing paranoid delusions all day and because of her intoxication was not able to assess the risk the unidentified man posed.

Grayson argued that Kelley “engaged in conduct that showed reckless disregard for the safety or health of the child.”

After the prosecutor’s argument, Judge Brown said the drug use was not the relevant issue and went on to say:

“There is no indication [evidence] she knew or should have known that the person intended to commit intentional murder. … You’re asking [or suggesting] … Ms. Kelley is somehow a mind reader …”

During a press conference after the rejection of the plea agreement by Judge Brown, Torrez had this to say:

“I think from my perspective, the thing I’m most focused on and interested in, is trying to identify and eventually prosecute the other individual that we have yet to identify … Securing this plea agreement was a critical first step in that.”

A spokesman for the District Attorney Raul Torrez said that prosecutors had joined with Kelley’s defense team to draft a joint motion asking Brown to reconsider his decision.

ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY

A glaring mistake that appears to have been made by Raul Torrez and his assistants is the failure to confirm in detail with defense counsel exactly what Defendant Jessica Kelly was going to testify to under oath and the facts she would be admitting to before the judge once she was sworn in.

Instead of Defendant Kelley making admissions of guilt and reciting facts, it was the Deputy District Attorney making argument that Kelley was too intoxicated to care for the child and that Kelley had been hallucinating and experiencing paranoid delusions all day and because of her intoxication was not able to assess the risk the unidentified man posed.

The prosecution making a legal argument that Kelley “engaged in conduct that showed reckless disregard for the safety or health of the child” does not cut it as an admission of conduct that violated the law and guilt which any experienced prosecutor should know.

District Judge Charles Brown is one of the most respected and above all most competent trial judges on the bench and is also a former prosecutor.

The risk of Judge Brown approving a plea agreement where a defendant does not make specific admissions of fact leaving guilt to the charge being plead to as a matter of speculation results in the very substantial risk and the likelihood of the plea being set aside on appeal at some later date.

With the dismissal of criminal charges against Mitchell Martens and giving her a plea agreement with a maximum sentence of 15 years or less, and now with the denial of a plea deal negotiated with the prime suspect who may have murdered a 9-year-old child, it is becoming painfully obvious that District Attorney Raul Torrez is dealing with a case that can end his political career.

The murder of 9-year-old Victoria Martens occurred a mere 5 months before Raul Torrez took office.

Torrez was briefed extensively on the case during the transition and he has had control of the case now for almost 2 years.

Torrez proclaimed after Judge Brown rejected the plea the “thing I’m most focused on and interested in, is trying to identify and eventually prosecute the other individual that we have yet to identify …”

Torrez has misplaced optimism and hopes given the amount of time since the murder and the likelihood of finding and arresting the person and then getting a conviction is probably remote at best.

What Torrez should be focused on and more interested in is prosecuting and convicting any one of the 3 defendants in custody for the murder of a child and not the lesser offense of “recklessly causing or permitting something that resulted in the death of a child.”

A first-degree murder charge and conviction carries a sentence of life imprisonment with no chance of parole and with no good time allowed.

http://www.petedinelli.com/2018/09/16/da-torrezs-deal-with-the-devil-rejected-by-court/

Sources within the DA’s office have said Torrez paid considerable attention to the Martens case during the transition before being sworn in as District Attorney.

Torrez was briefed on and knew what was happening and wanted to prosecute the case personally because he knew it was going to be high profile.

Now that the case appears to be falling apart, Torrez is seeking to avoid a trial that will essentially place his office and the Albuquerque Police Department investigation on trial to create reasonable doubt in the minds of a jury.

With that said, APD has botched this case like so many other homicide cases it has in the past.

The blog article below discusses APD’s dismal record in homicide cases.

http://www.petedinelli.com/2018/08/28/da-torrez-fails-to-tackle-resource-problem-for-preliminary-hearings/

Raul Torrez is an experienced former United States federal prosecutor, he knew what he was getting into with the Martens case, yet the mistakes he and his office have made in the investigation and prosecution of the case is that of a first-year prosecutor right out law school.

Torrez is attracted to the media cameras like a moth is to the light and he has made many statements that will be problematic for his office to overcome if the case ever goes to trial.

http://www.petedinelli.com/2018/07/06/da-torrez-own-pre-trial-publicity-jeopardizes-martens-prosecution/

Torrez is going to have to run on his record and not on his favorable media coverage which no doubt will soon turn negative if the case is mishandled and continues to go south on him.

Voters tend to forget high profile murders after defendants are convicted, but outright dismissal of cases involving the murder of children are not forgotten easily and such dismissals difficult to defend before voters.

The leniency of a 12 to 15 year plea agreement Torrez showed towards a mother who placed her 10-year-old child in harm’s way and made the child a victim of one of the most horrendous murders in Albuquerque history will be remembered given his own past statements on our criminal justice system and conduct towards Judges.

Blaming the cops and the Judges is not going to cut it if Raul Torrez can’t get a conviction on the most heinous crime against a child.

Raul Torrez will be ultimately be rewarded by voters if he gets a conviction or ultimately held responsible and be voted out of office by voters if he negotiates lenient plea deals or no convictions in the murder of a 9-year-old child.

For other blog articles on Torrez job performance see:

Journal Goes “Face To Face” With Praises of DA Torrez

DA Torrez Fails To Tackle Resource Problem For Preliminary Hearings

DA Raul Torrez Picks Another Fight With Courts

Easy For District Attorney To Indict A Ham Sandwich For Murder

DA Torrez Political Damage Control: Mission Accomplished!

DA Torrez’s Deal With The Devil Rejected By Court

On September 14, 2018, State District Court Judge Charles Brown rejected a plea deal negotiated by Bernalillo County District Attorney Raul Torrez with Defendant Jessica Kelly in the shocking murder of 9-year-old Victoria Martens who was stabbed, murdered, dismember and her body burned in the bath tub of her home.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1220857/judge-rejects-plea-deal-for-jessica-kelley.html?fb_action_ids=1903846326416376&fb_action_types=og.likes

The rejected plea agreement would have required Jessica Kelley to testify at related trials of Defendant Michelle Martens, Victoria’s mother, and Defendant Fabian Gonzales, a boyfriend, and to provide statements to authorities.

Jessica Kelley would have faced 49½ years in prison.

At first blush, it appears like a good deal because of the time exposure, but as the saying goes, “the devil is in the details”.

Retired APD Sergeant Dan Klein weighed in on the rejection of the plea and submitted the following guest analysis:

“When I read the story, as posted by KOB reporters, on Judge Charles Brown rejecting the Jessica Kelley plea agreement I had to wonder what “closure” were they hoping for? I wondered why didn’t these reporters do a little research to find out why the judge had rejected the plea agreement? It seems these reporters were taking sides and that the local news media is tired of Victoria Martens and just wants it all to end.

I have known Judge Charles Brown for probably 25 years or more. He handled several of my cases when I was an APD detective. He knows the law. When I watched him questioning Jessica Kelley and I read that she would be entering a plea bargain for Child Abuse, instead of agreeing to a murder charge, I knew there was a lot more to this story.

First, Brown, ethically, should never allow a defendant to plead to a charge that he believes does not match the crime. This was evident in his questions to Jessica Kelley regarding Child Abuse. Her response about being guilty because she let a unknown man (how convenient) into the apartment, doesn’t seem to fit Child Abuse.

Second, I researched the good time laws in New Mexico. Now I might have this wrong, but a conviction of Child Abuse does not necessarily mean a suspension of good time (https://law.justia.com/…/new…/2006/nmrc/jd_33-2-34-d129.html). So when the media says Kelley could be sentenced to 49 1/2 years in prison, could she potentially be out in 25 years with good time? These reporters should have asked that question. Is this something Judge Brown realized? Any judges or DA’s out there please give your opinion.

Third, I might be misreading the judge but it sure sounded to me like he thinks murder is the correct charge. If Kelley is going to plea to anything it should be at minimum murder. Which points out the hypocrisy with our media and DA. They continually bash the judges for being to lenient on criminals, but they are OK with Jessica Kelley not pleading guilty to murdering Victoria Martens? They are OK with Kelley stating that an unknown man killed Victoria. Who in their right mind would believe this bullshit? The media (editors at the Albuquerque Journal and the three news outlets) need to start focusing on factually reporting news, and stop trying to make news.

Fourth, DA Torrez seems hellbent to not lose the case against Fabian Gonzales. So hellbent that he is willing to allow the one person we do know was present during the time Victoria was viciously murdered, to plea to lesser crimes. All done with the false hope that Kelley will testify against Gonzales and provide some new information on the mystery man. It’s ridiculous. Torrez himself admitted earlier this year that the other defendant, Michelle Martens, is an idiot who will tell anyone in authority what she thinks they want to hear. Michelle is his other star witness against Gonzales. Why would anyone in their right mind believe Michelle Martens and Jessica Kelley? Torrez is trying to build a case against Gonzales with fools and liars.

Torrez is grasping at straws and he should stop. He did the right thing this summer in coming clean on how badly APD and the DA office screwed up this murder case. Sadly Torrez, it seems, doesn’t remember what he told the community at that press conference. If the thinks he can convict Gonzales based upon two admitted liars testimony (Michelle Martens and Jessica Kelley) he has lost his mind.

And that is what I believe Judge Charles Brown was thinking when he read this plea agreement. Jessica Kelley is the only defendant that you know was present at the scene of Victoria’s murder and you are going to let her plea to a charge less than murder? Remember, Fabian Gonzales gave a spontaneous statement to the media the night he was arrested. What did he say? “Jessica Kelley did it” ( https://www.koat.com/…/3-charged-in-death-of-10-yea…/4502452). So what makes Michelle Martens and Jessica Kelley any more trustworthy than Fabian Gonzales? Nothing. I believe that Judge Brown’s decades as a prosecutor and judge had him thinking the same thing. These three defendants are all liars. So why believe one over the other without any hard evidence?

DA Torrez answered that question when he stated that said he struggled with this and that it was decided they needed Jessica Kelley testimony against Gonzales to obtain a conviction on him and identify the unknown man. Well that blew up in court when Kelley repeatedly said she didn’t know who the man was. And remember this, Torrez already announced that Gonzales was not present during the time of the murder, but Kelley was there.

My own personal belief is DA Torrez is trying hard to do the right thing on a case that has been badly mismanaged from the beginning. It seems he is hell bent to try to identify the unknown man, that he is willing to make a deal with the devil to do so. That type of deal never, ever, works. Torrez already has a child abuse conviction on Michelle Martens. That was probably the best he could do. As bitter as this pill is to swallow, he should not enter into a plea agreement with Jessica Kelley, the one person who was present at the crime scene and who Gonzales named as the murderer. Torrez should go after her with everything he has and convict her of murder, so she spends the rest of her life in prison. As for Gonzales, tampering with evidence (a 4th degree felony) may be the best Torrez can do. Torrez should not let any of these people get off, on the false promises of lying drug addicts, that they will name the unknown man. It is not going to happen. Based on his years of experience I am certain Judge Brown knows this.

Making a plea with Michelle Martens was akin to making a deal with Forest Gump; making a deal with Jessica Kelley is the same as dealing with the devil.

Torrez should prosecute with vigor Jessica Kelley for the murder of Victoria Martens. He should prosecute the devil he knows, and not make a deal for a false promise of identifying the devil he doesn’t know.”

DAN KLEIN
Retired APD Sargeant

Downtown Public Safety District Created

Making good on a campaign promise, Mayor Tim Keller and the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) announced the creation of a “Downtown Public Safety District.”

https://www.abqjournal.com/1219908/keller-unveils-new-downtown-public-safety-district.html

https://www.koat.com/article/mayor-we-re-trying-to-move-beyond-the-notion-of-a-band-aid-solution-for-downtown/23109157

No doubt the creation of the district was also in response to a petition drive by Downtown businesses and residents demanding such a substation.

The substation for the Downtown Public Safety District will be located at the Alvarado Transportation Center at First and Central SW.

The location is a conversion of a prisoner transport holding area that will require remodeling to remove jail cells.

The goal is to have a permanent police presence in Downtown Albuquerque.

The congregation of the homeless in the area have been a chronic problem especially around the Alvarado Transportation Center.

Consequently, a Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) will be assigned to the district to address homelessness and behavioral health needs.

Several other city departments a well as community organizations providing services to the homeless and mentally ill will contribute resources to the district.

The other city departments that will be providing services to the area include:

1. Albuquerque Fire Rescue (AFR) will increase its presence near Central Avenue during high-volume call times and by driving a loop around the district after each call for service.

2. The Transit and Municipal Development departments will contribute security personnel to the district in coordination with APD’s patrol plans.

3. The Family and Community Services Department is contributing a social worker to coordinate service providers and implement Project ECHO to train mental health workers in the district.

4. The Municipal Development and Solid Waste departments will expand the use of street cleaning machines throughout Downtown, including alleyways, and add collection routes for Downtown businesses to address overflow of trash from Saturday nights.

5. Solid Waste will use its Block by Block program to wash sidewalks and its Clean City Graffiti crew to eradicate graffiti as soon as possible.

6. The Safe City Strike Force will monitor the district and work closely with Family and Community Services and other service providers.

7. The Family and Community Services Department is continuing to work with Heading Home’s ABQ Street Connect program to help people with significant behavioral health disability and who are experiencing homelessness.

8. The Home Engagement and Alternative Response Team of the Albuquerque Fire and Rescue Department is also exploring a Downtown home base.

The Family and Community Services will also be working with HopeWorks and outreach partners including APD’s COAST team, APD’s Crisis Intervention Team and ACT teams to do mental health outreach and will be working with the New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness to help service providers for homeless people.

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

Creating a special “Public Safety Downtown District” is viewed by many as giving preferential law enforcement protection to one area of the city at the expense to the poorer neighborhoods such as Southeast Heights that have extremely high property and violent crime rates.

The previous Administration wanted create such a special district when the Chamber of Commerce and Lavu, both in the downtown area, complained about high crime and Lavu threatened to pull out of downtown.

All six of APD area commands are headed up by an APD Commander.

Creating a special downtown police district headed by an APD Deputy Chief with a Lieutenant and Sergeant assigned gives the definite appearance of preferential treatment to one area of the city at the expense of other poorer areas of the city.

Ten years ago there was a “Downtown Action” committee with downtown businesses participating that was chaired by the Chief Public Safety officer that coordinated efforts with APD, but it was dismantled by Chief Public Safety Officer Darren White.

Downtown Albuquerque is the sole of the city because of the history it represents.

The “Downtown Central” area must and can be revitalized because of its historical significance and being a part of historic Route 66.

The creation of a Downtown Public Safety District can be justified because of the recent commercial and residential developments that are emerging in the area.

The “One Central” development located at 1st Street and Central across the street where the APD substation, is a public-private mixed-use development, including at least 39,000 square feet of commercial space with an entertainment tenant initially described as an upscale bowling alley with at least two other retail or restaurant tenants, 60 residential units and a 429-space parking garage.

There has been a very large number of multi-story apartments and condos developed directly south of Central between 1st Street and 6th Street within the past 10 years along with the Silver Street “grocery store” in one of the developments.

The residential developments are Downtown’s biggest hope yet for Downtown revitalization because it will sustain vibrant downtown activity, where people can live, raise a family and work and play which is the “walkable city” concept.

The Albuquerque High School condos and the Lobo Rainforest Building and Innovate Albuquerque development across the street at Broadway and Central will no doubt help with Downtown revitalization.

The Downtown Public Safety District will succeed only if aggressive tactical plans for the downtown area are implement and sustained, otherwise it may prove to be a public relation move to placate or pacify the Downtown area businesses and residents.

For more on Downtown revitalization see:

“Downtown Revitalization”: Deja Vu All Over Again!