Do These People Have Any Clue What They Are Talking About or Doing?

ART Funding Still in Doubt

This Albuquerque Free Press article explores the question where will the city get the money to complete the Albuquerque Rapid Transit project if doesn’t get the $69 million federal transit grant it has applied for?

I was delighted to make a comment for the article.

City officials are saying the city has an extra $69 million to complete the $126 million ART project by the end of the year, but they are not saying where it’ll come from.

The one glaring and surprising mistake in this article is where our State Auditor and candidate for Mayor Tim Keller says he suspects that Berry’s administration could find ART bus money in the city’s risk management fund.

Keller should know better to even make the suggestion.

The City of Albuquerque is a “self-insured entity”, meaning that by state law a certain percentage of projected liability losses from lawsuits and injury claims against the City must be set aside to avoid being required to secure a liability insurance policy by the State.

The City could never afford such a policy and that is why it is self insured under state law.

The penalty for not adequately funding the risk management fund as required by law is the city loosing its “self insurance” status and certificate which is quite serious and would probably have an impact on our bond ratings.

During the last 7 years, Albuquerque has paid out of the risk management fund over $60 million dollars to settle police misconduct cases for deadly force and excessive use of force cases.

The city has a Risk Management Director and claims adjusters and all payments out of the risk management fund must be approved by the Risk Manager and/or the Claims Review Board.

Raiding of the risk management fund for a capital improvements project such as the ART Bus project is clearly illegal.

Councilor Pat Davis saying the city could use federal highway fund money it gets that is administered through the Mid-Region Council of Governments to make up for the $69 million loss for the ART bus project is very embarrassing and reveals he has no idea what he is talking about.

Dave Pennella, the Metro Planning Organization administrator for MRCOG, disputed Davis’ claim by saying “The money cannot come from any other federal funding sources that we have.”

Then you have City Councilor Diane Gibson saying she didn’t know where the city would find the money for the ART Bus project if the $69 million grant is not approved saying “It would really be nice to know”.

Diane Gibson is my City Councilor and has voted repeatedly for the ART Bus project and funding.

Gibson said to a neighborhood association meeting she “was tired of carrying the Mayor’s water” on the ART Bus project.

Gibson voted to spend the $69 million federal grant money that has yet, and may never be, appropriated by congress.

It would have been nice for Diane Gibson to have asked a few questions where the money would come from if the $69 million grant money is not forthcoming.

The truth is, the money will probably have to come out of the general fund and will have to be approved by the City Council or the City will need to find another funding source such as to issue revenue bonds.

The City Council could even enact a one-eighth of a cent gross receipts tax with a sunset clause.

Berry Offers Record of Failure For Governor

Political pundit Joe Monahan is reporting that Republican New Mexico Lieutenant Governor John Sanchez has decided not to run for Governor but to instead to run against Democrat United States Senator Martin Heinrich. (See April 14, 2017 post “Lt. Gov Sanchez Publicly Attacks Sen. Heinrich And Appears Poised for Senate Bid” at http://joemonahansnewmexico.blogspot.com/)

Political insiders are also saying that Republican US Congressman Steve Pierce has decided not to run for Governor, but for re-election to his safe Southern Congressional seat.

With the departure of Republican heavy weights John Sanchez and Steve Pierce running for the GOP nomination for Governor, the Republicans are left with discredited light weight Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry as a front runner for the Republican nomination.

I for one hope that Berry runs for Governor so that he will be held accountable for the disastrous ART Bus Project, for what has done to destroy a once great police department, what he has done to city government and the Albuquerque economy and to end his political career.

If elected, a Governor Richard Berry will do to New Mexico what he has done to Albuquerque the last seven years.

By his permission, below is an April 18, 2017 FACEBOOK post sent to me by Pete Wierzbicki that sums up what Mayor Richard Berry has presided over and done to Albuquerque during the last seven (7) years and it should be a required read for all those running for Mayor:

FACEBOOK POST BY PETE WIERZBICKI:

“Albuquerque has fallen to the bottom and in many cases dead last of every meaningful ranking in the country, including economy, jobs, crime, education, real estate, desirability, and traffic. (For example, #404 in economic recovery.)

ABQ has become a sea of litter and garbage — it will take years and millions of dollars to clean up — it’s been accumulating for 7 years.
Complaints fall on deaf ears, and the Mayor said “It’s the windy season’s fault.”

Ninety percent of the beautiful nighttime landscaping that Mayor Chavez put in is malfunctioning or completely dead and it also has been so since Berry became mayor.

Murder, drugs, violence, gangs, homelessness, and city scandals abound.

APD is understaffed and short 200 police officers.

The ART is a colossal disaster and the city lied to feds to secure funding.

This mayor and city council are 100% responsible for all of this and none of them should ever be voted into public office again.

Vote no for Berry for governor and no for Lewis or any other city Councilor for mayor.

See the facts that no one is talking about:

The Year 2006: Mayor Martin Chavez

1. Albuquerque ranked #1 – yes FIRST, by Forbes Magazine as best place for business and careers in the entire country.http://www.forbes.com/2006/05/03/06b…ness_land.html

Today, under Mayor Berry and this city council — Recent Reports And Data:

1. Forbes Magazine — Albuquerque #162 for doing business — July 29, 2015
— just ahead of Clarksville, TN, Allentown PA , and DETROIT, MI (#169)
http://www.forbes.com/best-places-fo…verall_page:16

2. “New ranking puts ABQ in cellar for economic growth” – September 29, 2015
http://www.bizjournals.com/albuquerq…ic-growth.html

3. “2015’s Cities with the Fastest Growing Economies” – Albuquerque ranked #404 – September, 2015
https://wallethub.com/edu/fastest-growing-cities/7010/

4. Bureau of Labor Statistics – Metropolitan Employment Rankings — Albuquerque ranked #324 – August 2015
http://www.bls.gov/web/metro/laummtrk.htm

5. Colliers US Downtown Office Vacancy Rates — Albuquerque Dead Last — December 2014
http://www.colliers.com/en-us/-/medi…e_d8_Final.pdf

6. Wikipedia: Traffic analysis firm INRIX in 2013, ranks the top 65 worst US traffic cities — Albuquerque #18
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traffic_congestion

7. The Albuquerque metropolitan area’s 0.3 percent growth rate in the year that ended July 1 put it in 77th place among the nation’s largest 100 metro areas, according to a Brookings Institution analysis of population trends.
http://www.bizjournals.com/albuquerq…on-growth.html — July 2014

8. 2017’s Best & Worst Cities for Jobs – Albuquerque #119 out of 150 – Jan 4, 2017
https://wallethub.com/edu/best-cities-for-jobs/2173/

9. NOV 30, 2016 MID-SIZED METROS WITH FASTEST GROWING GROSS REGIONAL PRODUCT ARE PROVO, FAYETTEVILLE AND CAPE CORAL; SLOWEST ARE PALM BAY, ALBUQUERQUE, SYRACUSE
Albuquerque #2 Slowest Regional Product
http://headlightdata.com/medium-sized-metros-with…/

10. The Best Places For Business And Careers
2016 RANKING ABQ #138
http://www.forbes.com/best-places-for-business/list/3/…

11. Albuquerque is the 5th most violent city in the nation
Updated: 6:59 PM MDT Aug 12, 2016
http://www.koat.com/…/albuquerque-is-the-5th…/5072628

12. Fortune: ABQ the worst city in the U.S. to own a home
http://nmpoliticalreport.com/…/fortune-abq-the-worst…/

13. ABQ ranked among worst real estate markets
https://www.abqjournal.com/…/abq-ranked-among-worst…

14. Albuquerque ranks 113 out of 150 for Most and Least Recession-Recovered Cities.
http://www.bizjournals.com/…/new-ranking-puts-abq-in…

15. Albuquerque ranks near bottom in list of best, worst cities for families
http://krqe.com/…/albuquerque-ranks-near-bottom-in…/

16. Albuquerque Really Is Like Breaking Bad
http://ideas.time.com/…/why-breaking-bad-rings-true-to-me/

17. NM again ranks 49th in child well-being, 50th in education
http://www.lcsun-news.com/…/nm-again-ranks…/86140070/

18. Colliers US Downtown Office Vacancy Rates — Albuquerque Dead Last — December 2014
http://www.colliers.com/en-us/-/media/Files/MarketResearch…/Market-Reports/4Q_NA_Office_d8_Final.pdf

Sorry for some of the truncated links.

If anybody wants them I can provide.”

Money Green With Envy (Updated)

The first quarterly finance reports for the October 3, 2017 Mayor’s race have now been filed with the Albuquerque City Clerk. (See April 18, 2017 Albuquerque Journal , page A-1, “Money already pouring into mayor’s race; new entrant lends himself $300K”)

Most of the candidates are “dirt poor” and probably “money green with envy” given what a few of the other candidates have been able to raise in private financing.

There are 16 candidates for Mayor registered with the City Clerk’s office with only State Auditor Tim Keller qualifying for public finance by collecting 3,800 qualifying $5 donations.

Following is what has been reported raised in cash from January 15 to March 31, 2017 by the candidates:

Deanna Archuleta, Democrat, former Bernalillo County Commissioner – $140,943
Ricardo Chavez, Republican, Founder of Parking Company of America – $300,000 (personal campaign loan)
Elan Colello, Democrat, CEO of a virtual reality company – $0 reported
Brian Colon, former State Democratic Party Chairman and attorney – $351, 553, ($389,834 to date)
Lamont T. Davis, City Employee – $0 reported
Mitchell Garcia Holmes, Independent, retired APD police detective – $ 6, 120 cash ($9,900 in kind)
Rachel Golden – $0 reported
Wayne Johnson, Republican, Bernalillo County Commissioner – $100,876
Timothy Keller, Democrat, first term New Mexico State Auditor – $380,0000 (City Public Financing)
Dan Lewis, Republican, Albuquerque City Councilor – $100,876 (Not including $90,000 carry over for a total of $190,000)
Scott Madison, Democrat, employed by Sandia Labs – $0 reported
Stella Ann Padilla, Democrat, community activist and Old Town resident – $3,495
Ian Page – $0 reported
Augustus “Gus” Pedrotty, University Student – $1,707
Jacob Shull – $0 Reported
Susan Wheeler-Deischel, Independent, founder Urban Albuquerque – $1,583 ($475 in kind)

Under Albuquerque’s campaign finance laws, the maximum allowed contribution from any one individual donor or corporation is $5,193 which represents 5% of the Mayor’s salary.

I suspect the $5,193 donation cap could be easily challenged under “Citizens United”.

Only three candidates have secured the required 3,000 signatures to get on the ballot: Dan Lewis, Tim Keller and Michelle Garcia Holmes.

All candidates have until April 30 to submit their nominating petitions.

I suspect when it is all said and done, only seven candidates will be able to secure 3,000 signatures from registered voters to get on the ballot.

I have no doubt that the finance reports were what I call an “Oh S” moment in politics by under financed candidates.

The finance reports will motivate people to raise even more money as they chase each other to compete and to run commercials.

It really must be nice to be Ricardo Chavez and be able to just pull out your personal check book and write a check for $300,000 to run for Mayor.

Ricardo Chavez is a highly-respected businessman in Albuquerque and needs to be congratulated on his financial success and thanked for the contributions he has made to Albuquerque.

The biggest advantage of being able to “self-finance” is being able to say your beholden to only yourself and the biggest disadvantage is fooling yourself that you can just buy an election by financing it first not even knowing if you can get on the ballot by collecting 3,000 nominating signatures.

It is probably just as nice to be Brian Colon, Dan Lewis, Wayne Johnson and Deanna Archuleta to be able to ask your best “friends” to write you personal checks for $5,193.

What I found disappointing is Brian Colon referring to his $5,000 plus donors as “key stake holders” in the community giving the impression you need to be wealthy and able to make big contributions to be a key “stake holder” in his campaign or for that matter in the community given our city economy and New Mexico having the highest unemployment rate in the United States.

Tim Keller has got the best of all political campaign finance world’s by getting public financing to the tune of $380,000, claiming he is “walking the walk” and running a “grassroots campaign” while at the same time really being disingenuous when he accepts $380,000 in taxpayer, public finance money to run for Mayor and he does not make any sort of public commitment to decline assistance or request that no measured finance committee assist him to get elected or spend money to run commercial ads on his behalf.

According to the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office and campaign finance reports filed, Mr. Keller received contributions of $487,276.66 and had expenditures of $545,372 as a candidate for New Mexico State Auditor and for this reason you can expect his State Auditor contributors to form a measured finance committee of one form or another on his behalf to help him run for Mayor.

(See https://www.cfis.state.nm.us/media/CandidateCandidateList.aspx?es=17&fn=Tim&ln=Keller)

The same highly paid political consultants that ran Keller’s campaigns for State Senate and State Auditor are running his campaign for Mayor and have already been paid $17,000 for the Mayors race this year alone and in 2016, Keller paid one political consulting firm $22,944 and another $14,018 from his State Auditor Campaign account according to Secretary of State records.

Four years ago, Mayor Berry raised over $910,000 in nine (9) months.

There is still over five (5) months left to raise money by the candidates for Mayor.

If no candidate gets 50% or more of the vote, a runoff is held between the two top vote getters, which means any successful candidate needs money to finance their campaigns both in the first election and then for the run-off if they make it.

I predict it will take $1 million to be successful to make it to the run-off and another $500,000 for the run off.

The influence of big money in elections allowed by the US Supreme Court Decision Citizens United is destroying our democracy.

Political campaign fundraising and big money influence are warping our election process.

Money spent becomes equated with the final vote.

Money drives the message, affects voter turnout and ultimately the outcome.

All too often, good, decent and qualified candidates do not run because they cannot raise the money.

Albuquerque municipal elections need campaign finance reform and enforcement.

On November 28, 2016, I posted at www.PeteDinelli.com my blog article “2017 Mayor’s Race Needs Public Finance Reform.”

I Cannot Support The Re-Election Of Diane Gibson As My City Councilor

I live in Albuquerque City Council District 7 which is basically the “mid heights” around Coronado and Winrock shopping centers and that includes the State Fair grounds.

Albuquerque City Councilor Diane Gibson is the City Councilor for District 7.

I am a native of Albuquerque, as is my wife Betty, and we both have lived and been registered to vote in the district for over 50 years, we have raised a family in the district, and at one time I served as the City Councilor for the District.

Four years ago, I supported and voted for Diane Gibson without any reservation as did my extended family.

I cannot and will not support Diane Gibson for re-election even if she is the only one on the ballot and running unopposed.

To say the least, I am very disappointed in Gibson’s job performance and feel Gibson has not represented District 7 very well and has accomplished very little other than attending city council meetings and holding monthly coffees with constituents and drawing her city council salary.

I hope someone who wants to do a good job for the district runs against Gibson.

Ten (10) good reasons that Gibson should not be re-elected are as follows:

FIRST: Gibson voted repeatedly for and supported Mayor Berry’s ART Bus project and funding. Gibson said to a neighborhood association meeting she “was tired of carrying the Mayor’s water” on the project. Gibson refused to advocate to put ART on the ballot for public approval, saying it was the Mayor’s project. Gibson voted to spend federal grant money that has yet, and may never be, appropriated by congress. The ART Bus project has been a total disaster resulting the destruction of the character of Route 66 and having a negative impact and resulting in a number of businesses going out of business. Gibson did not attend a single public meeting that was sponsored by the administration to listen to constituents complaints on the project.

SECOND: Gibson told her constituents at a neighborhood association meeting to their shock she cannot do anything about the numerous vacant and boarded up homes declared and posted substandard in her district. The properties have become magnets for crime with numerous calls for service to police and the boarded-up homes bring down property values. Each city councilor is given $1 million out of the general fund to designate for use on projects in their districts and the money could be used for tear-downs. The truth is that Gibson could introduce condemnation resolutions to force property owners to do something about their properties but she refuses to act. For 8 years, I was a Deputy City Attorney and Director of the Safe City Strike Force and we routinely initiated condemnation proceeding against substandard properties with city council condemnation resolutions and we torn down condemned properties including residential homes and motels along Central.

THIRD: Gibson declined to advocate meaningful changes to our public finance laws making it easier for candidates to qualify for public finance. Gibson served on a task force that was supposed to come up with major changes to our public finance ordinance. Gibson said “it’s supposed to be hard to qualify” and said it keeps out people “who are not serious candidates”, as if she should be the one deciding who are serious candidates. The only change proposed is increasing the amount of money candidates get and not the process and the lack of changes to the public finance laws favors incumbents such as Gibson.

FOURTH: The Albuquerque City Council plays a crucial oversight role of the Albuquerque Police Department (APD)including controlling its budget. Gibson has done nothing when it comes to Albuquerque Police Department (APD) reforms and has never challenged the APD command staff in any meaningful way demanding compliance with the Department of Justice (DOJ) consent decree reforms. Each time the Federal Monitor has presented his critical reports of APD to the City Council, Gibson has declined to demand accountability from the Mayor and hold the APD command staff responsible for dragging their feet on the reforms. Gibson failed to attend any number of the federal court hearings on the consent decree.

FIFTH: Gibson takes credit as the sponsor of the city ordinance amendments requiring equal pay for woman. The truth is that the equal pay ordinance only applies to city contracts and those who do business with the city. The ordinance is voluntary and gives preferential treatment on city contracts to those who voluntarily comply. The equal pay for woman ordinance should apply to all businesses licensed to do business in Albuquerque and it should be mandatory.

SIXTH: Gibson has never demanded the City Attorney’s office to enforce the existing Albuquerque minimum wage ordinance. Gibson claims to be in favor of increasing the minimum wage, but has never demanded that the Mayor direct the City Attorney to enforce the current city ordinance enacted by voters with a 2 to 1 margin. Currently there is a class action lawsuit where minimum wage workers are being force to defend the city minimum wage ordinance without city hall intervention or help.

SEVENTH: Gibson voted for the final adoption of the ABC-Z comprehensive plan which will have long term impact on our neighborhoods and favors developers. She declined to vote the deferral of enactment of the ordinance to allow more established neighborhoods to give input on the ordinance. The ABC-Z project rewrite is nothing more than making “gentrification” an official city policy and the “gutting” of long standing sector development plans by the development community to repeal those sector development plans designed to protect neighborhoods and their character for the sake of development.

EIGHTH: Gibson voted for $13 million dollars in revenue bonds to pay for the ART Bus project that was not voted upon by the public. The $13 million allocation should have been part of the capital improvements (CIP) program.

NINTH: Gibson voted for over $63 million dollars over the past two years in revenue bonds to build pickle ball courts, baseball fields and the ART bus project down Central not seeking public input and bypassing the capital improvements process (CIP) that mandates public votes. The use of revenue bonds is discretionary with the City Council requiring seven (7) votes and revenue bonds do not require significant review and public hearings as is required with capital improvement bonds.

TENTH: Gibson voted to award Taser International, a five-year, $4.4 million contract for 2,000 on-body cameras for police officers, and cloud storage despite the fact the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office is investigating the $2 million no-bid contract the city entered into with Taser in 2013 because former Police Chief Ray Schultz began consulting work for Taser while he was still on the city’s payroll. This is one contract that should not have been approved as long as there is an ongoing investigation.

Dianne Gibson is part of the problem with city hall for any number of reasons, a few which I have listed.

The qualifying period to collect signatures to get on the ballot and the public finance donations to run for City Council has now begun.

I hope someone runs against City Councilor Diane Gibson who I can support.

Why We Have Judges to Make Decisions

The New Mexico Supreme Court has ruled that live witness testimony is not always needed for “no-bond holds”.

(See April 13, 2017 Albuquerque Journal, page A-1, “NM high court: Witnesses not always needed for no-bond hold; DA Torrez calls opinion good step; defense lawyers calls it frightening”.)

The “no bond” rule states “bail may be denied by a court of record pending trial for a defendant charged with a felony if the prosecuting authority requests a hearing and proves by clear and convincing evidence that no release conditions will reasonably protect the safety of any other person or the community.”

Bernalillo County District Attorney Raul Torrez argued that District Judges are demanding too much evidence before holding alleged dangerous and violent defendants in jail without bond prior to trial so Torrez filed a petition with the New Mexico Supreme Court for further clarification and guidance from the court.

The final New Mexico Supreme Court ruling is a common sense ruling and will go a long way to preserve the constitutional rights of “due process of law”.

The New Mexico Supreme Court did NOT find and did NOT rule that Judge Stan Whitaker abused his discretion as a judge which is what District Attorney Raul Torres was alleging when Judge Whitaker denied a “no bond hold” for the DA’s failure to present testimony and more evidence in a “no bond” hearing.

The Supreme Court did NOT order the cases be remanded back to Judge Whitaker as the DA requested.

What the Supreme held is that in certain cases judges may need and may ask for more testimony or evidence to hold a defendant without bond, which is exactly what Judge Whitaker was asking for from the Bernalillo County District Attorney in the first place.

What Justice Daniels did say is “These are decisions [to order no bond holds] made in individual cases involving individual human beings and varying circumstances. … To say that a judge must always have eyewitnesses is inconsistent with the very thought of case-by-case adjudication.”

What will happen now is that the Supreme Court will issue a written opinion and give guidelines that will likely list any number of evidentiary items that can be relied on by a District Court to issue a “no bond” hold.

Such evidentiary items could include live witness testimony or sworn written affidavits from investigating officers, victims, probation officers, witnesses to a crime, documentary evidence such as medical records showing injuries, office of medical investigator (OMI) reports, police reports, police videos, photographs, recorded statements, affidavits relating to the defendants, written statements, depositions, criminals complaints, criminal records, psychological profiles just to mention a few.

The importance of the ruling is that the District Judges are being given wide range of discretion to decide what is clear and convincing evidence that shows no release conditions exist that will reasonably protect the safety of any other person or the community.

In Justice Daniel’s words “You can’t reduce these things [“no bond” holds] to a computer program. … That’s why we have judges who make decisions.”

City Needs To Enforce Minimum Wage Ordinance

Former restaurant owners who are defendants in a class action lawsuit filed by former employees suing to enforce Albuquerque’s “minimum wage” ordinance are alleging the minimum wage law enacted in 2012 by voters “was presented to voters in an unlawful, misleading and deceptive manner and is therefore void and unenforceable as a matter of law”.

(See April 12, 2017 Albuquerque Journal, Business Section B, “ABQ minimum wage law faces new challenge; Former business owners in class-action suite ask judge to strike down law.)

The defendant business owners want a District Court Judge to strike down Albuquerque’s minimum wage ordinance.

The argument can be characterized as fear and loathing of voters and workers.

The City of Albuquerque and the City Attorney’s Office should intervene in the class action lawsuit to defend the ordinance and to enforce the ordinance.

In 2012, by a two-to-one ratio, voters in the City of Albuquerque decided to raise the City’s minimum wage from $7.50 per hour to $8.50 per hour.

The ordinance also requires a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to the minimum wage and Albuquerque’s current minimum wage is $8.75 per hour.

Employers who provide healthcare or childcare benefits equal to or in excess of an annualized cost of $2,500.00, the minimum hourly rate payable to those employees is $1.00 less than the then-current minimum wage.

In 2012, Republican Mayor Berry, the Republican Albuquerque City Councilors and the business community opposed and campaigned against the minimum wage voter initiative.

Opponents argued increasing the minimum wage would destroy small businesses, especially the restaurant and service industries in Albuquerque.

None of the “doom and gloom” predicted happened and for over five (5) years the minimum wage ordinance has been in effect.

After enactment of the City’s minimum wage ordinance, Mayor Berry did not object to his appointed City Attorney saying the City did not have the resources to enforce the law against all businesses who violated the minimum wage law.

The current attitude of City Hall is that workers need to go to court on their own at their own expense to enforce the ordinance and that is why the class action lawsuit was filed by waitresses and waiters.

The existing minimum wage ordinance is a city ordinance that needs to be enforced by the city and the city attorney’s office and not leave workers hanging out to dry and to fend for themselves and their own expense.

I doubt that there a very many people who survive on the minimum wage can afford to hire attorneys to help them with their claims.

Every single business in Albuquerque is required to register and have a license to do business and must agree to adhere to all enacted city ordinances and laws.

Businesses cannot pick and choose what laws and city ordinances they want to follow.

The City Attorney’s office and Planning Department have the authority to enforce existing ordinances.

All businesses licensed to do business can be ordered by the city to follow the minimum wage law.

The City can take court action to have business licenses revoked and secure court orders to shut down the businesses for violating the law.

The City Attorney’s Office needs to do the right thing and enforce the existing minimum wage ordinance enacted by voters.

Voters need to ask all candidates for Mayor what their position is on the city’s minimum wage ordinance and if they intend to instruct the City Attorney’s Office to enforce the ordinance.