“Get Tough On Crime” Does Not Solve Problems

www.abqjournal.com/1034744/get-tough-on-crime-doesnt-solve-problems.html

Below is a “Letter to the Editor” or Opinon/Editorial Guest Column that was published on July 19, 2007 on page A 12 of the Albuquerque Journal and written by Albuquerque resident Allen Robnett.

The point made is “lock em up and throw away the key” does not solve the underlying causes of crime which is poverty, drug addiction, lack of education, mental health problems and failed social intervention.

One sentence to keep in mind is “Taxes must not be seen as an obstruction to accumulating wealth but as the patriotic way for devoted citizens to support the costs of building the society that we want”.

In other words, taxes are the dues we pay to live in a civilized society.

We should never be afraid to invest in ourselves with taxation to make our community viable and self-sustaining and to address our problems and the root causes of crime.

As a community, we must address the underlying causes of crime and also be willing to pay for it.

It is a damn shame when people are far more willing to pay and build jails than schools rather than address the root causes of crime.

The same goes for funding our judicial system that protects and preserves our civil rights and freedoms guaranteed under our constitution that include freedom of speech, right to bear arms, freedom of religion, due process of law, the presumption of innocence, and the right to a jury trial.

Following is the guest editorial comment:

‘Get tough on crime’ doesn’t solve problems

By Allen Robnett / Albuquerque Resident
Wednesday, July 19th, 2017 at 12:02am

“Get tough on crime” is a political slogan that may help win elections but is, at best, only an attempt to treat a symptom of a very deep cultural problem. Here are some points to consider:

⋄ What are the root causes? There is no magic bullet that will lead quickly to the necessary cultural change; however, if one believes in cause and effect, then it makes sense to attempt to identify the root causes of the unwanted effects. The things that come to mind are drug addiction, abject poverty, relative poverty and mental health problems. The case can be made that these are all related to a profound dissatisfaction with the conditions of one’s life and a feeling of hopelessness when it comes to the ability to make any meaningful change.

⋄ Escape from meaninglessness. Why in the world would one willingly become addicted to any substance that is clearly going be totally self-destructive? The only answer that makes any sense is escape. If one does not see one’s own life as having value, then escape is seductive. Added to that is the fact that the illegal status of those substances leads to sky-high prices and accompanying incentive for dealers to “push” their wares. It is easy to see a very close parallel between the current prohibition and that of a century ago. In both cases, prohibition opened up big business for organized crime.

⋄ Escape from poverty. The “profit motive” is king of the hill when it comes to providing incentive. But when profit is the only incentive, then everything becomes valued in dollars and cents. It takes money to make money. One cannot share in the returns of the rising stock market if the demands of survival take all available resources, as is the case for those whose weekly pay still leaves them in abject poverty. Karl Marx was not the only economist to observe that unfettered capitalism would lead to the disappearance of the middle class, and with it, the disappearance of the ladder to success. This means a loss of hope, even for those whose sense of poverty is only relative to the wealth that they see all around themselves.

⋄ The only solution lies in education. Thomas Jefferson understood very well that the health of our democracy depends first and foremost on an enlightened and educated citizenry. Now, more than ever, basic education is a requirement for getting and holding a rewarding job. We must somehow arrange to have our best and most talented teachers in the early grades, teachers who, themselves, understand the vast difference between understanding and mere memorization and who can foster the natural instinct of a child to ask “why.” What suffers first when budgets get tight? Education! In the long run, we pay a heavy price for cutting education funding. Raising teachers’ salaries might not make them better teachers, but failing to raise the pay scales will guarantee that the best and brightest will look elsewhere for fulfilling vocations.

⋄ Education depends on healthy minds and bodies. Health insurance for all is not merely a bleeding-heart liberal goal. It is essential for the health of our society that proper nutrition and health care be available, especially from an individual’s start in the womb through their learning years. It costs money, but it is an investment in our society.

⋄ Armed citizenry is not the guarantor of freedom. That guarantor is the citizenry – business people, legislators, military, government leaders, voters – who are devoted to what we cherish as American ideals. Especially (around) the Fourth of July, it is appropriate to observe that patriotism, in addition to waving the flag and sincerely thanking veterans for their service, must also include a deep understanding and devotion to the principles that we accept as representing “Americanism.” Taxes must not be seen as an obstruction to accumulating wealth but as the patriotic way for devoted citizens to support the costs of building the society that we want.

“Show Me The Money!”, Chapter One

Mayoral Candidate Finances: Who Got And Who Gave

The July 14, 2017 Campaign Finance Reports for Mayor of Albuquerque have now been filed with the Albuquerque City Clerk.
(See July 15, 2017 Albuquerque Journal, Metro & NM section, Section C “Colon leads mayoral campaign fundraising; Amount raised in last three months swamps competitors)

(https://www.abqjournal.com/1033252/colon-still-outpacing-opponents-in-fundraising-in-albuquerque-mayoral-race.html)

The amount any candidate raises is always made a big deal by the Albuquerque Journal.

What is always glossed over is what the candidates have spent money on and what candidates have left to spend during the last few weeks of the campaign.

There are only ten (10) weeks remaining until the October 3, 2017 municipal election.

The biggest campaign finance issue is will the candidates for Mayor be able to run a respectable and effective city-wide television and radio campaign including mail drops to educate and inform the public.

Political television ads, especially negative ads, can affect poll numbers and the outcome of the race.

POLL NUMBERS VERSUS VOTER TURNOUT

Political insiders and pundits claim a few polls have Tim Keller with a comfortable lead with his poll numbers in the high twenties or low 30s, while Dan Lewis and Brian Colon are running neck and neck for second place, with all the other candidates having very low single digit poll numbers.

Inside sources are saying the polls show there is high “undecided” number of voters, as much as 40%.

A sizable percentage of undecided voters should be no surprise seeing as that it is summer, people are taking vacations and the average voter is not paying any attention to the race.

The race is still early for any significant amount to be spent by any candidate on media.

Although there have been a few debates, the press and mainstream media have been dormant on covering the race.

At this point the polls are more a reflection of name recognition than public support which would explain why Democrat State Auditor Tim Keller, Republican Albuquerque City Councilor Dan Lewis and former Democratic Party Chair Brian Colon are the top three tier candidates with their name identification and with Bernalillo County Commissioner Wayne Johnson probably coming in fourth at this point in the race.

From a historical standpoint, municipal elections are very low voter turnout.

The reliable municipal voters tend to be 50 years and older and conservative.

Four years ago, only 19% of eligible voters voted in the lowest voter turnout since 1977.

BRIAN COLON CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS AND EXPENDITURES

From review of the finance report of contributions and expenditures, Brian Colon appears to be the only candidate thus far that has a large bank roll for television and media.

Brian Colon has raised more than $600,000 to date for his run for Mayor.

Over the last three months, Colon has only spent $54,000 on his campaign.

According to the financial reports, during the last reporting period, Colon raised $263,000.

Brian Colon has $517,000 available to continue his campaign.

Following are monetary contributors listed in the July 14, 2017 Campaign Finance Report for Brian Colon for Mayor:

1. Monetary donors listed who have contributed $5,000 or more during the most recent collection period include: Diane Perez, Fed Perez, Allegiance Realty Corporation, Alex Martin Chavez, Gab Alarid, Bryon Perez, Brent DuPont, Attorney Luis Robles, Cordova Contracting, Ivan Santistevan, Jared Cobb, Hammer Enterprises, Chavez law Offices, Larry I. Garcia, Pearlene Garcia, Pamela Wynn, Paul Wynn, Brian Hutson, Kayla Herig, Kevin Herig ($4,750), Christina Anaya ($4,650), Eilee DePonte and United Contractors.

2. Monetary donors listed who have contributed between $2,500 to $3,500 during the most recent collection period include: Alegando Blake, James Gonzales, Lauren Keefe, Gabe Alarid, Byron Paez, John Eave, Maria Cornay, Michael Granjean, Jill Montoya, Michael Montoya, Diana Cervantez, William Cervantes, John Eaves and Aleli Colon.

There are numerous donations of anywhere between $100 to $2,000 or more to the Brian Colon campaign during the last reporting period.

As a privately finance candidate, Brian Colon can continue to raise as much money he can up and until election day.

TIM KELLER CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS AND EXPENDITURES

Tim Keller is the only “publicly finance” candidate for Mayor.

Upon being qualified for public financing, Mr. Keller agreed in writing to spending caps and he is strictly prohibited from soliciting and using donations from any other source to run his campaign for Mayor.

According to the July 14, 2017 Tim Keller Campaign Finance Report, on April 3, 2017 the Keller campaign was given $342,952 by the City of Albuquerque in public finance paid by the Albuquerque City Clerk.

The July 14, 2017 Keller Campaign Finance Report lists Total Expenditures to date of $130, 863.63 of which the following amounts were paid to “Rio Strategies” for consulting and staff salaries and campaign management:

April 17, 2017, “CONSULTING” $42,110.31
April 17, 2017, “STAFF SALARY FOR JAN-MARCH $10,471.72
May 10, 2017, “STAFF SALARIES AND CAMPAIGN MANAGEMENT” $20,784,24
June 6, 2017, “STAFF SALARIES AND CAMPAIGN MANAGEMENT” $14,410,14
July 11, 2107 “STAFF SALARIES AND CAMPAIGN MANAGEMENT” $14,201.60
TOTAL $101,978.01

The July 14, 2017 Keller Campaign Finance Report reflects that on July 11, 2017, the Keller Campaign paid $15,000 to “GBA STRATEGIES”, with an Albuquerque address, for “RESEARCH”.

According to their web page, “GBA Strategies” is a consulting firm that does research and “offers broad expertise in survey research and strategic consulting in corporate communications, branding strategy, international relations, and political campaigns at all levels of government. From Democratic candidates for office to socially conscious small businesses and Fortune 500 companies, labor unions and progressive ballot initiative campaigns to world famous cultural institutions, think tanks to advocacy groups and civic organizations, we delve deeply into our clients’ issues and audiences, conduct high-quality research, and develop winning game plans.”

According to their web page, “GBA Strategies” is a consulting firm that does research and polling and has offices in Washington, DC, Wilmington, DE, Chicago, Illinois and Albuquerque, New Mexico.

There is no specific disclosure in the finance reports what kind of “research” GBA Strategies is doing or has done for the Tim Keller campaign for Mayor.

From review of the finance reports, it appears the Tim Keller campaign for Mayor is in severe jeopardy of being underfunded to finance a realistic and viable media campaign on its own.

The Keller campaign has spent $116,978 of the $342,952 in public financing on campaign staff, consultants and political research, leaving $225,974 available to the campaign until the October 3, 2017 election for a television and radio media buy.

According to the Albuquerque City Charter for the first election, qualifying public financed candidates for Mayor are given $1.00 per registered voter in the city and if the Mayoral candidate makes it into the runoff, they are given an additional 33 cents per registered voter or approximately $118,000 for the run off.

In the event Mr. Keller in fact gets in a runoff, his campaign will be given approximately $118,000 more in public finance funds.

THE KELLER MEASURED FINANCE COMMITEE CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS AND EXPENDITURES

According to the City Clerk’ Office, Tim Keller thus far is the only candidate for Mayor who has a measured finance committee called “ABQ FORWARD TOGETHER” formed on his behalf to support his run for Mayor.

Neri Olguin is identified on the City Clerk’s web site as the chairperson for “ABQ FORWARD TOGETHER” whose purpose is “to support Tim Keller’s bid for Mayor”.

Neri Olguin is with “Olguin Campaigns and Communications” and its web site lists as former clients the “2008 Tim Keller for State Senate (Primary)” and “Tim Keller for State Senate District 17 (General, 2012)”.

The July 14, 2017 contributions and finance report file with the City Clerk reflects that it received $21,600 in contributions, spent a little more than $19, 000 and it has under $2,600 left in the account.

Monetary donors to “ABQ FORWARD TOGETHER” include: New York City business owner Paul Rudd, $8,000, Santa Fe resident Alan Webber, $250, Santa Fe business owner Bill Miller, Miller Strategic Consulting, $500, Santa Fe resident and business owner Beth Beloff, $500, Santa Fe real estate professional Steve Flance, $250, Santa Fe health care professional David Joseph, $250, Santa Fe business owner( Best Daze Inc) Len Goodman, $500, Albuquerque business owner (Consultant) Sandy Buffet, $2,500, “RG Strategies” (Rich Guay Consulting) , $1,000, Albuquerque business owner (Los Poblanos Historic Inn) Penny Rembe, $1,000, State Senator Bill Tallman, $400, State Senator and attorney Jacob Candelaria, $500, Albuquerque finance investor David Blanc, $500, retired Albuquerque resident Marla Painter, $2,000, Albuquerque City Councilor Ike Benton, $200, Albuquerque resident David Vogel, $1,000, Albuquerque Attorney John Boyd, $200.

The July 14, 2017 Campaign Finance Report for “ABQ FORWARD TOGETHER” reflects that on July 10, 2017, ABQ Forward Together paid $15,000 to “GBA STRATEGIES”, Washington, DC address, for “RESEARCH FEES”.

There is no specific disclosure in the finance report filed with the city clerk what kind of “research” GBA Strategies is doing or has done for ABQ Forward Together.

The finance reports file with the Albuquerque City Clerk reflect that on July 10, 2017, ABQ Forward Together paid $15,000 to “GBA STRATEGIES” for “RESEARCH FEES” and then on July 11, 2017, the Keller Campaign paid $15,000 to “GBA STRATEGIES” for “RESEARCH”, for a total of $30,000 paid.

Neither the Keller campaign finance report nor the ABQ FORWARD TOGETHER campaign finance report disclose what specific work or services were done on behalf of each of the committees.

The campaign finance reports do not report if the separate $15,000 amounts paid were charges for the exact same work and services to be shared by both campaigns.

The July 14, 2017 “ABQ Forward Together” finance report also reflects that on July 13, 2017, $2,500 was paid to “Holguin Consulting, Inc.”, Albuquerque address, for “CONSULTING FEES”.

The fact that ABQ FORWARD TOGETHER is a measure finance committee, registered with the City Clerk’s office, means it is not bound by the individual contribution limits and business bans like the individual candidates.

ABQ FORWARD TOGETHER will be able to continue to raise money up and through to the election day and beyond for a runoff election if Tim Keller gets into the runoff.

If ABQ FORWARD TOGETHER receives aggregate contributions more than 30 percent of the Mayor’s salary from one individual or entity, it must incorporate the donor’s name into the name of the committee.

For 2016 measure finance committees, the threshold number was $31,156.32 and will be likely be the same in 2017 because the Mayor’s salary has not changed.

If a billionaire donor such as George Sorus, the Koch Brothers or organized labor make a financial contribution of more than 30 percent of the Mayor’s salary to ABQ FORWARD TOGETHER, their names must appear in the name of the measured finance committee.

DAN LEWIS CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS AND EXPENDITURES

According to the July 14, 2017 campaign finance reports, Republican City Councilor Dan Lewis came in second raising money and raised $160,050.50 during the reporting period.

According to the July 14, 2017 finance report filed, Republican Dan Lewis has spent $117,841.82 and has $192,588.87 left in his campaign coffers.

Following are monetary contributors listed in the July 14, 2017 Campaign Finance Report for Dan Lewis for Mayor:

1. Monetary donors listed in the July 14, 2017 campaign finance report who have contributed $5,000 or more include: Mary Merrill, Michael Merrill, Sunwest Trust Inc, Jude Baca, Paul Wynn, 4 NM PAC, Albuquerque New Car and Truck Dealers.

2. Monetary donors listed in the July 14, 2017 campaign finance report who have contributed between $2,000 and $4,000 include: Larry Chavez, NTEGRATED Construction Services, Rebeca Gonzales, Manuel Archuleta, Frontier Restaurant owner Dorothy Rainosek, Justin Baird, Steven Maestas, Phillip Oppedahl, New Mexico Restaurant Investors, Reform Sandoval County, Wayne Mitchell, Platinum Builders Corp., Marco Gonzales, Deborah Maestas, Michael Castro, James Gutherie, Conservative Alliance Committee, and Premier Consultants, LLC.

3. Monetary donors listed in the July 14, 2017 campaign finance report who have contributed $1,000 include: Dee Dennis, Jr., Avalon Building, LLC, Precision Surveys, Inc., Joe & Sons inc, Mark Wiggins, Cliff’s Amusement Park, Republican Pete V. Domenici, Jr., Post Tension Reinforcing Services, Alb. Chief Administrative Officer Robert Perry, former Republican David King, nephew of Gov. Bruce King ($1,250), Associated Contractors of New Mexico, Albuquerque Center for Plastic Surgery, White Rock Crushing ($1,500), Michael Thompson, Brad Day, Gary Hays, J.D. Holdings, LLC, Robert Wood, James Paul Lewis, John Mancini, Butch Mathews, Riveside West, LLC, Paul Szymanski, and the Mudd Brothers.

According to the Albuquerque Journal report, Dan Lewis claims he is on target for fundraising and he is setting goals and meeting them.

As it stands now, Dan Lewis will have very little cash on hand to run a viable, traditional media political campaign on TV and radio.

$192,600 available to Dan Lewis for a television and media buy is not very much.

However, Dan Lewis appears to be running a “social media” campaign for Mayor and may not feel much will be needed for television and radio buys.

Making traditional short 30 second television commercials and making a large television and media buys appears not to be the strategy adopted by Republican Dan Lewis.

Republican Dan Lewis has produced and released 2 minutes or more commercials on FACEBOOK that are impressive, slick and well produced.

The Lewis ads released on FACEBOOK have been logged as having been viewed by tens of thousands with numerous comments.

At the end of one of the advertisements, the “Stoneridge Group” is identified as producing the commercial.

According to Wikipedia, the Stoneridge Group is “a political campaign marketing firm based in Alpharetta, Georgia, with offices in Louisville Kentucky. The Stoneridge Group provides the following services to pro-life, Republican campaigns, associations, and non-profits: voter contact mail, website design and complete online campaigns, print and collateral items, and strategic consulting.”

The July 14, 2017 finance reports reflect the Dan Lewis for Mayor campaign paid the following amounts to Stoneridge Group:

April 24,2017 $8,500 for “Digital, Video Photography”
May 3, 2017, $2,810 for “Digital Media”
May 4, 2017 $13,313 for “Printed Materials, Web Design, Digital Consulting”
May 5, 2017 $11,500 for “Printed Materials, Web Design, Digital Design”
May 5, 2017, $5,300 for “Printed Materials, Web Design, Digital Design”

There are severe doubts that a “social media” campaign will actually reach an older, conservative reliable voters who are 50 years of age or older who do not use social media such as FACEBOOK.

Republican Dan Lewis is a privately finance campaign so he can continue to raise as much money he can up and until the election day and a traditional media buy is still a possibility, but a large amount raised is not likely.

RICARDO CHAVES CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS AND EXPENDITURES

Republican Ricardo Chaves is a highly successful Albuquerque businessman and the founder of Parking Company of America.

Ricardo Chaves is a “self-financed” candidate for Mayor.

Notwithstanding his self-financing campaign, Ricardo Chaves reported receiving $8,647.48 in contributions in his July 14, 2017 Campaign Finance Report filed with the Albuquerque City Clerk.

Chaves reported that he loaned his campaign another $200,000 resulting in a total of $500,000 he has personally loaned to his campaign for Mayor.

Mr. Chaves reported he has spent $134,666.27 on his campaign and he has $373,981.53 remaining in his campaign account.

The July 14, 2017 finance report reflects the following expenditures were made to SC Consulting (Steve Cabiedes):

April 10, 2017, CONSULTING FEE, $500.00
April 19, 2017, CONSULTING FEE, $6,975.31
April 26, 2017, CONSULTING FEE, $273.00
April 26, 2017, CONNULTING FEE, $15,331.54
April 28, 2017, CONSULTING FEE, $3,027.48
TOTAL $26,107,33

SC Consulting is the consulting firm believed to be responsible for the successful signature gathering of over 3,000 signatures of registered voters gathered within two (2) weeks to get Ricardo Chaves on the ballot.

The July 14, 2017 finance report reflects that the Ricardo Chaves for Mayor paid the following sums to Robert E. Cornelius for “CAMPAIGN CONSULTING AND MANAGEMENT” services:

May 17, 2017, $25,000
June 21, 2017, $75,000
TOTAL $100,000

Republican Ricardo Chavez for Mayor is a privately finance campaign so he can continue to raise as much money as he can up and until the election day so a traditional media buy is still a possibility.

The fact that Mr. Chavez has personally loaned his campaign $500,000 and that he has spent $126,107.33 in consulting fees indicates he is a serious candidate and is prepared to spend whatever he feels is necessary for media to win the election.

WAYNE JOHNSON CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS AND EXPENDITURES

Republican County Commissioner Wayne Johnson came in fourth in fund raising activity for the reporting period among the privately finance candidates.

According to the July 14, 2017 finance report filed with the City Clerk, Wayne Johnson raised $121,944 during the last period and he now has $187,000 cash on hand with $88,511,24 having been reported raised during the first reporting period.

Following are monetary contributors listed in the July 14, 2017 Campaign Finance Report for Wayne Johnson for Mayor:

1. Donors who have contributed $5,000 or more during the most recent collection period include: Keith Cheshire, Sedillo 500, Mosher Enterprises, 3313 Girard LLC, Vista Encantada Realtors, Mount Corporation.

2. Donors who have contributed $2,000 to $3,000 during the most recent collection period include: Ted Martinez, Steve Maestas, Wilson Law Firm, Admiral Beverage Company, Don Kaufman, Former Republican US Senator Harrison Schmitt, Kevin Yearout, Russ Rhodes ($3,193) and LPG Enterprises, Don Bruckner ($3,193).

3. Donors who have contributed $1,000 during the most recent collection period include: Nancy Johnson, Scott Throckmorton, Republican State Senator Lisa Torraco, NM Dental PAC, former Republican Attorney General Hal Stratton, former Republican Candidate for Governor Doug Turner, Mike Frese, Owner of Hinkle Family Fun Center Gene Hinkle, Martin Haagmans, Steve Maestas and GCC Rio Grande, Titan Property Management, LLC, John Rockwell, Mike Mechenbeir and Paul Szymanski.

As a privately finance candidate, Wayne Johnson can continue to raise as much money he can up and until the election day.

The amount raised by Johnson to date raises real questions as to how much more he can raise and if he will be able to get his message out with a viable media buy.

MICHELLE GARCIA HOLMES CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS AND EXPENDITURES

Michelle Garcia Holmes is a former Chief of Staff for the State of New Mexico Attorney General’s Office and former Albuquerque Police Department Detective.

The July 14, 2017 financial report reflects Michelle Garcia Holmes reported contributions of $22,131 with expenditures of $73.28 and a closing balance of $27, 590.11.

Michelle Garcia Holmes and her husband Earl Holmes each contributed $5,000 for a total of $10,000 to her campaign for Mayor.

Independent Michelle Garcia Holmes is a privately finance campaign so she can continue to raise as much money she can up and until the election day so a traditional media buy is still a possibility, but a large amount raised is not likely.

SUSAN WHEELER-DEICHEL CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS AND EXPENDITURES

Susan Wheeler-Deichel is the founder of Urban ABQ, a civic group who concentrates on urban planning and she promotes the “walkable city” philosophy on urban development.

The Susan Wheeler-Deichel campaign reported monetary contributions of $6,275, in-kind contributions of $420 and expenditures of $5,955.23.

Of the $6,275 in monetary contributions to the Susan Wheeler-Deichel campaign, $6,175 was a personal loan to her campaign.

Susan Wheeler-Deichel is a privately finance campaign so she can continue to raise as much money she can up and until the election day so a traditional media buy is still a possibility, but a large amount raised is not likely.

GUS PEDROTTY CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS AND EXPENDITURES

Gus Pedrotty is a recent University of New Mexico graduate having earned two degrees.

Mr. Pedrotty reported beginning monetary contributions of $1,506, monetary contributions for the reporting period of $2,955, in-kind contributions of $81.95 and total expenditures for the period of $2,474 with a closing balance of $1,986.64.

Gus Pedrotty is a privately finance campaign so he can continue to raise as much money he can up and until the election day so a traditional media buy is still a possibility, but a large amount raised is not at all likely given the meager amount he has raised thus far.

CONCLUSION

As the saying goes “a week in politics is an eternity”.

There is plenty of time for events to develop and missteps to influence the race for Mayor.

However, there is precious little time to raise serious money for an effective media campaign.

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 can become 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, but we will never get it in the age of Citizen’s United.

A Plan To Reform And Restructure APD: Appoint Police Commissioner and Abolish APD Internal Affairs

Craziness: Mayoral Candidate Fears Crime-Fighting Plan Will Be Stolen

The Alb Free Press reported what the eight (8) candidates for Mayor say they will do to bring down our crime rates as well as their plans for the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) if elected.

(See also the following Alb Free Press articles: July 7, 2017 “Citizen Offers Mayoral Candidates Crime Fighting Plan; Begs Them To Steal it”, July 10, 2017 article “Candidates to Release Crime plans”, July 11, 2017 article “Colon Crime Plan: New Police Chief and 1,200 Officers”.)

Frankly, what all the candidates have said what they intend to do with APD is very weak at best.

Many of the candidates for Mayor have shown a lack of understanding and ignorance of the fact that the Federal Court has complete authority and total jurisdiction over the Albuquerque Police Department and the implementation of the Department of Justice (DOJ) consent decree mandated reforms.

Not a single candidate for Mayor has ever attended any presentation made by the Federal Monitor to the Federal Court on the Court Approved Settlement Agreement, and whatever changes that are desired with the reforms by the candidates must be approved by federal court order.

Many of the candidates say they will terminate APD Chief Gordon Eden and hire more police officers.

A few of the candidates say the City needs 1,200 sworn police not saying how they will pay for the staffing increase and presuming more sworn police will reduce crime.

All eight (8) candidates for Mayor show a surprising ignorance of the Albuquerque Police Department, how it operates and the extent of the law enforcement and crime crisis we are facing.

The cold statistics reveal the extent of the crime crisis.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reported that in 2015 violent crime and property crime in Albuquerque increased in by 9.2% and 11.5%, respectively, murders in Albuquerque spiked by 53% and the metro area ranked number one in car thefts per capita in the country.

According to the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office, from 2009 to 2015, Albuquerque’s violent crime rate jumped 21.5% and the city is fifth-most violent city in the country on a per capita basis while the nation’s violent crime rated dropped by 13.7%.

All eight of the candidate’s proposals border on political negligence with their failure to provide any real specifics or solutions as if saying, “I have a plan, trust me, I know what I am going to do”.

What will reduce our crime rates will be a return to community based policing, a massive rebuilding, restructuring and reform of APD and resolving APD’s “culture of aggression” found by the Department of Justice.

WHERE APD WAS AND WHERE IT NEEDS TO GO

Seven years ago, Albuquerque had a police department that was fully committed to community based policing and APD employed 1,100 sworn police officers, the most sworn police officers in its history.

Seven years ago, APD was the best trained, best equipped and the best funded department in its history and crime rates were going down.

Today, APD cannot recruit and hire enough sworn officers to keep the department at the 1,000 level already funded let alone the 1,200 suggested by a few of the candidates for Mayor, even though APD is one of the best paid departments in the country.

The average and normal yearly salary paid APD Police Officers First Class after one year on the job is $56,000 a year.

The number of APD sworn officers has fallen from 1,100 officers to 836 over the past seven years in large part because of extensive retirements, extreme low morale resulting in experienced officers deciding to retire sooner rather than later, changes in the Public Employee Retirement Association benefits, failed APD management, heavy workloads and intense scrutiny by the Department of Justice resulting in the DOJ consent decree.

Although APD has 836 sworn police officers, only 436 are assigned to the field services, less those on annual leave or sick leave, spread out over three shifts, and taking 69,000 911 priority one calls a year not to mention priority 2 and 3 calls for service.

Recruiting a younger, new generation of sworn police officers and growing the size of the police department has become very difficult and unachievable for any number of reasons.

The APD Police Academy is unable to keep up with retirement losses and for many years graduating classes have averaged 35 to 40 a class, well below the number to keep up with yearly retirements.

The overwhelming number of police academy applicants fail to get into the academy for any number of reasons including failing to meet minimum education and entry qualifications, unable to pass criminal background checks, unable to make it through psychological background analysis or they fail polygraph tests or perhaps even lie on their applications.

Once in the police academy, many cadets are unable to meet minimum physical requirements or unable to handle the training and academic requirements to graduate from the academy.

The “pool” of recruits must be increased by increasing entry level salaries, offering more incentives to join APD and reevaluate whether entry level pay is commensurate with entry level requirements and minimum qualifications.

The City needs 1,200 sworn police officers to effectively return to community based policing that will reduce crime, but to accomplish that will take time, major changes in management and a major financial investment.

Every effort should be made to avoid the hiring of lateral hires with concentration made on hiring a new generation of police officer fully trained in constitutional policing policies and procedures.

THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE COURT APPROVED SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT

From 2010 to 2016 the City has paid out $63.3 million to settle law enforcement civil rights violation cases, deadly force cases and excessive use of force cases.

Since 2010, APD officers have shot over 41 people in police misconduct cases and excessive use of force cases.

In April, 2014, the United States Department of Justice found a culture of aggression within APD that resulted in a Federal Court Approved Settlement Agreement and the appointment of Federal Monitor to oversee and audit the implementation of close to 300 agreed to mandated reforms.

The Federal Monitor has made five damaging reports and findings that APD is not committed to the mandated reforms justifying the appointment of a Special Master to take over APD, which is not likely, or the removal and replacement of the entire command staff of APD.

In the July 1, 2016 third progress report, the monitor found “Across the board … the components in APD’s system for overseeing and holding officers accountable for the use of force, for the most part, has failed … the serious deficiencies revealed point to a deeply-rooted systemic problem. … The deficiencies, in part, indicate a culture [of] low accountability is at work within APD, particularly in chain-of-command reviews.”

In the November 1, 2016 fourth progress report, the monitor found that when “excessive use of force” incidents are investigated by the APD Critical Incident Team, it “[deploys] carefully worded excuses, apparently designed not to find fault with officer actions” and “[uses] language and terminology apparently designed to absolve officers and supervisors of their responsibility to follow certain CASA related provisions”.

The May 1, 2017 fifth report is the most damning and critical report to date when the monitor found that APD “subverted” the reform process by issuing “covert special orders,” denying the existence of the orders, and APD exhibiting a “near total failure” to accept civilian oversight.

More must be done to aggressively implement the DOJ reforms, solve the staffing shortages and address APD’s leadership crisis.

Dramatic, sweeping changes with a new approach to APD management is in order.

A PROPOSED SOLUTION

Upon being sworn in, the new Mayor needs to seek a hearing with the Federal Court, the Federal Court Appointed Monitor, the United States Department of Justice, the United States Attorney and City Attorney and the Chief of Police to outline all changes to be made to APD and seek a court order approving modifications to the consent decree if needed and seek restructuring of APD in order to continue with the implementation of the DOJ mandated reforms.

The entire APD chain of command must be removed and replaced with a new generation of leadership and not from within the ranks of APD.

The command staff who created, contributed or who did not stop the “culture of aggression” need to be replaced.

A national search must be conducted to identify and hire a new management team to take over APD, including a new Chief of Police, new Deputy Chiefs and a new chain of command to assume control of APD.

The City Council by ordinance needs to create a Department of Public Safety, which would overtime include both the Police and Fire Departments, both Police and Fire Academies, and 911 emergency dispatch center, the emergency operations center with the appointment of a Public Safety Commissioner.

Until the creation of the Public Safety Department, a Police Commissioner needs to be appointed immediately to assume civilian control of APD.

The Police Commissioner would be appointed by the Mayor with advice and consent of the City Council.

The Chief of Police would be appointed by the Police Commissioner but serve at the pleasure of the Mayor with advice and consent of the City Council.

The Police Commissioner would assume direct civilian oversight, management and control of APD and could only be removed for cause and would not serve at the pleasure of the Mayor.

A Police Commissioner and Chief with extensive and proven leadership in managing a municipal police department must be hired, not political operatives.

The civilian Police Commissioner would assume primary responsibility for implementation of all the DOJ-mandated reforms.

Implementation of the DOJ consent decree reforms would include continued formulation, writing and implementation of standard operating procedure and changes agreed to under the consent decree, expansion of crisis intervention mandates and certified training of APD department personnel in constitutional policing practices.

The Police Commissioner, with support assistance from the Chief, would assume the responsibility for interacting and reporting to the Police Oversight Board and the Community Police Councils.

The Police Commissioner would completely overhaul and restructure APD, appoint new chiefs, commanders, lieutenants, academy director and a 911 manager and each would report directly to the Chief of Police, with the Police Commissioner in the Chain of Command as the Commissioner determines to be necessary and appropriate to carry out their duties.

The positions of APD Majors would be abolished and the chain of command would be streamlined where necessary.

Every single APD felony unit would be increased in personnel by anywhere between 40% and 60%, including the following APD units: Armed Robbery, Auto Theft, Burglary, Homicide, Gang Unit, Narcotics, Property Crimes and Sex Crimes Units and the Criminal Nuisance Abatement Unit.

The number of sworn police officers patrolling the streets is currently 436 and would be increased to at least 650 out of a fully staff department of 1,200.

The civilian Police Commissioner would be responsible for preparing budgets, personnel management and enforcement of personnel policies and procedures and imposing personnel disciplinary action.

The Chief of Police would be responsible for day-to-day operations of APD, public safety initiatives, tactical plans and management of sworn staff and report directly to the civilian Police Commissioner.

The Public Safety Department would consist of four civilian staffed divisions and managed by the Police Commissioner:

1. Personnel and training, for recruiting, hiring, internal affairs investigations and police academy;
2. Budget and finance;
3. Information technology support and crime lab; and
4. 911 emergency operations center with a civilian manager.

“Deadly use of force” cases would continue to be investigated by the Critical Incident Review Team and the final reports with finding and recommendations submitted to the Police Commissioner.

APD has consistently shown over many years it cannot police itself which contributed to the “culture of aggression” found by the Department of Justice.

The APD Internal Affairs Unit needs to be abolished and its functions absorbed by the Office Independent Council.

The investigation of police misconduct cases including excessive use of force cases not resulting in death or nor serious bodily harm would be done by “civilian” personnel investigators.

The function and responsibility for investigating police misconduct cases and violations of personnel policy and procedures by police would be assumed by the Office of Independent Council in conjunction with the City Human Resources Department and the Office of Internal Audit where necessary.

The Office of Independent Council would make findings and recommendations to the Police Commissioner for implementation and imposition of disciplinary action.

The city needs to fund and implement a non-negotiated major hourly rate increase for entry level sworn officers, excluding management, to improve recruitment, retention and morale.

Sign on bonuses, tuition debt payoff and mortgage down payment bonuses need to be offered to new recruits.

Yearly experienced officer retention bonuses must be made permanent.

APD needs to “triple down” on recruitment and dramatically increase the size and number of police academy classes per year.

If necessary, the City Council needs to enact a public safety tax to pay for APD’s staffing expansion, pay incentive programs, needed training programs, DOJ-mandated reforms, equipment acquisitions and 911 emergency operations, staffing and equipment.

CONCLUSION

Every candidate for Mayor needs to articulate a clear platform on what they will do with APD.

Until aggressive action is taken with APD and the Department of Justice mandated and agreed to reforms, APD will continue to spin out of control, crime rates will continue to rise and Albuquerque will continue to see dramatic spikes in violent crime.

Raul Torrez: “High Ho Silver and Away!”

https://www.abqjournal.com/1025697/judges-court-deadlines-arent-to-blame-for-rise-in-crime.html

I was delighted to see that the District Court strongly disputes Bernalillo County District Attorney Raul Torrez’s assertion that the Court and its Case Management Order (CMO) are to blame for Albuquerque’s rising crime rates and a backlog of thousands of cases.

(June 30, 2017 Albuquerque Journal, page A-1 “Judges: Courts not to blame for rise in crime; District judges ‘strongly dispute’ DA’ criticism.)

The District Court has now called Torrez’s bluff and announced that the court will allow additional blocks of time for preliminary hearings.

The District Court has told Torrez that beginning in July, preliminary hearings will be scheduled to deal specifically with cases dismissed by the court “because of the District Attorney office’s failure to comply” with the case management order deadlines.

Presiding District Court Judges Nan Nash and District Judge Charles Brown said in a letter to Torrez “You have told us and the public that you are ready to get these cases refiled and moving … [so] Let’s get moving together to accomplish this goal.”

Torrez’s response was more preliminary hearing won’t solve the problem and the “The solution is to dismiss fewer cases for reasons that would not be granted in other counties in the state”.

Torrez’s response was lame and basically an admission that his office cannot be ready for court on cases his office has filed and so he wants more time to prepare for court and wants to keep defendants in jail longer pending trial, which is what caused the necessity of the case management order in the first place.

The Case Management Order (CMO) was issued by the New Mexico Supreme Court in February 2015 to eliminate the unacceptable backlog of criminal trials and sets deadlines for criminal prosecutions to ensure speedier trials for defendants and to deal with an overcrowded jail system.

The CMO complies with well-established rules of criminal procedure and by all accounts it is working and jail overcrowding is under control.

The CMO was necessitated by the fact that so many defendants were awaiting arraignments or trials and being held in the Bernalillo County Detention Center for months, and at times years, to the point that the jail was becoming severely overcrowded exceeding its capacity of approximately 2,200 inmates.

There should be no surprise with Torrez blaming the District Courts for the rising crime rates.

When Torrez ran for District Attorney he figuratively rode into town on his white horse saying our criminal justice system in Albuquerque is in dire need of change and he was the guy to get it done.

Torres blaming the Case Management Order (CMO) for the increase in crime rates is “political gamesmanship” of the highest order and an obvious effort to avoid being held accountable in the future for his office’s failure in dealing with our soaring crime rates.

Over the last few months since taking office, Torrez has made a big publicity splash and a name for himself on the front pages of the Albuquerque Journal as well as the TV news stations with his criticism of the court’s and our criminal justice system.

In political circles, Torrez is what you call the news media hound or someone always looking for an angle do get into the news and leaking tips to the media.

Going after and complaining about elected judges for their rulings is a red flag of “political pandering”.

The most disturbing part of Raul Torrez’s criticism of the Court’s is that he knows better, he has taken an oath of office to uphold our constitution and he ignores our constitutional rights of due process of law and the presumption of innocence.

Attacking our Judicial system and judge’s rulings is a familiar tactic of President Donald Trump and it is done to “gin up” anger and resentment for the sake of publicity.

All judge’s take an oath of office to preserve, defend and protect our constitution.

Judges are strictly prohibited by the Supreme Court Rules and the Code of Judicial Conduct from commenting on pending cases and voicing opinions that call into question their fairness and impartiality, especially in criminal cases.

Judges are prohibited from defending their decisions and sentencing in a public forum outside of their courtroom so criticizing judges is like “shooting fish” in a barrel.

Raul Torrez acts like he is still running for District Attorney or some other higher office.

It is so easy to ignore our U. S. Constitution when you are pandering and running office and essentially say “catch them and lock them up and throw away the key”.

Torrez has learned in six months in office how to lay the blame on others about our rising crime rate, including the courts, that has gotten so old over the last few years.

Sooner or later, Torrez is going to learn that blaming others with front page stories and television reports are no substitute for making tough decisions to run an office and doing a good job, unless you are afraid and want to avoid being held responsible and are harboring higher political ambitions.