Mayor Keller Should Scrap ART Bus Project And Find Alternatives

A “boondoggle” can be defined as a government project that is considered a waste of both time and money, yet is often continued due to misguided policy or political motivations.

A “money pit” is generally defined as something you foolishly keep spending a lot of money on to fix up or make repairs believing it’s going to get better, but it winds up being a total waste of money, time and effort.

Dilapidated houses and junk cars are a good examples of money pits.

Another example of a money pit are brand new vehicles which are considered lemons subject to repeated manufacture recalls requiring extensive repairs before a warranty runs out.

There comes a time you need to cut your losses with any boondoggle or money pit and stop the money waste, especially when it is taxpayer money that can be put to better use.

Former Mayor Berry’s ART Bus project down Central is both one big boondoggle of a money pit.

The ART Bus project will have a major negative impact and drain on the priorities of newly elected Mayor Tim Keller.

A MISLEADING PHOTO OPS

ART was dedicated with great fanfare before it was fully functional, up and running so as to give former Mayor Richard Berry an ART supporters a photo op before Berry left office.

Mayor Keller’s administration found extensive problems with ART not revealed by the previous administration to the point Mayor Keller pronounced the project as “bit of a lemon”.

When former Mayor Berry announced the purchase of 60-foot electric buses for ART, he said he was very comfortable with electric buses because “It’s a proven technology”.

It has now been revealed that the 60 foot all electric buses ordered and purchased by the city as “proven” technology is far from “proven” and there are many “kinks” to be worked out.

(See January 21, 2018 Albuquerque Journal, page A-1, “ART victim of ‘new bus blues’; Few 60 foot all electric buses are on U.S. roads, and they are still working out the kinks”.)

https://www.abqjournal.com/1122198/art-is-a-victim-of-the-new-bus-blues.html

Richard De Rock, the general manager of the Link Transit Company based in Wenatchee, Washington, a purchaser of electric buses, labeled electric busses as “experimental technology” that is “challenging beyond belief”.

ALBUQUERQUE’S ELECTRIC BUS ORDER

On Oct. 4, 2017, only 9 out the 20 busses ordered by City Transit were delivered.

Chief Operations Officer Lawrence Rael reported that the city detected upward of 24 issues or problems associated with the new buses delivered.

The manufacturer of the new buses claims that the problems with the buses are “minor”.

The manufacture has vowed to fix the problems which they are required to do anyway by law and the purchase contract.

The problems with the electric buses delivered were so extensive, the city ended up renting portable generators to power the buses in order to use them for the “River of Lights” holiday exhibition.

The practice of using the generators was stopped by the City because it could compromise the bus warranty.

A few of the problems found with the buses delivered include:

Some of the buses cannot be charged because the charging system don’t work.

Axles on the new buses delivered were leaking oil, a problem supposedly fixed.

The buses have not gone through the certification process required in order for the city to be reimbursed for the buses by the federal government.

One of the ART buses put through the certification process did not pass the inspection.

A third-party certification officer would not certify the electric battery chargers that have been installed for the reason that the chargers themselves are not operable because what was used were equipment parts manufactured in China that used different standards for how the equipment was built.

Fully charged batteries on the buses are supposed to last for 275 miles but testing the city did indicated that the charge is only good for 200 miles and city transit will need additional buses for ART unless the problem is resolved.

Restraint belts that are used to keep wheelchairs locked in place while they’re in transit are in different locations in almost all the buses delivered.

The battery cages that house the bus batteries were cracking and separating.

PROBLEMS IDENTIFIED WITH NEWLY CONSTRUCTED ART BUS STATION PLATFORMS

Problems with the electric buses are not the only problems with ART.

Numerous problems with the bus stop platforms have been identified.

There are problems with inconsistent height levels on some of the bus stop platforms constructed creating problems for wheelchair accesses ability which is mandated on Federal funded transportation projects such as ART.

The Atrisco bus stop platform is at an angle which creates problems of accessibility for people in wheelchairs.

Major concerns about two of the bus stations have been raised because of the distance between the intersection and the actual platforms.

The Washington and Central platform is so close to the intersection that a bus coming from the east side going west can’t make the approach without taking up the entire intersection, and it will probably have to be demolished and reconstructed.

The mirrors on the ART buses are slamming into the pillars that hold up the fabric awnings at the bus stations constructed in the middle of Central and the stations will have to be altered so the mirrors are protected from damage.

The ART bus station at Central and Washington is too short and in order to get the 60-foot-long articulated buses into the station, bus drivers must make an “S” maneuver, which swerves the buses into regular traffic lanes increasing the risks of traffic accidents.

The station at Atrisco and Central is too long resulting in the ART bus going into the station tilted at a three-to-four-degree angle resulting in the bus floor being a few inches higher than the station platform increasing the risk of injury to passengers boarding and exiting the buses.

There are gaps of at least three inches at some stations between the platform edge and the bus floor resulting in unsafe boarding and unloading conditions for people with disabilities.

CITY COUNCIL WAS ASLEEP AT THE ART BUS WHEEL

The ART Bus project was originally represented as a $129 million project and has gone to $135 million.

At least $7 million in hidden sewer line replacement and relocation costs were incurred and the project has an estimated cost $135 million with overruns.

For three years, the Albuquerque City Council was silent and blindly supported ART because it was the “Mayor’s project”.

No questions were raised about the purchase of electric buses by any City Councilor, even by City Council Dan Lewis who opposed the project and ran for Mayor and lost.

The City Council went so far as to approve spending $69 million of federal grant money the city applied for that has yet to be appropriated by Congress.

The City Council also issued upwards of $15 million dollars in revenue bonds encumbering future gross receipt tax revenues for ARTs construction.

Congressional committees have cut $20 million dollars from the $69 million grant with no guarantee that it will be made up in next year’s budget resulting in Albuquerque having to identify additional funding sources to make up for the shortfall on the project once it happens.

The Keller administration and taxpayers will be stuck with the bill if the Federal grant money is not forthcoming.

In all likelihood, the City Council will have to issue more revenue bonds encumbering future gross receipts tax to pay for the $69 million dollar shortfall if Congress fails to make the appropriation.

It is an embarrassment that Albuquerque City Councilor Pat Davis is now wondering if the city picked the best bus vendor.

Davis claims he is asking questions and is looking at bus purchase invoices and bid documents.

Davis claims he has found out the City is paying millions more for the electric buses than another low bidder.

What is laughable is that the city council is now asking questions after the project is exposed for the boondoggle money pit it is.

SCRAP ART, CUT OUR LOSES

All the problems with ART are so bad, it was announced by the Keller Administration that it will probably not be up and running for at least a year.

City Hall needs to recognize the ART Bus project is never going to be a success in the long run, even if the “kinks” are worked out with the electric buses and the platforms.

Study after study has shown that bus ridership is down in Albuquerque and City transit always operates at a loss.

In 2012, bus ridership in Albuquerque peaked at 13 million boardings and has steadily declined year after year ever since.

In the first two months of 2017, bus ridership was down in Albuquerque by 11 percent from the same period as 2016.

According to the Federal Transit Administration, in January and February of 2017, ABQ Ride had a total of 1.6 million passenger boardings compared to 1.8 million boardings.

A transportation study released by the city revealed the ART bus project has a 19-year shelf life.

Sooner rather than later the bus stop platforms in the middle of Central will have to be removed or lanes widened and traffic lanes will have to be rededicated to accommodate projected increases in traffic along central and increases in population.

ALTERNATIVE SOLUTIONS NEEDED

During the campaign for Mayor, candidate Tim Keller talked about addressing and coming up with solutions for the city’s homeless problem, his desire for after school programs, offering more social services, public safety, returning to community based policing, hiring 300 more police officers and reducing our crime rates.

The Keller agenda is going to take considerable funding and being saddled with the previous administrations legacy project and debt threatens that agenda.

The Keller priorities are all far more important than a cheesy nine-mile electric bus route that has destroyed the character of Route 66.

It is becoming more and more likely Albuquerque will not get the $69 million from the Federal Transportation Administration.

Mayor Keller will have to find the money somewhere to complete ART as originally planned.

It is very doubtful the federal government in the age of Trump will be any help now that there is a Federal Government shutdown.

Further, the city is facing a $6 million-dollar deficit this fiscal year and a projected $40 million-dollar deficit for next fiscal year.

Mayor Keller is going hat in hand seeking major funding from the 2018 New Mexico legislature.

Mayor Keller announced his legislative priorities include funding for public safety, including 200 plus new police vehicles and a $40 million-dollar upgrade of the city emergency operation phone system that was last upgraded decades ago.

Even if funding is secured by Mayor Keller from the legislature, it is likely the vindictive Republican Governor Martinez would line item such appropriations so as to not to help a Democrat Mayor who she has clashed with in the past when he was State Auditor.

KELLER SHOULD NOT FEEL SADDLED WITH ART

The likely millions to fix ART, or the $69 million the city will have to come up with if the federal grant money does not materialize, could go to fund homeless initiatives, early childhood programs and public safety for that matter.

At this point, pouring any more money down the boondoggle money pit known as ART would be a mistake.

City Hall needs to cut our losses as best it can and scrap ART as much as it can.

City Hall needs to rededicate the bus lanes for all traffic and do its best to restore Route 66.

The Keller Administration should explore if the center bus platform stops can modified with a new purpose and alternative be found.

The platforms have utilities installed that could be used for other purposes.

Tearing down the ART Bus stop platforms would have too much of another negative impact on Route 66 businesses.

Examples of new dedicated purposes for the platforms could be elevated landscaping or distinctive lighting fixtures or platforms for large sculptures that would commemorate Route 66.

CONCLUSION

As Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel once said:

“You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.”

Collateral Damage: The Ethics Reputation of City Attorney’s Office

KOB Channel 4 reported upon the hours of secret recordings made by the Albuquerque Police Department command staff and former City Attorney Jessica Hernandez of the court appointed Federal Monitor James Ginger.

http://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/justice-department-albuquerque-police-department-doj-apd-feud-james-ginger-jessica-hernandez-secret-recording-audio/4749717/?cat=500

There were 12 private meeting conversations recorded without the Federal Monitors knowledge nor consent.

One secret recording was made of a meeting that occurred roughly around the two year anniversary of the Department of Justice Consent Decree (DOJ) process being review and audited by the monitor and during a time the City Attorney and Federal Monitor were at odds with each other and publicly disagreeing on the reform process.

Following is the beginning portion of a meeting recorded behind closed doors in the City Attorney’s office:

City Attorney Hernandez: “I’m not planning to take … I’m not going to be writing notes. If you are comfortable not…”

Dr. Ginger: “Unfortunately, if I don’t take notes, I don’t remember. I’m getting to be that age.”

The Federal Monitor objected to the request not to take notes saying he needed to take notes to help his memory.

What is alarming is that the former City Attorney Jessica Hernandez tells the Federal Monitor at the beginning of the meeting that she did not feel anyone should take notes but she fails to disclose to the Federal Monitor she was actually recording the private meeting and their conversation at the time.

Failing to disclose a fact is at the very least misleading and at worse a lie.

The appearance of impropriety by not disclosing to the Federal Monitor that the meeting was being recorded is astonishing.

The way the conversation proceeds makes it clear that what the City Attorney wanted to record are admissions or statements by the Federal Monitor that reflected he was biased and to record anything that would compromise his position that could be used to have him removed by the Federal Judge.

The private meeting continues with City Attorney Hernandez telling Dr. Ginger she has concerns about her personal relationship with Ginger and that the relationship is not working by making the following accusation:

“City Attorney Hernandez: “I know that you have told people that you can’t or you won’t work with me, and that’s not going to work.”

Dr. Ginger: “That’s not true. I don’t know who told you that, but it’s incorrect. I don’t think I’ve ever uttered the phrase in my life “I can’t work with so and so.”

When you listen to the conversation further, the Federal Monitor raises concerns about former APD Chief Gorden Eden and Eden’s management style implying that Chief Eden is more of a manger than he is a leader when it came to APD.

Dr. Ginger says there are chiefs who lead and chiefs who manage and Dr. Ginger goes on to say “What this place needs is leadership.”

City Attorney Hernandez complains that the APD monitoring team is setting goals impossible to reach and asserts that the goals constantly change by saying:

City Attorney Hernandez: “When they receive feedback from you or from the monitoring team, they would like it to be something they can continue to rely on. They would like it to not shift, and they would like it to not be different when the monitor’s report comes out.”

The recorded meeting conversation then turns to the recording made by former APD Assistant Chief Robert Huntsman with his department-issued lapel camera:

“Hernandez: “You expressed your frustration with me, and you told them ‘this department is going to be collateral damage” referring to the Huntsman recording.

According to the body camera video released by City Attorney Hernandez last November in a motion asking for an evidentiary hearing to determine if the Federal Monitor was biased, Dr. Ginger does indeed use the words ‘this department is going to be collateral damage but Ginger denies he said it:

Dr.Ginger: “I’m telling you I didn’t say that. I know I didn’t say it because that’s not who I am. I’m not vindictive. Never have been, don’t plan on being.”

Even though Dr. Ginger used the words “collateral damage”, City Attorney Jessica Hernandez took his use of the term out of context asserting that Ginger was intentionally trying to damage APD which has never been the case.

In the context used by Dr. Ginger, “collateral damage” means damage that would result to an unintended target, APD, because of his disagreement or fued with City Attorney Jesseca Hernandez.

It’s the intent that matters, and Ginger by his actions, words and reports has never intended to do harm to APD but rather report to the Federal Court APD’s failures and successes in the reform process.

CONCLUSION

The secret recordings filed are clear proof of just how ethically challenged Chief Gorden Eden, his command staff and City Attorney Jessica Hernandez really were for the last three (3) years.

Attorneys have an ethical responsibility to report unethical conduct or impropriety they witness in a pending case to the Federal Court and do not have authorization to secretly record Court appointed officials.

The secret recording of a federal court appointed official without their knowledge is an extremely serious breach of ethics by any licensed attorney and should never be tolerated and should be sanctioned.

Both former Chief Administrative Officer Rob Perry and Jessica Hernandez are licensed New Mexico attorneys and they need to disclose to the Federal Court what they knew about all the secret recordings by APD command staff, and in particular explain in full detail why they did not disclose to the Federal Monitor he was being recorded without his consent nor knowledge.

The other parties to the DOJ Consent Decree need to seek sanctions in federal court against the city attorney’s office to prevent this from ever happening again.

An even bigger issue is if anyone of the parties or if the Federal Court will make a referral or file a complaint with the New Mexico Bar for the full investigation of the City Attorney’s office.

The next Federal Court Monitor’s report will be filed in four months.

The Federal Monitor needs to address the issue and ask Federal Court Judges Brack to take the appropriate action.

The only “collateral damage” inflicted by the clandestine recordings of the Federal Monitor without his knowledge nor consent is the reputation of the City Attorney’s Office.

Public confidence needs to be restored by the new administration in the City Attorneys Office and the removal of Jessica Hernandez and the departure of CAO Rob Perry was a good start.

City’s Unethical Conduct Disclosed With 12 Secret Recordings Of Federal Monitor

ABQ Reports “City recorded APD reform monitor at least 12 times”
January 17, 2018
Dennis Domrzalski

Civilian and police officials in former Mayor Richard Berry’s administration made at least 12 secret recordings of the independent monitor in the Albuquerque Police Department’s reform case with the U.S. Department of Justice.

That’s 11 more recordings than the administration told a federal court judge about when it first revealed last October that then-Assistant Police Chief Robert Huntsman had recorded the monitor, James Ginger, on his lapel camera in March of 2016.

And Berry’s administration, particularly then-City Attorney Jessica Hernandez, was secretive to the end about the recordings. Hernandez turned over audio files and transcripts of the recordings to U.S. District Court Judge Robert Brack on Nov. 22, 2017. But she never told the DOJ, nor the monitor, nor the Albuquerque Police Officers Association about the additional recordings or that she had filed them with the court.

The city revealed the existence of the 11 new recordings in a document filed Tuesday [January 16, 2017] with U.S. District Court Judge Robert Brack.

The city’s notice of compliance with Brack’s Nov. 16, 2017 order that the city produce any additional recordings of the monitor said that three of the recordings, including the March 2016 recording of Ginger by Huntsman, were made out of concerns that Ginger was being too hard on the city, according to a letter from then-City Attorney Jessica Hernandez that was attached to the city’s court filing.

Hernandez turned recordings and the transcripts over to Brack on Nov. 22, 2017, and her letter to the judge detailed why the recordings were made.

At least nine other recordings were made of Ginger by Bill Slauson, a civilian APD executive who was involved in the reform effort. Those recordings were made between May 10, 2016 and Feb. 27, 2017 “for the sole purpose of having an internal reference regarding direction received from the monitor,” Hernandez’s letter said.

Someone also recorded a Sept. 30, 2016, telephone conference call between Ginger, Huntsman, then-APD Chief Gorden Eden and Slauson. The city gave Brack a transcript of the recording saying it could not find the actual tape.

“The purpose of the telephone conference was to discuss the chiefs’ concerns with recent interactions between the City and the Monitor and how those were affecting the monitoring process,” Hernandez’s letter to Brack said. “The city has searched for and not been able to locate an audio recording of this telephone call. The city believes that the audio recording was not kept once it was transcribed.”

On Nov. 15, 2016, someone recorded a meeting between Ginger, Hernandez and another person. “This meeting was recorded because of worries over how the Monitor would respond when the city directly raised its concerns about recent interactions with the Monitor and how those were affecting the monitoring process,” Hernandez’s letter said. “Ms. Hernandez had not listened to or distributed this recording to anyone prior to searching for and copying this recording in order to produce to the Court.”

Hernandez’s letter said that none of the recording were “made with the intention of making the recording public or using the recording in any manner to undermine the monitoring process.”

But undermining the reform process is exactly what Brack said the city did by recording Ginger in March of 2016 and using the recording in a motion to the court that alleged that Ginger was biased against the city.

The city’s notice to Brack also slammed Hernandez for being secretive about the additional recordings. She disclosed the existence of the recordings to Brack in the Nov. 22, 2017 letter, but she didn’t tell the DOJ, Ginger, or the union that represents APD officers, that she had filed the items with Brack.

“The former City Attorney did not provide copies of her letter or its enclosures to the United States, the APOA or the Monitor when she submitted them to the Court on November 22, 2017,” the city’s filing said. “Nor did the former City Attorney otherwise alert the United States, the APOA or the Monitor of the existence of recordings involving the Monitor or this reform process other than the former APD Assistant Chief’s lapel camera recording discussed in the Court’s November 16, 2016 Order.

“In mid-December 2017, after Officials in the new Administration and the new Acting City Attorney learned about the former City Attorney’s letter and the existence of additional recordings discussed therein, the City promptly notified the United States, the APOA and the Monitor. Thereafter, the City provided the former City Attorney’s letter and its enclosures to the United States, APOA and the Monitor.

“This Notice is to inform the Court that any prior ex parte communications with the Court have been corrected by providing the November 22, 2-17 submission to all named Parties in this matter, as well as the Monitor.

“Additionally, this Notice is to inform the Court that the current City administration has terminated the practice and will not make any further recordings without the Parties’ knowledge or consent.”

OTHER DISCLOSURES IN CITY FILED PLEADING

In addition to the meeting between Federal Monitor James Ginger and city officials that Assistant Chief Huntsman recorded with his on-body camera, there were 11 other secret recordings.

(January 18, 2018 Albuquerque Journal, page A7, Court Filing: APD monitor frequently recorded; Acting city attorney says practice will end)

https://www.abqjournal.com/1120617/former-city-officials-regularly-recorded-meetings-phone-calls-with-monitor.html

According to the city’s disclosure notice, Bill Slauson, who is a civilian and a former executive director appointed by Chief Eden, recorded nine conference calls that included himself, the monitor and other city officials.

City Attorney Jessica Hernandez recorded one of the meetings that included her, Ginger and another official.

There also was a transcript of a conference call with former Chief Gorden Eden, former Assistant Chief Robert Huntsman and Federal Monitor James Ginger.

CONCLUSION

The pleading and the secret recordings filed are clear proof of just how ethically challenged Chief Gorden Eden and his command staff really were for the last three (3) years.

The secret recording of a federal court appointed official without their knowledge or consent is extremely serious and should never be tolerated and should be sanctioned.

The question that now needs to be answered is who ordered all 11 the recordings and were the secret recording authorized by the Mayor’s Office, Chief Administrative Officer Rob Perry along with City Attorney Jessica Hernandez?

Both Rob Perry and Jessica Hernandez are licensed New Mexico attorneys and they need to disclose what they knew and when they knew about the secret recordings by APD command staff, and in particular did they order or authorize the secret recordings in any manner.

Attorneys have an ethical responsibility to report unethical conduct or impropriety in a pending case they witness to the Federal Court and do not have authorization to secretly record Court appointed officials.

The issues that are now raised is if any of the parties to the DOJ Consent Decree will seek sanctions in federal court against the city.

An even bigger issue is if anyone of the parties or if the Federal Court will make a referral or file a complaint with the New Mexico Bar for the full investigation of the City Attorney’s office.

The next Federal Court Monitor’s report will be filed in four months and hopefully he will address the issue and perhaps Federal Court Judges Brack will take the appropriate action.

Who Ordered Or Approved APD Command Staff To Secretly Record Federal Monitor At Least 12 Times?

ABQ Reports “City recorded APD reform monitor at least 12 times”
January 17, 2018
Dennis Domrzalski

Civilian and police officials in former Mayor Richard Berry’s administration made at least 12 secret recordings of the independent monitor in the Albuquerque Police Department’s reform case with the U.S. Department of Justice.

That’s 11 more recordings than the administration told a federal court judge about when it first revealed last October that then-Assistant Police Chief Robert Huntsman had recorded the monitor, James Ginger, on his lapel camera in March of 2016.

And Berry’s administration, particularly then-City Attorney Jessica Hernandez, was secretive to the end about the recordings. Hernandez turned over audio files and transcripts of the recordings to U.S. District Court Judge Robert Brack on Nov. 22, 2017. But she never told the DOJ, nor the monitor, nor the Albuquerque Police Officers Association about the additional recordings or that she had filed them with the court.

The city revealed the existence of the 11 new recordings in a document filed Tuesday [January 16, 2017] with U.S. District Court Judge Robert Brack.

The city’s notice of compliance with Brack’s Nov. 16, 2017 order that the city produce any additional recordings of the monitor said that three of the recordings, including the March 2016 recording of Ginger by Huntsman, were made out of concerns that Ginger was being too hard on the city, according to a letter from then-City Attorney Jessica Hernandez that was attached to the city’s court filing.

Hernandez turned recordings and the transcripts over to Brack on Nov. 22, 2017, and her letter to the judge detailed why the recordings were made.

At least nine other recordings were made of Ginger by Bill Slauson, a civilian APD executive who was involved in the reform effort. Those recordings were made between May 10, 2016 and Feb. 27, 2017 “for the sole purpose of having an internal reference regarding direction received from the monitor,” Hernandez’s letter said.

Someone also recorded a Sept. 30, 2016, telephone conference call between Ginger, Huntsman, then-APD Chief Gorden Eden and Slauson. The city gave Brack a transcript of the recording saying it could not find the actual tape.

“The purpose of the telephone conference was to discuss the chiefs’ concerns with recent interactions between the City and the Monitor and how those were affecting the monitoring process,” Hernandez’s letter to Brack said. “The city has searched for and not been able to locate an audio recording of this telephone call. The city believes that the audio recording was not kept once it was transcribed.”

On Nov. 15, 2016, someone recorded a meeting between Ginger, Hernandez and another person. “This meeting was recorded because of worries over how the Monitor would respond when the city directly raised its concerns about recent interactions with the Monitor and how those were affecting the monitoring process,” Hernandez’s letter said. “Ms. Hernandez had not listened to or distributed this recording to anyone prior to searching for and copying this recording in order to produce to the Court.”

Hernandez’s letter said that none of the recording were “made with the intention of making the recording public or using the recording in any manner to undermine the monitoring process.”

But undermining the reform process is exactly what Brack said the city did by recording Ginger in March of 2016 and using the recording in a motion to the court that alleged that Ginger was biased against the city.

The city’s notice to Brack also slammed Hernandez for being secretive about the additional recordings. She disclosed the existence of the recordings to Brack in the Nov. 22, 2017 letter, but she didn’t tell the DOJ, Ginger, or the union that represents APD officers, that she had filed the items with Brack.

“The former City Attorney did not provide copies of her letter or its enclosures to the United States, the APOA or the Monitor when she submitted them to the Court on November 22, 2017,” the city’s filing said. “Nor did the former City Attorney otherwise alert the United States, the APOA or the Monitor of the existence of recordings involving the Monitor or this reform process other than the former APD Assistant Chief’s lapel camera recording discussed in the Court’s November 16, 2016 Order.

“In mid-December 2017, after Officials in the new Administration and the new Acting City Attorney learned about the former City Attorney’s letter and the existence of additional recordings discussed therein, the City promptly notified the United States, the APOA and the Monitor. Thereafter, the City provided the former City Attorney’s letter and its enclosures to the United States, APOA and the Monitor.

“This Notice is to inform the Court that any prior ex parte communications with the Court have been corrected by providing the November 22, 2-17 submission to all named Parties in this matter, as well as the Monitor.

“Additionally, this Notice is to inform the Court that the current City administration has terminated the practice and will not make any further recordings without the Parties’ knowledge or consent.”

OTHER DISCLOSURES IN CITY FILED PLEADING

In addition to the meeting between Federal Monitor James Ginger and city officials that Assistant Chief Huntsman recorded with his on-body camera, there were 11 other secret recordings.

(January 18, 2018 Albuquerque Journal, page A7, Court Filing: APD monitor frequently recorded; Acting city attorney says practice will end)

According to the city’s disclosure notice, Bill Slauson, a civilian and a former executive director appointed by Chief Eden, recorded nine conference calls that included himself, the monitor and other city officials.

City Attorney Jessica Hernandez recorded one of the meetings that included her, Ginger and another official.

There also was a transcript of a conference call with former Chief Gorden Eden, former Assistant Chief Robert Huntsman and Federal Monitor James Ginger.

CONCLUSION

The pleading and the secret recordings filed are clear proof of just how ethically challenged Chief Gorden Eden and his command staff really were for the last three (3) years.

The secret recording of a federal court appointed official without their knowledge or consent is extremely serious and should never be tolerated and should be sanctioned.

The question that now needs to be answered is who ordered all 11 the recordings and were the secret recording authorized by the Mayor’s Office, Chief Administrative Officer Rob Perry along with City Attorney Jessica Hernandez?

Both Rob Perry and Jessica Hernandez are licensed New Mexico attorneys and they need to disclose what they knew and when they knew about the secret recordings by APD command staff, and in particular did they order or authorize the secret recordings in any manner.

The issues that are now raised is if any of the parties to the Consent Decree will seek sanctions in federal court against the city.

An even bigger issue is if anyone or if the Federal Court will make a referral or file a complaint with the New Mexico Bar for the full investigation of the City Attorney’s office.

The next Federal Court Monitor’s report will be filed in four months and hopefully he will address the issue and perhaps Federal Court Judges Brack will take the appropriate action.

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

As the saying goes “a picture is worth a thousand words”.

On January 16, 2018, the Albuquerque Journal publish a photo of Mayor Tim Keller standing alongside Joanie Griffin serving food to the homeless in the serving line.

(See January 16, 2017 Albuquerque Journal, page A-8, METRO & NM section”)

The caption read “Making hope work … Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller and Joanie Griffin help members of Sauce Pizza & Wine team as they serve meals at St. Martin’s Hope Works day shelter Friday”

Serving meals to the homeless is fantastic and Mayor Keller needs to be commended for it and I do not question his sincerity given what he said about the homeless on the campaign trail.

What was not reported is that Joanie Griffin is the owner of Griiffin & Associates the advertising firm that was on contract to promote the ART Bus project and to interact with affected Central businesses owners and the general contractors Bradbury and Stamm.

Ms. Griffin was seen attending many of the public hearings sponsored by the City and the projects contractor Bradbury and Stamm and no doubt heard the complaints and concerns voiced by the general public at those meetings and during the city presentations.

Joanie Griffin, Griffin & Associates, made a cash “inkind” donation of $1,000 to the publicly financed “Tim Keller for Mayor Campaign” committee as reported in campaign finance reports filed with the City Clerk.

(See September 11, 2017 blog article “Show Me The Money, Chapter 3″ at PeteDinelli.com.)

Joanie Griffin, Griffin Associates, made another $1,000 cash contribution to “ABQ Forward” the measured finance committee specifically organized to raise and spend money to elect Tim Keller Mayor as reported in campaign finance reports filed with the City Clerk.

(See September 25, 2017 blog article “Show Me the Money, Chapter 4″ at PeteDinelli.com.)

The Berry Administration served up a lot of lies about the ART bus project to the public, including that ART was a world class project.

You must wonder what Griffin has served Keller about the ART bus project.

What is problematic is if Keller has bought into any of the promotional arguments about ART.

I have no doubt Mayor Keller can make his own judgments, but any association with the bus project’s past promotion would be a major mistake.

Mayor Keller may want to spend time with some of the 250 business owners about their interactions with Griffin & Associates.

In particular, Mayor Keller needs to know what promises were made to all the Central business owners and the neighborhoods affected and what they were told about the loans and other impacts of ART on the businesses and the community.

The City needs a total fresh start with the ART bus project if it’s going to work and be salvaged.

Mayor Tim Keller’s press conference outlining the problems with ART was a good first step acknowledging the mistakes of the past and moving forward.

Other good steps are that Mayor Keller replaced the Director of Transit and the Chief Operations Officer who were the main point men and promoters of the project for Berry.

Only time will tell if Mayor Keller will be able to fix all the problems with the project and secure the promised $69 million from the Federal Transportation Administration.

For a listing of all the lies regarding ART see my blog article “The Lemons and Lies of Berry’s Art” at

The Lemons And Lies Of Berry’s ART

A Felony Conviction Prevents Someone From Being A Cop

Channel 7 did one of its Target 7 “investigative reports” on narcotics undercover cop APD Detective Jacob Grant being shot eight (8) times point blank in a parked car by his APD Lieutenant James Brachle.

http://www.koat.com/article/former-da-says-she-thinks-officer-should-ve-faced-charges/15169699

The theme of the Channel 7 investigative report was to explain why former District Attorney Kari Brandenburg did not bring felony criminal charges against Brachle for the shooting and why the New Mexico Attorney General’s office did not bring charges after the case was turned over back in 2015.

Undercover Narcotics Detective Grant was negotiating a drug buy when Brachle rushed the parked car, opened the car door where Grant was sitting and opened fire shooting Grant point blank eight (8) times.

Not at all surprising was Channel 7 broadcasted the graphic and difficult to watch lapel camera video of the shooting as part of its “investigative” report story.

Grant was extremely lucky to survive the shooting, he underwent extensive surgery for his wounds, was hospitalized for months and eventually had to retire from APD because of his permanent physical disabilities related to his injuries from the shooting.

Channel 7 of course made sure it broadcasted old footage of Grant sitting in his hospital bed.

Grant has since left New Mexico but still suffers physical impairment from the shooting.

The Target 7 investigative report missed the mark on so many levels so as to render the report nothing more than just an opportunity to broadcast the graphic lapel camera video of the shooting and holding no one accountable.

The Channel 7 investigative reporter did not aggressively confront the Attorney General’s office why no felony charges were brought after it agreed to take the case over.

The only thing Channel 7 reported was that the Attorney General decided not bring misdemeanor charges after former District Attorney Kari Brandenburg made a referral for felony charges.

The explanation for no prosecution by the Attorney General was that the statute of limitations on misdemeanors had passed including the misdemeanor charge for “negligent use of a firearm”.

Assistant Attorney General Sharon Pino in the Channel 7 report stated that because Brachle was acting in his capacity as a law enforcement officer at the time of the shooting no felony charges could be filed against him under New Mexico law.

The finding by the Attorney General’s office that no felony charges can be brought against Brachle for the shooting of Grant is total and complete nonsense and a fabrication.

The statute of limitations has run on misdemeanor charges but not on all felony charges.

The Assistant Attorney General interviewed by Channel 7 sidestepped the issue of felony charges by saying the former District Attorney could have brought felony charges herself ignoring that the AG office took the case knowing full well the former District Attorney was looking at felony charges.

If the Attorney General’s office did not want to prosecute a police officer for felonies, or because it feels it had a conflict, or it knows the difficulty in convicting any cop before a jury, or feels it will harm the working relationship with law enforcement, the Attorney General’s office should have just said so and returned the case to the current Bernalillo County District Attorney for evaluation.

Instead the Attorney General waited a full year after the former DA left office to say there would be no felony charges.

The fact that the shooting victim was a cop does not negate the fact that the shooting was done by another cop and it was still a police officer involved shooting.

There is no such thing as a “friendly fire” killing or shooting in law enforcement as there is in military combat.

All police officer involved shooting must be investigated and determined if justified.

Whenever a police officer uses deadly force, it must be justified under statutory law as well as APD standard operating procedure, with no room for exceptions.

Just because a police officer is acting in his capacity as a law enforcement officer when he discharges his firearm and injures or kills someone does not completely negate criminal or civil liability of the shooter, a fact not reported by in the Target 7 report.

To put the shooting of Grant by Brachle into focus, former APD Police officers Keith Sandy and Dominique Perez were acting in their capacity as law enforcement officers when they shot and killed homeless camper James Boyd, and they were charged with murder.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) consent decree mandates that APD excessive use of force or deadly force cases must be investigated, yet nothing was reported by Target 7 if the Grant shooting was reviewed for violation of APD use of force policies.

The Target 7 investigation did not report that Attorney General Hector Balderas in a letter declining prosecution went out of his way to point out that former APD Chief Gordon Eden never referred Greg Brachle to New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy Board to investigate the shooting as required by state law.

The New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy Board has the authority to suspend or revoke police certifications.

Attorney General Hector Balderas is the Chairman of the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy Board and he has the authority to order the board’s investigators to review the case to determine if Brachle’s law enforcement certification and license should be revoked.

Balderas failing to make the referral himself to his own board is evidence of political deflection to avoid taking any police oversight responsibility.

No satisfactory explanation was given by the Attorney General’s Office to Channel 7 why felony charges were not brought against former APD Lt. Greg Brachle.

The Target 7 Investigative report failed to ask current Bernalillo County District Attorney Raul Torrez if he wanted the Attorney General to refer the case back to his office for another evaluation on felony charges.

Former APD Officer Jacob Grant, the shooting victim, was noble when he told Target 7 he did not want the shooter to be criminally charged, but did say he did want the shooter to never to be a police officer again.

A felony conviction would have guaranteed that Brachle would never be in law enforcement again or for that matter be able to carry a gun.

Ultimately, it was the citizens of Albuquerque that were held financially responsible for the tragic shooting of Jacob Grant that was at the very least negligent.

APD Officer Jacob Grant was paid $6.5 million dollars plus all his medical expenses being paid to settle the civil claim, an important fact that the Target 7 Investigative report omitted.