ABQ Reports: Keller Proposes $44 Million Budget Hike

Keller proposes $44 million budget hike

March 30, 2018

BY: Dennis Domrzalski

Mayor Tim Keller on Friday unveiled his proposed $574.8 million general fund budget for the coming fiscal year. That represents a $44.6 million, or 8.4 percent increase over the current $530.2 million budget.

Read Keller’s proposed budget here. https://drive.google.com/file/d/10f8KtmPHa2DzX-zftbeepPk2354tgYCF/viewhttps://drive.google.com/file/d/10f8KtmPHa2DzX-zftbeepPk2354tgYCF/view

The first 18 pages contain the summary.

Nearly half of that increase, or $19.6 million, would go to the Albuquerque Police Department. Under Keller’s proposal, APD’s budget would climb to $190.2 million from the current $172.3 million. That represents an 11.5 percent increase.

But the proposed budget, which Keller said would allow APD to hire 100 more officers, budgets APD at 1,040 officers. For the current fiscal year, APD was initially budgeted for 1,000 officers.

Most of that increase spending that Keller is proposing will come from the three-eights-of-a-cent gross receipts tax increase that the City Council recently passed and Keller signed. The tax hike will take effect on July 1, but the city won’t see any of that money until September because of the way in which the state distributes the money to cities.

Keller said the proposed budget represents “an expression of what our community” values. He added that during his mayoral campaign last year the number one concern of citizens was public safety. The proposed budget includes money for more street cops, detectives, crime lab technicians, as well as $4 million for community policing efforts.

The budget also includes $2 million to process an 18-month backlog of unprocessed fingerprints from crime scenes and to try to reduce the backlog of 4,000 untested rape kits in the city.

Keller also wants to put an additional $3.2 million to the Albuquerque Fire Department so it can operate three Mobile Integrated Healthcare vehicles to respond to 911 calls from people who don’t actually need an ambulance. That would free up other fire units to respond to the more serious medical emergency calls.

AFD Chief Paul Dow said that 87 percent of the 107,000 calls the fire department responds to each year are EMS calls. He added that many of those calls don’t require a full response of a fire truck and a paramedic unit. The MIH vehicles would be staffed by two people and would respond to calls of people being drunk and passed out, or people with psychiatric issues.

Keller added that 80 percent of the GRT increase will be spent on public safety, which is more than the 60 percent that the City Council mandated.

https://www.abqreport.com/single-post/2018/03/30/Keller-proposes-44-million-budget-hikehttps://www.abqreport.com/single-post/2018/03/30/Keller-proposes-44-million-budget-hike

Albuquerque Chamber Of Commerce Makes One Want To Puke

Over the years, there have been so many times that I have been absolutely nauseated by the actions of the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce (GACC) and what its President and CEO Terry Cole has said and done, especially during the last eight (8) years.

It happened again when I read on the front page of the Albuquerque Journal that the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce and Terri Cole were part of a “task force” established by the New Mexico Legislature to combat the spike in Albuquerque’s crime rates and to more broadly address problems in the criminal justice system throughout New Mexico.
https://www.abqjournal.com/1152233/nm-task-force-begins-analyzing-crime-trends.html

It was the headline below the main headline “Panel begins search for steps to reduce crime” that made me get sick to my stomach that read “Chamber of Commerce CEO calls for ‘more intelligent’ strategy” to reducing crime.

The Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce served as the “host” of the first task force meeting held on March 29, 2018.

Respected and former retired New Mexico Supreme Court Justice Edward Chavez chaired the meeting.

Corrales Democrat New Mexico State Rep. Daymon Ely co-sponsored legislation establishing the task force to develop bipartisan proposals that can be introduced in the next legislative session.

Two dozen or more attended the meeting.

The “task force” includes members of the New Mexico legislature, representatives from the 2nd Judicial District Court, the Attorney General’s Office, Bernalillo County District Attorney Raul Torrez and his office, the New Mexico Fraternal Order of Police, and a variety of state agencies, including the Corrections and Children, Youth and Families departments.

What is absolutely pathetic is that no one from Albuquerque city government, the Mayor’s Office or the Albuquerque Chief of Police nor APD, are members of the task force, though there’s a representative from the New Mexico Municipal League.

Increasing the number of APD police officers was one suggestion to address the problem.

Cole told the task force that businesses considering a move to New Mexico’s largest city used to ask first about the schools, but now businesses want to know about crime and public safety.

Cole, no doubt with a serious and straight face, is quoted as saying:

“Time and time again, [the Chamber of Commerce] have had to answer the question ‘What are you doing about education?’ But the first one now: ‘Is Albuquerque really a safe place? Can we bring our employees there, and will they be safe? … We have to find a more intelligent way to fight crime”.

Cole told the task force that our high crime rates were interfering with economic development efforts, even though she and the chamber have known this for the past eight (8) years as our violent crime rates soared and they remained silent and refused to hold the prior administration accountable.

AGCC PAST NAUESATING CONDUCT

During the last eight (8) years Cole and her AGCC have consistently supported and lobbied for “all crime all the time” legislation advocated by Republican Governor Susana Martinez, both mistakenly believing that increases in sentencing and “incarceration” is the only solution to bringing down crime and totally ignoring mental health care, early intervention and counseling.

Cole and her AGCC supported reinstatement of the death penalty for child abuse resulting in death and for the killing of law enforcement.

Cole and the AGCC have consistently opposed any efforts to use New Mexico permanent fund for early childhood care and intervention programs.

Cole and the AGCC repeatedly supported former Mayor Richard Berry’s attempts to change PERA return to work restrictions and allow “double dipping” as a solution to growing the ranks of APD.

On July 10, 2017, it was reported Mayor Berry and Chamber of Commerce President Teri Cole traveled to San Francisco for 3 days along with a group of Bernalillo County prosecutors, law enforcement officials and business leaders to discuss a program with the San Francisco District Attorney on how to use technology to bring down crime and deal with repeat offenders.

Cole and the Chamber took Berry when he had only a four and a half months left in office and ignored inviting anyone of the candidates for Mayor which would have made more sense.

Then there was the AGCC “Award of Excellence in Public Safety” given to the former Mayor in June, 2017, just seven months before he left office.

Two main reasons the chamber gave then Mayor Berry the award were:

1. Because he secured funding for a government innovation program to “study” approaches to curbing crime,
2. Berry announced a program with law enforcement agencies to coordinate efforts to prosecute repeat offenders

It turns out that it was the first time such an award was given out and Berry was the only person considered for the award.

The GACC giving an “Excellence in Public Safety Award” to former Mayor Berry was like giving an “Award of Excellence in Security Investments” to convicted Ponzi scheme felon Bernie Madoff who is serving a lifetime sentence for stealing billions from people who trusted him with their lifetime savings.

The Chambers award was handed out just days after high tech firm “Lavu” sent the city a letter telling the MAYOR that it was “fed up” with downtown Albuquerque crime and that it was contemplating moving out of downtown and out of the state unless city hall and APD did something about the crime in downtown.

Sure enough, Berry increased police presence in the downtown area diverting police resources from other areas of the city that had even higher crime rates.

The Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce (GACC) has its offices just around the block from Lavu and Terri Cole told the media that the chamber was so concerned about crime in Downtown Albuquerque that it asked its landlord to secure their front door with an intercom system and ability to “buzz” people in after screening.

During the last three year’s, Terri Cole and the GACC have not attended and have been nowhere to be found at any of the Federal Court hearings on the the Department of Justice consent decree and the reports made by the Federal Court Monitor.

CONCLUSION

There has not been a single business that has relocated to Albuquerque in the last eight years because of the efforts of Terri Cole and her GACC.

Terri Cole and the GACC have been an absolute failure in trying to find a more intelligent way for economic development in Albuquerque.

Albuquerque can expect the same results with Cole’s and her AGCC efforts to bring down our crime rates.

http://www.petedinelli.com/2018/04/04/can-i-make-my-cheesecake-in-prison/

APD Overtime Pay Abuse And Recruitment Tool

APD Patrolmen First Class earning excessive overtime is nothing new, has been going on for years and has been common knowledge.

What has not been common knowledge is that the for the past three (3) years, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) has been using “overtime pay” as a recruiting incentive to attract applicants.

On its recruiting web page, APD goes as far as to say that as as police officer you will get “a great opportunity to earn at least 25-percent above your base salary in overtime and benefits.”

APD’s website makes the claim that recruits have the potential to make “in excess of $87,000 a year”, with the claim based on an “average from the top 50 earning patrol officers.”
http://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/apd-recruitment-video-pay-claims/4846594/?cat=500

It is a major mistake is for APD to use “overtime” pay as a recruitment tool and it should stop.

APD POLICE OFFICER BASE PAY

Albuquerque Police Officers are some of the best paid law enforcement in the country when you take into account their pay, longevity pay incentives, benefits and retirement pay.

No doubt the police union and many APD police officers would strongly dispute they are well paid, but in comparison to other city employees, they clearly are.

The Mayor of Albuquerque is paid $125,000 a year and the sixteen (16) city department directors are paid average of $110,000 and arguably these are 24/7 jobs.

Department directors must manage employees and more often than not work in far excess of a 40-hour week and they are never paid overtime, they are at will employees serving at the pleasure of the Mayor and their salaries stay the same for the fiscal year.

The are approximately 223 “ungraded,” full-time employees who are basically political appointees and who can be fired at will because they don’t have the rights and protections that the city’s 4,200 other “classified” employees do.

The average salary for classified city employees is $30,000 to $35,000 a year and they cannot be terminated without cause.

The average entry level Albuquerque patrolman first class makes $56,000 to $58,000 a year, depending on actual hours worked in a year, and are paid an additional 15% for benefits, such as insurance, paid sick leave and annual leave and the positions are classified and a police officer cannot be terminated without cause.

Even when terminated for cause or disciplined for cause, police officers are guaranteed and appeals process before the city personnel board.

All patrol officers first class are paid the exact same hourly rate of $27.50 no matter the number of years on the police force, therefore a four (4) year veteran of the force makes the same hourly wage as a ten (10) year veteran.

Under the union contract, sworn police officers are paid a mandatory two hours of overtime and paid “time and a half” for court appearances such as arraignments of DWI offenders and police prosecution of misdemeanor cases.

The Albuquerque Police Department is the only city hall department that pays longevity bonuses to city hall employees.

RETIRING FROM APD

APD police officers have one of the better retirement plans in the country.

APD officers can retire after 25 years of service and be paid a pension of 90% of their top three (3) wage earning years with the city every year for the rest of their lives when they retire from the city.

APD officers are also allowed to accumulate all of their yearly vacation time and earned sick leave time and cash it out when they retire or they can be carried on the city payroll until it is paid out.

It is not uncommon for police officers to retire and be handed a check for thousands of dollars to compensate them for their accumulated unused sick and annual leave.

Further, APD officers are paid longevity pay bonuses of as little of $5,000 and as much as $15,000 to stay with the department and not leave or retire early.

APD retirement pay under the New Mexico Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) is considered one of the most lucrative in the country.

APD PATROL OFFICERS FIRST CLASS SOME OF HIGHEST PAID CITY EMPLOYEES

According to city payroll records, a patrolman first class was the city’s seventh top earner, taking home nearly $147,000 in salary and overtime.

Seven (7) patrol officers first class were paid at least $124,000 in 2016.

A review of the city’s 250 top earners in 2017 reveals that 66 patrol officers first class were among the highest paid city employees earning a total of around $7.1 million in salary and overtime.

A total of 124 of the 250 top wage earners at city hall are employed by the Albuquerque Police Department and include patrol officers, sergeants, lieutenants, commanders and deputy chiefs, assistant chief and the chief with annual pay ranging from $95,000 a year up to $166,699 a year.

(See City of Albuquerque web site for full list of 250 top city wage earners).

Five (5) APD Patrol Officers First Class are listed in the top 250 city wage workers as being paid $146,971, $145,180, $140,243, $137,817 and $125,061 respectfully making them the 6th, the 7th, the 10th, the 12th and the 20th highest paid employees at city hall.

There are listed 66 Patrol Officers First Class in the list of the top 250 wage earners at city hall earning in excess of $95,000 a year and as much as $146,000 a year.

Combined, there are a total of 91 APD sworn police officers and sergeants who are named in the top 250 wage earners and city hall.

The fact that any APD Patrolman First Class are paid as much as between $95,000 to $146,000, or two to three times their normal salary in any given year should be very concerning to the Mayor and City Council.

CITY INTERNAL AUDIT FOUND APD OVERTIME ABUSES

A March, 2017 a city internal audit of APD’s overtime spending found police officers taking advantage of a system that allows them to accumulate excessive overtime at the expense of other city departments.

During the last 8 years, the Albuquerque Police Department has consistently gone over its overtime budget by millions.

When APD exceeds its overtime budget, it is to the detriment of other city departments and other city employees in that the funding must be found by taking it from other departments and programs.

In fiscal year 2016, APD was funded for $9 million for over time but APD but actually spent $13 million.

A city internal audit report released in March, 2017 revealed that the Albuquerque Police Department spent over $3.9 million over its “overtime” budget.

The city internal audit focused primarily on protocol issues within APD on how over time is garnered, not how much was spent, and the protocol was approved and ordered by the Chief Administrative Officer.

The audit found that too often, officers didn’t follow the rules when it came to get overtime pre-approved or didn’t properly submit overtime for “grant funded” traffic over time.

According to the audit, there were potentially 38,000 cases of unapproved overtime that occurred during fiscal year 2016 based on a sampling of time cards.

The salaries inflated by overtime show to some extent that there are officers that know how to manipulate the system to earn overtime.

From a personnel management standpoint, when you have a select few that are taking the lion’s share of overtime, it causes moral problems with the rest.

Excessive overtime paid is a red flag for abuse of the system, mismanagement of police resources and the lack of personnel.

Consecutive shifts or excessive overtime for any police officer can lead to extreme fatigue, emotional burnout and reduce an officer’s alertness and response times and reflexes that can endanger lives and public safety.

The Albuquerque City Council approved and fully funded 1,000 sworn police officers for APD for fiscal year 2017-2018 that ends July 1, 2018.

However, there are only 850 sworn actually employed with 435 assigned to the field patrolling the streets and handling approximately 650,000 priorities one 911 calls a year.

Supposedly, the savings from not filling the 150 unfilled APD positions went to pay overtime.

Albuquerque needs at least 1,200 sworn police officers to effectively return to community-based policing that will reduce overtime costs and reduce crime statistics.

CONCLUSION

The Keller Administration is calling for an $88 million dollar of additional funding and increased costs for APD over the next four fiscal years from 2018 to 2022.

The Keller Administration is proposing to increase the number of sworn police officers from the current 836 positions filled to 1,200 or by 264 sworn police officers and return to community-based policing.

An aggressive hiring and recruitment program needs to be initiated to increase the ranks of patrol officers, however the amount of overtime a new recruit can earn should not be used in any manner as a recruiting tool.

Sign on bonuses, tuition debt payoff, mortgage down payment bonuses and moving and relocation bonuses need to be offered to new recruits instead of telling them they can increase their yearly wages by working overtime.

A complete restructuring of APD hourly wages to base salaries should be implemented.

A mandatory “cap” on the amount overtime a sworn police officer can be paid needs to be established that is fair and equitable for all sworn personnel to make available overtime to more sworn police officers in the department.

APD should do away with hourly wage and time and a half for overtime for sworn police and implement a salary structure based on steps and years of service.

A system of overtime bonuses to be paid at the end of the year for accumulated increments of overtime could be implement.

Shift time to work would remain the same, but if more time is needed to complete work load, the employee works it for the same salary with no overtime and a modification of shift times for court appearances.

Salaries and step increase take away inflating overtime and motivates employees to get more done within the allotted shift or modification of shift times.

Until the salary structure is changed, APD will always have patrolman first class making two to three times their base salary and emotional burnout will always be the norm endangering public safety.

Crunching The Crime Numbers

The preliminary numbers are out regarding Albuquerque’s property crime rates and they show a decline in property crime.
http://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/albuquerque-police-apd-property-crime-statistics/4844933/?cat=500

It is a good sign that the city’s property crime rates are declining, but the violent crime and the murders are still a major problem and out of control.

The Albuquerque Police Department (APD) has responded to 8% fewer commercial burglaries and 55% fewer robberies this year.

According to APD, police officers are conducting more traffic stops and arresting more people with outstanding arrest warrants.

APD is also cooperating with other agencies to use arrest data to determine who are the most likely to re-offend and making them a priority.

On March 21, 2018, it was announced at a joint press conference the Albuquerque Police Department, Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office and New Mexico State Police are joining forces to address the city’s and the county’s out of control auto theft rates.

The initiative is called the “Bernalillo County Auto Theft Suppression Effort” and at first glance, it appears to be working.

The auto theft suppression effort is combining tactical operations that combine technology, resources, manpower and intelligence from all three of the law enforcement agencies to arrest more suspects and recover more stolen vehicles.

The Albuquerque Police Department (APD) for the past two months has been concentrating on auto theft sting operations.

APD’s first auto theft sting of the year resulted in 22 felony arrests and 23 recovered vehicles and in the first two months of the year the APD recovered a total of 843 vehicles and made 137 arrests.

APD is also using advertising billboards to publish the mugshots of wanted suspects.

APD’s Preliminary Crime Data comparing January to March 2018 vs January to March 2017 are as follows:

Auto Burglary

• 2017: 2,227
• 2018: 1,654
• Change: -26 percent

Auto Theft

• 2017: 1,387
• 2018: 1,227
• Change: -12 percent

Commercial Burglary

• 2017: 336
• 2018: 308
• Change: -8 percent

Residential Burglary

• 2017: 725
• 2018: 673
• Change: -7 percent

Robbery

• 2017: 552
• 2018: 246
• Change: -55 percent

Although the above numbers are encouraging, they are only preliminary comparing the first three month periods in 20117 to 2018 and you can expect a spike once summer arrives.

MURDER RATES

This month, five homicides were reported in six days!

Albuquerque has had twenty (20) homicides reported in three months thus far and counting!

Albuquerque had 13 murders by this time last year.

In 2017, violent crime rose by 18% over the previous year.

Since 2012, violent crime has dramatically increased in Albuquerque by 77%.

The 77% increase in violent crime in 2017 was still significantly less than “nonfatal shootings” which increased by a whopping 148%.

According to APD statistics released for 2017, homicides increased by 23%, robberies increase by 43%, rapes increased by 21% and aggravated assaults increased 4.2%.

The dramatic increase in crime in 2017 followed a 15.5 percent increase in violent crime in 2016.

PREVIOUS YEARS FELONY VIOLENT CRIME STATISTICS

According to Albuquerque Police Department (APD) statistics, the total number of violent crimes in Albuquerque dipped two years and then steadily increased as from 2010 to 2015 as follows:

2010 – 4,291
2011 – 4,207
2012 – 4,151
2013 – 4,323
2014 – 4,934
2015 – 5,409

From 2009 to 2015, Albuquerque’s violent crime rate increased by 21.5% according to the District Attorney’s Office.

In 2015, murders spiked in Albuquerque by over 50% from 30 murders in 2014 to 46.

During the last eight (9) years, Albuquerque has become the is fifth-most violent city in the country on a per capita basis while the nation’s violent crime rate dropped by 13.7% according to Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) statistics.

PREVIOUS FELONY PROPERTY CRIME STATISTICS

Two years ago, Albuquerque had become number one in the nation for auto thefts but the numbers have yet to be released that will determine if we have held onto the title.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau’s Hotspots report from two years ago showed Albuquerque and of Bernalillo County as the worst place in the nation when it comes to auto theft per capita.

In 2016 more than 10,000 vehicles were stolen in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County or more than 27 vehicles a day.

According to Albuquerque Police Department (APD) statistics, the total number of property crimes in Albuquerque steadily increased each year from 2010 to 2015 as follows:

2010 – 26,493
2011 – 28,109
2012 – 29,804
2013 – 30,614
2014 – 30,523
2015 – 34,082

APD STAFFING NUMBERS

In 2017, APD was funded for 1,000 sworn officers but has only 853 sworn police officers.

Funding for the unfilled positions went to pay for police overtime.

Last year, APD busted its overtime budget by $4 million dollars and it went from $9 million budgeted to $13 million spent in overtime.

In 2016, field service officers responded to 546,550 calls for service with a priority 1 response time of 11 minutes, 35 seconds which is approximately two minutes over the national standard.

Of the 853 sworn police 436 are assigned to field services, resulting in 417 sworn police officers assigned to the various specialized felony units and command staff.

Given the volume of felony arrests and cases, APD is severely understaffed to complete felony investigations.

A December 11, 2015 Albuquerque Police Department Comprehensive Staffing Assessment and Resource Study concluded that APD needs at least 1,000 sworn officers.

CONCLUSION

The Keller Administration is proposing to spend $88 million dollars, over a four-year period, with 32 million dollars of recurring expenditures to expand and grow the ranks of APD.

The goal is to hire and expand APD from 850 sworn police officers to 1,200 officers by implementing a hiring and recruitment program that offer incentives, pay raises and bonuses to join or return to APD in order to return to community-based policing in the hopes of bringing down crime rates.

Although progress has been made with reductions in property crimes, until APD is fully staffed, Albuquerque should not expect dramatic declines in our crime rates anytime soon, especially the violent crimes.

Benton Finally Giving A [Censored]

The Albuquerque Journal reported on its front page that City Councilor Issac Benton, a strong ART Bus project supporter, recently used $20,000 of his City Council $1 million in “set-aside” money to purchase at auction what he hopes could be a solution to a burgeoning public bathroom shortage in Albuquerque.

Providing-a-new-place-to-do-business-downtown.html

Benton had the city purchase a slightly used “Portland Loo” which is a one-stall, stainless steel, stand-alone restroom that sells for around $100,000 new.

Benton claims the steel toilet is “almost indestructible.”

On February 5, 2016, it was reported that an identical “Portland Loo” was yanked out of the ground in San Diego because it was a magnet for crime and it was one of the more notorious financial boondoggles in San Diego history.

http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/politics/sdut-portland-loo-remove-crime-cost-restroom-2016feb05-story.html

In addition to a 130 percent increase in police calls to the area around the restroom, it was reported maintenance and repair costs were more than double initial estimates.

The steel toilet stall, which operated for 13 months at 14th and L streets in San Diego, was moved to the San Diego storage yard and city officials said there were no plans to re-install it anywhere.

ART BUS PROBLEMS

It is also being reported that even more problems have been identified with the ART buses that are being purchased by the city for $25 million, including at least one of the new buses not built on a chassis that was not ordered and is not up to standard.

kob news: albuquerque-rapid-transit-art-holdup/4843234/?cat=500

The manufacturer is arguing that some of the bus damage could have happened while the buses were being driven across the southwest.

A spokesman for the manufacturer said:

“In transit, you’re going to have to remember that the buses when they’re coming from California to Albuquerque, they’re going to be run on a speed limit higher than they’re going to be run on the route itself.”

If that was the case, why weren’t the buses transferred by rail road or other means to ensure that no damage occurred?

Other problems include that 15 other buses have concerns like battery cabinet cracks and cosmetic issues that have yet to be resolved.

Nearly six months past the October 2017 delivery deadline, the buses for the Albuquerque Rapid Transit project still aren’t ready.

When the City is left with 20 unusable buses, perhaps Benton will make sure the busses are converted into toilets with multiple stalls and mounted on the ART Bus platforms that will not be used.

This is the first time I have seen Councilor Isaac Benton actually give a “s…” about anything.

You Must Be Republican For Journal To Cover Your Rear-End

On March 14, 2018, the Albuquerque Journal published the story “Clerk appointee withdraws name from consideration after financial issues found”.

The story was how Charlotte Little, who was appointed by Mayor Tim Keller to the position of city clerk, had withdrawn her name from consideration for the post amid Journal scrutiny of past financial trouble.

It was clear from the story that Charlotte Little owned up to her past financial mistakes and is making good on the money she owes.

There was a good chance that she would have been able to do the job as City Clerk, but we will never know.

The Journal reported that Little and her husband, Joseph, failed to pay $137,548 in federal taxes from 1996 to 2003 and $41,396 in state taxes, penalties and fees from 1998 to 2003.

Federal and state liens on the Littles’ property for the unpaid taxes were filed.

The federal liens were released in 2011.

Little acknowledged that she and her husband are on a payment plan to pay off the owed taxes and didn’t believe any liens were currently in place.

The negative coverage no doubt led to Charlotte Little withdrawing her name for consideration as she said:

“I have decided to withdraw my name from consideration for the position of City Clerk. … I am so grateful to have been considered by Mayor Keller and do not wish to bring any unnecessary distractions to the role.”

The Keller Administration downplayed the withdrawal by saying:

“Like many New Mexicans, Charlotte has experienced some financial challenges and it is our understanding that she has taken responsibility and worked to address those challenges. … As the first Native American candidate for City Clerk, we believed she would have brought a wealth of experience as an administrator. … However, we respect Charlotte’s decision to withdraw her name from consideration for the City Clerk position and wish her the best in her future endeavors.”

A MOUTH ATTRACTED TO A FLAME

On March 15, 2018, I posted on my FACEBOOK page the single sentence “Stay tuned for yet another negative editorial from the Journal” and linking the Albuquerque Journal March 14, 2018 story “Clerk appointee withdraws name from consideration after financial issues found”.

It took the Albuquerque Journal 12 days, but sure enough, like a moth attracted by a flame, the editors had to get another dig in against Keller with its March 27, 2018 editorial that said in part:

“For the sake of city taxpayers, we sure hope the Keller administration is vetting all of its appointees and that the process includes both criminal background checks and a search for any tax liens that prospective appointees may be dealing with. These appointees are, after all, the people charged with managing million-dollar budgets, supervising thousands of employees and keeping the city safe. Failure to have a robust screening system in place would be negligent.”

“Keller and his administration should know about any skeletons in a prospective employee’s closet so they can make an informed decision on whether to move forward with the hire.”

“Given how the Little situation played out, we suspect that Keller administration officials had no idea about her tax issues. Did they bother to ask? And if they did, was Little not forthcoming?”

“Couple this debacle with the questionable after-the-deadline selection of City Attorney Esteban Aguilar Jr., and one has to wonder what’s going on the 11th floor of City Hall. … The mayor and his staff need to figure out a way to avoid these missteps … and these misfires reflect poorly on the work he’s trying to do.”
Is anyone in city hall vetting keller’s selections?

Just two weeks before, on March 13, 2018, the Journal published an editorial on the recruiting and selecting the new City Attorney outside the application process with the editorial headline “Why did Keller sidestep the process for city attorney?” and editorialized in part:

“It’s unfortunate that the process to select … [the new city attorney] … was fraught with irregularities, and it sets a high bar for him and the administration to overcome to restore public trust.”

The editorial on the city attorney selection pointed out the names of two other city attorney applicants, including one former city councilor and a UNM general counsel, implying they were more qualified than the attorney selected because the applicants had extensive government experience.

The Journal editorial went so far as making a backhanded reference to the fact that the selected city attorney went to UNM law school at the same time as Keller’s Chief Administrative Officer.

DOUBLE STANDARD

It is fair game for the media to go after the background and qualifications of any Administration’s appointees.

It is also fair game for the public to question the political motivations when a double standard is being used to promote an agenda.

The Albuquerque Journal never gave so much attention to the vetting process of the former Republican Berry Administration when it took over eight years ago from the Democrat Chavez Administration.

The Journal never suggested that the Republican Administration vet all of its appointees by including “both criminal background checks and a search for any tax liens that prospective appointees may had dealt with.”

For a full eight years, under a Republican Administration, the Journal showed no concern about who was being appointed to “positions responsible for managing million-dollar budgets, supervising thousands of employees and keeping the city safe”, especially when it came to the Albuquerque Police Department.

Never has the Journal said that failure to have a robust screening system in place would be negligent, that is until a Democrat was elected Mayor.

For eight years, the Albuquerque Journal made no comment on all the appointments of political Republican operatives by the former Republican Mayor nor did it ever report on the “vetting” it had done on those appointments.

The Albuquerque Journal said absolutely nothing when Republican operatives like Darren White was appointed Chief Public Safety Officer and Rob Perry was appointed City Attorney and then Chief Administrative Officer, as if neither one of these individuals did not have any “skeletons” in their backgrounds that the Journal should have been concerned about.

Other very well know Republican operatives with ties to Republican Governor Susana Martinez were also appointed as Department heads by the Republican Berry Administration.

The Journal asked no questions of what role Jay Mc Clusky and Governor Susana Martinez had in the Berry appointments.

Jay McClusky managed both the Governor’s and the Mayor’s first campaigns and their subsequent re election campaigns using “slash and burn” tactics to take out their opponents.

There were city department directors that originally worked for the Governor and then went to work for the Mayor at significantly higher salaries.

Jessica Hernandez was the Governor’s general counsel and became city attorney and Gordon Eden who was the Governor’s Public Safety Cabinet Secretary and then appointed APD Chief.

To the winner goes the spoils as the saying goes.

For eight years, Albuquerque had a shadow Mayor and New Mexico had a shadow Governor with McClusky calling the shots with many high paid positions on the 11th floor at city hall and the fourth floor of the roundhouse.

The Journal said nothing when Democrat David Campbell was appointed Chief Administrative Officer nor when Campbell stepped down after less than a year with rumors of having been squeezed out by Republican operatives Darren White and Rob Perry so that either White or Perry could take over as Chief Administrative Officer.

True to form, Rob Perry took over as Chief Administrative Officer and within a year made sure he got a $40,000 pay raise to become the highest paid employee at city hall making $200,000 a year.

The Journal editors said nothing when Perry made sure he got his $40,000 raise and Perry made sure that city employees were given only 1% to 2% pay raised for eight years.

Then there was the farce of selecting Republican operative Gordon Eden as APD Chief after a so called national search with Rob Perry in charge of the selection process.

Eden was selected Chief of Police, even though he had absolutely no prior experience in managing a municipal police department and even though such experience was specifically called for in the job description as well as the posting for the position, and the Journal Editors said nothing about Eden not having the experience to run a municipal police department.

Eden was hired over numerous other applicants that included Deputy Chiefs from other major cities that no doubt could have done a far better job.

The Albuquerque Journal never reported and the editors made no accusation that the fix was in with the Gordon Eden appointment even though he was a political operative who served as the Public Safety Cabinet Secretary under Republican Governor Martinez and with Chief Administrative Officer Rob Perry having close contacts with Jay Mc Clusky, the Governor’s go to guy for appointments.

CONCLUSION

Less than four (4) months into the four-year Keller Administration, Mayor Tim Keller has had seven (7) negative editorials on his decisions, his administration and his appointments.

The first six months of any elected officials term usually sets the tone and the direction for the entire remainder of the term and the people appointed help the Mayor set that trajectory.

In politics, way too often, the relationship between an elected official and the media is confrontational and it lasts for the entire term, especially when you’re a Democrat dealing with the Republican leaning Albuquerque Journal.

In politics, you must always pay attention as an elected official when it comes to the news media and presume you will not be treated the same way as your Republican predecessor when you’re a Democrat being reported on by a Republican leaning newspaper.

Keller should change his party registration from Democrat to Republican and perhaps only then will the Albuquerque Journal get off his back and ignore mistakes or even failed leadership like they did for eight years not only in Albuquerque but in Santa Fe and the Governor’s Office.

Boxing Match Between Mayor Keller And Albuquerque Journal