Good News: Unemployment Down; Bad News: NM Last In Child Well Being

Finally, things are looking up for our city and our state economies when it comes to employment.

Things are looking down when it comes to our children’s wellbeing.

GOOD NEWS: UNEMPLOYMENT DOWN

In 2009, New Mexico’s unemployment rate was above 7% and then went to 8% and beyond at the start of 2010.

In February, 2018 New Mexico’s unemployment rate was 5.8 percent.

Albuquerque’s unemployment has also dropped to 4.2 percent.

The number of jobs is growing to nearly the pre-recession peak and the city’s gross receipts tax collections are increasing.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1190787/abqs-economy-gaining-steam.html

The NM Department of Workforce Solutions reports that the Albuquerque area had 7,300 more jobs, or 1.9 percent growth, compared with a year ago.

That translates to a total of 397,000 jobs, less than 1 percent below the peak of 400,200 jobs in November 2007.

https://www.abqreport.com/single-post/2018/06/18/ABQ-Economy-Almost-Back-to-the-Starting-Line

Not surprising is that it is the construction industry that has been a big driver of job growth in Albuquerque and that has always been the case with a recovering economy.

Notwithstanding the growth in the construction industry, Workforce Solutions reported that the biggest jump in May over a year earlier came among professional and business service jobs, which grew by 6.3 percent.

Professional and business service jobs includes a wide range of employers, from architectural services, national lab jobs, real estate and legal to call center positions.

There has also been a 4.4% increase in Albuquerque’s gross receipts tax revenue from business activity meaning more money will be available to pay for government essential services.

Just year ago, according to the state Department of Workforce Solutions, the state’s unemployment rate was 6.3 %.

In February, 2018 New Mexico’s unemployment rate was 5.8 percent.

New Mexico’s unemployment rate fell to 5.1 percent in May.

www.abqjournal.com/1161413/nm-unemployment-dips-to-5-6-percent.html

BAD NEWS: NM LAST IN CHILD WELL BEING

Offsetting the good news regarding the decline in the state’s unemployment rates is that for the first time in five years, New Mexico has fallen to last among states when it comes to the economic, educational and medical well-being of its children, according to a nonprofit that tracks the status of U.S. kids.

The most troubling in the 2018 Kids Count Data Book is New Mexico’s steep drop in ranking for health care measures which previously a bright spot for the state.

http://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/education/report-new-mexico-ranks-last-in-child-well-being/article_0f6865fc-d34a-5050-9f74-21680e98a2a5.html

According to the 2018 Kids Count Data Book, 30 percent of New Mexico’s children were living in poverty in 2016, compared to 19 percent nationwide that year, the earliest figures available.

In educational measures, the report says 75 percent of the state’s fourth-graders were not proficient in reading in 2017, compared to 65 percent nationally, and 80 percent of eighth-graders were not performing up to par in math in 2017, compared to 67 percent across the U.S.

New Mexico steadily decreased its number of uninsured children between 2010 and 2015, to 4 percent from 10 percent.

But in 2016, that figure edged up to 5 percent.

COMMENTARY

It’s been over 10 years, but perhaps finally Albuquerque and New Mexico are recovering from the great recession.

There is a direct correlation between a family’s overall income and child wellbeing.

With employment going up, child wellbeing should also go up, but it will take more.

The debate over using a small portion of the state’s $17 billion Land Grant Permanent fund for early childhood education, care and intervention will no doubt be a major issue in the Governor’s race, and it needs to be.

Albuquerque’s Economic Development Department needs pay far more attention to Albuquerque’s growth industries if the city is going to continue turning our economy around.

Our next Governor with a little luck will be dealing with a continuing improving economy and a surplus in tax revenues thanks to oil and gas production.

Notwithstanding, come January 1, 2019 with the swearing in of a new Governor, the Governor and our new Albuquerque Mayor need to work together as much as possible and come up with a viable solution to diversifying our economy with less reliance on federal government spending.

Further the Governor and Mayor Keller should give major attention to use of the State’s Land Grant and Permanent Fund to finally solve many of our early childhood education, care and intervention problems.

Kudos To Keller Resurrecting Safe City Strike Force

Kudos are in order for Mayor Tim Keller for targeting dilapidated commercial buildings and recognizing that the city does indeed have considerable leverage when it enforces existing city ordinances.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1189609/city-targets-dilapidated-commercial-buildings.html

The Keller Administration targeted the vacant strip mall at the intersection of Juan Tabo and Central that was once home to a Furr’s Supermarket, later a Vietnamese restaurant and then bingo parlor at one time.

For the last 10 years, the strip mall has been vacant and nothing but an eyesore that had become a magnet for crime and brought property values down.

For years, the empty building was a source of constant complaints from neighbors and property owners as well as calls for service to APD to report break ins.

Mayor Keller even got into the act by posting a red “substandard building” notice on the front of the vacant strip mall.

Keller then went on to post as substandard structures at Eubank and Central and on Silver to post notices.

According to a city spokesman, 30 dilapidated commercial structures have been identified for future enforcement actions.

Frankly, there are hundreds more vacant commercial properties not to mention vacant residential homes in Albuquerque where the owners have been derelict in not maintaining and that have deteriorated to the point the properties cannot be repaired and where structures need be torn down for public safety reasons.

The city enforcement actions taken against the commercial properties are part of a “pilot project” program aimed at tackling dilapidated commercial buildings.

Supposedly, the pilot program will be reviewed after two years to determine success.

The city for close to 30 years has always had zoning enforcement and building and construction code ordinances to address substandard commercial properties.

One major problem has been the lack of commitment by the Albuquerque City Council during the last 8 years to exercise their condemnation authority and failure to fund the Safe City Strike force.

There are a number of city ordinances that define substandard buildings that allow the city to inspect, post and clean up and board up and place liens on commercial properties as well secure court orders in District Court against property owners and ultimately use of condemnation authority.

New Mexico also has some of the strongest nuisance abatement laws in the country that were at one time enforced by the city attorney’s office and the Safe City Strike Force.

Another major problem was a reluctance on the part of the previous Berry administration to enforce the existing ordinances out of fear of alienating strong supporters within the construction industry and Republican property rights advocates who have always had a disdain for any condemnation actions by the city even when done for the public safety when properties become a nuisance to the point of endangering public health, safety and welfare.

THE EYE OF NAIOP IS UPON YOU

Not at all surprising, the New Mexico chapter of NAIOP (National Association of Industrial Office Parks), a commercial real estate development association, said the group hasn’t taken a stance on the “pilot project” but will keep an “eye” on the pilot program.

It is likely NAIOP will do far more than just keep an eye on the pilot project and no doubt will want to see it fail.

NAIOP has a lengthy history of opposing commercial and residential zoning, construction and inspection codes and planning inspections viewing them as unreasonable government interference costing its membership money.

Last year, the city council proposed an ordinance to address the registration and maintenance of substandard commercial properties.

The ordinance governing commercial properties was going to require all owners of vacant commercial properties to register with the planning department, but the ordinance was totally abandoned when the city council folded like a cheap suit after outcry from the commercial property development industry, especially NAIOP.

For upwards of 16 years, there has been a city ordinance that requires owners of vacant residential properties to register the properties with the city’s planning department and which also required the residential property owners to secure the properties and maintain vacant properties.

Originally, the Planning Department took the position that the vacant building registration ordinance equally applied to commercial properties but that all changed 8 years ago with the election of a Republican mayor.

For a period of 8 years, from 2001 to 2009, NAIOP’S membership took strong issue with enforcement of the building and zoning codes and enforcement actions against commercial properties that became substandard with those actions taken by the Safe City Strike Force.

SAFE CITY STRIKE FORCE SUCCESS

From 2002 to 2009, the Safe City Strike Force was formed to combat blighted commercial and residential properties.

Thirty (30) to forty-five (40) representatives from the Albuquerque Police Department, the Albuquerque Fire Department, the Fire Marshal’s Office, the Planning Department Code residential and commercial code inspectors, Family Community Services and the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office participated and comprised the strike force.

Seventy (70) to one hundred fifty (150) properties a week, both residential and commercial properties would be reviewed by the Safe City Strike Force.

The Albuquerque City Council would be given weekly updates on the progress made in their districts on the nuisance properties identified by the Strike Force.

The Safe City Strike Force routinely prepared condemnation resolutions for enactment by the Albuquerque City Council to tear down substandard buildings, including commercial buildings.

Over 8 years, the Safe City Strike Force took civil enforcement action against some 6,500 properties, both commercial and residential.

The success of the Safe City Strike Force was clear and unmistakable:

For 8 years, the Safe City Strike Force took enforcement actions against 48 motels along central and demolished 8, took aggressive action against violent bars, closed down 4 bars and demolished 2 bars, closed 2 west side flea markets where stolen property was being sold, took enforcement actions against 20+ convenience stores, not to mention taking code enforcement actions against hundreds of residential properties that had become magnets for crime with homes used for crack houses, meth labs and illicit drug dealings, and demolished and entire strip mall and 2 vacant restaurants.

In 2010, the previous administration began to dismantled and reduce funding for the Safe City Strike Force which is not at all surprising given that then Mayor Berry was construction contractor.

Mayor Berry was considered NAIOP old reliable go to guy, especially for construction projects like the disastrous ART Bus project which many NAIOP members benefited from and did work on the project.

At the beginning of 2018, the Safe City Strike Force had one employee, its director, and the Safe City Strike Force exists in name only.

KELLER COMMITMENT TO REINSTATE SAFE CITY STRIKE FORCE

Mayor Tim Keller made a firm commitment to reinstate the Safe City Strike Force when he requested $3.9 million for the city’s Code Enforcement Department and the Safe City Strike Force in the adopted 2018-2019 budget.

$ 1.5 million in additional public safety spending was added by the city council.

The Safe City Strike Force and the Planning Department received a funding bump up to $425,000 for the incoming fiscal year.

$125,000 has been allocate to hire two additional code enforcement specialists.

$300,000 has been allocated to secure or demolish neglected structures.

COMMENTARY

The $300,000 for board ups of blighted properties is a good start, but significantly more will be needed to address the approximate 3,500 substandard properties throughout Albuquerque.

In 2009, the Safe City Strike Force had upwards of $1 million dollars consisting of federal grants and city council allocations.

Funding the Safe City Strike Force may not be a construction project like the ART Bus project, a library or fire station that Mayors and city councilors always love taking credit for, but it would go a long way to getting rid of blighted commercial and residential properties, which only sully entire neighborhoods and put residents in danger and bring property values down.

Given the approximate 3,500 substandard commercial and residential structures in Albuquerque, it should not be just a two-year pilot program but a complete and total reinstatement of the Safe City Strike Force.

Mayor Tim Keller is commended for his commitment to reinstating the Safe City Strike Force and his “pilot project”.

AG Balderas Should Investigate Auditor Johnson For Abuse of Power

Last month New Mexico State Auditor Wayne Johnson with great fanfare announced he will conduct a “special audit” examination of the Bernalillo County criminal justice system.

Johnson wants a special audit to include seven state agencies: the District Court, Metro Court, the Albuquerque Police Department, the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office, the Metropolitan Detention Center, the Public Defender’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office.

State District Court officials are now seeking the Attorney General’s opinion on whether the state auditor’s plan to examine Bernalillo County’s justice system “exceeds the authority and power” of the State Auditor’s office.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1189607/court-seeks-ags-opinion-on-audit-plan.html

In a letter to Attorney General Hector Balderas, 2nd District Chief Judge Nan Nash and Court Executive Officer Jim Noel said they believe the state auditor’s plan to examine the system through a series of audits “invites needless waste of tax payer money” and may exceed his authority.

Johnson has the bright and very mistaken idea that he has the authority to audit and entire criminal justice system, especially judge’s decisions to deny prosecutor’s efforts to detain people in jail pending trial.

It should not come as any surprise that the 2nd Judicial Court is now questioning Johnson’s authority or is empowered by law to do his special audit in that the audit is not a financial audit dealing with the expenditure of taxpayer money which is all that is allowed by law.

STATE LAW IS CLEAR

In accordance with the New Mexico Audit Act, §§ 12-6-1 to 12-6-14, NMSA 1978, the New Mexico State Auditor’s office has only two statutory purposes:

“(1) to ensure that the financial affairs of every agency shall be thoroughly examined and audited each year by the state auditor, personnel of the state auditor’s office designated by the state auditor or independent auditors approved by the state auditor
(2) cause the financial affairs and transactions of an agency to be audited in whole or in part. (Section 12-6-3, NMSA 1978.)”

These two statutory purposes grant the State Auditor the authority to conduct both financial and special financial audits to identify financial irregularities, waste, fraud and abuse by the government entities.

The state statutes do not empower the authority to analyze an entire criminal justice system and the inherent powers granted to other elected officials such as judges, prosecutors and law enforcement officials, all who are included in the special audit.

The Office of the State Auditor conducts and oversees audits of approximately 1,000 government entities, from large state agencies to small political subdivisions.

The authority of the office is to review the financial affairs of government agencies, including contracts, purchases agreements and make sure that the government agencies are not engaged in fraud, waste and abuse of government and taxpayer funds.

While the State Auditor performs mandatory audits each year of city, county and state agencies, due to the Office’s limited resources, a majority of the financial audits are conducted by independent public accounting firms (IPAs) whom partner with the Office.

The State Auditor requires the government agencies that are audited to foot the bill for the independent public auditing firms.

The State Auditor does not have any prosecutorial authority and when criminal wrong doing is found in an audit, it is turned over to the appropriate state or federal prosecuting agency.

JOHNSON CONTINUES TO VILIFY CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

In announcing his special audit last month, Johnson said:

“As auditors, we can look at each piece of the system and how those pieces mesh together. … We can help mend the cracks that lead to horrible crimes … When judges and prosecutors don’t have all the facts because the systems aren’t communicating, criminals … fall through the cracks. The consequences are devastating for people’s lives and for the City of Albuquerque as a whole. We can do better.”

https://www.abqjournal.com/1175867/state-auditor-announces-plans-for-criminal-justice-review.htm

In other words, Johnson “special audit” has nothing to do with financial matters but more to do with grinding his political axe and show his continued ignorance and contempt for our criminal justice system.

When Wayne Johnson ran for Mayor last year, his speeches and commercials took to a whole new level pandering to upset voters and to appeal to their worst fears to get votes, especially when he said he would end Albuquerque’s sanctuary city status.

His efforts as a Bernalillo County Commissioner to end the county’s immigrant sanctuary status failed miserably.

The most disturbing part of Mr. Johnson’s candidacy for Mayor was his intentional promotion of ignorance of our criminal justice system, our constitutional rights of due process of law and the presumption of innocence.

Going after and complaining about elected judges for their rulings, which Johnson wants to do with his audit under the guise of “mending the cracks”, is a red flag of ignorance of our criminal justice system.

Johnson’s special audit is just plain pandering to appeal to people’s worst fears to get votes or even worse, lying to the public.

Attacking our Judicial system and judge’s rulings is a familiar tactic of President Donald Trump and is a lesson learned by Johnson to “gin up” his conservative base in Albuquerque.

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

It is an abuse of office and authority for any elected official to undertake functions of an office that are not in fact authorized by law.

Wayne Johnson needs to read and fully understand the state laws that outline and limit his authority as State Auditor.

Conducting an auditing of a criminal justice system process that is not financial in nature is not within his powers and authority as State Auditor and a clear abuse of power.

COMMENTARY

No doubt Wayne Johnson is really hoping the audit will help him get elected State Auditor on November 6, 2018.

The Metro Court, the Albuquerque Police Department, the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office, the Metropolitan Detention Center, the Public Defender’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office should all join in with the District Court and challenge the authority of the State Auditor to stop his special audit.

Attorney General Hector Balderas, a former State Auditor himself, should write a letter of instruction to State Auditor Wayne Johnson telling him to cease and desist with his audit of the Second Judicial District criminal justice system and explain to him it is not appropriate nor authorized by law.

Another option would be for Attorney General Hector Balderas to open an investigation of his own of State Auditor Wayne Johnson for abuse of authority and discretion of his office.

In the meantime, voters need to recognize how dangerous Wayne Johnson is to our criminal justice system and vote for Brian Colon as our new State Auditor come November 6, 2018.

Ten Commandments Written In Orange Tanning Solution

DATELINE: LEXINGTON, VIRGINIA

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders disclosed to the press that on a Friday night she was asked to leave a small Lexington, Virginia restaurant known as the Red Hen.

Huckabee Sanders claimed she was at the restaurant for a nice evening dinner out with her husband and 4 of their friends.

Huckabee-Sanders claimed the Red Hen’s owner asked her to leave because of her role publicly defending President Donald Trump’s policies including a ban on transgender people serving in the military and forced separations of families caught crossing illegally at the U.S.-Mexican border.

Sanders said she and her husband “politely left” after the owner asked her to leave.

Soon after Sanders shared her side of the incident during a White House press briefing, President Trump jumped to her defense on twitter saying:

“The Red Hen Restaurant should focus more on cleaning its filthy canopies, doors and windows (badly needs a paint job) rather than refusing to serve a fine person like Sarah Huckabee Sanders.”

Confidential sources with the Washington Post and the New York Times are reporting that White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee-Sanders was in fact asked to leave by the owner the restaurant because she was leading a Bible study class with the other 5.

It was reported that the Bible group became a disruption to the other clientele in the restaurant, the owner felt he had no choice but to ask her to leave the premises.

The owner of the restaurant was quoted as saying:

“It was the strangest thing I ever seen in all the years I have owned my restaurant. To the shock and dismay of all my other clientele and employees in the restaurant, this group of six lead by Huckabee-Sanders stood up, swaying their arms and hands in the air while chanting “I believe in the Trump Almighty” and “In the Donald we trust”.

When asked to show proof of what happened, the restaurant owner said that in all the commotion to leave, Huckabee Sanders left and autograph book of “The Art of The Deal” that was being used as a Bible for study.

The book left by Huckabee-Sanders had written in it “The Trump Ten Commandments”.

The Trump 10 Commandments are in Trumps own handwriting and written in orange tanning solution mixed with bright yellow hair dye.

Confidential sources for The New York Times and Washington Post have also confirmed that White House insiders are claiming regular Bible Study courses are also being conducted at the White House on the Trump 10 Commandments.

The Trump Ten Commandments are reported to be:

1st TRUMP COMMANDMENT: Thou shall have no other Gods before Trump.

The one and only person allowed to teach this Bible Study course is Trump himself because he believes he is God. Attendees are having a hard time reading their autograph copies of the “The Art of the Deal” because all the pages are stuck together with smears of the “special sauce” from McDonalds used on Big Macs.

2nd TRUMP COMMANDMENT: Thou Shall Not Make False Idols That Are Not Trump.

White House sources who decline to be identified claim all White House staff carry 3-inch gold plated statues of Trump with “small hands” that they are required to worship each day. No other idols are allowed in the White House. Rudy Giuliani has lead this Bible study on this commandment for a small fee of $1,000 per hour asking his money be funneled through the Michael Cohen law firm. While Giuliani lectures, Trump himself stands in front of the mirror saying prayers to himself while eating Big Mac cheese burgers in the private quarters, all the while FOX News provides a backdrop on TV.

3rd TRUMP COMMANDMENT: Thou Shall Not Take The Name Of Lord Trump Your God In Vain.

Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson use to teach this class until he was fired by Trump while Trump sat on a toilet because Tillerson referred to Trump as a “moron”. Chief of Staff John Kelly took over, but his position is in doubt after denying he called Trump an “idiot”. John Bannon is said to be thinking about applying for the opening once Kelly is fired.

4th TRUMP COMMANDMENT: Remember the Sabbath Day, To Keep It Holy, Unless Every Day Is The Sabbath.

This Bible study class has been cancelled until further notice from the President in that in his eyes every day at the White House is the sabbath day to worship Donald Trump.

5th TRUMP COMMANDMENT: Thou Shall Honor Your Father Trump and Your Step Mother.

Eric Trump, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. are all trying to teach First Lady Melania Trump this commandment but she keeps using the old notebooks from the three former Mrs. Trumps.

6th TRUMP COMMANDMENT: Thou Shall Not Kill, Unless You Are President Trump.

This Trump Commandment has its origins from when Trump said “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters.” Michael Cohen, the president’s fixer, continues to teach this commandment until he is indicted for taking anyone out at Trump’s order to fix a problem. President of the National Rifle Association Wayne La Pierre offers a substitute class for credit entitled “People Kill People Not Assault Rifles”.

7th TRUMP COMMANDMENT: Thou Shall Not Commit Adultery, Unless You Have A Really Good Prenuptial.

Stormy Daniels teaches this commandment class using over 3,000 rough drafts of confidentiality agreements Trump has used to settle all his affairs. Daniels is said to also use at least 3 original prenuptial agreements Trump has signed from his previous marriages. Stormy Daniels is also said to use a pole as she spins around answering any and all questions during the class.

8th TRUMP COMMANDMENT: Thou Shall Not Steal And Not Say It Is A Campaign Donation.

Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, was teaching this class until he was thrown in jail for witness tampering. As a backup, the White House has asked over 3,000 students of Trump University to teach this commandment. However, there are no takers with all awaiting refunds from the settlement in the fraud lawsuit filed against Trump.

9th TRUMP COMMANDMENT: Thou Shall Not Lie, But Make Sure You Lie When You Get Caught.

The only ones that are allowed to teach this bible study are Russian President Vladimir Putin, Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Kellyanne Conway contingent on their availability.

10th TRUMP COMMANDMENT: Thou Shall Not Covet What Is Trumps.

Kim Jong-Un and President Donald Trump are trying decide who will lead this study class as they await word who gets the “Nobel Peace Prize”. Rumor is that two awards have already been cast in radioactive “yellow cake” by the Nobel Peace Prize Committee, one in the shape of “LITTLE BOY” and the other in the shape of “FATMAN”. (Least anyone forget, “Little Boy” and “Fat Man” are the nicknames given to the two atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan that ended World War II.) The Nobel Prize committee is said to be conflicted as to who gets the “FAT MAN” trophy and who gets the “LITTLE MAN” trophy calling it the closest call they have ever had in recent history making the awards. The Nobel Committee is hoping to take the measurements of Kim’s and Trump’s hands as a tie breaker.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders was last seen leaving the White House followed by 25 secret Service agents all carrying White House carry-out bags going to the nearest McDonald’s.

This is a continuing story and further reports will be made as the White House tweets continue.

DISCLAIMER: FOR THOSE WHO TEND TO BELIEVE ANYTHING ON FACEBOOK AND THE INTERNET THEY READ, THE ABOVE NEWS RELEASE IS NOT TO BE CONSIDERED ANYTHING RELATED TO THE TRUTH.

Feel Good Ads Usually Followed By Negative Ads

On June 6, 2018, KOB ran the first poll conducted and released by Carrol Strategies that showed Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham with 50.5%, Republican Steve Pearce with 42.1%, Libertarian Bob Walsh with 3.1% and Undecided at 4.3% in the race for Governor.

http://www.petedinelli.com/2018/06/20/first-poll-released-for-november-general-election/

A new Survey USA/KOB poll released June 25, 2018 now has Michell Lujan Grisham leading Steve Pearce by 13% in the race for New Mexico governor.

https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/lujan-grisham-widens-lead-over-pearce-in-new-poll/4963872/#.WzJIDbcsQwY.facebook

This second KOB 4 poll has Lujan Grisham again in the lead with 51%, Republican Steve Pearce with 38%, Libertarian Bob Walsh with 3% and 8% of voter’s undecided.

Within days after June 5 primary, Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham began running her TV commercials that were very positive and reintroduced herself again to the voting public giving a very compelling personal background regarding her family.

Within a few days after the first poll showing Steve Pearce behind, Pearce began running his “feel good about me ads.”

The one feel good ad he ran in the primary was “I was born a poor white guy ad” as he struggled as an infant of tender months to overcome obstacles to live in Texas.

COMMENTARY

The election is in four months away, which is an eternity in politics.

It is likely Michelle Lujan Grisham began running commercials so early to protect and preserve her overwhelming landslide in the primary and to keep Democrats motivated and to protect the lead she already has.

The next faze now will be for Pearce to start unloading all the negativity he can on Michelle Lujan Grisham.

No matter what voters say about them, negative ads work and for Pearce to have any hope of closing the gap, he will have to go negative.

Brace yourself for one expensive and nasty general election race.

Do Not Rebuild A “New APD” With Old Problems

The Keller Administration is proposing to spend $88 million dollars, over a four-year period, with 32 million dollars of recurring expenditures, to hire 322 sworn officers and expand APD from 878 sworn police officers to 1,200 officers.

For the first fiscal year of the four-year plan, the 2018-2019 approved budget provides for increasing funding from 1,000 sworn police to 1,040, which is not much of an increase.

Notwithstanding the existing funding for 1,000 sworn police, APD at the beginning of 2018 had only 878 sworn police.

The biggest danger in hiring retired APD officers is the danger of bringing back officers that created, contributed or did not stop the culture of aggression found by the Department of Justice and that contributed to the $62 million dollars in settlements for police use of excessive force and deadly force.

Sources have said the Keller Administration is processing 30 “lateral hires” from other agencies, which could prove to be problematic if the Keller Administration is not extremely careful.

Lateral hires could result in hiring personnel from other departments that have a history of disciplinary problems and individuals not fully trained in constitutional policing practices.

A major problem with hiring “laterals” is that in a real sense, lateral hires are who contributed to the “culture of aggression” with that very argument made in a civil lawsuit against APD that resulted in a large judgment against the city.

One cadet class in particular had an inordinate number of police officer involved shootings that were part of the original 18 deadly use of force cases that brought the Department of Justice here in the first place.

A new cadet class of 45 has been seated that will graduate in December, with the likelihood 30 candidates making it through all the training and on to graduation.

APPROVED PAY AND LONGEVITY PAY INCREASES

The Keller Administration and the APD Union negotiated and agreed to a 2-year contract.

The approved contract provides that the pay rate for officers with zero to four years of experience will go from $28 to $29 an hour.

Under the contract, officers with 4 to 14 years of experience will be paid $30 an hour.

The new contract will also raise the pay of more senior officers to between $30 to $31.50 an hour.

Officers with 15 years of more will be paid $31.50 an hour.

The rate for sergeants will go from $32 to $35 an hour, and lieutenants pay will go up from $36.70 to $40.00 an hour.

The approved longevity pay scale effective August 1, 2018 for the 2018-2019 fiscal year is as follows:

For 5 to 9 years of experience: $100 will be paid bi-weekly, or $2,600 yearly
For 10 to 14 years of experience: $150 will be paid bi-weekly, or $3,900 yearly
For 15 to 17 years of experience: $200 will be paid bi-weekly, or $5,200 yearly
For 1 to 19 years of experience: $300 will be paid bi-weekly, or $7,800 yearly
For 10 to 20 years or more: $500 will be paid bi-weekly, or $13,000 yearly

DAN KLEIN ARTICLE ON RETIRED OFFICERS RETURNING

Dan Klein is a retired APD Sergeant who has authored numerous blog articles.

With Dan Klein’s permission, following is a recent article of his:

It Makes Cents, and Dollars, For retired Cops to Return to APD
June 25, 2018

By: Dan Klein

“Since the Albuquerque Police Officers Association agreed to the large pay raise that Mayor Keller offered last month, I have had several retired officers ask me if it’s worth it for them to suspend their pension and go back to APD. With input from the good people at PERA and Shaun Willoughby, of the APOA, I have tried to crunch some numbers, dispel some rumors and provide some hard facts.

This new labor agreement is open to everyone: new cadets, current officers who wish to lateral to APD, and retired police officers. This column only discusses the financial impact of suspending their pensions to go work at APD, for retired New Mexico police officers.

The way the new contract with APD was written, APD can extend this new pay rate and longevity to any retired officer. An officer who is already New Mexico state certified is more attractive to APD (as they can bring them on board quickly). All retired officers qualify for these benefits.

The APD website shows that retired / lateral officers will be hired back at $29 hour for their first year (probation). Immediately upon being hired they will receive longevity based upon the number of years they have served as a police officer anywhere. Longevity is not based upon APD time, but upon all the years served with any department as a sworn police officer. In 2019 the longevity for a 20-year veteran officer becomes a whopping $15,600 per year.

For PERA purposes, officers get their pensions calculated on their hourly rate, longevity and specialty pay. For this column I am only going to concern myself with hour rate and longevity pay. Retired officers returning to APD in 2018 will start at $29 hour plus $500 bi-weekly in longevity. They will go to $31.50 hour and start receiving the $15,600 in longevity after they serve their one-year probation.

If a retired police officer who is receiving a pension from PERA decides to suspend his pension and join APD they will do so under Tier 1 rules. The most important of these rules is that PERA will calculate a new pension on the highest three years.

Retired officers who come back, build a new pension calculation and then retire again will have to wait seven years before they will start receiving their COLA. This is waived when the retired officer turns 65 years old. In that case the COLA begins the year after the officer turns 65.

I am basing calculations on an officer who retired after 20 years, making an hourly wage of $28 and a yearly longevity of $2,400. The reason I am using these figures is the APOA stated this is what APD officers were earning, the last few years, when Albuquerque had hundreds of officers retire.

Here are the comparisons. A current officer who retired at the $28 rate plus $2,400 in longevity, at 70% would get a pension of approximately $42,448 per year. If that retired officer started receiving COLA’s in 2018 their pension would increase to $45,947 in 2022 and $52,778 in 2029 and $57,129 in 2033.

Compare this with a retired officer who suspends his pension to join APD in 2018. I won’t count 2018 because that is the probation year and the officer will make $29 per hour. The officer will not have the $31,50 and $15,600 calculation for three years until 2022. This is 83% and the officer could retire at $67,329. Seven years later when the officer will start receiving the first COLA the difference between the officer who didn’t suspend the pension and the one who did and recalculated at 83% is approximately $14,551! The officer who suspended would increase his pension by $1,212 per month!

If the officer stayed for the maximum retirement of 90%, with no further pay raises, the pension would recalculate at $73,008. In the year 2033, when the 90% officer would start receiving a COLA, the difference would be almost $15,879! A monthly increase of $1,323!

Let me strongly point out though that this new pay level is open to ALL police officers who retired while working for a New Mexico agency. This is important because, for example, an officer retired after 20 years (70%) based upon $20 per hour, they could suspend their pension, get hired by APD and in just a few years greatly increase their pension. They would get a new pension calculation based upon 83% at $31.50 per hour plus $15,600 in longevity. This would be a huge increase.

There are a lot of issues a retired officer will need to consider before suspending retirement to build a new pension calculation. I have only looked at the financial incentive. Retired officers and their families will need to consider if physically, mentally and emotionally they are ready to come back into police work in a large metro area. We aren’t as young as we used to be, money isn’t everything.

What about the current double dippers at APD? There are about 70 APD officers that fall into this category. Suspending their pensions would mean building a new calculation. They would stay in the positions they currently hold, but would it be smart to stop double dipping to recalculate their pension? That will depend upon their current financial outlook. If they have bills based upon double dipping, then they might not be able to stop their pension check. Talking to a financial planner would be the appropriate course of action for them.

The worse thing they can do is to get advice from other officers, as many times the information is wrong and not based upon all the facts of their unique situation. Get your advice from a financial professional before you make this decision.

Hopefully, Chief Geier has directed APD Recruiting to send letters to ALL officers throughout New Mexico who have retired in the last couple years. A retired officer certification stays current for two years after retirement. Tapping into retired NMSP, BCSO, Santa Fe PD, Las Cruces PD, etc could quickly increase the number of veteran officers at APD, while continuing to hire new officers.

APD has a real opportunity to grow the department with good, seasoned police officers. APD must take advantage of this with a recruiting campaign to reach out to the hundreds of officers, statewide, who have retired in the last couple years. That campaign needs to start NOW!

If APD grows the force over 900 by the end of 2018, Geier and Keller deserve all the praise. If APD continues to languish below 900 officers, well, somebody probably needs to be fired. If I were Chief Geier I would be getting my best people on this recruiting campaign immediately. Don’t wait for these officers to come you, go out and get them! Put an ad in the PERA La Voz newsletter. Get a list of retired officers! The opportunity is now, don’t waste it.

Would I come back? The answer is no. I retired in 2003 and even though I think I am still in good shape, my eyes and ears tell me I am not as sharp as I once was. I have substantial hearing loss and I don’t think younger officers would appreciate me always asking, “What did they say?”

Officers who suspend their pensions to come to APD will start with high pay, but low seniority. That means graveyard shift and like sleeping at night. As I get older, I need all the beauty sleep I can get.

Mayor Keller and Chief Geier must use a private headhunter / PR firm to go after the hundreds of recently retired police officers in New Mexico. I would not leave this in the hands of APD Recruiting. This is not a slam on APD Recruiting, it is just being honest that professional job companies / PR firms will do a better job of finding these retirees and convincing them to join APD. APD manning is such an important issue that Keller and Geier need to toss everything at it. Do this right and APD manning issues could be a thing of the past very quickly. Do it wrong and Keller and Geier will be viewed as failures. Mayor Keller and Chief Geier, let’s do this right!

DINELLI COMMENTARY

Over the last three years and since the Department of Justice (DOJ) consent decree, APD has had a difficult time keeping up with retirements.

APD has gone from 1,100 fully staffed APD sworn officers in December, 2009 to 878 at the beginning of June, 2018.

Things got so bad with recruiting qualified people that the previous administration sought to allow double dipping where a retired officer could retire and then immediately return to work and collect their salary and pension.

The increases in hourly wages and longevity pay are in no way a panacea for APD recruiting a new generation of police officers fully trained in constitutional policing practices.

It may make financial sense for a retired APD cop to return to work, but you cannot rebuild a “new APD” by recruiting the “old APD”.

A public relations recruitment program definitely needs to be implemented in conjunction with the city’s Human Resources Department, but an emphasis should first be placed upon hiring a new generation of police officer, not retired police nor lateral hires.

If the past 8-year history with the APD Academy is any reflection of what will happen, the APD Academy will be lucky to hire and train enough cadets just to keep up with retirements.

In order to increase APD from the current 878 sworn police to 1,040 sworn by this time next year, the APD Police Academy will need to keep up with expected retirements and will have to hire at least 162 new officers either as new recruits or as lateral hires.

I agree with Dan Klein that if APD grows the force over 900 by the end of 2018, Geier and Keller deserve kudos for a job well done.

However, if APD does not meet the budgeted goal of 1,040 officers by July 1, 2019, somebody probably needs to be fired because this will signal nothing has changed with APD recruitment practices with millions spent for recruitment to no avail and no results.