APD Stonewalls Citizen Police Oversight Agency Again

Below are two reports published in APQ Reports on August 20, 2018 and August 21, 2018 respectively. .

Dennis Domrzalski is a longtime journalist in Albuquerque, he has covered the Department of Justice Consent decree hearings extensively as well as APD.

Dan Klein is a retired APD sergeant.

The Albuquerque Journal and the TV stations have not reported on the fact that the Civilian Police Oversight Agency is being denied access to an Internal Affairs Investigation.

APDReports has now sued the City over the denial of an Inspection of Public Records Request.

THE ABQREPORTS ARTICLES

ABQReports: City Stonewalls CPOA on Jennifer Garcia Internal Affairs Investigation

August 20, 2018

BY: Dennis Domrzalski

“The city of Albuquerque has refused to turn over to the Civilian Police Oversight Agency the police department’s Internal Affairs file on Lt. Jennifer Garcia, who was recently demoted as the head of IA for backdating an altering a public document.

That refusal has prompted a former member of the city’s Police Oversight Board to accuse the city of violating the 2014 police oversight ordinance and of trying to hide something and protect someone.

The city’s Legal Department notified Ed Harness, director of the Civilian Police Agency, on Friday, Aug. 17, that it wouldn’t run over Garcia’s IA file, saying the document constituted attorney client privilege.

The CPOA had requested the file because the POB voted on Aug. 9 to investigate the Garcia matter. The motion to conduct the investigation was made by POB member Chelsea Van Deventer

Former POB member Jim Larson was furious when he heard the news.

“That’s horseshit,” Larson told ABQReport. “The [police oversight] ordinance says the POB will monitor and audit Internal Affairs investigations. Why would they violate the ordinance? What are they trying to protect? This is a slap n the face to transparency.”

Harness said he got an email Friday afternoon from Assistant City Attorney Samantha Holtz saying the city would not turn over Garcia’s IA file to the CPOA so it could conduct an investigation into the process of how Garcia was demoted.

“I was told by City Legal on Friday afternoon. They said it fell under attorney client privilege and that the investigation was done in anticipation of litigation,” Harness told ABQReport. “I’m a bit unclear of what litigation they are anticipating so I have asked [City Legal] for some clarification there.”

Harness said that the city’s refusal greatly hampers the CPOA’s ability to investigate the Garcia matter.

“There was some process by which there was a decision to demote her [Garcia] and they must have reached that conclusion based on the investigation,” Harness said. He added that the case has the appearance of a conflict of interest because Jennifer Garcia’s husband is APD Deputy Chief Eric Garcia.

“You have her spouse on the department. There is clearly the appearance of a conflict. Was her case reviewed and done no differently than any other case?” Harness added. “Without looking at the file, how can we be sure that all the proper steps were taken?”

APD began investigating Jennifer Garcia in March when she was the commander of the IA unit. The city hired a private firm to conduct the investigation, which found that Garcia had backdated an IA investigation on a police officer to make it appear that the probe had been completed by the deadline imposed by the department’s collective bargaining agreement with the Albuquerque Police Officers Association.

Earlier this month, APD Chief Mike Geier demoted Garcia from commander to lieutenant and transferred her to the department’s Field Services Bureau.

ABQReport filed an inspection of public records request with the city for the investigative file on Garcia. The city denied the request, and ABQReport then sued the city in state District Court demanding its release. That case is pending and the city has been ordered by District Court Judge Alan Malott to explain why it has refused to release the file.

Geier has also filed an LEA-90 against Garcia with the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy. An LEA-90 is usually filed when a police chief wants to revoke an officer’s law enforcement license. But Geier made no recommendation in his LEA-90 on Gracia, and an APD spokesman said that Geier isn’t trying to get Garcia’s law enforcement license revoked.

Harness said he doesn’t know what his agency will do next to try and pry the file lose from the city, but he added that the CPOA could sue the city in an effort to get it released.

“I don’t know what the next steps will be,” Harness said. “We will have to discuss that with the [POB] board and counsel to see what the next steps will be and whether we will have to litigate as well.”

https://www.abqreport.com/single-post/2018/08/20/City-Stonewalls-CPOA-on-Jennifer-Garcia-Internal-Affairs-Investigation

APQ REPORTS KLEIN: COVER-UP IN JENNIFER GARCIA IA CASE

August 21, 2018

BY DAN KLEIN
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Mayor Tim Keller are you out there? Is this your idea of transparency?

The City Attorney is refusing to release any part of the Internal Affairs investigation on Jennifer Garcia to the Civilian Police Oversight Agency saying it’s attorney work product. Well, just who is the city attorney protecting and who owns the “work product?” Last I checked the city attorney represented … the city and it’s citizens!

We paid for this work, we deserve to see what we bought. Therefore, I formally release the city attorney from their attorney client privilege with me and I demand that they release the entire Jennifer Garcia investigation to the CPOA.

It won’t happen. Police Chief Mike Geier and Keller are protecting someone regarding this investigation.

I remember the city attorney last year couldn’t release an IA investigation into the commander of the Airport police, Marshall Katz, fast enough. Even if you hadn’t asked for a copy, city employees would have driven by your house and lobbed a copy out the car door window onto your driveway. That’s how badly they wanted Katz out.

This the same old APD, and Gordo and R.J. might as well still be in command. Always the same. When something makes them look good, or when they want to get someone they don’t like, boom! The files, audios and videos are out there almost immediately. And they’re made public whether anyone asked for them or not.

But if there are files and investigations that make them, or one of their favorites look bad, they refuse to release it until they’re dragged into court and ordered to by a judge. And guess what? That costs you and me money because the fines the city winds up paying come from our wallets.

Now they are stonewalling again on the Garcia case. So what happens next?

A waste of taxpayer money as the CPOA sues the City Attorney / APD to force them to release the IA investigation. Who pays? Us.

We’ll be paying for the CPOA, a public agency, to sue the city, and we’ll be paying for the city to defend itself against the CPOA. That’s insanity. That’s immoral, and that makes me sick.

The city attorney who authorized this crap should be fired immediately. Or is transparency another promise that Keller never planned to keep? Come on Mayor, fix this before you lose all credibility. There is a cover-up going on at APD and the City Attorney is up to their necks in it. Something stinks. If you care about transparency and our city please share this.

The city attorney denies the CPOA access to the Jennifer Garcia IA investigation citing attorney work product. Who paid for this work product? You and me folks. The Albuquerque taxpayer paid for it, but the city attorney doesn’t think we deserve to know what it says.

Mayor Keller, hello? Please fix this before my tax dollars get spent for the CPOA to sue and the city attorney to defend. Maybe make Assistant City Attorney Samantha Holtz pay for the defense out of her own pocket. That might make people in City Hall remember who their bosses are. They work for us. We paid for this investigation. Make it public!

What are they afraid of?

https://www.abqreport.com/single-post/2018/08/21/Klein-Cover-Up-In-Jennifer-Garcia-IA-Case

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

When read together, the two blog articles pack a powerful punch.

The articles reflect that nothing is really changing at APD nor with Internal Affairs, especially with the tactics of stonewalling the media to coverup things that are happening within APD.

The city over the past 8 years has been on the losing side of lawsuit after lawsuit over its failure to respond to IPRA requests in a timely manner and failure to turn over documents that are public record.

Thousands of taxpayer dollars have been paid out in fines that could have easily been avoided had the city followed the law.

One observation that is being made by many APD insiders is that what Jennifer Bell Garcia did at Internal Affairs of backdating an altering a public document was probably not the first time it has happened.

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

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

The disciplinary action taken against former APD Internal Affairs Commander Jennifer Garcia and her relationship with Deputy Chief Eric Garcia in the APD upper command staff is further evidence that APD cannot police itself because of the inherent biases of one police officer investigating another.

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

For more see:

http://www.petedinelli.com/2018/07/17/apd-power-couple-of-apd-chief-geiers-own-creation/

On To The Next Republican Elephant Pile of Dung To Clean Up

The city has secured $75 million from the federal government to pay for the long-awaited Albuquerque Rapid Transit project.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1211590/city-to-receives-75-million-for-art.html?fb_action_ids=1886215921512750&fb_action_types=og.likes

Congratulations are in order to Democrat Mayor Tim Keller when he said:

“Our team invested time, sweat and energy into recouping our city’s funds for building the ART project, and now we have word from the Federal Transit Administration that a big portion of the federal funding is on the way. This outcome alleviates the burden of having to cover the cost of the project with city funds or new tax dollars. … There is still a ways to go, but at least now we can balance the books with our residents’ tax dollars restored”

Democrat Unites State Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham had this to say:

“This federal reimbursement is a testament to the work and strong partnership of all the stakeholders involved, and ensures that the city has the flexibility to invest in other infrastructure programs that improve our transportation system and create jobs. … Despite the numerous and serious issues associated with this project, we were able to work together with community members and the congressional delegation to find a solution for the people we represent.”

The $75 million in funding will come in two installments through the Federal Transit Administration’s Small Starts Program.

The entire ART Bus project cost $130 million dollars, of which all has ostensibly been paid.

The City and taxpayers will now be reimbursed for money already spent on the disastrous ART Bus project that forced the closure of so many businesses along Central.

Sadly, the debt will be paid in full on one hell of a boondoggle that benefited only a few and destroyed Route 66 and the buses are still not operating.

On to the next Republican White Elephant pile of dung left behind by former Mayor Richard Berry with many more that will not be this easy to clean up.

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POSTSCRIPT

Following is a blog article listing of articles on the Art Bus project:

http://www.petedinelli.com/2018/06/12/dinelli-blog-articles-on-art-bus-project-listed/

St. Martin’s HopeWorks Reflects How City Treats Its Homeless

The greatness of a city is reflected by the extent it commits to a better life for its homeless who suffer from mental illness.

On Monday, August 20, 2018, after more than two hours of public comment and deliberation, the Albuquerque City Council showed a little greatness with a 5-3 vote.

The Albuquerque City Council voted to award $2 million to St. Martin’s HopeWorks to build a complex that will provide behavioral health services, medical care, counseling and treatment and shelter to the chronically homeless and the homeless who suffer from mental illness.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1211351/councilors-approve-2m-for-proposed-hopeworks-village.html

THE HOPEWORKS PROJECT

According to the HopeWorks project Request For Proposal (RFP), the “priority population” will include individuals in four criteria including homelessness or severe housing instability, frequent admission to MDC’s psychiatric unit, frequent utilization of detox services, and frequent use of emergency medical service for behavioral health needs.

The project is to be built on a site near St. Martin’s Hospitality Center on Third Street NW, which has been at the location for decades.

The HopeWorks project includes purchasing land, planning, designing, constructing and improving a single-site behavioral health services center with associated supportive and transitional affordable housing.

The HopeWorks project will be developed in three phases.

PHASE 1 will include a 42-unit supportive housing building for chronically homeless individuals.

On the first floor, residents will be able to access behavioral health and case management services.

Residential units will comprise the second and third floors of the building.

The proposed HopeWorks project will include one-bedroom units, designed to be both ADA accessible and contain universal design features.

PHASE 2 includes construction of a new administrative and services building.

The complex will include a management office, a maintenance room, a central front lobby, a social services provider’s office and additional service space, as well as public gathering spaces and laundry areas.

PHASE 3 will replace the existing day shelter and dining hall and combine them into one building.

The program will identify the “chronic homeless” that need medical assistance and counseling but by no means is transitional housing.

Approximately $9 million total is being expended on the project: the $2 million from the city council, $3 million in Bernalillo County funding and housing vouchers and another $4 million from the New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority.

The project should in no way be considered near or similar to the $2 million “Tiny Home Village” project of 35 small one room, 110 square foot shelters, to be built on one acre of land and that is to provide transitional housing to those who qualify.

ST. MARTIN’S HOSPITALITY CENTER NOW ST. MARTIN’S HOPEWORKS

St. Martin’s Hospitality Center has been around for over 32 years and for 25 years has been at the current location between 3rd and 4th streets just north of Mountain Road.

St. Martin’s provides critical services for people experiencing homelessness and near homelessness.

According to its web site, services provided by St. Martins include: Housing; Shelter and Emergency Support Services; Mental Health Treatment Services; Outpatient Treatment Services; Psycho-Social Rehabilitation; Residential Treatment Services for Co-Occurring Disorders; Consumer-Run (Peer-Support) Services; Recovery support for returning citizens through Dismas/Covenant House Program; Supports the severely disabled through the Assertive Community Treatment Program (ACT); and Employment Services.

On average, nearly 6,000 individuals, including those with severe and persistent mental illness, substance abuse problems, military veterans, woman and families fleeing domestic violence and the medically fragile seek the various services from St. Martins.

St. Martin’s is now being rebranded as St. Martin’s HopeWorks and is the main developer of the 42-unit supportive housing multifamily development project.

Greg Morris has been the Executive Director St. Martin’s Hospitality Center for the last two years.

Greg Morris had this to say about the “rebranding and renaming” of St. Martin’s Hospitality to “HopeWorks” combining the two words hope and works as one:

“Hope is a powerful word. … We’re serving a population that has largely lost all hope. Part of our job is to re-instill hope in each human soul we come in contact with. What the indomitable human spirit can do with just a little bit of hope is just incredible and we see these success stories on display in our community every day. … Works’ is an action word, and if there’s something we know how to do at St. Martin’s it’s action that makes a tangible difference in the lives of the people who we serve.”

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

NIMBY stands for “Not In My Back Yard” relating to proposed projects opposed by homeowners, property owners, and business owners.

Two of the biggest issues that generate extensive public outcry of “not in my backyard” are the location of methadone clinics, homeless shelters and locating service providers to the homeless.

Not at all surprising, many spoke in opposition to the St. Martin’s HopeWorks project.

Opposition arguments ranged from negative impacts on new area businesses such as brew pubs, residential areas, to neighborhood safety to cost justification.

One argument made was that the complex will be only a 42-unit complex.

The argument fails to account for the on-going influx of patients over a period of years with thousands to be assisted and helped.

The Reverend Vincent Chavez, pastor of St. Therese Parish and Catholic School, told city councilors that the proposal will not solve “this serious issue” of the homeless.

Reverend Chavez was quoted as telling the City Council:

“We the residents and businesses of North Downtown, Wells Park and near North Valley are overstressed and are at wit’s end. … None of us, the deprived neighbor or our residents with an actual roof over their heads has a quality of life, security and well-being as long as the homeless issue has no real permanent solution.”

So much for acts of charity, compassion and Christianity by the Reverend Chavez.

St. Martin’s HopeWorks will be providing services to people and patients that are far more likely a danger to themselves than North Downtown, Wells Park and the near North Valley.

The people who will benefit from HopeWorks will be off the streets of Albuquerque.

Reverend Chavez and those in opposition to the project apparently do not recognize that the project is in fact a “real permanent solution” for the homeless.

The 42-unit project represents a “real permanent solution” for the homeless designed to provide an array of medical, counseling and housing services that can help people “regain self-sufficiency” and where possible integrate back into society.

The St. Martin’s HopeWorks project should have been a “no brainer” of a vote and should have passed on a 9-0 vote given the amount of planning and development dedicated to the project and the decades of documented success by St. Martin’s to provide services to the homeless.

Democrat City Councilors Ken Sanchez, Isaac Benton, Diane Gibson, Klaressa Pena and Cynthia Borrego all voted for the HopeWorks project recognizing the void the project will fill in providing necessary medical services to the chronic homeless suffering from addiction or mental illness.

Not all surprising fiscal conservative Republicans Brad Winter and real estate broker Trudy Jones voted against the project with Republican City Councilor Don Harris unable to attend the meeting.

All three Republican City Councilors represent the most affluent neighborhoods and parts of the city where the homeless are seldom seen but for them to see even one on a street corner or freeway entrance is unacceptable to them, especially Trudy Jones who was the sponsor of the “anti-panhandling ordinance”.

“Mr. Progressive” Democrat City Councilor Pat Davis voted no with Republicans Winter and Jones but only after trying to speak eloquently about the need to help the homeless, but explaining he could not vote for the project saying that the project would have too much of a negative impact on a developing area.

Democrat Pat Davis and Republicans Winter and Jones had no problem approving $130 million for the ART Bus project that has had a major negative impact on Route 66, but no, they just could not bring themselves to vote to allocate $2 million to help a homeless service provider.

All too often, we tend to forget our humanity, our political philosophy and perhaps even religious faith and resent or even condemn the homeless for what we think they represent or who we think they are.

We fear and even condemn the homeless whenever they interfere with our lives at whatever level such as pandering for money on street medians, begging for food, acting erratic, acting emotionally unstable, and yes even when they are found sleeping in doorways and defecating in public.

All too often, people loudly condemn the families of the mentally ill for not making sure their loved one has not been institutionalized or not taking their medications.

All too often, the families of the homeless mentally ill are totally incapable of caring for or dealing with their loved one’s conduct or unrelated people feel they have no choice but to call law enforcement to deal with the homeless who suffer from mental illness.

Historically, calling law enforcement in Albuquerque to deal with the mentally ill usually ends tragically as was the case with mentally ill homeless camper James Boyd who was shot and killed in the Sandia foothills by APD Swat.

We easily forget that the homeless are indeed human beings who may have lost all hope and all respect for themselves and are imprisoned for life in their own minds condemned to fight their demons every hour, every minute and every second of their life until the very day they die.

One thing we should never forget is the homeless have human rights to live as they choose, not as any one says they should live.

The homeless should not and cannot be arrested and housed like criminals or animals.

Many homeless do not want to ever be reintroduced into society and many have committed no crimes and they want to simply be left alone.

The homeless cannot be forced or ever required to do anything for their own benefit, or against their own free will or change their life unless they want to do it themselves, but that does not mean no effort should ever be made to offer them help they so desperately need.

Too often, the homeless are the victims of crimes, even being bludgeoned to death for fun as Albuquerque saw a few years ago when 3 teenagers killed two Native Americans sleeping in a vacant lot on a discarded mattress.

Charitable organizations such as Joy Junction, St. Martins HopeWorks project, Steelbridge, The Rock at Noon Day, Albuquerque Healthcare for the Homeless, provide services to the homeless and do so by being where the homeless can be found and where the homeless can reach and seek out and have easy access to services.

These organizations are filling a void that government can not fill.

The sooner Mayor Tim Keller signs the $2 million city council appropriation for HopeWorks the better.

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POSTSCRIPT

It is estimated that the City of Albuquerque has between 1,300 to 1,500 chronic homeless people that can be documented by the City living on the streets.

The City does provide extensive services to the homeless that include social services, mental or behavioral health, homeless services, health care for the homeless, substance abuse treatment and prevention, multi-service centers, public housing, rent assistance, affordable housing development, and fair housing, just to mention a few.

The following homeless services are funded by the City of Albuquerque, HUD’s Continuum of Care grants, Emergency Shelter Grants, and other grants administered by the City of Albuquerque:

1. Emergency Shelters for short-term, immediate assistance for the homeless for men, women, families, emergency winter shelter and after-hours shelter.
2. Transitional Housing assistance designed to transition from homelessness to permanent housing.
3. Permanent Supportive Housing for homeless individuals dealing with chronic mental illness or substance abuse issues
4. Childcare services for homeless families
5. Employment Services and job placement for homeless persons
6. Eviction Prevention or rental assistance and case management to prevent eviction and homelessness
7. Health Care services for homeless individuals and families
8. Meal program providing for homeless individuals and families in need
9. Motel Vouchers or temporary vouchers for homeless individuals with immediate medical issues and families with children, where emergency shelters cannot accommodate them.
10. The Albuquerque Heading Home program initiative which moves the most medically fragile and chronically homeless people off the streets and into permanent housing. Since its inception in 2011 to January, 2017, it has placed 650 people into housing that assists with housing and providing jobs.

For more on Albuquerque’s homeless see “Out of Sight, Out of Mind Solution To Homeless” at:

“Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind” Solution To Homelessness Proposed

Emerson Poll On NM Governor’s Race Severely Flawed

The New Mexico Republican Party is circulating a poll that claims that there is a statistical tie in the race for Governor between Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham and Republican Steve Pearce with only a 2-point spread.

The poll was conducted by Emerson College Polling which is part of the School of Communication at Emerson College.

Emerson college is located in Boston, Massachusetts, it is a private institution that was founded in 1880 and is considered by some an Ivy League college.

Emerson College Polling has been ranked as the most accurate collegiate pollster by Bloomberg New, and successfully executed multiple polls during the 2016 Presidential Elections, including in wide-ranging states such as OH, NV, and NH.

https://www.emerson.edu/communication-studies/emerson-college-polling-society

EMERSON POLL RESULTS

The poll results are 42% for Michelle Lujan Grisham, 40% for Steve Pearce and 18% undecided.

Libertarian candidate Bob Walsh was not included in the Emerson poll as in previous polls in that he dropped out of the race which likely helped Steve Pearce, but not by much.

The Emerson poll was taken on August 17 and 18, 2018 and was of 538 registered voters, not likely voters, and has a margin of error of +/- of 4.6%.

The data was weighted by ethnicity, gender, party affiliation, mode and with very difficult to believe 3rd congressional district polling.

Lujan Grisham leads Pearce as expected in her home New Mexico First Congressional District 48% to 32%.

Pearce leads Lujan-Grisham as expected in his home New Mexico Second Congressional District at 43% to Lujan-Gresham’s 35%.

It was the polling in the Third Congressional District represented by Congressman Ben Ray Lujan that is difficult to rationalize.

In the Northern Third Congressional District, Steve Pearce unexpectantly leads at 46% to Lujan-Grisham at 42%.

Democrats lead on a generic congressional ballot test at 43% to 33% with 20% undecided.

A breakout by district has the generic Democrat in Lujan Gresham’s Congressional District 1 leading 51% to 27%, while in Pearce’s 2nd Congressional District, the Republican is at 39% and the Democrat at 35%, in District 3 Congressional District the generic Democrats have a 45% to 32% edge.

Overall, both Gubernatorial candidates are popular, which is a far cry from what we saw in the Trump-Clinton Presidential race just 2 years ago.

Lujan Grisham has 45% favorable rating and 29% unfavorable rating.

Pearce has a 41% favorable rating and 31% unfavorable rating.

EMERSON POLL NUMBERS ON MARTINEZ, TRUMP AND THE WALL

Outgoing Governor Susana Martinez has a 30% job approval and 47% disapproval rating.

President Trump has a lower job approval in the Land of Enchantment than his national average of 43% to 52%, with a 35% approval and 54% disapproval in New Mexico.

Regarding the Trump’s border wall along Mexico, 38% of those polled favored the US significantly expanding construction of walls along the US-Mexico border, while a majority at 54% said no it should not be expanded.

The boarder wall issue is split along party lines with 72% of Republican agrees with the expanded wall while 76% of Democrats disagree.

Independents said no to the border wall 55% to 36%.

You can read the full Emerson Poll here:

https://www.emerson.edu/sites/default/files/Files/Academics/ecp-pr-nm-8.19.18.pdf

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

Any political consultant should be fired who believes the accuracy of the Emerson Poll, especially when it comes to Northern New Mexico, if they are employed by Michelle Lujan Grisham or Steve Pearce.

The Emerson poll is replete with way too many contradictions so as to call into serious question its accuracy statewide.

Emerson Poll used landlines and on-line panel of voters and did not conduct any live cellphone interviews.

Another problem with the Emerson poll is that it did not call “likely” voters but only called registered voters who say they plan on voting.

A “likely voter” in the political polling business are those who have a demonstrated history of voting in recent state elections.

Conducting cell phone interviews as well as “likely voters” is what Brian Sanderoff with Research and Polling does who has the best track record of any one predicting New Mexico election results.

The Emerson Poll reports that in the Third Congressional District represented by Congressman Ben Ray Lujan has Pearce leading at 46% to Lujan-Grisham at 42%.

The Northern District is by far is the most progressive of all 3 New Mexico Congressional Districts with the highest percentage of Hispanics.

Pearce is campaigning hard in Northern New Mexico for the Hispanic male vote, but when push comes to shove, Lujan Gresham’s northern Hispanic generation roots will command a huge loyalty.

Complicating things for Steve Pearce is how well woman are doing in elections in New Mexico and there is clearly a gender gap with Mitchell Lujan Grisham having an 11%-point lead over Steve Pearce with women at 45% to 36%.

Right Wing Republican and Republican Freedom Caucus member Steve Pearce has as munch in common with voters in Northern New Mexico as President Donald Trump has with President Barack Obama or former President Nelson Mandala of South Africa.

The Emerson Poll breakout by district has the generic Democrat in Northern District 3 with a 45% to 32% edge, a 13% edge which means it is far more likely to vote for Lujan-Grisham than Pearce and by a very big margin.

Another red flag on the credibility of the Emerson Pearce leaning poll is that Republican Governor Susana Martinez has a 47% job disapproval rating.

Martinez will be a lead weight around Pearce’s neck as was Bill Richardson around Diane Dennish’s neck meaning that voters will be more inclined to vote Democrat and for Michelle Lujan Grisham as opposed to Steve Pearce who shares the same political philosophy as Martinez who has been a total disaster as Governor.

Pearce is walking lock step with Trump on the US-Mexican border wall expansion.

The Emerson poll shows a majority of New Mexican’s believing by 54% the US-Mexican border wall should not be expanded.

It is more likely than not that people who oppose building the US-Mexican Border wall will be voting for Michelle Lujan Grisham over Steve Pearce.

On June 18, 2018 Carroll Strategies released the first poll for the November general election.

Although two months old, the Carroll Strategies poll is far more reliable than the Emerson poll.

https://www.kob.com/politics-news/poll-lujan-grisham-leads-pearce-in-race-for-governor/4956518/?cat=500

According to Tom Carroll, the president of the company, 1,199 people were polled as compared to the Emerson poll of 538 registered voters.
The reported margin of error is 2.8 percent.
Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham – 50.5%
Republican Steve Pearce – 42.1%
Libertarian Bob Walsh – 3.1%
Undecided – 4.3%

(NOTE: Libertarian candidate Bob Walsh dropped out after this poll was conducted.)

A Survey USA poll also conducted for KOB-TV June 19-23 had the race 51 to 38 in favor of Lujan Grisham over Pearce.

Both candidates have spent tremendous amounts on TV commercials, but it is still very early.

There are 79 days left until the November 6, 2018, which is a lifetime in politics.

Notwithstanding when you analyze the polls taken thus far, it is more likely than not the Mitchelle Lujan Grisham has a 8% to 10% lead over Steve Pearce and she should win by 55% to 45%.

“Democracy Dollars” Refusing To Take No For An Answer

This is what you call refusing to take no for an answer.

On Tuesday August 14, 2018, the Bernalillo County Commission voted 3 to 2 not to place the “Democracy Dollars” on the November 6, 2018 ballot.

The “Democracy Dollars” was a voter petition drive initiative to place on general election ballot amendments to the City of Albuquerque’s public finance laws.

The County Commissioners who voted not to put the measure on the ballot expressed serious concerns about the proposal, especially about how the coupons would be tracked, used, distributed and funded, and questioning why the Albuquerque City Council was not asked to do it, all very legitimate concerns.

Heather Ferguson, executive director of Common Cause New Mexico had this to say after the county commission declined to put “Democracy Dollars” on the ballot:

“We’re really disappointed that the county commission decided to take an action tonight that was against the wishes and will of 28,000 of their constituents. … every single one of the residents of Albuquerque are their constituents here in the county, and that was silencing their voices. It was incredibly disappointing to hear.”

https://www.abqjournal.com/1208997/democracy-dollars-ballot-initiative-fails.html

The very day after the county commission voted against putting the measure on the ballot, organizers of “Dollars for Democracy” mounted an extensive social media and phone lobbying effort to have the county commission reconsider their vote claiming that the county commission disenfranchised petition signers by refusing to put the measure on the ballot.

In response to the pressure, the Bernalillo County Commissioners have now scheduled a special public hearing for Tuesday, August 21, 2018 for the “Democracy Dollars”.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1210268/bernco-commissioners-to-revisit-democracy-dollars-ballot-question.html

DEMOCRACY FOR DOLLARS EXPLAINED

Because the November election is a statewide and county election, the Bernalillo County Commission was required to vote to place it on the ballot, but only if they wanted to.

The voter initiative if it passes would direct the Albuquerque City Council to establish an ordinance providing for issuance and redemption of $25 coupons and change the date for municipal elections from its usual October date to the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November on odd-numbered years.

Under the Democracy for Dollars proposal, all registered city voters and all voting age residents, would be given $25 Democracy Dollars coupons issued by the city to contribute to their choice of qualified candidates.

All registered voters would automatically be mailed or given $25 vouchers finance by city taxpayers.

Voter age residents who are not registered voters would be able to get the $25 vouchers by applying to the Albuquerque City Clerk.

Municipal candidates would then redeem the dollars with the city clerk, up to a limit, for funds to spend in support of their municipal campaigns.

What is not clear or definite from the petition signed by registered voters is if “foreign nationals” who are Albuquerque residents and who are not a citizen of the United States or a national of the United States will be given the $25 vouchers, which would violate federal law, both by the candidates soliciting the vouchers and the foreign national themselves.

The federal election contribution laws prohibit a person, including candidates from soliciting, accepting, or receiving a contribution or donation from a foreign national.

The federal law applies to local elections such as Albuquerque’s municipal election.

FEDERAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTION LAWS

Section 52 U.S. Code § 30121 of the federal statutes governs contributions and donations by foreign nationals to candidates for office or political campaigns and states:

“PROHIBITION: It shall be unlawful for—

(1) a foreign national, directly or indirectly, to make—

(A) a contribution or donation of money or other thing of value, or to make an express or implied promise to contribute or donation, in connection with a Federal, State, or local election;

(B) a contribution or donation to a committee of a political party; or

(C) an expenditure, independent expenditure, or disbursement for an electioneering communication (within the meaning of section 30104(f)(3) of this title); or

(2) [It shall be unlawful for] a person to solicit, accept, or receive a contribution or donation described in subparagraph (A) or (B) of paragraph (1) from a foreign national.

(b)“FOREIGN NATIONAL” DEFINED: As used in this section, the term “foreign national” means: a foreign principal, as such term is defined by section 611(b) of title 22, except that the term “foreign national” shall not include any individual who is a citizen of the United States; or

(2) an individual who is not a citizen of the United States or a national of the United States … [as defined by federal statute] and who is not lawfully admitted for permanent residence, as defined by [federal statute] … ”

Federal Election Commission (FEC) rules and regulations defines individuals who are considered “foreign nationals” and are subject to the prohibition to include foreign citizens, not including dual citizens of the United States, and immigrants who are not lawfully admitted for permanent residence.

https://www.fec.gov/updates/foreign-nationals/

The $25-dollar coupons or vouchers called “Democracy for Dollars” clearly have a value once redeemed and fall within the definition “a contribution or donation of money or other thing of value.”

Foreign nationals who knowingly and willfully engage in the prohibited activities of donating to candidates for office or political campaigns may be subject to an FEC enforcement action, criminal prosecution, or both.

https://www.fec.gov/help-candidates-and-committees/candidate-taking-receipts/types-contributions/

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

Democracy Dollars is a clear attempt to make major changes on how contributions and donations are made in Albuquerque’s Municipal elections and for that reason it will be subject to federal contribution laws.

Common Cause and “Democracy for Dollar’s” have missed the mark by promoting just another way for candidates for office to collect donations for their campaigns instead of promoting meaningful campaign and election reform for our municipal elections.

Bernalillo County has no “public finance” system in place for any of its elected officials, yet Common Cause and Democracy for Dollars wants the county to weigh in on demanding the city to make major changes to its campaign finance laws.

The New Mexico constitution provides that all minicpal elections are to be nonpartisan elections.

The voter petition initiative also wants to change the date of the city’s nonpartisan municipal elections to coincide with State and Federal partisan elections.

“Democracy Dollars” is proposing major changes to the City of Albuquerque public financing system yet county registered voters will be voting in November on the measure when they are prohibited from voting in municipal elections.

If anything, “Democracy Dollars” should be placed on the 2019 City nonpartisan election ballot by the Albuquerque City Council and not on the general partisan election ballot by the Bernalillo County Commission.

There are two major points that need to be made clear to the Bernalillo County Commission and to voters about “Democracy Dollars”:

1.The $25 vouchers are to be mailed or given to all registered voters as well as any resident of the city who is not a registered voter but who applies for a voucher.

2. The issuance of $25 vouchers to all city residents of the city and not just registered voters will result in a financial liability far above and beyond what is already in the city budget for publicly financed candidates.

The argument that Democracy Dollars involves “no new taxes” conveniently ignores that it still involves taxpayer money that must come from the city’s general fund that is used for essential services and social services.

The City sets aside approximately $500,000 a year for public financing campaigns out of the general fund.

Supporters of Democracy Dollars claim it will be funded by a $3,000,000 surplus that has built up in the Open and Ethical Elections Fund and the annual allocations already in place.

There are approximately 558,000 Albuquerque residents.

To print and implement a voucher system for the estimated 558,000 Albuquerque residents will result in a minimum financial exposure to the city of $13,950,000 million dollars. (558,000 city residents X $25 voucher = $13,950,000 million)

There are approximately 360,000 registered voters in Albuquerque.

To print and implement a voucher system for just registered voters will result in a minimum financial exposure to this city of $9 million dollars. (360,000 registered voters X $25 voucher = $9 million).

An unintended consequence of “Democracy Dollars” will be to add yet another difficult layer of campaign solicitation effort by candidates on top of an already very cumbersome process to collect $5.00 qualifying donations that sets up most candidates for failure.

Candidates will be soliciting not only $5.00 qualifying donations but the $25 city issued coupons that are in reality a city subsidized contribution being called a “block grant” from taxpayers.

Enforcement to prevent violations of campaign finance laws will also be a major hurdle and costly to the city.

The $25 voucher system being proposed can be very easily abused and undermined by a candidate who decides to just buy the voucher’s outright from residents at a lesser cost of say $5 to $10 for an example and then turn the purchased voucher into the city to collect the full $25.

It is very disingenuous for Democracy Dollars and Common Cause to refer to as “small donors” those residents who are not able to make monetary contribution on their own to a political campaign when they are given a $25 voucher with the funding source in fact coming from the city general fund and taxpayers and not their own pocket book.

It is extremely doubtful that any voucher system such as “Democracy Dollars” or for that matter any form of public financing of campaigns is going to have any major impact on increasing voter turnout in Albuquerque’s municipal election as being argued by supporters of the measure.

It is going to take more than a $25 voucher system and significantly more changes to put public financing directly in the hands of voters, especially with the existence of Citizens United in order to level the political donation playing field.

The “Democracy for Dollars” plan has absolutely no impact on the effects of measured finance committees and the unlimited amount of money they can raise and spend on behalf or even against a candidate.

It is totally discretionary for the Bernalillo County Commission to put “Democracy for Dollars” on the ballot.

Signing a petition is merely voicing an opinion at the time that may change and not a binding vote, so no one is being disenfranchised by the county commission’s decision.

It is downright laughable for anyone to argue that people who have sign the Democracy for Dollars petition are being disenfranchised by the Bernalillo County Commission when they declined to put it on the ballot seeing as they are acting totally within their authority to say NO.

It is called a “represented form of government” for a reason: people are elected to make decisions that they believe are in the best interest of their constituents.

We will now see if the Bernalillo County Commission majority will fold like cheap suits to public pressure and reverse themselves and put “Democracy for Dollars” on the ballot.

FOLLOWING ARE OTHER LINKS TO BLOG ARTICLES ON DEMOCRACY DOLLARS:

“Democracy Dollars” Voted Down 3-2 By Bernalillo County Commission

“Democracy Dollars” To Be Given To All Residents, Not Just Registered Voters

“Democracy Dollars” A New Form of “Dialing For Dollars”

2018 YEAR TO REFORM CITY PUBLIC CAMPAIGN FINANCE LAWS

“The Will Of The People” Cannot Override The “Constitutional Rights Of The Person”

New Mexico gubernatorial candidates Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham and Republican Steve Pearce have now both taken a position on a judge’s controversial decision to release on a signature bond 5 adults arrested at compound north of Taos.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1210382/gov-candidates-question-pretrial-release-rules.html

All 5 defendants have been charged by the Taos District Attorney with child abuse and nothing more, even after the body of a child was found on the property.

The cause of death of the child has yet to be determined by an autopsy.

During the bond hearing for release, the District Attorney presented no evidence to the Judge of child abuse and no evidence of the condition of the other children.

During the bond hearing, the District Attorney alleged that one of the adults was training children at the compound to attack “corrupt institutions,” which could include schools, law enforcement agencies and banks.

As inflammatory and alarming the claim of terrorism was, the Taos District Attorney offered no evidence of the allegation to substantiate the claim prompting the Judge to write in her ruling:

“No actual threats of terrorism or any credible evidence of a substantive plan was produced regarding the same. … the Court is requested by the State to surmise that these people are dangerous terrorists with a plot against the Country or institutions … The Court may not surmise, guess or assume. … The [District Attorney] did not produce any evidence of any history of violence that would cause the Court to conclude that they are a danger to the community or are unlikely to appear at hearings or to abide by their conditions of release.”

The Judge found that the Taos District Attorney did not prove that the suspects were dangerous to the community.

The Court’s bond release ruling drew sharp criticism and public outcry with threats of violence against the Judge to the point the Taos County Courthouse had to be closed.

GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATES POSTIONS

Not at all surprising, both Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham and Republican Steve Pearce are now saying they favor re-examining the state’s current rules for pretrial release of violent offenders, which were enacted after voters approved a 2016 constitutional amendment.

Democrat Mitchell Lujan Grisham stated:

“We have an obligation to re-examine New Mexico’s pretrial detention policies, which empower judges to detain a defendant due to the severity of the crime. Ultimately, judges have a sacred responsibility to safeguard public safety, protect vulnerable populations and ensure that the community is not subject to further risk.”

Republican Steve Pearce stated:

“The state of New Mexico needs to be able to hold people who pose a significant flight risk without bond, and we, the people, should provide the courts with what we mean by ‘dangerous’. Judicial interpretation cannot continue to take the most extreme and lenient position to override the will of the people and compromise the safety of New Mexico communities, as it is under the current system.”

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

Under the United States Constitution, all are guaranteed the right of due process of law no matter how heinous or violent the crime.

In criminal trials, any defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by the prosecution.

The new court rules on bond hearings and the degree of proof needed to detain an accused are indeed a “work in progress” as pointed out by State Representative Gail Chasey, D-Albuquerque, chairwoman of the House Judiciary Committee when she said:

“I think we need to give the court some time to figure this out.”

The New Mexico Supreme Court needs to revisit the bond rules and find a solution that will give the District Court’s more latitude and discretionary authority when it comes to the bond hearings.

It was very appropriate for both candidates for Governor to voice concerns about the ruling and the constitutional amendment.

Given the public safety importance of “bond hearings” where a judge determines if an accused is released or held in jail pending a trial, it is extremely important that the candidates for Governor and the public understand our constitutional rights and guarantees of due process of law and the presumption of innocence.

What is clear is that that Michelle Lujan Grisham understands our constitutional rights of due process of law.

Lujan Grisham’s remarks were measured, but more importantly she understands the role of the judiciary and the judges when she said: “Ultimately, judges have a sacred responsibility to safeguard public safety, protect vulnerable populations… .”

Lujan Grisham understands that the role of the courts is to protect our freedoms and constitutional rights of due process of law.

Vilifying Judges and court rulings are a popular tactic perfected by President Trump and the Republicans to gin up their conservative base.

Steve Pearce’s comments “Judicial interpretation cannot continue to take the most extreme and lenient position to override the will of the people and compromise the safety of New Mexico communities” falls right in line with the vilification of our judicial system.

Pearce’s remarks reflect the philosophy of damn our constitutional rights of due process of law and the presumption of innocence.

What is also clear is that Republican Steve Pearce promotes the ultra-right wing Republican agenda by wrapping himself around his definition of “the will of the people” and ignoring the “constitutional rights of the person”.

For more on the Taos 5 bond ruling see:

Governor Martinez And GOP Chairman Ryan Cangiolosi Two Fools In A Pod Vilifying Judiciary