Two Mayors One Too Many

Mayor Tim Keller has appointed 33-year-old New Mexico attorney Gary Lee to serve as “Assistant Mayor” of Albuquerque, paying him a $75,000-year salary.

You can review and read the news coverage at the below links:

https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/and-then-there-were-two-cabq-hires-assistant-mayor/5105277/#.W8ECDpnpqfU.facebook

https://www.abqjournal.com/1232525/keller-appoints-homegrown-gary-lee-as-assistant-mayor.html

ASSISTANT MAYOR GARY LEE

Gary Lee is an Albuquerque native, a graduate of Eldorado High School and attended college at the University of Southern California.

In 2008, Mr. Lee moved to Washington, D.C. to work at the White House for President Barack Obama.

While serving at the White House, Mr. Lee was part of President Obama’s legislative affairs team that helped pass the Affordable Care Act.

Mr. Lee also worked in the offices of Staff Secretary, Political Strategy, Scheduling and Advance and at the State Department in the Office of Protocol.

After leaving the Obama Administration, Lee was awarded a Fulbright research scholarship in Korea after which he returned to New Mexico and attended law school at the University of New Mexico, graduating in December, 2017 and passing the New Mexico bar in February, 2018.

Assistant Mayor Lee’s duties will include serving as Mayor Keller’s proxy at meetings Keller is unable to attend, supporting staff through administrative processes and assisting with policy initiatives.

In a statement announcing the appointment, Mayor Tim Keller said:

“Gary Lee was the perfect fit for this spot. He brings with him a wealth of knowledge about how to run an executive office and a love for his hometown that will serve our city well.”

In accepting the appoint as Assistant Mayor of Albuquerque, Gary Lee was quoted as saying:

“My goal is to bring in and implement some of the systems I saw at the White House to Albuquerque City Hall.”

Assistant Mayor Lee is being paid $75,000 a year while Mayor Keller is paid $125,000 a year and the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), Deputy CAOs as well as the 16 Department heads, including the police and fire chiefs, are all paid between $100,000 to $160,000 a year.

CITY CHARTER PROVISIONS CREATING OFFICE OF MAYOR AND POWERS

Article V, Sections 3 and 4 of the the Albuquerque City Charter creates the executive branch of city government, creates the office of Mayor and delineates the powers, duties and responsibilities of the Mayor.

The Mayor is a elected position and is the chief executive officer with all executive and administrative powers of the city and the official head of the city for all ceremonial purposes.

According to the Charter, the Mayor is required to devote full time and attention to the performance of the duties of office and cannot hold any other paid public or private employment.

The Mayor of Albuquerque is given the authority to appoint and remove officials from city posts, and is required to propose a budget each year.

Most of the Mayor’s appointments and proposals are subject to approval by the Albuquerque City Council, but the Mayor has the power of veto or approval of City Council ordinances and resolutions.

With the advice and consent of the City Council, the Mayor appoints the Chief Administrative Officer, any deputy administrative officers, the Chief of Police, and the Fire Chief, the City Attorney and the City Clerk all who are responsible to carry out the essential functions of city government.

The Mayor under the charter is given the authority to exercise administrative control and supervision over and appoint directors of all city departments, which there are currently 16 departments, and the Mayor is responsible for the administration and protection of the merit system ordinance.

The Albuquerque City Charter, the merit system ordinance nor the personnel rules and regulation do not mention and do not provide for and do not empower the Mayor to create and appoint a non-elected “Assistant Mayor” to assume the duties of the elected Mayor.

The charter does authorize the Mayor to delegate executive and administrative powers within the executive branch which consists of the CAO and Department Directors with no mention of an “Assistant Mayor”.

CLASSIFIED AND UNCLASSIFIED POSITIONS

According to the City of Albuquerque web site, there are approximately 5,800 City of Albuquerque employees.

Roughly 5,200 are considered “classified employees” who are covered by the city’s personnel rules and regulations, who have vested rights including retirement benefits, sick leave and annual leave benefits and who can only be terminated for cause.

There are 223 full time “ungraded” positions at City Hall, who are in unclassified positions and “at-will” employees who can be terminated “without cause” and who work at the pleasure of the Mayor or the City Council.

“Ungraded employees” or exempt employees do not have the same vested rights classified employees have and have no appeal rights to the City Personnel Board for disciplinary action so when they are fired, they are in fact gone with little or no recourse.

Virtually all City Hall Department Directors are “ungraded employees” and serve at the pleasure of the Mayor and can be terminated without cause by the Mayor.

ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY

The appointment of an “Assistant Mayor” has raised more than a few eyebrows at City Hall as well as considerable speculation on Tim Keller’s real intent, goals and future ambitions.

Normally, it would not be considered a big deal that a Mayor would delegate to someone they want to represent them at public functions and attend meetings but that is traditionally done by the city’s Chief Administrative Office or anyone of the Department Directors.

The City Charter is very clear that there is only one Mayor one Chief Administrative Officer and department directors, but it does not provide for an “Assistant Mayor”.

Too be perfectly blunt, the citizens of Albuquerque do not need and should not pay for an “Assistant Mayor” when we already have an elected Mayor who taxpayers pay $125,000 a year.

Mayor Keller is more than capable of handling his job with the assistance of his appointments he has surrounded himself with already.

The CAO, Deputy CAOs as well as the numerous Department heads are more than capable to act as a “proxy” for Mayor Keller at events and to implement all of his policies and they further are empowered to make decisions.

Mayor Keller has taken photo ops to a new level by attending protest rallies to speak at, attending marches, attending heavy metal concerts to introduce the band, running in track meets and participating in exhibition football games as the quarterback and enjoying re-living his high school glory days, and posting pictures and videos on FACEBOOK.

People can take great pride with the positive image Mayor Tim Keller is portraying and thus far the work he is doing.

If Mayor Keller feels he cannot handle the job as Mayor and needs a non-elected “Assistant Mayor” to share his job duties and responsibilities, he should reduce his photo ops and press conferences.

If Mayor Keller feels he is overwhelmed with work an that an Assistant Mayor is critical to his own job he should consider sharing his own salary with the “Assistant Mayor” seeing as he feels the need to share his duties and responsibilities as an elected official with another.

There are 223 full time “ungraded” positions at City Hall, who are in unclassified positions and “at-will” employees who can be terminated by the Mayor “without cause”, including at least 34 Assistant City Attorneys, and who work at the pleasure of the Mayor.

Assistant Mayor Gary Lee should be placed elsewhere with his credentials as a licensed New Mexico Attorney, perhaps in the City Attorney’s Office, legal counsel to the Mayor, or as a legislative assistant to the Mayor.

What Keller has done is to create a “public relations” position for Mr. Lee.

The position of Assistant Mayor was not advertised and the minimum qualifications appear to be nonexistent and do not require any past City Hall experience.

Under the Cities personnel rules and regulations and the merit ordinance, the Human Resource Department writes job descriptions and titles are assigned to the positions reflecting the duties and responsibilities of the job.

The job title “Assistant Mayor” connotes a position of second in command with authority over the Chief Administrative Office and all other Department Directors and the executive branch of city hall.

The authority, duties and responsibilities Assistant Mayor Gary Lee have not been reported on in any great detail and the minimum qualifications appear to be nonexistent with the of Assistant Mayor being more of a public relations and political strategy position.

The fact that Assistant Mayor Gary Lee worked in Washington, DC, for President Barak Obama in the offices of Staff Secretary, Political Strategy, Scheduling and Advance and at the State Department in the Office of Protocol is a red flag to political observers to what is really going on at City Hall.

The hiring of a political strategist by Mayor Keller is not a first.

Mayor Keller has also hired his former campaign manager and well-known Democrat political consultant and strategist Alan Packman paying him $75,000 a year to handle constituent services.

Mr. Packman is assigned to the 311 Citizens Call Center giving him access to all city departments.

According to sources at city hall, Alan Packman reports directly and only to Mayor Tim Keller.

Sources have said Mr. Lee has the same arrangement as Alan Packman.

The hiring of Gary Lee and Alan Packman are clear indications that Mayor Keller intends to run either for re-election or for higher office, which should surprise no one and is expected.

Mayor Tim Keller has expressed in the past that he has a desire to run for Governor which will not be likely for 8 years if Democrat Michell Lujan Grisham is elected Governor.

Keller could conceivably serve two full terms as Mayor and then the timing would be right to run for Governor.

Political insiders are saying that United States Senator Tom Udall is giving very mixed messages or keeping mum as to if he is running for reelection in 2020.

If Udall does not run for reelection, it may Keller’s only option to make a move for the US Senate seat, especially if things do not get better for him in Albuquerque when it comes to APD, crime rates and the economy.

It would not be a first time for Tim Keller to move on to higher office before finishing a term he was elected to serve seeing that he has now done it twice before: first as a New Mexico State Senator to run for New Mexico State Auditor and second as State Auditor to run for Mayor of Albuquerque during his first year as State Auditor.

It is never too early to start getting ready and started for a reelection effort or for that matter the next political office when you are politically ambitious as Tim Keller.

All too often, ambition shatters a youthful politician’s concentration in just doing a great job, especially when political operatives equally as ambitious have the ear of the elected official who has his eye on reelection or higher office.

When you have a 62% approval rating such as Tim Keller as reported by that Albuquerque Journal, you can hire whoever you want and pay them what you want without anyone questioning it, at least until your approval rating starts to tank and you realize it is time to move on to another elected position before it’s too late to get out of City Hall.

For more on Alan Packman and Tim Keller see:

Keller And Packman Together Again

Remove APD Police Union From CASA And Remove Sergeants And Lieutenants From APD Union

On September 10, 2018, a status telephone conference call was held with the United States District Court Judge Robert Brack who is presiding over the reforms underway at the Albuquerque Police Department mandated by the Federal Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA).

Over 5 years ago, a Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation found a “pattern and practice of excessive force” and a “culture of aggression” within the Albuquerque Police Department (APD).

In the last eight (8) years, there have been 42 police officer involved shootings, and the city has paid out $61 million dollars in settlements for police misconduct cases.

The City entered into the CASA with the Department of Justice (DOJ) in response to a DOJ investigation which found APD had engaged a pattern of excessive force and deadly force.

During the September 10, 2018 status conference, the federal monitor told the federal judge that a group of “high-ranking APD officers” within the department are trying to thwart reform efforts.

The entire 53 page transcript of the conference call can be read here:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1GzUumHhiD3Mw2_dLg_czXml_T6-3QI2w/view

It was revealed that the group of “high-ranking APD officers” are APD sergeants and lieutenants and because they are part of the police union they remain in their positions and cannot be removed.

APD Chief Michael Geier reported to Judge Brack that he has also noticed some “old-school resistance” to reforms mandated by the CASA.

During the last 10 months, Chief Geier has replaced a number of commanders with others who agree with police reforms, but not many sergeants nor lieutenants who may be resisting the reforms.

Geier has said changes to several commander positions will over time ensure that the entire chain of command is buying into the “new” APD.

Federal Monitor Ginger referred to the group as the “counter-CASA effect.”

Ginger described the group’s attitude as “certainly ambivalent” to the reform effort and the CASA.

According to the transcript of the proceeding, Dr. Ginger told Judge Brack:

“The ones I’m speaking of are in critical areas and that ambivalence, alone, will give rise to exactly the sort of issues that we’ve seen in the past at the training academy. … So while it’s not overt, you know, there’s nobody sabotaging computer files or that sort of thing, it’s a sort of a low-level processing, but nonetheless, it has an effect. … It’s a small group, but it’s a widespread collection of sworn personnel at sergeant’s and lieutenant’s levels with civil service protection that appear to be, based on my knowledge and experience, not completely committed to this process … It is something that is deep-seated and it’s a little harder to find a quick fix or solution to it, but I think, in the long term, by having this foundation with new leadership and a new direction from the top down, we should be able to get through this and survive it.”

Ginger also had this to say about the use of force policy:

“I hate to be the one to rain on the parade, but I just simply have to report the facts. I received the latest use-of-force document, 2-52, from the parties last week. I found it lacking in multiple key aspects. It was missing key components. Issues that needed to be dealt with in a Use-of-Force Policy were not dealt with. I had questions about enforceability. So I’m working on writing the resolution document … I found it necessary to basically rewrite the policy. There were, at last count, 50-plus changes that I saw as needing to be made. So, it’s been a fairly complex process. Those have been made. They’re in draft form. As soon as I finish proofing that draft, it will go out to the parties immediately.”

The sergeants and lieutenants are part of the police union and have important positions with the police department that are protected as a condition of their collective bargaining agreement between police and the city.

Shaun Willoughby,the president of the Albuquerque police union, took issue with the Federal Monitor’s comments.

Willoughby proclaimed that all Albuquerque police officers throughout the ranks have bought into the reform effort and that it would be “ludicrous” to think some sergeants and lieutenants are trying to stop the process.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1223520/apd-monitor-some-officers-are-not-on-board-with-reforms.html?fb_action_ids=1907995702668105&fb_action_types=og.likes

Willoughby went on to say:

“It gets to a point of being so frustrating that it’s almost comical. … It makes it sound like there’s an insurgency … Officers have done so much work [implementing the reforms]. They have done the heavy lifting.”

Union President Willoughby said boldly to the media that sergeants and lieutenants who weren’t following APD policies and complying with reforms would be sent to internal affairs and disciplined as if he had the authority to speak for the APD Chief , APD management and the Keller Administration.

FEDERAL MONITOR REPORTS

All six of the previous Federal Monitor reports over the last 4 years have faulted the Albuquerque Police Department and its management staff.

The previous Berry Administration and former Chief Eden were never truly committed to the DOJ mandated reforms.

Proof of failure to implement the DOJ reforms is contained in the second, third, fourth and fifth progress reports submitted by Federal Monitor James Ginger to the Federal Court.

In his second report to the federal court, Federal Monitor James Ginger accused the City Attorney of what he called, “delay, do little and deflect” tactics saying his relationship with her was “a little rougher than most” compared with top attorneys in other cities and where he has overseen police reform.

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

The November 1, 2016 fourth federal monitor’s report states that when “excessive use of force” incidents are investigated by the APD Critical Incident Team, it “[deploys] carefully worded excuses, apparently designed not to find fault with officer actions” and “[uses] language and terminology apparently designed to absolve officers and supervisors of their responsibility to follow certain CASA (Court Approved Settlement Agreement) related provisions.

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

The Federal Monitor stated in the last report filed in November, 2017:

“Eventually, the monitor will no longer be engaged to provide an oversight function for APD. … That role will need to be provided by supervisory, command and executive personnel. At the current time, such oversight is sorely absent” and “well below what is expected at this point” in the process. … In short we are not yet convinced that APD screens, evaluates and classifies use of force incidents in a manner consistent with the CASA (Court Approved Settlement Agreement).”

HISTORY OF APD UNION OPPOSITION TO DOJ REFORMS

The APD Union was not a named party to the original civil rights complaint for excessive use of force and deadly force filed against the city by the Department of Justice.

Soon after the DOJ initiated the federal lawsuit against APD and the City, the police union intervened to become a party to the federal lawsuit in order to advocate for union interests in city policy and changes to the use of force and deadly force policies.

The Police Union, despite public comments of cooperation, have never fully supported the agreed to reforms and contributed significantly to the delay in writing the new use of force and deadly force policies.

The union leadership has always been at the negotiating table and for a full year were involved with the drafting of the “use of force” and “deadly use of force” policy and contributed to the one-year delay in writing the policies objecting to many provisions of the policies.

The police union repeatedly objected to the language of the use of force policy asserting the policy was unreasonable as evidenced by the monitors claim that submitted use of force policy was missing key components and at last count, the monitor saw 50-plus changes needing to be made.

The union leadership has attended and has sat at counsel table during court hearings and Federal Monitor presentations on his reports.

During all the Court proceeding where the federal monitor has made his presentation to the federal court, the APOA union has made its opposition and objections known to the federal court regarding the use of force and deadly force policies as being too restrictive with rank and file claiming rank and file cannot do their jobs even with training on the policies.

All six of the Federal Monitor’s status reports were scathing against the city accusing the APD chain of command of delaying and obstructing the DOJ reform process, yet the police union had no comment and took no position.

When the previous administration accused the federal monitor of biasness and attempted to have the monitor remove, the police union remained totally silent implying its support to have the federal monitor removed.

The police union and its leadership have said in open court that the mandated reforms under the consent decree are interfering with rank and file officer’s ability to perform their job duties.

THE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS ACT

In 1935, labor unions secured the legal right to represent employees in their relationships with their employers when the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) was enacted by congress.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) was created to police the relationships among employees, their unions, and their employers.

https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/free-books/employee-rights-book/chapter15-2.html

The NLRA applies to all employers involved in interstate commerce, which generally means almost every privately owned company.

Certain groups of employees are not covered by the NLRA, including government workers.

The City’s Police and Firefighters are not covered by the NLRA.

Notwithstanding, the City’s personnel rules and regulations provides extensive protections for classified employees such as police and firefighters who are not at will employees and they cannot be disciplined or terminated without cause.

It is well settled law under the NRLA that managers and supervisors are not protected class by the NLRA and cannot join unions or be part of the bargaining unit.

ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY

The City should adopt a similar policy of the NLRA and prevent police management from joining the police union.

There is a definite “chain of command” when it comes to APD.

All Commanders, Deputy Chiefs and the Chief are at will positions that serve at the pleasure of the Administration, either the Mayor or Chief.

APD has a clear line of authority that separates management from rank and file sworn police officers that must be preserved and honored.

Police sergeants and lieutenants by virtue of their titles, responsibilities, management and supervisory authority over sworn police officers are part of the “chain of command” and management team of the police department.

Including APD police sergeants and lieutenants who are part of management in the union bargaining unit creates a clear conflict of interest and sends mixed messages to rank and file sworn police officers.

APD police sergeants and lieutenants are the ones on the frontline to enforce personnel rules and regulations, standard operating procedures, approve and review work performed and assist in implementing DOJ reforms and standard operating procedures policies.

All APD police sergeants and lieutenants are clearly part of police management and chain of command and the police union refuses to acknowledge this fact knowing that if they are removed from the bargaining unit it will reduce the size of the dues paying union membership.

Sergeants and lieutenants need to be made at will and removed from the union bargaining unit in order to get a real buy in to managements goals of police reform and the CASA.

APD Police sergeants and lieutenants cannot serve two masters of Administration Management and Union priorities in opposition to management policies and procedures and the CASA reforms..

Law enforcement command staff and management must be able to make decisions to protect public safety and maintain credibility with the public.

APD command staff must be able to immediately remove and even replace police management who tarnish the badge with unethical, questionable, and at times illegal conduct in violation of standard operating procedures and the law.

It was Tim Keller who was elected Mayor, not union president Shaun Willouby.

What is so damn laughable is when Union President Willoughby says sergeants and lieutenants who are not following APD policies and complying with reforms will be sent to internal affairs and disciplined.

The union president consistently talks to the media without any disclaimers and as if he is part of management and speaking on behalf of APD Chief and the Keller Administration.

What is embarrassing is that APD Chief Geier and Mayor Tim Keller refuse to recognize that the union is usurping the message of the need for the police reforms they are so desperately trying to implement.

When Willouby says sergeants and lieutenants who are not following APD policies and complying with reforms will be sent to internal affairs and disciplined, Willouby fails to disclose the truth that the Union and its attorneys will supply a defense and oppose any discipline.

The Keller Administration should consider seeking to having the APOA Union removed as a party to the federal lawsuit, consent decree and CASA negotiations.

During the next round of union contract negotiations, the city should demand that the management positions of APD sergeants and lieutenants be removed from the APOA Union bargaining unit.

The very last thing APD management and Mayor Keller need now to implement the mandated and agreed to DOJ reforms is for sergeants and lieutenants to oppose the reforms and acting as union operatives as opposed to management.

For more on Police Union at odds with DOJ reforms see:

Police Union At Odds With DOJ Reforms

APD Police Union Needs To Stop Thinking Only Of Themselves

Nothing New About APD Command Staff Nor Police Union’s Tactics

Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh Acting As Biased As Predicted

The Los Angeles Times reported that newly seated US Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh spoke up Wednesday in a case being argued before the US Supreme Court in defense of the Trump administration’s view that legal immigrants with criminal records must be arrested and held for deportation, even years after they were convicted and completed their sentences.

http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-court-jail-immigrants-20181010-story.html

Following is a short summation of the case quoting the news article extensively:

In a class-action suit brought in California, lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union complained the mandatory detention policy has been applied to lawful immigrants who had lived and worked in the community for decades but later being convicted of misdemeanors such as drug possession charges.

Last year, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the mandatory detention rule does not apply to immigrants who were not taken into federal custody “promptly” after their release.

The appellate decision did not shield noncitizens with past crimes from being arrested or deported, but it said they could seek release on bond if the judge found they were not a danger to the public or likely to flee.

The ACLU sued on behalf of lawful non citizens such as Eduardo Padilla, who came to the United States in 1966 as an infant and became a lawful permanent resident.

Eduardo Padilla has five children and six grandchildren, all of whom are U.S. citizens.

Defendant Padilla had two convictions for drug possession in 1997 and 1999 and served 90 days in jail in 2002 for having an unloaded pistol in a shed.

In 2013, federal agents arrested him for those past crimes and held him for deportation.

But he went free after the 9th Circuit court ruled the “mandatory detention” provision did not apply to immigrants such as Padilla.

He was released on a $1,500 bond because a judge decided the defendant did not present a danger and was not likely to flee the United States.

A lawyer for the Trump administration urged the US Supreme Court to reverse the 9th Circuit and uphold mandatory detention for all immigrants with criminal records, regardless of how long they have been free.

ISSUE TO BE DECIDED BY US SUPREME COURT

At issue is a federal statute that calls for mandatory detention and possible deportation for “criminal aliens,” including legal immigrants convicted of crimes ranging from violent felonies to simple drug possession.

The law says the Homeland Security secretary “shall take into custody any alien” with a criminal record that could lead to deportation “when the alien is released.”

The debate before the Supreme Court focused on when, exactly, is when.

The Trump administration argued that a provision of the 1996 law calls for arresting and jailing such immigrants despite their good records since serving their time.

Kavanaugh disputed the ACLU’s contention that this mandatory detention rule applies only to immigrants who can be detained at the time they are being released from local jails or state prisons, not to those released years ago.

Kavanaugh was quoted as saying from the bench “Congress did not put in a time limit. … That raises a real question with me whether we should be superimposing a time limit.”

ACLU lawyer Cecillia Wang pointed to the words of the law when she said: “We’re not asking you to superimpose a time limit. We’re asking you to give meaning to all the words of the statute.”

“Congress, in saying ‘when,’ meant what ‘when’ means in the common sense, within a reasonable time.”

Wang said a reasonable time would be one day, but several justices said that time limit was too short.

However, Kavanaugh went further and said he saw no basis for putting any time limit on arresting immigrants for past crimes when he said:

“My point is that’s very odd when you think what Congress was doing in 1996…. What was really going through Congress’ mind in 1996 was harshness on this topic.”

CODE OF JUDICIAL CONDUCT FOR UNITED STATES FEDERAL JUDGES

The Code of Judicial Conduct for United State Judges applies U.S. circuit judges, district judges, Court of International Trade judges, Court of Federal Claims judges, bankruptcy judges, and magistrate judges.

Surprisingly, the Code of Judicial Conduct for United States Federal Judges does not apply to United States Supreme Court Justices.

You can read the Code of Judicial conduct for Federal Judges at this link:

http://www.uscourts.gov/judges-judgeships/code-conduct-united-states-judges#d

Canon 2 of the code is entitled “A Judge Should Avoid Impropriety and the Appearance of Impropriety in all Activities” and provides:

(A) Respect for Law. A judge should respect and comply with the law and should act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.

(B) Outside Influence. A judge should not allow family, social, political, financial, or other relationships to influence judicial conduct or judgment. …

Commentary to Conon 2A provides:

“An appearance of impropriety occurs when reasonable minds, with knowledge of all the relevant circumstances disclosed by a reasonable inquiry, would conclude that the judge’s honesty, integrity, impartiality, temperament, or fitness to serve as a judge is impaired. Public confidence in the judiciary is eroded by irresponsible or improper conduct by judges.” …

Canon 3 of the code is entitled “A Judge Should Perform the Duties of the Office Fairly, Impartially and Diligently” and provides:

The duties of judicial office take precedence over all other activities. In performing the duties prescribed by law, the judge should adhere to the following standards:

(A) Adjudicative Responsibilities.

(1) A judge should be faithful to, and maintain professional competence in, the law and should not be swayed by partisan interests, public clamor, or fear of criticism.
(2) …
(3) A judge should be patient, dignified, respectful, and courteous to litigants, jurors, witnesses, lawyers, and others with whom the judge deals in an official capacity. A judge should require similar conduct of those subject to the judge’s control, including lawyers to the extent consistent with their role in the adversary process.
(4) …
(5) A judge should dispose promptly of the business of the court.
(6) A judge should not make public comment on the merits of a matter pending or impending in any court. …
(B) …

(C) Disqualification.

(1) A judge shall disqualify himself or herself in a proceeding in which the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned, including but not limited to instances in which:
(a) the judge has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party, or personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts concerning the proceeding;

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

The Code of Judicial Conduct for United States Federal Judges does not apply to United States Supreme Court Judges.

Supreme Courts Justices supposedly follow them, but they are not obligated to obey them.

The argument made is that the Supreme Court is created by the US Constitution and not by the Congress as all other the other Federal courts, and the separation of powers dictates the Supreme Court cannot be regulated by Congress.

Congress, experts in legal ethics, and legal advocacy groups have for years wanted the United States Supreme Court to be subject to the Code of Conduct for United States Judges which applies to all other federal judges.

In the not too distant past, a few Supreme Court Justices have not recused themselves from cases despite persistent doubts about their ability to decide them fairly and impartially.

A good example was when Justice Antonin Scalia, now deceased and replaced by Associate Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, rejected a motion that he recuse himself from a case that provided a textbook example of the circumstances a Justice should avoid.

Scalia’s close friend Dick Cheney, who was then the Vice-President, was accused of lying about the composition of a White House group that was setting national energy policy.

While the case was pending, Scalia and Cheney went duck hunting together, and Cheney gave Scalia and two of his family members a ride on a government Gulfstream jet from Washington, D.C., to Louisiana, where they did their hunting.

https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/does-the-supreme-court-need-a-code-of-conduct

Associate Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil M. Gorsuch are the best examples why the Code of Judicial Conduct for United States Federal Judges should apply to United States Supreme Court Judges.

You would think the United States Supreme Court would want to follow the very same code of professional conduct as all federal judges, but they no doubt enjoy the unfettered power without any oversight to impose their political philosophy and call it strict constitutional interpretation.

Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh is as biased and as political as they come.

Prior to being appointed a US Federal Court of Appeals Judge, Kavanaugh was a political operative who worked in the administration of President George W. Bush.

It was reported that George W. Bush lobbied Republican Senators to confirm Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Previously, Kavanaugh worked as a prosecutor with special prosecutor Ken Starr at the time President Bill Clinton was being investigated which probably explains his unhinged testimony at his confirmation hearing the the Clintons were out to get him, something he offered no proof to support the claim.

As a Supreme Court Associate Justices, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil M. Gorsuch have been given the authority to interpret the law to conform with their political philosophy and Trump Administration policies and judicial ethics be damned.

Kavanaugh with his unhinged testimony before the Senate Judiciary revealed his true self and showed he does not have the judicial temperament to be a US Supreme Court Justice.

He did not deal with the Senate Judiciary in a “dignified, respectful, and courteous [manner] … with whom [he was dealing with] … in an official capacity.”

Kavanagh and Associate Justice Neil M. Gorsuch were both appointed by President Donald Trump.

It is highly doubtful that neither Kavanaugh nor Gorsuch will ever disqualify themselves from hearing any cases regarding Trump if Trump is subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury or if he issues pardons to himself, family and associates for any and all crimes committed against the United States, including treason.

I do hope Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh continues with the Republican operative approach to supporting all things Trump and Republican in that it will eventually be grounds for his impeachment and removal from the Supreme Court for being swayed and articulating Republican partisan interests.

Violent State, Violent City

On Monday, September 24, 2018 the FBI released its “Crime in the United States” report providing the statistics on all the crimes reportedly committed in Albuquerque and New Mexico in 2017 and comparing the statistics to other cities and states and providing national rankings.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1224917/fbi-abq-crime-rate-up-in-2017.html

Since 2010, violent felony crime rates and property crime rates have steadily increased in Albuquerque and in New Mexico.

According to the FBI report, the increase in crime in both the New Mexico and Albuquerque continued in 2017.

However, there is a bright spot for Albuquerque when the preliminary statistics for 2018 show a decline in crime rates.

CRIME RATE STATISTICS FOR 2017

In 2016 and again in 2017, New Mexico had the country’s highest per capita rate of property crime and the second-highest per capita rate of violent crime.

According to the annual report released, the number of violent crimes in the specific categories of murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault, in Albuquerque increased by 23% in 2017 even though the City’s population remained essentially the same.

The 23% overall all increase in Albuquerque’s violent crime for 2017 is larger than the 2016 increase when violent crime rose 15.5 percent.

In 2016, there were a reported 6,245 violent crimes in Albuquerque, for a rate of 1,112 per 100,000 residents.

In 2017, the number of violent crimes in Albuquerque jumped to 7,686, for a rate of 1,369 per 100,000.

The property crimes of burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft increased by 7 percent from 38,528 to 41,350, for a rate of 7,366 per 100,000 residents.

In 2016, the spike property crimes was significantly higher with a whopping 41.8 percent increase.

The increase in crime for the entire State of New Mexico as compared to Albuquerque was not as severe.

Statewide, violent crime rates rose by 12 percent and property crime rates were up by 0.5 percent in 2017.

The FBI reported that New Mexico had 16,359 violent crimes reported and 82,306 property crimes reported in 2017.

All the statistics for New Mexico and Albuquerque are in sharp contrast with national trends that crime is going down in the United States as a whole.

According to the FBI report summary, in 2015 and 2016, violent crime had been increasing across the United States but in 2017, violent crime decreased 0.2% with the overall rate falling 0.9% percent.

In the United States as a whole, the property crime rated dropped for the 15th straight year, decreasing by 3% across the country.

Nationally, the crime rate is 383 violent offenses per 100,000 residents and 2,362 property crimes per 100,000 residents.

Albuquerque’s violent crime and property crime rates are more than triple the national crime rates.

When you compare Albuquerque’s crime rates with the similar-sized Western cities of El Paso, Colorado Springs, Tucson and Oklahoma City, Albuquerque outpaces them in rates of both violent and property crime.

El Paso for example has 127,000 more residents than Albuquerque, but El Paso had one-third the number of violent crimes and property crimes.

According to FBI statistics, the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office reported 916 violent crimes and 2,640 property crimes outside of the Albuquerque Police Department’s jurisdiction in 2017.

This is a 20 percent increase in violent crime and a 6 percent decrease in property crime from the previous year.

The one and only category of crime that decreased in Albuquerque from 2016 to 2017 was auto theft, dropping from 7,710 to 7,684.

Notwithstanding, the decline in auto thefts in Albuquerque did little to improve the city’s national standing for 2017.

According to data released over the summer from the National Insurance Crime Bureau, Bernalillo and surrounding counties were No. 1 in rates of stolen motor vehicles for the second year in a row.

PRELIMINARY STATISTICS FOR 2018 SHOW A DECLINE IN CRIME RATES

On July 19, 2018, the Albuquerque Police Department released the city’s crime statistics for the first half of 2018 (January to June) comparing them to the first half of 2017, (January to June).

https://www.abqjournal.com/1198242/crime-is-down-for-the-most-part.html

Looking at the raw numbers for 2018, property crime is down, but it’s the homicide rate that continues to be alarming.

Here’s a look at the crime stats for the first quarter of 2018 compared to the same period last year:

PROPERTY CRIMES

AUTO BURGLARY
2017: 6,559
2018: 4,523
Change: -31%

AUTO THEFT
2017: 3,633
2018: 3,061
Change: -15.7 %

COMMERCIAL BURGLARY
2017: 1,183
2018: 994
Change: -15.9%

RESIDENTIAL BURGLARY
2017: 2,207
2018: 2,075
Change: -5.9%
VIOLENT CRIME

ROBBERY
2017: 1,467
2018: 1,012
Change: -31%

AGGRAVATED ASSAULT:
2017: 1,957
2018: 1,851
Change: -5.4

NON-FATAL SHOOTINGS:
2017: 60
2018: 63
Change: 5.0%

RAPE:
2017: 236
2018: 226
Change: -4.2

HOMICIDES :
2017: 33
2018: 39
Change: 18.2%

AUTO THEFTS DOWN

It is very good news that auto burglary went down 31% and that auto thefts went down by 16%.

On July 14, 2018, it was reported that for the year 2017, that Albuquerque was ranked number one in auto thefts in the country for the second year in a row.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1196427/albuquerque-area-ranked-no-1-in-auto-theft-again.html

The decline in auto thefts and auto burglaries for the first 6 months of this year is a clear indication that the “Bernalillo County Auto Theft Suppression Effort” is having an impact.

On March 21, 2018, it was announced that the Albuquerque Police Department, Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office and New Mexico State Police were joining forces to address the city’s and the county’s out of control auto theft rates calling it the “Bernalillo County Auto Theft Suppression Effort”.

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

MURDER RATE STILL ALARMING

There were 6 more murders in the first quarter of 2018 compared with 2017 which was a 50% increase.

Homicides have now dropped the first half of 2018 by 18% compared to last year which is great news.

Non-fatal shootings for the first quarter of this year had a 0% change from last year, but now have increased by +5% for the first half of 2018.

Property crimes by far are more common than non-fatal shooting and murders.

The fact is, murders do not drive property crime trends, but it is the other way around.

A murder is usually committed when another crime is being committed such as armed robbery or domestic violence or it’s a crime committed in the heat of anger and a gun is readily available.

It’s difficult at best to bring down homicide rates, but it can be done when you bring down other violent crime such as armed robbery, aggravated assaults, illicit drug offenses and domestic violence.

In March of this year, 5 homicides were reported in six days!

Albuquerque has had 39 homicides the first 6 months of this year as compared to 33 murders for the same time period last year.

Albuquerque is still on track to break the all-time high of 70 murders by the end of the year.

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

Given the City’s and the states crime rates, it is not at all difficult to see why we are having a difficult time in attracting new businesses to the City and State and diversifying our economy.

There is no business that would ever want to relocate to the City and State if they have to issue guns to their employees to protect themselves from violent crime and property crime.

Candidates for Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and Steve Pearce need to put forth viable platforms to solve our rising crime rates.

For more on Albuquerque Crime rates see:

After Eight Years Of APD Decline, Soaring Crime Rates New Norm

Lujan-Grisham Outraises And Outspends Pearce

The Campaign Financial Reports for State Office were posted on Monday, October 8, 2018, by the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office.

The contribution reports cover the time period of September 4, 2018 to October 1, 2018.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Michelle Lujan Grisham raised more than twice as much money as Republican Steve Pearce over the past month, and she outspent him.

Republican Steve Pearce has more cash available as the Governor’s race as he heads into its final four weeks of campaigning.

Democrat Lujan Grisham raised $1.1 million during the reporting period, while Pearce took in $417,000 during the last reporting period.

Lujan Grisham spent $1.6 million to Pearce’s $1.1 million.

Notwithstanding being outspent, Pearce had a cash advantage heading into the final 4 weeks with $1.3 million available to Lujan Grisham’s $782,000.

Pearce’s contributors included ranchers and dairy owners.

Koch Industries of Wichita, Kan., contributed $5,500 to Steve Pearce.

Lujan Grisham’s donors included cannabis and solar energy companies.

Former Bernalillo County Sheriff and Republican operative Darren White, who now manages medical marijuana company, donated $5,500 to Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham.

Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, contributed $5,500 Lujan Grisham’s campaign.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1230893/lujan-grisham-outspends-pearce-in-last-4-weeks.html

JOE MONAHAN’S TAKE ON CANDIDATE FUNDRAISING

Political blogger Joe Monahan had this to say about the Governor’s race and other races in his October 9, 2018 blog:

“… Pearce has raised far less–$3 million–but both US House members have high name ID and strong bases of support so Pearce was not blown out early because of the money gap.

Not blown out but maybe not making as much progress as he would like.

The Democratic Governors Association came with a big late August TV buy blasting Pearce but has since disappeared.

That likely signals that their polling shows Lujan Grisham with a lead the DGA considers healthy.

The NEA PAC is up with a big buy for Lujan Grisham. But there is no third party money on the air for Pearce. That stings.

The polling is no doubt what hurt Pearce’s September fund-raising. The Sept 7-13 Journal survey had the race 50 to 43 against him. Donors pay attention.

The Lujan Grisham camp remains wary of Pearce as they should of the wily political veteran. He has just a couple of weeks to come up with something that could finally pick the lock for him. Money is not the problem. It’s the clock.

The Governor’s race is ranked Lean Democrat.

LAND ACTION

In the only other statewide race clearly in play besides the Guv run, Dem Stephanie Garcia Richard and Republican Pat Lyons seem low on cash for the final stretch. But there is a caveat. While Lyons reports just $55,000 in cash on hand he spent $188,000 on TV and mail in September. And he can expect hundreds of thousands in support from PACS funded by the oil boys.

Garcia Richard reports $41,000 in cash after making only modest media buys. She will need the enviro PACS to help her take Lyons out.

The land commissioner race is rated a Toss Up.

AUDITOR ACTION

In the state auditor’s contest that conceivably could get into play, Democrat Brian Colón and appointed GOP State Auditor are pretty close in cash on hand. Johnson had $120,000 to Colón $160,000. However, Colon outraised Johnson for the month–$64,000 to $16,000.

On the campaign trail, Johnson has been calling into question Colón’s ethics. He’ll probably do the same with his TV buy, but without something new and inflammatory this one goes in the Dem column. The race is rated Likely Dem.

STATE HOUSE RACES

GOP State Rep. Monica Youngblood reported $59,000 in cash at the end of September. Dem Karen Bash improved her game somewhat and has $25,000 for the final innings in the NW ABQ district. But as we’ve said before the hits on Monica are going to have to come from the labor union PACS over her aggravated DWI conviction and refusal to take a breath test. If they do come in and do a good job, the odds are Monica is out. If the Dems hesitate in the attack, she could sneak in.

In a hot ABQ NE Heights contest, Republican Brad Winter is being outscored in the money department. He reports $18,000 in cash compared to Day Hochman’s $52,000. This is a swing district and with those numbers the race is now rated Lean Dem.

Natalie Figueroa and R John Jones are basically tied in the cash on hand report with both in the low 40’s. But the far NE Heights district is moving Blue and it’s Figueroa’s second time around the track. This race continues to be rated Lean Dem.

Still in the NE Heights, R Jimmie Hall is struggling with Dem Melanie Stansbury. He reports $52,000 in cash to her $97,000. This district is still R friendly and Hall can survive but this one goes down to the wire.

You can read the complete blog article here:

http://joemonahansnewmexico.blogspot.com/

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

Lujan Grisham announced her run in December 2016 and she had aggressive opposition in the primary from businessman Jeff Apodaca and State Senator Joe Cervantes, who spent about $4 million combined.

Lujan Grisham so far has raised $7 million for both the primary and general election combined which is an amazing amount of money.

Lujan Grisham must be congratulated and respected for her fundraising abilities.

Pearce started the race much later, but did not have opposition in the Republican primary and raised $4.3 million and has spent $3.1 million.

Pearce is very wealthy in his own right and could probably write a personal check for $3 million if he wanted to.

Netflix Purchase Of Alb Studios Makes City Contender

When hearing the news that Netflix was buying Albuquerque Studios, I could not help but think about the classic movie “On the Water Front”.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1230755/netflix-to-buy-abq-studios.html

https://www.krqe.com/news/new-mexico/netflix-buys-albuquerque-studios/1507392854

Oscar winning Actor Marlon Brando, playing Terry Malloy a former boxer in the classic scene says:

“I coulda’ had class. I coulda’ been a contender. I coulda’ been somebody. Instead of a bum, which is what I am.”

The State is contributing $10 million of Local Economic Development Act funds.

Albuquerque is contributing another $4.5 million of Local Economic Development Funds.

Albuquerque beat out other places such as Denver, Salt Lake City, Austin, New York, Georgia and Los Angeles.

Albuquerque Studios is an enormous complex that includes 9 sound stages, a backlot and management offices.

The Albuquerque site will be Netflix’s first hub purchased in the United States.

New Mexico’s other 4 production studios are I-25 Studios, Garson Studios, Santa Fe Studios and Las Cruces Studios as other productions seek studio space for their projects.

The New Mexico film industry has been growing steadily for more than 17 years.

Albuquerque has regularly been ranked in the top 10 of the trade magazine Moviemaker’s best places to be a filmmaker.

The Netflix purchase will no doubt benefit the other major studios in the State that will likely be asked to provide additional overflow work.

The jobs that will be created in Albuquerque run the gamut of film and TV production work, most of which is project-based contract labor.

It is estimated that at least 1,000 well paying jobs per year will be created.

The jobs that will run the gamut of film and TV production work, most of which is project-based contract labor.

Many of the jobs are expected to pay $70,000 a year.

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

In 2006, Albuquerque studios was a $74 million, 50-acre project featuring eight sound stages, production officers and support space.

On July 24, 2006, the groundbreaking of Albuquerque Studios occurred and once completed, it was and still is a state-of-the-art movie-making facility.

Notwithstanding the sophistication of the facility, Albuquerque Studios for the last 17 years has been a rental house to production companies.

Albuquerque Studios has also been for sale for a number of years.

The fact that Netflex is purchasing the Albuquerque Studios ensures the Albuquerque will indeed be a real contender in the film industry nationally and globally.

With the Nextflex purchase, you will have a production and distribution company that can create that will take it over and start producing far more projects.

Last year alone, the film and TV production industry brought in over $180 million of direct spending to the city and state.

Far more important, the $70,000 a year jobs that will be provided are a far cry form the hourly wage jobs provided by the “call centers” that the city has become accustomed being announced.

The purchase deal also calls for $1 billion worth of production spent over 10 years which will have a dramatic effect on the City and State economies.

It is impressive that Albuquerque beat out other places such as New York and Los Angeles given the film industries dominant presence in both of those states.

The City and the State need to continue with efforts that will insure that our education institutions such as the New Mexico Community College continue to offer a trained work force.

Both the City and the State need to create more incentives to build and guarantee that the industry continues to prosper in New Mexico.

The film industry with the purchase of Albuquerque Studios by Netflix is clearly in the future of Albuquerque and the best hope at this point in diversifying our economy.

Albuquerque and New Mexico need to pursue with a vengeance the real growth industries like heath care, transportation and manufacturing, and the film industry to diversify our economy.

Public-private partnerships in the growth industries where ever possible should be encouraged and developed.

Special emphasis and support should be given to Albuquerque’s film industry which is developing, expanding and proving to be very successful in providing well-paying jobs.

For more on economic development and the growth industries see:

Investing In Ourselves To Achieve Economic Development