The Scandals and Failures of Governor Susana Martinez

On January 1, 2019, after 8 years in office, Susana Martinez will no longer be Governor of New Mexico.

On Sunday, December 30, 2018, the Albuquerque Journal ran on its front page the anticipated exit “interview story” of outgoing Republican Governor Susana Martinez summarizing her 8 years in office.

You can read the full article here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/1262720/susana-martine-zhistory-hope-amp-headwinds.html

The Sunday edition of the Albuquerque Journal is the highest circulation of the week.

The newspaper headlines read:

“HISTORY, HOPE & HEADWINDS”, “Governor Susana Martinez stressed education reform and a tight fiscal ship. She leaves a complicated legacy”

The front-page article was accompanied by a very flattering color photo of Governor Martinez totally appropriate for the dignity of the office she is leaving.

The problem with the Albuquerque Journal article is it downplayed her failures and totally ignored her scandals.

The Albuquerque Journal did not report nor point out that their own poll showed that Martinez is leaving office with a 46% disapproval rating and a 35% approval rating.

The Albuquerque Journal has proclaimed for decades that it is the “newspaper of record”.

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

The Albuquerque Journal exit article of Republican Governor Susana Martinez clearly establishes that it has become nothing more than the Republican Party newspaper of record.

The last elected Republican official to receive such front page, color photo treatment was last year when former Republican Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry left office.

Eight years ago, the media basically ignored outgoing Democrat Governor Bill Richardson without exit interviews.

The Albuquerque Journal article glossed over the true legacy that many people believe Governor Martinez is leaving as she returns home to Las Cruces.

Following are the 10 major scandals and failures that the Albuquerque Journal article did not report on or just glossed over that occurred during Governor Susana Martinez’s 8-years in office:

1. “THE DIRTY DOWNS DEAL” AND A FEDERAL GRAND JURY INVESTIGATION

The Journal article did not even mention this controversy for the scandal it was and how it was reported when it happened.

During her first year in office, Martinez herself was alleged to have been involved with a “play to play” controversy involving the award of a $1 Billion-dollar, 25-year, Albuquerque Downs Racetrack contract, dubbed by politicos as “the Dirty Downs deal”.

https://www.abqjournal.com/335335/buster-screwed-us.html

The FBI investigated the contract, which was awarded to the Downs at Albuquerque in December 2011.

FBI agents interviewed people involved with the Martinez campaign and others about the race track lease and about campaign donations and inaugural donations.

Martinez herself also answered FBI questions about the Downs lease deal but she never went public with what she said.

Allegations were made that the Downs at Albuquerque contract was a “pay-to-play deal”.

Allegations of nefarious conduct around the Downs lease involved political insiders, significant campaign contributions to Martinez and attempts to hide political donations and contributions to Governor Martinez or her political action committee from donors connected to the Downs.

Republican operatives former Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White, who appeared in Martinez election commercials, and former Republican National Committeeman and private attorney Pat Rogers were hired by the successful Downs Race track applicant.

Both White and Rogers are known to have close ties with Jay McClesky, the Governor’s paid political consultant, and no doubt played a role in influencing the award of the contract by the Martinez Administration.

Two of the Downs owners are Louisianans Bill Windham and John Turner are Republican boosters and were substantial contributors to Martinez’s campaign for Governor where Martinez received $70,000 in contributions during her campaign from Windham and Turner.

Governor Susana Martinez’s political adviser, Jay McCleskey, who has never been a state employee but had an office next to Martinez, thrust himself right in the middle of the Dirty Downs Deal controversy and the award of the contract by the State Fair Commission.

McCleskey became upset over a two-week delay on the contract award by the State Fair Commission.

McCleskey became angry when the State Fair Commission did not approve the 25-year racino lease with the Downs at Albuquerque.

For several months, a federal grand jury investigated Jay McCleskey regarding expenditures from Republican Martinez’s campaign, as well as money from her 2011 inauguration committee that went directly to McCleskey.

On March 4, 2016, Mc Clesky’s attorney announced that the federal grand jury would not indict McCleskey by saying “I’ve been informed the investigation has been terminated” and the attorney declined to answer any questions.

https://www.abqjournal.com/735011/mccleskey-lawyer-grand-jury-over-no-charges.html

2. GHOST OF CHRISTMAS “PEEEZAA” PAST

The Journal article did not even mention this controversy for the scandal it was and how it was reported when it happened and how it was the beginning of her downfall.

Governor Susana Martinez will probably be remembered most for what happened on December 13, 2015, at 1:30 am in the morning after at her Governor’s Staff Christmas Party at the El Dorado Hotel in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Audio recordings obtained by local media outlets revealed hotel staff calling Santa Fe Police to ask them to kick noisy people off the hotel premises after complaints from other hotel guests.

An upset Governor Martinez went to the hotel front desk at 1:30 am in the morning.

Martinez took the phone from the front desk clerk to talk on the phone with the Santa Fe police dispatcher.

In one recording, Martinez is heard telling a police dispatcher to “call off” any officers who had been dispatched.

A slurring and drunk sounding Martinez can be heard in one recording repeatedly insisting that the police dispatcher tell her who made the noise complaint with the hotel’s front desk.

At one point, the dispatcher tells the governor: “I can’t give you that information, ma’am.”

Martinez responds “Why can you not? … It is public record. Give it to me.”

https://www.abqjournal.com/693309/gov-martinez-to-police-dispatcher-call-off-your-officers.html

Another police recording has Martinez speaking to an officer on the phone, incredulous that cops had been sent to the hotel and she says:

“So we’re sitting in there, I’m the Governor of the State of New Mexico, and we’re in there with my sister, who’s disabled, along with about six other people who are having ‘peeezzaaa’.”

Told by the Santa Fe Police that there were reports of partying guests throwing bottles off the balcony, Martinez denied it and then admitted it by saying:

“I’m sorry. There’s no one on the balcony and there’s no one throwing bottles off the balcony … and whoever was throwing bottles is not there, hasn’t been there for like six hours … ”

Governor Martinez days later apologized for what happened but only after she realized she had to do damage control when the audio recording surfaced of her admonishing Santa Fe Police officers who went to break up her hotel party.

Martinez was revealed as the mean and vindictive person she was known for in private by many people and legislators when she demanded to know who complained and to chastise police for doing their jobs.

The Martinez carefully crafted positive image of caring for and reading to children vanished within days as she made the rounds of the TV stations to apologize for her conduct.

3. GUTTING OF NON-PROFIT MENTAL HEALTH CARE PROGRAMS

One of the cruelest things that Governor Martinez did as Governor was order an “audit” of mental health services by nonprofits in New Mexico which devastated New Mexico’s behavioral health system.

More than 160,000 New Mexicans received behavioral health services in 2014, with most of those services funded by Medicaid, according to the Human Services Department.

In June 2013, under the direction of Governor Martinez, the Human Services Department cut off Medicaid funding to 15 behavioral health nonprofits operating in New Mexico.

The Martinez Administration said that the outside audit showed more than $36 million in overbilling, as well as mismanagement and possible fraud.

The Martinez Human Services Department agency brought in the 5 Arizona providers to take over.

In early 2016, at least 13 of the 15 nonprofits that were shut down were exonerated of fraud by New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas.

Even though AG Balderas found no fraud and cleared the nonprofits of fraud the damage had been done to the nonprofits and many just went out of business

Three of the five Arizona providers brought in by Governor Susana Martinez’s administration in 2013 to replace the New Mexico nonprofits pulled up stakes in the state and the mental health system as yet to fully recover.

https://www.abqjournal.com/749923/third-arizona-behavioral-health-provider-to-pull-out-of-state.html

4. A FAILED EDUCATION SYSTEM

On December 28, 2018, it was reported that the 2018 high school class graduation rate is 73%, a 10%-point jump since 2011 when Martinez took office, something she can legitimately take credit for under her leadership.

However, after 8 years of her leadership and despite her efforts, the state lags behind the national average of 84% for graduations rates reported by The National Center for Education Statistics.

Despite the all-time-best rates, New Mexico still lags behind all the other states in the United Stated, except the District of Columbia that had a lower high school graduation rate last year, at 69.2 percent.

https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/all-time-high-mark-for-nm-graduation-rates-stretches-to-second-straight-year/4801305/

https://www.abqjournal.com/1262414/nm-grade-rate-at-73-percent.html

The Journal published a favorite repeated staged photo opportunity of Governor Susana Martinez reading children’s books to kids ages 6 to 10, with the children wearing “Cat In The Hat” colorful hats that would make anyone go “awe, how cute the children” while Martinez read to them Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham”.

We all now know the real reason why she was doing the reading herself: the kids were not proficient enough to read the children’s books out loud themselves to Republican Governor Martinez.

Throughout her 8 years as Governor, Martinez was at odds with teachers over the controversial Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, tests.

Republican Governor Susana Martinez, with her policies and her Secretary of Public Education appointments, especially the appointment of Secretary Hanna Skandera, contributed and resulted in a failing education system.

On Friday, July 20, 2018, Santa Fe District Court Judge Sarah Singleton, after a weeklong trial, ruled that the state of New Mexico is violating the constitutional rights of at-risk students by failing to provide them with a sufficient education.

The court ruling was a confirmation of what went on for the last 8 years with the state’s at-risk children under the Republican Martinez Administration.

The Judge found that it was clear that many New Mexico students are not receiving the basic education in reading, writing and math they should be receiving in our public-school system.

In her blistering written opinion, Judge Singleton wrote:

“[The evidence presented at trial] proves that the vast majority of New Mexico’s at-risk children finish each school year without the basic literacy and math skills needed to pursue post-secondary education or a career. … Indeed, overall New Mexico children rank at the very bottom in the country for educational achievement. … The at-risk students are still not attaining proficiency at the rate of non-at-risk students … and the programs being lauded by [the Public Education Department] are not changing this picture.”

In New Mexico, 71.6% of the state’s public-school students come from low-income families, and 14.4% are English-language learners.

Further, 14.8 percent of students have disabilities, and 10.6 percent are Native American.

Judge Singleton addressing proficiency rates for Native American students said that in the past 3 years, those students’ reading proficiency was at 17.6% and their math proficiency was at 10.4%.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1200069/questions-surround-ruling-on-nm-education-funding.html

The Court found that New Mexico does not have enough teachers and that New Mexico teachers are among the lowest paid in the country and stated:

“The evidence shows that school districts do not have the funds to pay for all the teachers they need. … [An example is] Gadsden, one of the better performing school districts in the state, has had to eliminate over 53 classroom positions and 15 essential teachers since 2008.”

The Court also faulted the Martinez Administration’s failure to provide access to technology in rural districts.

Judge Singleton ruling addressed the state teacher evaluation system implemented by the Martinez Administration by saying:

“[The teacher evaluation system] may be contributing to the lower quality of teachers in high-need schools. … In general, punitive teacher evaluation systems that penalize teachers for working in high-need schools contribute to problems in this category of schools.”

The Court rejected the Martinez Administration’s arguments that no new funding is needed because at-risk student performances are improving.

During the last 8 years at-risk children finish each school year without the basic literacy and math skills needed to pursue post-secondary education or a career.

5. FAILING NEW MEXICO’S CHILDREN

During a Channel 7 interview, Governor Martinez, with her usual and phony emotional, teary eyed flair, said “I never lost focus on keeping our children first … . “

https://www.koat.com/article/gov-martinez-looks-back-at-8-years-in-office-accomplishments-regrets-whats-next/25659323

The truth is, things for New Mexico’s children have only gotten worse during the last 8 years under Governor Martinez’s leadership.

For the first time in five years, New Mexico has fallen to last among states when it comes to the economic, educational and medical well-being of its children, according to a nonprofit that tracks the status of U.S. kids.

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

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

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

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

6. “ALL CRIME ALL THE TIME” LEGISLATIVE SESSIONS

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.

Legislative session after legislative session, Governor Susana Martinez requested the New Mexico Legislature for changes in New Mexico’s criminal laws, including to reinstate the death penalty.

Martinez repeatedly sought to toughen criminal sentences for a host of offenses without even attempting to address the root causes of crime: poverty, drug abuse intervention, poor education, unemployment and social intervention.

The Governor’s proposals included a bill to toughen penalties for people who commit crimes while on probation or parole and restoring the death penalty for people convicted of murdering children and law enforcement.

Martinez called for a “three-strikes” proposal that would require life sentences for repeat offenders convicted of a third violent felony.

http://www.koat.com/article/gov-martinez-unveils-tough-on-crime-proposals/14829131

It was the murder of children by their parents or custodians, killings of law enforcement officers in the line of duty and rising crime in Albuquerque and the state that had Republican Governor Martinez and conservative Republican state lawmakers calling for New Mexico to reinstate the death penalty.

Martinez falsely argued that the death penalty is the solution to stopping heinous crimes and repeat offenders, contrary to decades of well documented studies.

Governor Martinez embraced what New Mexico State Representative Monica Youngblood had to say about the death penalty when Youngblood said:

“I think [the death penalty] would be a deterrent. I mean, look what’s going on in Albuquerque. … This would be a narrow reinstatement focusing on those who kill law enforcement and children.”

All the proposed changes to New Mexico’s criminal laws by Governor Martinez were never accompanied by any increase in funding for our courts, the District Attorney’s Offices, the Public Defenders offices nor the Corrections Department which are the essential elements of the criminal justice system.

“Lock em up and throw away the key” is the ignorant approach to solving high crime rates.

Reinstating the death penalty has been a “no starter” for years and discredited with many states repealing the death penalty as a penalty that fails to stop violent crime and crimes against law enforcement.

7. CONFLICTS WITH THE LEGISLATURE

For the full 8 years she has been in office, Martinez has been vindictive and mean spirited to legislators.

Governor Susana Martinez will be remembered for her inability to work with the New Mexico legislature and her vindictiveness towards those she disagreed with, even with those in her own party.

Martinez’s reelection victory in 2014 helped Republicans seized control of the New Mexico House of Representatives for the first time in 60 years.

Republicans ended up with a 37-33 advantage in the House but that did not last long.

https://www.abqjournal.com/491495/control-of-70-seat-new-mexico-house-hangs-in-balance.html

Martinez and the Republican house overplayed their hand and proceeded to preside over the House in a vindictive manner against Democrats.

The Republican House approved only Republican legislation and voted down all Democrat sponsored legislation.

In 2016, after losing the House of Representative chamber in 2014, Democrats regained control of the house putting Democrats in control of both the New Mexico House and Senate.

Political consultant Jay McCleskey for her full 8 years in office was Martinez’s number one political advisor and campaign manager who is given credit for grooming her and getting her elected twice.

McClusky is well known in political circles for his “slash and burn” political campaign tactics and negative advertising.

McClusky was referred to as the “shadow governor” by many political observers.

McClusky was so vital to Martinez that he was given an office on the 4th floor of the State Capitol even though he was not a state employee.

The peak of Governor Martinez’s vindictiveness and pettiness was when she made sure that her Political Action Committee headed up by Jay McClusky spent $1 million dollars to defeat long time and respected Democrat Floor Leader of the State Senate Michael Sanchez who she considered a major impediment to her policies.

Martinez refused to help many in her own party with her PAC donations which many Republicans feel contributed to their loss of the Republican controlled House of Representatives in 2016.

8. CONFLICTS WITH THE NEW MEXICO JUDICIARY

Martinez has not gotten along any better with the New Mexico Judiciary.

Many Governor Martinez vetoes were found unconstitutional by the Court’s.

It was a state District Court that ruled the Martinez Administration violated the constitutional rights of at-risk students by failing to provide them with a sufficient education.

On April 25, 2018, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Governor Martinez did not follow proper constitutional procedures in vetoing 10 different bills that, for the most part, had passed the Legislature with broad bipartisan support.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1163243/nm-supreme-court-invalidates-gov-martinez-vetoes.html

The Supreme Court ruling put end to a yearlong court battle and resulted in the bills in essentially taking effect immediately.

In court, state lawmakers argued the 10 vetoes were not properly carried out because the governor either took too long to act on them or did not provide an explanation with each vetoed bill.

The common consensus amongst many members of the legislature is that Governor Martinez vetoed the legislation in retaliation for them not supporting her policies.

In August, 2018, Martinez got into the Trump act of criticizing a District Judge’s rulings based on the law when a Taos Judge released 5 defendants on bond pending trial for child abuse.

It was not surprising to the legal community that the court released the 5 defendants pending trial in that that there was no “clear and convincing evidence” as required by the law to deny them bail.

Martinez had this to say about the judge’s ruling:

“I strongly disagree with this decision. … Unfortunately, it highlights for the entire nation how extreme the New Mexico Supreme Court has been in dictating pretrial release for all kinds of dangerous criminals.”

What made the Governor Susana Martinez remarks so egregious is that she is a former 16 year elected Las Cruces District Attorney and a license New Mexico Attorney and she knows better.

Vilifying Judges is a popular tactic perfected by President Trump to gin up their conservative base.

What is not appropriate and downright dangerous conduct is for anyone to threaten any judge with physical harm over a ruling they make as was done with the Taos District Court Judge.

Martinez as a New Mexico attorney is an officer of the court, and her total failure to condemn people threatening the courts is a low as you can get even for the likes of a Republican Governor who claims to be “law and order”.

9. FAILURE AT ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

On January 1, 2011, Governor Susana Martinez was sworn in as New Mexico Governor.

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

For the full 8 years of her two terms as Governor, Martinez watched and did nothing when comes to economic development as New Mexico’s population declined dramatically with a mass exodus of educated young people looking for jobs seeking a future elsewhere.

Since 2010, 62,000 more U.S. citizens moved out of New Mexico than arrived here.

In 2018, New Mexico had 3,509 more people move out than move in which was the lowest net-migration loss since 2012, according to United States census statistics.

The state population has hovered around below 2.1 million since crossing the 2 million mark in 2008, according to The Santa Fe New Mexican.

For a full 8 years, Governor Susana Martinez failed to offer any viable economic development plan other than promoting corporate tax cuts.

Martinez promoted “no new taxes”, reduced taxes and fees wherever she could as her economic development plan to attract new industry to New Mexico, and it was miserable failure.

In February, 2018 New Mexico’s unemployment rate was 5.8%, down, but not by much.

Since 2013, New Mexico has seen more people moving out of the state each year than moving into the state, known as negative net migration.

https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/new-mexico-lags-behind-neighbors-in-population-growth/

New Mexico competes with metropolitan areas like Denver, Salt Lake City and Phoenix, which are booming with higher-paying jobs.

The figures show Nevada and Idaho grew the fastest during a 12-month period that ended in July, 2018 while New Mexico had a population growth rate of 0.1%.

Robert Rhatigan, associate director of Geospatial and Population Studies at the University of New Mexico had this to say about outgoing migration:

“The migration piece is what separates us from our neighbors. Our neighbors recovered from the recession, and we didn’t. People left for better economic opportunities. As long as neighboring states are offering better-paying jobs, it will be difficult for the numbers to turn around.”

New Mexico has been chipping away at its low-wage reputation with commitments from FACEBOOK, Netflix, Safelite and Union Pacific, but they are making those commitments despite any real efforts by the Martinez Administration.

10. FAILURE TO SUPPORT EMERGING FILM INDUSTRY

The one industry that represents the future of New Mexico and a major hope for expanding New Mexico’s economy is the film industry but Martinez made sure she got in the way.

In 2002, the state film tax incentives were put in place.

In 2011, Governor Susana Martinez placed a $50 million annual cap on the incentives when many advocated a much higher cap or no cap at all.

The state has hit the cap every year since it was put in place by Martinez in 2011 but she refused to increase the cap for 6 years.

In 2017, 74 different projects claimed every cent of the $50 million in incentives.

The film industry expands each year in large part because of tax credits.

According to a 2017 report from the New Mexico Film Office, the state spent the entire $50 million allotted for film tax credits annually in 2014, and the film industry spent an estimated $513.9 million purchasing goods and services from local businesses between 2010 and 2014.

https://www.bizjournals.com/albuquerque/news/2017/03/31/why-martinez-vetoed-film-credit-bill.html

https://www.bizjournals.com/albuquerque/news/2017/03/31/why-martinez-vetoed-film-credit-bill.html

Between 2014 and 2017, the amount of direct, in-state production spending increased from $162 million to $506 million.

New Mexico has received more than $234 million in direct spending into the economy from film projects in this 2017-2018 fiscal year.

In the fiscal year 2017, there was nearly $506 million in direct spending into the New Mexico economy.

https://www.kob.com/politics-news/vote-4-nm-tax-incentives-for-the-film-industry/5128621/

In 2017, Martinez vetoed a bill that would have extended tax credits to smaller film productions in the state.

CONCLUSION

When first elected, Governor Susana Martinez went into office with high hopes, great potential and possibilities and she was a national political rising star.

After 8 years in office, Martinez has very little to show for and will be known for lost opportunities and a star that totally burned out.

Governor Martinez will be remembered most for her Governor Office pizza and beer holiday Christmas party at a Santa Fe, Hotel at taxpayer expense and the “Dirty Downs Deal”.

Martinez will also be remembered for her vindictive and mean-spirited ways and her “my way or the highway” attitude.

Governor Susana Martinez’ true legacy will be that of illiterate New Mexico children, a punitive teacher evaluation system, destruction of a nonprofit mental health care system, absolutely no legislative accomplishments and a state in decline in population.

Governor Susana Martinez’s only claim to fame will be having been elected twice as the first Republican Hispanic female Governor in New Mexico history.

The Martinez legacy is already becoming a mere footnote in New Mexico history with the election of the first Democrat Hispanic female Governor in New Mexico History with Michelle Lujan Grisham succeeding her on January 1, 2019.

For further background and analysis see:

The Rise And Fall Of Governor Susana Martinez And Her 8 Year Legacy Of Failure

Watergate Reporter: Trump’s Impeachment Inevitable

The New York Times on December 28, 2018 published an opinion column by Elizabeth Drew.

Ms. Drew is a journalist based in Washington who covered Watergate scandal and President Richard Nixon.

Following is the editorial column in full followed by the link to the column and then further commentary and analysis:

TITLE: The Inevitability of Impeachment

SUBTITLE COMMENT: Even Republicans may be deciding that the president has become too great a burden to their party or too great a danger to the country.

“An impeachment process against President Trump now seems inescapable. Unless the president resigns, the pressure by the public on the Democratic leaders to begin an impeachment process next year will only increase. Too many people think in terms of stasis: How things are is how they will remain. They don’t take into account that opinion moves with events.

Whether or not there’s already enough evidence to impeach Mr. Trump — I think there is — we will learn what the special counsel, Robert Mueller, has found, even if his investigation is cut short. A significant number of Republican candidates didn’t want to run with Mr. Trump in the midterms, and the results of those elections didn’t exactly strengthen his standing within his party. His political status, weak for some time, is now hurtling downhill.

The midterms were followed by new revelations in criminal investigations of once-close advisers as well as new scandals involving Mr. Trump himself. The odor of personal corruption on the president’s part — perhaps affecting his foreign policy — grew stronger. Then the events of the past several days — the president’s precipitous decision to pull American troops out of Syria, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis’s abrupt resignation, the swoon in the stock market, the pointless shutdown of parts of the government — instilled a new sense of alarm among many Republicans.

The word “impeachment” has been thrown around with abandon. The frivolous impeachment of President Bill Clinton helped to define it as a form of political revenge. But it is far more important and serious than that: It has a critical role in the functioning of our democracy.

Impeachment was the founders’ method of holding a president accountable between elections. Determined to avoid setting up a king in all but name, they put the decision about whether a president should be allowed to continue to serve in the hands of the representatives of the people who elected him.

The founders understood that overturning the results of a presidential election must be approached with care and that they needed to prevent the use of that power as a partisan exercise or by a faction. So they wrote into the Constitution provisions to make it extremely difficult for Congress to remove a president from office, including that after an impeachment vote in the House, the Senate would hold a trial, with a two-thirds vote needed for conviction.

Lost in all the discussion about possible lawbreaking by Mr. Trump is the fact that impeachment wasn’t intended only for crimes. For example, in 1974 the House Judiciary Committee charged Richard Nixon with, among other things, abusing power by using the I.R.S. against his political enemies. The committee also held the president accountable for misdeeds by his aides and for failing to honor the oath of office’s pledge that a president must “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”

The current presidential crisis seems to have only two possible outcomes. If Mr. Trump sees criminal charges coming at him and members of his family, he may feel trapped. This would leave him the choice of resigning or trying to fight congressional removal. But the latter is highly risky.

I don’t share the conventional view that if Mr. Trump is impeached by the House, the Republican-dominated Senate would never muster the necessary 67 votes to convict him. Stasis would decree that would be the case, but the current situation, already shifting, will have been left far behind by the time the senators face that question. Republicans who were once Mr. Trump’s firm allies have already openly criticized some of his recent actions, including his support of Saudi Arabia despite the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and his decision on Syria. They also openly deplored Mr. Mattis’s departure.

It always seemed to me that Mr. Trump’s turbulent presidency was unsustainable and that key Republicans would eventually decide that he had become too great a burden to the party or too great a danger to the country. That time may have arrived. In the end the Republicans will opt for their own political survival. Almost from the outset some Senate Republicans have speculated on how long his presidency would last. Some surely noticed that his base didn’t prevail in the midterms.

But it may well not come to a vote in the Senate. Facing an assortment of unpalatable possibilities, including being indicted after he leaves office, Mr. Trump will be looking for a way out. It’s to be recalled that Mr. Nixon resigned without having been impeached or convicted. The House was clearly going to approve articles of impeachment against him, and he’d been warned by senior Republicans that his support in the Senate had collapsed. Mr. Trump could well exhibit a similar instinct for self-preservation. But like Mr. Nixon, Mr. Trump will want future legal protection.

Mr. Nixon was pardoned by President Gerald Ford, and despite suspicions, no evidence has ever surfaced that the fix was in. While Mr. Trump’s case is more complex than Mr. Nixon’s, the evident dangers of keeping an out-of-control president in office might well impel politicians in both parties, not without controversy, to want to make a deal to get him out of there”

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/27/opinion/trump-impeachment-resign-drew.html

THE MUELLER RUSSIAN INVESTIGATION

Government officials and others familiar with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference have told the media that he is nearing the conclusion of his investigation and is expected to submit a confidential report to the attorney general as early as mid-February, 2019.

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/justice-department/mueller-may-submit-report-attorney-general-soon-mid-february-say-n949961

Mueller has charged 33 people and convicted Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Trump’s former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn and Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen of felony crimes of varying degrees and all three have cooperated with the investigation .

Mueller has not answered the fundamental question of whether Trump or anyone around him conspired with the Russian intelligence operations to help his campaign.

Mueller has not made public any evidence proving such a conspiracy, but he has rebutted in court filings Trumps assertion that neither he nor any of his top aides had met or talked with Russians during the 2016 race.

Further, Mueller in court filings has said that Trump knew about his lawyer’s negotiations over a Trump Tower in Moscow.

Trump has denied repeatedly he was doing business with Moscow yet a “letter of intent to build” and signed by Trump shows he lied.

Mueller’s final report is also expected to answer the question of whether President Trump obstructed justice.

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

Trump’s impeachment may be inevitable, but not his conviction and removal, at least not yet.

The new Democratic controlled US House of Representative took control on January 4, 2019.

There is no doubt that Trump has been a total disaster for the last two years, going from one crisis to another that he himself has created and showing he is not morally and not emotionally fit to be President.

A simple majority in the United States Representatives is all that is required to pass Articles of Impeachment charging Trump with “treason, high crimes and misdemeanors”.

After the midterms, the Democrats have a comfortable majority in the United States House, with a total of 435 house members consisting of 235 Democrats, 199 Republicans and 1 vacancy on a race yet to be called.

A two thirds vote in the United States Senate is required to convict and remove a president after a trial presided over by the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

Currently there are 100 Senators consisting of 53 Republican Senators, 45 Democratic Senator’s and 2 Independents and 67 Senators must vote to convict to remove.

With 45 US Senate Democrats, 21 Republican Senators will need to vote to convict Trump, which is why so many political pundits say it is unlikely Trump will ever be removed unless the Mueller Russian Investigation clearly shows criminal activity and acts of treason by Trump and his family.

Democrats could very easily overplay their hand and impeach Trump but he could still get reelected in 2020 if the Republican controlled Senate do not go along and do not convict and remove him.

This country went down that road when the Republican controlled House impeached President Bill Clinton but the Senate could not muster the 67 votes to convict and remove Clinton

One thing that would make it more likely than not that Trump is impeached, tried and convicted is if the final Mueller report does in fact find that Trump and his campaign colluded with Russians to influence the 2016 election and makes findings that Trump engaged in “obstruction of justice”.

News sources are suggesting there will be more indictments announced before the Mueller Report is finalized.

On January 4, 2019, it was announced that federal D.C. Court granted a sixth month extension to the Mueller Russian probe grand jury suggesting the Russia probe is not ending anytime soon.

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/01/04/federal-judge-extends-mueller-grand-jury-by-another-six-months-report.html?__source=sharebar|facebook&par=sharebar

The previous reports that Mueller was wrapping his Russian probe investigation, writing the final report and that the final report would be released mid-February may have been premature.

You do not need a federal grand jury to be in session to write a final report and make recommendations.

The only reason you need an extension is if more subpoenas need to be issued, more evidence needs to be presented to the grand jury and more indictments are forthcoming.

Trump can only pardon for federal offenses, so whatever charges the State of New York, where a state grand jury has been convened, against Trump, his corporations and his sons and daughters cannot be pardoned by him.

If Mueller follows DOJ guidelines, he will not indict a sitting President but he could find obstruction of justice, Trump accepting Russian interference with election and with Mueller recommending impeachment.

The indictments of Donald Trump Jr, Eric Trump, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner would only be icing on the cake and hope springs eternal.

ABQ’s Crime Rates Going Down, But ABQ Still A Violent City

Back in June, 2018 the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) released the city’s crime statistics for the first half of the year comparing them to the first half of 2017 (January to June).

Six months ago, Albuquerque’s property crimes were reported as going down, but the homicide rate was still alarming.

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

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

You can review the first six months of crime statistics here:

http://www.petedinelli.com/2018/07/19/kudos-to-keller-apd-for-bringing-property-crime-down-but-still-carry-your-gun/

On December 27, 2018, Mayor Tim Keller and Chief Geier held a press conference to release Albuquerque’s crime statistics for the entire year of 2018.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1261926/apd-release-crime-stats-for-2018.html

Albuquerque continues to have its very first decrease in overall crime in 8 years.

Following are the crime statistics for the entire year of 2018 comparing them with the statistics for the entire year of 2017 as well as the first 6 months of each year.

TOTAL TRAFFIC STOPS FOR TWO YEARS

2017: 32,739 (First 6 months: 17,376)
2018: 42,033 (First 6 months: 23,461)
Change: +31% (First 6 months +35%)

TOTAL PROPERTY CRIMES FOR TWO YEARS

AUTO BURGLARY FOR TWO YEARS
2017:12,999 (First 6 months: 6,559)
2018: 9,218 (First 6 months: 4,523)
Change: -29% (First 6 months: -31%)

AUTO THEFT FOR TWO YEARS
2017: 7,692 (First 6 months: 3,633)
2018: 5,341 (First 6 months: 3,061)
Change: -31 (First 6 months: -15.7 %)

COMMERCIAL BURGLARY FOR TWO YEARS
2017: 2,298 (First 6 months:1,183)
2018: 1,918 (First 6 months: 994)
Change: -17% (First 6 months -15.9%)

RESIDENTIAL BURGLARY FOR TWO YEARS
2017: 4,704 (First 6 months: 2,207)
2018: 3,847 (First 6 months: 2,075)
Change: -18 (First 6 months -5.9%)

VIOLENT CRIME FOR TWO YEARS

ROBBERY FOR TWO YEARS
2017: 2,930 (First 6 months: 1,467)
2018: 1,887 (First 6 months: 1,012)
Change: -36% (First 6 months: -31%)

AGGRAVATED ASSAULT FOR TWO YEARS
2017: 4,213 (First 6 months: 1,957)
2018: 3,885 (First 6 months: 1,851)
Change: -8 (First 6 months: -5.4)

NON-FATAL SHOOTINGS FOR TWO YEARS
2017: 470 (First 6 months: 60)
2018: 491 (First 6 months: 63)
Change: +4 (First 6 months: +5.0%)

RAPE FOR TWO YEARS
2017: 473 (First 6 months: 236)
2018: 461 (First 6 months: 226)
Change: -3% (First six months -4.2)

HOMICIDES FOR TWO YEARS
2017: 72 (First 6 months: 33)
2018: 65 (First 6 months:39)
Change: -10% (First 6 months -18.2%)

Review of the city’s crime statistics for the entire year of 2018 show the largest decreases in the property crimes of auto burglary (-29%), auto theft (-31%), commercial burglary (-17 percent) and residential burglary (-18%) and robbery fell by 36%.

During the December 27, 2018 press conference, Mayor Tim Keller had this to say:

“This is the first time [in the last 8 years] at least, we’re going in the right direction. … It is with sober optimism that we share these statistics because we know that, overall, the rates are still too high. … We have failed as a society, frankly, to do this in the first place … It’s something that continues to plague us each and every day when we read the front page of the newspaper or watch our television set.”

Mayor Keller announced that the city and Police Department are working on a “comprehensive plan” to treat gun violence as a “public health crisis.”

APD Chief Geier reported that at least 2,000 guns stolen out of homes and vehicles since 2016 and that there is a big need for public outreach educate the public to better secure guns and not leave guns where they can be stolen.

According to Geier, APD will now target gun violence by adding resources, investing in new technology and working with communities to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and new initiatives to fight gun violence in the coming weeks and work with legislators and city councilors to make it a priority for Albuquerque.

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

It is terrific news that after 8 years, Albuquerque’s Crimes rates are indeed going down under the leadership of Mayor Tim Keller and APD Chief Michael Geier.

Albuquerque’s downward trend in crime is also a reflection with what is happening throughout the country.

Mayor Keller and Chief Geier can take comfort with the news that their policies do indeed seem to be working.

The Keller Administration and the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) intends to spend $88 million dollars, over the next four-year period, with 32 million dollars of recurring expenditures, to hire 322 sworn officers and expand APD from 878 sworn police officers to 1,200 officers.

The massive investment is being done in order to full fill Mayor Tim Keller’s 2017 campaign promise to increase the size of APD and return to community-based policing as a means of reducing the city’s high crime rates.

APD is projecting that it will have 980 officers by next summer by growing the ranks with both new cadets, lateral hires from other departments, and returning to work APD retirees.

Notwithstanding the reduction in the crimes statistics, Albuquerque is still a way too violent city and both Keller and Geier know it and admit it.

Both property crime and violent crimes have dropped, but violent crime is still at unacceptable levels for a city the size of Albuquerque.

Homicides decreased 10%, rape dropped 3% and aggravated assault went down 8%

In 2017, the city broke the all-time homicide rate of 70 with 72 murders and this year in 2018 there were 65 murders.

In December, 2018, 2 police officer deadly force shootings occurred in less than 24 hours.

In 2018, nonfatal shootings went up 4% from 470 to 491 shootings.

According to APD, the city was inundated with guns hitting the street with nearly 1,000 firearms stolen from homes and vehicles from January to November of this year.

The underlying message with the 2018 declining crime statistics is that people can start to feel better that their property is a little safer, but people still may feel a need to carry a gun to protect themselves and their home and property.

The Rise And Fall Of Governor Susana Martinez And Her 8 Year Legacy Of Failure

Outgoing New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez was interviewed by TV Channels 4, 7, and 13 regarding her 8 years in office that ends December 31, 2018.

You can view all three of the interviews at the below links:

https://www.krqe.com/news/politics-governement/outgoing-gov-martinez-reflects-on-her-time-in-office-with-news-13/1671051768

https://www.koat.com/article/gov-martinez-looks-back-at-8-years-in-office-accomplishments-regrets-whats-next/25659323

https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/gov-susana-martinez-talks-about-her-tenure-as-the-states-leader/5189433/?cat=500

Such interviews are called “exit interviews”.

Exit interviews with the media give the elected official one last opportunity to put a positive spin on their years of service in office.

Exit interviews provide no in-depth analysis of what the departing elected official accomplished.

During her interviews, Governor Martinez talked about what she’s most proud of, her regrets and what she plans to do next.

When asked about what she thinks her legacy is, she said it was improving the education system in New Mexico saying:

“I think history is going to define what my legacy will be — whether I fought the right fights, pushed the right policies, put children first and never gave up. I really do think history is going to define that in the long term. … The things that were being done 40 or 50 years before I came on had us at 63 percent graduation rate. We’re right now at the highest graduation rate ever in this state. More kids are reading at grade level than ever before … I never lost focus on keeping our children first, and I never forgot the promises I made to the people of New Mexico … .”

On education, Governor Martinez stood by her appointment of controversial former Public Education Department Secretary Hanna Skandera saying:

“We were pushing policies that were different, because for decades they were the same [thing] … Hanna believed in the policies and was not going to give up, because she wasn’t going to give up on our kids and because they turned it into politics, it became about one person.”

Another topic was crime expressing regret she wasn’t able to reinstate the death penalty for certain offenses, pointing to the horrific baby Brianna case she prosecuted as District Attorney saying:

“I saw that baby, that was the most horrific scene ever and that person didn’t get the maximum penalty, and that person doesn’t deserve to walk amongst us. …” .

In two interviews, Governor Martinez discussed her infamous Governor Staff Christmas pizza party in 2015 at the El Dorado Hotel in Santa Fe, New Mexico saying:

“We’re all humans and we all make mistakes and I think the best thing to do is when you make a mistake is to accept it, to acknowledge it. Then, to make sure that you learn from it and I think that’s exactly what I did … .”

Martinez said that the one thing she is most proud of was keeping her promise not to raise taxes.

Governor Martinez plans to move back to southern New Mexico to help her brother’s family and that “not working was not an option”.

Governor Martinez’s brother recently died of Lou Gehrig’s disease, or ALS.

In the Channel 4 exit interview, Governor Susana Martinez became emotional when talking about having to take care of her developmentally disable sister who lived with her in the Governor’s mansion as well as helping her brother who was suffering and died recently from ALS when and she said:

“In New Mexico, we take care of our families … so we make sure whether it be personally or financially or with some assistance from others, we juggle our professional [life] and we juggle family life … [to take care of family members in need].

https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/gov-susana-martinez-talks-about-her-tenure-as-the-states-leader/5189433/?cat=500

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

It is ironic that Governor Martinez actually said “In New Mexico, we take care of our families … with some assistance from others”.

Yeah, right.

Martinez was an absolute failure as Governor in taking care of some of the most vulnerable people of New Mexico, namely our children in need of a good education and those in need of mental health services.

Governor Martinez is leaving office with 46% of voters surveyed saying they DISAPPROVED of her job performance and only 35% saying they APPROVED of her job performance.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1224500/journal-poll-martine-zapproval-rating-dips-to-35-percent.html

All 3 TV exit interviews of New Mexico Governor Susanna Martinez revealed someone who is very delusional as to how she will be remembered by history.

No doubt it is hard for Martinez to acknowledge that she has very few accomplishments and successes to point to after 8 years.

Her only claim to fame will be having been elected twice as the first Republican Hispanic female Governor in New Mexico history.

The Martinez legacy is already a mere footnote with the election of the first Democrat Hispanic female Governor in New Mexico History succeeding her.

THE RISE AND FALL OF SUSANA MARTINEZ

In 2010, Martinez was elected over her Democratic opponent former Democratic Lt. Governor Diane Denish, the Lieutenant Governor who served with Governor Bill Richardson.

Martinez ran more against Richardson than against Denish.

Martinez, a former multiple term District Attorney from La Cruces, campaigned on a law and order platform hammering Richardson “pay to play” scandals.

Martinez repeatedly reminded everyone how she successfully prosecuted a child abuse case that resulted in the death of an infant.

Former Lt. Governor Diane Denish, although by far the most qualified to be Governor, was viewed by many as a very cold, a very aloof personality conveying a sense of entitlement to be Governor and personal wealth on her part and unable to talk to and identify with the average New Mexico voter.

Democrat Hispanics took great pride in voting for the first Hispanic female Governor, even though she was a Republican.

“THE DIRTY DOWNS DEAL” AND A FEDERAL GRAND JURY INVESTIGATION

During her first year in office, Martinez herself was alleged to have been involved with a “play to play” controversy involving the award of a $1 Billion-dollar, 25-year, Albuquerque Downs Racetrack contract, dubbed by politicos as “the Dirty Downs deal”.

https://www.abqjournal.com/335335/buster-screwed-us.html

The FBI investigated the contract, which was awarded to the Downs at Albuquerque in December 2011, with FBI agents interviewing people involved with the Martinez campaign and others about the lease and about campaign donations and inaugural donations .

Martinez herself also answered FBI questions about the Downs lease deal.

Allegations were made that the Downs at Albuquerque contract was a “pay-to-play deal”, reminiscent of those alleged during the administration of her predecessor Governor Bill Richardson.

Allegations of nefarious conduct around the Downs lease involved political insiders, significant campaign contributions to Martinez and attempts to hide political donations and contributions to Governor Martinez or her political action committee from donors connected to the Downs.

Two of the Downs owners are Louisianans Bill Windham and John Turner are Republican boosters and were substantial contributors to Martinez’s campaign for Governor.

Martinez received $70,000 in contributions during her campaign from Windham and Turner.

According to news reports, after her election, Windham asked for a meeting with Martinez’s transition team to discuss the future of the racino lease and offered to contribute $50,000 to the Martinez inaugural committee.

According to news reports, Andrea Goff, who was executive director of the inaugural committee, was instructed to turn down Windham’s offer.

Governor Susana Martinez’s political adviser, Jay McCleskey, who was not a state employee, thrust himself right in the middle of controversy.

McCleskey became upset over a two week delay to award the contract by the State Fair Commission and was angry that the commission did not approve the 25-year racino lease with the Downs at Albuquerque.

McCleskey, after the vote to delay the award of the lease, made repeated contact to complain to Andrea Goff.

Andrea Goff was a Hobbs-area fundraiser who at the time was working for Martinez and raising money for Susana Pac, the Governors political action committee.

Andrea Goff is the daughter-in-law of then-State Fair Commissioner Buster Goff who had cast the deciding vote to delay the award of the contract for two weeks.

Buster Goff was a Martinez appointee to the State Fair Commission and his vote was considered a betrayal to the person who appointed him.

Text messages to Andrea Goff from Jay McClesky included:

“Buster screwed us!”
“He [Buster] has just really hurt the governor,”
“The gov is furious … It is VERY bad.”
“These 2 weeks will not be used to study the proposal … they will be used to kick the crap [out] of the gov … That’s what he [Buster] needs to understand.”
“Windham [one of the Downs’ owners] will be a piñata for 2 weeks. … He [Buster Goff] was supposed to pass it [the Downs contract].”

Andrea Goff said in media interviews that she felt she was being pressured by McCleskey to somehow get her father-in-law to change his vote.

Andrea Goff said she did not try to change the mind of her father in law Goff but that she did try to find out from him what happened and what his reasoning was to vote for a two-week delay.

According to Andrea Goff, her father in law and other commissioners were very concerned with performance clauses in the lease and said to McCleskey:

“They want to be good public servants for the gov and the state but did not know they were just supposed to be a rubber stamp [ and just vote to approve].”

In one text message, Andrea Goff said Buster Goff had offered to resign as State Fair Commissioner.

According to news reports, McCleskey ignored the resignation offer and harped to Andrea Goff about how Democrats in the New Mexico State Senate wanted to embarrass Governor Martinez.

McCleskey predicted dire financial consequences for the State Fair if the lease was not approved.

The State Fair Commission eventually voted to award the contract to the Downs of Albuquerque with Commissioner Buster Goff voting for approval.

Republican operatives former Bernalillo County Sherriff Darren White, who appeared in Martinez election commercials, and former Republican National Committeeman and private attorney Pat Rogers were hired by the successful Downs Race track applicant.

Both White and Rogers are known to have close ties with McClesky and no doubt played a role in influencing the award of the contract by the Martinez Administration.

McCleskey denied trying to pressure Andrea Goff in any manner.

For several months, a federal grand jury had investigated Jay McCleskey regarding expenditures from Republican Martinez’s campaign, as well as money from her 2011 inauguration committee that went to McCleskey.

On March 4, 2016, McClesky’s attorney announced that the federal grand jury would not indict McCleskey by saying “I’ve been informed the investigation has been terminated” and the attorney declined to answer any questions.

https://www.abqjournal.com/735011/mccleskey-lawyer-grand-jury-over-no-charges.html

What happened with the “Dirty Downs Deal” was a good example of McCleskey’s aggressive conduct to defend and protect Governor Martinez at all cost during her entire 8 years in office.

It was also a good example of the vindictive way McCleskey went after people he viewed as potential problems or critics of Governor Martinez.

ON THE NATIONAL STAGE AND ON TO RE-ELECTION

On August 29, 2012, Governor Martinez made a prime-time national spotlight appearance at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, speaking minutes before Congressman Paul Ryan who was to be the vice-presidential nominee to Republican Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney.

Martinez told the convention how she rose from “modest roots” in El Paso, Texas to become the nation’s first female Hispanic governor.

Martinez bragged about carrying a concealed firearm to the cheers and adoration of the Republican convention.

https://www.deseretnews.com/article/765600345/GOP-speech-puts-NM-governor-in-national-spotlight.html

During her first term in office, Martinez cultivated a positive, warm likeable image, no doubt crafted by Jay McClesky, of caring for children by reading books to grade school kids, ever always denying she had hirer ambitions.

In 2014, Martinez easily won reelection to a second term over former Attorney General Gary King, with a 52.2% to 42.8% of the vote and outspending Gary King by well over two to one and running a very negative campaign against King.

SEIZING AND LOSING CONTROL OF THE NM HOUSE

Martinez’s victory in 2014 helped Republicans seized control of the New Mexico House of Representatives for the first time in 60 years.

Republicans ended up with a 37-33 advantage in the House but that did not last long.

https://www.abqjournal.com/491495/control-of-70-seat-new-mexico-house-hangs-in-balance.html

Martinez and the Republican house over played their hand and proceeded to preside over the House in a vindictive manner against Democrats.

The Republican House approved only Republican legislation and voted down all Democrat sponsored legislation.

In 2016, after losing the House of Representative chamber in 2014, Democrats regained control of the house putting Democrats in control of both the New Mexico House and Senate.

https://ballotpedia.org/New_Mexico_House_of_Representatives_elections,_2016

A pickup of five seats in the 2016 November general election gave Democrats a six-seat majority and Senate Democrats improved on their majority, gaining two seats and moving the chamber to a 10-seat Democratic majority.

SUSANA AND “THE DONALD”

In 2016, Donald Trump became the Republican nominee for President

Governor Susana Martinez refused to endorse Trump for President even though she supported many of his policies.

To her credit, Martinez said she was “very appalled by [Trump’s] statement when, with one stroke of a brush, he made all people from Mexico [look like criminals], describing them in a way that was absolutely, totally unfair.”

Martinez announced that she would not support Trump following the release of the Access Hollywood tapes, in which Trump made crude remarks about sexual advances he made to woman saying he could do anything as a celebrity, including grabbing woman by the genitals.

“No woman should ever be treated the way [Trump] claims he treated women,” said Martinez.

https://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/NM-Governor-on-Trump-Everyone-is-sick-and-12757406.php

On May 25, 2016, Donald Trump attacked Governor Susana Martinez at a presidential campaign rally in Albuquerque which was reported by the New York Times.

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/26/us/politics/donald-trump-gov-susana-martinez-new-mexico.html

Martinez, who in addition to being the most prominent Hispanic woman in American politics, also was the chairwoman of the Republican Governors Association.

Appearing at a campaign rally in Albuquerque, Trump unleashed a blistering assault on Martinez by saying she was “not doing the job.”

Trump faulted Martinez by falsely asserting she was allowing Syrian refugees to settle in New Mexico.

Trump went on to blame Martinez for Albuquerque’s high unemployment numbers as well as the increase in the number of New Mexico residents on food stamps.

GHOSTS OF CHRISTMAS “PEEEZAA” PAST

It was a very hard fall from grace and political heights from the Republican convention to the December 13, 2015 incident that revealed the true personality of Governor Martinez that many had seen privately.

Governor Susana Martinez will probably be remembered most for what happened on December 13, 2015, at 1:30 am in the morning after at her Governor’s Staff Christmas Party at the El Dorado Hotel in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The December 13, 2015 events marked the beginning of her downfall and her popularity in New Mexico.

Before what happened, Martinez was considered a national rising star in the Republican party.

All that changed because of the way she acted and treated people and treated law enforcement in the early morning hours of December 13, 2015.

Martinez made national headlines in a very negative way.

The Huffington Post headline at the time said it all:

“Totally ‘Not Drunk’ New Mexico Governor Chastises Cops For Breaking Up Her Hotel Party”

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/drunk-new-mexico-governor-cops_us_5674aae0e4b014efe0d5aaf0

Audio recordings obtained by local media outlets revealed hotel staff calling Santa Fe Police to ask them to kick noisy people off the hotel premises after complaints from other hotel guests.

An upset Governor Martinez went to the hotel front desk at 1:30 am in the morning.

Martinez took the phone from the front desk clerk to talk on the phone with the Santa Fe police dispatcher.

In one recording, Martinez is heard telling a police dispatcher to “call off” any officers who had been dispatched.

A drunk sounding Martinez can be heard in one recording repeatedly insisting that the police dispatcher tell her who made the noise complaint with the hotel’s front desk.

At one point, the dispatcher tells the governor: “I can’t give you that information, ma’am.”

Martinez responds “Why can you not? … It is public record. Give it to me.”

https://www.abqjournal.com/693309/gov-martinez-to-police-dispatcher-call-off-your-officers.html

Another police recording has Martinez speaking to an officer on the phone, incredulous that cops had been sent to the hotel and she says:

“So we’re sitting in there, I’m the Governor of the State of New Mexico, and we’re in there with my sister, who’s disabled, along with about six other people who are having ‘peeezzaaa’.”

Told by the Santa Fe Police that there were reports of partying guests throwing bottles off the balcony, Martinez denied it and then admitted it by saying:

“I’m sorry. There’s no one on the balcony and there’s no one throwing bottles off the balcony … and whoever was throwing bottles is not there, hasn’t been there for like six hours … “

Governor Martinez days later apologized for what happened but only after she realized she had to do damage control when the audio recording surfaced of her admonishing Santa Fe Police officers who went to break up her hotel party.

Martinez never fully apologized for her own behavior but apologized for certain staffers by saying:

“I want to apologize for the conduct of my staff on the night of our holiday party … There apparently was a party in a hotel room earlier in the night that was disruptive. None of that should have happened, and I was not aware of the extent of the ruckus and the behavior until just recently.”

At the time Martinez announced she would look into possible discipline of involved staffers, though no disciplinary action was ever announced.

Her spokesman said she had had about “one cocktail.”

Martinez was revealed as the mean and vindictive person she was known for in private by many people and legislators when she demanded to know who complained and to chastise police for doing their jobs.

The Martinez carefully crafted positive image of caring for and reading to children vanished within days as she made the rounds of the TV stations to apologize for her conduct.

THE MARTINEZ LEGACY OF FAILURE

There are 6 major areas that represent the Governor Susana Martinez 8-year legacy of failure:

1. A FAILED EDUCATION SYSTEM

It is laughable that Governor Martinez actually brags she did so much for New Mexico children’s education.

A favorite repeated staged photo opportunity of Governor Susana Martinez over the last 8 years has been reading children’s books to kids ages 6 to 10 in public schools.

We all now know the real reason why she was doing the reading herself: the kids were not proficient enough to read the children’s books out loud themselves to Republican Governor Martinez.

Throughout her 8 years as Governor, Martinez was at odds with teachers over the controversial Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, tests.

Martinez actually thinks that the changes she and her Administration made in New Mexico’s education system are something she can be proud and boast about.

The damage done by the changes Governor Martinez made in New Mexico’s education system is something she should be ashamed about.

Republican Governor Susana Martinez, with her policies and her Secretary of Public Education appointments, especially the appointment of Secretary Hanna Skandera, contributed and resulted in a failing education system.

On Friday, July 20, 2018, Santa Fe District Court Judge Sarah Singleton, after a weeklong trial, ruled that the state of New Mexico is violating the constitutional rights of at-risk students by failing to provide them with a sufficient education.

The court ruling was a confirmation of what went on for the last 8 years with the state’s at-risk children under the Republican Martinez Administration.

State District Judge Sarah Singleton pulled no punches with her decision.

The Judge found that it was clear that many New Mexico students are not receiving the basic education in reading, writing and math they should be receiving in our public-school system.

As a matter of law, Judge Singleton ruled the “lack of funds is not a defense to providing constitutional rights.”

In her blistering written opinion, Judge Singleton wrote:

“[The evidence presented at trial] proves that the vast majority of New Mexico’s at-risk children finish each school year without the basic literacy and math skills needed to pursue post-secondary education or a career. … Indeed, overall New Mexico children rank at the very bottom in the country for educational achievement. … The at-risk students are still not attaining proficiency at the rate of non-at-risk students … and the programs being lauded by [the Public Education Department] are not changing this picture.”

In New Mexico, 71.6% of the state’s public-school students come from low-income families, and 14.4% are English-language learners.

Further, 14.8 percent of students have disabilities, and 10.6 percent are Native American.

Judge Singleton addressing proficiency rates for Native American students said that in the past 3 years, those students’ reading proficiency was at 17.6% and their math proficiency was at 10.4%.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1200069/questions-surround-ruling-on-nm-education-funding.html

The Court found that New Mexico does not have enough teachers and that New Mexico teachers are among the lowest paid in the country and stated:

“The evidence shows that school districts do not have the funds to pay for all the teachers they need. … [An example is] Gadsden, one of the better performing school districts in the state, has had to eliminate over 53 classroom positions and 15 essential teachers since 2008.”

The Court also faulted the Martinez Administration’s failure to provide access to technology in rural districts.

Judge Singleton ruling addressed the state teacher evaluation system implemented by the Martinez Administration by saying:

“[The teacher evaluation system] may be contributing to the lower quality of teachers in high-need schools. … In general, punitive teacher evaluation systems that penalize teachers for working in high-need schools contribute to problems in this category of schools.”

The Court rejected the Martinez Administration’s arguments that no new funding is needed because at-risk student performances are improving.

It is very hard to comprehend Governor Martinez’s remarks about New Mexicans helping family when she essentially ignored helping children with learning disabilities with her education policies and children in need of a good education.

During the last 8 years at-risk children finish each school year without the basic literacy and math skills needed to pursue post-secondary education or a career.

2. FAILING NEW MEXICO’S CHILDREN

In her Channel 7 interview, Governor Martinez, with her usual and phony emotional, teary eyed flair, said “I never lost focus on keeping our children first … . “

The truth is, things for New Mexico’s children have only gotten worse during the last 8 years under Governor Martinez’s leadership.

For the first time in five years, New Mexico has fallen to last among states when it comes to the economic, educational and medical well-being of its children, according to a nonprofit that tracks the status of U.S. kids.

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

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

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

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

3. GUTTING OF MENTAL HEALTH CARE PROGRAMS

More than 160,000 New Mexicans received behavioral health services in 2014, with most of those services funded by Medicaid, according to the Human Services Department.

It is very hard to comprehend Governor Martinez’s emotional remarks in here exit interview when she said “In New Mexico, we take care of our families … with some assistance from others”.

One of the cruelest things that Governor Martinez did was order an “audit” of mental health services by nonprofits in New Mexico which devastated New Mexico’s behavioral health system and those who needed “assistance from others.”

In June 2013, under the direction of Governor Martinez, the Human Services Department cut off Medicaid funding to 15 behavioral health nonprofits operating in New Mexico.

The Martinez Administration said that the outside audit showed more than $36 million in overbilling, as well as mismanagement and possible fraud.

The Martinez Human Services Department agency brought in the five Arizona providers to take over.

In early 2016, at least 13 of the 15 nonprofits that were shut down were exonerated of fraud by New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas.

Even though AG Balderas found no fraud and cleared the nonprofits of fraud the damage had been done to the nonprofits and many just went out of business

Three of the five Arizona providers brought in by Governor Susana Martinez’s administration in 2013 to replace the New Mexico nonprofits pulled up stakes in the state and the mental health system as yet to fully recover.

https://www.abqjournal.com/749923/third-arizona-behavioral-health-provider-to-pull-out-of-state.html

4. “ALL CRIME ALL THE TIME” LEGISLATIVE SESSIONS

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.

Legislative session after legislative session, Governor Susana Martinez requested the New Mexico Legislature for changes in New Mexico’s criminal laws, including to reinstate the death penalty.

Martinez repeatedly sought to toughen criminal sentences for a host of offenses without even attempting to address the root causes of crime: poverty, drug abuse intervention, poor education, unemployment and social intervention.

The Governor’s proposals included a bill to toughen penalties for people who commit crimes while on probation or parole and restoring the death penalty for people convicted of murdering children and law enforcement.

Martinez called for a “three-strikes” proposal that would require life sentences for repeat offenders convicted of a third violent felony.

http://www.koat.com/article/gov-martinez-unveils-tough-on-crime-proposals/14829131

It was the murder of children by their parents or custodians, attacks on law enforcement officers and rising crime in Albuquerque and the state that had Republican Governor Martinez and conservative Republican state lawmakers calling for New Mexico to reinstate the death penalty.

Martinez falsely argued that the death penalty is the solution to stopping heinous crimes and repeat offenders, contrary to decades of well documented studies.

Governor Martinez embraced what New Mexico State Representative Monica Youngblood had to say about the death penalty when Youngblood said:

“I think [the death penalty] would be a deterrent. I mean, look what’s going on in Albuquerque. … This would be a narrow reinstatement focusing on those who kill law enforcement and children.”

All the proposed changes to New Mexico’s criminal laws by Governor Martinez were never accompanied by any increase in funding for our courts, the District Attorney’s Offices, the Public Defenders offices nor the Corrections Department which are the essential elements of the criminal justice system.

Reinstating the death penalty has been a “no starter” for years and discredited with many states repealing the death penalty as a penalty that fails to stop violent crime and crimes against law enforcement.

5. CONFLICTS WITH THE LEGISLATURE AND JUDICIARY

For the full 8 years she has been in office, Martinez has had the reputation of being vindictive and mean spirited amongst legislators.

Governor Susana Martinez will be remembered for her inability to work with the New Mexico legislature and her vindictiveness towards those she disagreed with, even with those in her own party.

Political consultant Jay McCleskey for her full 8 years in office was Martinez’s number one political advisor and campaign manager who is given credit for grooming her and getting her elected twice.

McClusky is well known in political circles for his “slash and burn” political campaign tactics and negative advertising.

McClusky was referred to as the “shadow governor” by many political observers.

McClusky was so vital to Martinez that he was given an office on the 4th floor of the State Capitol even though he was not a state employee.

The peak of Governor Martinez’s vindictiveness and pettiness was when she made sure that her Political Action Committee headed up by Jay McClusky spent $1 million dollars to defeat long time and respected Democrat Floor Leader of the State Senate Michael Sanchez who she considered a major impediment to her policies.

Martinez refused to help many in her own party with her PAC donations which many Republicans feel contributed to their loss of the Republican controlled House of Representatives in 2016.

Martinez has not gotten along any better with the New Mexico Judiciary.

Many Governor Martinez vetoes were found unconstitutional by the Court’s.

It was a state District Court that ruled the Martinez Administration violated the constitutional rights of at-risk students by failing to provide them with a sufficient education.

On April 25, 2018, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Governor Martinez did not follow proper constitutional procedures in vetoing 10 different bills that, for the most part, had passed the Legislature with broad bipartisan support.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1163243/nm-supreme-court-invalidates-gov-martinez-vetoes.html

The Supreme Court ruling put end to a yearlong court battle and resulted in the bills in essentially taking effect immediately.

In court, state lawmakers argued the 10 vetoes were not properly carried out because the governor either took too long to act on them or did not provide an explanation with each vetoed bill.

The common consensus amongst many members of the legislature is that Governor Martinez vetoed the legislation in retaliation for them not supporting her policies.

In August, 2018, Martinez got into the Trump act of criticizing a District Judge’s rulings based on the law when a Taos Judge released 5 defendants on bond pending trial for child abuse.

It was not surprising to the legal community that the court released the 5 defendants pending trial in that that there was no “clear and convincing evidence” as required by the law to deny them bail.

Martinez had this to say about the judge’s ruling:

“I strongly disagree with this decision. … Unfortunately, it highlights for the entire nation how extreme the New Mexico Supreme Court has been in dictating pretrial release for all kinds of dangerous criminals.”

What made the Governor Susana Martinez remarks so egregious is that she is a former 16 year elected Las Cruces District Attorney and a license New Mexico Attorney and she knows better.

With her remarks, Governor Martinez was pandering to her Republican and conservative base.

Vilifying Judges is a popular tactic perfected by President Trump to gin up their conservative base.

What is not appropriate and downright dangerous conduct is for anyone to threaten any judge with physical harm over a ruling they make as was done with the Taos District Court Judge.

Martinez as a New Mexico attorney is an officer of the court, and her total failure to condemn people threatening the courts is a low as you can get even for the likes of a Republican Governor who claims to be “law and order”.

6. FAILURE AT ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

On January 1, 2011, Governor Susana Martinez was sworn in as New Mexico Governor.

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

For the full 8 years of her two terms as Governor, Martinez watched and did nothing when comes to economic development as New Mexico’s population declined dramatically with a mass exodus of educated young people looking for jobs seeking a future elsewhere.

Since 2010, 62,000 more U.S. citizens moved out of New Mexico than arrived here.

In 2018, New Mexico had 3,509 more people move out than move in which was the lowest net-migration loss since 2012, according to United States census statistics.

The state population has hovered around below 2.1 million since crossing the 2 million mark in 2008, according to The Santa Fe New Mexican.

For a full 8 years, Governor Susana Martinez failed to offer any viable economic development plan other than promoting corporate tax cuts.

Martinez promoted “no new taxes”, reduced taxes and fees wherever she could as her economic development plan to attract new industry to New Mexico, and it was miserable failure.

In February, 2018 New Mexico’s unemployment rate was 5.8%, down, but not by much.

Since 2013, New Mexico has seen more people moving out of the state each year than moving into the state, known as negative net migration.

https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/new-mexico-lags-behind-neighbors-in-population-growth/

New Mexico competes with metropolitan areas like Denver, Salt Lake City and Phoenix, which are booming with higher-paying jobs.

The figures show Nevada and Idaho grew the fastest during a 12-month period that ended in July, 2018 while New Mexico had a population growth rate of 0.1%.

Robert Rhatigan, associate director of Geospatial and Population Studies at the University of New Mexico had this to say about outgoing migration:

“The migration piece is what separates us from our neighbors. Our neighbors recovered from the recession, and we didn’t. People left for better economic opportunities. As long as neighboring states are offering better-paying jobs, it will be difficult for the numbers to turn around.”

New Mexico has been chipping away at its low-wage reputation with commitments from FACEBOOK, Netflix, Safelite and Union Pacific, but they are making those commitments despite any real efforts by the Martinez Administration.

The one industry that represents the future of New Mexico and a major hope for expanding New Mexico’s economy is the film industry but Martinez made sure she got in the way.

In 2002, the state film tax incentives were put in place.

In 2011, Governor Susana Martinez placed a $50 million annual cap on the incentives when many advocated a much higher cap or no cap at all.

The state has hit the cap every year since it was put in place by Martinez in 2011 but she refused to increase the cap for 6 years.

In 2017, 74 different projects claimed every cent of the $50 million in incentives.

The film industry expands each year in large part because of tax credits.

According to a 2017 report from the New Mexico Film Office, the state spent the entire $50 million allotted for film tax credits annually in 2014, and the film industry spent an estimated $513.9 million purchasing goods and services from local businesses between 2010 and 2014.

https://www.bizjournals.com/albuquerque/news/2017/03/31/why-martinez-vetoed-film-credit-bill.html

https://www.bizjournals.com/albuquerque/news/2017/03/31/why-martinez-vetoed-film-credit-bill.html

Between 2014 and 2017, the amount of direct, in-state production spending increased from $162 million to $506 million.

New Mexico has received more than $234 million in direct spending into the economy from film projects in this 2017-2018 fiscal year.

In the fiscal year 2017, there was nearly $506 million in direct spending into the New Mexico economy.

https://www.kob.com/politics-news/vote-4-nm-tax-incentives-for-the-film-industry/5128621/

In 2017, Martinez vetoed a bill that would have extended tax credits to smaller film productions in the state.

CONCLUSION

Governor Martinez will be remembered most for her office pizza and beer holiday Christmas party at a Santa Fe, Hotel at taxpayer expense and the “Dirty Downs Deal”.

Martinez will also be remembered for her vindictive and mean-spirited ways and her “my way or the highway” attitude.

Governor Susana Martinez’ true legacy will be that of illiterate New Mexico children, a punitive teacher evaluation system, destruction of a nonprofit mental health care system, absolutely no legislative accomplishments and a state in decline in population.

BYE FELICIA, 8 years of your failed leadership was enough.

APD Thinks It’s Growing Mushrooms Keeping Public In The Dark On Police Officer Involved Shooting Cases

In 2018, there have been 8 APD police officer involved shootings with 5 people shot and killed and with 3 wounded.

According to an Albuquerque Journal report, 2½ months after Albuquerque Police Department (APD) officers shot a man who they said was holding “about 80 people” hostage in a Chinese restaurant, APD has not released any information about the shooting, has not identified the suspect, has not said what condition he is in, has not said what charges he is facing or identified the APD officers who shot him.

You can read the full front-page Albuquerque Journal report here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/1259007/info-sparse-on-apd-officer-related-shootings.html

It turns out APD has released limited information about 7 other police officer involved shootings that have occurred over the past year.

APD spokesman Gilbert Gallegos in response to Albuquerque Journal questions about delays in releasing information about the shootings had this to say:

“[APD has] been slower than we aim to be to keep up with the public release of information related to recent officer-involved shootings. … We understand the public interest in officer-involved shootings, which is why we strive to produce details sooner … That is difficult when other law enforcement agencies are involved, or when we sometimes have 50 to 100 witnesses to interview and hundreds of hours of video to review. In one instance, the offender who survived the shooting was hospitalized until recently, and was not able to be interviewed by investigators.”

Peter Simonson, the executive director for the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico, said APD’s withholding information about “excessive force” and “deadly force” cases raises questions about why APD is withholding the information by saying:

“It’s important to remember that APD was shooting and killing someone about every month and actively resisting the public’s efforts [to get information on the killings] … We don’t want to return to those days. It threatens to erode the trust that APD has built with the community over the past year and it sends a message that not much has changed inside the department [since the Federal Court Approved Settlement Agreement.]”

When the very first police officer involved shooting of the year occurred, Mayor Tim Keller and Police Chief Michael Geier said they were committed to “transparency”.

Both Keller and Geier said that APD would release information about police officer involved shootings as soon as possible.

Mayor Tim Keller proclaimed:

“Government only works when it is accountable to the people it serves, but historically there have been several gaps in this area at the city. We’re working to make our city more open and transparent across all departments. … .”

APD’S SPORADIC DISCLOSURE ON USE OF FORCE CASES

Examining all the police officer involved shooting cases for the year reveals APD has a very poor record and is very inconsistent on how they release details on police “excessive use of force” and “deadly force cases”.

On January 7, 2018, Daniel Saavedra-Arreola was shot and killed by APD but it was only until January 16, 2018 when APD Police Chief Geier held a news conference and released videos and gave a comprehensive briefing.

On June 16, 2018, APD police officers fatally shot robbery suspect Richard Rivera. A few days later, federal authorities filed a criminal complaint against Rivera’s girlfriend which identified Rivera but APD held a media briefing on the incident a full week later.

On July 18, 2018, APD SWAT shot and killed homicide suspect Arthur Lujan in a confrontation and his name was released the next morning by APD. It was more than a month later that APD held an official briefing on the shooting.

On August 19, 2018, Lambert Joe was shot and injured but it was three and a half weeks later that APD held a briefing and released his name and the name of the officers involved.

Regarding the October 7, 2018 police shooting at Lin’s Grand Buffet, APD has not identified the suspect shot and has not identified the officers who shot him.

On November 4, 2018, APD officers shot and killed 18-year-old Anthony Chavez, who police say was armed, after a confrontation in the parking lot of an apartment complex in the mid heights. APD has not identified the three officers who shot Chavez nor has APD said if the officers are leave until the investigation is complete.

On November 18, 2018, APD officers shot and injured Anthony Juarez, 30, during a domestic violence call at his house. Police reports reflect Juarez fired multiple times at officers and one returned fire. Suspect Juarez was booked into jail after spending a month in the hospital. APD have not identified the officer who shot Juarez.

December 12, 2018, APD officers shot and killed a man they say robbed a woman at gunpoint and killed a dog in a backyard in a nearby neighborhood. APD has not released the deceased man’s name nor identified the officer who shot him.

APD Spokesman Gallegos claims APD is working toward returning to the practice of providing information in a timely manner and has scheduled a press conference to give an update on the shootings.

According to Gallegos:

“Chief Geier has directed all APD staff involved with these investigations to get back on track to meet his goal of providing media briefings in a more reasonable time period so the public can be assured we will be transparent with our investigations …”

Not at all surprising, the Albuquerque Journal did an editorial on APD’s failure to disclose information on the excessive use of force and deadly force cases.

You can read the entire editorial here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/1259490/somebody-at-apd-needs-to-turn-the-public-info-lights-on.html

The Journal gave “kudos” to Keller and then proceeded to slam APD and Chief Geier for the lack of transparency and went so far as to tell Keller he needed to have a sit-down talk with Geier.

The editorial noted that back “In September, Mayor Tim Keller gave one of those rousing transparency speeches public officials are so fond of – especially those who are relatively new in their terms.”

The Journal Editors gave a somewhat tongue in cheek compliment to Mayor Keller with a little sarcasm thrown in when they said:

“No doubt the mayor was sincere in his comments about transparency. To prove it, he needs to have a sit-down with APD Chief Michael Geier that results in a change in this wrong-headed “keep ’em in the dark” policy that has been so effectively implemented at APD.”

ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY

You grow mushrooms in the dark with an excessive amount of fertilizer.

When it comes to police officer involved shootings, APD treats the public and media like mushrooms they want to keep in the dark and feed us a healthy dose of fertilizer with excuses and deflect and delay tactics.

There is absolutely no excuse that APD does not have more formalized process for disseminating information on police officer “use of excessive force” or “deadly force” cases given the fact that APD has now been under a federal court consent decree for over 3 years because of such cases.

The City of Albuquerque has paid out $61 million in settlements over the last 9 years involving 41 police officer involved shootings for excessive use of force, deadly force and civil rights violations.

Just one big reason there is no excuse for APD’s failure to release information on “excessive us of force” and “deadly force” cases is the number of public information officers that APD has, what it spends on press relations, not to mention having an APD Deputy Chief in charge of community relations.

On October 16, 2018, ABQ Report published an investigative report that APD’s Public Information Officer and Patrolman First Class Simon Drobik has earned $146,000 so far this year and is on track to make $200,0000 this year as a result of overtime pay.

You can read the ABQ Report here:

https://www.abqreport.com/single-post/2018/10/16/APDs-200000-Man-PIO-Made-146000-So-Far-This-Year

APD claims that APD Public Information Officer Simon Drobik works full-time as PIO during weekdays as his primary assignment, working 7 days a week, and he also works as a patrol officer entitling him to be paid for that position as well, in essence holding down and being paid for two positions.

Simon Drobik has become the face of APD given his repeated-on camera and media appearances, briefings and interviews and by all accounts is the main spokesman for APD over all other PIO’s for the department.

On October 18, 2018 Mayor Tim Keller announced the appointment of Elizabeth Armijo as a Deputy Chief of Staff at APD in charge of public and media relations.

Elizabeth Armijo served as Lieutenant with the New Mexico State Police in the division of Community Outreach and Public Affairs.

Deputy Chief’s are paid between $125,000 to $140,000 a year in salary, not including benefits.

It is difficult justifying making an APD Deputy Chief essentially a public information officer, unless you want to insulate the Chief, the Deputy Chief’s and perhaps the Mayor from adverse publicity and dealing with cases that are high profile involving police officer shootings such as the shooting of homeless camper James Boyd or from APD “excessive use of force” and “deadly force” cases, especially after you brag about how much progress has been made with the DOJ consent decree reforms.

Between Deputy Chief Armijo and APD Spokesman Drobik, APD is shelling out at a minimum $325,000 for “public information” dissemination.

The truth is APD is falling back on old habits of withholding information and keeping the public in the dark.

The way APD has handle all 8 of the police officer involved shootings described herein reflects that despite what Mayor Keller and Chief Geier say about transparency, nothing has really changed within APD.

APD has always had a problem with civilian oversight, transparency and tends to ignore what elected officials tell them.

Keller needs to do far more than just have a “talk” with Chief Geier as the Albuquerque Journal editors suggest.

Mayor Tim Keller needs to have a blunt talk with Chief Geier, Deputy Chief Elizabeth Armijo, PIO Spokesmen Simon Drobik and Gilbert Gallegos and tell them to do their jobs when it comes to transparency and releasing information on police officer involved shooting or they need to move on and find another job.

Tracing The Evolution of APD’s “Culture Of Aggression” Ends With A Warning

The Keller Administration and the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) intends to spend $88 million dollars, over the next four-year period, with 32 million dollars of recurring expenditures, to hire 322 sworn officers and expand APD from 878 sworn police officers to 1,200 officers.

The 2018-2019 fiscal year budget provides for increasing funding from 1,000 sworn police to 1,040.

The massive investment is being done in order to full fill Mayor Tim Keller’s 2017 campaign promise to increase the size of APD and return to community-based policing as a means of reducing the city’s high crime rates.

The APD recruiting plan to grow the size of the department includes the city increasing police officer hourly pay and increasing longevity pay.

APD is projecting that it will have 980 officers by next summer by growing the ranks with both new cadets, lateral hires from other departments, and returning to work APD retirees.

APD has recruited 59 sworn police officers as “lateral hires” from other law enforcement agencies in the State of New Mexico.

In October, APD graduated a lateral academy with 29 officers.

10 previously retired APD officers have been recruited to return to work.

2 retirees from other law enforcement departments have recruited to return to work.

On December 20, 2018, the APD Academy graduated 42 police officers with 32 of those officers who will work for APD with the other 10 going to work for other law enforcement agencies.

APD officials believe they are on track to hire 100 officers by June 30, 2019, the end of the fiscal year.

https://www.koat.com/article/apd-optimistic-about-meeting-recruiting-goals/25648276

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE CONSENT DECREE

Albuquerque is one of 18 law enforcement agencies throughout the country operating under a consent decree brought on by a Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation that found systemic problems and a “culture of aggression”.

What differentiates the DOJ’s investigation of APD from all the other federal investigations and consent decrees is the fact that the others involve in one form or another the finding of “racial profiling” and use of excessive force.

The DOJ’s finding of a “culture of aggression” within APD dealt with APD’s interactions and responses to suspects that were mentally ill.

In APD’s case, the DOJ found a “culture of aggression” within APD after reviewing as many as 18 “deadly use of force cases” and other cases of “excessive use of force” mostly with the mentally ill and having nothing to do with racial profiling.

The City of Albuquerque has paid out $61 million in settlements over the last 9 years involving 41 police officer involved shootings.

The implementation of reforms under the federal Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) began in 2014 after 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).

It was 2012 when the Department of Justice (DOJ) came to Albuquerque to investigate the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) for excessive use of force and deadly forced.

Many in the community and some within APD and at the APD Police Academy proclaimed that there was a “relaxing of hiring standards” from 2005 to 2009 that resulted in the “culture of aggression” and use of excessive force and deadly force.

There was a civil lawsuit filed for excessive use of force that identified one cadet class that had a disportionate number of police officers involved with “excessive use of force” or “deadly force cases” with the argument made that there was a reduction in hiring standards and people were hired that should not have been hired.

Some within APD asserted and that there was duress or unacceptable pressure to lower standards and hire unqualified people by then Mayor Martin Chavez, which is false.

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

Proclaiming that there was a relaxing of hiring standards that created APD’s “culture of aggression” is far too easy and ignores what really happened and what I witnessed.

The truth is no Mayor can order the relaxing of hiring standards for law enforcement.

By law a Mayor is strictly prohibited from getting involved with the personnel rules and regulations and hiring when it comes to classified protected positions as are rank and file law enforcement personnel.

If there was a relaxing of hiring practices, it was the APD upper command staff and the Police Academy personnel that was responsible.

Former Mayor Martin Chavez did not order any cop be hired but he did demand that APD get the number of sworn police officers up which was the Police Academy’s job.

Orders to get the numbers up of rank and file is something all Mayors do, including Jim Baca, Richard Berry and now Tim Keller not to mention the City Council.

There was a full 8 years of very bad management of APD by former Mayor Berry, who kept APD Chief Ray Schultz during his entire first term as Mayor.

In 2010, APD was fully staffed at 1,100 sworn police and arguably it was the best trained and best equipped police department in the City’s history and crime rates were down.

From 2010 to 2017, the number of sworn police dropped from 1,100 to 878.

When Schultz retired at the end of Berry’s first term in 2013, Berry appointed political operative APD Chief Gorden Eden who had absolutely no prior experience managing a municipal police department.

APD Chief Goron Eden then created the position of “Assistant Chief” and hired his political loyalist and former SWAT Commander Robert Huntsman who had retired a few years before from APD.

Assistant Chief Huntsman was the commander in charge of the SWAT Unit that was involved with a number of the “deadly use of force” cases investigated by the DOJ.

Notwithstanding the Berry administration negotiating the federal Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA), they never were fully committed to the Department of Justice reforms.

For a full three years, the Berry Administration and APD under the leadership of Chief Eden and Assistant Chief Huntsman did whatever they could to “delay”, “deflect”, “subvert”, and use “covert orders”, all words used by the federal monitor, to undermine all the reforms under the consent decree.

It was Assistant Chief Huntsman who secretly recorded contentious meetings between police officials and the federal monitor and the City Attorney proceeded to file a Motion to have Dr. Ginger removed as the Federal Monitor alleging he was biased.

Assistant Chief Huntsman was involved with reviewing and rewriting many “use of force” and “deadly for policies” he was responsible enforcing when he was SWAT commander calling into serious question his real commitment to the DOJ reforms.

THE EVOLUTION OF THE CULTURE OF AGGRESSION

The beginning of “the culture of aggression” can be traced back to 2005 when 3 law enforcement personnel and 3 civilians were murdered.

In August, 2005, APD Officers Richard Smith and Michael King and civilians David Fisher (age 17), Garrett Iverson, (age 26) and Ben Lopez were all killed the same day by mentally ill John Hyde.

Police Officers Smith and King were dispatched to take John Hyde into custody, but they did not know his was mentally ill and violent nor of the fact that he had killed 3 civilians earlier that day.

When the 5 murders occurred, then APD Chief Police Ray Schutz proclaimed very loud and clear that the killing of cops would “never happen on his watch” again.

A few months later Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Deputy James Mcgrane was killed during a traffic stop by a violent felon with priors.

The 6 killings had a profound and lasting impact on APD and the New Mexico law enforcement community in general.

The pronouncement by then Chief Schultz that the killing of cops would never happen on his watch ever again signaled in reality APD’s abandonment of community-based policing.

After the killings, the number one priority of APD and the APD Police Academy became “police officer safety”.

More training in officer safety and defense tactics to respond to escalating and violent confrontations was provided by the police academy and training was also provided by the US Department of Homeland Security.

More reliance was given by APD to call out the SWAT unit.

Soon after the killing of BCSO Deputy Sheriff James McGrane, his family established the “McGrane Institute” that provides “Officer Street Survival Training” every year to law enforcement with the use of private donations.

It was in 2010 that violent crimes and property crimes began to spike dramatically over 8 years in Albuquerque which also contributed to further need for more training in “officer street survival” training.

In 8 years, Albuquerque’s violent crime and property crime rates became more than triple the national crime rates.

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.

In 2017, the number of violent crimes in the specific categories of murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault, in Albuquerque increased even though the City’s population remained essentially the same.

In 2017, Albuquerque had a record high of 75 homicides reported.

On December 20, 2018, Albuquerque had 65 homicides reported for 2018.

From 2005 to 2011, all under the leadership of former APD Chief Ray Schultz, was when the militarization of APD happened with the hiring and training more cops including many laterals and the securing of military surplus equipment to arm the police department.

A major byproduct of the change in training and an increase in violent crime mandating self-defense was a far more aggressive police department.

De-escalation training tactics and crisis intervention with the mentally ill took a major backseat to officer safety tactics after the 2005 murders of the 3 law enforcement personnel.

For a full 10 years, APD gave priority and further preference as required by federal law to the hiring of ex-military.

A heavy reliance on APD SWAT became all too common from 2010 to 2013 rather than the use of de-escalation tactics and crisis intervention.

It was from 2010 to 2014, under Mayor Berry’s and Chiefs Ray Shultz and Gordon Eden’s watch, that there were 18 APD police officer-involved shootings, many of them fatal involving the APD SWAT Unit, that brought the DOJ in to investigate APD for use of excessive force and deadly force.

A dramatic game changer occurred in March, 2014 when two APD SWAT officers shot and killed mentally ill homeless camper James Boyd armed with knives in the Sandia Foothills.

The two SWAT Officers who killed Boyd were later charged with murder, but were not convicted and not acquitted with the trial ending with a deadlock jury and the District Attorney dismissing the charges.

The Boyd family was paid $5 million by the City to settle the civil lawsuit for wrongful death and civil rights violations

A WARNING OF CAUTION

There are a few major warnings that can be derived from tracing the root causes of APD’s “culture of aggression” that need to be taken seriously by Mayor Tim Keller and APD Chief Michael Geier.

In the last six months APD has recruited and has hired a total of 71 experienced police officers consisting of 59 lateral hires and 12 return to work retired hires which can be directly attributed to the dramatic increase in hourly pay and lucrative “incentive pay” bonuses and APD’s aggressive recruiting program.

At this point, APD needs to concentrate on recruiting a new generation of young, committed police officers to begin their careers who are fully trained in constitutional policing practices.

Keller and Geier are hiring and returning to work APD retirees which does have a significant advantage in hiring experienced police officers, but there are also disadvantages in hiring police officers far too set in their ways.

The biggest danger with APD returning retirees to work is hiring back police officers and returning to work people who may have created, knew or who contributed to or who did not stop the culture of aggression found by the DOJ.

The biggest danger in hiring laterals is the hiring of a generation of police officers who may not be fully committed to constitutional policing practices and hiring “problem” officers that have left their former agencies for personal reasons unknown to APD and only motivated by lucrative pay rather than a bigger commitment to law enforcement and public service.

APD needs to curb its efforts of hiring retirees and lateral hires and concentrate now on hiring younger new generation of police officer to begin their law enforcement career and to rebuild APD from the ground up.

Increases in police officer shooting of suspects tend to ebb and flow over a period of years.

In 4 to 6 years after growing APD from 857 to 1,200 sworn police, it is hoped the city will have a police force fully trained and committed to constitutional policing with officer involved shootings very few and far between and with no settlement payouts in the millions of dollars.

Otherwise, the city and APD may just wind up having yet another cycle of a “culture of aggression”.