Public Employee Pension Funds At Serious Risk Of Imploding

Over the last year, it has been reported that the state’s two major pension funds, the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) and the Educational Retirement Board (ERB), are in serious financial trouble because of long term liabilities of benefits to paid retirees in the future will exceed literally by the billions the funds that are available.

The Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) is the legislative created and state regulated retirement association for all government employees.

PERA pays pensions to more than 40,000 retirees and also has a public employee plan for about 49,000 active members.

PERA administers the pension funds for active, inactive, and retired public employees in New Mexico, and includes state, county and municipal plans, firefighters, police officers, blue collar workers and various municipal plans.

PERA has an Executive Board duly elected by the members of the Association.

The financial problems PERA is experiencing can be directly related to the type of pensions offered to government employees as well as what many PERA retirees feel has been mismanagement of the pension funds.

Public school teacher and employee retirement and pension funds are separate and not managed PERA but by Education Retirement Board (ERB).

ERB consists of a Board of Trustees who manage the pension funds and the investment portfolio.

DEFINED CONTRIBUTION PLANS

A “defined contribution” plan is a type of retirement plan where employers, employees, or both regularly make contributions to the plan and future employee retirement benefits are based on the dollar amount of contributions made and the final value based on “investment growth”.

A defined contribution plan does not guarantee a specific benefit to be paid in the future.

With a defined contribution plan, individual employees assume all of the investment risk involved.

The most common type of defined contribution plan is the 401(k), where employees contribute a portion of their earnings and invest their money so it grows over time.

In the private sector, it is common with defined contribution plans for employers to offer to match a portion of employee contributions, but most of the burden of funding 401(k)s falls at the individual employee level.

With defined contribution plans, most associated administration fees are passed on to the employees who participate.

PERA PLANS ARE DEFINED BENEFIT PLANS

Most if not all of PERA’s pension plans it administers are “defined benefit” plans as opposed to “defined contribution” plans.

With a “defined benefit plan”, the state, county or municipality government entity promises the government employees a specific payout upon retirement and guaranteed for life.

Further, a person can designate a spouse as a beneficiary and the spouse can be paid the pension for the rest of their life.

The pension payout is based on a formula that accounts for factors such as length of service, age, and earnings history.

With a defined benefit plan, PERA is responsible for making sure there’s enough money to pay employee benefits as scheduled, and PERA assumes all of the investment risk involved in the plan.

Under the PERA system, the formula used for a very large portion of retirees is 25 years of total service multiplied by 3 for each year of service applied to the average high 3 years of pay.

A person’s age can also allow a person to retire before the age of 67, but it reduces the benefits where the total years of service is less than 25 years.

(EXAMPLE: Government employee works a full 25 years and is paid an average of $50,000 each year of last 3 years of service. A multiplier of 3% is given each year of service or 75% of high three average yearly pay of $50,000 = $37,500 pension)

Law enforcement officers do have a separate retirement formula and can retire with 25 years of service and can be paid 90% of their high 3 pay.

All of the PERA pensions are funded by government employer contributions usually matching the employee contributing a portion of their earnings.

Defined benefit plans are considered riskier for employers and they are more expensive to maintain.

For this reasons, defined benefit plans have become far less popular in the private sector.

In 1998, 60% of Fortune 500 companies offered defined benefit plans to new hires, but by the end of 2013, that number fell to just 24%.

This absence of defined benefit plans has left more and more employees in a less secure spot financially with regard to retirement.

Under the PERA Pension plans, retirees have been given cost of living raises (COLA) that have been anywhere from 2% to 3% over the years and were considered guaranteed and paid after a few years in retirement.

The 2019 New Mexico Legislature is considering legislation that would eliminate all cost of living adjustments or suspend the COLA for a period of years.

PERA MANAGEMENT UNDER SCRUTINY

Wayne Propst is the executive director of the state’s Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA).

In 2018, Propst gave his staff more than $600,000 in salary increases without PERA board approval.

The raises were given at the same time that PERA management and the PERA Board were pushing to eliminate annual cost-of-living (COLA) increases to PERA retirees.

The money for the management raises come directly out of PERA’s investment funds, or funds that should have gone to retirees.

At a recent meeting of the PERA’s board of directors, the PERA board voted to ask New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas to investigate huge raises that Propst gave himself and his subordinates at the agency over the past 5 years without PERA Board approval.

The board also voted to remove Propst of his authority to hand out promotions and raises to PERA employees while the AG’s investigation is conducted.

https://www.abqreport.com/single-post/2019/02/15/Trouble-Worsens-for-PERAs-Wayne-Probst-AG-asked-to-investigate-the-raises-and-promotions-he-has-handed-out

New Mexico State Treasurer Tim Eichenberg, who is also a member of the PERA board, independently has asked the AG’s office to investigate “possible illegal actions” by Propst.

https://www.abqreport.com/single-post/2019/02/15/NM-Treasurer-Potential-illegal-pay-adjustments-at-PERA

Harvey Leiderman, the PERA’s board’s fiduciary attorney told the board members that they basically don’t know what they are doing on several levels relating to internal governance.

Leiderman told the board that they have no idea of what authority they have or haven’t given to Propst, over the years when it comes to his authority to give out raises and promotions to PERA staff.

New Mexico State Auditor Brian Colón has also launched an investigation into Propst and the pay raises and promotions he has handed out.

The issue is whether Propst has the authority under state law and PERA rules and policies to give those raises without PERA Board approval.

IMPLODING RETIREMENT FUNDS

At the last meeting of the PERA board, Chief Investment Officer, Dominic Garcia, reported that PERA’s investment funds suffered a 2.5 percent loss in 2018.

In comparison, the teacher ERB retirement fund earned 6 percent return during 2018.

The PERA fund fell to $14.6 billion from $15 billion.

Both retirement systems have asked for a one-time infusion of funds, but the New Mexico legislature has resisted it as not being a truly viable solution to the projected insolvency of the retirement plans.

In 2013, the New Mexico legislature tackled pension reform but the changes made have not been enough to make the pensions fully solvent.

A shrinking government workforce as a result of government cuts and a sluggish economy over the last 8 years has dragged down New Mexico’s largest pension program.

It is estimated that between 4,000 and 5,000 state government employee vacancies and eliminated positions have occured over the last 8 years resulting im fewer employee and employer contributions made to the funds and effective solvency.

Another factor contributing to insolvency is that people are living much longer and are collecting their pensions for longer periods of time.

http://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/local_news/lawmakers-tie-pension-shortfall-to-fewer-state-employees/article_d23fe441-eb6a-5aff-ad32-3c776b042553.html

Despite changes enacted in 2013, PERA’s estimated unfunded liability which is the gap between future retirement benefits owed and expected future assets on hand, has increased over the past four years to $4.8 billion from $4.6 billion.

Decreases in the ERB’s expected investment returns and inflation calculations have caused the system’s unfunded liability to rise to $7.4 billion, an increase of more than $1 billion since 2014 and its funded ratio to drop to 61.5 percent.

The ERB pension fund is not expected to reach 100 percent funded status for 84 years or until the year 2100.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1075327/viability-of-state-pension-funds-questioned-%C2%AD-again.html

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham proposed budget seeks to shore up New Mexico’s two major pension funds by increasing how much the state pays into workers’ retirement accounts with $13.7 million in funding.

The Governor’s nor the legislature’s budget plans thus far do not call for any additional lump sum payment into either the ERB or the PERA funds.

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

The elimination or suspension of the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) by the New Mexico legislature is a very bad idea and nothing more than a band aid approach to a very serious problem.

Elimination or suspension of the COLA would be a betrayal of government employees who have worked over the years and in good faith made their contributions.

All too often private sector employees and candidates for office and the media vilify and express contempt for government employees because of the pensions they are paid, pensions they have earned.

Six years ago, New Mexico legislature tackled pension reform but the changes made have not been enough to make the pensions fully solvent.

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and New Mexico legislature have a looming financial crisis that needs to be resolved sooner rather than later.

While the State is experiencing a windfall in increased revenues, the New Mexico Legislature should use the opportunity to increase funding to the PERA funds significantly more than the $13 million being proposed, but such an expenditure is not going to be a long-term solution but the beginning of it.

The New Mexico Legislature needs to consider pension reform measures once again but during a special session where a solution can be hammered out without the distractions of a general session.

It is likely the New Mexico legislature will need to consider pension reform in the form of including “defined contribution plans” in one form or another for future government employees, increasing employer and employee contribution plans under the defined benefit plans or modifying the multipliers and increasing years of service or age before retirement.

The PERA Board itself needs to take far more aggressive action and get its own management under control and financial investments need to have much better returns on investments.

PERA management staff are paid lucrative salaries for their services and they need to show results in the investments with much higher returns or the PERA Board needs to find people who can do a better job.

Ultimately, the lives of 90,000 New Mexicans and their families, currently employed or retired, will be affected by the decisions made with the PERA system.

City Needs To Fully Fund “CIT-ECHO”, “EPIC” and “LEAD” Programs

“CIT-ECHO”, “EPIC”, “LEAD”, “DOJ”, “CASA” and “APD” reflect a full alphabet of law enforcement priorities that Mayor Tim Keller and the Albuquerque City Council need to make sure are fully funded.

There are 3 major programs that have now been implemented to deal with the Albuquerque Police Department’s (APD) interactions with the mentally ill and substance abuse defendants.

All 3 programs involve the training of police officers.

All 3 programs have the potential to reduce or have reduced the use of excessive force and deadly force by APD.

Two of the programs have existed for the last 3 years, with one recently announced.

One of the programs is about to be discontinued because a federal grant program has now run its course.

The three APD programs are:

CIT-ECHO project
The EPIC program
The LEAD program

All three of the programs are either directly or indirectly the result of the Department of Justice Consent Decree known as the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA).

DOJ INVESTIGATION OF 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 force.

On April 10, 2014, after two years of a federal investigation, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a scathing 146-page investigation report.

The DOJ said APD’s policies, training and supervision of officer encounters with people with mental health issues were inadequate and all too often led to use of excessive force and deadly force.

You can read the entire DOJ report here:

https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/crt/legacy/2014/04/10/apd_findings_4-10-14.pdf

APD is one of 18 law enforcement agencies in the United States operating under a consent decree brought on by a Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation.

The DOJ investigation found systemic problems and a “culture of aggression” within APD.

The single biggest difference the DOJ’s investigation of APD from other federal investigations and consent decrees is the other consent decrees involve in one form or another the finding of “racial profiling” and use of unnecessary excessive force to make arrests and deadly force against minorities.

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 cases of “excessive use of force” mostly with the mentally ill and not with racial profiling.

JAMES BOYD KILLING WAS GAME CHANGER

It was the killing of mentally ill homeless camper James Boyd by APD that laid to bear and exposed just how poorly trained APD was when it came to dealing with the mentally ill and how costly it can be for taxpayers.

On March 16, 2014, homeless camper James Boyd was shot and killed by APD SWAT during a standoff with police.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shooting_of_James_Boyd

James Boyd had an extensive a history of mental illness.

APD police officers Keith Sandy and Dominique Perez were charged with the murder of James Boyed, but the jury deadlocked with three jurors voting guilty and nine voting not guilty.

One of the defenses offered by Sandy and Perez was they were doing their job as they were trained to defend other officers and the public.

Bernalillo County District Attorney Raul Torrez eventually dismissed the case against both officers choosing not to proceed with a second trial.

The Boyd family filed a civil wrongful death action against the city and the city settled with the Boyd family for $5 million.

CASA CONSENT DECREE

On October 31, 2014, the City of Albuquerque, the Albuquerque Police Department entered into a 106-page Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) with the US Department of Justice after the DOJ investigation found a “pattern and practice of excessive force” and a “culture of aggression” within the APD.

Under the court approved settlement agreement (CASA), APD is mandated to implement numerous reforms including a significant increase in officer training in crisis intervention and training (CIT) on how to deal with the mentally ill.

Virtually ever sworn APD officer has now been given 40 hours of crisis intervention training mandated by the consent decree.

The CIT-ECHO project arguably is the continuation of that training.

THE CIT-ECHO PROJECT

CIT stands for Crisis Intervention Training and ECHO stands for Extension for Community Healthcare Options.

In 2014, the CIT-ECHO project was launched by the city with a grant from the Department of Justice (DOJ) Bureau of Justice Assistance to raise awareness of how law enforcement should deal effectively with those struggling with mental health issues.

The CIT-ECHO Program consists of weekly video conference workshops with APD and CIT officials.

Similar ECHO projects have existed for health care professionals to help providers in rural parts of the state treat various health conditions.

APD is the very first law enforcement agency in New Mexico, perhaps the country, to roll out such a program for law enforcement officers.

In March 2014, according to a report by CIT-ECHO program, an alarming 43% of the Albuquerque Police Department’s officer-involved shootings occurred with people living with mental illness.

The 3-year-old DOJ federal grant for CIT-ECHO Program is now out of money and has issued a final report.

The final report reflects unmistakable results that the program works.

According to the report, the perception of when participants thought use of force was required for officer safety dropped by an impressive 20% to 3%.

Law enforcement and crisis intervention participants who participated felt more confident in dealing with people with a mental illness and better informed of the resources available to them as a result of participating with the program.

The 3-year-old DOJ federal grant for CIT-ECHO Program is coming to an end and the program will be shut down if new funding is not found by the city.

There is a minimal cost to keep CIT-ECHO going in that it mainly would be covering the coordinator’s position and ancillary expenses.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1276467/police-learn-to-deal-with-mentally-ill-residents.html

THE EPIC PROGRAM

The acronym “EPIC” stands for Ethical Policing Is Courageous.

The EPIC program originated in the city of New Orleans’ Police Department, which like APD, is under a federal consent decree for civil rights violations.

EPIC aims to stem police officer misconduct and use of force and deadly force by police officers.

The program uses “hands-on scenarios” and role-playing enactments and demonstrations to teach police officers on how to defuse calls for service that start escalating and that could easily result in the use of excessive force or deadly force.

EPIC focuses on proactively preventing uses of force, rather than just punishing officers when damage is already done, including the killing of a suspect.

The primary purpose of the EPIC program is to provide police officers with effective and proper training to learn just how and when to intervene when they themselves see other police officer misconduct.

The EPIC program is designed to show police officers how to recognize problematic behavior in fellow officers that may trigger a fellow officer to engage in misconduct.

The peer intervention training includes 6 hours in a classroom and 2 hours that is scenario based.

THE LEAD PROGRAM

On February 11, 2019, the Albuquerque Police Department announced a diversion program where APD police officers will take low-level suspects to treatment instead of jail.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1279269/program-to-focus-on-treatment-rather-than-jail.html

The diversion program is named “LEAD” and stands for “law enforcement assisted diversion” program.

The diversion program will first be used in the APD Southeast Area Command which has the highest number of calls for service to APD in the city.

The LEAD Program will allow APD officers to determine whether the person they’ve arrested needs to go to jail or would better benefit from a trip to a detox facility or a meeting with a case manager who can help them plug into services such as Medicaid, housing vouchers and substance abuse treatment.

APD officers are given full discretion to decide to arrest people on low level charges or to rely on the LEAD diversion program.

The main goal of the LEAD program is to send people to services before charges are ever filed which is unlike other court diversion efforts such as Drug Court.

The LEAD program will allow people to avoid an arrest and a criminal record.

Most of the State District Court’s specialty courts such as “drug court” are used to negotiate and are part of plea agreements and the defendant will often get a criminal record as a result of criminal charges.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1279620/projects-offer-better-way-for-cops-to-deal-with-mentally-ill.html

CITY BUDGET AND TAX REVENUES

On May 21, 2018 the Albuquerque City Council unanimously approved the 2018- 2019 operating budget of $577 million in general fund appropriations.

The budget was enacted after the city council voted on March 5, 2018 to raise the city’s gross receipts tax rate by 3/8 ths to deal with a then projected $40 million-dollar deficit.

The gross receipts tax of 3/8 ths of a cent went year went into effect July 1, 2018 and is estimated to raise upwards of $55 million each year.

Mayor Tim Keller signed the tax increase breaking his campaign promise that he would not raise taxes without a public vote.

The city council tax rate increase stipulated at least 60% of the revenue go to “public safety budget goal priorities.”

It has been reported that the $40 million deficit did not materialize and that the projected deficit now is $20 million.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1271235/abqs-economic-forecast-projects-20-million-deficit-in-2020.html

The Albuquerque Police Department (APD) is in the process of spend $88 million dollars, over the next few years, 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 Albuquerque Police Department’s new pay structure and increased longevity pay incentive bonuses are allowing APD to recruit experienced police officers from other New Mexico law enforcement agencies.

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

APD DEADLY FORCE CASES STILL CONTINUE

On February 10, 2019, the Albuquerque City Council Finance and Government Operations Committee received a report giving a breakdown of the latest city settlements agreed to in civil lawsuits filed against the city.

https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/city-of-albuquerque-pays-out-millions-to-settle-lawsuits/5242559/?cat=500

A total of 26 settlements were reported in the quarter where the city paid more than $2,000,000 in settlements.

Eleven of the settlements involved the Albuquerque Police Department (APD).

Notable APD-related settlements include Danan Gabaldon who was arrested while fleeing from APD police in 2015.

In 2015, Gabaldon was run over by an APD officer in a vehicle and Gabaldon sued for use of excessive force.

Gabaldon was awarded $75,000 by the city.

In 2010, Mickey Owings was shot and killed by APD and his family sued the city.

The APD shooting of Owings was severely criticized by the United States Department of Justice.

The city settled with Mickey Ownings family paying them $375,000.

In 2014, Jeremy Robertson was fleeing APD police when he was shot and killed by APD and his family sued the city.

The city agreed to pay the Robertson family $225,000.

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

The City of Albuquerque has paid over $62 million in settlements over the last 9 years involving 43 police officer involved shootings.

A number of those shootings involved highly experienced officers, such as Keith Sandy and Dominique Perez who shot and killed James Boyd.

The Keller administration is on course of finally hiring enough police officers.

Hiring police is great, but the training of those officers in constitutional policing practices as mandated by the DOJ is even more critical, especially when it comes to lateral hires who may be bringing with them old habits and attitudes of what is acceptable policing practices.

On April 1, 2019, the Keller Administration will be submitting its proposed 2019-2020 fiscal budget to the Albuquerque City Council for review, public hearings and final approval by the City Council.

All three APD programs consisting of the CIT-ECHO project, the EPIC program and the LEAD program have the potential and can reduce the use of excessive force and deadly force by APD.

The 3-year-old CIT-ECHO Program has already proven to be highly successful.

More than enough money would have been available to probably fund all three programs with just one of the recent city settlements.

The Keller Administration and APD would be very foolish not to find the money to cover CIT-ECHO PROJECT and fund the coordinator’s position and all the ancillary expenses to allow the program to continue now that the federal grant is ending.

All three programs show tremendous promise and results to having an effect on reducing police officer involved shootings that have cost lives and huge judgments.

The CIT-ECHO project, the EPIC program and the LEAD program should be a no brainer when it comes to finding funding for the programs.

But then again, after the disastrous ART Bus project, and Mayor Keller’s desire to save it, no one is accusing any of them of having any brains when it comes to priorities of what is truly needed.

HB 456 Needed To Protect Consumers From Unlicensed Contractors

The 2019 New Mexico State Legislature in considering House Bill 456 proposing changes to the Construction Industries Licensing Act.

HB 456 is proposing to clarify statute of limitations and criminal penalties on violations and give limited law enforcement powers to Construction Industry Division inspectors.

NEW MEXICO CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRIES DIVISION

The New Mexico Construction Industries Division is one of the more important New Mexico agencies protecting consumers.

The Division oversee the entire construction industry in New Mexico and ensures that people are licensed contractors and that construction projects are done properly so as not to endanger the public health and safety.

The activities that are considered to be contracting in New Mexico are defined in the Construction Industries Licensing Act, NMSA 1978, Section 60-13-3, and includes general construction work, electrical, mechanical and plumbing and gas line work and remodeling and repair work to structures, including roofs.

http://www.rld.state.nm.us/construction/constructions-industries-overview.aspx

The General Building Bureau adopts and enforces building codes that provide structural strength, stability of structures, sanitation, light and ventilation, energy conservation, affordability and safety of life and property from fire and other hazards including weather and the environment.

The General Building Bureau of the Construction Industries Division adopts and enforces building codes, does inspections and investigates violators that who are not licensed contractors and files the criminal charges.

If a contractor is working without a license, the New Mexico Construction Industries Division may stop the construction project and file a criminal charge of unlicensed contracting in Metropolitan or Magistrate Court.

EXISTING PENALTIES UNDER CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRIES LICENSING ACT

Any one engaged in construction-related contracting and activities in New Mexico must be licensed and contracting without a license in New Mexico is against the law.

If convicted of construction code violations or not securing mandatory building permits, violators can lose their licenses or not permitted a construction license for a full year from date of conviction and face jail time.

Any person who acts in the capacity as a contractor without a contractor’s license and any person who holds himself out as a sales representative of a contractor who does not have a contractor’s license can also be found guilty of a misdemeanor.

Where the dollar value of the contracting work is $5,000 or LESS, upon conviction, the judge can sentence the violator to jail for 90 days or order the payment of a fine of not less than $300 nor more than five $500 or both jail time and a fine.

Where the dollar value of the contracting work EXCEEDS five $5,000 upon conviction the judge can sentence the violator to jail for a term of 6 months or order the payment of a fine of 10% of the dollar value of the contracting work, or to both jail time and a fine.

Any person who acts in the capacity as a journeyman within the meaning of the Construction Industries Licensing Act without holding a valid certificate of competence issued by the division is also guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction the judge can sentence the person to jail for 90 days or to payment of a fine of not less than one hundred dollars ($100) nor more than three hundred dollars ($300), or to both.

(New Mexico Statutes, Chapter 60: Business Licenses Article 13: Construction Industries Licensing, 60-13-1 through 60-13-59, Section 60-13-52: Penalty; misdemeanor.)

COURT RULING AFFECTING ENFORCEMENT

A New Mexico Court of Appeal ruling created ambiguity as to the full misdemeanor status of the Construction Industries Licensing Act.

(State v Trevizo, 2011-NMCA-069, 150 N.M. 158, 257 P.3d 978.)

Under New Mexico Criminal Code, one, two, or three-year statute of limitations applies to petty misdemeanors and misdemeanors:

For a full misdemeanor, charges must be brought within two years from the time the crime was committed.

For a petty misdemeanor, within one year from the time the crime was committed

For any crime not contained in the Criminal Code or where a limitation is not otherwise provided for, within three years from the time the crime was committed, which applies to violations of the Construction Industry Licensing Act.

(NMSA 1978, Section 30-1-8 (2005) (amended 2009) of the Criminal Code.)

The Court of Appeals ruling affected the misdemeanor status of violating the Construction Industries Licensing Act when charges must be filed and the varying penalties under the act.

The Court of Appeals ruling resulted in reducing the amount of time to bring charges under the Construction Industries Act for violations from 3 years to 1 year, which severely hampers the divisions chances of helping home owners or other consumers injured by unlicensed contractors.

Major changes to the Construction Industries Act included in House Bill 456 are:

1. Providing and making it clear that doing construction work without a license as required by act is a misdemeanor and not a just petty misdemeanor.

2. Eliminates any ambiguity in the penalties by adjusting the imprisonment and fines to the appropriate amounts for a full misdemeanor and making the legislative intent clear to the courts.

3. Increases the dollar value of the contracting work to $10,000 or less or $10,000 or more and adjusts and increases the sentencing and fines.

4. Prohibit unlicensed contractors from filing mechanics liens against a property owner.

5. Prohibit and make it a misdemeanor for any contractor reporting an unlicensed contractor employee as an independent contractor.

6. Gives peace officer powers to construction industry investigators giving them the power to arrest and charge violators.

Current investigators whose principal duty is the investigation of criminal violations of the Construction Industries Licensing Act must be New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy certified.

You can read the full HB 456 bill here:

https://nmlegis.gov/Sessions/19%20Regular/bills/house/HB0456.pdf

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

People working on construction projects without a valid contractor’s license is a chronic problem that needs to be curtailed and stopped.

Senior citizens are all too often taken advantage of by the nefarious and illegal actions of unlicensed contractors.

Shoddy roof repairs are a common complaint where senior citizens are scammed out of thousands of dollars.

Most of the work done by contractors who are not licensed takes a while before the defective workmanship becomes noticed or discovered.

A shoddy roof repair or replacement for example usually takes severe rain or snowfall before defective workmanship and material used become noticeable or discovered.

Depending on when a roof is installed or repaired, it could be over a year before the defective workmanship is detected.

Another example would be plumbing.

A defective install or repair to plumbing could result in a slow leak which could go undetected anywhere from several months to a year since most plumbing is covered up.

Home owners and consumers usually do not know when a permit and inspection is required.

Unlicensed contractors do not pull permits nor could they if they tried resulting in Construction Industry Inspectors not being aware of when work is being performed.

HB 456 will allow more time for investigation and officer prosecutions of cases, especially in helping consumers who have not reported unlicensed contracting prior to the one-year statute of limitations on petty misdemeanors.

HB 456 is legislation that will make necessary changes to the Construction Industries Licensing Act to ensure the protection of consumers and prevent people from being preyed upon by unlicensed contractors.

City Settlements Evidence A Fear Of A Courtroom By City Attorney’s Office

On February 10, 2019, the Albuquerque City Council Finance and Government Operations Committee received a report giving a breakdown of the latest city settlements agreed to in civil lawsuits filed against the city.

https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/city-of-albuquerque-pays-out-millions-to-settle-lawsuits/5242559/?cat=500

A total of 26 settlements were reported in the quarter where the city paid more than $2,000,000 in settlements.

Eleven of the settlements involved the Albuquerque Police Department (APD).

The settlements reached relating to APD ranged from officer-involved shootings to Inspection of Public Records Act (IPRA) violations to violating the New Mexico Whistleblower Protection Act.

Notable APD-related settlements include Danan Gabaldon who was arrested while fleeing from APD police in 2015.

In 2015, Gabaldon was run over by an APD officer in a vehicle and Gabaldon sued for use of excessive force.

Gabaldon was awarded $75,000 by the city.

In 2010, Mickey Owings was shot and killed by APD and his family sued the city.

The APD shooting of Owings was severely criticized by the United States Department of Justice.

The city settled with Mickey Ownings family paying them $375,000 without the city defending that it was a justified shooting.

In 2014, Jeremy Robertson was fleeing APD police when he was shot and killed by APD and his family sued the city.

The city agreed to pay the Robertson family $225,000 without defending it was a justified shooting.

The largest settlement in the quarterly report was for $575,000 and involved an incident in Stardust Skies Park, but the case did not involve APD.

A man on a mobility scooter lost his balance on a gravel path next to an arroyo and his scooter fell into the arroyo, injuring the man.

The city built a guard rail.

Mayor Tim Keller’s office released the following statement regarding how the city decides to settle lawsuits:

“The City of Albuquerque and its Legal Department has a careful process in place that’s there to protect the public and its resources. We take each case one at a time, and after considering all the facts the Claims Review Board makes a decision on how to proceed. The amount paid out for any settlement is going to vary widely based on the facts of what happened. There’s also plenty of variance in the number of lawsuits filed in any given month. So the amounts paid out in settlement are also going to see some variance.”

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

The amount of the settlements and the statement issued by the Mayor’s office makes one wonder exactly what the City Attorney’s office is doing to defend the City, especially when it comes to police misconduct cases and frivolous cases other than writing checks and “rolling over” without defending and settling the cases without advocating any defense.

The city is self-insured, meaning settlements are paid out with taxpayer funded monies.

The Albuquerque City Attorney’s Office employs 34 attorneys, numerous para legals, administrative assistants and support staff.

The City Attorney’s Office also employs private attorneys on contract to handle in the defense of cases, such as Workers Compensation cases for city on the job injuries.

The city’s Risk Management Division employs adjusters to help with claims.

Large fines and judgments against the city and APD for Inspection of Public Records Act (IPRA) violations has become so commonplace to the point it has become a disgrace and a steady source of income to plaintiffs and their attorneys for the city’s failure to turn over documents people are legally entitled to under the state’s inspection of public records law.

The City Attorney’s Office itself has been hit with IPRA violation fines by the court’s for failure to turn over documents.

$15,000 and even $20,000 fines for violations of IPRA requests by APD and the City Attorney have become all too common place to the point that it appears APD views it as a cost of doing business.

The city’s Risk Management Division should be more than capable of administering a far more aggressive program with the other city departments to identify personal injury risks, such as a no guard rail along an arroyo.

The City’s Attorney’s office needs to take far more serious IPRA requests to save the taxpayers money.

With so many resources dedicated to the legal department and to city risk management, city taxpayers are entitled to demand and expect competent and aggressive defense when the city is sued and for that matter identify personal injury risk dangers for correction.

In 2010, it was the previous Republican Berry Administration that abolished the “no settlement” policy to the absolute delight of plaintiff attorneys and the courts.

The “no settlement policy” mandated that all “police misconduct cases” be tried before a jury with a few exceptions allowed when liability and misconduct was absolutely certain.

The philosophy was that the “sunlight” of an open courtroom and the presentation of evidence was the best disinfectant for police misconduct to inform the public.

The “no settlement policy” mandated that the City Attorney’s office aggressively defend the cases and police officer’s actions and required plaintiff attorneys to prove police misconduct and their client’s cases and damages.

Settlements are reached behind closed doors and the public is seldom given much of an explanation of how damages are arrived at and why resulting in much speculation.

The “no settlement policy” worked.

The City would often prevail when it went to court saving the taxpayers millions of dollars.

Even when the city did not prevail, judgments awarded by juries were often significantly less than what the plaintiffs were seeking.

Plaintiff attorneys absolutely hated the no settlement policy and so did the court’s because it is a lot easier to settle a case than try a case before a jury.

With the abolishment of the “no settlement” policy, the City Attorney’s office has the reputation of just settling cases for the sake of settling to avoid going to trial at all costs.

The city is viewed as an easy mark to settle cases for large amounts of taxpayer money without putting up an aggressive defense with “fear of a courtroom” by the City Attorney’s office.

The Keller Administration and the City Attorney’s Office needs to be far more aggressive in defending cases, have greater faith in the jury system and realize that there are times a jury needs to hear a case and determine damages, especially when it comes to police misconduct cases.

$127 Million City Bond Package Requiring Voter Approval May Be Competing With Yet Another APS Tax Levy For School Maintenance

The “2019 Decade Plan and General Obligation Bond Program” has been released and submitted by the Mayor Tim Keller Administration to the Albuquerque City Council.

The released “2019 Decade Plan” lists over $800 million worth of taxpayer funded bond projects for the next 10 years but all the funding is not voted upon at once but voted upon in increments every two years.

“General obligation” bonds are subject to voter approval every 2 years to fund various city capital projects.

The next bond cycle up for voter approval is in November, 2019.

$127 million in projects that are part of the Decade Plan will be on the November ballot for final voter approval.

https://www.krqe.com/news/albuquerque-metro/city-councilors-raise-questions-concerns-over-mayor-keller-s-project-list/1766843701

The Albuquerque Council’s “Committee of the Whole”, comprised of all 9 City Councilor’s, met to review the 10-year plan to review and consider changes.

You can read the entire 147 page “2019 Decade Plan and General Obligation Bond Program” here:

https://media.krqe.com/nxs-krqetv-media-us-east-1/document_dev/2019/02/08/keller%20bond%20proposals%202019_1549687683603_71860307_ver1.0.pdf

A few of the larger Keller Administration projects in the latest bond proposal include:

$13 million toward the historic Rail Yards property through 2029.
$11 million for various projects at the Albuquerque Museum over the next decade.
$7 million to a new APD southeast substation at Kathryn and San Mateo.
$7 million for a year-round homeless facility.
$5.5 million for the International District Library.
$5 million in funding for Family & Community Services Section 8 Affordable Housing.
$2.8 million for Community, Health, Social Services Centers.
$2.5 million for a new exit off I-25 to Balloon Fiesta Park.

A detailed summary and a full listing and amount of all the general bond projects that will be on the November ballot is listed below in the postscript.

A MAJOR CHANGE IN PRIORITIES

The Keller Administration has made a significant number of changes that are significantly different from the former Republican Berry Administration.

The Democrat Keller Administration’s proposed bond package devotes $37.3 million to the Department of Municipal Development for street and bridge upgrades, median landscaping, and other related work.

Almost $50 million is being proposed to be put into community facilities that includes:

$5.5 million going to International District Library to be built on the East Central property the city purchased where the old Caravan East was located for decades.
$5 million going to affordable housing projects.
$7 million to a new homeless facility.

PERMANENT YEAR-ROUND HOMELESS SHELTER

The bond package contains $7 million to build a permanent year-round homeless facility.

The city is also asking for state capital money for the project during the 2019 legislative session.

On January 23, 2017, the “Point in Time” (PIT) survey was conducted to determine how many people experience homelessness on a given night in Albuquerque, and to learn more about their specific needs.

The 2017 survey found that 1,318 people reported experiencing homelessness on the night of the count, which was an increase of 31 people over the 2015 PIT Count.

For 2017, 379 people self-reported as chronically homeless, which is an increase of 119 people over the 2015 PIT Count.

PIT counted 39 more people that self-reported as chronically homeless who were sheltered and 80 more people that self-report as chronically homeless who were unsheltered in 2017.

The full PIT report for Albuquerque can be read here:

http://www.nmceh.org/pages/reports/2017%20ABQ/2017%20PIT%20Count%20Report.pdf

Currently, the city uses the old jail 20 miles away from downtown to provide shelter to the homeless during the winter months.

The old jail facility sleeps about 325 people each night during the winter months.

The Keller Administration wants to expand operations from a winter only facility to a year-round facility.

The city reports that it will cost $4.5 million a year to run a year-round facility.

However, using the existing facility on the west side and transporting people to and from the west side shelter accounts for about a quarter of the cost of running the facility.

RAIL YARD PROPERTY REDEVELOPMENT

In 2007, the city bought the Albuquerque Rail Yards site for about $8.5 million.

The historic and vacant Albuquerque Rail Yards are within one mile of the Downtown area located south of Downtown between the Barelas and South Broadway neighborhoods.

The Albuquerque Rail Yards has 18 buildings still standing and erected between 1915 and 1925 and include four major maintenance facilities built by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway.

The city has upgraded one building, the blacksmith shop, where the Rail Yards Market Place has taken place on weekends each summer since 2014.

Last September, Mayor Tim Keller announced he wants to ramp up plans to reinvent the historic Albuquerque Rail Yards to transform the city-owned property “an amenity where thousands can gather year-round.”

The Keller Administration has severed the private development contract with California-based Samitaur Constructs that was the master developer for the site putting the city back in control of the development process.

In order to create a tourist, draw the city wants to begin “remediation efforts” and activate a second building at the Albuquerque Rail Yards.

Activating a second building will accommodate additional vendors and potentially be a big tourist draw according to Mayor Keller.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1214363/mayor-lays-out-new-plans-for-downtown-safety.html

The $13 million in general obligation bond money for the rail yards includes $5.5 million for redevelopment efforts at the a 27.3-acre property in the Barelas neighborhood.

The city is also seeking $15 million in state money from the New Mexico Legislature for the redevelopment work.

Any significant rehabilitation will require abating lead-based paint and asbestos in the existing buildings and removing contaminants from the soil

The city estimates that cleaning up just the northern half of the 12.3-acre site will cost the city at least $4.2 million and that a complete property remediation could run as much as $8 million to $9 million.

Only estimates can be given for clean up because significant rehabilitation will require abating lead-based paint and asbestos in the existing buildings and removing oil contaminants from the soil.

Not until the remediation work starts and is completed can the final cost be calculated.

Because of the nature of the work of soil clean up, no time frame can be given when the clean up will be completed.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1279023/mayors-plan-would-support-rail-yards-cleanup.html

The removing oil and hazardous waste contaminants from the soil at the rail yards is very problematic cost wise.

The Keller Administration has made no mention of any efforts, or if it has taken steps, if available, to secure federal funding and help from the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the cleanup efforts.

CITY COUNCILLORS RAISE CONCERNS

During the first “Committee of the Whole” meeting on the 10-year bond plan, city councilors had questions concerning how to spend the bond monies listed in the Keller Administration 10-year plan.

Several councilors asked questions over the timing of funding for projects, especially those involving drainage projects.

There is no “long-range funding” for all the needed drainage projects in the city.

City Councilor Isaac Benton wants the city to finally build a permanent replacement for the temporary drainage pond at Lomas and Broadway saying:

“That project in particular, I feel like we’ve got to figure out a way to get moving on it, and not put that out to another bond cycle.”

The City Council has power to totally reshape and change the Keller Administration 10-year plan to conform to their own priorities for their individual districts.

On February 22, the City Council “Committee of the Whole” will again discuss and debate the 10-year bond program and make amendment to the final resolution to be voted upon by the public.

A vote of the full bond package could come by the end of February at a regular city council meeting.

Public comment is always mandated during the City Council meetings.

APS BOND AND TAX LEVY

On February 5, 2019, voters overwhelmingly rejected Albuquerque Public Schools’ (APS) two mill levy questions and a proposed bond that would have raised real property tax bills by 5%.

According to media reports, all three questions on the ballot failed by wide margins.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1277156/last-chance-to-deliver-ballots-for-aps-special-election.html

Had all three initiatives past, they would have generated $900 million for APS over the next 6 years to help execute its full capital master plan which included $190 million over 10 years to maintain APS current facilities.

The first APS mill levy was money earmarked for maintenance of existing schools and it was a continuation of the current tax rate.

APS operated 142 schools consisting of 4 K-8 schools, 88 elementary schools (K through 8th grade), 27 middle schools (6-8 th grade), 21 high schools (9th to 12th grade) and 2 alternative schools and the average age of the schools is in excess of 50 years.

The failure to pass the first mill levy will devastate the maintenance efforts at many of the older schools and APS will be forced to seek additional funding for maintenance sooner rather than later.

APS is now considering placing the mill levy for maintenance of existing school facilities again on the November ballot which means it will be competing with the city’s general obligation bonds for approval.

CITY COUNCIL HAS SNEAKY WAY TO BYPASS VOTERS

On January 2, 2017 the Albuquerque Journal reported that the Albuquerque City Council, including Pat Davis, Diane Gibson, Ike Benton, Ken Sanchez and Republicans Don Harris, Brad Winter, and Trudy Jones voted to borrow over $63 million dollars over two years using revenue bonds to build pickle ball courts, baseball fields and the ART bus project down central by bypassing the voters.

The $65 million dollars was borrowed with the Albuquerque City Councilors voting to use revenue bonds as the financing mechanism to pay for big capital projects they wanted.

There’s no need for an election if seven of nine councilors agree to authorize the use of revenue bonds.

You can read the full story here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/919263/revenue-bonds-find-favor-in-abq.html

Revenue bonds were favored by the former Republican Mayor and the City Council because they could pick and choose what to fund bypassing the complicated requirements for the traditional obligation bond program where policies require certain percentages of the program to be dedicated for specific purposes, such as energy conservation and public art.

The use of revenue bonds shifts money out of the city’s operating budget and into big capital projects and the debt is repaid with gross receipts taxes used for essential services.

General obligation bonds require voter approval, a shorter borrowing period and a lengthy planning process which is not the case with revenue bonds.

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

It is truly amazing how the Albuquerque City Council, especially the likes of Albuquerque City Councilor Isaac Benton, is expressing concerns on how to spend the $127 million in bond monies and what should be submitted for a public vote for approval.

Seven of the 9 existing City Councilors are the same fools that voted to fund the disastrous $130 ART Bus Project as well as their own pet capital projects with the use of revenue bonds.

The 7 City Councilors who care less what voters have to say are Democrats Pat Davis, Diane Gibson, Ike Benton, Ken Sanchez and Republicans Don Harris, Brad Winter, and Trudy Jones.

These 7 City Councilors refused to put the $130 million-dollar ART Bus project on the ballot for voter approval without questioning the project and without demanding due diligence by the Berry Administration.

Having a central homeless shelter run by the city is long overdue and should be pursued.

The number of homeless in Albuquerque continues to rise each year.

It is likely that a permanent shelter will have a real impact on removing a good portion of the homeless from the streets.

There is no doubt that the redevelopment of the historic rail yards needs to be made a top priority because of the historic significance the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway has with the city of Albuquerque and the State of New Mexico.

The $13 million in general obligation bond money for the Rail Yards is commendable and should proceed but only after all reasonable steps are exhausted to secure federal funding to help with the cleanup.

If the Albuquerque Rail Yards site soil is as contaminated as being claimed, every effort should be made to seek help from New Mexico’s Congressional delegation and the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to seek grant funding and to use the methods and technologies used on contaminated superfund sites.

The approval of general obligations bonds by voters is where the “rubber hits the road” for voters to have a say on major projects for a growing city.

General obligation bonds provide funding for essential services such as police and fire protection but also funding for projects that contribute to a city’s quality of life, such as museums and libraries.

From police and fire department equipment needs, street maintenance and improvements, public parks and recreation projects, bus and public transit priorities, libraries and museums, social services to the homeless and poor and community facilities are all funded by the general obligation bonds being proposed.

After voters overwhelmingly rejected the Albuquerque Public Schools’ (APS) two mill levy and proposed bond, Mayor Tim Keller and the Albuquerque City Council need to be prepared to “step up their game” and campaign hard and make sure the public is fully educated on the general obligation bond initiative so it will pass in November.

It does not take a political rocket scientist to figure out that voters in November will in essence be asked to decide between building a homeless shelter and cleaning up the Albuquerque Rail Yards versus providing funding to maintain and repair APS public schools.

Public schools need tax funding for maintenance and repairs as much as the city needs general obligation bond funding for capital improvement projects but it is not a sure bet that voters will go along with both on the same ballot.

What was very disappointing is that Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller took no position on, did not endorse, and was nowhere to be found on any of the 3 APS ballot measures and now the city may be competing with APS for voter support of a tax levy to repair the schools.

When Keller was running for Mayor, he advocated city taxpayer funding for afterschool programs and city security funding for the schools.

The city and APD provides for police security at the schools in addition to APS’s own police force.

Not at all surprising is that Keller did find the time to go to Santa Fe and have a photo op with students to promote gun purchase background checks and said nothing about the $20 million included in the APS special election needed by APS for school security upgrades in response to the rash of incidents of gun violence on school grounds across the country.

No one should forget that Mayor Tim Keller himself broke a campaign promise not to raise gross receipts taxes unless there was a public vote.

Keller signed a $55 million a year tax increase with no public vote, but he was nowhere to be found when it came to the APS initiatives.

Mayor Keller, the Albuquerque City Council and the APS School Board and APS Administration need to confer with each other and come up with a game plan to ensure they are all successful.

If the general obligation bond package does not pass in November, the Mayor and the Albuquerque City Council need to be held accountable and more importantly be prevented from reverting to the old and very bad financing scheme of revenue bonds to get what they want and ignore the public.

***********************************************************************************************************************

POSTSCRIPT SUMMARY ON 2019 DECADE PLAN AND GENERAL OBLIGATION BOND PROGRAM

When placed on the ballot municipal election ballot for consideration, the bond projects will be grouped by general obligation bond purpose to vote upon.

The total general obligation bond requested and that will be placed on the November 2019 ballot for approval is $127,000,000 dollars.

The general obligation bond summary for the specific areas of funding requested are as follows:

Department of Municipal Development, Streets $37,275,000
Department of Municipal Development, Storm Drainage $5,600,000
Parks & Recreation $8,065,000
Albuquerque Fire Rescue $1,500,000
Albuquerque Police Department $5,000,000
ABQ Ride/Transit $3,100,000
Animal Welfare $800,000
Cultural Services – Balloon Museum $250,000
Cultural Services – Community Events $370,000
Cultural Services – Library $8,600,000
Department of Municipal Development – Facilities & Energy Management $8,325,000
Environmental Health $200,000
Family & Community Services $17,200,000
Finance & Administrative Services $4,000,000
Planning – Administration $2,125,000
Planning – MRA $6,470,000
Senior Affairs $500,000
Technology & Innovation Services $1,000,000
Total Community Facilities $49,840,000
Council-Neighborhood Set-Aside Program $9,000,000
3% for Energy Conservation Program $3,810,000
2% for Open Space Land Acquisition $2,540,000
1% for each Bond Purpose-Public Art $1,270,000

TOTAL GENERAL OBLIGATION BOND REQUESTED: $127,000,000

The Keller Administration is proposing the following specific projects and amounts be placed on the 2019 November Two-year General Obligation Bond ballot:

STREET IMPROVEMENTS

Reconstruct Major Streets: $2,500,000
Reconstruct Major Intersections: $2,500,000
ADA Sidewalk Improvements: $400,000
Major Paving Rehab: $4,500,000
Intersection Signalization $1,600,000
Federal Mandated Traffic Sign Replacement and Markings: $500,000
Bridge Repair $1,000,000
Safety and Intersection Improvements: $1,000,000
Neighborhood Traffic Management $400,000
Advance Right of Way Acquisition (Streets) $500,000 5
Pavement Signs and Markings $4,000,000
Median and Interstate Landscaping $6,000,000
Westside Boulevard Widening $5,000,000
Balloon Fiesta Park Slip Ramp $2,500,000
Tijeras Bridge Replacement $1,500,000
Zuni Road Improvements $200,000
2nd Street $1,400,000 12 Trails and Bikeways (5% Mandate) $1,775,000

Total Department of Municipal Development Street Programs: $37,275,000

STORM DRAINAGE

Stormwater Quality MS4 Permit Compliance (EPA) $2,000,000
Storm Drain and Pump Station Rehab $800,000
Advanced Planning and Engineering $300,000
Marble Arno Detention Basin/Future Pump Station $2,000,000
Near Heights SD Rehab $500,000

Total Department of Municipal Development Storm Drainage: $5,600,000

PARKS & RECREATION

Park Irrigation System Renovation $2,000,000
Pool Renovation $500,000
Park Playground Equipment $500,000
Balloon Fiesta Improvements $500,000
Open Space Bosque Restoration $250,000
Parks – Shade Structures $1,015,000
Park Management/Construction Crews Equipment $600,000
Park Forestry $300,000
Park Safety $500,000
Park Development $1,000,000
Daniel Webster Children’s Park, Phase 2 ADA Accessibility $400,000
Neighborhood Park Renovation $500,000

TOTAL PARKS & RECREATION: $8,065,000

ALBUQUERQUE FIRE RESCUE
Apparatus Rehabilitation and Replacement $1,000,000
Facility Renovation and Rehabilitation $500,000

Total Albuquerque Fire Rescue $1,500,000

PUBLIC SAFETY/POLICE

APD Technology and Equipment $1,000,000
Renovation and Repair APD Facilities $500,000
Southeast Area Command $3,500,000

Total Police $5,000,000

ABQ RIDE AND TRANSIT
Revenue and Support Vehicles Replacement/Expansion $3,000,000
Transit Technology $100,000

TOTAL ABQ RIDE AND TRANSIT $3,100,000

COMMUNITY FACILITIES/ANIMAL WELFARE

Animal Shelter Rehabilitation $600,000
West Side Veterinary Clinic Rehabilitation $200,000

Total Animal Welfare $800,000

COMMUNITY FACILITIES AND CULTURAL SERVICES – BALLOON MUSEUM
Balloon Museum Facilities $250,000
SUB-TOTAL CULTURAL SERVICES – Balloon Museum $250,000

COMMUNITY FACILITIES AND CULTURAL SERVICES – COMMUNITY EVENTS
KiMo Theatre Remodel and Repair of Facilities $200,000
South Broadway Cultural Center Repair and Upgrade of Facilities $170,000

TOTAL CULTURAL SERVICES – Community Events $370,000
COMMUNITY FACILITIES/CULTURAL SERVICES – LIBRARY
Library Materials $3,100,000
International District Library $5,500,000

SUB-TOTAL CULTURAL SERVICES – LIBRARY $8,600,000

COMMUNITY FACILITIES/DMD – FACILITIES & ENERGY MANAGEMENT

City Building Construction, Improvements, and Rehabilitation $7,000,000
Roof Repair/Replacement for City Facilities $1,000,000
Civic Underground Parking Fire Suppression System Upgrades $125,000
Civic Underground Emergency Power & Evacuation System Upgrade $200,000

TOTAL FACILITIES & ENERGY MANAGEMENT $8,325,000

COMMUNITY FACILITIES/ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Los Angeles Landfill Remediation $200,000
SUB-TOTAL ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH $200,000

COMMUNITY FACILITIES/FAMILY & COMMUNITY SERVICES
Section 8 Affordable Housing $5,000,000
Homeless Facility $7,000,000
Community, Health, Social Services Centers $2,800,000
Renovation, Repair, Security & Tech. Improv, Existing FCSD Fac. $1,500,000
Health and Social Service Center Kitchens $900,000

TOTAL FAMILY & COMMUNITY SERVICES $17,200,000

COMMUNITY FACILITIES/FINANCE & ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES
City Vehicle Replacement $4,000,000
SUB-TOTAL FINANCE & ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES $4,000,000

COMMUNITY FACILITIES/PLANNING – ADMINISTRATION
Land Acquisition and Exchange $500,000
Economic Development/Revitalization $1,500,000
Electronic Plan Review (ePlan) $125,000

TOTAL PLANNING – Administration $2,125,000

COMMUNITY FACILITIES/PLANNING – MRA
Rail Yards $5,470,000
Metropolitan Redevelopment Area $1,000,000

TOTAL PLANNING – MRA $6,470,000

COMMUNITY FACILITIES/SENIOR AFFAIRS
Senior Affairs Renovation/Rehabilitation ADA Compliance $500,000
SUB-TOTAL SENIOR AFFAIRS $500,000

COMMUNITY FACILITIES/TECHNOLOGY & INNOVATION SERVICES
IT Infrastructure Upgrade $500,000
Network Equipment Upgrade $500,000

Total Technology & Innovation Services $1,000,000

TOTAL FOR ALL COMMUNITY FACILITIES LISTED $49,840,000

OTHER BOND REQUESTS

Council-Neighborhood Set-Aside Program $9,000,000
(Each of the 9 City Councilor’s are given $1 Million for projects in their individual city council district)

3% for Energy Conservation Program $3,810,000
2% for Open Space Land Acquisition $2,540,000
1% for each Bond Purpose-Public Art $1,270,000

Governor MLG Appoints 5 New UNM Regents

On February 9, 2019, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced the appointment of 5 people to the University of New Mexico Board of Regents. There are a total of 7 UNM Board of Regents.

Two were appointed to 6-year terms and they are:

KIMBERLY SANCHEZ RAEL

Kimberly Sanchez Rael is President and CEO of SRE Wellness, Inc. (dba Azuca) Sanchez-Rael has an extensive background in both startup and fortune 50 Companies. Before her career in venture, she co-founded an advanced energy company and held numerous management positions at Intel, where she managed a $200 million capital budget, led planning for a $1 Billion expansion, and held roles in finance, operations and strategic planning. Prior to Intel, she served as an aide in the US Senate focusing on foreign affairs and science and technology policy. Sanchez-Rael has broad experience on both corporate and community boards.

Sanchez Rael’s corporate board experience spans multiple industries, including: water technology, semiconductors, software-as-a-service, digital media and advanced materials companies. Sanchez-Rael community board service includes: New Mexico State Board of Finance; Presbyterian Hospital, the Albuquerque Public Schools Foundation and the Arts Alliance. She was the Founding President for a Montessori Charter School. She has been featured as New Mexico Business Weekly Power Broker and Top 10 Women of Influence. Sanchez-Rael is a member of the prestigious international Society of Kauffman Fellows, a Rotary Scholar and is a member of the Board of Directors of the International Women’s Forum-New Mexico. She has a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Harvard and an MBA from Stanford.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/kim-sanchez-rael-49379

ROBERT SCHWARTZ

Professor Robert L. Schwartz is an Emeritus Professor of Law at the University of New Mexico. He earned his B.A. degree from , Stanford University in 1970 and his Juris Doctrate degree from Harvard University in 1975. He is a member of the American Samoan, New Mexico and New York Bars. In 1976, Professor Schwartz joined the UNM law faculty and began to focus his research and teaching in the emerging field of Health Law. He has gone on to become a nationally recognized scholar in the area of Bioethics and brings this expertise to his classes at both the law school and the UNM School of Medicine, where he also teaches. Though he is emeritus status, he regularly teaches half-time at the law school, including courses in torts and health law, among others.

Schwartz is one of five authors of “Health Law: Cases, Materials and Problems,” the first textbook that treated Health Law as a subject when it was first published in 1987. Now in its fourth edition, it is the leading Health Law textbook in the country. He contributed chapters that address Bioethics. He also has written “Treatise on Health Law,” a two-volume textbook published in 1995 and is co-editor of a volume of Health Law statutes that was published in 2003. Most recently, his writing is in the areas of end-of-life care, death and dying, managed care and the application of civil liberties principles to the health care enterprise.

http://lawschool.unm.edu/faculty/schwartz/index.html

Two were appointed to 4-year terms and they are:

SANDRA K. BEGAY

Sandra K. Begay is a Principal Member of the Technical Staff at Sandia National Laboratories and is a former Regent (Trustee) for the University of New Mexico. Sandra leads Sandia’s technical efforts to assist Native American tribes with their renewable energy developments. Sandra received a Bachelor of Science – Civil Engineering degree from the University of New Mexico.

Begay worked at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories before she earned a Master of Science – Structural Engineering degree from Stanford University. Sandra is recognized in a book profiling women engineers, “Changing Our World: True Stories of Women Engineers.” Begay-Campbell is included in the chapter “Women in Power”, which describes her effort to provide electricity through solar panels and other alternative energy solutions to hundreds of remote tribal members on the Navajo Reservation.

Honored with awards for her work, Begay is a recipient of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society’s Life-time Achievement Award; the University of New Mexico’s 2007 Zia Alumnus Award; the 2005 UNM School of Engineering Distinguished Alumnus Award and she received the Stanford University 2000 Multicultural Alumni of the Year Award. She was also selected as a recipient of the Governor’s Award for Outstanding Women from the New Mexico Commission on the Status of Women.

https://www.energy.gov/diversity/contributors/sandra-k-begay

DOUGLAS M. BROWN

Douglas M. Brown is a recognized financial leader with more than fifty years of experience in finance, currently as the head of Brown and Brown Ventures. Douglas M. Brown is a Dean Emeritus at the University of New Mexico Anderson School of Management. He is a graduate of Stanford University having earned an AB and MBA and graduating in the top 5% of the class.

From February 2009 to June 2014, Brown was the Dean of the Anderson School of Management at the University of New Mexico. As Dean, he administered undergraduate, graduate, and executive programs involving 1,800 students. During his tenure as Dean, the school became fully re-accredited, achieved record fundraising, and secured a commitment for a new building for the school. Albuquerque Business First recognized Brown’s contributions by naming him as Top CEO of the Year for 2013. Upon retirement Doug was accorded the title of Dean Emeritus, the only living Dean so honored.

From November 2005 to January 2007, Brown was New Mexico State Treasurer having been appointed by the Governor to fix a scandal-ridden agency. As State Treasurer, he made key personnel changes, reduced staff by 20%, achieved a clean audit, brought yield on $5 billion portfolio from 46th in the U.S. to 7th, and the fund was awarded a AAA rating by Standard and Poor’s, their highest rating and a first for the state of New Mexico.

From 1999 to October 2005, Brown was President and CEO of Tuition Plan Consortium. As President of the consortium, he built an association from six to 275 private colleges and universities offering subscribers Private College 529 Plan, a prepaid tuition plan redeemable at any of the participating schools. BusinessWeek named it a “Best Product of the Year.”

From 1990 to 1999, Douglas Brown was President and CEO of Talbot Financial Services. Co-founder of enterprise the company grew from start-up to over $2 billion in annual sales nationwide. His firm became nation’s largest marketer of annuity products to major financial institutions.

Douglas M. Brown’s experience includes 28 years in banking, including CEO, ABQ Corp, largest financial company in New Mexico (1986-89), Executive Vice President, Crocker Bank (1984-86) and Senior Vice President and Marketing Director, Wells Fargo Bank (1961-84)

https://www.expertbankingwitness.com/resume-douglas-m-brown

MELISSA C. HENRY

Melissa C. Henry was appointed as UNM Student Regent to a two-year term. Melissa Henry is the former Graduate and Professional Student Association Chief of Staff (GPSA) who also nominated her for the position. It was the Graduate and Professional Student Association that nominated Melissa Henry.

Melissa C. Henry is a licensed mental health counselor with over five years related professional experience in the field working at student health and autism centers. Henry has worked as both a couples and family counselor with focus on working with parents seeking reunification with children. Henry holds a Bachelor’s in Psychology and a Master’s in Counseling from California State University, Fresno. She is currently working on her doctorate in Counselor Education and Supervision with a minor in Quantitative Methods in Education from the University of New Mexico.

In announcing the appointments, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said:

“I am proud to nominate this incredible group that I am confident will be dedicated to ensuring equity, responsibility, and accountability at the University of New Mexico. I eagerly look forward to their stewardship of New Mexico’s flagship university.”

https://www.krwg.org/post/governor-lujan-grisham-appoints-university-new-mexico-regents

OTHER REGENT NOMINATIONS PENDING

Governor Lujan Grisham has 4 regent seats at Northern New Mexico College that she needs to fill.

The Governor needs to select three regents apiece for New Mexico Highlands University and New Mexico State University and 2 for Western New Mexico University.

http://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/education/lujan-grisham-has-more-than-a-dozen-regent-seats-to/article_7da9fa36-f3ba-5ad9-b46b-cf5c326796da.html

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

Boards and Commissions include some very powerful positions such as the New Mexico State Fair, the Racing Commission and the Board of Regents of all the Universities.

Below is the link to apply for appointment to a Board or Commission:

https://www.emailmeform.com/builder/form/Oqd5SaP9ZFhWEVt55kMbf2zn

It is clear from review of the credentials that all 5 of the regent nominees are indeed more than qualified for the difficult job of UNM regent and bring a level of understanding to how the University works and more importantly how it should work.

All 5 of the UNM regents nominated will now be submitted to the New Mexico State Senate for approval and confirmation.

All 5 regent nominees will have confirmation hearings before the New Mexico State Senate Rules Committee Chaired by New Mexico State Senator Linda Lopez where the committee will recommend confirmation or rejection.

The entire State Senate Rules Committee membership consist of State Senators Linda Lopez, Jeff Steinborn, Greg Baca, Stuart Ingle, Daniel Ivey Soto,. Jerry Ortiz-Pino, Mary Kay Papen, Cliff Pertle, Clemente Sanchez, Bill Tallman, and Mark Moores.

With the Democrats in control of the Senate, it is more likely than not all of the Governor’s UNM regent appointments will be approved very quickly during the 2019 Legislative Session.

For a full list of cabinet appointments see:

Governor MLG’s Cabinet Appointments Complete; On To Boards and Commissions!