Taxes Are The Tuition Paid For Public Education

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.

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.

APS operates 142 schools consisting of 4 K-8 schools, 88 elementary schools (K through 8th grade), 27 middle schools (6-8 th grades), 21 high schools (9-12th grades) and 2 alternative schools serving 84,000 students which is more than 25% of New Mexico’s school population.

The average age of an APS school is 50 years old and in need of repairs, improvements, remodeling or even demolition and construction of new facilities.

APS wanted to use money generated by the property tax toward the design and construction of 11 new projects and the completion of 23 major rebuilds and upgrades to 23 school campuses.

The capital monies were budgeted to provide startup monies for renovation projects targeting aging campuses in historic neighborhoods, like La Mesa Elementary School.

$20 million was to be used for much needed school security upgrades in response to APS needing to upgrade safety measures in response to the rash of incidents of gun violence on school grounds across the country, including New Mexico.

The $20 million in security funding would have provided for new locks for every classroom, security vestibule entrances, upgraded camera security with a district-wide central monitoring center, and to build protective perimeter fencing for school campuses.

The first mill levy was for continued maintenance of existing facilities.

The first mill levy would not have raised taxes but it would have continued the existing tax levy that will now expire after six years.

The first mill levy was voted down by 64%.

The failure to pass the first mill levy will probably devastate the maintenance efforts at many of the older schools.

The second tax mill levy question was voted down by 69%.

The bond funding was voted down by 58%.

Normally, turn out for an APS elections is 3% to 5%.

The election was a “mail in ballot” and the voter turnout for it was 28.7%.

The defeat of all 3 measures plunges the APS capital master plan into a sea of uncertainty.

APS Executive Director Kizito Wijenje of the school systems capital master plan described the APS capital funding situation the day after the defeat of the mill levy and bond package as a “Rubik’s Cube”.


On Friday, July 20, 2018, Santa Fe District Court Judge Sarah Singleton 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 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.

The Santa Fe District Court found that in New Mexico 71.6% of the state’s public-school students come from low-income families.

As a matter of law, Judge Singleton wrote the “lack of funds is not a defense to providing constitutional rights” and found:

“[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 response to the court ruling Governor Michelle Lujan’s proposed budget calls for $3.2 BILLION to be spent on Public Schools, an 18% increase of $830.2 million.

The New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee (LFC) budget plan for its part increased year-over-year state spending by $670.8 million, or by 10.6%, with more than three-fifths of the additional spending toward public schools statewide.

Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) is New Mexico’s largest school district, serving more than 25% of the state’s students with nearly 84,000 students.

The ethnicity of the APS 84,000 students is 65.8% Hispanic, 22.9% Caucasian/White, 5.5% American Indian,3.2% African American, 2.3% Asian American, 0.2% are “other”.

Over two thirds of APS students qualify for the federal school meals program.

The school district serves 29,000 breakfast per school day and 41,000 lunches per school day.

On Jun 26, 2018, it was reported by the 2018 Kids Count Data Book that for the first time in five years, New Mexico has fallen to last among states when it comes to the economic, educational and medical well-being of its children, according to a nonprofit that tracks the status of children in the United Sates.

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.

Education Week’s annual Quality Counts report on United State Public Education systems throughout the nation put New Mexico next to last out of 50 states and the District of Columbia in January, 2018.


The overwhelming defeat of the two property tax initiatives and the one bond initiative is very disappointing but was not at all surprising to political observers.

The failure of all 3 APS measures is a major setback to the single largest school district in the state and one of the largest in the country.

With the defeat of all 3 APS measures, there is considerable gloating going on by the “anti-tax” people and groups.

Gloating was exhibited by the ultra-conservative Rio Grande Foundation Paul Gessing, who spearheaded the opposition, when he boasted about the vote and said:

“It’s a great day for the taxpayers of the APS district, and I think it’s clear that APS overreached on this particular tax hike proposal”.

Truth is Paul Gessing and his ultra-conservative Rio Grande Foundation have never seen any tax hike they have supported and for years have been consistent critics of public education institutions always harping that the institutions are a waste of taxpayer money.

Gessing and his Rio Grande Foundation went so far to advocate that APS sell off its assets as a way of raising money, which is a one time revenue source when a recurring revenue sources are needed for repairs and maintenance of school facilities.

It may have been a great day for property owners and the Rio Grande Foundation saving money, but a very sad day for those who really matter, the students of APS.

Albuquerque Public School Board Member Peggy Muller-Aragón, the only APS Board member who opposed the APS initiatives, applauded the defeat of the initiatives saying she was not at all surprised by the vote.

Muller-Aragón took a cheap shot in her gloating when she said she believed voters knew what they were voting for when they voted “no” and “wanting better accountability and for prioritizing students over unions”, an obvious reference to the teacher’s union that supported the measures.

Mueller Aragon was quoted as saying APS was not “in check with reality. … We’re a poor state … The ask [in property tax increase] – from what I heard – was just so big.”

Contrary to the truth Mueller-Argaon said that “we’re a poor state” the truth also is “lack of funds is not a defense to providing constitutional rights” to an education as was found by Judge Singleton.

In other words, the money to fund public education must be found or generated somewhere and is usually through taxation.

Republican Albuquerque City Councilor Don Harris called upon his constituents to vote against the initiatives, the same Don Harris that supported spending taxpayer money on the disastrous ART Bus project without a public vote.

Republican Party Chairman Steve Pearce at the last minute called the mail in ballot initiative “deeply flawed” as if to say the Republican party would contest the results if the measures past.

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.

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.

Keller did find the time to go to Santa Fe and have a photo op with students to promote gun purchase background checks, but 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 and signed a $55 million a year tax increase signing with no public vote, but he was nowhere to be found when it came to the APS initiatives.

Public schools need tax funding for maintenance and repairs as much as the city needs funding for city services and Mayor Keller should have supported the the APS measures.

APS for some time has been a troubled public education district.

The APS Board of Education and the APS administration will now be forced to come up with a detail plan on how to deal with the inevitable shortfall of funding in the school district’s operational fund that will no doubt affect or halt the 23 projects that are already underway at schools in the district.

No doubt big factors that contributed to the defeat of the initiatives is the very real public perception that the elected Albuquerque Public School (APS) Board and the APS Administration is viewed as wasting taxpayer money and resources on projects and facilities that are not needed and that do not help students.

Another common public perception is that the APD Administration is top heavy with management being paid enormous salaries and that there is extensive waste of resources by them.

A hard reality that contributed to the defeat of the initiatives is that people want and even demand quality public education and facilities, but no one wants to pay higher property taxes for them.

Many taxpayers feel that taxes are already way too high, even though the county’s property taxes are in fact some of the lowest in the country.

Notwithstanding the defeat of the initiatives, APS Administration and the APS School Board cannot forget what happened in the special election nor the real problems facing the students they serve.

The disconnect between the voters and APS is now complete.

The elected APS Board, including APS Board Member Peggy Muller-Aragón, needs to take steps to repair the damage or step aside if they are not up to the challenge.

In the meantime, the aging APS facilities will continue to deteriorate until the elected APS board and management regain public confidence.

The APS Board could ask voters to vote again on an APS tax increase in the next election, but if they do, they need to do a far better job of educating the public and justify why the money is needed and where it will go to benefit the students.

The landslide loss perhaps is a lesson learned for the APS elected school board and the APS Administration, but it was at the expense of the students in need of a quality education in modern, safe and secured facilities.

The APS Board and the APS Administration must teach the lesson next time around that taxes are the tuition we must pay to have an educated child.

For a related blog article see:

Vote YES On APS Property Tax Levy And Bonds To Rebuild Deteriorating Schools

Monahan Overview Of A Few Current Issues

On February 7 and February 4, 2019, political blogger Joe Monahan on his political blog “New Mexico Politics with Joe Monahan” gave an exceptional summary of many political issues going on in New Mexico, especially with the New Mexico Legislature.

Below are excerpts from the January 7 and January 4 posting on New Mexico Politics with Joe Monahan January 7, 2019 with the blog link below:

Thursday, February 07, 2019

“The Latest Zeitgeist: Tax Warning To Santa Fe From ABQ, Trump In El Paso; His Interior Secretary In Hobbs; Visits Prompt Talk Of GOP Retaking Southern CD, Plus: Radio Days; Latest ABQ Ratings And All Those PM Talk Show Hotshots

Here’s the Thursday zeitgeist direct from the frontlines of La Politics. . .

–The landslide defeat of a property tax increase for the ABQ Public Schools is putting Santa Fe on notice. Legislative proposals to raise the gas tax and food tax–already hard pressed to win–may be dead money in the aftermath of the APS wreck. Voters are tax tired and if the Dems overreach as APS did they could run into a buzzsaw.

–On the other hand, raising the personal income tax on households making $300,000 a year or more just might be in line with the populist overtones seen in this week’s mail in election.

–Crooked Krebs is the big “get” for Attorney General Hector Balderas, his biggest yet because the AG’s criminal charges against former UNM Athletic Department Director Paul Krebs might be a momentum maker to finally reform the transparency resistant department. Balderas may need the cushion of goodwill. Insiders report his staffing practices at the AG’s office are soon to come under media scrutiny.

–MLG’s “goofy” video against the border wall debuted to mixed reviews after she posted the video shot several months ago on her campaign Twitter account as President Trump finished delivering his State of the Union speech. The video showing her crashing through walls has gone viral. It’s one of those love it or hate it deals but if the point was to get attention, it worked.

–President Trump is coming to El Paso Monday and that will have NM impact. The El Paso media market spills over to southern NM. His visit will excite border wall supporters in beleaguered Hidalgo County where immigration problems have prompted widespread news coverage. In liberal Las Cruces the Trump visit will reinforce the disdain for the commander in chief’s border wall.

–The visit showcases how difficult an issue this is for Dem southern Congresswoman Torres Small. She has now come out in support of the wall concept for certain areas where she believes it could work. That moderate position may not satisfy either side. Cruces liberals want no wall or physical barriers at all and conservatives want the whole border walled.

–Also, on Wednesday Trump’s new Secretary of Interior was visiting oil booming Hobbs to remind everyone of the regulation friendly White House that is taking credit for the immense amount of energy coming out of the ground. It is in the Permian Basin in SE NM that the R’s hope to stage their comeback against Torres Small, arguing that many conservatives who did not vote in ’18 will vote in 2020.

–But Yvette Herrell is complicating the GOP’s Torres Small challenge. After her embarrassing 2018 defeat many in her party see her as washed up but she is already campaigning for the nomination, hoping to keep others out. But possible alternatives are popping up, including Claire Chase. Watch her.

–Chase was recently elected chairman of the board of the NM Oil and Gas Association as well as chair of the Independent Petroleum Association of NM. The family oil business is Mack Energy, where she serves as director of government relations and spends a good deal of time in DC. The company founder, Mack Chase, is her husband’s grandfather and is listed by Forbes as the wealthiest person in New Mexico with a net worth of at least $700 million.

The company is based in Artesia and has operations in the booming Permian. In other words, self-financing a good deal of her congressional campaign would be on the table if she were to run.

–Chase, 35, is a NM native and graduate of Roswell’s NM Military Institute. Here’s a bio and short video of her conducted by Oil and Gas Investor. A January poll conducted by Herrell asking voters their preference for the GOP nomination for the southern seat included Chase. The game is not on yet. Will it be soon?

Monday, February 04, 2019

MLG Says Early Childhood Amendment Will Be “Fight Of My Life” Plus: Where Other Key Issues Stand At Session, And: Our Monday Bottom Lines

The debate around key issues facing the 60 day legislative session is gaining more clarity as we flip the calendar to February. Here are the takeaways:

–For the first time in a little noticed interview MLG drew a line in the sand on the proposal to tap the $17 billion Land Grant Permanent Fund School Fund for very early childhood programs. She said:

“I have every intention of having the fight of my life on this issue. Our ‘pinch,’ I think, will be an indication that we expect about a third of what we’ll need for early child education to come out of the permanent fund. I think we might be closer to an open dialogue by folks that have said no deal.”

–That “pinch” under legislation sponsored by ABQ Dem Rep. Javier Martinez would withdraw one percent of the fund’s value annually, adding upwards of $150 million year to early childhood programs, but key players see negotiations taking that percentage lower.

–The fight the Governor says she has every “intention” of having will be with conservative Senate Democrats who have repeatedly blocked the amendment which, if approved by the House and Senate, would go to voters in 2020. The House is supportive of the measure that does not require a gubernatorial signature.

–However, it will require gubernatorial power to crack the conservative D’s or bring them to the table. That may indeed require the “fight of her life” that she has now publicly pledged.


–Conservatives aren’t necessarily “cracking” over the Guv’s push to hike the statewide minimum wage from $7.50 to $10 an hour, it’s more like they are yielding to the political reality seen in last year’s election results.

–Even conservative Senate Dem Clemente Sanchez, who has battled with minimum supporters in the past, is proposing a $10 an hour minimum, albeit his would not take effect until October 2020 while others would take effect this year.

–Sanchez is also proposing that the $2.13 minimum wage for tipped employees stay on the books, something restaurant owners are clamoring for. He and they may get it. (The tipped minimum is higher in cities with higher overall minimums).

–Interviews we’ve had with tipped workers in ABQ found opinion mixed but overall they expressed support for the status quo. Many are making near $20 an hour under the current structure and in no mood to rock the boat.

–Interestingly, in a Sunday op-ed piece MLG did not make mention of the debate over the minimum for tipped employees, a signal that she is not locked down on it.

–Santa Fe’s minimum wage is already north of $11 an hour and would not be impacted by the $10 an hour mandate. Las Cruces is also now over the $10 an hour mark. However, ABQ is in the low $9 an hour area so minimum workers there would benefit from the increase.


–There are not many believers in Santa Fe that state film incentives, capped at $50 million a year, should be completely lifted. Such a move would threaten to blow a hole in the budget in future years. Because they have gone over the cap over the years, Hollywood is now owed over $300 million due from the state, a huge sum in a budget headed toward the $7 billion area.

–MLG’s support of removing the incentive cap is seen more as a negotiating play than her hope for the final result, meaning an increase from $50 million a year to a yet to be determined number, but the cap stays.

–The position of Dem Senator Carlos Cisneros of Senate Finance seems likely to carry the day:

“(He) said he would support loosening the cap. The film industry, he added, has been good for the state. “A complete drop–that’s unpredictable,” he said, cautioning that the state needs to have some certainty about how much it is paying in incentives in future years, particularly in lean budget years.”


In characteristic style, both posts are informative reflecting someone who has been in the reporting business for a very long time and who has tremendous sources in the political world of New Mexico.

If you like politics, I suggest you add “New Mexico Politics With Joe Monahan” to your regular reading.

The link to the blog is:

Rocket Docket Proves “Elections Have Consequences”; Former Republican Governor “She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named”

On January 17, 2019 the New Mexico Senate announced the “Rocket Docket” which consisted of 30 expedited bills.

Top Democratic legislators “fast-tracked” 30 bills during the first few weeks of the 60-day session by sending them to just one committee for vetting and then moving them quickly along for floor votes.

All 30 bills were bills introduced in past legislative sessions that, while receiving wide bipartisan support in the Legislature, were nevertheless vetoed by the former Republican Governor often times without any explanation.

Vetoes of 10 bills resulted in litigation and the New Mexico Supreme Court found the vetoes “unconstitutional” and the bills became law.

While a few of the “rocket docket” bills encountered opposition and lost momentum, most of them were voted upon quickly and had broad support.

The New Mexico House set up its own set of expedited bills that went through the same process.

The goal was to have a complete set of bills ready for Governor Lujan Grisham’s signature within a matter of weeks as opposed to at the end of the session.

Not surprising, a few Republican leaders objected to the expedited “rocket docket” process on how the bills were handled

The Republicans argued that new members who were elected to office last fall would not have a sufficient opportunity to review the bills or ask questioning.

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham defended the Legislature’s vetting of the “rocket docket” bills by saying the bills were not merely a list of “legislative ideas” but legislation that was in fact based on previous measures that were reviewed, debated and passed but vetoed by her predecessor.


On Monday, February 4, 2019, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, with 25 lawmakers looking on, signed into law 42 bills that were sponsored by a mixture of Democrats and Republicans.

The list of “rocket docket” bills signed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on February 4, 2019 include the following House (HB) and Senate (SB) bills:

HB 44: Career-Technical Teacher Development
HB 50: Audit Reviews by Board of Finance
HB 66: Mammogram Info Disclosure
HB 72: Occupational Therapy Scope of Practice
HB 74: Traditional Historic Community Qualifications
HB 97: Local Government Investment Pool Participants
HB 203: Economic Development Finance & Ag Enterprises
HB 216: File County Subdivision Ordinances with State
HB 217: Infrastructure Development Zone Meetings
HB 226: Add Lay Midwives as Practitioners
HB 227: Use of Teacher Attendance for Evaluations
HB 229: Regional Air Center Special Economic District
HB 237: Extend University Police Officer Authority
HB 242: Contact Lens & Glasses Prescriptions
HB 250: Native American Student Needs Assessments
HB 257: Enviro Services Gross Receipts Uses
HB 276: Establish Advanced Mapping Fund

SB 9: Psychologist Prescription Certificates
SB 18: Local Government Planning Fund
SB 28: Placement of Children in Protective Custody
SB 48: Student Diabetes Management Act
SB 58: Evidence and Research Based Funding Requests
SB 77: Landowner Liability for Cave Exploration
SB 106: Short-Term Occupancy Rentals Tax
SB 117: Wastewater System Financing
SB 118: Protect Confidentiality of Crime Victims
SB 145: Coordinate Medical Transport
SB 149: Rename Alcohol & Gaming Division
SB 150: Homeowner Associations Changes
SB 157: Sick Leave for Educational Retirement Credit
SB 164: Prizes & Gifts for Insurance Customers
SB 179: Disabilities Students Lottery Scholarships
SB 189: Mobility Limitation Transport Placards
SB 191: Lobbyist Reporting Requirements
SB 193: Beef Council Assessment Opt-Out
SB 197: Judge Pro Tempore Fund
SB 198: Admin Office of the Courts Director Funds
SB 199: Electronic Communications Privacy Act
SB 200: Massage Therapy Act
SB 215: Maternal Mortality & Morbidity Prevention Act
SB 236: Disabled Veteran License Plate Options
SB 244: Legal Services for Land Grants & Acequias


With the apparent success of the “rocket docket”, the 8 year legacy of failure of the former Republican Governor must be remembered.

The failed legacy of former Republican Governor “She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named” (“SWMNBN”) includes a legacy of vindictiveness and mean-spirited attitude toward the New Mexico legislature.

The former Republican Governor will be remembered for her inability to work with the New Mexico legislature and how she treated those she disagreed with, even with those in her own Republican party.

The former Republican Governor’s re election victory in 2014 helped Republicans seize control of the New Mexico House of Representatives for the first time in 60 years but their control lasted only 2 years.

The peak of vindictiveness and pettiness was when the former Republican Governor’s Political Action Committee spent $1 million dollars to defeat long time and respected State Senate Democrat Floor Leader Michael Sanchez who she considered a major obstacle to her policies.

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, Democrats regained control of the house putting Democrats in control of both the New Mexico House and Senate.

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

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

The Supreme Court ruling put end to the court battle and resulted in the bills becoming law.

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

President Barack Obama said to Republicans after his 2009 inauguration, during a meeting with congressional Republicans about his economic programs they condemned “Elections have consequences”.

There is no doubt that the “rocket docket” is a dramatic departure from the way the New Mexico Legislature has operated for decades.

Democrat House Speaker Brian Egolf of Santa Fe commented on the need for the “rocket docket” by saying:

“We’ve had eight years of lost time and we have a lot of catching up to do.”

Over the years, the legislature has been severely criticized for spending far way too much time on ceremonial activities and debating and voting on what many observers felt were meaningless memorials, tributes and ceremonies.

Each of the signed bills on the “rocket docket” was sent to one committee in both the House and Senate and then voted upon by both chambers.

The customary way of doing business in the legislature has always been when a Senate or House bill is introduced, it is referred to multiple standing committees, 2, 3, and even 4 committees at a time.

It is common knowledge that the more committees that a bill is referred to, the more likely it is that it will be tabled and “die in committee” and never have a final vote and never become law.

In years past, a majority of bills were typically not approved by lawmakers until literally the final weeks, days and even hours of a 60-day legislative session.

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham during the signing of the 40 bills into law described them as proof of a new bipartisan effort by saying:

“Today is a signal that we are, in fact, working together.”

Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe had this to say about the passed “rocket docket” legislation:

“I think we’ve come up with true consensus bills.”

Republican Roswell Representative Candy Spence Ezzell, who attended the bill singing along with many other Republicans, chimed in by saying:

“It does take working with both sides of the aisle to get something accomplished for the good of New Mexico.”

With the election of Democrat Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and the success of the “rocket docket”, the New Mexico Legislature and voters are quickly beginning to appreciate the true meaning of “elections have consequences”.

The “rocket docket” should be made a permanent part of the legislative process as should cooperation and communication between all legislators, Republicans and Democrats alike, with the new Governor.

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

Governor Lujan Grisham has completed making her 30 Cabinet Secretary appointments and the Governor’s Office Executive appointments.

All started to work immediately when their appointments were announced.

Cabinet Secretaries are paid $128,000 a year, the standard rate for any state cabinet secretary.

The New Mexico Senate will now vote to approve or reject Cabinet Secretary designates.

With the Democrats in control of the Senate, it is more likely than not all of her cabinet appointments will be approved very quickly during the 2019 Legislative Session.

There appear to be no controversial appointments as plagued Lujan Grisham’s predecessor.


Following is the complete listing of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s cabinet appointments:

SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE AND ADMINISTRATION (DFA): Olivia Padilla-Jackson was appointed the new Secretary of DFA which functions as state government’s central budget office. She is a former director of the state Board of Finance. The DFA will be responsible for overseeing the state’ s expenditures at a time of unprecedented revenue levels with a total of $1.1 billion in new money projected for the coming budget year due primarily to surging oil production levels.

SECRETARY OF THE HUMAN SERVICES DEPARTMENT: Governor Lujan Grisham appointed Dr. David Scrase Human Services Department (HSD) Secretary. HSD is one of the state’s largest agencies with more than 2,000 employees. The Human Services Department administers the state’s Medicaid program and programs for New Mexicans with mental illness and addiction issues. Secretary designate Scrase is a professor at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine and the section chief of geriatrics at the UNM Health Sciences Center.

SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY AND EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: Jackie White, a captain in Albuquerque Fire Rescue will head homeland security department. Her 17-year career includes work in special operations, homeland security and fire investigations. Jackie White was previously the captain of homeland security and emergency management of the Albuquerque Fire Department, where she worked for 17 years, since 2002. Prior to that, she was the captain of fire investigations. She is a member of the Intrastate Mutual Aid System. White has managed emergency response for the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta and all city-sponsored special events; her experience includes fire suppression, paramedicine, instructing cadet and paramedic programs and providing oversight for the special operation division.

SECRETARY OF THE ENERGY, MINERALS AND NATURAL RESOURCES DEPARTMENT: Sarah Cottrell Propst has been appointed Secretary and will oversee the State Parks division and regulate oil and natural gas drilling in New Mexico. Sarah Cottrell Propst previously served as the Executive Director of the Interwest Energy Alliance, a non-profit trade association that represents the nation’s leading companies in the renewable energy industry, from 2012 to 2018, bringing them together with non-governmental organizations in the West (Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming). She is the founder of Propst Consulting LLC, specializing in energy and environmental policy. Propst was Deputy Cabinet Secretary of the New Mexico Environment Department after serving as Energy and Environmental Policy Advisor to New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson.

SECRETARY OF CULTURAL AFFAIRS: Debra Garcia y Griego, director of the city of Santa Fe’s Arts Commission, is the new cabinet secretary. Garcia y Griego is a board member of the nonprofit Americans for the Arts and she has an international reputation in the arts community. As the director of the City of Santa Fe Arts Commission, a position she held from 2012 to December of 2018, she led the city’s efforts to support arts and cultural affairs. She developed the nation’s first municipal ordinance addressing the forgery of Native American arts and crafts and led the development of Santa Fe’s first cultural plan, “Culture Connects Santa Fe,” and she was staff representative to the high-level negotiations over the Entrada between the All Pueblo Council of Governors, Archdiocese of Santa Fe, Santa Fe Fiesta Council and Caballeros de Vargas

SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY (IT): Vincent Martinez, who served in the state House from 1993 to 1997, is the new IT Secretary. Former Representative Martinez already works in the department as managing director of cloud and communications.

SECRETARY OF HIGHER EDUCATION: Kate O’Neill, the former CEO of the University of New Mexico’s campus in Taos, has been appointed Secretary of Higher Education. is a proven leader and innovator in New Mexico higher education, previously serving as chief executive officer of the University of New Mexico at Taos for 12 years, beginning in 2006, and as special assistant to the chief executive since her retirement in 2016. In her time there, she developed a nationally accredited nursing program, and over ten years under her leadership, the campus’ budget grew by 250 percent. She began at the campus as adjunct faculty in 1994 and worked her way up, serving as an associate professor, department chair of psychology and academy head for professions and liberal arts. The UNM Taos campus was struggling in rural New Mexico until she was able to turn it around.

SECRETARY DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION: Mike Sandoval, a 24-year state employee and a division director within the state Department of Transportation is the Secretary designate. Sandoval has overseen the Rail Runner Express commuter train, commercial-vehicle permitting, traffic safety and other programs. Michael Sandoval has spent more than 20 years at the New Mexico Department of Transportation, most recently serving as executive manager of modal divisions, a role in which he oversees 300 contracts and 12 ports of entry and major programs such as the Railrunner, commercial vehicle permitting and traffic safety. At the department, he has also served as division director of the office of safety programs, planning divisions and traffic safety division. He has also worked in other areas of state government, serving as division director of the Motor Vehicle Division from 2009-2010.

SECRETARY OF DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS SERVICES: Judy Griego, a brigadier general retired from the Air Force, has been appointed cabinet secretary. She is the first woman to reach the rank of brigadier general in the New Mexico National Guard and serve one tour of duty in Afghanistan. Brig. Gen. Judy Griego had a decorated military career, establishing herself as both pioneer and leader. Her most recent role, before her retirement in 2016 after a 36-year career, was as chief of staff of the New Mexico Air National Guard, where she directed, managed and supervised the development, execution and evaluation of programs and policies pertaining to the command, control and operations at the State Headquarters level.

OFFICE OF AFRICAN AMERICAN AFFAIRS: William Scott Carreathers, Director of African American Student Services at the University of New Mexico and former Associate Dean, was appointed to head the department. From 2005 to 2010, he was associate dean for diversity initiatives, linking the Division of Student Affairs and the University College Advising Center. Other roles at the University of New Mexico include senior academic advisor and university representative, helping to develop a recruitment plan and liaising with counselors and educators in New Mexico, Texas and Colorado. Carreathers has an undergraduate degree in health from Northwest Oklahoma State University and a master of education degree from Prairie View A&M University in Prairie View, Texas.

SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM: Jen Schroer, a former president and chief executive of the New Mexico Hospitality Association, was appointed to serve as cabinet secretary for tourism. She worked earlier in the New Mexico Tourism Department. Ms. Schroer is returning to New Mexico in that she was the Executive Director of the Davis Chamber of Commerce located in California.

SECRETARY OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: Alicia Keyes, Albuquerque’s film liaison director and a former Walt Disney Company executive has been appointed cabinet secretary. Keyes worked in the City of Albuquerque film department where she oversaw the deal to make the city home to NETFLEX’s first United States production hub. Keyes has been given major credit for suggesting to NETFELX to buy the Albuquerque Studios with NETFLEX planning to invest $1 Billion dollars in New Mexico over 10 years. She grew up partly in New Mexico and attended Albuquerque Academy. She established a workforce training program with both the University of New Mexico and Central New Mexico Community College and was responsible for all film permitting and recruiting

SECRETARY OF GENERAL SERVICES DEPARTMENT: Ken Ortiz who worked for Democratic Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, will head this department. He said his initial priorities include ensuring the state procurement code gives local businesses a fair chance to win state contracts.

SUPERINTENDENT OF REGULATION AND LICENSING: Marguerite Salazar, who has had a Cabinet-level position under outgoing Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, is the new cabinet superintendent. She has had a similar role in Colorado, where she was the executive director of the Department of Regulatory Agencies.

DEPARTMENT OF WORKFORCE SOLUTIONS: Former New Mexico House Representative Bill McCamley of Las Cruces Democrat will head the department. McCamley is a former Doña Ana County commissioner, and he ran a nonprofit group that worked on economic development in rural areas. He sought the Democratic nomination for state auditor. Bill McCamley was a Las Cruces-area state representative from 2012 through 2018. He was chairman of the House Labor and Economic Development Committee, where he oversaw progress on critical issues like wage theft and increasing the minimum wage. He has been a statewide leader in job creation activities like workforce training, border trade and cannabis legalization.

DEPARTMENT OF AGING AND LONG-TERM SERVICES: Alice Liu McCoy, an attorney for Disability Rights New Mexico, a nonprofit advocacy group, will now be in charge of the department. McCoy sued the state recently for failing to regulate boarding homes that take in former psychiatric patients.

CHILDREN YOUTH AND FAMILIES DEPARTMENT: Brian Blalock will take over the Children, Youth and Families Department, or CYFD. Blalock has a lengthy background in youth law and will make a move to the agency from being the law and policy director at Tipping Point Community which is an anti-poverty group in the Bay Area.

DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY: Mark Shea has been named the new Secretary of the Department of Public Safety. Shea is currently the undersheriff of Valencia County and has been in law enforcement for more than four decades including a lengthy stint at the department he will now lead. For nine years, Shea worked in the Department of Public Safety’s training and recruiting division.

ENVIRONMENT DEPARTMENT: James Kenney is the new Secretary of the Environment Department after spending more than 21 years at the Environmental Protection Agency, most recently as senior policy advisor for oil and gas. In that role, he has worked with senior agency leadership and designed strategies to support environmentally responsible development of oil and natural gas resources while working with states, tribes, federal agencies and industries on regulatory and policy matters.

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH: Kathy Kunkel will be the new Secretary of the Department of Health. Kunkel spent the last four years as deputy director of the DOH overseeing multiple facets of the agency. Kathy Kunkel has worked seven years across different stints at the state Department of Health, the most recent four as deputy director, overseeing the bureau of behavioral supports, regional offices, litigation management and supported employment. Kunkel developed a fair hearings bureau, and, as an attorney with a law degree from the University of New Mexico, she provided litigation support, developing legal strategy with the department and working on issues related to various settlements.

TAXATION AND REVENUE DEPARTMENT: Stephanie Schardin Clarke, a former Deputy Secretary of Finance and Administration for the state, was appointed to head this department and the agency includes the Motor Vehicle Division. Ms. Clarke also has worked for Santa Fe County and the Legislative Finance Committee.

INDIAN AFFAIRS DEPARTMENT: Lynn A. Trujillo, Native American coordinator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has been selected Secretary of Indian Affairs. She has worked as general counsel at Sandia Pueblo, where she’s also a member.

DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC EDUCATION: Karen Trujillo is the new cabinet Secretary for Public Education. Trujillo has more than two decades of experience in education both in teaching and professional development. She received her bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate from New Mexico State University and is currently serving as the university’s interim associate dean for research at the school’s College of Education. NOTE: Lt. Governor Howie Morales was appointed as an “acting secretary” until Trujillo was appointed.

DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS: Julie Jones, a former corrections secretary in Florida will oversee New Mexico’s prison system as the Secretary of the Department of Corrections.

STATE PERSONNEL OFFICE: PAM COLEMAN is the Director of the state personnel office. She started her career as a lawyer in New York City after earning her B.A. at New York University and her J.D. cum laude from New York Law School. Pam Coleman previously worked in various White House roles in the administration of President Barack Obama. Coleman was special assistant to the president for leadership development; a special assistant for energy and the environment; and served as the director of the outreach and recruitment team in the presidential personnel office. Before that, Coleman was the White House liaison for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

DEPARTMENT OF MILITARY AFFAIRS: Major General Kenneth A. Nava serves as the Adjutant General for the State of New Mexico. As the Adjutant General, he serves as senior military advisor to the Governor and is responsible for providing the State of New Mexico and the United States with a ready force of citizen Airmen and Soldiers. General Nava’s career began in 1988 as an enlisted HAWK firing section mechanic in the 7th Battalion (HAWK), 200th Air Defense Artillery, New Mexico Army National Guard. He later earned his commission as a second lieutenant through Officer Candidate School in 1992. General Nava has held various staff positions at the battalion, brigade and Joint Forces Headquarters levels.

NEW MEXICO SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE: The Secretary of Agriculture is Jeff Witt. The Department of Agriculture is responsible for ensuring a safe and secure food supply and a fair marketplace, protecting natural resources and the environment, and promoting markets and trade. The Secretary of Agriculture serves on the governor’s cabinet but reports to the New Mexico State University board and university president.

STATE ENGINEER: John Romero, Acting New Mexico State Engineer who has been with the department for a number of years. The Office of the State Engineer is charged with administering the state’s water resources. The State Engineer has authority over the supervision, measurement, appropriation, and distribution of all surface and groundwater in New Mexico, including streams and rivers that cross state boundaries. The State Engineer is also Secretary of the Interstate Stream Commission.

PROBATION AND PAROLE: Former State Senator Cisco Mcsorley has been appointed to head the Division which is within the Department of Corrections. Before resigning the State Senate, Mc Sorely had the distinction of being the longest serving member in the legislature having served since 1985, first in the House and then in the Senate.

WORKERS COMPENSATION: The acting Director of the Workers Compensation Administration is Verily A. Jones who served as executive deputy director under the previous Martinez Administration. Originally from California, Jones grew up in Orem, Utah, and attended Merced College before transferring to Brigham Young University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in human development. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from Washburn University, then worked in foreclosure compliance and insurance sales before moving to New Mexico in 2014. Jones worked for the 13th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, handling all probation violations and specialty courts for the Sandoval County office, prosecuting DWI, domestic violence and property crimes cases. At Rose L. Brand and Associates, P.C., she practiced creditor’s rights law and represented financial institutions in foreclosures and evictions.


Governor Lujan Grisham has also made the following appointments who will be working directly out of the Governor’s Office:

JOHN BINGAMAN, the son of former U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., who headed up her transition team, was appointed one of two Chief of Staff who will be “co equal” in authority and report directly to Governor Lujan Grisham. Bingaman is a private sector investment banker and managing principal of an investment firm and will oversee policy development, the legislative team and legal operations in the Governor’s Office.

TERESA CASADOS is a Santa Fe County administrator was also appointed Chief of Staff and will serve as chief operations officer and oversee the execution of policy and legislation, work with Cabinet secretaries and manage constituent services.

MATTHEW L. GARCIA is an Albuquerque Civil rights attorney and appointed General Counsel to the Governor.

DOMINIC GABELLO, Lujan Grisham’s gubernatorial campaign manager, was appointed as Senior Adviser for Policy, Strategy and Communications.

STEPHANIE KEAN, an urban planner who worked in Lujan Grisham’s congressional office was appointed Senior Policy Adviser for Education.

JANE WISHNER, is a founding member of the law firm Peifer, Hanson & Mullins, was appointed Executive Policy Adviser for Health and Human Services. She is also the former Director of the Southwest Women’s Law Center.

MARIANA PADILLA, who worked in Lujan Grisham’s congressional office, was appointed Director of the Children’s Cabinet.

VICTOR REYES was appointed the Governor’s Legislative Director. Reyes has worked as a senior staff member for the New Mexico State Senate Democratic caucus.

MATT RUYBAL, who handled constituent services in Lujan Grisham’s congressional office, was appointed the Governor’s Director of Constituent Relations.

DIEGO ARENCON is the executive policy advisor for labor management affairs. He was a 22-year veteran of the Albuquerque Fire Department, serving as the union president for IAFF Local 244 for a dozen years, as state president of the New Mexico Professional Firefighters Association and previously as the international District Field Representative for the IAFF.

TRIPP STELNICKI, a former Reporter for the Santa Fe New Mexican and covered city and county government, was appointed the Governor’s Director of Communications.


With the appointment of her Cabinet Secretaries, the next round of appointments will no doubt be finding private citizens willing to serve on the numerous boards and commissions.

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

The New Mexico Boards and Commission Division of the Department of Regulation and Licensing establishes specialized standards on education and training to ensure New Mexicans receive quality care and services from qualified professionals such as contractors and realtors.

There are more than 30 different Boards and Commissions that deal with professions and specialized trades, from accountants, barbers, realtors and chiropractors, to funeral directors.

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


In characteristic style and with a sense of purpose and urgency, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham hit the ground running with the appointment of her entire cabinet designates and executive staff within 3 months of being elected and assuming office on January 1, 2019.

Eight years ago, the Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s predecessor Republican Governor “She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named” had difficulty in finding qualified people primarily because she had an absolute ignorance of the many functions of state government and services provided, except for prosecuting people and she was hell-bent on dismantling or reducing the size of government.

Virtually all the appointments of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham reflect a Governor who knows and understands New Mexico state government and agencies, no doubt because she herself is a former cabinet secretary having worked for Democrat and Republican Governors, not to mention that she is a former Bernalillo County Commissioner and US Congresswoman.


“$100,000 Or More” Paid To All 250 Top ABQ City Hall Employees

The City of Albuquerque employs approximately 4,800 to 5,000 full time city hall employees with 26 separate departments.

The 26 Departments at Albuquerque City Hall are:

Animal Welfare
City Clerk’s Office
City Council
Civilian Police Oversight
Cultural Services
Economic Development
Emergency Management
Environmental Health
Family and Community Services Department
Finance and Administration
Fire and Rescue
Human Resources Department
Inspector General
Internal Audit
Legal Department
Management and Budget Office
Mayor’s Office
Municipal Development Department
Parks’ and Recreation Department
Planning Department
Police Department
Senior Affairs Department
Solid Waste Department
Technology and Innovation Department
Transit Department

The City of Albuquerque pays an average of $17.61 an hour to City Hall employees or $36,628.80 a year depending on the positions held and required education level and training levels.

(40 hour work week X 52 weeks in a year = 2,080 hours worked in a year X $17.61 paid hourly = $36,628.80)


Roughly 4,500 City Hall employees are considered “classified employees” who are covered by the city’s personnel rules and regulations.

Classified employees have vested rights including retirement benefits, sick leave and annual leave benefits and can only be terminated for cause.

Disciplinary actions such as suspensions, demotions and terminations can be appealed by classified employees to the City Personnel Board.

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

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

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

Albuquerque Police Department Commanders up to the Deputy Chiefs and the Chief Police are at will employees who serve at the pleasure of the Mayor.

APD Lieutenants, Sergeants and Patrol officers on the other hand are all classified employees and are part of the police union and can be terminated only for cause.

Albuquerque Fire and Rescue Deputy Chiefs and the Fire Chief are at will employees.


At the end of each calendar year, City Hall releases the top 250 wage earners at city hall.

The list of 250 top city hall wages earners is what is paid for the full calendar year of January 1, to December 31 of any given year.

The City of Albuquerque has updated the list of the 250 top wage earners at City Hall for 2018.

You can review the full 2018 listing at the below link:


The Breakdown of the 250 top paid city hall employees for 2018 reveals that all are paid between $100,000 to $192,937.23 with all 250 employees combined making in excess of a total of $25 million in pay.

There is a lopsided number of those employed by the Albuquerque Police Department and the Albuquerque Fire and Rescue Department compared to all the other department with the breakdown as follows:

Police 140
Fire and Rescue 55
Municipal Development 7
City Support 7
Technology and Innovation 7
Finance Admin Svc 6
Aviation 4
City Council Services 3
Planning Department 3
Chief Administrative Office 3
Cultural Services 3
City Attorney Office 2
Human Resources 2
Animal Welfare 2
Mayor’s Office Department 1
PR-Parks and Recreation 1
Environmental Health 1
Transit 1
SW-Solid Waste 1
Civilian Police OS Dept 1


The lopsided numbers in APD and Fire & Rescue can be attributed to overtime pay to “classified” employees.

The earnings figures do not include take home vehicles, reimbursements, such as mileage and tuition, and vacation and sick leave accumulated amounts.

With the election of new Mayor Tim Keller, there has been a major shift of priorities and top wage earners at City Hall that merits comparison to the previous Berry Administration.


In 2017 Mayor Richard Berry’s 250 top paid wage earners in order of their pay included the following 27 “at will” employees:

Chief Administrative Officer Rob Perry: $189,936 (#1 highest paid employee)
APD Chief Gordon Eden: $166,699 (#2 highest paid employee)
Chief Administrative Officer Michael Riordan: $152,319 (#4 highest paid employee)
City Attorney Jessica Hernandez: $150,217 (#5 highest paid employee)
Fire Chief David W. Downey: $138,993 (#11 highest paid employee)
Deputy Fire Chief Eric Garcia: $133,872 (#13 highest paid employee)
APD Assistant Chief Robert Huntsman: $132,435 (#14 highest paid employee)
Deputy Director of Municipal Development Gregory Smith: $126,623 (#17 highest paid employee)
Deputy Fire Chief Michael Silvera: $125,603 (#19 highest paid employee)
Deputy Fire Chief II/Commander Joshua McDonald: $124,374 (#21 highest paid employee)
Mayor’s Chief of Staff Gilbert Montano: $124,345 (#22 highest paid employee)
John Soladay, Director, Solid Waste Department: $115,227
Barbara Taylor, Director, Parks and Recreation Department: $114,136
Mary Leonard, Director, Environmental Health Department: $112,230
Dana Feldman, Director, Cultural Services: $110,020
Susan Lubar, Director, Planning Department: $110,020
Mary L. Scott, Director, Human Resources Department: $110,020
Jorja Armijo-Brasher, Senior Affairs Department: $106,441
APD Deputy Chief Jessica Tyler (APD Academy Director): $105,514
Gary Oppendahl, Economic Development Director: $105,510
Bruce Rizieri, Transit Director: $105,202
James Hindi, Director of Aviation (airport): $104,340
Doug Chapman, Director of Family Community Services: $102,260
Natali Y. Howard, City Clerk: $101,942
Lou Hoffman, Director of Finance Department: $99,732
Cilia Aglialoro, City Treasurer: $98,579
Paul Caster, Director of Animal Welfare Department: $98,019


Under the Keller Administration, there has been a dramatic change in salaries paid to APD with more classified positions as opposed to unclassified positions.

What the Keller Administration pays its top 250 city hall employee is revealing especially when compared to the previous Berry Administration.

The earnings displayed in the below list is the pay in the calendar year 2018.‬


The Mayor’s salary and City Council salaries are determined by the Citizens’ Independent Salary Commission.

Beginning January 1, 2019, the Mayor’s salary went from $103,854 a year to $125,00 a year.

Being Mayor is arguably a 24/7 job.

As was the case with Berry, Mayor Keller is provided with a car, expense account as well as an APD protection detail.

Eight Albuquerque City Councilors are paid $30,000 annually and the City Council President is paid $32,000 annually.


City Hall Department Directors are at will employees and serve at the pleasure of the Mayor, meaning they are not classified employees and can be terminated without cause.

Following is a listing of Department Directors and upper city hall management that appear on the list of 250 top wage earners at city hall:

Chief Administrative Office (CAO) SARITA NAIR: $169,556.80.
(Former Chief Administrative Officer Rob Perry was paid $189,936.)

Chief Administrative Office Chief Operations Officer LAWRENCE RAEl: $165,524.80.
(Former Chief Administrative Officer Michael Riordan was paid $152,319)

Albuquerque Police Department Chief MICHAEL GEIER: $159,513.60.
(Former APD Chief Gordon Eden was paid $166,699.)

Albuquerque Fire and Rescue Chief PAUL DOW: $132,691.20.
(Former Fire Chief David W. Downey was paid $138,993.)

Chief Administrative Office Deputy CAO/Chief of Staff SUNALEI STEWART: $141,300.80
(NOTE: Mr. Stewart has resigned and was appointed Deputy State Land Commissioner).
(Former Mayor Chief of Staff Gilbert Montano was paid $124,345.)
Santiago Chavez was appointed Deputy Chief Administrative Officer/Chief of Staff on January 31, 2019.

Finance Admin Svc CFO/Director SUNALEI BHAKTA: $131,200.01.
(Former Director of Finance Department Lou Hoffman was paid $99,732.)

Animal Welfare Director DANNY NEVAREZ: $130,516.00.
(Former Director of Animal Welfare Department Paul Caster was paid $98,019)

Municipal Development Deputy Director GREGORY SMITH: $124,462.80. (Retired)

ATI-Technology and Innovation Director BRIAN OSTERLOH: $123,643.11.

Chief Investment Officer DANIEL CHRISTOPHER, Finance Admin.: $122,252.80.

Environmental Health Deputy Director MARK DIMENNA: $122,252.80.

Assistant City Attorney STEPHANIE GRIFFIN, Legal Department: 121,073.32.

Finance Admin Services Controller PAMELA FANELLI: $116,443.21.

Cultural Services, BioPark Administrator BAIRD FLEMING: $115,395.22.

MTI-Technology and Innovation IT Project Manager VINCENT QUIJANO: $114,136.00.

Finance Admin Svc Director Gerald Romero (Early Ret E series): $113,155.62

Finance City Budget Officer Olivia Padilla-Jackson: $113,102.04

Human Resources Director Mary Scott: $112,224.04.
(Mary L. Scott was paid $110,020 under Berry.)

Planning Department Director David Campbell: $111,645.60.
(Former Planning Director Susan Lubar was paid $110,020.)

Cultural Services Associate Director Library Dean Smith: $110,987.20.

Municipal Development Assoc Director, Engineering Melissa Lozoya, $110,945.61.

Municipal Development Engineering Project Manager Keith Reed: $110,945.60.

City Attorney ESTEBAN AGUILAR JR.: $110,296.80.
(Former City Attorney Jessica Hernandez was paid $150,217.)

Human Resources Deputy Director LOC TRUONG, $107,576.66.

Cultural Services BioPark Senior Veterinarian CAROL BRADFORD: $105,901.02.

Municipal Development CIP Official JAMES HAMEL: $105,656.00.

Planning Department Deputy Director, BRENNON WILLIAMS, $105,656.00.

Municipal Development Engineering Division Manager BRYAN WOLFE: $105,656.00.

Municipal Development Engineering Division Manager PAULA DODGE-KWAN: $105,656.01.

Municipal Development Engineering Division Manager DAVID HARRISON: $105,656.01.

Wilson, Erika L.PD – Police Emergency Communications Manager: $105,760.00

Planning Department City Engineer SHAHAB BIAZAR: $105,656.00.

ATI-Technology and Innovation Application Architect III JASON FLETCHER: $104,918.40.

Animal Welfare Senior Veterinarian NICOLE VIGIL: $104,326.40.

Aviation Deputy Director Aviation JAMES HINDE: $103,938.00.
(Under Berry, James Hindi was Aviation Director and paid $104,340.)

Transit Deputy Director ANNETTE PAETZ: $103,644.81.
(Former Transit Director Bruce Rizieri was paid $105,202)

Parks and Recreation Deputy Director Kenneth Mitchell: $102,978.00.
(Former Parks and Recreation Department Director Barbara Taylor was paid $114,136.)

City Treasurer, Finance Administration CILIA AGLIALORO: $102,763.60.

Parks and Recreation Deputy Director KENNETH MITCHELL: $102,978.00.

Director of Solid Waste Director MATTHEW WHELAN: $102,440.80.
(Former Solid Waste Director JOHN SOLADAY was paid $115,227.)


Mayor Keller made a few appointments during the last calendar year but their names do not appear on the list of 250 top paid employees because they yet to have worked a full calendar year.

Notwithstanding, Mayor Keller has been hiring Department Directors at starting pay of between $108,000 to $112,00 a year.

There are 6 Department Directors that are not on the list of 250 top paid city hall employees and they are:

Aviation Director Nyika Allen
City Clerk Katy Duhigg
Cultural Services Director Shelle Sanchez.
Senior Affairs Director Ana Sanchez.
New Jersey State Trooper Leonard Nerbetski as the “Real Time Crime Center Director”.

Newly created job positions created and appointed hires not listed in the 250 list are:

APD Deputy Chief of Staff Elizabeth Armijo in charge of public and media relations.
Former United States Attorney Damon Martinez as an APD Policy writer at $118,000 a year.
Senior Public Safety Advisor James Lewis (Reportedly hired on $75,000 contract.)
Assistant Mayor Gary Lee who reportedly was hired at $75,000.
311 Assistant and Keller longtime political consultant Alan Packman reportedly hired at $75,000.


All 5 of the APD top command staff are “unclassified positions” and serve at the pleasure of the Mayor, can be terminated without cause and arguably the positions are 24/7 jobs.

The salaries Mayor Keller is paying his top APD command staff are significantly less than many Police Officers 1st Class, Sergeants and Lieutenants and are as follows:

Geier, Michael PD-Police Chief of Police, $159,513.60
(Former APD Chief Gordon Eden was paid $166,699)
Garcia, Eric JPD-Police PDP Deputy Chief, $134,249.53
Gonzalez, Arturo EPD-Police PDP Deputy Chief, $126,199.92
Banez, Rogelio NPD-Police PDP Deputy Chief, $123,856.00
Medina, Harold PD-Police PDP Deputy Chief, $123,856.00

(Former APD Assistant Chief Robert Huntsman was paid $132,435)


The AFR Fire Chief and Deputy Chiefs are unclassified positions and serve at the pleasure of the Mayor and can be terminated without cause and arguably the positions are 24/7 jobs

40 of the top 250 wage earners are employed by Albuquerque Fire and Rescue and they include the following 24 individuals:

Dow, Paul, Fire & Rescue Chief – $132,691.20
(Former Fire Chief David W. Downey was paid $138,993)
Eakes, Adam CFD-Fire FP2, Deputy Fire Chief – $133,245.50
Gallegos, Gene LFD-Fire FP2, Deputy Fire Chief – $149,659.60
Mowery, David EFD-FireFP2, Deputy Fire Chief – $142,378.40
Eakes, Adam CFD-FireFP2, Deputy Fire Chief – $133,245.50
Frazier, Sean RFD- Deputy Fire Chief – $125,193.89

(Former Deputy Fire Chief Michael Silvera was paid $125,603.)
(Former Deputy Fire Chief/Commander Joshua McDonald was paid $124,374)

Nieto, Edward JFD-Fire Para Lieutenant – $141,920.62
Justiniano , Anthony LFD, FireFC2Captain – $140,291.73
Anderson, Clinton LFD, Fire Para Captain – $134,018.66
Rosato, Mario PFD-Fire, FL1 Lieutenant – $136,603.80
Garcia, Santos, CFD-Fire FM, Battalion Chief – $131,794.12
Tapia, Jacob AFD-Fire, Para Lieutenant – $130,426.11
Elks, Sean TFD-Fire Deputy Fire Chief, $129,113.45
Kim, Chad SFD-Fire Battalion Chief – $128,490.77
Hansen, Jeremiah JFD-Fire Battalion Chief – $126,961.42
Gallucci, Pasquale AFD Battalion Chief – $123,586.48
Garcia, Jason AFD Battalion Chief – $123,277.01
Longdon, Jonathan DFD-Fire Para Lieutenant – $122,363.85
Staley, Justin, LFD-Fire Battalion Chief – $121,120.90
Montero, Alex OFD-Fire FM1 Battalion Chief – $120,955.19
Lujan, Robert WFD-FireFM2 Battalion Chief – $120,660.24
Puariea, Karla -Fire RL1 Para Lieutenant – $120,450.67
Cordova, Paul LFD-Fire Lieutenant – $119,467.36
Sanchez, Frank PFD-Fire Battalion Chief – $118,345.43


Starting pay for an APD Police Officer immediately out of the APD academy is $29 an hour or $60,320 yearly. (40 hour work week X 52 weeks in a year = 2,080 hours worked in a year X $29 paid hourly = $60,320.)

Police officers with 4 to 14 years of experience are paid $30 an hour or $62,400 yearly. (40-hour work weeks in a year X 52 weeks in a year = 2,080 hours worked in a year X $30 paid hourly = $62,400.)

Senior Police Officers with 15 years or more experience are paid $31.50 an hour or $65,520 yearly. (40 hours work in a week X 52 weeks in year = 2,080 hours worked in a year X $31.50 = $65,520.)

The rate for APD Sergeants is $35 an hour, or $72,800. (40-hour work week X 52 weeks in a year = 2080 hours worked in a year X $35.0 paid hourly = $72,800.)

The rate for APD Lieutenants pay is $40.00 an hour or $83,200. (40 hour work week X 52 weeks in a year = 2080 hours worked in a year X $40.00 = $83,200.)


The listing of the city’s 250 top wage earners includes 140 rank and file police officers who are patrol officers first class.

The 140 top wage city hall wage earners employed by the Albuquerque Police Department include patrol officers first class, sergeants, lieutenants, commanders the deputy chiefs, and the chief with annual pay ranging from $101,000 a year up to $192,937 a year.

Far more Police Officers 1st Class are earning six figures under the Keller Administration than under the last year of the Berry Administration.

The six figure salaries being paid to sworn police can be directly attributed to “overtime” worked by those sworn police officers.

124 sworn police officers were paid between $101,633.11 to $192,037 for 2018 calendar year under the Keller Administration and they are:

POLICE OFFICERS PAID $151,313 TO $192,000

Drobik, Simon – Master Police Officer 1st Class $192,937.23.
Johnson, Brian APD- Senior Police Officer 1st Class: $166,692.01.
Garza, Ramiro JPD- Senior Police Officer 1st Class: $163,223.63.
Hollier, Jeremy BPD-Police, PE1, Senior Police Officer 1st Class: $160,692.06.
Canales, LadioPD-Police, Senior Police Officer 1st Class: $152,876.94.
Redhouse, Leighton – Senior Police Officer 1st Class: $151,313.71.

POLICE OFFICERS PAID $126,162.80 TO $144,510.44.

Bassett, Jeremy, Police Lieutenant, $144,510.44.
Martinez, Yvonne, Master Police Officer 1st Class, $144,421.25.
McCumber, Wayne – Master Police Officer 1st Class $142,033.83.
Correia, Donald RPD- Senior Police Officer 1st Class, $140,755.81.
Maes, Kelly RPD- Senior Police Officer 1st C1ass, $138,318.85.
McElroy, Matthew PD-Police Sergeant, $138,158.09.
Lehocky, Andrew , Master Police Officer 1st Class $137,449.07.
Languit, Luke CPD-Police Lieutenant, $134,328.74.
Price, Bryan HPD-Police Sergeant, $133,880.63.
Mc Carson, Timothy, Senior Police Officer 1st Class $132,742.86.
Rico, Michael KPD-Police Senior Police Officer 1st Class $132,740.13.
Kenny, Sean PPD-Police Sergeant $132,604.80.
Parsons, Scott – Police Lieutenant, $131,519.64.
Frick, Sean, APD Lieutenant, $131,375.48.
Pearson, Nicholas, Master Police Officer 1st Class, $130,077.97.
Hernandez, Francisco Senior Police Officer 1st Class, $128,887.30.
Burchell, Edward – Master Police Officer 1st Class, $127,987.25.
Stockton, Robert MPD-Police Sergeant, $127,612.72.
Patterson, Christopher APD-Police Sergeant, $127,557.19.
Hernandez, Michael FPD-Police Sergeant $127,456.76.
Arnold, Jerry, Police Officer 1st Class $127,409.90.
Martinez, Vicente, Senior Police Officer 1st Class $126,798.71.
Breeden, Charles, Senior Police Officer 1st Class $126,300.45.
Wetterlund, Christopher, Senior Police Officer 1st Class $126,162.80.

POLICE OFFICERS PAID $113,498.98 TO $125,088.48

Economidy III, Byron, Senior Police Officer 1st Class $125,088.48.
Schmidt, Matthew -Police Sergeant $124,581.73.
Sandoval, Albert, PD-Police Sergeant $124,555.16.
Jones, Aaron M., PD-Police Sergeant $122,687.41.
Solis, Emmanuel, PD-Police Officer 1st Class $120,859.89.
Solis, Brenda, – Senior Police Officer 1st Class $120,202.55.
Haugh, Paul, – Police Sergeant $116,785.41
Frazier, Jared Senior Police Officer 1st Class $116,584.31
Pitzer, Brian -Police Sergeant $116,233.46
Mcpeek, Luke, Police Officer 1st Class, $116,079.13
Brown, Jason, Police Officer 1st Class, $116,019.57
Altman, Steve APD- Police Lieutenant, $115,945.46
Pholphiboun, Phetamphone – Senior Police Officer 1st Class 115,789.25
Garcia, Jennifer, Police Lieutenant $115,466.52
O’Neil, Craig -Police Master Police Officer 1st Class, $115,449.83
Walsh, Johnathan – Senior Police Officer 1st Class, 115,362.83
Vigil Jr, Thomas – Police Officer 1st Class, $114,873.36
English, Michelle – Senior Police Officer 1st Class, $114,843.40
Martinez, Dominic- Police Sergeant $114,744.44
Avila, Michael APD-Police Senior Police Officer 1st Class, $114,608.23
Acosta, Arthur – Master Police Officer 1st Class, $114,301.75
Velarde, Mark – APD-Police Commander, $113,775.47
Hernandez Jr, Jimmy – Senior Police Officer 1st Class, $113,711.03
Duda, Christopher – Police Officer 1st Class $113,686.70
Nelson, Eric -Police Sergeant, $113,676.40
Swessel, Robert APD-Police Master Police Officer 1st Class, $113,631.63
Trebitowski, Justin, Police Sergeant, $113,498.98

POLICE OFFICERS PAID $109,315.89 TO $112,516.27

Chavez, Matthew Police Sergeant, $112,516.27
Griffin, David Senior Police Officer 1st Class, $112,184.05
Shook, Michael. Senior Police Officer 1st Class, $112,127.41
Lujan, Jude -Police Sergeant, $112,105.32
George, Christopher -Police Commander, $112,051.14
Lowe, Cori MPD-Police Lieutenant $112,042.96
Jojola, Eric, -Aviation, Senior Police Officer 1st Class $112,012.36
Curtis, Kyle -Police Sergeant, $111,713.00
Rogillio, Justin Senior Police Officer 1st Class, $ 111,459.55
Hernandez, Armando F. Senior Police Officer 1st Class, $111,333.69
Geno Virgil -Police Master Police Officer 1st Class, $110,790.71
Tafoya, Dennis -Police Sergeant $110,515.94
Westbrook, Jason, Police Sergeant, $110,467.02
Martinez, Christopher Police Officer 1st Class 110,462.11
Deyapp, Lena, Lieutenant $110,409.49
Franklin, Daniel Senior Police Officer 1st Class 110,353.90
Barraza,ReneP -Police Lieutenant $110,322.89
Lewandowski, Kamil – Senior Police Officer 1st Class, $109,704.42
Espinosa, Timothy, -Police Lieutenant $109,431.88
Sanchez Jr, Arturo – Commander $109,377.75
Burke, Joseph MPD-Police Commander $109,324.78
Middleton, Robert LPD-Police Commander $109,315.89

POLICE OFFICERS PAID $105,076.20 TO $108,946.45

Montano, JoshuaPD- Senior Police Officer 1st Class, $108,946.45
Rivera, Donovan JPD-Police Lieutenant, $108,887.81
Richards,Joshua , Police Sergeant $108,769.94
Champine,Daniel, Master Police Officer 1st Class $108,688.47
Hotle, Timothy Senior Police Officer 1st Class, $108,637.13
Saladin, David Police Lieutenant, $108,530.11
Henckel, Louis, Senior Police Officer 1st Class, $108,025.43
Sanders, Nicholas, -Police Lieutenant $107,908.60
Wallace,Sean, -Police Lieutenant $107,162.20
Griego, Jon JPD-Police Commander $107,107.76
Anderson, Hollie , Police Sergeant $107,028.92
Hernandez, Kevin, Police Officer 1st Class $106,998.58
Abernathy, Jeffery, Police Sergeant, $ 106,746.23
Willsey, Cody, Police Officer 1st Class $106,555.32
Barnard, Jeffery R.PD-Police Sergeant $106,080.11
Miller, Michael -Police Commander $106,066.92
Sanchez, Jose -Police Lieutenant $106,009.53
Burton Whitney N., PD- Senior Police Officer 1st Class, $105,751.51
Duran, Paul -Police Commander $105,715.70
Ortiz, JamesPD-Police Sergeant, $105,650.05
Pelot, Jerrod, Senior Police Officer 1st Class, $105,625.48
Landavazo, Mark -Police Sergeant, $105,556.20
Collins, James WPD-Police Commander, $105,551.20
Reeder, Matthew -Police Sergeant $105,384.17
Campbell, Michelle MPD-Police Commander, $105,076.20

POLICE OFFICERS PAID $101,633.11 TO $104,987.69

Luna, Michael APD- Master Police Officer 1st Class, $104,987.69
Brodbeck, Michael, – Police Sergeant $104,444.00
Simmons, Ferris APD- Police Lieutenant $104,370.87
Hunt, Justin, Police Sergeant, $104,240.59
Edmonson, Larry RPD-Police Master Police Officer 1st Class $103,980.08
Porlas, Dwight -Police Master Police Officer 1st Class $103,913.13
Candelaria, Deirdre -Police Master Police Officer 1st Class $103,714.21
Sather, Jonathan CPD-Police Lieutenant, $103,570.91
Cottrell, Zakary FPD-Police Lieutenant, $103,508.14
Juarez, Terra – Master Police Officer 1st Class, $103,502.51
Wild, Amanda -Police Sergeant $103,327.14
Olvera, Donovan, -Police Commander, $103,164.40
Groff, Matthew SPD- Senior Police Officer 1st Class, $103,119.45
Oates, Michael, Senior Police Officer 1st Class, $103,023.11
Brown, Eric- Police Sergeant $102,843.60
Babcock, Tod, Master Police Officer 1st Class $102,420.66
Jones, Michael, Senior Police Officer 1st Class $102,357.23
DeAguero, Daren JPD- Senior Police Officer 1st Class $102,060.09
Meyer, Jesse, Master Police Officer 1st Class $102,001.77
Roach, Gerald, Master Police Officer 1st Class, $101,968.25
Moreno, Alan Police Officer 1st Class, $101,633.11


APD police officers are also paid longevity bonus pay at the end of a year as follows:

For 5 years of experience: $100 are paid bi-weekly, or $2,600 yearly
For 6 years of experience: $125 are paid bi-weekly, or $3,250 yearly
For 7 to 9 years of experience: $225 are paid bi-weekly, or $5,800 yearly
For 10 to 12 years of experience: $300 are paid bi-weekly, or $7,800 yearly
For 13 to 15 years o experience: $350 are paid bi-weekly, or $9,100 yearly
For 16 to 17 years or more: $450 are paid bi-weekly, or $11,700 yearly
For 18 or more years of experience: $600 are paid bi-weekly, 15,600 yearly


During the Berry Administration last year in office, a total of 124 of the 250 top wage earners at city hall were employed by the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) and included patrol officers, sergeants, lieutenants, commanders and deputy chiefs, assistant chief and the chief with annual pay ranging from $95,000 a year up to $166,699 a year.

Under the Keller Administration first full calendar year in office, 140 of the 250 top city hall wage earners are employed by APD and include patrol officers first class, sergeants, lieutenants, commanders the deputy chiefs, and the chief with annual pay ranging from $101,000 a year up to $192,937 a year.

During the Berry Administration last year in office, 5 APD Patrol Officers First Class were listed in the top 250 city wage workers as being paid $146,971, $145,180, $140,243, $137,817 and $125,061 respectfully making them the 6th, the 7th, the 10th, the 12th and the 20th highest paid employees at city hall.

Under the Keller Administration first year in office, 5 APD Senior Patrol Officers First Class are listed in the top 250 city wage earners for 2018 as being paid $166,692, $163,223, $160,692, $152,876.94 and $151,313.71 making them the 3rd, 5th, 7th, 10th, and 11th highest paid employees at city hall.

APD Sergeants and Lieutenants are supervisors and managers are part of the police union bargaining unit and under the union contract are allowed to bill for overtime worked.

Under the union contract APD Patrol Offers First Class are paid a minimum of two hours in overtime pay at time and a half when they appear in court on their days off for arraignments or trials.

During the last 9 years, the Albuquerque Police Department has consistently gone over its overtime budget by millions.

In fiscal year 2016, APD was funded for $9 million for over time but APD but actually spent $13 million.

A city internal audit report released in March, 2017 revealed that the Albuquerque Police Department spent over $3.9 million over its $9 million “overtime” budget.


The Keller Administration intends to spend $88 million dollars over a 4 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 to reduce the city’s high crime rates.

APD is projecting that it will have 980 officers by the end of the fiscal year on June 30, 2019 summer by growing the ranks with both new cadets and lateral hires from other departments, including APD retirees.


Albuquerque City Councilors’ salary are determined by the Citizen’s Independent Salary Commission.

Eight Albuquerque City Councilors are paid $30,000 annually and the City Council President is paid $32,000 annually.

There are 3 City Council staff that are in the top 250 paid city hall employees:

Director of City Council Services Stephanie Yara, $124,118.61
KCL-Council Services Director Jon Zaman, $121,174.16
Council Services Council Policy Analyst/Lg&Land Christopher Melendrez $119,462.40


The number of six figure salaries or pay under Mayor Tim Keller has increased significantly during his first full calendar year in office.

There are significantly more “classified” positions that are being paid six figure salaries, especially within APD and requires you to assume they are doing a good, great or an exceptional job which is very problematic if and when it turns out that is not the case.

The six figure salaries being paid to sworn Patrol Officers 1st Class is directly attributed to “overtime” worked by those sworn police officers which is very problematic.

From a personnel management standpoint, when you have a select few that are taking home the lion’s share of overtime, it causes moral problems with the rest.

Consecutive shifts or excessive overtime for any police officer can lead to extreme fatigue, emotional burnout and reduce an officer’s alertness and response times and reflexes that can endanger lives and public safety.

Excessive overtime paid can be a red flag for abuse of the system, mismanagement of police resources or the lack of personnel.

APD has added approximately 100 police officers last year as a result of increases in pay and an aggressive recruitment program and bonus pay.

APD is projected to have upwards of 980 sworn police by July 1, 2019.

Last year, APD spent $11.5 million paying sworn police overtime.

The city budgeted $9 million in police overtime in the 2019 fiscal year, which ends in June 30, 2019.

Overtime used by APD should come down as more police officers are added to the ranks, but do not bet on it given the APD’s extensive history of spending more on overtime than they are given.

When APD exceeds its overtime budget, it is to the detriment of other city departments and other city employees in that the additional funding must be found somewhere else, either by taking it from other departments and programs, budget cuts or cost saving measurements.

For the first time in years, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) is placing a “cap” on how much overtime police officers can work in a week.–417kuSgf9m4k2rN6G_0

It’s about time and long overdue that APD places a cap on all police overtime and it should be made permanent.

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

All Police Officers 1st class, Sergeants and Lieutenants are “classified positions” and part of the police union, they cannot be terminated without cause and have appeal rights and remedies under the personnel rules and regulations and have protections under their collective bargaining agreement between police and the city.

Police Officers 1st class are not part of management and have every right to be represented by a union to negotiate wages and benefits.

APD Sergeants and APD Lieutenants need to be made “at will” and unclassified and removed from the union bargaining unit to reflect they are management and in order to get a real buy in to APD management’s goals, police reform and the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA).


The trend of having more classified employees earning such high pay does not bode well from an executive personnel management standpoint of not being able to remove personnel without cause nor make management and policy decisions that that may be strenuously resisted by classified upper management personnel who are more interested in being disruptive to getting anything done.

Placing a mandatory “cap” on overtime will be resisted.

Management must be able to make policy and personnel decisions and be able to immediately remove and even replace upper management employees who are not performing their jobs or who engage in unethical, questionable, disruptive and at times illegal conduct in violation of personnel rules and regulations.

For related blog articles see:

Highest Paid City Hall Employees Are Police; Cap On Police Overtime Pay Long Overdue

APD Deputy Chief Of Staff In Charge Of Media Relations Is “Political Damage Control” Position

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

Police Union At Odds With DOJ Reforms

House Bill 267: Data Sharing to Get a Handle On Crime

On Sunday, January 27th, 2019 the Albuquerque Journal published following “guest editorial” column authored by Democrat New Mexico House of Representative Daymon Ely of Corrales, Republican State Senator Sander Rue of Albuquerque and New Mexico Supreme Court Justice Edward L. Chavez.

The guest column deals with House Bill 267 dealing with the data sharing between law enforcement agencies.

Following is the guest column in full:

“In Albuquerque, the city and the county are making progress in improving public safety and preventing crime, but they cannot and should not have to do it alone. And because crime is not limited to Albuquerque, the state must do its part to help all of New Mexico reduce and control crime. Every New Mexican deserves to feel safe in their community, and emphasizing proactive solutions is critical to improving public safety.

The Legislature has already been working in a bipartisan manner to develop recommendations for broad and aggressive policies and procedures designed to improve our criminal justice system and promote public safety. In addition, last year the Legislature created a task force composed of stakeholders in the entire criminal justice system and charged it with the responsibility of

1) making recommendations designed to reduce crime, and

2) developing a plan to ensure taxpayer dollars are effectively and efficiently being spent in our criminal justice system. The task force recently filed its report with several recommendations. Here are a few key ones:

First, anyone who is arrested and required to be fingerprinted will be assigned a unique identifying number that must be used throughout the criminal justice system. This will ensure that the person is tracked throughout the system by law enforcement, jails, courts, prisons, probation and parole, etc. If the same person is arrested in the future, their identity will be easily verified even if they use a different name or are arrested for committing a crime elsewhere. In addition, all data about the person should be collected on the same “platform” so that the data can be shared system wide. For example, if a court schedules a hearing, under the unique identifier and shared platform everyone – the prosecutors, public defenders, courts, corrections, police officers, witnesses and victims – will know, automatically, when the hearing is scheduled to occur. If all participants know about hearings, they will show up, and there will be fewer delays due to failures to appear. Everyone will finally be on the same page.

Once data is collected and shared on a common platform, the data can be continually analyzed to evaluate whether our system is working as intended or needs improvements. Fortunately, we have access to experts in data analytics at New Mexico Tech in Socorro who analyze data for NATO, the Department of Defense and many other federal agencies and are eager to help develop the platform. Even better, the folks at Tech can train people around the state to analyze data efficiently and fairly.

Once data is analyzed, it can be used very effectively in addressing crime. We can identify the truly bad actors and keep our streets safe, while at the same time effectively utilizing resources to put non-violent offenders on the path to constructive rehabilitation. We can identify people in trouble and help them obtain effective treatment before they commit crimes. Courts can be better informed before making release or sentencing decisions. Law enforcement, courts, jails, prisons, probation and parole, etc., can ensure that their programs are following the best practices available to keep people from committing more crimes. We can also spot abuses in the system, such as racial and ethnic bias.

Of course, there is no substitute for rebuilding our mental health system and providing support for those already in prison. Focusing on behavioral health resources and substance abuse treatment is crucial for prevention efforts. As studies consistently show, locking everyone up and throwing away the key is not effective in reducing crime and has been a costly failure.

These solutions are not tied to any political party. Instead, they are solutions based on evidence and on the experience of other states that have successfully used data analytics in their approach to crime. These are but a few of the task force recommendations. To read all of the specific recommendations, go to The Legislature is committed to working with all local governments to turn the corner on our state’s crime problem.

Crime hinders our efforts to grow our communities, create jobs and engage in worthwhile economic development programs, and we need effective solutions to keep our communities safe. HB 267, which proposes the system outlined by the commission and provides resources for the needs of the criminal justice system, has been filed. Please follow its progress during this legislative session.”

You can read the guest editorial column at the below link:


The fact that a progressive Democrat State Representative, a conservative Republican State Senator and a Democrat New Mexico Supreme Court Justice would submit such a column is worth noting.

House Bill 267 merits full passage by the 2019 New Mexico Legislature.