ART Bus Project Again Destroys Summerfest

http://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/albuquerque-rapid-transit-art-summerfest-east-nob-hill/4521690/

This Channel 4 news story reports how the ART Bus project will destroy Summerfest the second year in a row yet the Berry Administration gives kudos to the construction crews saying the Summerfest event will be allowed to go on in only half of the area of Nob Hill.

Municipal Election day is a little over three (3) months away on October 3, 2017 when we will be electing a new Mayor and five (5) city councilors. Early voting is to start in mid-September. Voters need to remember all three (3) city councilors who are up for re-election and who carried Mayor Berry’s water on the ART Bus project namely Diane Gibson, Ken Sanchez, Don Harris. All three (3) need to be voted out of office and held accountable for the arrogance they have exhibited with the ART Bus project and the destruction of Route 66. Congressional candidate Pat Davis also supported ART to the determent of his own constituents in Nob Hill.

Political Rhetoric Versus Governing

Less than six months after being sworn in as Bernalillo County District Attorney, Raul Torres is blaming the New Mexico Supreme Court’s Case Management Order (CMO) for Albuquerque’s increasing crime rates, the higher percentage of cases going to trial and “gamesmanship” by defense attorneys.

(See June 20, 2017 Albuquerque Journal article, page A-1 “DA seeks changes to reduce dismissals; Speedy trial rules called too restrictive”)

(https://www.abqjournal.com/1020107/district-attorneys-report-calls-for-changes-to-court-rules.html?fb_action_ids=1584580458342966&fb_action_types=og.likes)

The Case Management Order (CMO) was issued by the New Mexico Supreme Court in February 2015 and sets deadlines for criminal prosecutions to ensure speedier trials for defendants and to deal with an overcrowded jail system.

The CMO was necessitated by the fact that so many defendants were awaiting arraignments or trials and being held in the Bernalillo County Detention Center, or jail, for months, and at times years, to the point that the jail was becoming severely overcrowded exceeding its capacity of approximately 2,200 inmates.

The Bernalillo County Detentions Center for decades has been the subject of a Federal class action law suit for jail overcrowding.

Torrez had his District Attorney Office issue a report that outlines the so-called problems he perceives since the issuance of the Case Management Order in February 2015.

The main points of the DA’s report are that defense attorneys are “gaming” the court mandated discovery deadlines under the CMO to get cases dismissed by demanding evidence they are entitled to under the law and the Rules of Criminal Procedure and asking for trials instead of entering into plea agreements.

Torrez wants to end the practice under the CMO of dismissing cases because of inmate transportation issues and giving judges far more discretion when deadlines to turn over discovery are not met by the prosecution.

Motions to dismiss a case can be filed by defendants when the DA’s office does not turn over discovery in a timely manner to the defense as required by the CMO.

Discovery in a criminal prosecution case can include and is not limited to police offense reports, photographs of crime scenes, witness statements, recorded statements, transcribed statements, lapel camera footage, computer aided dispatch reports, 911 call history, surveillance video, medical or doctor reports, scientific or forensic test reports, ballistic reports, listing of items tagged into evidence, just to mention a few discovery items.

What Torrez calls “gaming” by defense attorney’s is what is called the practice of law by defense attorneys doing their job and mandating the prosecution to do their job and meeting their burden of proof as mandated by our United State Constitution and the presumption of innocence.

By all accounts, the CMO is in fact working with jail overcrowding down, but obviously not to the liking of Torrez because his office must work harder whenever there is a jury trial.

No prosecutor worth their salt should ever be afraid to go trial and prosecute a case once and indictment is secured and should not expect to secure plea agreements without defense attorneys doing their jobs of representing their clients.

Jury trials and the presumption of innocence are critical components of our judicial system that should be respected by prosecutors like Torrez without any reservation.

“Coercive plea bargaining” should not be used to undermine the jury system process just for the sake of avoiding a jury trial.

Rather than blaming the courts and the CMO for his office’s shortcomings, Torrez should be demanding far more cooperation, evidence gathering and work from law enforcement, especially the Albuquerque Police Department.

All District Attorney offices in the State of New Mexico are responsible for bringing and prosecuting charges based on cases investigated and brought to them by law enforcement agencies with the cases screened by the District Attorneys.

When it comes to felonies, final law enforcement reports, called supplemental offense reports, are prepared that contain a narrative of the case, the investigation of the facts of the case, witness statements, an inventory of all the evidence gathered, forensic reports and anything related and needed for a prosecution, and it should all be turned over to the District Attorney.

When the Bernalillo County District Attorney brings charges either by criminal complaint or felony indictment by grand jury, there should be very little need for extensive follow up and gathering of evidence.

If the criminal investigation or the evidence gathering has not been completed by law enforcement, then law enforcement needs to complete their work and not leave the work to the District Attorney.

Once a case is charged, if law enforcement has done its job properly investigating a case, the District Attorney should not have any problem adhering to discovery demands and deadlines of the CMO.

This is not the first time Torrez has complained that his office does not have enough resources to do its job. (See February 11, 2017 Albuquerque Journal “BernCo DA says crime “out of control” in county, page A-2)

Torrez when he ran for District Attorney said our criminal justice in Albuquerque is in dire need of change and he was the guy to do it.

Political rhetoric is different than governing.

Torrez just like APD Chief Gordon Eden and Mayor Berry found it easy to blame his predecessor or the Judicial system and the impact of “catch and release” of repeat offenders on public safety. (See Albuquerque Journal, “Justice Derailed”, February 11, 2017, page A-1)

Why not, it’s easier to blame someone else, especially the court’s, than to just buckle down, do your job and find a solution to the problems even if you did not create them.

The overall budget for the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s office is $18,128,000 with personnel salaries & benefits compromising $16,809,000.

The Bernalillo County District Attorney’s budget dwarfs all other DA offices in the State, as it should, because it has the highest case loads.

The DA’s office employs 287 people which include 108 attorneys, 35 Prosecution Specialists, 15 Victim advocates, 15 investigators 114 Support Staff.

Actual felony grand jury indictments are down by 50% from 8 years ago, yet Torrez has said he needs more staff.

Why does blaming the Case Management Order (CMO) for all the dismissals and more trials sound so familiar?

It’s because that is exactly what Torrez’s predecessor did when the CMO was first implemented in 2015.

Torrez is quickly learning the significant difference between his political rhetoric of promising change and more prosecutions of repeat offenders and the realities of governing.

Torrez has also learned in less than six months how to lay the blame on others about our rising crime rate, including the courts, that has gotten so old with Mayor Berry and Chief Gordon Eden and now City Councilor Dan Lewis who is running for Mayor.

The difference is Berry and Eden will be gone in a few months and we now get to listen to Torrez for three and half more years blaming the courts for his office’s shortcomings.

Sooner or later, Torrez is going to learn that blaming others with front page stories and television reports are no substitute for making tough decisions to run an office and doing a good job, unless you are afraid and want to avoid being held responsible and are harboring higher political ambitions.

“Trash Talking” Public Safety

The Bernalillo County Commission has decline to authorize $50,000 to match the Albuquerque City’s Council’s allocation of $50,000 for a study to look at the feasibility of consolidating the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) with the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) and city and county fire departments.

(See Albuquerque Journal story, Metro & NM Section, page A-6, “City County police consolidation is off the table” and https://www.abqjournal.com/1019790/citycounty-police-consolidation-is-off-the-table.html )

The Bernalillo County Commission gave a resounding no to the idea of City-County law enforcement consolidation in large part to the settlement agreement between the Albuquerque Police Department and the United State Department of Justice (DOJ).

City Councilor Ken Sanchez, one of three city councilors pushing for the study, said he was disappointed the County Commission decided not to move forward with exploring consolidation because it would have outlined “possible” benefits, including significant savings for taxpayers.

WHAT LITTLE KEN SANCHEZ HAS LEARNED

It’s pathetic that after over twenty (20) years of being an Albuquerque City Councilor as well as a Bernalillo County Commissioner, Ken Sanchez shows little understanding of APD, the BCSO, the Albuquerque Fire Department and the Bernalillo County Fire Department.

What Ken Sanchez does not understand is you are dealing with two very distinctive law enforcement agencies and two distinct fire protection services that will need far more to consolidate than an agreement by the City Council and the Bernalillo County Commission.

The Bernalillo County Sherriff’s Department is a law enforcement agency that is created by the New Mexico constitution and headed by a publicly elected official, the Bernalillo County Sherriff.

The Bernalillo County Fire Department is managed by the County Manger and a Public Safety Director appointed by the New Mexico constitutionally created County Commission with the appointment of a Bernalillo County Fire Chief.

APD the Albuquerque Fire Department are city departments, created under the authority of a voter approved City Charter, not the New Mexico State Constitution, and are headed by an appointed Chief of Police and Fire Chief who serve at the pleasure of a civilian, the Mayor of Albuquerque.

At least Bernalillo County Sherriff Manny Gonzales showed a little common sense about law enforcement consolidation when he said “I think that just based on the state of the city’s law enforcement agency, it wouldn’t be the wisest thing at this point. … Maybe in the future when they get out from underneath the Department of Justice and their compliances.”

The Albuquerque City Council has no understanding of the meaning of a Federal Court Order.

The city has no business even talking about law enforcement consolidation until APD is out from under the Federal Court Order.

In 2015, after the Department of Justice did a yearlong investigation of APD and found a “culture of aggression”, APD is under a federal court order that mandates upwards of 300 reform measures that APD is still struggling to implement under a Federal Court appointed monitor.

The Bernalillo County Sheriff’s office is relatively scandal free and under no mandated reform measures.

The Albuquerque City Council plays a crucial oversight role of the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) including controlling its budget.

Ken Sanchez has done nothing when it comes to Albuquerque Police Department (APD) reforms and has never challenged the APD command staff in any meaningful way demanding compliance with the Department of Justice (DOJ) consent decree reforms.

Each time the Federal Monitor has presented his critical reports of APD to the City Council, Ken Sanchez has declined to demand accountability from the Mayor and hold the APD command staff responsible for dragging their feet on the reforms.

Ken Sanchez has failed to attend any number of the federal court hearings on the consent decree.

Ken Sanchez is part of what is wrong with City hall today.

TRASH TALKING APD BY WAYNE JOHNSON

Republican County Commissioner Wayne Johnson, who is now running for Albuquerque Mayor, expressed reservations about any merger by saying “[APD is] a very good department, but, on the other hand, they do have some problems that we don’t need to buy into at this point” saying the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office has an excellent reputation, and he wouldn’t want to see the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department tarnished.

Johnson went on to say “I in no way want anybody to think I’m trashing APD, because I’m not. … There are some very good men and women working there, but the undeniable fact is they have some issues that need to be resolved.”

There are some very good men and woman working at APD and some issues needing to be resolved?

Wayne Johnson plays voters for fools when he says he is not “trash talkin” APD.

Wayne Johnson has a very bad habit of ignoring the undeniable “problems” of APD while he wants to be the Mayor of Albuquerque.
.
At the first Mayor forum held this year in March, Johnson said that trying to run a law enforcement department with a 106-page consent decree, a court monitor and a federal judge watching makes it nearly impossible for the department to respond to public safety concerns.

Where there is no mistake is that the Department of Justice (DOJ) just a little over three (3) years ago found a pattern of excessive use of force and deadly force by the Albuquerque Police Department (APD).

The DOJ also found a “culture of aggression” within APD and a clear pattern of civil rights violations, especially when dealing with the mentally ill.

The DOJ consent decree mandates reforms, policy changes and training, especially crisis intervention, involving the mentally ill, that must be completed by APD.

During the last seven years, there have been 41 police officer involved shootings resulting in 38 deaths and over $61 million dollars paid in police misconduct cases for use of force and excessive force.

Just last year, two police officers were charged and tried with murder of homeless camper James Boyd, and although the officers were not convicted, the city settled the lawsuit for $5 million taxpayer dollars for police misconduct.

In early March, the City of Albuquerque agreed to pay $8.5 million to settle a lawsuit filed on behalf of 21-year-old Ashley Browder who was killed in a 2013 crash caused by off-duty Police Sgt. Adam Casaus.

Some of the issues APD needs to resolve are the 300 reforms APD must implement under the consent decree as well as hiring 150 police officers.

At the March forum Wayne Johnson said, “I think we all agree (that APD) is understaffed and under siege”.

One thing that Republican candidate for Mayor Wayne Johnson refuses to acknowledge is the truth that APD has been is poorly managed by Republican operative Chief Gordon Eden and Republican Mayor Richard Berry.

I do not think it’s trash talking to say that Wayne Johnson has no business running for Mayor of Albuquerque.

FEASIBILITY OF CONSOLIDATING CITY COUNTY PUBLIC SAFETY FUNCTIONS

City-County consolidation of governments is nothing new and consolidation studies “ad nausea” have been done in the past and have shown a major benefit to such consolidation.

Many years ago, a task force was also formed at considerable cost that studied and recommended consolidation of City-County Government.

When put to a vote, city voters favored consolidation while county voters rejected it by a large margin.

Consolidation of the law enforcement functions of the City and County is not a novel idea and was proposed by former Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White.

White’s proposal was nothing but one enormous power grab by White in that he wanted to take control of APD, take charge of APD and all of its staff and law enforcement resources.

Consolidation of the law enforcement functions of the City and County would require a public vote and would require passage separately by both City and County voters.

Another option that is far more feasible and realistic would be the creation of a City-County Public Safety Department by the New Mexico legislature, but it would probably be at the detriment of the City of Albuquerque and the benefit to Bernalillo County because of the sure lopsidedness of the agencies.

There is precedent for such action by the New Mexico legislature.

Approximately twenty-two (22) years ago, former powerhouse and south valley Democrat State Senator Manny Aragon sponsored and pushed through the New Mexico legislature state laws that created the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority (ABCWA).

The ABCWUA is governed by a Water Utility Board with City and County elected officials and an appointed manager.

The legislation gutted and seized all the City’s water utility assets and Bernalillo County got the better of the deal with extended services paid for by city resources.

The New Mexico legislature, either by enabling laws or by constitutional amendment could create a City-County Public Safety Department mandating the consolidation of APD with the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office and city and county fire departments.

APD COMMAND STAFF RESIST CIVILIAN POLICE OVERSIGHT

Chair Of Civilian Police Oversight Accuses APD Command Staff Of Thievery

The Albuquerque Free Press is reporting that Civilian Police Oversight Board (CPOB) Chair Joanne Fine is once again blasting the Albuquerque Police Department’s command staff for going on three years for refusing to accept civilian oversight and it is for good cause.

Fine asserts the current administration will ride out the next six months collecting paychecks and doing nothing to reform itself.

CPOB Chairperson Fine calls it thievery on the command staff’s part when she says:

“They are zero percent compliant with us. It’s apparent that between now and December, when a new mayor comes in [and, presumably there is a new police chief], they will do everything to put obstacles in our path to delay, deny and deceive,” Fine said. “They have six months to float and they know it. So we will pay them and they won’t do the work. I call that thievery.”

For the past 10 months, the CPOB has asked APD for information on officer-involved car crashes and APD has been stonewalling on giving the information.

In April alone there were 66 officer-involved crashes and that’s a lot of totaled cars and property damage not to mention the very tragic deaths.

The CPOB had asked the police department for a report on how other police departments are doing when it comes to such collisions and the report the CPOB got from APD was so weak that Fine described it as a “post-it note.”

Chief Gordon Eden and the APD Command Staff have an extensive history of resisting civilian oversight not only to the Civilian Police Oversight Board, but also resisting the Community Policing Council’s (CPCs) and the Federal Court Appointed Monitor.

To understand the seriousness of the problem, people need to understand what both the Civilian Police Oversight Board (CPOB) and the Community Policing Council’s (CPC’s) are, what they do and how they function.

CIVILIAN POLICE OVERSIGHT AGENCY (CPOA)

The Civilian Police Oversight Agency (CPOA) is a separate and independent agency of the City of Albuquerque from the Office of the Mayor and City Council.

The CPOA employs eight (8) full time employees with an annual budget of $860,000 a year.

The CPOA reports to the APD Citizens Police Oversight Board (CPOB), an appointed board which consists of private citizens who volunteer and who are appointed by the Mayor with approval of the City Council.

The CPOA receives and investigates complaints and compliments about the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) and its employees from community members.

The CPOA also reviews APD practices and policies to makes policy recommendations to the Chief of Police, the Mayor and City Council.

City Ordinance mandates that the CPOA function independently from the City Administration and City Council to carry out the Agency’s mission to be free of any perceived or actual bias.

The CPOA goals are to foster and perpetuate policing policies and practices that effectively maintain social order and which at the same time foster mutual trust and cooperation between police and community members.

The mission statement of the Civilian Police Oversight Agency (CPOA) is to provide a means for receiving complaints and compliments about Albuquerque Police Department (APD) sworn personnel.

Under the ordinance that created the CPOA, it must conduct prompt, impartial, and fair investigation of all complaints from the community against APD.

The CPOA also provides for community participation in setting and reviewing APD policies, practices, and procedures.

COMMUNITY POLICING COUNCILS (CPCs)

Community Policing Councils (CPC) are mandated by the Department of Justice Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA).

There are six (6) CPCs, one for each APD area command.

The CPCs consist of private citizens who are volunteers.

Before becoming members of a CPC, all volunteers must have and pass two (2) APD criminal background checks, do APD “ride alongs” and attend and graduate from the APD Citizens Police Academy, all of which take months to accomplish.

The function of the CPC is to meet monthly, interact with the APD area commanders and officers and to review APD policy and practices to make recommendations by enacting resolutions to be passed on to APD, the Chief and his staff.

The individual monthly meetings of CPCs are usually very well attended by citizens and the few I have attended have anywhere from 50 to upwards of 75 citizens in attendance.

APD COMMAND STAFF RESIST CIVILIAN POLICE OVERSIGHT

On June 12, 2017, I attended the Community Policing Council (CPC) Summit with all the council chairs.

The Federal Monitor, the US Attorney and the head of the CPOA also attended the meeting.

No one from the press attended the meeting.

Gus Pedrotty was the only candidate for Mayor that attended the meeting and no City Council candidates attended.

During the meeting, an extensive amount of the time was spent by the CPC chairs discussing the fact that they spend an inordinate amount of time giving input to APD and passing resolutions that are then totally ignored by Chief Eden and the APD command staff.

One committee chair wondered out loud if anyone read their reports or resolutions at all.

A point that needs to be remembered is that CPC’s are advisory and have no authority over APD, but citizens input is critical to implementation of the DOJ reforms so that APD and the City know the reforms are working.

Ed Harness the head of the City Police Oversight Agency (CPOA) gave a lengthy report giving specific cases on how Chief Eden refuses to respond to the agencies recommendations and ignores or refuses to implement disciplinary recommendations made by the CPOA.

Under the City’s Citizens Police Oversight Board (CPOB) ordinance, Chief Eden is required to explain in writing why he disagrees with discipline that has recommended for police officers.

Chief Gordon Eden has an extensive two (2) year history of ignoring both the CPOA and the CPCs.

In fifty-four (54) cases in which Eden has disagreed with the CPOA, he has offered no explanation as to why he has had any disagreement with the city agency.

On November 12, 2016, the Albuquerque Journal published an article reporting that city Community Policing Councils (CPCs) were frustrated with Chief Eden not attending their meetings after committing to do so with last minute excuses.

(See November 12, 2016 Albuquerque Journal article “Police reform groups say APD Chief not involved”)

The Police Oversight Board (CPOA) has repeatedly complained that Chief Eden ignored its findings and discipline recommendations, and the city attorney, instead of Chief Eden, was often the person who publicly explained the reform efforts.

APD Forward, an APD oversight group, also said Eden had not been present for many settlement-agreement meetings.

An APD statement issued to the press describes Eden as having a “very good sense, very good understanding and a hand in” the reforms.

The APD statement is true when viewed in the context that Eden and his command staff have never been committed to implementing the DOJ reforms, so why should they attend any meeting involving citizens police oversight?

Community groups are dismayed and frustrated over Eden’s failure to attend meetings, ignore findings and disciplinary recommendations, and failure to attend settlement hearings and they say Eden allows the City Attorney to explain APD’s reform efforts.

NO COMMITMENT TO DOJ REFORMS BY MAYOR NOR COMMAND STAFF

Proof that the Berry Administration, Chief Eden and his command staff are lying when they say they are committed to the DOJ mandated reforms is contained in the second, third, fourth and fifth progress reports submitted by Federal Monitor James Ginger to the Federal Court.

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

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

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

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

LIP SERVCE BY CITY COUNCIL TO DOJ REFORMS

During a city council briefing by Federal Monitor James Ginger on one of his reports, City Councilor Dan Lewis asked the Federal Monitor who is ultimately responsible for APD.

When the Monitor said the Albuquerque City Council was ultimately responsible for police oversight, the City Council Committee Lewis was chairing all had a good “uncomfortable” laugh.

Lewis rephrased his question apparently not liking the truth he got from Dr. Ginger and wanting Ginger to say the Mayor was ultimately responsible for APD.

On March 3, 2017, Albuquerque Free Press reported that City Councilors joined with Albuquerque’s civilian police oversight agencies charging that APD Police Chief Gordon Eden and APD were deliberately thwarting all attempts at civilian oversight and stalling on the DOJ reforms.

(See March 30, 2017 Albuquerque Free Press article “APD Still Stalling On Reform”)

The Albuquerque Free Press quoted City Councilor Isaac Benton saying “Their relationship sounds like he [Eden] is just stonewalling them. … The problem is the attitude of leadership at APD, and under this administration the attitude has not been helpful.”

Really Councilor Benton? Exactly how has your attitude and leadership been in reforming APD been helpful in any way?

The Albuquerque Free Press quoted Councilor Pat Davis saying “APD is playing cute with the process” and that the department “is not following the spirit” of the city’s oversight law or the reform process.

Really Councilor Davis? Who is being cute after you were told what was going on with APD before you even got elected and sworn in two years ago?

Councilor Ken Sanchez said he’s “concerned” about “why they [APD] are not responsive.”

Really Councilor Sanchez? Why are you so concerned now after seven years of APD spiraling out of control while you watched and did nothing?

Albuquerque City Councilor Dan Lewis, who is now running for mayor, and who prides himself saying he voted to bring in the Department of Justice to investigate APD, claims he will replace Eden.

Dan Lewis has never complained publicly about Eden’s job performance nor demanded Eden’s resignation.

CONCLUSION

For the last eight (8) years, the Mayor and the Albuquerque City Council have been an absolute failure in exercising their oversight authority over APD.

Chief Eden and the entire chain of command of APD need to be removed and replaced with a new generation of leadership committed to the reform process, the CPOA and CPCs before any real progress will be made with the DOJ agreed to and mandated reforms.

What is just important is that we need an entire new City Council and a Mayor that are as equally committed and determined to implement the DOJ mandated reforms and not just give it lip service.

December 1, 2017 when a new Mayor and new City Councilors are sworn cannot come soon enough and hopefully we will get a new Chief that is committed to civilian oversight of APD.

One View Of Albuquerque’s Future Generation

http://alibi.com/news/53602/Pedrottys-Bigger-Picture.html

It is not often that I do a double take when I see someone give a speech or read a profile of a candidate running for office.

I guess it’s the cynic in me that has developed after forty (40) years of practicing law mostly as a trial attorney, prosecutor and including being a Judge for seven (7) years.

I did a double take when I read the Weekly Alibi Profile of Gus Pedrotty and watched and listen to him at two Mayor forums, one at the National Hispanic Cultural Center and one sponsored by the Bernalillo County Democratic Party.

Having two sons, one age (30) who is a trial attorney, and one age (28) who is and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), I have found that my generation has a real bad habit of underestimating the talents, abilities and wisdom of millennials that Mr. Pedrotty represents, and we do so at our own peril and loss.

The best example of underestimating the wisdom of millennials is the response contained in the Weekly Alibi Mr. Pedrotty gave when he addressed mental health issues and mentally ill John Hyde who killed 5 people, including two veteran police officers, and the killing of mentally ill and homeless camper James Boyd.

Mr. Pedrotti, no matter what happens on October 2, 2017, is emerging as the biggest surprise and biggest winner of the election.

It is downright delightful to watch the emergence and development of a candidate who has a very fresh prospective of what we need to do to turn Albuquerque around that is not the product of political handlers, political consultants and who does not parrot slogans and talking points for applause.

FOLLOWING IS THE WEEKLY ALIBI PROFILE IN FULL:

“Fresh from his tenure as an undergraduate at the state’s flagship university, 23-year-old Burqueño Gus Pedrotty has taken it upon himself to run for mayor of this fair city.

With a small staff of volunteers, a winsome smile—and most importantly—a clear vision of where Albuquerque needs to go in order to make the most of its ever manifesting future, candidate Pedrotty gained the attention of press and public alike at the recent mayoral forum held at the National Hispanic Cultural Center back on May 23.

With a tendency to give sweeping yet spot-on answers to queries about how and when to fix what ails this city as well as a keen eye for the underlying cultural and psychological processes that can spell success or failure for this municipality, Pedrotty displays a sort of humble confidence and resolute spirit that is rare in politicians of any age.

Gus, as he likes to be known, stopped by Alibi Headquarters to discuss a bid for mayor that began as idealistic—and some would say unlikely—but has since been transformed into one of the more vital and remarkable candidacies that have passed through this high desert city in ages.

Here’s a condensed version of the conversation Weekly Alibi had with Mr. Pedrotty. Like the other mayoral candidate interviews this newspaper has offered its readers, the entire encounter can be seen [on the weekly Alibi web site].

Weekly Alibi: Who are you, and why do you think you should be the next mayor of the city of Albuquerque?

Gus Pedrotty: I just graduated from the University of New Mexico with degrees in chemistry and psychology. It’s an unlikely combination, but it highlighted wonderful intersections between ideas and departments; it allowed me to study music in a new way [by] looking at it through neural relations, music and the brain. This also allowed me to have interesting intersections with [issues related to] healthcare. So I started working with healthcare structures around the city … and that changed things for me. It made me realize that nothing is too big, that it was all malleable and that all we had to do was participate, engage and provide new ideas. It’s with this real experience, coming from just these [past few] years, knowing exactly what we have our hands on—and how to do it better—that makes me sure that I’m in the right place running for mayor. I’m excited to have the opportunity to take the office in October … the bottom line is better outcomes for our citizens, that everyone has equal opportunity access and fulfillment.

Weekly Alibi: One of the things you talked about in your introduction was healthcare. How important is healthcare for our citizens, with regards to public safety and for citizens who are marginalized?

Gus Pedrotty: To put it in simple terms, healthcare is everything. We tout our civilization as having a longer life expectancy; we have security in our bodies. But anyone watching this or reading this knows what a personal healthcare crisis does to your productivity, to your mental state, you know how crippling it can be … it’s hard to engage in our society if you’re unhealthy. Going back to the Hyde shootings, when Ray Schultz was chief of police, it clearly showed that we [city government] didn’t have the capacity to deal with mental health in the community, and it resulted in a [police] culture of violence that resulted in the Boyd shooting and all the ones in between, that brought the DOJ here. Of course healthcare is related to public safety. We’ve chosen to engage this as a problem we can fix. When it comes to public safety, we don’t give people resources to be better.

Weekly Alibi: As mayor, what sort of legislation would you bring to the City Council toward those ends?

Gus Pedrotty: One of the biggest ways we can start to encourage mental health outcomes and how they affect our city is to begin cooperating with programs that already exist, pairing Albuquerque Heading Home with the already existing healthcare structure. Homelessness is not just not having a home. It’s everything that comes with it. I’m interested in holistic and contextualized solutions.

Weekly Alibi: So the people need jobs too, a way to make their lives meaningful and productive?

Gus Pedrotty: As mayor, what would I do to encourage that? Well, we get the homeless in homes, then we [city government] pair with programs that work with their health issues, and we can do that with programs like Project Echo and their infrastructure.

Weekly Alibi: Besides better healthcare, what else will lead to an economic resurgance in Albuquerque?

Gus Pedrotty: It comes down to education. We actually have jobs we can’t fill. We need to provide site-specific education to people so we can fill those jobs. But education can be a huge privilege. We have to create a job market that provides productive infrastructure immediately. There are ways we can go about that. For able-bodied workers, there’s solar installation. By engaging in that, we will be bolstering an industry that already exists here. We can help [solar] companies succeed here by converting city structures to solar energy. We need to be business smart here. The technology isn’t a future technology anymore. It’s here. The future is now. If we want to succeed as a city, we need to embrace that fact.”

Berry Had Help Creating The APD Frankenstein From Nine Igors

Berry Owns APD “Frankenstein”

Mayor Berry has indeed created an APD “Frankenstein” Monster as described in the Albuquerque Free Press article by retired APD Sergeant Dan Klein.

The only thing that needs to be added is that Berry had Nine (9) Igors in the form of a feckless Albuquerque City Council to assist him during the last eight (8) years to create the monster.

As the article notes, Berry made three mistakes in 2010 he first year he was in office that started the Albuquerque in the downward spiral it has yet to recover from:

1. Berry unilaterally voided a legally signed contract with the police officers denying them 5% negotiated raises.
2. Berry got rid of retention bonuses for veteran police officers
3. Berry instituted a college requirement for new officers (but didn’t pay college wages).

These three mistakes clearly stand out as the most ruinous for police staffing.

There are other major mistakes that the Albuquerque City Council went along with and condoned.

A major mistake Berry made was the appointment of political Republican operative Darren White as Chief Public Safety Officer who implemented the three policies above as well as other policies that had a disastrous effect on moral and APD recruitment.

White wound up resigning under pressure after 16 months in office when he showed up to a traffic accident investigation involving his wife and was accused of interfering with the investigation.

The Albuquerque City Council plays a crucial oversight role of the Albuquerque Police Department including controlling APD’s entire budget.

When Mayor Berry was sworn into office on December 1, 2009 he appointed Darren White Chief Public Safety Officer and the Albuquerque City Council unanimously approved the appointment without any objection.

The same year the Berry Administration abolished the longevity program that kept experienced police officers from retiring and unilaterally decided not to pay a 5% negotiated pay raise, he also abolished the APD take home car policy for APD, eliminated sign on bonuses and mortgage down payments for new recruits.

All of Berry’s policy changes were implemented by Darren White with the City Council saying absolutely nothing at the time and not voicing any objections to the changes.

Moral within APD plummeted and the mass exodus of experienced police officers began when the longevity pay program was abolished.

On December 1, 2009 when Berry was sworn in, APD had 1,098 sworn police officers.

In eight (8) years, APD went from 1,100 sworn police to 844 all under the watchful eye of the Albuquerque City Council pretending they supported public safety.

From 2010 to 2014, the city council fully funded 1,100 positions despite the mass exodus of sworn police and the APD Police Academy’s failure to recruit and keep up with retirements.

Three years ago, the City Council voted to reduce funding from 1,100 sworn officers to 1,000 sworn officers because of the Berry Administration’s failure to recruit and keep up with retirements.

As of today APD employs 854 sworn officers with only 436 sworn police assigned to field services handling approximately 69,000 priority one calls a year.

In 2016, field service officers responded to 546,550 calls for service with a priority 1 response time of 11 minutes, 35 seconds which is approximately two minutes over the national standard.

In 2016, APD made 8,744 felony arrests, 19,857 misdemeanor arrests, 1,070 DWI arrests, and 2,462 domestic violence arrests.

Over the last eight (8) years, City Council has done little next to nothing about APD management, not even when the Department of Justice (DOJ) found a ”culture of aggression” that lead to a federal consent decree and mandated reforms.

The Albuquerque City Council has done nothing to challenge the APD command staff in any meaningful way demanding compliance with the Department of Justice (DOJ) consent decree reforms.

Each time the Federal Monitor has presented his critical reports of APD to the City Councilor, the City Council has essentially remained silent and declined to demand accountability in any meaningful way from the Mayor and hold the APD command staff responsible for dragging their feet on the reforms, let alone staffing levels.

Mayor Berry may have created the APD Frankenstein but he had a lot of help from all nine of the Igors on the Albuquerque City Counsel.