Monahan’s Take On Last Few Hours Of 2019 NM Legislative Session; “Pass The Pot Bill Joint, Man!”

The 2019 New Mexico Legislature adjoins this Saturday, March 16, 2019 at 12:00 Noon, with adjournment referred or announced as “sine die”.

In his usual and incite-full manner, political blogger Joe Monahan on his blog “New Mexico Politics With Joe Monahan” published an article on the goings in the Legislature during the last few days of the session, with the link to his blog and his email address in the below POSTSCRIPT.

Below is Joe Monahan’s Wednesday, March 13, 2019 article followed by an excerpt from his Thursday, March 14, 2019 blog article on the the decriminalization of marijuana.

WEDNESDAY MARCH 13, 2019

ARTICLE TITLE: A Whole Lot Of Shakin’ Going On In Santa Fe: We Cover The Major Action, Plus: New And Incredible Oil Boom Numbers Rock The Roundhouse; Another Cornucopia Of Cash Coming Soon

It may not be earth shattering but the 2019 legislative session is shaping up as one of the most consequential in years. And, unlike the past eight legislative sessions under the previous Governor, these final days are busy–really busy. Let’s try to fit it all in, starting with our takeaways:

–The hefty hike in the public education budget is a done deal. The Senate Finance Committee has approved an increase of nearly $450 million million (16 percent). That puts the state on track to restore funding stripped away in the Great Recession and to begin satisfying a court order that found the state violating the Constitution when it comes to educating the many at risk students in the state. Supportive legislative Republicans and their leader Sen. Stuart Ingle get a special tip of the hat for realizing the necessity of this boost.

–The ETA is A-OK, according to the Legislature and Governor. It passed the House Tuesday and is on MLG’s desk for her signature. The Energy Transition Act establishes a goal of having the state’s energy sector going to 50 percent renewable by 2030 and 80% renewable by 2040. That’s big. The bill, however, also provides what critics call a ‘bail out” of PNM for the cost of closing down its coal-fired generating facilities. That’s also big and could lead to a court challenge.

–If the legislature passed only those two bills, they alone would make for a significant session, especially compared to the do-nothing gatherings of the recent past. But there’s much more.

–The state budget has yet to go to the Governor but it will soon and total about $7 billion. That’s a $700 million increase over last year. But hold on. There’s another cash cow that is flying under the radar.

—Bam! Senate Finance approved a capital outlay bill this week with one time money coming from the booming oil fields that will total nearly a billion dollars. Whew. It’s actually $933 million for the “pork” projects for individual legislators and the Governor, such as new buildings, parks and the like. If the Legislature can do a better job of rolling out all that dough, you are talking some serious economic stimulus.

As fiscal hawk and Senate Finance Chair John Arthur Smith grumbled this week:

Politicians who like spending money really enjoyed this session.

–It is really incredible to see these new numbers come rolling in from the Permian and to try to internalize what they could mean for this largely impoverished and under educated state. It’s just awesome:

(NM oil output) hit all-time record of nearly 246 million barrels in 2018, according to the latest statistics from the state Oil Conservation Division. That’s up 42 percent over 2017, when New Mexico produced nearly 173 million barrels, also a record high at that time.

If this keeps up we’re taking John Arthur to the gambling tables in Vegas for a weekend.

NO BUST IN SIGHT

We’ve blogged a number of times that the surprise for lawmakers could be how long this oil boom continues and keeps a flood of cash coming in for a long period–not the old boom-bust scenario. Chairman Smith seems to be catching on:

That preliminary forecast on surplus money for FY 2020, released late last year, may now be too low, said Sen. John Arthur Smith. . . “It appears we’ll generate more than what was forecast in December, even over $1.2 billion,” Smith said. “And for next year’s budget, we’ll likely see a steady revenue stream from oil and gas. I think production will hit 300 million barrels by the end of this year.”

Folks, it’s Ground Control to Major Tom time: All Fiscal Hawks please land immediately. You’ve been grounded for the foreseeable future.

But Dem State Senator John Sapien of Corrales is still flapping those wings:

We’re like a homeless person who wins the lottery. We’re going to spend it all, and in two to three years we’re going to be broke again.

What? Are homeless people winning lotteries in NM? Anyway. . .

John, they are not spending it all. The budget reserve for the coming budget year is an unprecedented 20 percent and then there’s that new rainy day fund (that we find excessive) that will see even more millions set aside. And then there’s the tax increase bill to provide a back-up revenue stream in the event of an oil crash. Not all of it will survive the final legislative hours but a conservative estimate is that well over $100 million in new annual tax revenue will go on the books. (Unfortunately, it appears the restoration of the progressive tax system may not stand up to conservative scrutiny). Still…

We don’t say it too often, but dammit, that is pretty good legislating. Now the job is to come up with a multi-year plan for the surpluses to come.

The Governor and the Legislature have been presented with one of the greatest opportunities in state history.

It’s time to stop fearing the future and embrace its possibilities.

SAY IT AGAIN

Ryan Flynn of the NM Oil and Gas Association has said it before and he says it again. Reacting to the historic oil gusher numbers of 2018, he declared:
This shows that even if prices remain relatively stable, the state can still expect $1 billion-plus surpluses to continue into the future.

Hey, fiscal hawks. That’s an oil and gas guy saying it, not Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Sure, make certain the spending train doesn’t go off the tracks, but at least grab a seat.

Here is more persuasive evidence for the Guv and legislators that time is running short and they need to intensively prepare and plan for this cornucopia to come:

Royal Dutch Shell is on the hunt for deals to bulk up its position in the Permian Basin, where it lags rivals Exxon Mobil and Chevron. “We are definitely actively looking at opportunities,” Wael Sawan, Shell’s deepwater boss, said. “If none ever come up then that’s a disappointing outcome.”

That’s not some small independent operator. These are the major multinational corporations of the world.

Like a broken record (remember those?) we’ll say it again:

This Governor and Legislature have been presented with one of the greatest opportunities in state history.

P.S. Please don’t blow it.

TOO GENEROUS?

About our Tuesday blog saying the the current five member Public Regulation Commission (PRC) has its act together compared to previous panels and that keeping the commissioners as elected officials–not appointed ones–makes sense, a Senior Alligator writes:

You’re being awfully generous with the PRC. Just because none of the Commissioners is currently under investigation or caught with their hands in the cookie jar doesn’t mean they are a model of accomplishment. What exactly Commissisoners Cynthia Hall and Valerie Espinoza have accomplished is unclear to me. Have they fixed the state’s broadband problems yet or held Century Link accountable for their lack of investment in rural areas? How about extending natural gas northward beyond Espanola or pushing electric providers on renewables? What about putting some needed pressure on insurance providers?

A new, appointed group of commissioners might just be ethical, qualified and effective. That’s a true formula for success and a rarity at the PRC as we know it.

Several other readers said while there may indeed be a new “progressive majority” on the commission it is “inconsistent,” with Dem Commissioners Hall and Espinoza often breaking in different directions.

LEGAL POT DIES

ICYMI–The legal pot movement has died suddenly but not unexpectedly in Santa Fe. With one sentence Senate Finance Chair Smith blew smoke in the eyes of the legalization supporters. He simply said:

It’s not a priority.

Everyone and their brother saw it coming, even after the pro-pot crowd was heartened by House passage of a bizarre bill that would have put the state in charge of selling the stuff.

What’s sad is the missed opportunity. In their zealotry to get legalization its backers ignored pleas to support a decriminalization bill. That bill would have prevented the jailing of mostly low income people for possession of small amounts of the weed–the very people the well-financed national marijuana lobby in Santa Fe says it wants to help. . . Maybe they can put up the bail money for those jailed in the next year?

There you have it, Gators. That’s a whole lot of action. Don’t worry. Being a political junkie is still legal in New Mexico. But be forewarned: it can be both a blessing and a curse.”

THURSDAY MARCH 14, 2019

” ARTICLE TITLE: Just Hours To Go: A Lobbyist’s Lament, One Pot Bill Still Lives, GOP Senator Seeks Cover On Minimum Wage And Can Norway Show NM Something?

Pity the Santa Fe lobbyists. In these final hours of Session ’19 when the action shifts out of the committees and onto the floors of the House and Senate they have to contend with some new restrictions on access that are prominently posted outside the respective chambers. One of the smooth talking, Gucci-wearing wall-leaners says he and his brethren don’t like what they see:

Joe, both the House and Senate have had these signs up for a couple of weeks whenever they are on the floor. Lobbyists are no longer allowed to catch legislators on the floor like we use to before they are gaveled to order. This is what made New Mexico special and our legislators accessible.

Well, it’s a tough sell. Feeling sorry for a lobbyist in Santa Fe is like feeling sympathy for the guy who just ran over your dog. But don’t take it personal, lobbying corp. You notice how Senators this week quietly killed that bill that would have prohibited you from buying them any food or drink during the legislative sessions? They still like you–a lot.

Just two full days to go in Session ’19 before Saturday’s noon adjournment. Here’s what’s catching our attention. . .

Legal pot is dead but decriminalizing the possession of a small amount of the weed (up to half an ounce) is still on the table. ABQ Dem Sen, Jerry Ortiz y Pino reports;

Senator Cervantes’ SB323 has passed the Senate and has only one House committee referral, to Judiciary, before it reaches the floor there and is sent to the Governor. It is an improvement over what we do now, but not as broad a reform as we need if we are to have any hope of actually controlling drug use. Criminalizing it clearly hasn’t worked, but decriminalizing it only does half the job: it leaves the illegal market controlled by gangs, cartels and dealers, unimpeded, free to squeeze millions in profit from New Mexicans.

House Judiciary has the bill on today’s calendar. The state reports that the bill would reduce the number of criminal cases in the courts. In 2018, there were 2,165 cases of people charged with possessing an ounce or less of marijuana. The Cervantes bill would make possession of up to half an ounce a petty misdemeanor punishable by a $50 fine. That would mean a lot of low income folks would avoid spending time in jail for smoking a joint.”

POSTSCRIPT

The link to Joe Monahan’s blog is http://joemonahansnewmexico.blogspot.com/ and his email address is jmonahan@ix.netcom.com

Pat Davis Not Worthy To Be Elected To City Council A Second Term; Congresswoman Debra Haaland Needs To Distance Herself from Davis.

Pat Davis does not deserve to be elected to a second term to the Albuquerque City Council.

Albuquerque City Councilor Pat Davis is a person who has proven himself unworthy to hold the office.

The conduct of Pat Davis in running for the United Sates Congress serves as a perfect example of his true nefarious character.

DAVIS 1st CONGRESSIONAL RACE

In 2017, less than two years after being elected to the Albuquerque City Council, Pat Davis declared himself a candidate for the Congressional seat that was eventually won by Congresswoman Debra Haaland.

Because the position was an open seat that was being vacated by now Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, there were 8 candidates running for congress in the Democratic primary.

One candidate was Former United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico Damon Martinez.

Martinez was appointed Unites States Attorney by Democrat President Barack Obama, confirmed by the United States Senate, and served under Democrat Attorney General Eric Holder.

Not surprising, Republican President Donald Trump terminated all Obama appointed United States Attorneys less than two years after assuming office, including Damon Martinez.

Election polls reflected that Damon Martinez was the original front runner in the congressional race but he came in second in the Democratic primary to former Democratic Party State Chair Debra Haaland after attacks on Damon Martinez calling into question his performance as United States Attorney.

CITY COUNCIL SANCTIONED CHARACTER ASSASSINATION

In August, 2017, Pat Davis, while running for congress, engaged in an unscrupulous move to attack Damon Martinez to discredit Martinez.

Davis used his position as a City Councilor to introduce a resolution to the Albuquerque City Council calling into question a criminal investigation known as the “Surge” conducted by the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives Bureau (ATF) along with the United States Attorney’s Office.

The “surge” was undertaken by the U.S. Attorney’s Office during Martinez’ watch as United State Attorney.

Pat Davis called for a Congressional hearing of the ATF investigation and it made a significant amount of news for Davis.

https://nmpoliticalreport.com/2017/08/27/abq-city-councilor-wants-congressional-investigation-into-atf-sting/

Pat Davis apparently used as his source of information for the resolution material contained in articles published in “New Mexico In Depth” that reported that 28 of the 104 people charged during the ATF investigation were African Americans.

Following is the link listing all of New Mexico In Depth series of reports on the SURGE sting operation:

http://nmindepth.com/series/stunginabq/

http://nmindepth.com/2018/10/25/about-the-2016-albuquerque-sting-operation/

The Pat Davis sponsored City Council Resolution specifically says that the ATF investigation:

“appears to have specifically targeted only minorities … .”

In other words, Davis used his official position to introduce a resolution for enactment by the city council to imply racism by indicating that Martinez targeted “only minorities”.

As a City Councilor Pat Davis found it very easy as a candidate for congress to get headlines by attempting to secure City Council sanctioned character assassination against an opponent who was considered by many Democrats as the most qualified of all the candidates.

ATF “SURGE” OPERATION

In 2016, during a four-month Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearm (ATF) investigation, Albuquerque was experiencing a very high rate of violent crime and narcotics trafficking.

In response to the violent crime in Albuquerque, ATF implemented what was dubbed the “Surge”.

You can read the New Mexico In Depth investigative reports on the Surge here:

http://nmindepth.com/2018/10/25/abq-mayors-hire-of-controversial-ex-prosecutor-riles-community/

http://nmindepth.com/2018/10/25/about-the-2016-albuquerque-sting-operation/

The Surge was an undercover operation in which ATF brought five convicted felons into the city and paid them to assist ATF in identifying potential criminals by acting as confidential informants (CIs).

The 2016 ATF SURGE operation occurred in the Southeast heights of Albuquerque in Pat Davis’ City Council District 6, and the arrests lead to allegations of racial profiling.

ATF selected the Surge locations based on consultations with local law enforcement, including the local United States Attorney’s Office, the Second Judicial District Attorney’s Office, local ATF and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents, the Albuquerque Police Department, and the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office.

The regions were chosen due to their high crime rates and their dense populations, with substantial levels of foot traffic that would enable the confidential informants to interact with potential targets without appearing suspicious.

A federal Court found that ATF was not aware of and did not consider the racial or ethnic demographics of the selected enforcement areas.

ETHNIC BREAKDOWN OF ARRESTS

A total of 103 people were arrested in the ATF sting operation, mostly very low level drug users as opposed to major drug dealers.

Sixty-four of the ATF surge defendants were Hispanic, twenty-eight defendants were African American, twelve were white.

Percentage wise, of the 103 arrested, 57.28% were Hispanic, 27.18% were African American, 14.56% were white, and less than 1% were Native American.

The dramatic contrast between the arrests made and the city’s ethnic breakdown led to the accusations of racial profiling.

According to the United States Census bureau, the ethnic breakdown of Albuquerque’s population is 46.7% Hispanic, 42% Anglo, 3% African American, and 4.6 Native American.

27.18% of the arrest made during the sting were African American, while African Americans comprise of only 3% of Albuquerque’s general population.

Twenty-seven of the Surge defendants included two white, sixteen Hispanic, and nine black, and all were solitary arrests.

Five defendants were arrested as conspirators, where one individual had been targeted by ATF but the targeted person had then involved others who were also arrested.

CITATION: UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff, v. YUSEF CASANOVA, Defendant No. CR 16-2917 JAP, Case 1:16-cr-02917-JAP Document 146 Filed 02/11/19 Pages 2, 3, 4 of 15

The U.S. Attorney’s Office charged 104 individuals for federal narcotics trafficking and firearms offenses.

According to news reports at the time, the investigation seized 127 firearms, 17 pounds of methamphetamine, 2.5 pounds of heroin, 14 ounces of crack cocaine, and a pound and a half of cocaine.

By law enforcement standards, the ATF operation was a success in getting dangerous illicit drugs and illegal firearms off the streets of Albuquerque.

A link to an Albuquerque Journal story is here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/825137/104-charged-in-federal-firearm-and-drug-crackdown-in-bernalillo-county.html

Four other individuals were charged by the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office for two murders.

Four of the 104 federally charged individuals filed court pleadings in their cases or civil actions alleging that the ATF discriminated against African-Americans when it conducted the “Surge” operation.

PAT DAVIS ENDORSEMENT OF DEBRA HAALAND

On May 29, 2018, Pat Davis dropped out of the Congressional race and endorsed now Congresswoman Debra Haaland.

In the press release issued by the Deb Haaland campaign on her campaign letter head, Pat Davis continued to allege that Martinez selectively targeted and prosecuted African Americans and Hispanics.

In withdrawing from the First Congressional District race and endorsing Debra Haaland for Congress in the Democratic primary, City Councilor Pat Davis took a nasty little shot at Damon Martinez by saying:

“Out-of-state SuperPACs have already spent a half-million dollars to attack and divide progressives and help a conservative Democrat like Damon Martinez win on Election Day. I respect Damon Martinez’s service, and I’ve known him for years — but his failure to listen to our residents and hold police accountable, and his selective targeting and prosecution of poor, addicted black and brown residents of my own city council district should give us all pause.”

No one should respect Pat Davis because he was a hypocrite calling Damon Martinez a “conservative Democrat” and accusing Martinez of dividing progressives.

During his entire tenure on the City Council, Davis has acted like a “conservative democrat” by supporting all things Republican and Republican projects such as voting for the $130 million ART Bus project down central.

Lest anyone forget, Pat Davis was the Executive Director of “Progress Now” since its inception before he decided to run for City Council and then Congress.

As Director of Progress Now, Pat Davis was known to support and promote the candidacies of progressive Democrats of his own choosing, at the expense of and to the detriment of other progressive Democrats and work against Democrats he did not feel were “progressive enough” in his eyes and by his standards.

Davis attempting to hold Damon Martinez exclusively accountable for selective targeting of “poor addicted black and brown residents” is disgraceful seeing as that it was the United States Attorney’s Office, the Second Judicial District Attorney’s Office, local ATF and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents, the Albuquerque Police Department, and the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office that were all involved in the surge operation.

Pat Davis accusation that Damon Martinez failed to hold police accountable is so very damn laughable when you compare Davis’ conduct on the City Council to that of Damon Martinez as United States Attorney.

It was United State Attorney Damon Martinez who played a critical role in the Department of Justice Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) mandating accountability and reforms within the Albuquerque Police Department after the Department of Justice (DOJ) found a “culture of aggression” and the excessive use of deadly force by APD.

During the last 9 years, including the 3 years Davis has been on the city council, Albuquerque has had 32 police officer involved shooting with $62 million paid out in police misconduct cases for civil rights violations, excessive use of force and deadly force.

Pat Davis 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 when the Federal Monitor presented his critical reports of APD to the City Council, Pat Davis was silent and declined to demand accountability and hold the APD command staff responsible for dragging their feet on the reforms.

Pat Davis failed to attend any of the federal court hearings on the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA).

What was very disappointing is that Congressional Candidate Debra Haaland even accepted the Pat Davis endorsement.

Haaland apparently does not realize that with her acceptance of the Davis endorsement she agreed by implication to the false accusations against Martinez contained in the news release on her campaign letter head.

Haaland was endorsed by Damon Martinez after he lost to her, but never once did she denounce as false the statements of Pat Davis of “selective targeting and prosecution of poor, addicted black and brown residents”.

FEDERAL COURTS RULINGS NO “SELECTIVE ENFORCEMENT” BY ATF

The accusations made by Pat Davis deserve a “deep dive” analysis of 3 Federal Court rulings that have proved the allegations made by Pat Davis against former United State Attorney Damon Martinez were false.

1. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF, V. CEDRIC LANEHAME, DEFENDANT, NO. CASE: 1:16 – CR O2930-JB, DOCUMENT 134, FILED 10/25/2017, 65 PAGES

In the case of Defendant Cedric Laneman, the Defendant alleged that ATF acted with discriminatory intent and caused a discriminatory effect against African-Americans when it conducted the four-month surge operation in southeast Albuquerque.

On October 25, 2017, in the first of four cases, and a mere 3 months after City Councilor Pat Davis introduced his city council resolution, Federal Judge James Browning specifically ruled that “Surge” Defendant Cedric Laneham failed to meet his burden of proof and failed:

“to establish sufficient [statistical and anecdotal] evidence that the ATF caused a discriminatory effect by treating similarly situated individuals differently than it treated African-Americans, or that the ATF agents or their confidential informants acted with discriminatory intent against African-Americans.”

Despite Judge Browning’s ruling, Pat Davis failed to do the right thing by apologizing to Martinez or to stop his attack on Martinez.

2. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF, VS LONNIE JACKSON, DEFENDANT NO. 16-CR-2362- WJ DIAMOND COLEMAN, DEFENDANT CASE 1:16-CR-02363-WJ DOCUMENT 134 FILED 12/17/18, 60 pages

In the case of the United States v. Lonnie Jackson and Diamond Coleman, two defendants who were arrested in the Suge operation, made a “selective enforcement” claim making an equal protection challenge.

The Defendants alleged that ATF enforcement officials selectively investigated or arrested them because of their race and mandated dismissal of the charges against them.

Defendants Jackson and Coleman are both African American.

Defendant Jackson was charged with distributing methamphetamine.

Defendant Coleman was charged with multiple counts of distributing methamphetamine, using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime, and being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.

It is well settling case law that a decision to prosecute or enforce the law that is “deliberately based upon an unjustifiable standard such as race, religion, or other arbitrary classification is a denial of equal protection.” (Citation: United States v. DeBerry, 430 F.3d 1294, 1299 (10th Cir. 2005) citing the 1962 United States Supreme Court case of Oyler v. Boles, 368 U.S. 448, 456 (1962).)

A selective enforcement defense requires that a defendant show a discriminatory intent by law enforcement and a discriminatory effect, in that similarly-situated individuals were not investigated or arrested based on race.

If successfully asserted and proven, it is a complete defense that undermines the constitutionality of a defendant’s prosecution to the extent that dismissal of the charges is mandated.

On December 17, 2018, Federal Judge Chip Johnson ruled that defendants Lonnie Jackson and Diamond Coleman:

“relied on three theories to show discriminatory intent, none of which were sufficient to show that ATF possessed a discriminatory purpose in investigating or arresting the Surge defendants.”

The Court found that the Government “complied to the fullest extent possible with the [court orders] … by producing all of the … reports it has in its possession for all of the Surge defendants, including for all of the queried individuals who were not charged but whose NCIC reports were printed. …”

In other words, the court ruled that the Surge defendants were not entitled to anything further from ATF to prove their case of racial profiling and select enforcement.

The court ruled that the defendants Lonnie Jackson and Diaman Coleman failed to prove they were discriminated against by ATF based on race and the charges were not dismissed.

3. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF, V. YUSEF CASANOVA, DEFENDANT NO. CR 16-2917 JAP, CASE 1:16-CR-02917-JAP DOCUMENT 146 FILED 02/11/19, 15 PAGES.

The Albuquerque Journal failed to report on the recent court ruling filed on February 11, 2019 in the CASNOVA case.

A fourth Surge case involved Defendant Yusef Casanova who was charged in a Federal Indictment with distribution of 5 grams or more of methamphetamine and being a convicted felon in possession of an unregistered firearm with a barrel length less than 16 inches or in layman’s terms a sawed off shotgun.

On February 11, 2019, in the case of Defendant Yusef Casanova, Federal Judge James Parker ruled against defendant Yusef Casanova stating that:

“The regions were chosen due to their high crime rates and their dense populations, with substantial levels of foot traffic that would enable the … [Confidential Informants] to interact with potential targets without appearing suspicious. ATF was not aware of and did not consider the racial or ethnic demographics of the selected enforcement areas. … “

The Federal Judge Parker went on to find:

“Defendant failed to present any demographic information specific to the parts of Albuquerque targeted during the Surge beyond the general testimony that these are neighborhoods with high percentages of minority residents. Defendant has not provided any information about the actual rate of occurrence of firearm or drug crimes across racial groups within the targeted areas. Nor is there any evidence that the broader numbers he relies on for comparison to the Surge accurately reflect the general rate of occurrence of firearm and drug crimes across the relevant racial groups within the neighborhoods at issue. Despite the statistical disparities, the percentages of each race arrested say nothing about similarly-situated individuals who could have been arrested but were not.”

“The United States presented credible testimony that ATF selected the target areas due to their high crime rates, and Defendant has not provided any evidence suggesting that the neighborhoods were chosen because of their minority populations, or that ATF was even aware of the demographics of the targeted areas when it made its choices.”

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

Shakespeare wrote that “Who steals my purse steals trash; … But he that [steals] from me my good name … makes me poor indeed.”

In other words, all we have in this life is our good name and reputation.

In the legal profession, an attorney’s livelihood is directly affected by their reputation.

Unfortunately for congressional candidate Damon Martinez, because of legal ethical constraints and strict Justice Department regulations, he was prohibited from discussing as a former United States Attorney any and all specifics regarding the ATF narcotics Surge operation because criminal prosecution cases were still pending, and Pat Davis no doubt knew it and took advantage of it as did other candidates.

Martinez was at a severe disadvantage in defending himself against Davis’s and other candidates’ false allegations against him.

What should give voters pause is that Pat Davis went out of his way and had no problems with using words and actions and elected position to essentially call someone a racist.

Damon Martinez has served his country well and honorably with distinction both as an officer in the armed service and as United States Attorney for New Mexico, he was born and raised in New Mexico and raised a family here and his family has deep roots in New Mexico.

The likes of Pat Davis could never match the character nor accomplishments of Damon Martinez yet the Democratic Party allowed Davis free reign.

Congresswoman Debra Haaland no doubt will be asked by Pat Davis to endorse his second election bid and for that matter lend her campaign assistance and perhaps even ask for financial support with PAC money.

The endorsement of Pat Davis by Congresswoman Debra Haaland is one endorsement she should decline without any hesitation otherwise she risks alienating many within the Democratic Party.

Congresswoman Debra Haaland should go further and recognize how reckless Pat Davis was with his accusations against Damon Martinez.

It is doubtful Haaland would ever take issue with Davis at all seeing as she has had more than enough opportunities to do so at campaign events that Damon Martinez attended to support her.

Pat Davis has proven that he is more than willing to misuse his powers as an elected official to make unfounded and false allegations, that he is more than willing to drag a person’s name through the mud regardless of the truth, and under the civil law it’s called libel and slander.

However, “public figures” and candidates for office such as Damon Martinez, and for that matter the likes of Pat Davis, have very little if no recourse in the courts because of First Amendment “free speech” rights, other than the court of public opinion, to hold someone responsible for false accusations amounting to libel and slander.

Pat Davis touts his former law enforcement credentials when it is convenient for him, but Davis clearly does not respect certain principles of ethics such as common decency, especially when campaigning for public office and making false accusations against an opponent.

Instead of using his position as the District 6 City Councilor to focus on dealing with the city’s crime epidemic, APD police reform under the Department of Justice consent decree, and economic developement, Pat Davis allowed the destruction of the character of Route 66 with his support of the disastrous ART bus project down Central.

During his very short tenure on the City Council, Pat Davis focused his efforts on personal political gain and unjustified attacks for the sake of promoting his own political career to advance to higher federal office.

Pat Davis is not the type of public servant we need on the Albuquerque City Council nor one that our community demands in the age of Donald Trump.

Simply put, the voters of City Council District 6 need to thank Pat Davis for his past service and find a replacement, otherwise we can expect more political posturing from Pat Davis as he seeks another higher office in the future.

For further political commentary and analysis on Pat Davis see:

No One Should Respect A Hypocrite Like Pat Davis

Pat Davis Can Run for Congress But Can’t Hide From His Record

“Can City And APS Win Tax Votes In November?” And More

Below is the guest column published on March 11, 2019 in the Albuquerque Journal editorial section, page A-11.

The guest column is followed by two separate links to articles written an published on this blog.

The first article entitled “127 Million City Bond Package Requiring Voter Approval May Be Competing With Yet Another APS Tax Levy For School Maintenance” and contains further analysis as well as a postscript listing all the City of Albuquerque’s capital projects being proposed in the $127 million dollar general obligation bond package that will be on the November ballot.

The second article entitled “Taxes Are The Tuition Paid For Public Education” contains and extensive analysis on the recent failure of the APS property tax vote and discussion on the State District Court ruling that the state of New Mexico is violating the constitutional rights of at-risk students by failing to provide them with a sufficient education.

Following is the March 11, 2019 guest editorial comment published by the Albuquerque Journal followed by 2 separate links:

“CAN ABQ, APS WIN TAX VOTES IN NOVEMBER?

BY PETE DINELLI / FORMER PROSECUTOR, ALBUQUERQUE CITY COUNCILOR AND CHIEF PUBLIC SAFETY OFFICER

Monday, March 11th, 2019 at 12:05am

Voters overwhelmingly rejected Albuquerque Public Schools’ two mill levy and one proposed bond questions that would have raised real property taxes by around 5 percent. Had all three initiatives passed, they would have generated $900 million for APS over six years to help implement the district’s capital improvement master plan. The first failed ballot initiative, for $190 million, was to repair and maintain 142 aging APS schools.

The biggest factors that contributed to the defeat of the three initiatives were the very real public perception that the elected APS board and the APS administration is wasting taxpayer money and resources on projects and facilities not helping students. Another perception is the APS administration is top-heavy with management paid enormous salaries and plagued with mismanagement resulting in extensive waste of resources.

APS is considering placing another tax levy on the November ballot strictly for maintenance and repairs to schools.

Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller took no position and did not support the three APS ballot measures. Candidate Keller had advocated for funding for APS after-school programs. Faced with a $40 million deficit, Keller broke his promise not to raise taxes without a public vote.

Mayor Keller has submitted the “2019 Decade Plan and General Obligation Bond Program” to the Albuquerque City Council, which lists over $800 million worth of taxpayer-funded bond projects for the next 10 years. All the funding is not voted upon at once, but in increments every two years. The City Council will place $127 million of the projects on the November ballot for final voter approval.

Over $53 million is being proposed to be put into community facilities that includes:

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

The City Council has power to totally reshape and change the Keller administration’s 10-year plan to conform to councilors’ own priorities for their individual districts. The Albuquerque City Council is expressing concern on how to spend the $127 million in bond monies and what should be submitted for a public vote for approval.

Seven of the nine councilors voted to fund the disastrous $130 million ART bus project with no public vote. In 2015, the same councilors approved $63 million over two years using revenue bonds to build pickleball courts, baseball fields and the ART bus project down Central, bypassing the voters.

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

It does not take a political rocket scientist to figure out that voters in November will in essence be asked to decide between building a homeless shelter, a community library, fund museum projects, make road repairs and clean up the Albuquerque Rail Yards versus providing funding to maintain and repair aging and deteriorating APS public schools.

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

Mayor Keller, the City Council, the APS School Board and APS administration need to confer with each other and come up with a winning game plan to ensure all measures are successful in November.”

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

Taxes Are The Tuition Paid For Public Education

2019 New Mexico Legislature “Up In Smoke” With 5 Days Left! “That’s Some Heavy S_ _ t, Man!”

To quote a slightly edited scene from the classic 1978 movie “Up In Smoke” starring comedians Cheech and Chong:

“BORDER GUARD: So, how long you’ve been in the New Mexico State Capital?

PEDRO: A week. I mean a day.

BORDER GUARD: Well, which is it? A week or a day?

Pedro: A weekday!”

NATIONAL TREND

Marijuana use is legal for medical purposes in 32 states including New Mexico.

https://www.vox.com/identities/2018/8/20/17938366/medical-marijuana-legalization-states-map

Nearly 25% of the United States population lives in a state or jurisdiction that permits the recreational use of marijuana.

The Ten states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana including recreational cannabis and they are:

Alaska
California
Colorado
Maine
Massachusetts
Michigan
Nevada
Oregon
Vermont
Washington
District of Colombia

https://disa.com/map-of-marijuana-legality-by-state

NM HOUSE EFFORTS FOR LEGALIZATION OF RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA ON TRACK FOR ENACTMENT BY SENATE

On March 7, 2019 the state House passed House Bill 356 (HB 356) with a two-vote majority of 36 to 34.

The New Mexico House of Representatives moved the state closer than ever toward legalizing recreational marijuana for adults.

HB 356 is legislation that was the result of bipartisan efforts and talks involving House Democrats and Senate Republicans.

HB 356 is the first recreational marijuana proposal ever passed by one of New Mexico’s legislative chambers.

Every Republican Representative in the House voted against HB 356 joining 10 Democrats in opposition to it.

All previous efforts of marijuana legalization have failed in the Senate because of skepticism from some moderate Democrats in the Senate.

However, three Republican Senators have been working with House Democrats on the legalization proposal, providing a narrow path to approval for a bipartisan bill through both the House and Senate.

The three Republican State Senators working on the bipartisan legislation for the legalization of recreational marijuana are State Senator Cliff Pirtle of Roswell, Senator Mark Moors of Albuquerque and Senator Craig Brandt of Rio Rancho.

HB 356 bill includes a variety of ideas originally contained in the Senate version.

HB 356 also includes provisions of state run and regulated stores.

https://www.kob.com/politics-news/recreational-marijuana-bill-advances-in-legislature-/5273956/?cat=500

The compromise bill requires people to keep receipts showing they purchased their marijuana legally, and they could carry only 1 ounce of cannabis and couldn’t grow it on their own.

The original house bill would allow people to grow cannabis on their own.

The HB 356 compromise bill does not allow residents to grow marijuana at home nor carry more than one ounce on them at a time.

The compromise bill also makes it clear that employers could still maintain drug-free workplace policies.

House Bill 356 is a broader marijuana legalization proposal and dedicates some of the tax revenue from cannabis sales to research into cannabis impairment, purchasing roadside testing equipment for law enforcement and to train police officers as drug recognition experts when drivers are stopped.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1289448/marijuana-compromise-emerges-in-capitol.html

The House compromise bill has now advanced through all the Senate committees it was assigned to for hearings.

The Senate Finance Committee advance HB 356 with the a “Do Pass” recommendation and it now goes before the full Senate for a vote and will only need a majority vote to pass.

The bill is set to hit the Senate floor sometime this week.

https://www.krqe.com/news/bill-legalizing-recreational-marijuana-to-hit-senate-floor/1839034177

https://www.kob.com/politics-news/recreational-marijuana-bill-advances-in-legislature-/5273956/?cat=500

NM SENATE EFFORTS FOR STATE RUN STORES

Senate Bill 577 is the New Mexico Senate’s version of legislation that would legalize the recreational use of marijuana an it includes state run stores.

All 3 Republican Senator sponsors Cliff Pirtle, Mark Moors and Craig Brandt argue that legalization is inevitable and that state-run stores would help limit exposure to children and allow New Mexico regulators to respond to problems.

State run stores appeal to many because it would give the state strong regulatory controls and make it easier to keep cannabis products away from children.

Under the Senate legislation, New Mexico itself would get into the cannabis business by operating a network of retail stores to sell marijuana to adults 21 and older.

A state “Cannabis Control Commission” would operate cannabis shops by summer 2020.

The marijuana would be sold on consignment, meaning the state would not own the cannabis.

It would be grown by private businesses under a complex regulatory system and sold only at state-run stores, with limited exceptions.

It would give the state tremendous control over where and how the products are sold and who can get their product to customers.

According to the Drug Policy Alliance, the system proposed in New Mexico for state run recreational cannabis stores would be the first of its kind for recreational marijuana in the United States.

According to Republican State Senator Cliff Pirtle state-run stores could be used to promote business development among local growers and manufacturers.

Senator Pirtle argues state run stores would ensure that cannabis shops aren’t clustered together in a “green mile” by saying:

“You have the ability to control product placement, to prevent the ‘green mile’ as it’s been termed, and it allows your smaller growers and manufacturers to get their product statewide without having to invest a lot in the infrastructure. … It’s really a great way for the smaller guys to get their product on the market.”

Supporters say driving under the influence of marijuana is already illegal and that the bill would set the state on a path to better understand and measure impaired driving.

SKEPTICISM EXPRESSED

During a March 9, 2019 hearing in the Senate Public Affairs Committee significant skepticism was expressed by people who testified.

Not at all surprising, the conservative Republican leaning Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce questioned whether it’s appropriate to create a new business sector that’s operated essentially within the government.

No doubt the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce wants to make sure there is no government involvement in any type of business that competes with or adds to overhead to the private sector with the chamber always resisting government regulation on any level, even if it is to protect public health, safety and welfare.

Medical marijuana producers also testified that they fear the more profit motivated recreational industry would damage the medical marijuana industry.

Allen Sanchez, the executive director of the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops also felt law makers need to slow down with enactment.

The Senate Public Affairs Committee voted on a 5-2 vote to send the legislation to the Senate Finance Committee for another hearing before it is sent to the full Senate for approval.

The Senate Finance Committee held a hearing and voted to recommend a “DO Pass.”

Democrats hold a 26-16 majority in the Senate, but enough Senate Democrats have opposed legalization of recreational marijuana in previous sessions blocking passage.

There is yet another Senate Bill sponsored by Democrat State Senator Joseph Cervantes, Las Cruces, that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana that has passed the Senate and is now under consideration in the House.

Any enacted marijuana legalization bill could also be vetoed by Democrat Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham.

Governor Lujan Grisham spokesman Nora Sackett had this to say about the legislation:

“The governor is encouraged by the possibility of bipartisan and bicameral legislation addressing recreational cannabis. … She has said all along she will sign a bill with the proper safeguards for public safety and workplace regulation, among other things. If the Legislature can check those boxes, bring it on.”

HOUSE BILL 356 IN A NUTSHELL

House Bill 356 can be summarized in a nutshell as follows:

A state commission would operate consignment stores that sell recreational cannabis

Local cities and counties could opt out

Adults 21 and older could possess up to 1 ounce

People could not grow their own recreational marijuana

Employers could still have drug-free workplaces

Consuming cannabis in public would be prohibited

Taxes on sales would amount to roughly 17% or more resulting in a significant revenue flow to the state

Some revenue would go to research into how to detect impairment

Child resistant-packaging would be mandated

On-site consumption would be permitted only in lounges by licensed cannabis producers.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1290141/nm-debates-launching-recreational-cannabis-biz.html

COLORADO IMPACT REPORT

New Mexico has one of the highest rates of DWI in the country and DWI accident related deaths and recreational use of marijuana could aggravate that problem.

Opponents of legalizing recreational use of marijuana raise legitimate questions about worsening New Mexico’s problem with impaired drivers, increase use by underage children and many others and increase in drug related crime.

However, after over 5 years, what has happened in Colorado since it legalized the recreational use of marijuana in 2013 appears to suggest such fears may be unfounded.

On October 26, 2018 the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice released a baseline report on the impacts of marijuana legalization over the previous 5 years.

The data provided for the first-time insight into how legalization has impacted several highly charged subjects, including usage among young people, crime, health and driving impairment.

On October 16, 2018 the Denver Post published an article summarizing the report as follows:

“Education

Colorado has not experienced an increase in marijuana use among young people, although it was the single most common reason for school expulsions in the 2016-17 school year, the first year it was broken out as its own category.

Marijuana also has not impacted graduation rates or dropout rates in Colorado.

Graduation rates have increased while dropout rates have decreased since 2012.

Driving

The number of drivers in fatal crashes who tested above the legal limit of THC, marijuana’s active ingredient, decreased to 35 in 2017, down from 52 in 2016.

The number of citations for marijuana-only impairment stayed steady between 2014 to 2017 at around 7 percent of all DUI arrests.

That’s roughly 350 citations out of nearly 5,000 DUI arrests each year, the report said.

Arrests

Total marijuana arrests dropped by half during a five-year period, decreasing to 6,153 in 2017 from 12,709 in 2012.

Marijuana possession arrests — the majority of all marijuana-related arrests — were cut by more than half during the same period, dropping to 5,154 from 11,361.

Crime

Pot grown illegally on public lands — an indicator for the size of the black market — also is on the rise with 80,926 plants seized in 2017, a 73 percent increase in five years.

Organized crime cases almost tripled in five years, increasing to 119 in 2017 from 31 in 2012.

Health

Rates of hospitalization with possible marijuana exposures increased steadily from 2000 through 2015.

The number of adults who use marijuana increased between 2014 and 2017, with men getting high more often than women and young adults ages 18 to 25 the most frequent users.”

https://www.denverpost.com/2018/10/26/colorado-marijuana-impact-report/

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

Opponents of legalizing recreational use of marijuana raise legitimate questions about worsening New Mexico’s problems with impaired drivers, crime, heath and the conflict with federal law.

New Mexico has one of the highest rates of DWI in the country.

DWI accident related deaths in New Mexico could increase with recreational use of marijuana and could aggravate the problem but it has not done so in Colorado for the past 5 years.

One legitimate concern is how to address impaired driving and how law enforcement can detect whether someone is driving under the influence marijuana.

With DWI, police can use a breath test at the scene and time of arrest, but there is no such device for marijuana and blood tests would likely have to be done.

There is no doubt that Republican support in the Senate is absolutely critical because previous attempts to legalize recreational marijuana have failed in the Senate where moderate Democrats have joined Republicans to kill the legislation.

The War on Drugs in this country has been going on now for almost 60 years, and it has been a miserable failure.

State Representative Antonio “Moe” Maestas, an Albuquerque Democrat and co-sponsor of the legislation was correct when he told his colleagues in the House:

“Prohibition does not work. … Let’s put the cartels out of business.”

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has said she is open to legalizing recreational marijuana, but only if there are safeguards to prevent use by children, protect the medical marijuana program, and address workplace intoxication and driving under the influence.

The compromise HB 356 appears to address all of the Governor’s concerns.

The biggest problem that would confront the state sponsored stores where recreational marijuana is sold is that the cultivation and sale marijuana is still illegal under the federal law.

Under federal law, marijuana is a “Class 1” narcotic and sale and distribution of it is still a felony.

So far, the United States Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) have not taken any action against any one of the 10 states that have legalized recreational use of marijuana

Notwithstanding, state sponsored stores may just well expose New Mexico to unnecessary federal criminal or civil action to stop and close down the stores, but the risk should be considered low given the Department of Justice reluctance to take on the 10 states that already have made the recreational use of marijuana legal.

It is more likely than not that over the next few years, congress will enacted legislation taking marijuana off the classification of being a scheduled 1 narcotic, legalize it and regulate and tax sales much like tobacco.

It is not at all out of the realm of possibility to suggest that one day we will find a New Mexico State run recreational pot store in Taos, New Mexico managed by former Republican/Independent Governor Gary Johnson selling “Governor’s Choice” or “New Mexico Gold” marijuana products.

There are only 5 days left in the 2019 New Mexico Legislature session, but 5 days can an eternity in politics and anything can still happen but the legislation now has a big chance of passing.

The compromise HB 356 that passed the Senate Finance Committee now goes before the full New Mexico Senate for a vote and will only need a majority vote to pass and with the Governor’s signature for it to become law.

To quote Cheech Maron in “Up In Smoke” if the recreational use of marijuana becomes law in New Mexico: “That’s Some Heavy Shit, Man”.

City Council Priorities Versus Mayor Priorities Are Clearly Different

On February 8, 2019, the Mayor Tim Keller Administration submitted to the Albuquerque City Council the “2019 Decade Plan and General Obligation Bond Program”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

A few of the largest Keller Administration projects in the latest bond proposal included:

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

https://www.abqjournal.com/1289355/mayor-city-council-have-different-capital-project-priorities.html

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

COUNCIL’S SUBSTITUTE VERSION

A substitute version of the Keller Administration November, 2019 bond package has now been introduced by the city council containing a number of major changes.

The City Council’s major changes include:

1. The Council slashes Keller’s request of $7 million for a permanent homeless shelter by $4 million and allots $3 million. Keller has said that the homeless shelter is one of the city’s most pressing needs and he is also seeking capital outlay funding from the New Mexico legislature.

2. Eliminating the $2.5 million for a new exit off I-25 to Balloon Fiesta Park. Mayor Keller considers this a major investment that will eliminate common traffic congestion during the balloon fiesta.

3. The council plan designates $7.8 million for a pair of storm drainage and pump station projects compared with Keller’s $2.8 million. According to City Council Isaac Benton, the increased funding for a new storm water detention pond and pump station at Marble and Arno is a longtime need that has taken a hit too many times in the past.

4. The council plan quadruples the line item for Albuquerque Fire Rescue vehicles to $4 million.

5. The council plan proposes $9 million for projects not on the mayor’s list including:

$1.7 million for a North Domingo Baca swimming pool
$1.5 million for a Westside Indoor Sports Complex
$1 million Cibola Loop library and
$1 million a West Central Visitor Center

https://www.abqjournal.com/1289355/mayor-city-council-have-different-capital-project-priorities.html

In responding to the City Council’s substitute measure, Mayor Keller had this to say:

“It’s a little unfortunate, but there’s plenty of time left on the clock [to negotiate a compromise].”

The ultimate decision as to what will be placed on the ballot rests with the City Council.

Hearing and meetings will be held by the Albuquerque Council’s “Committee of the Whole”, comprised of all 9 City Councilor’s, to negotiate a compromise between the council’s version and the Mayor’s version of the capital outlay program to be submitted to voters for approval.

The City Council has scheduled a final vote next month for the capital program.

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

It is truly amazing how Mayor Tim Keller expressed a degree of disappointment and surprise by how the City Council is not going along with him on how to spend the $127 million in bond monies and what should be submitted for a public vote for approval.

The disagreement is a clear reflection of the differences between what Mayor Keller thinks is a priority to the city and what the city council thinks is important to them and their council districts.

Keller thinks a homeless shelter, clean up of the rail yards and an off ramp for the balloon fiesta park is important while the city council thinks storm drainage, swimming pools and sports complexes are important for their districts.

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

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

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

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

You can read the full story here:

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

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

Having a central homeless shelter run by the city is long overdue and should be on the ballot for approval.

The number of homeless in Albuquerque continues to rise each year and at any given time the city has about 2,500 chronic homeless.

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

Keller’s administration has also sought state capital outlay funding for many of the same projects with Keller expressing hope that the Legislature and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham will see them as “statewide” priorities worthy of large allocations so there may not be a need to include them in the bond package, but do not hold your breath on that one.

Albuquerque notoriously comes out on the short end when it comes state capital outlay projects.

Democrat Mayor Keller does possess line-item veto power and the Democrat controlled Council needs 6 of 9 members to override any such veto.

However, the Democrat controlled city council easily overrode Democrat Mayor Tim Keller when in came to the “Top Golf” incentive funding.

Mayor Tim Keller is about to learn another lesson the hard way that no matter how much he he talks to the city council with a smile on his face and a grin in his voice and is friendly to councilors, the City Council controls the purse strings and the council usually gets what it wants.

APD Adding New Priority Call Categories And Cops Should Reduce Response Times

The Albuquerque Police Department (APD) has announced that the way it is dispatching police officers to 911 calls has now changed and has expanded priority the list to include a total of five categories.

https://www.krqe.com/news/politics-government/city-changes-the-way-officers-are-dispatched-to-calls/1829973373

According to a Channel 13 News Report, in 2018, Albuquerque Police Department (APD) police officers were dispatched to 476,726 calls for service.

However, the 2018-2019 City general fund performance measures contained in the 2018-2019 fund budget, reflects significantly more calls for service with the projected number of calls for service reported as 576,480, and the actual number being 580,238.

Call priorities are generally on a scale of 1 to 3 with 1 being the highest or most important type of call.

For decades APD has had a three priority 911 dispatch system defining the calls as follows:

A PRIORITY 1 call is a felony that is in progress or there is an immediate threat to life or property.

A PRIORITY 2 call is where there is no immediate threat to life of property. Misdemeanor crimes in progress are priority 2 calls.

A PRIORITY 3 call is any call in which a crime has already occurred with no suspects at or near the scene.

Routine events and calls where there is no threat to life or property are priority 3 calls.

http://isr.unm.edu/reports/2009/analyzing-calls-for-service-to-the-albuquerque-police-department..pdf

A major goal of the new system is to determine what calls do and do not require a police officer.

Under the new system, a Priority 1 call is “any immediate life-threatening situation with great possibility of death or life-threatening injury or any confrontation between people which could threaten the life or safety of any person where weapons are involved.”

A Priority 5 call is a where a crime has already occurred and there “is no suspect at or near the scene and no threat of personal injury, loss of life or property.”

In announcing the change in policy, APD Public Information Officer Gilbert Gallegos had this to say:

“What we want to do is get officers to the scene of a call as quickly as possible for the most urgent calls, and by that I mean calls where there is a life-threatening situation. … Basically we’re adapting to the situation where we’re trying to make the system much more efficient and much more effective “.

APD stresses every call is different and depending on the circumstances of that call the level of priority can always change.

The single most compelling reason for the change is that it is taking way too long to dispatch police officers after a call is received.

Police are being dispatched to calls where an officer is not always needed freeing up resources.

Under the new policy, police officers will only run code lights and sirens to life-threatening situations like a shooting, stabbing, armed robbery, or a crime where a weapon is involved.

Under the new system, the public will also be asked to go to the telephone reporting unit to make a report and APD will not dispatch officers unless it meets some other criteria elevating the call.

For the lower priority calls where an officer isn’t needed, callers have three ways to file a report: online, over the phone, or at any police substation.

APD stresses every call is different and depending on the circumstances of that call the level of priority can always change.

APD PERFORMANCE MEASURES REPORTED IN 2018-2019 GENERAL FUND BUDGET:

Whenever the volume of calls for surface is discussed, it must be viewed in the context to how those calls are broken down with respect to types of crime, arrests, number of police officers.

The City budget is a “performance based” budget where yearly, the various department’s must submit statistics reflecting job performance to justify the individual department budgets.

Following are the APD performance measures statistics reported in 2018-2019 approved general fund budget:

Number of calls for service 2018: projected 576,480, 2018 Actual 580,238

Average response time in minutes for Priority 1 calls: 2018 Fiscal Year Actual: 12:26 minutes. (NOTE: In 2009, average response times was 8:56 minutes and below the national average of 9:00)

Number of sworn officers approved for 2018: 1,040, mid-year 2018 actual: 867. (NOTE: APD is projected to have 950 sworn police by July 1, 2019).

Number of cadet graduates approved for 2018: 80, actual: 85.

Percentage of service call that resulted in “use of force”: 2018 Estimate 0.05, Actual: 0.08.

Number of felony arrests 2018 Fiscal Year: Estimated 9,200, Actual: 9,592.

Number of misdemeanor arrests 2018 Fiscal Year: Estimated:18,000, 2018, Actual 18,442.

Number of DWI arrests 2018 Fiscal Year: Estimated 1,500, Actual 2018 1,403.

Number of domestic violence arrests 2018 Fiscal Year: Estimated 2,300, 2018 actual 2,336.

Percentage Homicide clearance rate 2018 Fiscal Projected: 75%, Actual: 40%. (NOTE: this is a dramatic decline reflecting a serious backlog of unsolved cases)

Number of alcohol involved accident investigations 2018 Fiscal Year Estimate: 450, Actual 560.

SWAT Activation 2018 Fiscal Year Estimated: 38, 2018 Actual: 82.

Bomb Squad Activation 2018 Fiscal Year Estimated: 925, Actual 1,061.

K-9 Activations (Building and area searches) 2018 Fiscal Year Actual: 819, 2017 mid-year actual 461.

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

High response times by APD to Priority 1 calls for service are unacceptable and pose a clear threat to the city’s public safety.

Every year from January 8, 2010 to mid-2015, response times for Priority 1 calls for service to APD rose and was 2 minutes and 16 seconds slower in 2015 than in 2010.

https://www.abqjournal.com/608132/calling-911-expect-longer-wait-for-an-apd-officer.html

Midway through 2015, APD response time to “Priority 1” calls, which included shootings, robberies, finding dead bodies and car wrecks with injuries, was 11 minutes and 12 seconds.

In fiscal year 2016, APD actual response time to “Priority 1” calls was 11 minutes and 35 seconds.

In fiscal year 2017, APD actual response time to “Priority 1” calls was 12 minutes and 16 seconds.

The link to city hall budgets is:

https://www.cabq.gov/dfa/budget/annual-budget

There is no doubt rising response times over the years by APD was a side effect of the dwindling police force that went from 1,100 police officers in 2010 to 853 sworn police in 2017, the lowest number of sworn police officers since 2001.

Aggravating the increase in response time to 911 Priority 1 calls was the increase in the overall number of calls for service.

The dramatic increase in the city’s overall crime rates, violent crime rates and the city’s population also increased response times beyond the national average of 10 minutes.

The Keller administration is spending $88 million dollars, over a four-year period, with 32 million dollars of recurring expenditures to hire 350 officers and expand APD from 878 sworn police officers to 1,200 officers in order to return to community-based policing.

The Keller Admiration also negotiated with the police union significant APD pay raises and bonuses and an aggressive hiring and recruitment program offering incentives to join or return to APD.

City officials project that by the summer, APD will employ a total of 980 sworn police.

With the establishment of new categories priority call and the addition of more police the APDs response time should have a dramatic decline within 6 months to a year.

When it comes to violent crimes such as aggravated domestic violence cases, rapes, murders and armed robberies, seconds and minutes can make a difference between life and death of a person.

With more police officers and the change in Priority 1 categories, APD should be able to better dispatch and save resources and perhaps save a few lives in responding to Priority 1 Emergency calls.