Civil Lawsuit On ART No Substitute For Criminal Investigation On Whole Project

On Tuesday, November 6, 2018, the Albuquerque Journal published an editorial that was an about face regarding its 3-year support of the Albuquerque Rapid Transit Project bus project.

Following is the Journal editorial entitled “Halloweens over, but ART woes still haunting ABQ”:

“BYD bills itself as the undisputed leader in American electric-battery buses, its Build Your Dreams moniker evoking images of sleek, futuristic vehicles transporting the masses in a safe and environmentally friendly manner.

That might play on the brochures, but on the ground in Albuquerque a more fitting name for the company might be Build Your Nightmares – buses it built for the Duke City experienced brake failures and doors opening during operation.

BYD is the Chinese manufacturer behind the Albuquerque Rapid Transit project’s ill-fated electric bus fleet. The buses are manufactured at the company’s California-based North America plant.

Former Mayor Richard Berry’s ART project was supposed to transform Central Avenue into a rapid transit corridor with a nine-mile stretch of bus-only lanes and median bus stations.

Instead, Mayor Tim Keller inherited a B-horror movie, with buses that appear to be unsafe “at any speed.”

“We are not going to let these buses on our streets until we are 100 percent sure they’re safe,” Keller said last week. “And what the tests found is that, today, several of them are not.” And he means for riders or drivers. According to city officials:

• There have been door malfunctions; bolts began to fall off doors, and rear doors have opened during bus operation without any action by the driver.

• There have been brake failures; specifically, ABQ Ride mechanics discovered last month the center and rear brakes had zero air pressure, yet the bus was able to move, something that should never happen. “It means that the center and rear axle brakes were not working – the buses were relying on their front brakes alone,” said Bernie Toon, the city’s transit director.

• And there have been air conditioning outages.

BYD disputes the buses are unsafe, saying they have been built to strict Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and passed FMVSS brake and all other testing required for revenue service.

Here’s betting that doesn’t include doors flying open at random and 60 feet of bus relying on one set of brakes.

This is the latest in a long string of we say/they say problems with the ART project in general and the buses in particular. The project is more than a year behind schedule and the city still doesn’t have all buses ordered, despite the fact they were to be delivered in 2017. Bus battery life has also been an issue.

Keller told reporters he’s running out of patience with BYD, and he’s not alone. The public is also fed up with this stalled project and BYD’s tired excuses. One drive down a completely configured Central Avenue – with motorists cruising in the “bus only” lanes – proves it.

It’s time for Keller and his administration to do a cost-benefit analysis and determine whether the city should sever ties with BYD, and what that alternative route would cost in time and money. Of course, such a move is a last resort – but we may be approaching that intersection.”

Below is the link to the Albuquerque Journal editorial:

https://www.abqjournal.com/1242312/halloweens-over-but-art-woes-still-haunting-abq.html

INSPECTOR GENERAL REPORT

One glaring omission from the Albuquerque Journal’s editorial was any mention of the City’s June 6, 2018 Inspector General (IG) Report on the ART Bus Project.

The entire Inspector General report can be read here:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1fA-D6dk6lp3DZgQzQCWVEVbziQ2vXov/view

According to the Inspector General report, former Chief Operations Officer Michael Riordan “was adamant about having a bus transported to the City before the end of the Mayor Berry administration.”

An Albuquerque transit employee told the Inspector General that “core processes on manufacturing buses was altered to ensure delivery of the first bus by the deadline.”

The IG report described two city employees interviewed who recounted a “tense” and “unusual” phone call between then-city Chief Operating Officer Michael Riordan and top executives from the manufacturer.

According to the IG’s report the first bus delivered in August 2017, was assembled by the manufacturer using a “frame intended for buses being built for [another city’s transit authority].”

Frames intended for the Albuquerque’s buses had not yet been shipped nor received by the manufacturer.

The Inspector General found that the bus manufacturer used “parts and pieces” intended for another city’s buses for the first ART bus delivered.

The city employee further reported that the first bus was moved to whatever assembly station was available to ensure it was assembled in time in order to get it shipped to Albuquerque before Mayor Berry left office.

The last 4 sentences of the 72-page Inspector General’s findings and report is worth quoting relating fraudulent activity:

“The inspection was proactive in nature and not due to any allegations that were made. While this inspection didn’t identify instances of fraud, it is important to note that it doesn’t mean fraud did not occur. The inspection did identify several problems that offer opportunities to improve and could be vulnerabilities for fraudulent behavior. City leaders should consider the problems identified and recommendations made to develop a more efficient and stronger procurement process that will help prevent and deter fraud, while also ensuring more quality and confidence in the products and services that the taxpayer funds. This is essential to protecting the public’s trust.”

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

It appears that the Albuquerque Journal Editors adopted more than a few thoughts and words from the November 2, 2018 blog article “Keller: New Art Buses Unsafe At Any Speed” especially when they said:

“[O]n the ground in Albuquerque a more fitting name for the company might be Build Your Nightmares. … Mayor Tim Keller inherited a B-horror movie, with buses that appear to be unsafe “at any speed.” … Keller told reporters he’s running out of patience with BYD. … It’s time for Keller and his administration to do a cost-benefit analysis and determine whether the city should sever ties with BYD”.

The November 2, 2018 blog article “Keller: New Art Buses Unsafe At Any Speed” contained the following COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS:

“[On November 1, 2018] Mayor Keller proclaimed “I am running out of patience.”

Mayor Keller, it’s about time you lost all patience and probably way too late not to be held 100% responsible for this boondoggle that has destroyed Route 66 and been a major drag on your first year in office.

Mayor Tim Keller I suspect feels that the ART bus manufacture Build Your Dreams (BYD) should change its name to “Build Your Nightmares.”

For almost a full year, Mayor Keller and the Keller Administration have been working on resolving major issues with bus performance.

Within 6 weeks after taking office, Keller proclaimed the project “as bit of lemon” but pushed forward to try and salvage the project anyway.

http://www.petedinelli.com/2018/01/10/this-project-is-a-bit-of-a-lemon/

Two months after taking office, Mayor Keller was urged by many within the community to scrap the project and find alternatives, but he refused saying it would be too costly.

http://www.petedinelli.com/2018/01/22/mayor-keller-should-scrap-art-bus-project-and-find-alternatives/

In June of this year, Mayor Keller said the buses were like kids in a divorce where parents are fighting for who gets custody.

If a “divorce” is what Keller really wanted, he should have hired a good lawyer, filed suit and seek damages for breach of contract for all the delays and breach of warranties relating to the buses.

http://www.petedinelli.com/2018/06/04/want-a-divorce-hire-a-lawyer/

One question Mayor Keller was asked during the status conference is if any attempt will be made to hold former Mayor Richard Berry accountable for the ART Bus Project given that he rushed to have buses delivered to dedicate the project before he left office, a question Keller declined to answer.

In June of this year, after the Inspector General Report on the ART Project was released, Mayor Keller was urged turn the ART Bus project over to the City Attorney, the New Mexico Attorney General and the District Attorney, to investigate for criminal activity but Mayor Keller declined to make the referral.

http://www.petedinelli.com/2018/06/11/give-art-work-to-city-attorney-nm-attorney-general-and-district-attorney/

What is genuinely pathetic is that the Albuquerque City Council went along with this boondoggle and refused to put it on the ballot for a vote.”

http://www.petedinelli.com/2018/11/02/keller-new-art-buses-unsafe-at-any-speed/

CONCLUSION

After more than 3 years, the Albuquerque Journal came around to what most taxpayers have thought from day one: $130 million in taxpayer money has been spent on a “boondoggle” for a bus line that has destroyed the character of Route 66.

The 22 buses ordered represent only $25 million of the $130 million project.

The city has yet to pay for any of the buses, even those that have been delivered.

A breach of contract action by the city against the bus manufacture to sever ties and return the buses will not approach the real financial losses involved with the project to the city, let alone bring back those businesses along central that had to close all because of the construction.

What many taxpayers feel is that crimes occurred with the ART Bus project, but we will never know because no law enforcement agency has investigated it.

When Tim Keller was New State Auditor before becoming Mayor, he was a champion for accountability to stop waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayer money.

As State Auditor, Keller seemed never be reluctant to turn cases over to prosecuting agencies which garnered him much publicity, so his reluctance now he is Mayor to turn the City Audit and the ART Bus project to prosecuting agencies is very puzzling.

No matter what Mayor Keller says or does now, no matter what eventually happens with the ART Bus Project, it is now Mayor Keller’s lemon to own and be held responsible and accountable for given his reluctance to scrap the project and helping save face for his predecessor.

Joe Monahan’s Blog Report On November 6, 2018 General Election Results

On November 7, 2018 Joe Monahan on his political blog “New Mexico Politics With Joe Monahan”, posted an excellent article summarizing the final outcome of the 2018 New Mexico midterms.

As usual, Mr. Monahan provides a number of revelations that only he is able to provide because of his news sources developed over 30 years in the business.

The link to the full blog is: http://joemonahansnewmexico.blogspot.com/

Following is Mr. Monahan’s November 7, 2018 blog article:

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

BernCo Tsunami Felt Statewide As Dems Sweep; Herrell Lone Bright Spot For R’s (Maybe!); Dem State House Pick Ups Could Reach 7; GOP Icons Fall; Anti-Trump Sentiment Sends Turnout Soaring; Possible MLG Staff Chief Floats; Udall Announces 2020 Re-elect; Ben Ray To Leadership?

A blue tsunami washed over Bernalillo County Tuesday night, flattening the Republican Party and making possible a Democratic sweep of every major statewide office. The damage was so thorough that it appeared Bernalillo County might have only one Republican state representative in Santa Fe at the next legislative session in January.

Swept away was Republican gubernatorial nominee Steve Pearce who lost BernCo 62 to 38 to Michelle Lujan Grisham and lost the state 57-43.

The two opponents of Senator Martin Heinrich never showed. He won a second term with 53 percent. Dem Deb Haaland managed 59 percent in a three way race to take the ABQ congressional seat.

All statewide results here: http://electionresults.sos.state.nm.us/default.aspx

BernCo results here: https://results.bernco.gov/

GOP state land commissioner candidate Pat Lyons was defeated by Dem Stephanie Garcia Richard 50 to 44 with 6 for a Libertarian candidate. She beat him in BernCo by over 35,000. It was the first ever defeat for Lyons, yet another sign of the Dem wave.

Republican foes of Attorney General Hector Balderas, State Auditor candidate Brian Colon and State Treasurer Tim Eichenberg were all overwhelmed as were the GOP opponents of four Democratic women seeking seats on the NM Court of Appeals. The ten member court will now have its most women members in history.

The only bright light for the GOP was an apparent close win–50-49 (as of 2 A.M. today) by southern GOP congressional candidate Yvette Herrell who closed out Democrat Xochitl Torres Small to emerge in a race that drew national interest and money.

Torres Small was not conceding as Herrell led by 2,000 votes because:

Dona Aña County had about 4,000 absentee ballots still to be counted. The absentee precinct board was to reconvene at 10 a.m. to continue the tabulation. In addition, there are another 4,000 votes that haven’t been added to the published results yet, for a total of 8,000 votes outstanding, officials said.

Looks like a wild finish. Just like the campaign. If Torres Small were to get 62.5 percent of this outstanding ballots she would take the lead in the race. The clerk’s office there has been plagued with scandal. Their decision to stop the count is going to raise suspicions among the R’s. Stay tuned.

AN EXISTENTIAL EVENT

The rout, which will see the Democrats gain as many as 7 seats in the state House, raised fundamental questions about the future of the NM GOP. Former ABQ GOP State Senator Diane Snyder, appearing on our KANW 89.1 FM election coverage, spoke for Republicans statewide as she declared;

We must simply find a way to figure out Bernalillo County.

The D landslide in BernCo was matched by ones in blue Santa and Taos counties. In Taos Lujan Grisham received a stunning 81 percent of the vote; in Santa Fe it was 79%.

It was this county troika that was deadly to the R’s and threatens to undermine them for years to come. The three counties are hardening into Democratic citadels akin to what we have seen in California and Oregon. And Dona Ana is not far behind.

Turnout soared, especially in BernCo where 57 percent of the registered voters came out–over 240,000. That is a shout away from what you get in presidential election years. The anti-Trump vote was galvanized, noted NM House Speaker Brian Egolf, as he surveyed the GOP carnage from his war room at the Hotel ABQ.

Several House seats appeared headed to recounts but the existential threat the R’s face in ABQ (and thus NM) was nowhere more evident than in the ABQ NE Heights seat of the late Republican Larry Larranaga. An 82 year old physician, Bill Pratt, was given little chance of winning but is now on his way to the Roundhouse, an affirmation that the blue creep in big BernCo is now overtaking territory once considered unassailable by Democratic assaults.

YOUNGBLOOD FALLS

ABQ GOP State Rep. Monica Youngblood thought she had a chance. She sent out a letter to her constituents apologizing for her aggravated DWI conviction. But the tsunami showed no mercy and she was drowned in a landslide by Dem foe Karen Bash, a 72 year old retired minister.

UNHEEDED CRIES

Cries for help were heard in other once conservative bastions but they went unheeded. Rep. James Dines fell along with longtime GOP icons Brad Winter and Jimmie Hall.

All were defeated by women who may now hold 31 of the 70 state House seats, a watershed moment in state politics. And the first Muslim ever elected to the state House engineer Abbas Akhil, who unexpectedly defeated Dines, will sit with them.

When all is said and done and in some cases recounted , the state House could go from a 38 to 32 majority to as much as 45 or 46. And it may not get better for a long, long time. The new Democratic Governor will be in her chair when legislative redistricting takes place in 2021.

Michael Lujan Grisham

The Governor-elect’s first order of business was to chastise her staff on statewide TV for not having her acceptance speech placed in the teleprompter. She yelled out for assistance but none was forthcoming so she told the crowd she would “speak from her heart.” She could have read from the telephone book and pleased the crowd, so delirious they were over her smashing victory.

She leaned on familiar themes–universal pre-K, renewable energy and teacher pay–to fill the time. The undelivered speech released to the media was actually quite similar to her ad libbed remarks. No news was made.

But the Alligators have news. They always do. So hold on.

LAWRENCE RAEL

A Senior Alligator reports to us the mystery over who will hold the powerful post of chief of staff to soon-to-be Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham may have an answer. That answer could be Lawrence Rael, a bureaucrat’s bureaucrat who has served as Chief Administrative Officer to several ABQ mayors and who is currently Chief Operating Officer for ABQ Mayor Mayor Tim Keller.

Rael is a native New Mexican who ran for the Dem Guv primary in 2014. The chief of staff position would put him directly in the orbit of the office that he has long thirsted for. He also has the administrative experience to run the day to day affairs of state government, a skill set not readily available on the Democratic bench.

Insiders say the transition of the new administration is still being fleshed out. The Governor-elect could begin by nominating cabinet appointees who could then lead the transition for their departments, but that’s just one scenario. A transition announcement is set for 2 p.m. today.

STEVE PEARCE

Pearce, 71, said in defeat that he is not ready for retirement. Well, he can always watch over his business interests, but as an elected official he is done. However, he will have a say on the future of the GOP because of Herrell’s election to the congressional sea.t Both are foes of the Gov. Martinez/Jay McCleskey wing of the party and will try to rebuild it in their image–not theirs.

For her part, Herrell, who is now the most prominent elected GOP official in the state had this to say:

It’s a good thing for the district that I like to talk. Because I am going to be talking about New Mexico shared values for the next two years.

“Shared values” seemed to be a call for unity by the pro-Trump Herrell. Will she moderate a tad in an attempt to lead the state GOP and in preparation for 2020? After all Xochitl appears ready to try again.

BEN RAY LUJAN

The Democrats reclaimed the US House Election Night and that means the star of NM Dem US Rep Ben Ray Lujan, chair of the Dem Congressional Campaign Committee, is shining brightly. Is a House leadership position in his future? Could be. Sources on the Hill say that the job of Assistant Democratic Leader could be vacated by Rep. Jim Clyburn paving the way for Nancy Pelosi to name Lujan to the job. Pelosi appears poised to retake the Speaker’s gavel.

SENATOR TOM UDALL

Udall stamped out the “not running” in 2020 rumors once and for all in an interview with me on KANW. He referenced our Monday blog in which we quoted insiders who said he was ready to run after months of rumors that he would not. Udall, 70, said those insiders have it right. He is off and running. The Dems lost power in the US Senate last night, but NM turned even deeper blue, making another Udall run an easier task. Truly a mixed night for him.

Reporting from Albuquerque, I’m Joe Monahan”

http://joemonahansnewmexico.blogspot.com/

POSTSCRIPT

I once again bow to Joe and say “I am not worthy, I am not worthy” when it comes to reporting on New Mexico politics in his world of “La Politica”.

Joe Monahan publishes reports on his blog 4 days a week, Monday through Thursday.

The link to New Mexico Politics with Joe Monahan is:

http://joemonahansnewmexico.blogspot.com/

You can also email Joe Monahan directly at his email address:

jmonahan@ix.netcom.com

“Above The Fold” Versus “Below The Fold”

The terms “above the fold” and “below the fold” is a reference to the middle of a newspaper page where the paper is “folded” for sale.

On Sunday, November 4, 2018 the Albuquerque Journal published a “guest editorial” submitted by Mayor Tim Keller on page A-17 and “below the fold.”

https://www.abqjournal.com/1241663/the-tide-is-turning-against-crime-in-albuquerque.html

Given the serious content of the letter, it merits publishing on this political blog for further commentary and anlysis:

TITLE: The Tide Is Turning Against Crime In Albuquerque
By Tim Keller / Mayor of Albuquerque
Sunday, November 4th, 2018

“When I ran for mayor of Albuquerque, I knew crime was the biggest challenge facing our city. Nearly a decade of rising crime took a toll and left many feeling unsafe and resigned, like we had lost our city.

On Day One, we took a stand and said this is unacceptable. My administration’s top priority is tackling crime from all sides. While we have a long road ahead, I am grateful to report that we are beginning to see signs of progress.

First, we got our own house in order. We brought on leaders with the experience and integrity to change the culture at the Albuquerque Police Department. Our new Chief of Police Michael Geier and team are committed to a block-by-block approach to constitutional community policing.

With the right leadership in place, APD began strategically tackling crime, empowering its officers to get back to the heart of policing: proactive enforcement like traffic stops and auto theft stings that lead to catching perpetrators of more violent crimes. Officers are connecting with communities on foot, on bicycle and through re-opened substations. We worked with businesses and neighborhoods to create the first permanent Downtown Public Safety District.

Under our administration, we’re committed to keeping the public informed, so we began releasing quarterly crime statistics. Though crime is still unacceptably high, for the first time in years trends are heading in the right direction compared to this time last year:

• Auto theft down 28 percent
• Auto burglary down 35 percent
• Commercial burglary down 18 percent
• Residential burglary down 14 percent
• Robbery down 39 percent

Some violent crimes have gone down but rates are still too high. For example, homicides are down 6 percent from last year, but last year was a record high. Also, our city experiences too many violent crimes tied to firearms, including a 14 percent rise in non-fatal shootings. In response, we doubled the number of homicide detectives and took advantage of gun ballistics tracking. Our police department is committed to taking allegations of sexual assault seriously and clearing the backlog of untested rape kits.

Addressing the underlying causes of crime, including addiction, behavioral health and a lack of opportunity is key for the long term. We have a comprehensive plan to address homelessness that includes maximizing investments in treatment, housing and mental health. We’re keeping kids out of trouble with expanded youth programs, and making parks and playgrounds safer through our SHARP program which properly disposes of used needles discarded in public places. Albuquerque Fire Rescue is stepping up with innovative public health initiatives and proactive prevention efforts.

I personally promised we would own police reform, and we are making significant progress. The latest monitoring report acknowledges the breadth of changes and commitment to finishing the job of meeting DOJ requirements. Our strategies must also reflect the needs and concerns of women, people of color and the LGBTQ+ community, and we continue to improve our police policies to reflect these perspectives.

All of these steps are bringing quality officers to APD. We have 29 additional officers who came from other departments, with two lateral classes in the pipeline and 34 cadets on track to graduate in December. Reaching our goal of adding 400 officers over the next four years will take all-hands-on-deck recruitment, and finally help is on the way.

The tide is starting to turn, but there is a long journey ahead. To get there it’s going to take all of us working together as One Albuquerque. We need your help and have hundreds of ways you can work to help the city we love. Let’s finish the job together.”

“Get involved at https://www.cabq.gov/mayor/community-engagement.”

ALBUQUERQUE’S HIGH HOMICIDE RATE

Mayor Keller down played Albuquerque’s homicide rate in his letter when he said “homicides are down 6 percent from last year, but last year was a record high” and he went on to disclose APD has doubled the number of homicide detectives in response.

On the very day after Mayor Keller’s opinion column was published, the front page of the Albuquerque Journal reported that APD had the sixth officer-involved shooting this year and it was the fourth fatal officer-involved shooting.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1241839/apd-investigating-officer-involved-shooting.html

There were 6 more murders in the first quarter of 2018 compared with 2017 which was a 50% increase.

Homicides have now dropped the first half of 2018 by 18% compared to last year.

A detailed breakdown of Albuquerque’s crime rates for the years 2017 and 2018 can be viewed here:

http://www.petedinelli.com/2018/10/10/violent-state-violent-city/

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

To political observers, the placement of an article involving an elected official “above the fold” versus “below the fold”, either on the front page or in a section of the paper is an indication of a newspaper’s desire to call more attention to the conduct of the elected official.

Above the fold articles involving elected officials get more attention and read more than below the fold articles.

Three cases in point: former Mayor Richard Berry, Bernalillo County District Attorney Raul Torrez and Mayor Tim Keller.

Mayor Keller’s guest column was published with a 6 inch by 4-inch full color photo of the APD’s Horse Patrol Unit above and overshadowing his guest opinion column.

The placement of the photo resulted in the Mayor Keller’s column being published “below the fold”.

On the same page, above Keller’s letter, the Albuquerque Journal ran a guest editorial comment on “gardening” from George Ball, the past president of The American Horticultural Society in Washington, D.C., giving it a full “above the fold” banner headline that read “Red States and Blue States Are Both Green Inside.”

The last two sentences of Mr. Balls’ column read:

“The Republican is a brightly-colored, green-bean, elbows on the table, fence-building, vine-loving, sweet-hankering gardener, while the more passionate, basil-snipping Democrat picks and chooses from a wider range of cultivars of spicy and savory flavors, European imports, and pastel flowers that prefer afternoon shade cast by mature trees.”

“Let’s rejoice that there are 50 states where we make up a mosaic of myriad gardeners and gardens – daring and edgy blue or tried and true, traditional red. In the end, we are all still deep in the green.”

You can read the full guest column regarding the “fence building” Republican gardener versus the “European imports” Democrat gardener with the hope you can read it without laughing:

https://www.abqjournal.com/1241661/red-states-and-blue-states-are-both-green-inside.html

During the last two years while he has been in office, Democrat District Attorney Raul Torrez has ingratiated himself with the Albuquerque Journal.

Torrez has graced the front pages of the Albuquerque Journal repeatedly, especially when he sharply criticized District Judges for being soft on crime and releasing accused defendants instead of holding them in jail until trial.

Torrez went so far last year to accusing the judges as the main reason for Albuquerque increase in crime.

Criticizing judges has become a standard practice for the Albuquerque Journal on its editorial page and no doubt they see District Attorney Raul Torrez as an “up and comer” in politics, even if he is a Democrat.

When District Attorney Raul Torrez made a presentation before the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce on October 7, 2018, Torrez took all credit for the reduction in crime rates for the first time in eight years.

Torrez said the reduction in crime rates was a result of him focusing prosecutions on defendants with long criminal histories and implementing specific programs in his office.

The Albuquerque Journal gave Torrez above the fold coverage and included a nice color photo of Torrez in front of the State emblem.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1234903/da-details-albuquerque-recent-drop-in-crime.html

Torrez made no mention and gave absolutely no credit to the Albuquerque Police Department, the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department nor the New Mexico State Police for the reduction in crime and failed to mention it was these departments that made the arrests and put the cases together so his office could prosecute.

For the full 8 years Republican Mayor Berry was in office, the Journal did whatever it could to promote Berry and his policies, including the disastrous ART Bus project and giving steady front page coverage to Berry all the way up to the day he departed city hall.

On November 29, 2017, the very day before Berry left office, the Albuquerque Journal published a front page above the fold story with a full color photo of Berry entitled “It’s never a me thing” and an accompanying article boldly proclaiming “A hallmark of fiscal responsibility” with Berry saying the city was living within its means.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1099723/its-never-a-me-thing.html

After the Journal proclaimed the Berry Administration “a hallmark of fiscal responsibility”, Keller found himself within one month of Berry leaving office dealing with a $40 million dollar city deficit that was resolved by the Albuquerque City Council with a gross receipts tax increase.

No doubt had former Mayor Richard Berry or District Raul Torrez submitted such an opinion piece as Mayor Keller did, it would have been published on the front page of the Albuquerque Journal with their picture or at least published it on the editorial page with a bold banner headline “HE DONE GOOD AGAIN AND DON’T YOU FORGET IT!”

The Albuquerque Journal has a strict policy that it enforces that it will not publish any individual’s guest column unless it is not more than 650 words.

Once a person’s column is published, that person must wait a full 90 days before the paper will consider publishing another column on a different topic and even then there is no guarantee it will be published, with the intent of the policy to prevent any one person from dominating the editorial page with comments.

Mayor Keller now has to wait 90 days before he can submit another column to be considered for publication

During that 90-day waiting period, Mayor Keller may want to consider stop swimming against the tide of the Albuquerque Journal’s “sea of black ink” and stop submitting guest columns that they will in all likely publish “below the fold”.

For a related blog article see:

http://www.petedinelli.com/2018/03/15/boxing-match-between-mayor-keller-and-albuquerque-journal/

Kudos To Mayor Keller and APD Chief Geier; APD Goes From “Subverting” DOJ Reforms To “Exceptional Progress”; Police Union Impedes Reforms

On Friday, November 2, 2018 Federal Court Appointed Monitor Dr. James Ginger filed his 8th report on the Albuquerque Police Department’s (APD) compliance levels with mandatory requirements of the Court-Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA).

You can read the entire 239-page monitor’s report here:

https://www.justice.gov/usao-nm/page/file/1107721/download

Federal monitor James Ginger gave the 11-month-old Keller administration and APD positive high marks in his report on the department’s compliance with U.S. Department of Justice mandated reforms.

The 8th report from the monitor is remarkable and impressive turn around given that it is a departure from virtually every other previous 7 reports filed by Federal Monitor James Ginger.

The PROSCRIPT below highlights language from previous monitor reports.

A FULLY COMMITTED APD EXECUTIVE STAFF

Ginger reported in no uncertain terms that the city is in a far different position in the reform efforts than it was a year ago under the previous Republican Mayor Berry Administration and former Republican operative APD Chief Gordon Eden.

In his Executive Summary, Dr. Ginger reported:

“The compliance efforts we have observed during this reporting period differ substantively from those we had observed earlier in the monitoring process. We have found the current APD executive staff to be fully committed to CASA compliance processes. Most of the new command and oversight cadres also appear to be fully committed to moving APD forward in its compliance efforts. We have found extremely attentive audiences for our compliance process advice, and in most cases, APD has moved forward adroitly as it implements responses to that advice.”

“The current leadership grasps key issues involved in the compliance process and they are quickly building effective problem-solving mechanisms. The monitoring team will continue to support those efforts through discussions, clarifications, and recommendations regarding effective processes observed in other agencies undertaking similar project.”

“Given the scope and nature of issues confronted by APD at this time last year, these results are exceptional. … APD has, over the past year, worked closely with the monitoring team to assess the team’s findings, carefully considered response modalities for the information contained in the team’s findings and discussions, thoughtfully considered implementation strategies to improve performance, and held managers and supervisors accountable for implementing change strategies to respond to the monitoring team’s intensive technical assistance regarding a ‘way forward’ toward compliance.”

“The result of the APD’s focus and commitment goes beyond the simple increase of “in-compliance” findings for this report. The results have been generated by a careful and thoughtful analysis of problem-solving methodologies designed to address carefully the findings conveyed to APD by the monitoring team. Instead of simply applying random strategies to identified problems, the APD has taken a holistic, thoughtful, and, in many cases, a data driven process, that carefully considers what’s been done elsewhere in American policing that has been successful in solving problems and issues similar to those confronting the APD.”

(See Page 4 of Report)

COMPLIANCE MEASURES

Ginger reported that the statistics he uses to audit, monitor and track progress show that APD has achieved 99.6% compliance with “primary tasks”, 75.4% secondary compliance and 59.5% operational compliance.

What the 59.9% operational compliance means is that sworn police officers have been trained on new policies approved by the monitor and police are being held accountable for violations of those policies.

The 59.9% operational compliance reported in the settlement agreement is a 12% increase from last year.

https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/apd-credited-with-making-progress-in-police-reforms/5132382/?cat=500

Operational compliance under the CASA also means officers follow policies outlined in the settlement agreement and, when they don’t, supervisors identify and correct that behavior.

This is the first time APD has achieved above 50% operational compliance.

To complete the CASA and have the case dismissed, APD must reach and maintain 95% compliance in all three categories.

OTHER PROGRESS MADE

Dr. James Ginger noted that big accomplishments over the past year include:

1. Recruiting a new Academy Commander who possesses direct, successful experience in curriculum development, delivery, and assessment;
2. Implementing a well-structured and staffed unit designed to reduce the long-standing backlog of use of force incidents;
3. Researched and adapted implementation strategies informed by the experiences in other police agencies working through similar reform processes;
4. Enhancement of the Compliance Bureau staffing and organization in a manner that should drastically improve compliance-related performance;
5. Completion on initial work for restructuring the documentation of training processes, including improved training plans and revised internal responsibilities and processes;
6. Strong movement toward community-based problem-oriented policing practices designed to address community concerns and priorities;
7. Reorganization and staffing of the Internal Affairs processes designed to improve the quality of internal investigations.

(See page 6 of report.)

Ginger gives APD credit for a stronger push toward a community policing.

PERSISTENT PROBLEM AREAS IDENTIFIED

The Monitor’s Report noted 4 persistent problem areas, most carried over from the previous Republican Berry administration, but which present clear obstacles to effective compliance with the CASA:

1. Failure to develop a strong self-auditing function.
2. Issues relating to identification, assessment and action on events constituting alleged policy or rule violations by sworn personnel within the 90-day limit established by union contract.
3. The use of “Additional Concerns Memos” to dispose of policy violation issues, as opposed to actual findings and corrective action.
4. An apparent “uptick” in filed “prohibited practice” complaints by the police union with six new prohibited practice complaints pending resolution at the time of the publication of the report.

(See page 7 of report)

MAYOR KELLER REACTION TO NOVEMBER 2, 2018 MONITOR’S REPORT

In commenting about the positive aspect of Ginger’s report, Mayor Tim Keller had this to say:

“I think all parties have a different approach since we came into office. … We started really in a hole. We came from a place of mistrust and frustration among all parties. That’s not really measurable, but the fact that we’re not in that place now was one of the goals we wanted to accomplish. … One of the biggest issues and toughest nuts to crack in any compliance effort in any city … is always around use of force, … I think the biggest victory for Albuquerque has been that we’ve able to come together on a use-of-force policy.”

https://www.abqjournal.com/1241224/latest-report-credits-police-for-progress-with-reforms.html

POLICE UNION RAINS ON FEDERAL MONITOR’S PARADE

During a September 10, 2018 status conference, Federal Monitor James Ginger reported there remained a problem with the “use of force policy” when he said:

“I hate to be the one to rain on the parade, but I just simply have to report the facts. I received the latest use-of-force document, 2-52, from the parties [including the police union] last week . I found it lacking in multiple key aspects. It was missing key components. Issues that needed to be dealt with in a Use-of-Force Policy were not dealt with. I had questions about enforceability. So I’m working on writing the resolution document … I found it necessary to basically rewrite the policy. … “.

In his November 2, 2018 report, Dr. Ginger acknowledged the city, APD and the Department of Justice, the police union and monitoring team finally agreed to a new use-of-force policy after well over a year of back and forth negotiations.

What Ginger did not highlight is that for the past 3 years, the Police Union has been at the negotiating table demanding changes to the “use of force” and “deadly force” policies claiming the policies were unworkable and interfered with rank and file police officers doing their jobs.

In his November 2, 2018 report, Ginger expressed concerns that there are still issues with identifying, assessing and taking action on officers who violate policies within the 90-day time frame created in the union contract between the police union and the city, and there has been an “uptick” in “prohibited practice” complaints filed by the police union.

APD command staff still has issues with holding officers accountable when the violate policies, especially for use-of-force violations.

According to Ginger, APD is still issuing ‘Additional Concern Memos’ “to dispose of policy violation issues, as opposed to actual findings and corrective action.”

Ginger also said APD still needs to create a strong “self-auditing” system to resolve policy violation issues.

Police Union President Shaun Willoughby said he was “surprised” to find that Ginger was critical of the police officers’ union.

According to Willoughby, the complaints mentioned in Ginger’s November 2, 2018 report are standard when the union believes the police administration violated either the contract between the police union and the city or the city’s own labor rules.

According to Willoughby:

“There is no relevance in the [Court Approved Settlement Agreement] as it relates to our prohibited practice complaints. … It’s pretty shocking to us that … he has identified the union as a target to talk negatively about.”

https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/apd-credited-with-making-progress-in-police-reforms/5132382/?cat=500

SEPTEMBER 10, 2018 STATUS CONFERENCE

During a September 10, 2018 status conference with the federal judge overseeing the reform process, the federal monitor testified that a group of “high-ranking APD officers” within the department are trying to thwart reform efforts.

The entire 53-page transcript of the conference call can be read here:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1GzUumHhiD3Mw2_dLg_czXml_T6-3QI2w/view

During the court hearing it was revealed that the group of “high-ranking APD officers” are APD sergeants and lieutenants and because they are part of the police union they remain in their positions and cannot be removed.

During the September 10, 2018 status conference, APD Chief Michael Geier also reported to Judge Brack that he has also noticed some “old-school resistance” to reforms mandated by the CASA.

During the last 11 months, Chief Geier has replaced a number of commanders with others who agree with police reforms, but not many sergeants nor lieutenants who may be resisting the reforms.

Geier has said changes to several commander positions will over time ensure that the entire chain of command is buying into the “new” APD.

Federal Monitor Ginger referred to the group of union members as the “counter-CASA effect.”

Ginger described the group’s attitude as “certainly ambivalent” to the reform effort and the CASA.

Geier has said changes to several commander positions will over time ensure that the entire chain of command is buying into the “new” APD.

Ginger described the group’s attitude as “certainly ambivalent” to the reform effort and the CASA.

The transcript of the September 10, 2018 proceeding reflect that Dr. Ginger told Judge Brack:

“The ones I’m speaking of are in critical areas and that ambivalence, alone, will give rise to exactly the sort of issues that we’ve seen in the past at the training academy. … So while it’s not overt, you know, there’s nobody sabotaging computer files or that sort of thing, it’s a sort of a low-level processing, but nonetheless, it has an effect. … It’s a small group, but it’s a widespread collection of sworn personnel at sergeant’s and lieutenant’s levels with civil service protection that appear to be, based on my knowledge and experience, not completely committed to this process … It is something that is deep-seated and it’s a little harder to find a quick fix or solution to it, but I think, in the long term, by having this foundation with new leadership and a new direction from the top down, we should be able to get through this and survive it.”

In response to Dr. Gingers accusation, Police Union President Shaun Willoughby proclaimed that all Albuquerque police officers throughout the ranks have bought into the reform effort and that it would be “ludicrous” to think some sergeants and lieutenants are trying to stop the process.

Willoughby went on to say:

“It gets to a point of being so frustrating that it’s almost comical. … It makes it sound like there’s an insurgency … Officers have done so much work [implementing the reforms]. They have done the heavy lifting.”

https://www.abqjournal.com/1223520/apd-monitor-some-officers-are-not-on-board-with-reforms.html?fb_action_ids=1907995702668105&fb_action_types=og.likes

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

Over 5 years ago, a Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation found a “pattern and practice of excessive force” and a “culture of aggression” within the Albuquerque Police Department (APD).

Albuquerque is one of 18 law enforcement agencies throughout the country operating under a consent decree brought on by a DOJ investigation that found systemic problems.

In APD’s case, the DOJ found a “culture of aggression” within APD after reviewing as many as 18 “deadly use of force cases” and other cases of “excessive use of force cases.

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

The major goal of the Department of Justice consent decree is to correct a pattern of the use of “deadly force” and “excessive force” and a culture of aggression.

The use of deadly force and excessive use of force policies with training is the primary purpose of the CASA settlement and where “the rubber hits the road.”

KUDOS TO MAYOR TIM KELLER AND APD CHIEF MICHAEL GEIER

To quote Senator John Mc Cain, “elections have consequences.”

It was Republican Mayor Richard Berry Administration that negotiated and entered into the Court Appointed Settlement Agreement (CASA).

The Berry Administration paid over $1 million to two out state “experts” to negotiate the settlement for the city that could have been just as easily negotiated by the City Attorney or other recognized Civil Rights experts in New Mexico.

Mayor Berry appointed as APD Chief Republican operative Gordon Eden as Police Chief and as Assistant Chief Robert Huntsman, an Eden loyalist.

Eden had absolutely no prior experience running a municipal police department and he for 3 years was an absolute disaster.

Berry and Eden both kept command staff in place who created, assisted or who did not stop the culture of aggression.

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

Notwithstanding the Berry administration negotiating the CASA, they never were fully committed to the DOJ reforms.

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

Lest anyone forget, Assistant Chief Huntsman secretly recorded contentious meetings between police officials and Ginger and the City Attorney proceeded to file a Motion to have Dr. Ginger removed as the Federal Monitor alleging, he was biased.

Without question, public safety, APD and crime rates were the single biggest issues in the 2017 race for Mayor.

Democrat Candidate for Mayor Tim Keller campaigned on “police reform” and pledge to return to community-based policing, increase the number of sworn police and reduce crime rates.

Democrat Mayor Keller was elected with 62.2% mandate over Republican Dan Lewis.

Mayor Keller after 10 months in office has held on to his popularity and has a 62% approval rating according to an Albuquerque Journal poll.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1223012/likely-voters-give-mayors-job-performance-high-marks.html

Keller was sworn in on December 1, 2017 as the city’s 7th Mayor of Albuquerque.

Soon after assuming office, Mayor Keller proceeded to make major management changes in APD’s command staff.

On March 15, 2018, Mayor Tim Keller attended for the first time a Court Approved Settlement Agreement status conference hearing appearing along with Senior Public Safety Officer James B. Lewis, Chief Michael Geier and City Attorney Esteban Aguilar, Jr.

What was revealed for the first time at the March 15, 2018 hearing was that Mayor Tim Keller reached out back in December, 2017 after he was elected and had meetings with the parties and the federal judge overseeing the reform process.

During the March 15 federal court hearing, Mayor Keller affirmed his commitment to the DOJ reforms and went so far as to say that he took “ownership of the reform process” and acknowledged he will be judged by the progress APD makes or doesn’t make during his first term in office.

Federal Judge Robert Brack said he was so impressed with the new administration’s commitment to the reform process that he decided to keep the case after he goes on Senior Status in November and not give it to another federal judge.

In a November 4, 2018 Guest Editorial Comment in the Albuquerque Journal, Mayor Tim Keller affirmed his commitment to the DOJ reforms by writing:

“… I personally promised we would own police reform, and we are making significant progress. The latest monitoring report acknowledges the breadth of changes and [my] commitment to finishing the job of meeting the DOJ requirements. …”

You can read Mayor Keller’s full guest column at the below link:

https://www.abqjournal.com/1241663/the-tide-is-turning-against-crime-in-albuquerque.html

Mayor Tim Keller and Chief Michael Geier can take major credit and great pride with the progress that has been made during their first 11 months in office.

In Keller’s own words, going from a “place of mistrust and frustration” to one of cooperation and accomplishment when it comes to APD is a major accomplishment for the Keller Administration.

No doubt Keller and Geier recognize there still is more that must be done with APD and there still a long way to go before they can say “Mission Accomplished” when it comes to APD and our high crime rates.

They both still have to rebuild practically from the ground up a new department with a new generation of police officers to return to community base policing,

Congratulations to Mayor Keller and Chief Geier in the progress they have made with the DOJ reforms.

POLICE UNION CONTINUES TO IMPEDE REFORM PROCESS

It is “ludicrous”, to quote Police Union President Shaun Willoughby, to believe that he and the police union are anywhere near being shocked about being a “target to talk negatively about” given what Dr. Ginger and Chief Geier testified to at the September 10, 2018 status conference with the Federal Judge overseeing the consent decree.

The APD Union was not a named party to the original civil rights complaint for excessive use of force and deadly force filed against the city by the Department of Justice.

Soon after the DOJ initiated the federal lawsuit against APD and the City, the police union intervened to become a party to the federal lawsuit in order to advocate for union interests in city policy and changes to the “use of force” and “deadly force policies.”

The Police Union, despite public comments of cooperation, has never fully supported the agreed to reforms.

If anything, the Union contributed significantly to the delay in writing the new use of force and deadly force policies.

The union leadership has always been at the negotiating table and for a full year were involved with the drafting of the “use of force” and “deadly use of force” policies.

More than any other party in the federal law suite, it has been the police union that has contributed to the one-year delay in writing the policies by objecting to many provisions of the policies.

The police union has repeatedly objected to the language of the use of force policies asserting the policies are unreasonable or did not conform to legal requirement and demanding changes.

Union obstruction and delay tactics regarding the “deadly use of force policy” became so bad that the federal monitor at the September 10, 2018 status conference stated the submitted use of force was missing key components to the point he had to re write the policy and said:

“There were, at last count, 50-plus changes that I saw as needing to be made. So, it’s been a fairly complex process. Those have been made. They’re in draft form. As soon as I finish proofing that draft, it will go out to the parties immediately.”

The union leadership has attended and has sat at counsel table during court hearings and Federal Monitor presentations on his reports.

During all the Court proceeding where the federal monitor has made his presentation to the federal court, the police union has made its opposition and objections known to the federal court regarding the use of force and deadly force policies as being too restrictive with rank and file claiming rank and file cannot do their jobs even with training on the policies.

All previous Federal Monitor’s status reports were scathing against the city accusing the APD chain of command of delaying and obstructing the DOJ reform process, yet the police union had no comment and took no position.

When the previous administration accused the federal monitor of biasness and attempted to have the monitor remove, the police union remained totally silent implying its support to have the federal monitor removed.

The police union and its leadership have said in open court that the mandated reforms under the consent decree are interfering with rank and file officer’s ability to perform their job duties.

During the next contract negotiations with the police union, the Keller Administration need to seek to have removed from the bargaining unit all Sergeants and Lieutenants in that they are part of management.

Now that the “use of force” and “deadly force policies” have been approved and are now a reality, the Keller Administration should consider seeking to having the Police Union removed as a party to the federal lawsuit, consent decree and CASA negotiations seeing that there is very little need for the delay and obstruction tactics the police union engages in to stop the reforms.

_______________________________________________________

POSTSCRIPT ON PREVIOUS FEDERAL MONITOR REPORTS

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 was 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.

The Federal Monitor stated last year in his November, 2017 report:

“Eventually, the monitor will no longer be engaged to provide an oversight function for APD. … That role will need to be provided by supervisory, command and executive personnel. At the current time, such oversight is sorely absent” and “well below what is expected at this point” in the process. … In short we are not yet convinced that APD screens, evaluates and classifies use of force incidents in a manner consistent with the CASA (Court Approved Settlement Agreement).”

For a related blog article on Police Union see:

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

Commander in Chief Trump: “Ready, Aim, Fire At Those Rock Throwers!”

In response to the caravan of about 7,000 refugees approaching the United States border by foot, Trump is ordering military troops deployed to the U.S.-Mexican border that could reach 15,000, roughly double the number the Pentagon said it currently plans for a mission whose dimensions are shifting daily.

The Pentagon says “more than 7,000” troops were being sent to the southwest border to support the Customs and Border Protection agents.

Officials said that number could reach a maximum of about 8,000 under present plans.

Trump when asked if any of the troops being sent to the border might open fire on asylum seekers, who are fleeing Central America, Trump said:

“I hope not. … It’s the military. I hope there won’t be that, but I will tell you this: Anybody throwing stones, rocks, like they did to Mexico – the Mexican military, Mexican police – where they badly hurt police and soldiers of Mexico, we will consider that a firearm – because there’s not much difference when you get hit in the face with a rock. … We will consider that the maximum that we can consider that, because they’re throwing rocks viciously and violently. … You saw that three days ago – really hurting the military. We’re not going to put up with that. They want to throw rocks at our military, our military fights back. We’re going to consider it – I told them: Consider it a rifle. When they throw rocks like they did at the Mexico military and police, I said: Consider it a rifle.”

https://taskandpurpose.com/trump-troops-migrants-rocks-rifle/

The United States Military Joint Chief of Staff need to advise Commander In Chief Trump that the Pentagon military rules of engagement provide that “deadly force” is authorized in self-defense for those faced with an imminent threat of death or serious bodily harm.

Documents published by Newsweek from U.S. Army North show troops will be operating under the “Standing Rules For The Use Of Force” and allows for troops to respond in self-defense in a proportional manner.

Air Force Capt. Lauren Hill, a spokeswoman for NORTHCOM, stated that rules of engagement will apply and went on to say:

“Our standard rules of force apply here. … As with anything, deadly force is authorized in self-defense for those faced with an imminent threat of death or serious bodily harm.”

Scared, desperate, malnourished, dehydrated people, carrying children or pushing baby carriages, who have walked over 3,000 miles fleeing from their own countries probably will not be throwing many rocks at US Customs let alone the United States military fully armed and ready to engage “rock throwers” by shooting them.

Trump apparently has never heard of “riot gear” with face shields and body shields, and smoke bombs, commonly used by police to quell rock throwing mobs, but he prefers to have our military to open fire if rocks are thrown at them.

Trump needs to order the US military to stock pile rocks at the border so they can throw the rocks if they engage with “rock throwing” refugees and order our military not to throw rocks at the children on foot or in baby carriages.

For further analysis and commentary see:

“Then Trump Came For My Constitutional Rights, And There Was No One Left To Speak Out For Me.”

Keller: New ART Buses “Unsafe At Any Speed”

On November 1, 2018, Mayor Tim Keller provided an update on the status of the Albuquerque Rapid Transit (ART) project.

During the update, Keller pronounced the new ART Buses as “unsafe at any speed”.

Keller further announced that he was grounding the entire bus fleet until a complete inspection is completed of all the buses delivered.

Mayor Keller gave the briefing and answered questions along with Transit Director Bernie Toon and Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Lawrence Rael.

Keller reported that the buses must be fixed before the ART Bus line can be fully operational along the Central corridor, despite the fact that all construction on Central and the bus stop platforms have been completed.

It was previously reported by the Keller Administration that all construction on central and the bus stop platforms have been completed.

PROBLEMS IDENTIFIED MAKING ART BUSES UNSAFE

Problems were discovered with the buses when the City began driver training for the new busses and then followed up with additional inspections.

Many of the problems with the buses risk the safety of the public who will use the buses which justified grounding the entire fleet.

The problems reported with the buses during the press conference include:

1. The center and rear brakes had zero air pressure, yet the 60-foot-long articulated buses were able to move, meaning that the center and rear axle brakes were not working and the buses were relying on their front brakes alone.

2. Rear doors would open during bus operation without any action by the driver.

3. The buses have air conditioning outages.

4. Bolts flying off doors were reported

5. The electric buses do not have the required range on a full battery charge and the bus manufacturer still has not provided the extra charging stations.

The electric buses delivered are suppose to operate for 275 miles, but city officials found the buses can not go more than 177 miles before they need recharging.

Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Lawrence Rael reported that there have been two car accidents the buses were involved with, one cause by a driver turning into the bus, with the cause of the second accident still to be determined.

All the deficiencies issues were reported as “fleet-wide issues” that pose significant safety concerns that must be resolved by the bus manufacture before the city allows any member of the public to ride on the buses.

The Chinese bus manufacture Build Your Dreams (BYD) still has not delivered all of the 22 buses that were due to the city last year, with 15 buses delivered.

The city has received the $75 million in federal grant money.

The city has not paid for any of the buses delivered.

Mayor Keller and Director Toon reported that BYD has failed to perform as promised on the construction of supplementary charging stations as they agreed with the City six months ago.

BYD is a year behind on its commitment to deliver all of buses.

BACKUP ALTERNATIVES

Mayor Keller also said that the city is actively looking at three potential alternatives for the ART fleet should it become necessary.

The 3 potential alternative plans include:

1. Purchasing and entirely different fleet, presumably from a different manufacture.

Note: It will take upwards of 3 years ro place a new bus order and have the buses manufactured and delivered.

2. Establishing a “mixed fleet” combining the use of “electric buses” and gas or diesel-powered buses.

3. Pushing forward with more charging stations.

INSPECTOR GENERAL REPORT

On June 6, 2018 an Inspector General (IG) report on the ART Bus project was released.

The entire Inspector General report can be read here:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1fA-D6dk6lp3DZgQzQCWVEVbziQ2vXov/view

According to the Inspector General report, then Chief Operations Officer Michael Riordan “was adamant about having a bus transported to the City before the end of the Mayor Berry administration.”

An Albuquerque transit employee told the Inspector General that “core processes on manufacturing buses was altered to ensure delivery of the first bus by the deadline.”

The IG report described two city employees interviewed who recounted a “tense” and “unusual” phone call between then-city Chief Operating Officer Michael Riordan and top executives from the manufacturer.

According to the Inspector General’s report the first bus delivered in August 2017, was assembled by the manufacturer using a “frame intended for buses being built for [another city’s transit authority].”

Frames intended for the Albuquerque’s buses had not yet been shipped nor received by the manufacturer.

The Inspector General found that the bus manufacturer used “parts and pieces” intended for another city’s buses for the first ART bus delivered.

The city employee further reported that the first bus was moved to whatever assembly station was available to ensure it was assembled in time in order to get it shipped to Albuquerque before Mayor Berry left office.

The last 4 sentences of the 72-page Inspector General’s findings and report is worth quoting relating fraudulent activity:

“The inspection was proactive in nature and not due to any allegations that were made. While this inspection didn’t identify instances of fraud, it is important to note that it doesn’t mean fraud did not occur. The inspection did identify several problems that offer opportunities to improve and could be vulnerabilities for fraudulent behavior. City leaders should consider the problems identified and recommendations made to develop a more efficient and stronger procurement process that will help prevent and deter fraud, while also ensuring more quality and confidence in the products and services that the taxpayer funds. This is essential to protecting the public’s trust.”

ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY

During the status report on the ART Bus project, Mayor Keller proclaimed “I am running out of patience.”

Mayor Keller, it’s about time you lost all patience and probably way too late not to be held 100% responsible for this boondoggle that has destroyed Route 66 and been a major drag on your first year in office.

Mayor Tim Keller I suspect feels that the ART bus manufacture Build Your Dreams (BYD) should change its name to “Build Your Nightmares.”

For almost a full year, Mayor Keller and the Keller Administration have been working on resolving major issues with bus performance.

Within 6 weeks after taking office, Keller proclaimed the project “as bit of lemon” but pushed forward to try and salvage the project anyway.

http://www.petedinelli.com/2018/01/10/this-project-is-a-bit-of-a-lemon/

Two months after taking office, Mayor Keller was urged by many within the community to scrap the project and find alternatives, but he refused saying it would be too costly.

http://www.petedinelli.com/2018/01/22/mayor-keller-should-scrap-art-bus-project-and-find-alternatives/

In June of this year, Mayor Keller said the buses were like kids in a divorce where parents are fighting for who gets custody.

If a “divorce” is what Keller really wanted, he should have hired a good lawyer, filed suit and seek damages for breach of contract for all the delays and breach of warranties relating to the buses.

http://www.petedinelli.com/2018/06/04/want-a-divorce-hire-a-lawyer/

One question Mayor Keller was asked during the status conference is if any attempt will be made to hold former Mayor Richard Berry accountable for the ART Bus Project given that he rushed to have buses delivered to dedicate the project before he left office, a question Keller declined to answer.

In June of this year, after the Inspector General Report on the ART Project was released, Mayor Keller was urged turn the ART Bus project over to the City Attorney, the New Mexico Attorney General and the District Attorney, to investigate for criminal activity but Mayor Keller declined.

http://www.petedinelli.com/2018/06/11/give-art-work-to-city-attorney-nm-attorney-general-and-district-attorney/

What is genuinely pathetic is that the Albuquerque City Council went along with this boondoggle and refused to put it on the ballot for a vote.

No matter what Mayor Keller says or does now, no matter what eventually happens with the ART Bus Project, it is now Mayor Keller’s lemon to own and be held responsible and accountable for given his reluctance to scrap the project and helping save face for his predecessor.

FOR MORE BLOG ARTICLES ON ART SEE:

Dinelli Blog Articles On ART Bus Project Listed