“Democracy Dollars” To Be Given To All Residents, Not Just Registered Voters

The Albuquerque City Clerk’s Office has announced it has certified enough signatures of registered voters to allow the measure “Democracy For Dollars” to be placed on the November 6, 2018 general election ballot.

A petition with more than 27,000 signatures was submitted to the City Clerk and 19,480 signatures had to be certified as registered voters.

Supporters of the measure have said publicly that they believe they have the votes of at least 4 county commissioners out of 5 who will vote to put it on the ballot.

Under the system proposed, $25 vouchers will be given or mailed to all registered voters.

Eligible residents who are not registered voters can also get the $25 vouchers by applying to the City Clerk.

FEDERAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTION LAWS

It is not clear from the petition if undocumented residents will also have the right to apply for the $25 vouchers, an if so, it would violate federal campaign finance laws.

Section 52 U.S. Code § 30121 of the federal statutes governs contributions and donations by foreign nationals to candidates for office or political campaigns and states:

“PROHIBITION: It shall be unlawful for—

(1) a foreign national, directly or indirectly, to make—

(A) a contribution or donation of money or other thing of value, or to make an express or implied promise to contribute or donation, in connection with a Federal, State, or local election;

(B) a contribution or donation to a committee of a political party; or

(C) an expenditure, independent expenditure, or disbursement for an electioneering communication (within the meaning of section 30104(f)(3) of this title); or

(2) [It shall be unlawful for] a person to solicit, accept, or receive a contribution or donation described in subparagraph (A) or (B) of paragraph (1) from a foreign national.

(b)“FOREIGN NATIONAL” DEFINED: As used in this section, the term “foreign national” means: a foreign principal, as such term is defined by section 611(b) of title 22, except that the term “foreign national” shall not include any individual who is a citizen of the United States; or

(2) an individual who is not a citizen of the United States or a national of the United States … [as defined by federal statute] and who is not lawfully admitted for permanent residence, as defined by [federal statute] … ”

Federal Election Commission (FEC) rules and regulations defines individuals who are considered “foreign nationals” and are subject to the prohibition to include foreign citizens, not including dual citizens of the United States, and immigrants who are not lawfully admitted for permanent residence.

” rel=”noopener” target=”_blank”>https://www.fec.gov/help-candidates-and-committees/candidate-taking-receipts/types-contributions/

EXISTING PUBLIC FINANCE SYSTEM

Under the now existing city public finance system, candidates for Mayor and City Council who elect to take public financing must collect a specified number of $5.00 donations and those $5.00 can only come from registered Albuquerque City voters and no County voters can donate.

City Council candidates are required to collect upwards of 850 to 900 $5.00 donations and Mayor candidates are required to collect 3,000 $5.00 donations.

Because the November election is a statewide and county election, the Bernalillo County Commission is required to vote to place it on the ballot.

The ballot initiative if passed would instruct the Albuquerque City Council to amend the city charter and add it to the public finance ordinance enacted in 2005.

Common Cause New Mexico is one of the major proponents of Democracy Dollars and was instrumental in helping secure qualifying signatures.

According to the Common Cause web site, the benefits of Democracy Dollars are:

“The system would require no additional city funding and would enable working- and middle-class candidates to compete against wealthy or well-connected candidates.

A wide range of Albuquerqueans without big pocketbooks would be given a new way of participating in campaigns and having our voices heard.

Candidates could focus on the issues important to the communities they serve instead of dialing for dollars from big donors and special interests.

The Democracy Dollars system would enable a more diverse candidate pool the opportunity to compete in our elections and have a chance to serve in office.”

https://www.commoncause.org/new-mexico/democracy-wire/bringing-democracy-dollars-to-the-duke-city/

According to information distributed by “Democracy Dollars”, if the measure is approved by voters, the City Council would amend the public finance ordinance to “create a voucher system, giving every Albuquerque resident a voucher that could be contributed to the candidate of his/her choice, pushing candidates to interact with the people they intend to serve and be accessible-and accountable-to the community”

All registered voters would automatically be given the $25 “Democracy Dollars” vouchers while residents who are not registered to vote can apply for one.

Candidates for Mayor and City Council would redeem the vouchers with the city clerk for funds to spend only on their campaigns.

The voucher program supposedly will be funded by the city’s public financing fund that is already set up for candidates who qualify for public finance with the fund currently at about $3.5 million.

It is now up to the Bernalillo County Commission to place the initiative on the November ballot.

THE “DEMORACY FOR DOLLARS” EXPLAINED IN ITS OWN WORDS

A four and a half inch by five-and-a-half-inch post card is being distributed by “Albuquerque Democracy Dollars” that explains the proposal as follows:

1. Participating candidates agree to certain limitations.
2. Residents get democracy dollars in the mail. [$25-dollar coupons].
3. They give them to the candidates of their choice.
4. Candidates can redeem them for public funds.

The reverse side of the “DEMORACY FOR DOLLARS” promotional post card reads as follows:

 The system would require no additional city funding and would enable working and middle-class candidates to compete against wealthy or well-connected candidates.
 A wide range of Albuquerqueans without big pockets would be given a new way of participating in campaigns and having our voices heard.
 Candidates could focus on the issues important to the communities they serve instead of dialing for dollars from big donors and special interests.
 Very few Albuquerque residents vote in city elections. Even in the recent mayoral election, voter turnout was very low – 30% of registered voters. Who are they? 68% white, and 67% are over 50.

www.BurqueBucksBucks.org

ALBUQUERQUE’S DEMOGRAPHIC POPULATION

The estimated 2014 population of Albuquerque is 558,000, a slight increase from the 2010 census figures of 545,800.

SOURCE: http://worldpopulationreview.com/us-cities/albuquerque-population/

According to the 2010 census, Albuquerque’s racial makeup was as follows:

• White: 69.7% (non-Hispanic: 42.1%)
• Hispanic or Latino of any race: 46.7%
• Native American: 4.6%
• Black or African American: 3.3%
• Asian: 2.6%
• Two or more races: 4.6%
• Other races: 15.1%

SOURCE: http://worldpopulationreview.com/us-cities/albuquerque-population/

Based on the demographics, there are more residents of the city who are in an ethnic or race minority than there are white or non hispanic.

ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY

Common Cause and Democracy for Dollar’s have missed the mark by promoting just another way for candidates for office to collect donations for their campaigns instead of promoting meaningful campaign and election reform for our municipal elections.

Two years ago, an effort was made to place on the ballot a city voter petition initiative for mandatory paid sick leave, and the County Commission declined to put it on the ballot saying it was a city issue and should be on a municipal ballot.

Bernalillo County has no “public finance” system in place for any of its elected official’s.

“Democracy Dollars” is proposing major changes to the City of Albuquerque public financing system yet county registered voters will be voting in November on the measure when they are prohibited from voting in municipal elections.

“Democracy Dollars” should be placed on the 2019 City election ballot and not on a general election ballot.

There are two major points that need to be made clear to the County Commission and to voters about “Democracy Dollars”:

1.The $25 vouchers are to be mailed or given to all registered voters as well as any resident of the city who is not a registered voter but who applies for a voucher.
2. The issuance of $25 vouchers to all city residents of the city and not just registered voters will result in a financial liability far above and beyond what is already in the city budget for publicly financed candidates.

The argument that Democracy Dollars involves “no new taxes” conveniently ignores that it still involves taxpayer money that must come from the city’s general fund that is used for essential services and social services.

The City sets aside approximately $500,000 a year for public financing campaigns out of the general fund.

Supporters of Democracy Dollars claim it will be funded by a $3,000,000 surplus that has built up in the Open and Ethical Elections Fund and the annual allocations already in place.

There are approximately 558,000 Albuquerque residents.

To print and implement a voucher system for the estimated 558,000 Albuquerque residents will result in a minimum financial exposure to the city of $13,950,000 million dollars. (558,000 city residents X $25 voucher = $13,950,000 million)

There are approximately 360,000 registered voters in Albuquerque.

To print and implement a voucher system for just registered voters will result in a minimum financial exposure to this city of $9 million dollars. (360,000 registered voters X $25 voucher = $9 million).

An unintended consequence of “Democracy Dollars” will be to add yet another difficult layer of campaign solicitation effort by candidates on top of an already very cumbersome process to collect $5.00 qualifying donations that sets up most candidates for failure.

Candidates will be soliciting not only $5.00 qualifying donations but the $25 city issued coupons that are in reality a city subsidized contribution being called a “block grant” from taxpayers.

Enforcement to prevent violations of campaign finance laws will also be a major hurdle and costly to the city.

The $25 voucher system being proposed can be very easily abused and undermined by a candidate who decides to go around and just buy the voucher’s outright from residents at a lesser cost of say $5 to $10 for an example and then turn the purchased voucher into the city to collect the full $25.

It is very misleading to refer to as “small donors” those residents who are not able to make monetary contribution on their own to a political campaign when they are given a $25 voucher with the funding source in fact coming from the city general fund and taxpayers.

On August 11, 2018, a major proponent of “Democracy for Dollars” expressed the opinion at a meeting of 3 Democratic Wards that “Democracy Dollars” will encourage the immigrant community and the city’s minorities to become more involved and participate in municipal elections by being able to make donations via the vouchers and arguing public financing of campaigns increases voter turnout.

It is extremely doubtful that any voucher system such as “Democracy Dollars” or for that matter any form of public financing of campaigns is going to have any major impact on increasing voter turnout in Albuquerque’s municipal election by minorities or Anglos.

The past three Mayoral elections in 2009, 2013 and 2017 all had the public finance system in place that was enacted in 2005.

Democracy for Dollar organizers point out that in the 2017 mayoral election, voter turnout was very low at 30% of registered voters with the vote being 68% white, and 67% over 50.

In 2017, the only public financed candidate for Mayor and virtually all 5 public finance City Council candidates won their elections yet the voter turnout was still only 29%.

In 2009, all three candidates for Mayor, Richard Berry, Martin Chavez and Richard Romero qualified for public finance and each were given the same amount to spend.

In 2009, only 34% of eligible voters voted.

In 2013, only 1 candidate, yours truly, out of the 3 candidates for Mayor who made the ballot qualified for public financing.

Four years ago, the Albuquerque Municipal election had the lowest voter turnout since 1977 with only 19% of eligible voters voting.

The turnout for the October 3, 2017 municipal election was 29% with 8 candidates running for Mayor, only one qualifying for public finance, and two going on to a runoff, Tim Keller and Dan Lewis, both anglo.

The runoff between Tim Keller and Dan Lewis had a 28.7 percent turnout among registered voters.

https://www.sfreporter.com/abq-news/2017/11/16/voter-turnout-in-abq-runoff-nearly-matched-first-round-of-voting/

Albuquerque’s public finance laws are way too difficult to qualify for public financing in that in the very last 2 Mayor elections, only 2 candidates out of 19 candidates actually qualified for public financing.

The “Democracy for Dollars” plan has absolutely no impact on the effects of measured finance committees and the unlimited amount of money they can raise and spend on behalf or even against a candidate.

It is going to take more than a $25 voucher system and significantly more changes to put public financing directly in the hands of voters, especially with the existence of Citizens United in order to level the political donation playing field.

The one successful public finance candidate in the last two elections for Mayor, Tim Keller, received approximately $852,000 from measured finance committees in addition to his public financing of $506,254 representing final campaign spending of $1,358,254.

The “Democracy Dollars” are really “free vouchers” provided to all city to residents in an apparent attempt to supplement the $5.00 qualifying donations from registered voters to the city that are now required to secure public financing.

Every effort should be made to make Albuquerque’s public financing laws for municipal elections to legally provide for a “dollar for dollar” match to privately raised funds by candidates, thereby providing a real level playing field.

The entire public finance system enacted by city voters in 2005 needs to be completely over hauled to make it easier for candidates to qualify for public financing, especially the collection of the $5.00 qualifying donations.

Getting on the ballot and qualifying for public finance is by far where the problems are with the existing system as are the influence of “measured finance” committees.

The influence of big money in elections allowed by the US Supreme Court decision in Citizens United is destroying our democracy.

Many highly qualified candidates for office all too often do not bother to run because of the inability or difficulty raising the necessary money to run.

Political campaign fundraising and big money influence are warping our election process.

Money spent becomes equated with the final vote.

Money drives the message, affects voter turnout and ultimately the outcome of an election.

Albuquerque municipal elections need campaign finance reform and enforcement.

The “Democracy for Dollars” initiative is a pathetic attempt at campaign finance reform.

For more analysis of Democracy Dollars see:

http://www.petedinelli.com/2018/08/06/democracy-dollars-a-new-form-of-dialing-for-dollars/

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POSTSCRIPT:

On January 2, 2018, I posted my blog article with recommendations for changes to the City’s public finance and election code laws.

Following is a listing of the recommendations:

1. Allow four (4) months and two (2) weeks, from January 1 to May 15, to collected both the qualifying donations and petition signatures, and private campaign donation collection.

2. Allow the collection of the qualifying donations from anyone who wants, and not just residents or registered voters of Albuquerque. Privately finance candidates now can collect donations from anyone they want and anywhere in the State and Country.

3. Once the allowed number of qualifying donations is collected, the public financing would be made immediately available, but not allowed to be spent until starting May 15.

4. Permit campaign spending for both publicly financed and privately financed candidates only from May 15 to the October election day.

5. Return to candidates for their use in their campaign any qualifying donations the candidate has collected when the candidate fails to secure the required number of qualifying donations to get the public financing.

6. Mandate the City Clerk to issue debit card or credit card collection devices to collect the qualifying donations and to issue receipts and eliminate the mandatory use of “paper receipts”.

7. Increase from $1.00 to $2.50 per registered voter the amount of public financing, which will be approximately $900,000, and allow for incremental increases of 10% every election cycle keeping up with inflation.

8. Allow for additional matching public financing available for run offs at the rate of $1.25 per registered voter, or $450,000.

9. Albuquerque should make every effort to make municipal elections partisan elections to be held along with State and Federal elections by seeking a constitutional amendment from the legislature to be voted upon by the public.

10. Any money raised and spent by measured finance committees on behalf a candidate should be required to first be applied to reimburse the City for any taxpayer money advanced to a public finance candidate or deducted from a publicly financed candidates account and returned to the city.

11. City of Albuquerque campaign reporting and finance ordinances and regulations need to define with absolute clarity that strictly prohibit the coordination of expenditures and campaign activities with measured finance committees and individual candidate’s campaigns in municipal elections.

12. A mandatory schedule of fines and penalties for violations of the code of ethics and campaign practices act should be enacted by the City Council.

You can read the complete blog article here:

2018 YEAR TO REFORM CITY PUBLIC CAMPAIGN FINANCE LAWS

PR Cannot Prevent Crime Rates From Defining Tim Keller

Joe Monahan is a political blogger who publishes his political blog “New Mexico Politics with Joe Monahan”.

On Wednesday August 8, Joe Monahan published the following excerpt that should be of interest to any city hall observer:

HEADLINE: “No one said it would be easy; Albuquerque still defined by crime and so is Mayor Keller.”

Try as he might with the latest PR techniques featuring a myriad of announcements on small ball stuff, ABQ Mayor Tim Keller remains behind the eight ball as a violent summer continues pretty much unabated in the state’s largest city.

The city is approaching 50 homicides for the year (47 so far) and that number has already been surpassed when you include all of BernCo.

The latest slaying was that of a 25-year-old man Saturday night in downtown ABQ, delivering a further blow to the city’s economic development even as Keller prepared the release of his economic plan.

Downtown ABQ, with often good cause, is perceived by tourists and visiting businessmen and women as a dangerous place to traverse.

Keller has resisted pleas from business owners to establish a downtown police district, something they assert he promised during the campaign.

The administration has claimed some success in reducing auto theft and other property crimes since taking power last December, but the spate of shootings and murders lend a sense of anarchy when it comes to getting crime truly under of control.

Patience is starting to wear thin, with not only the violence weighing on residents but the still uncertain leadership skills of APD Chief Michael Geier.

Mayor Keller’s economic plan has long concentrated on bolstering local businesses.

That’s good.

Because what major national business with good jobs, young employees and their families would want to come here given current circumstances?

CAMPAIGN ON CRIME

The ABQ crime wave has entered the Governor’s race, with Dem hopeful Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham releasing a TV ad that touts her success in winning federal funding for crime fighting:

“In Congress I got millions of dollars for our police. I can do even more as Governor.”

More money is always welcome but that is not ABQ’s problem.

The Mayor and City Council approved a quarter cent increase in the gross receipts tax that took effect July 1 that is expected to pump over $50 million a year into city coffers, the lion’s share of which will go to police and crime fighting.

That money is Mayor Keller’s last leg to stand on.

If a year from today we are still dealing with an orgy of violence, drug-dealing and horrid child abuse cases it won’t be for a lack of money, it will be for a lack of leadership.”

The link to Joe Monahan’s blog is here:

http://joemonahansnewmexico.blogspot.com/

PUBLIC SAFETY ALWAYS ISSUE IN MAYORS RACE

In 2009, when Richard Berry ran against incumbent Mayor Marty Chavez and former State Senator Richard Romero, the rise in property crime and auto thefts were made a major issue by Berry.

Candidate Berry did a commercial standing next to his truck that had been torched after it was stolen and then found.

Berry proclaimed: “I will make Albuquerque the worse place to be a criminal.”

The ad was effective and Berry went on to become Mayor.

Eight (8) years ago when Berry took office, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) was the best trained, best equipped, best funded department in its history and was fully staffed with 1,100 sworn police officers.

Tragically, Albuquerque’s crime rates have been steadily climbing since 2012.

Since 2012, violent crime has grown by an astonishing 77%.

In 2013, when Berry ran for reelection, he argued that crime was down, when it was not, and his lies eventually caught up with him and he left office with an extremely low approval rating.

In 2013, drug crimes and property crimes were spiking and APD sworn police officer levels were dropping dramatically.

In eight (8) years during Berry’s 2 terms in office, APD went from 1,100 sworn police to a mere 853 with only 435 sworn police patrolling the streets and taking calls for service.

During the 2017 mayoral race, crime, public safety the Albuquerque Police Department and the DOJ reforms were the biggest issues.

In 2017, violent crime in the city jumped by 18 percent over the previous year.

In 2017, Homicides were up 23 percent, robberies were up by 43 percent, rapes were up 21 percent and aggravated assaults climbed by 4.2 percent.

The spike in crime in 2017 followed a 15.5 percent increase in violent crime in the city in 2016, and a 13.3 percent jump in property crime.

In June, for the second year in a row the city was named the auto theft capital of the nation by the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

In July, 2018, APD released the city’s crime statistics for the first half of 2018 comparing them to the first half of 2017.

APD reported that all major categories of property crime went down for the first time in 8 years.

However, 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 which is great news.

Notwithstanding, the 18% drop in homicides, Albuquerque is still on track to break the all-time record high of 70 murders by the end of the year.

COMMENTARY

In politics, appearance all too often are everything, as is often what is not said nor done.

“Appearance politics” is something I suspect Mayor Keller is acutely aware of given that he is in public relations mode non-stop.

Mayor Tim Keller has taken photo ops to a new level by attending protest rallies to speak at, attending marches, attending heavy metal concerts to introduce the band, running in track meets and participating in exhibition football games as the quarterback and enjoying re-living his high school glory days, and posting pictures and videos on FACEBOOK.

It is also a very necessary and critical part of the job of being Mayor and he cannot be faulted for that point.

It is very good news that Albuquerque’s property crime rates for the first time in a number of years appear to be declining, but for how long and to what extent only time will tell.

Keller can take comfort and a degree of credit for bringing down property crimes for the first half of the year on his watch and he can breathe a little easier, but not for long.

Property crimes tend to be “seasonal” and increase in the summer time, so APD needs to continue with their efforts and vigilance.

The bad news is that the city’s murder rates are still way too high and the city is way too violent.

There is a big difference between governing and running for office.

When Tim Keller was running, he proclaimed that APD needed serious reform and promised to return to community base policing.

To his credit, Mayor Tim Keller is planning to spend $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 by implementing a hiring and recruitment program to offer incentives, pay raises and bonuses to join or return to APD in order to return to community-based policing.

Keller’s plan to turn APD around is going to take more time than he may have to convince people that he has solved Albuquerque’s high crime rates, especially when there is blood in the streets and our children continue to be murdered the way 9 year old Victoria Marten’s was raped, murdered, dismembered and burned.

During the first year of his expansion plan for APD, Mayor Keller has 1,040 officers budgeted for which is 40 more sworn officers than the 1,000 budgeted for last year.

APD currently has 870 sworn police officers.

APD is now Mayor Keller’s department and APD’s homicide division has brought shame upon the department in botching case after case and their clearance rate is atrocious at less than 50% when at one time it was at least 85%.

Adding gasoline to the fire, even after a homicide is committed and defendants are arrested, cases are being dismissed because of shoddy and incomplete investigations, a failure to process scientific evidence such as DNA and with people arrested that did not even commit the crime having to be released.

http://www.petedinelli.com/2018/07/02/abq-report-apd-homicide-units-legacy-of-shame/

No amount of public relations, inspiring speeches, hand shaking and feel good FACEBOOK videos by Mayor Keller are going to bring down our crime rates to where they were 8 years ago.

Voters tend to be very fickle.

As Mayor Tim Keller approaches his first full year in office, people are beginning to demand far more results.

With the daily reports of homicides in the news, people are beginning to believe the change they voted for is not materializing and things are getting worse with APD and crime.

http://www.petedinelli.com/2018/08/08/abq-report-new-apd-worse-than-old-apd/

As Joe Monahan so accurately stated: “If a year from today we are still dealing with an orgy of violence, drug-dealing and horrid child abuse cases it won’t be for a lack of money, it will be for a lack of leadership.”

Those are harsh words, but it is reality politics and the nature of city elections.

Mayor Keller’s success with dealing with our crime rates and the management of APD with respect to the Department of Justice reforms will have a direct impact on Mayor Keller’s chances of being reelected or for that matter going on to higher office.

There is no amount of public relations that will prevent Mayor Tim Keller from being defined by our serious violent crime rates and he needs to act far more aggressively.

If our homicide rate is not brought under control by Keller, do not be surprised if one of Keller’s opponents in 3 years does a political ad in a morgue standing next to a coffin reminiscent of Berry standing next to his stolen and burned out recovered truck and saying that Keller has failed as Mayor when it comes to public safety.

For more on crime rates see:

http://www.petedinelli.com/2018/07/19/kudos-to-keller-apd-for-bringing-property-crime-down-but-still-carry-your-gun/

Keller And Packman Together Again

Joe Monahan is a long-time political blogger who for years has published his political blog “New Mexico Politics with Joe Monahan”.

If you are a political junkie and do not read Joe Monahan, you do not know what is going on in the world of “La Politica” as he calls it.

On Wednesday August 8, Joe Monahan published the following that should be of interest to any city hall observer:

“PACKMAN PACKS

High profile Dem political consultant Alan Packman is packing up and moving into new digs on the 11th floor of Government Center where Tim Keller, one of his final clients, presides over matters.

That’s the word from City Hall insiders who report that Packman will work in constituent services under the direction of Alan Armijo, a former Dem city councilor who was placed in his position by Republican Mayor RJ Berry.

Keller, Packman and his Rio Strategies firm came under fire during Keller’s mayoral campaign over financial improprieties.

Packman solicited $30,000 in cash donations but listed them as “in-kind” services to the Keller campaign.

https://www.kob.com/investigative-news/tim-keller-mayoral-campaign-manager-soliciting-monetary-donations-despite-public-financing-rules/4597420/

The city ethics board ruled the Keller campaign had violated the ethics code but did not mean to and did not fine or reprimand him.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1091963/city-ethics-board-keller-broke-campaign-finance-rules.html

Packman’s star was dimmed after he ran into the ethics buzzsaw.

Rio Strategies had been charging clients as much as $10,000 a month for consulting services.

Armijo makes $85,000 a year in his job.

No word yet on what Packman will be getting paid.

His last campaign was for Garrett VeneKlasen who lost the Dem nomination for state land commissioner in the June primary.”

The link to Joe Monahan’s blog is here:

http://joemonahansnewmexico.blogspot.com/

On Monday, August 13, 2018 Joe Monahan published a corrected version on the hiring of political consultant Alan Packman by the administration of Mayor Keller.

The first said he would be working in constituent services in the Mayor’s office under Alan Armijo.

The city confirmed Packaman will be working in the Department of Technology and Innovation which oversees the 311 service.

311 is the centralized call center for all non-emergency inquiries and services.

Packman’s official title will be “Integration Specialist” and he will be paid a salary of $75,000.

PACKMAN THE POLITICAL CONSULTANT

Alan Packman has always played a significant role in the political career of Tim Keller and many other young progressive Democratic candidates.

Mr. Packman has also been known to speak and make presentations at “Progress Now” forums with hundreds in attendance to teach progressive candidates in breakout sessions how to run for office.

Alan Packman was or is the main principal in the political consulting firms known as “Full Arsenal” and “Rio Strategies”.

PACKMAN AND STATE AUDITOR TIM KELLER

Packman’s political consulting firm’s managed Tim Keller’s campaign for New Mexico State Auditor.

According to campaign finance reports filed with the New Mexico Secretary of State, Mr. Packman’s consulting firms were paid lucrative consulting fees in the thousands of dollars by Tim Keller while he was New Mexico State Auditor.

According to the New Mexico Secretary of State First Biannual “Report of Expenditures and Contributions” filed on April 11, 2016, New Mexico State Auditor Tim Keller had $37,755 total monetary in contributions and had total expenditures of $27,081.10 for the reporting period and paid $22,944.57 to a firm listed as “Full Arsenal” for “consulting”.

https://www.cfis.state.nm.us/docs/FPReports/3505_43165_2016_4_11_145218.pdf

According to the Second Biannial “Report of Expenditures and Contributions” filed on October 11, 2016 for the reporting period, Mr. Keller had $14,900 total monetary contributions with total expenditure of $25,414.00 and paid $14,018.63 to “Rio Strategies”.

https://www.cfis.state.nm.us/docs/FPReports/3505_47459_2016_10_11_133710.pdf

State Auditor Keller never disclosed why he needed “consulting” services as the New Mexico State Auditor and what work those firms did for the State of New Mexico.

Tim Keller never disclosed if “Full Arsenal” and “Rio Strategies” worked or were paid to do work on Keller’s campaign for Mayor of Albuquerque the year before Keller announced he was running for Mayor nor what was the “consulting” and services performed for him by Full Arsenal and Rio Strategies.

PACKMAN AND MAYORAL CANDIDATE TIM KELLER

When Keller ran for Mayor, Alan Packman was front and center and paid very well for consulting services to get Keller on the ballot and to collect 3,000 qualifying donations for public financing.

According to the July 14, 2017 Tim Keller Campaign Finance Report, on April 3, 2017 the Keller campaign was given $342,952 by the City of Albuquerque in public finance and paid to the campaign by the Albuquerque City Clerk.

The July 14, 2017 Keller Campaign Finance Report for Mayor listed total of $130, 863.63 of which the following amounts were paid to “Rio Strategies” for consulting and staff salaries and campaign management:

April 17, 2017, “CONSULTING” $42,110.31
April 17, 2017, “STAFF SALARY FOR JAN-MARCH $10,471.72
May 10, 2017, “STAFF SALARIES AND CAMPAIGN MANAGEMENT” $20,784,24
June 6, 2017, “STAFF SALARIES AND CAMPAIGN MANAGEMENT” $14,410,14
July 11, 2107 “STAFF SALARIES AND CAMPAIGN MANAGEMENT” $14,201.60

TOTAL PAID TO “RIO STRATEGIES” IN 3 Month Period: $101,978.01

The August 11, 2017 Keller for Mayor Campaign Finance report reflects that $5,216.21 was spent during the last reporting period which includes $3,115 paid to Rio Strategies for the printing of 2,000 signs

PACKMAN’S OTHER FORMER CLIENTS

Alan Packman has also played a significant role in the careers of other progressive Democratic candidates especially in Tim Keller’s age group, the 40 to 45+ crowd.

The political campaigns Packman has worked on as a political consultant and managed directly through his consulting firms have been Maggie Toulouse Oliver for Secretary of State, Raul Torrez for Bernalillo County District Attorney, Jeff Apodaca for Governor, Garrett Vene Klausen for Land Commissioner, Pat Davis for City Council and United States Congress and Roman Montoya for Bernalillo County Clerk to mention a few.

Packman also worked for Senator Martin Heinrich’s campaigns at times and the Martin Chavez for United States Congress campaign.

In the interest of full disclosure, Mr. Packman was employed by yours truly when I ran for Mayor over 4 years ago at which time he was paid a nominal monthly salary of approximately $1,000 per month for approximately 8 months.

Four years ago, then State Senator Tim Keller was expressing his desire to run for Mayor, but decided not to run for Mayor but to run for New Mexico State Auditor when I ran for Mayor.

COMMENTARY

Normally, it would not be considered a big deal that any former campaign worker or supporter with strong loyalties to a candidate to go to work for a successful candidate.

This is a link to a blog article giving a listing of all the at will positions and people that were appointed by former Mayor Richard Berry:

http://www.petedinelli.com/2017/05/19/the-party-will-soon-be-over-maybe/

It is not uncommon that key supporters or campaign workers are hired for high management or mid management levels, such as Chief of Staff or as a city department director or division head and paid $95,000 to $110,000 a year.

However, in the case of Alan Packman, a professional political consultant, and the work of “constituent services” he will be doing and working with a Berry holdover Alan Armijo, it is probably a prediction of things to come for Mayor Keller.

Constituent services is critical in giving any incumbent a leg up and an advantage for any election when it comes to likely voters who can be called on at a later date for help, a vote or for that matter a donation.

Former Republican Congressman Manuel Lujan and former Republican US Senator Pete Domenici were very well known for their constituent’s services throughout the state and were both re-elected for decades repeatedly by landslides in a solid Democratic State.

Packman’s entry may be an indication that Alan Armijo is on his way out.

Alan Armijo is a former Democratic County Commissioner and former Democratic Albuquerque City Councilor.

During the 2013 Mayors race, Alan Armijo did a “robo call” recording to registered Democratic voters endorsing Republican Mayor Richard Berry.

After the election, Democrat Armijo was given his job by Republican Mayor Richard Berry.

Republican Mayor Richard Berry appointed Democrat Armijo Director of Constituent Services and paid him $39.71 an hour or $82,596 a year.

The position of Director of Constituent Services is not a protected position and is one of the many positions that is “at will” and serves at the pleasure of the Mayor.

Sources have said that constituent’s complaints go to die in the Mayor’s Office of Constituent Services headed up by Alan Armijo.

The fact that Alan Packman has now been hired to work directly out of the Mayor Keller’s Office after almost a full year after Keller’s election as mayor is a clear indication that Mayor Keller intends to run either for re-election or for higher office, which should surprise no one.

Mayor Tim Keller has expressed in the past that he has a desire to run for Governor which will not be likely for 8 years if Democrat Michell Lujan Grisham is elected Governor.

Keller could conceivably serve two full terms as Mayor and then the timing would be right to run for Governor.

Political insiders are saying that United States Senator Tom Udall is giving very mixed messages or keeping mum as to if he is running for reelection in 2020.

If Udall does not run for reelection, it may Keller’s only option to make a move for the US Senate seat, especially if things do not get better for him in Albuquerque when it comes to APD, crime rates and the economy.

It would not be a first time for Tim Keller to try and move on to higher office before finishing a term he was elected to serve seeing that he has now done it twice before: first as a New Mexico State Senator to run for New Mexico State Auditor and second as State Auditor to run for Mayor of Albuquerque.

The fact that Packman is now going to go to work full time for Tim Keller handling constituent services says a lot in the world of “La Politica” as political blogger Joe Monahan calls it.

Keller needs someone he can trust in the Mayor’s office handling constituent complaints.

It is difficult to believe that all Mr. Packman will be doing is responding to constituent complaints and demands when he is a high priced professional political consultant who has made a very nice living in the past from running political campaigns.

It is never too early to start getting ready and started for a reelection effort or for that matter the next political office when you are politically ambitious.

All too often, ambition shatters a youthful politician’s concentration in just doing a great job, especially when a political consultant who got them elected has the ear of the elected official who has his eye on reelection or higher office.

ABQ REPORT: New APD Worse Than Old APD

Following is an article written by former APD Sergeant Dan Klein published on August 6, 2018 in ABQ Report:

The last two months have exposed a nightmare of problems at the Albuquerque Police Department. A 7-year-old child abuse victims’ bloody underwear, that APD Child Abuse detectives didn’t think needed to be taken as evidence (originally exonerated by Chief Geier and Mayor Keller). District Attorney Raul Torrez exposing APD’s failure in its investigation into the horrendous murder of ten-year-old Victoria Martens. The former Police Academy director exposing rampant cheating by cadets and the Internal Affairs commander tampering/altering public documents. This is what some would call a shit storm.

Seven-year-old girls don’t menstruate. It’s common sense that if there is blood in their underwear either the child is gravely ill or this is evidence of a crime. Yet neither the responding officer, the detectives and the chief of police understood this (not until public outcry). Then we had the point by point dismantling of APD’s case against Michelle Martens and Fabian Gonzales by DA Torrez. What and how is APD Academy teaching officers and detectives at the police academy? What indeed.

I hear the soundbites from Geier and Keller about changing APD for the better and being more transparent, but I see nothing tangible happening. I see Keller’s Twitter and Facebook posts showing APD officers playing basketball with kids and saying, “this is community policing.” Hate to tell you mayor, it’s not. Community policing is not about police officers shooting hoops with kids; it’s about well-trained police officers working with the community to make neighborhoods safer. That means training officers and detectives to recognize crimes and to take immediate action. That means training detectives on how to do impartial investigations and not to always believe what you are told, without evidence.

So far Geier and Keller have not presented anything tangible regarding better training for our officers and detectives. In fact, it seems that covering up and denying legally valid IPRA requests is what we an expect from the “new APD”. It seems that APD would rather “kill the messenger” that face up to problems.

What else are we to make from the forced retirement of APD Academy Commander John Sullivan, for “performance” reasons. Sullivan had only been at the police academy for a few months, and during that time he recognized that APD trainers were providing cadets with the answers to test questions! That tests were taken in groups instead of individually. This appears to have been happening under the Gorden Eden / Jessica Tyler administration.

Even the Consent Decree monitor questioned the average cadet scores of 95, but Eden and Tyler never blinked an eye about it. Is this why Sullivan was sent packing when he tried to fix this? It seems to me that Sullivan was performing in the way we wanted him to, no more coverups. No more hiding. Announce when mistakes are made and immediately work to correct them. Well that type of performance got Sullivan forced into retirement. Welcome to the “New APD,”, same as the Old APD.

At the time Sullivan is being forced into retirement, tipsters informed ABQREPORT that Internal Affairs Commander Jennifer Garcia was only going to receive a transfer and a suspension for falsifying IA documents! When an IPRA was filed with APD to find out what this was all about, the new APD under Geier denied it, citing among other things “attorney client privilege” and “law enforcement exemption.” Neither of which pertain. A lawsuit is now being prepared to force APD to release the investigation into Garcia. The New APD sure seems a lot like the old APD, doesn’t it?

After the media began asking questions about Garcia, Geier released documents that announced Garcia would be demoted (Geier had promoted her just months ago) to lieutenant and transferred. In the document he cites that Garcia was caught tampering/falsifying Internal Affairs documents (public records) which on it’s face is a 4th degree felony. Yet Geier did not order a criminal investigation and has yet to submit an LEA 90 misconduct report to the New Mexico Law Enforcement Board. Why? Doesn’t Geier recognize a potential crime when he sees one? (apparently not if you watch his original defense of the bloody underwear case). Doesn’t Geier know that the New Mexico State statute that governs the certification of law enforcement officers, requires an misconduct report to the NMLEA Board by the chief in this matter.

Geier knows about LEA 90 misconduct reporting, because his first action as APD chief was to send the NMLEA Board a misconduct report on retired APD Lieutenant Greg Brachle for shooting, and almost killing, Detective Jacob Grant. Geier should have submitted an LEA 90 against Eden at the same time for failure to perform his job as chief of police. But now, eight months later, it is Geier who is failing to submit a misconduct report on Garcia. What is so difficult with a chief of police obeying state statute? And why hasn’t Keller ordered Geier to submit this LEA 90? New APD sure looks like the old APD.

APD is not changing. Don’t believe the dribble PR crap from Keller.

But we, the people, can fix some of this, here is how. The Police Oversight Board needs to step in, right now, and direct the CPOA to open a full and complete investigation into the APD Training Academy during the time Jessica Tyler was director. This investigation is beyond the scope of the current POB generalist investigators; the POB should contract with an outside company to do this special investigation. The citizens of Albuquerque need to know if cheating was endorsed by the officers and command staff at APD. If Sullivan’s allegations of rampant cheating at the Academy are found to be true, it certainly would explain why some APD officers don’t recognize a crime when it is handed to them.

If the cheating allegations are confirmed, then the POB should file LEA 90 misconduct notices against all APD officers, past and present, who allowed the cheating to take place. Current officers who cheated on exams should also have LEA 90 misconduct notices filed on them. It’s the only way to fix APD.

Some members of the POB/CPOA and staff refuse to investigate when an officer is no longer employed by APD (Mr. Harness, talking about you). This is shirking your duty and you should step down if you are going to obstruct.

The POB/CPOA and staff refuse to investigate when an officer is no longer employed by APD claiming they lack the jurisdiction and their findings would have no impact on the officers. Absent a legal opinion from the POB legal counsel, I say this not true! Just because an officer has resigned or retired doesn’t mean you cannot investigate. Sustained findings would be included in the officers personnel file and have LEA 90 misconduct notices filed. These officers are still certified as New Mexico Law Enforcement officers. An agency that does its job and investigates will help to stop the problem of “gypsy cops” who get in trouble and go from department to department. If we want a professional police department then we need to hold accountable all officers, current and resigned.

If Geier won’t do his job as chief, it is up to the POB to step in and do it for him and order the completion of investigations. If wrongdoing is found on the part of the any officer, current, resigned or retired, the POB should submit the LEA 90, if Geier refuses to. And while they are at it, submit an LEA 90 on the chief for failure to perform his state statue mandated duties. It is the only way to get the chief and the department following the law. Professionals demand accountability. Don’t you want a professional police department?

The POB must request that the New Mexico Attorney General open a criminal investigation into the tampering of documents by Garcia at Internal Affairs. Since Geier and Keller don’t seem to recognize a potential crime when it is handed to them, the POB must step in and act decisively. A criminal investigation clearly is warranted in this matter.

Geier has already confirmed that Garcia tampered with/falsified public documents. The POB must now open an administrative investigation/audit into the Internal Affairs Division for the time that Jennifer Garcia oversaw IA (2015 – 2018). During this time, Garcia was the APD point of contact with the POB and they relied upon her for accuracy and truthfulness. Garcia’s demotion brings into question if this trust was misplaced. There must be a complete investigation to determine if she tampered or altered any other documents. This is the only way to instill the faith in IA that Garcia actions have destroyed. This investigation is also beyond the ability of the current POB investigators, it must be done by an outside contractor who specializes in Internal Affairs and public document auditing.

And please spare us the bullshit about Garcia having a clean record for fifteen years. That means nothing once a law enforcement officer crosses the line into potential criminal behavior. Ex APD officers Matt Griffin, Robert Davis, J B Gallegos probably all had clear records when they crossed the line. To hell with the good old boys and girls club that protects these rogue officers. It is time to tear it down!

The POB must hire outside investigators to audit and investigate Internal Affairs. The current POB investigators are not capable of this type of investigation. Both investigations, the Academy and Internal Affairs, must be released to the public when finished. This is our police department and we need to take control of it. They work for us!’

The POB/CPOA must do what Keller and Geier will not. Truly hold those in charge at APD accountable, past and present. If Geier is unwilling to act on these matters, then the POB must act for him.

This is a crisis moment at APD, we can either take back our police department or continue down the rabbit hole. POB the ball is in your court, DO SOMETHING! ACT NOW!

DAN KLEIN

Tiny Home Village Creates Giant NIMBY Problem

NIMBY stands for “Not In My Back Yard” relating to proposed projects opposed by home owners, property owners, and business owners.

Two of the biggest issues that generate public outcry are the location of methadone clinics and homeless shelters.

It was announced by the County and City that 6 sites out of 30 suggested have been identified to locate a village of tiny homes to provide transitional housing for the homeless.

The full story can be read here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/1204367/proposed-sites-for-tiny-homes-narrowed-to-six.html

The 6 locations identified as possible sites are:

8207 Central Avenue, NW
202 – 230 Louisiana, BLV, NE
7600 Southern Ave., NE
540 Paisano St., NE
12900 Central Ave., SE
12910 Central Avenue, SE

Five of the sites are south of Interstate 40 and east of Louisiana, Blvd.

One location is on the far west side on Central off of Unser boulevard.

Three of the locations are South of Central and Tramway as you travel west in proximity to established businesses and homes.

Two of the locations are on or just off of Louisiana and South of Central.

The initial list of 30 locations were suggested by neighborhood associations, individuals and city and county officials.

The project is a collaboration between Bernalillo County Government and the City of Albuquerque.

WHEN THEY SAY TINY, THEY MEAN TINY

The tiny home village will be on one acre.

The village will have 25 to 35 homes in a gated community design.

The cost will be $17,000 to $20,000 for each tiny home.

The money to build them, along with the infrastructure, will come from a $2 million general bond county voters approved in November 2016.

Each tiny home will be a mere 116 square feet, constructed on a chassis to save money and make it portable.

The homes will be insulated, have heating and cooling, contain a bed, a desk, a chair and storage space.

Each tiny home will be wired for electricity but the structures will not have plumbing and no running water.

Restrooms, showers, laundry and a kitchen will be in communal buildings that will be built on the site.

Residents will be tenants, not owners, who will be selected through a referral system used by city and county agencies that provide homeless services.

Tenants will pay a nominal rent of about $50 a month which will be applied to the yearly operational costs estimated to be $150,000 to $200,000 a year.

Residency will be open only to adults, individual or couple and children will not be allowed to live there.

One goal will be for village residents to be provided with life and skills training and support for employment.

While there is no time limit for how long residents will be allowed live in the village, it was reported that it was expected that tenants will stay for about two years before moving into permanent affordable housing when available.

SELF GOVERNANCE FOR A GOVERNMENT OWNED FACILITY

As proposed, the village will be self-governed by the residents and actively managed with oversight from Bernalillo County.

Albuquerque City Councilor Diane Gibson who is a strong proponent of the village, self-governance will foster unity and pride of the tenants saying:

“[Self-governance] feeds a sense of protection and well-being of the village itself … [and] encourages a relationship with surrounding business owners, neighborhood associations and homeowners. … The village will require residents to agree to follow rules and regularly engage in village meetings … Their obligations will include maintenance and security and ensuring the village is a good neighbor and an asset to the community.”

According to Gibson, the tiny home village will result in “an actual savings to taxpayers by significantly decreasing the number of calls for service to police, fire, rescue, ambulance, emergency room visits, as well as reducing the overall costs for health care for this population. …”

County Commissioner Debra O’Malley who is a strong proponent of the project says that one reason that there are so many homeless is “wages have not kept up with the cost of housing. … [and] if you’re next to transportation and if you’re paying $50 a month for housing you can get a part time job and still make a living instead of just surviving”

According to Commissioner O’Malley, by giving the homeless a safe place to live and an address, it makes it easier for case workers and service providers to more easily locate them.

According to news accounts, tiny home villages have been operated successfully in other states around the country and have a good track record for being cost-effective

COMMENTARY

For lack of a better description, measuring at 116 square feet, the tiny homes are akin to large, single room “tuff shed” storage units with electricity.

The major reason or advantage for “portable” units built on a chassis is that building and construction codes for fixed residential homes do not apply.

The tiny home units can be constructed off site and easily moved or relocated at any time.

There were 30+ sector development plans that provided protections to neighborhoods but have been pretty much gutted with the enactment of the new city compressive zoning code that makes development such as the tiny homes village a lot easier.

The fact that this is city council backed initiative also means that any special use zoning if required will be very easy to secure. (Holding office has its privileges).

What is surprising is that it is expected that tenants will stay for about 2 years before moving into permanent affordable housing when available.

Two years is a very long time to expect someone to live in a 116 square foot room, especially if it’s a couple living there which will be allowed.

A six-month period at the most is what should be allowed as a motivating factor for a transition into more permanent living accommodations.

A troubling aspect of the “tiny home” project is the “self-governance” proposal of a government owned facility.

“Self-governance” usually applies to homeowners’ associations for developments where people live and actually own and have title to the structure or properties.

Homeowner associations usually have authority over an entire development and deal with covenant’s that limit property usage to an extent and mandating care, maintenance and even security measures at times.

Tenants who pay rent to reside on residential properties are not owners and it is the property owner with title that has the authority to dictate terms and conditions of residency.

“Self-governance” normally does not exist in large rental residential complexes like apartment complexes with security provided by the property owner, not the tenants.

Paying rent, no matter how much, creates a binding “landlord-tenant” relationship under New Mexico law.

New Mexico has enacted the Owner-Resident Relations Act (47-8-1 through 47-8-52).

The Owner-Resident relations act governs the rental of dwelling units and the rights and obligations of owner and renter.

Under the state law, the obligations of an owner include:

“(1) Substantially comply with requirements of the applicable minimum housing codes materially affecting health and safety;
(2) Make repairs and do whatever is necessary to put and keep the premises in a safe condition as provided by applicable law and rules and regulations …
(3) Keep common areas of the premises in a safe condition;
(4) Maintain in good and safe working order and condition electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air conditioning and other facilities and appliances, … , if any, supplied or required to be supplied … .”

According to news reports, the tiny homes will have “self-governance” authority which will include maintenance and security and ensuring the village is a good neighbor and an asset to the community.

A “Self-Governance” provision will in all likely increase the city’s liability to individual tenants and surrounding property owners for any negligence relating to the failure to maintain the property and provide adequate security, an obligation required under New Mexico law of owners, not renters.

Councilor Diane Gibson’s comments that the tenants “obligations will include maintenance and security and ensuring the village is a good neighbor and an asset to the community” reflects a sad ignorance on her part of the very population that will be occupying the tiny homes.

Gibson no doubt expects or wants residents to provide some degree of armed security or patrols during the day or night to protect a very vulnerable population.

The biggest challenge is that the tenants themselves may not be able to govern and provide maintenance and security for each other if they are suffering themselves from drug addiction or mental illness which is very common among the homeless population.

Gibson presumably believes the homeless will be up to the challenge after living on the streets, perhaps drug addicted or suffering from mental illness, to assume maintenance and security responsibilities and ensuring the village is a good neighbor.

Gibson’s assertion that the village will result in an “actual savings to taxpayers by significantly decreasing the number of calls for service to police, fire, rescue, ambulance, emergency room visits” is pathetic and laughable given the nature of the community population you are dealing with.

The tiny home village is akin to a multi dwelling unit area such as an apartment complex, and apartment complexes are notorious for having hundreds of calls for service to police and fire.

The fact that restrooms, showers, laundry and a kitchen will be in communal buildings suggests that safeguards must be taken to prevent crime, especially violent crime and illicit drugs.

Recently, the city attempted to shut down the Sierra Motel alleging it was nuisance when it needed repairs and had hundreds if not thousands of call for service to police and fire.

It is likely the only difference with the tiny homes village is that the calls for service will be concentrated to one area, the village itself.

Another consequence from the tiny home development will be reduced property values to nearby residential homes and businesses.

Locating the tiny home village in an area visible from the freeway after coming or going through Tijeras Canyon does not appear to be a very bright idea nor the type of image the city needs to portray to the visiting tourist.

A financial “impact study”, environmental impact study and traffic study should be a minimum requirement to determine how property values and the surrounding area will be affected with the construction of the tiny homes project.

I have no doubt this is one project that will get considerable public attention.

Make no mistake, the tiny homes project is noble with intent.

It is a project that should be seriously considered as a viable solution to the city’s homeless situation and helping the approximately 1,500 homeless in the Albuquerque area.

However, any location and the chances of success at that location must be looked upon with great skepticism and strongly justified.

The fact that the 6 locations were among 30 locations suggested by neighborhood associations, individuals and city and county officials is very encouraging.

Notwithstanding, the effects on what the village will have on where it is located must be examined with a critical eye.

This is one project that will get considerable public attention.

The public hearings should not be rushed, more public hearings than 3 need to be done, and it is a project that should not be rammed down people’s throats like the ART Bus project.

The tiny homes project has the potential of ending the political careers of a city councilor or a county commissioner.

But then again, all the City Councilor’s, especially Diane Gibson, supported the ART Bus project and were reelected last October, 2017.

For more see July 7, 2018 blog article “Out of Sight, Out of Mind Solution To Homelessness Proposed”:

http://www.petedinelli.com/2018/07/27/out-of-sight-out-of-mind-solution-to-homelessness-proposed/

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

POST SCRIPT: PUBLIC HEARINGS TO BE HELD

Property owners within 1,000 feet of the various sites have been sent letters inviting them to attend and a series of public meetings.

The scheduled hearing are open to the public are as follows:

• August 9 @ 6 p.m., Manzano Mesa Multgenerational Center, 501 Elizabeth SE

• August 16 @ 6 p.m., African American Performing Arts Center, 310 San Pedro NE (on the grounds of Expo New Mexico)

• August 18 @ 10 a.m., Patrick J. Baca Library, 8081 Central NW.

A website, www.tinyhomes4bc.com, will be launched August 8 to provide updated information and allow people to offer comments on each of the 6 proposed sites.

“Democracy Dollars” A New Form of “Dialing For Dollars”

The term “Dialing for Dollars” is used to refer to the amount of time candidates for office spend on the phone to solicit huge amounts of campaign contributions.

It is not uncommon for candidates to block off hours every day to make calls for donations.

A new version of “Dialing for Dollars” is being proposed called “Democracy for Dollars” where candidates and their campaigns will likely spend hours on the phone to collect $25 vouchers issued by the city to city voters as well as to solicit the $5.00 qualifying donations to run for Mayor.

A petition with more than 27,000 signatures has been submitted to the City Clerk in an effort to place a revamped City of Albuquerque public financing proposal for voter approval on the November general election ballot.

The full Albuquerque Journal story can be read here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/1204893/new-public-financing-plan-may-be-on-november-ballot.html

The City Clerk’s Office is in the process of certifying a minimum of 19,480 signatures as being registered voters before the initiative can be put on the ballot.

The proposal would amend the Albuquerque City Charter by adding “Democracy Dollars” to the city’s election code.

The passage of the measure would direct the Albuquerque City Council to establish an ordinance providing for issuance and a redemption process of coupons to secure public financing.

Registered city voters and voting-eligible residents would be given the “Democracy Dollars” coupons that they would use to contribute to their choice of qualified candidates.

Candidates for Mayor and City Council would then redeem the coupons with the city clerk, up to a limit, for funds to spend in support of their campaigns.

The program would be funded by the city’s public financing fund that is already set up for candidates who qualify for public finance with the fund currently at about $3.5 million.

Heather Ferguson, co-director of ABQ Democracy Dollars that organized the petition drive explained in an August 5, 2018 Journal Guest column how “Democracy Dollars” will work:

“The basics of the public financing program remain the same – candidates who are willing to not accept private donor monies, and who qualify by collecting enough signatures along with small $5 contributions, get a block grant from the city’s Open & Ethical Election Fund for their campaign.

“Each Albuquerque voter will be mailed a $25 coupon, or “Democracy Dollar,” from the city clerk to contribute to a participating candidate of his or her choice. Candidates receiving the new kind of contributions can then redeem them for their face value for their campaign. The vast majority of citizens who are not able to make a monetary contribution under the present system will now have a new role – as small donors, with a new way to have their voices heard, and a new stake in our democratic system.”

You can read the full Journal guest editorial comment here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/1205099/public-campaign-financing-can-work-in-abq.html

Seattle, Washington has had a similar system is in place for the past 3 years and for that reason few elections have been held using the system.

In 2015, Seattle voters passed a citizen-led initiative known as “Honest Elections Seattle.”

The Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission distributes what are known as “Democracy Vouchers” to eligible Seattle residents to give to candidates to qualify for public finance.

ALBQUERQUE’S EXISTING PUBLIC FINANCE SYTEM

Since 2005, Albuquerque has had a voter approved “public finance” system.

It was enacted with a 70% vote.

Under the existing system, candidates for Mayor and City Council who elect to take public financing must collect a specified number of $5.00 donations from registered voters and must agree to a spending cap of not more than they are given in public financing by the city.

City Council candidates are required to collect upwards of 850 to 900 $5.00 donations and Mayor candidates are required to collect 3,000 $5.00 donations.

City Council candidates are given $1 per voter in their district, or approximately $30,000 to $45,000, while Mayoral candidates are given around $380,000 and if in the runoff an additional $118,000.

All candidates for Mayor or City Council are given three months to collect nominating petition signatures from registered voters.

In the 2016 election only 8 of 16 candidates secured the required number of qualifying signatures from registered Albuquerque voters.

Collecting the $5 qualifying donations is extremely difficult because candidates are only given six weeks to collect the donations yet are given far more time to collect the nominating petition signatures.

Theoretically, a candidate for Mayor could gather the required number of qualifying donations and yet fail to collect the required number of nominating petition signatures.

Candidates are given more than double to time to collect qualifying signatures and just six weeks to collect $5 qualifying donations.

Candidates for Mayor are required to collect at least 3,000 qualifying cash donations of $5 to the City of Albuquerque from Albuquerque registered voters over a six-week period, which is a daunting and very difficult task for anyone.

If a candidate seeking public financing donations does not secure the 3,000 qualifying $5 donations, all the money reverts to the city and cannot be kept by the candidate that collected the donations.

With public financing, paper receipts have to be used and issued and copies of paper receipts and the cash must be turned over to the city clerk for approval.

As a condition to receiving public financing from the City, a public financed candidate must agree to a spending cap and agree not to spend any more than the amount given in public financing and agree not to raise and spend any more cash to financed their campaign.

MEASURED FINANCE COMMITTEES

Individual candidates that decide to go with private financing can solicit unlimited cash donations from any source including out of city and state contributions.

Measured Finance Committees are also allowed under the city campaign finance ordinance and election code.

Measured finance committees are allowed to be organized to promote an individual candidate.

Measured finance committees can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money to promote and individual candidate so long as there is no coordination between the individual candidate and the measured finance committee.

PRIVATE AND PUBLIC FINANCED CANDIDATES FOR MAYOR

It was in the 2005 municipal election that the city’s current public financing laws were adopted by city voters.

In 2005, there were 3 candidates for Mayor: incumbent Mayor Martin Chavez, City Councilor Eric Griego and City Councilor Brad Winter and all three were privately financed candidates.

In 2005, incumbent Mayor Martin Chavez was re elected having raised and spent $1.2 million dollars from private donations showing the power of his incumbency.

An interesting side note fact is that it was then City Councilor Eric Griego who wrote and sponsored the public finance law and he ran and lost to Martin Chavez.

In 2009, all three mayoral candidates, Martin Chavez, Richard Berry and Richard Romero, qualified for and used the city’s public finance system and each given and spending the exact amount of approximately $340,000 in public financing.

In 2009, then-incumbent Mayor Martin Chávez was defeated by Richard Berry without a need for a runoff.

Political observers believed that Richard Romero and Martin Chavez split the Democratic vote and that Chavez made the mistake of taking public financing

Political observers felt that Chavez needed far more to spend to fend off the constant attacks from Berry and Romero.

In 2013, Richard Berry raised private donations and outspent yours truly by well over a two-to-one margin.

Mayor Berry raised and spent $904,623.00 in cash and in-kind contributions of $5,176 for a total of $909,799 spent compared to my $360,000 in public financing.

In the 2017 Mayoral election, there were only 8 candidates out of an original field of 16 that made the ballot for Mayor and collecting the required number of nominating signatures.

In 2017, then-State Auditor Tim Keller was the sole candidate that qualified for public financing.

For the first election, Keller was given $342,952 in public financing and then another $118,000 for the runoff.

Notwithstanding being a public finance candidate, Keller had three (3) measured finance committees that either raised money directly to spend on his behalf or that indirectly spent money and supported his campaign with campaign commercials.

ABQ Forward Together was a measured finance committee that was formed specifically to raise money to promote Tim Keller for Mayor and raised over $663,000 for Keller.

ABQ Forward Together was chaired by a former political campaign consultant for Mr. Keller when he ran successfully for New Mexico State Senate.

City campaign finance records reveal that $1,358,254 was actually spent on Tim Keller’s successful campaign for Mayor ($506,254 public finance money + $663,000 ABQ Forward + $67,000 ABQFIREPAC + $122,000 ABQ Working Families = $1,358,254.)

Republican Dan Lewis raised more than $847,000 in cash contributions for the October election and the November Mayoral runoff election.

Democrat Brian Colón raised and spent nearly $824,000 for his unsuccessful mayoral run.

Republican Wayne Johnson privately raised and spent approximately $250,000.

Republican Ricardo Chavez finance his own campaign by contributing and loaning his campaign $1 million dollars, but when he dropped out of the race all of the money was repaid to him after he spent approximately $200,000.

The remaining three (3) candidates for Mayor raised and spent less than $50,000 combined after failing to qualify for public financing.

COMMENTARY

There are approximately 360,000 registered voters in Albuquerque.

To print and implement a voucher system will result in a minimum financial exposure to this city of $9 million dollars. (360,000 registered voters X $25 voucher = $9 million).

A real unintended consequence of “Democracy Dollars” will be to add yet another difficult layer of campaign solicitation effort by candidates on top of an already very cumbersome process to collect $5.00 qualifying donations that sets up most candidates for failure.

Candidates will be soliciting not only the $5.00 donations but the $25 city issued coupons that are in reality a city subsidized contribution being called a “block grant” from taxpayers.

Enforcement to prevent violations of campaign finance laws will also be a major hurdle and costly to the city.

The $25 voucher system being proposed can be very easily abused and undermined by anyone who decides to go around and just buy the voucher’s outright from voter at a lesser cost of say $5 to $10 for an example and then turn the purchased voucher into the city to collect the full $25.

It is very misleading to call citizens who are not able to make monetary contribution under the present system to be referred to as “small donors” when giving their $25 voucher to a candidate when the funding source for the voucher is the city.

Albuquerque’s public finance laws are way too difficult to qualify for public financing in that in the very last 2 Mayor elections, only 2 candidates out of 19 candidates actually qualified for public financing.

The “Democracy for Dollars” plan has absolutely no impact on the affects of measured finance committees and the unlimited amount of money they can raise and spend on behalf or even against a candidate.

The one successful public finance candidate in the last two elections for Mayor, Tim Keller, received approximately $852,000 from measured finance committees in addition to his public financing of $506,254 of representing final campaign spending of $1,358,254.

Keller very effectively held himself out as the only public finance candidate in part to get the progressive vote and get elected when he said with a wink in his eye and a smile on his face he was “walking the walk” and not just “talking the talk” when it came to his support of public financing and getting the $5 qualifying donations.

It is going to take a hell of a lot more than a voucher system and significantly more changes to put public financing directly in the hands of voters, especially with the existence of Citizens United in order to level the political donation playing field.

The “Democracy Dollars” are really “free vouchers” provided by the city to voters in an apparent attempt to supplement the $5.00 qualifying donations to the city that are now required to secure public financing.

Free vouchers defeat the intent and purpose of public finance campaigns.

Every effort should be made to make Albuquerque’s public financing laws for municipal elections to legally provide for a “dollar for dollar” match to privately raised funds by candidates, thereby providing a real level playing field.

The influence of big money in elections allowed by the US Supreme Court decision in Citizens United is destroying our democracy.

Many highly qualified candidates for office all too often do not bother to run because of the inability or difficulty raising the necessary money to run.

Political campaign fundraising and big money influence are warping our election process.

Money spent becomes equated with the final vote.

Money drives the message, affects voter turnout and ultimately the outcome of an election.

Albuquerque municipal elections need campaign finance reform and enforcement.

2018 should be the year the City Council and the Mayor Keller act on campaign finance reform in anticipation of the 2019 municipal election.

However, the “Democracy for Dollars” initiative is a pathetic attempt at campaign finance reform.

During his campaign for Mayor, Tim Keller strongly condemned the Supreme Court decision of Citizens United saying that was why he chose public financing because he believed in it.

Perhaps now that Tim Keller was elected mayor by a landslide, he will use some of his political capital to advocate for true campaign finance reform in municipal elections to reduce the impact of measures finance committees.

Then again, now that he is the incumbent, Keller just may give campaign finance reform another wink of the eye with a smile on his face, seeking public financing and rely upon measured finance committees to get reelected as Mayor and again spend over $1 million dollars.

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POST SCRIPT:

On January 2, 2018, I posted my blog article with recommendations for changes to the City’s public finance and election code laws.

Following is a listing of the recommendations:

1. Allow four (4) months and two (2) weeks, from January 1 to May 15, to collected both the qualifying donations and petition signatures, and private campaign donation collection.
2. Allow the collection of the qualifying donations from anyone who wants, and not just residents or registered voters of Albuquerque. Privately finance candidates now can collect donations from anyone they want and anywhere in the State and Country.
3. Once the allowed number of qualifying donations is collected, the public financing would be made immediately available, but not allowed to be spent until starting May 15.
4. Permit campaign spending for both publicly financed and privately financed candidates only from May 15 to the October election day.
5. Return to candidates for their use in their campaign any qualifying donations the candidate has collected when the candidate fails to secure the required number of qualifying donations to get the public financing.
6. Mandate the City Clerk to issue debit card or credit card collection devices to collect the qualifying donations and to issue receipts and eliminate the mandatory use of “paper receipts”.
7. Increase from $1.00 to $2.50 per registered voter the amount of public financing, which will be approximately $900,000, and allow for incremental increases of 10% every election cycle keeping up with inflation.
8. Allow for additional matching public financing available for run offs at the rate of $1.25 per registered voter, or $450,000.
9. Albuquerque should make every effort to make municipal elections partisan elections to be held along with State and Federal elections by seeking a constitutional amendment from the legislature to be voted upon by the public.
10. Any money raised and spent by measured finance committees on behalf a candidate should be required to first be applied to reimburse the City for any taxpayer money advanced to a public finance candidate or deducted from a publicly financed candidates account and returned to the city.
11. City of Albuquerque campaign reporting and finance ordinances and regulations need to define with absolute clarity that strictly prohibit the coordination of expenditures and campaign activities with measured finance committees and individual candidate’s campaigns in municipal elections.
12. A mandatory schedule of fines and penalties for violations of the code of ethics and campaign practices act should be enacted by the City Council.

You can read the complete blog article here:

http://www.petedinelli.com/2018/01/02/2018-year-to-reform-city-public-campaign-finance-laws-revised-article/