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

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

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

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

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

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

“CAN ABQ, APS WIN TAX VOTES IN NOVEMBER?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Taxes Are The Tuition Paid For Public Education

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

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

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

PEDRO: A week. I mean a day.

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

Pedro: A weekday!”

NATIONAL TREND

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NM SENATE EFFORTS FOR STATE RUN STORES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SKEPTICISM EXPRESSED

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HOUSE BILL 356 IN A NUTSHELL

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

A state commission would operate consignment stores that sell recreational cannabis

Local cities and counties could opt out

Adults 21 and older could possess up to 1 ounce

People could not grow their own recreational marijuana

Employers could still have drug-free workplaces

Consuming cannabis in public would be prohibited

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

Some revenue would go to research into how to detect impairment

Child resistant-packaging would be mandated

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

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

COLORADO IMPACT REPORT

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Education

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

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

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

Driving

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

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

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

Arrests

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

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

Crime

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

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

Health

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

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

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

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

City Council Priorities Versus Mayor Priorities Are Clearly Different

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

COUNCIL’S SUBSTITUTE VERSION

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

The City Council’s major changes include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can read the full story here:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

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

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

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

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

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

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

The link to city hall budgets is:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Reasons To Impeach Trump Than Candidates Running Against Trump

Fourteen Democrats, and counting, have either declared their candidacies for president or have begun campaigns with the establishment of presidential exploratory committees.

Eleven Democrats are considering running and many will no doubt announce for President within a few more weeks.

So far, President Donald Trump is the only Republican who has announced he is running for election in 2020.

Both Democrats Hillary Clinton, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Ohio United States Senator Sherrod Brown have announced they are not running.

NOTE: For the complete listing of all the candidates by name, see the below postscript after this article.

DEMOCRAT PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY POLLS

On February 12, 2019, a poll was released by Morning Poll that tracked how those considered to be the top Democratic presidential candidates with bases of support and financial backers are doing among Democratic primary voters nationwide and in early voting states.

The poll was taken in the early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada.

More than 5,000 registered voters were polled daily and each week to track how the race changes.

Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders emerged as the two main preferences at this point in time with Kamala Harris coming in 3rd and all the others in single digits.

The poll released by Morning Consult revealed the following:

Joe Biden 29%
Bernie Sanders 22%
Kamala Harris 13%
Elizabeth Warren 8%
Beto O’Rourke 7%
Cory Booker 5%
Amy Klobuchar 3%

Among early Democrat primary state voters, Joe Biden has a bigger lead with 33% support, followed by Bernie Sanders at 21%, Kamal Harris at 11 percent, Elizabeth Warren at 10%, Cory Booker at 6%, and Beto O’Rourke at 5% with Amy Klobuchar polling at 2%.

Morning Consult also asked voters who their second choice would be.

Biden, Warren, and O’Rourke voters said Sanders was their second choice.

Sanders and Harris voters said Biden was their second choice.

The age demographics was very revealing.

Among the top five candidates of Biden, Sanders, Harris, Warren, and O’Rourke, former Vice President Biden’s supporters are the oldest, with an average age of 52.

Among the top five candidates, Sanders’s supporters are the youngest, averaging 41.

44% of Sanders supporters are under the age of 30, while 30% of Biden’s are over the age of 60.

Morning Consult asked Republican voters how they feel about 2020 with 1 in 5 saying they would like to see someone else besides President Donald Trump on the GOP ticket.

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/2/12/18221752/2020-democrats-biden-bernie-sanders-beto-poll

TRUMP’S APPROVAL RATING REMAINS STEADY

On March 5, 2019, a Gallup Poll was taken from February 12 to February 28 based on interviews with 1,932 adults was released.

The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3%.

The poll found that a clear majority of 54% of adults disapprove President Trump’s performance as president.

President Trump’s overall approval rating sits at 43%.

The Gallup Poll showed that President Trump’s approval rating on the economy has reached the highest level in his Presidency with a new high of 56% of adults approving of Trump’s handling of the economy.

The poll also found that 54% approve of Trump’s job with unemployment.

Further, a 51% majority of voters approve of Trump’s handling of North Korea despite his failure at the most recent summit that he walked away from.

According to the Gallup poll, Trump gets his lowest approval marks on his handling of relations with Russia (39%), race relations (38%), and corruption in government (37%).

Poll respondents were split heavily along partisan lines in their views of Trump.

A whopping 93% of Republicans approve of Trump’s handling of the economy, compared to just 20% of Democrats.

Additionally, just 6% of Democrats approve of Trump’s overall job performance, while 90% of Republicans approve, according to the Gallup poll.

https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/432595-trumps-approval-rating-on-economy-hits-new-high-gallup

HOUSE DEMOCRATS LAUNCH AGGRESSIVE NEW TRUMP PROBE

On March 3, 2019, Democrats in the United State House of Representatives launched a sweeping new probe of President Donald Trump.

Democratic leaders have pledged to investigate all avenues and review special counsel Robert Mueller’s upcoming report before trying take any drastic action such as impeachment.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said his committee was beginning the probe into possible obstruction of justice, corruption and abuse of power.

The committee sent document requests to 81 people linked to the president and his associates.

It is likely the Trump probe will be an aggressive investigation that threatens to shadow Trump through the 2020 election with potentially damaging inquiries into his White House, campaign and family businesses all leading to Articles of Impeachment against Trump .

https://www.apnews.com/c1c319d8e4c943a482d03195d069e92a

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

It is far too easy and all too tempting for political pundits to say that no matter who the Democrats nominate, that person will beat Donald Trump in 2020.

That would be very wishful thinking.

There are more reasons to impeach Trump than there are candidates running against Trump, and that is a hell of a lot of reasons.

It is apparent that the Republican Party has become the Donald Trump Party.

The GOP is nothing but an empty shell of what it use to be with a warped Donald Trump brand of “conservatism” which is a form of Trump Fascism.

The Republican Party is no longer the Party of Lincoln nor the Party of Reagan.

President Trump is no better than the dictators he praises and admires: Russian President Vladimir Putin, North Korean President Kim Jung Un and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia who the CIA say personally ordered the killing of journalist Jamal Khashogge.

If Trump were running against all the Democrats combined in a national election, he would win a plurality vote with his 43% approval rating and his 90% Republican support, but thankfully that is not how it works.

Notwithstanding, the Democrat Party is also breaking up along varying degrees of its core values ranging from democrat socialist, progressives, corporate or capitalist democrats and moderate democrats.

The 2020 Democrat Presidential Primary Campaign is gearing up and it will likely be a real slug fest by all the candidates seeking attention and press headlines on a national level.

With so many Democrats running, it is difficult to imagine that any one candidate will emerge from the primary without any battle scares, some self-inflicted, and a weakened candidate.

The Democrat nominee will have a difficult time reuniting the party much like Hubert H. Humphrey and Jimmy Carter who both went through a bruising primary season, one as an outgoing Vice President and one as a sitting President with both eventually losing.

Hillary Clinton was never fully accepted by the Bernie Sanders supporters and she was accused of being a “corporate democrat”.

Clinton also failed to unite the party with Sanders supporters saying the primary was rigged in her favor, when it was more like Sanders supporters not accepting defeat in a national party he has never been a part of and party that never fully accepted him.

If Bernie Sanders does not become the Democrat nominee, many suggest he will not give it up and just run as an Independent or form a Socialist Democratic Party thereby ensuring Trumps election.

To Sanders, and his life’s work, preserving his “movement” will be far more important for him to be remembered than beating Trump.

The ultimate Democrat nominee may be too weak to take on a populist such as Trump who still has a large base of support that could enable him to squeak out another electoral college victory but losing the popular vote as he did last time to Clinton.

Trump has always appealed to America’s darker angels and sinister instincts.

Trump is the “Chaos President” and he thrives on it with always lying to the American public and with his base believing everything he says and does.

Trump has a strangle hold over all congressional Republicans who are afraid to oppose him on any level fearing his rath and the revenge of his base.

Trump has gotten away with being a racist and immoral on many levels, and for so many years, including his business dealing and paying off porn stars and vilifying the press as enemy of the people.

http://www.petedinelli.com/2019/02/20/ignorant-uneducated-simple-minded-racists-trump-and-news-editor/

According to Trump’s former private attorney and fixer Michael Cohen, Trump is a racist, a conman and a cheat and from all the criminal indictments resulting from the Mueller investigation, Trump has surrounded himself with the same type of people, including his family members.

Notwithstanding all of Trump’s shortcomings, his racism and immoral conduct and the negative baggage he carries, the Republican Party will nominate him again and it will be very difficult at this point for any one of the Democrats running now to beat him.

Two major events that have the potential of forcing Trump from office more so than not being elected again are the Robert Mueller Report on his investigation of Russia influencing the 2016 election and the Democratic control of the House of Representatives.

The extent of Trumps treason and obstruction of justice is coming into focus with the indictment and conviction of so many of his close associates and it is likely to be revealed in full by the Robert Mueller Report once released.

http://www.petedinelli.com/2019/01/16/extent-of-trumps-treason-and-obstruction-of-justice-coming-into-focus/

As the 2020 election approaches, it is likely we have a President that will be facing impeachment and removal from office.

The country will know soon enough if impeachment, conviction and removal from office is justified and if so, the Democratic nominee just may face off with President Michael Pence or for that matter United State Senator Mitt Romney as the Republican nominee again.

With any luck, President Trump will resign or be forced from office.

Otherwise, the Democratic nomination may not be worth much to whoever is nominated.

Democrats have a bad habit of rescuing defeat from the jaws of victory.
_______________________________________________________________________

POSTSCRIPT

Following is a listing of announced and un announced candidates for President:

DEMOCRATS WHO ARE RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT

Beto O’Rourke (D): On March 14, 2019, Former United States Representative Robert Francis“Beto” O’Rourke, 46, announced his candidacy for President. O’Rouke served in the United States House from Texas’ 16th Congressional District, which includes El Paso, for 3 terms before losing a close election to Republican incumbent Ted Cruz in a U.S. Senate race last year. O’ Rourke shocked the country with his ability to raise close to $80 million to run against Cruz as well as the crowds he was able to energize.

Bernie Sanders (D) – Declared: Bernie Sanders, age 77, of Vermont, is an Independent, he announced a second run for the Democrat nomination proclaiming he is a Democrat Socialist. Within 24 hours announcing his candidacy, Sanders raised $4 million.

John Hickenlooper (D) – Declared: Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, age 67, made the long-expected announcement he is running for president in a video titled “Standing Tall”. Hickenlooper’s video announcement traces his life from laid-off geologist, to owner of a brew pub, to mayor of Denver and to governor, and touts the Democrat’s experience in a variety of fields.

Jay Inslee (D) – Declared: Washington Governor Jay Inslee, age 68, announced for President mixing calls for combating climate change and highlights of his liberal record with an aggressive critique of President Donald Trump.

Cory Booker (D) – Declared: United States Senator Cory Booker, age 49, is in his first full term representing New Jersey after winning a special election in 2013. Booker previously served as the mayor of Newark, New Jersey from 2006-2013.

Pete Buttigieg (D) – Exploratory Committee Launched: On January 23, 2019 Pete Buttigieg, age 37, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and the former Indiana state treasurer announced that he has formed an exploratory committee in order to run for president. He is an Afghan war veteran and Rhodes scholar who was first elected mayor in 2011, at age 29.

Julián Castro (D) – Declared: Julian Castro, age 44, is a former U.S. Housing and Urban Development during the Barack Obama administration and former mayor of San Antonio, Texas.

John Delaney (D) – Declared: Former U.S. Rep. John Delaney, age 55, of Maryland became the first Democrat to formally declare a 2020 candidacy for president in July 2017. Delaney co-founded health care and financial companies and served in the U.S. House from 2013 until early January 2019.

Tulsi Gabbard (D) – Declared: U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, age 37, of Hawaii has served in the U.S. House since 2013. She made her candidacy official in an announcement in February. Gabbard is a member of the House Foreign Affairs and Armed Services Committees.

Kirsten Gillibrand (D) – Exploratory Committee Launched: United States Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, age 52, announced on January 15 that she filed an exploratory committee. Gillibrand was appointed to the U.S. Senate in 2009 after Hillary Clinton resigned to become Secretary of State and was elected in 2010 and 2016.

Kamala Harris (D) – Declared: United Sates Senator Kamala Harris, age 54, of California, announced on January 21 she is running for president. Harris is a former California Attorney General and was elected the Senate in 2016.

Amy Klobuchar (D) – Declared: U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, age 58, of Minnesota, announced her candidacy and he is serving her third term and serves on the Senate Judiciary, Rules, Agriculture and Commerce committees.

Elizabeth Warren (D) – Declared: United States Senator Elizabeth Warren, age 69, of Massachusetts, announced on February 9, 2019 her candidacy. Warren lost credibility with her claim being Native American when she had a DNA testing done that revealed a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of Native American heritage, resulting in her issuing an apology to Native American activists.

Marianne Williamson (D) – Declared: Marianne Williamson, age 66, is an author and lecturer who is running for president. Considered a spiritual counselor for Oprah Winfrey, Williamson visited New Hampshire in early January.

Andrew Yang (D) – Declared: Andrew Yang, age 44, is an entrepreneur who announced his candidacy for president in the spring of 2018. He believes the federal government should provide everyone with a “Universal Basic Income.”

DEMOCRATS CONSIDERING RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT

Former Vice President Joe Biden (D): Former Vice President Joe Biden, age 76, has run for President twice before. If he announces another bid, he will likely be considered the front runner. Former President Barrack Obama would be hard press not to endorse him.

Michael Bennet (D): United Stated Senator Michael Bennet, age 54, serving second term representing Colorado, serves on the Senate Finance, Agriculture and Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committees.

Steve Bullock (D): Montana Governor Steve Bullock, age 52, is in his second term as Montana’s Governor after serving as his state’s attorney general. Bullock is currently chairman of the National Governors Association.

Bill DeBlasio (D): New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio, age 57, is serving in his second term as Mayor the nation’s largest city. Before being elected mayor in 2013, DeBlasio was elected to three two-year terms on the New York City Council and a term as New York City Public Advocate.

John Kerry (D): John Kerry, age 75, is a former U.S. Secretary of State and former United States Senator. Kerry was the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee.

Mitch Landrieu (D): New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, age 58, was elected in 2006 and re-elected in 2010.

Terry McAuliffe (D): Former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, age 61, was chair of the Democratic National Committee from 2001-2005 and co-chaired Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign and was elected Virginia’s Governor in 2013.

Seth Moulton (D): United States Representative Seth Moulton, age 40, is in his second term representing the 6th Congressional District in Massachusetts.

Tim Ryan (D): United Sates Representative Tim Ryan, age 45, is serving in his ninth term in the U.S. House representing Northeastern Ohio. Ryan unsuccessfully challenged Rep. Nancy Pelosi for U.S. House Minority Leader in 2017.

Eric Swalwell (D): United Sates Representative Eric Swalwell, age 38, is in his fourth term representing California’s 15th Congressional District and a member of the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees.

REPUBLICANS RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT

President Donald Trump (R) – Declared: Donald J. Trump, age 71, the 45th president of the United States, is running for re-election. Trump won the 2016 first-in-the-nation primary by a 35-percent to 16-percent margin over former Ohio Governor John Kasich, while other candidates trailed far behind.

William Weld (R) – Formed exploratory committee: Former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld, 73, was the vice-presidential nominee of the Libertarian Party, running with presidential nominee former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson.

OTHER REPUBLICANS CONSIDERING RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT

John Kasich (R): Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, age 66, finished second to President Donald Trump in the 2016 New Hampshire presidential primary and in the overall nomination race.

Larry Hogan (R): Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, age 62, a Republican, was elected to his second term in November and has not ruled out a run for president.

INDEPENDENTS CONSIDERING RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT

Mark Cuban (I): Mark Cuban, age 49, of Texas, is an investor, entrepreneur and owner of the Dallas Mavericks National Basketball Association team. He has said if he runs, he would probably do so as an independent.

Howard Schultz (I): Howard Schultz, age 65, the former chief executive officer of Starbucks, is a self-described lifelong Democrat but has said he is strongly considering running for president as an independent.

New Mexico Ethics Commission Very Long Overdue

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, New Mexico is 1 of 6 states without a statewide ethics commission.

New Mexico has had more than its share of public corruption scandals over the years.

Public corruption scandals in New Mexico involving elected officials go back decades, with two state treasurers, two state senators, a secretary of state and a deputy insurance superintendent all going to prison on criminal charges.

On November 5, 2018, New Mexico voters overwhelmingly voted with a three-quarters majority for a constitutional amendment to establish an independent statewide ethics commission.

The commission as envisioned will be authorized to look at alleged misconduct by state officers as well as employees of the executive and legislative branches, plus candidates, lobbyists, government contractors and those seeking government contracts.

The new commission is to have broad powers, including the ability to subpoena witnesses.

http://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/local_news/new-mexico-overwhelmingly-backs-ethics-commission/article_54cd9aca-e4c3-56c8-8bf0-6968fd5018ea.html

PENDING LEGISLATION

On Sunday March 3, 2019, HB 4, the house bill creating the voter-mandated ethics commission won bipartisan approval.

It passed with a 56-11 vote margin.

It will be a seven-member commission.

HB 4 has now been forwarded to the New Mexico Senate where a competing proposal outlining the powers and procedures for independent commission is under consideration.

Democrat State Representative Daymon Ely, D-Corrales, who is also a New Mexico licensed attorney, had this to say about the passage of HB 4:

“My hope is that if this bill becomes law, we have balanced two things: the public’s right to expect that we’re going to be held accountable for our actions … But also, and equally important, due process for those people accused of wrongful conduct.”

Executive Director of Common Cause New Mexico Heather Ferguson had this to say:

“[The House Bill incorporates] the best principles of what would make an effective ethics commission. … The whole goal of this commission is to rebuild public trust that has been so deeply eroded over time and high-profile, scandalous cases where our elected officials have gone to jail.”

For 40 years, Common Cause has worked on trying to get an ethics commission created by the legislature and campaign heavily for the constitutional amendment approved by voters.

POWER OF THE ETHICS COMMISSION

Under the approved house bill, complaints would be made public when commission officials find that “probable cause” exists to start an investigation.

“Probable cause” in a criminal setting is defined as evidence initially reflecting that it is more likely than not that something wrong has occurred.

Complaints that are found by the commission to be frivolous or unsubstantiated could be made public by the complainant or respondent which supporters argue will act as a check on the commission itself.

HB 4 gives the Ethics Commission subpoena power which is absolutely necessary to empower the commission with real authority to investigate.

HB 4 also gives the commission the authority to issue “advisory opinions” to help elected and government officials to avoid “accidental” violations of the campaign finance laws.

The biggest benefit to advisory opinions is that it will aide in avoiding or preventing mistakes by providing guidance and clear advice on what can and cannot be done under campaign finance laws.

A major area of concern and debate before the house vote was taken was the proper length for a “blackout period” before an election during which the commission would not adjudicate a complaint filed against a candidate except pursuant to the Campaign Reporting Act or Voter Action Act.

The House Bill approved a black out period of 60 days before an election.

An amendment proposing expanding the “blackout period” so that it would begin 60 days before the start of early voting was tabled and therefor failed.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1287813/house-gives-ok-to-ethics-commission.html

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

A rogues gallery of unethical conduct, fraud, theft and abuse of power and influence in New Mexico politics includes Former Democrat State Senator Manny Aragon, two former Democrat State Treasurers, Michael Montoya and Robert Vigil, former Republican Secretary of State Dianna Duran, former Democrat State Senator Phil Griego, former Republican State Senator Monica Youngblood and most recently former Republican New Mexico Taxation, and Revenue Secretary Demesia Padilla.

Unproven allegations of “pay to play” plagued the 8-year tenure of Democrat Governor Bill Richardson with a federal grand jury investigation resulting in no indictments and no finding of “pay to play”.

Former Republican United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico Gregg Forate, with an obvious strong Republican partisan bias, released a scathing letter of condemnation that accused the Richardson administration of “corrupting” the government contract award process.

Forate was later appointed Secretary of Public Safety by Richardson’s Republican successor and he now serves as a Federal Magistrate appointed by President Donald Trump.

During the 8-year tenure of former Republican Governor “She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named”, allegations of unethical conduct and undue influence with the award of the billion-dollar, 20-year Downs Race Track Lease, dubbed the “Dirty Downs Deal”, occurred.

What also occurred was a federal grand jury investigation of the Republican Governor’s number one political consultant and campaign manager relating to misuse of her inauguration funding.

A statewide ethics commission will help rebuild trust in a state government that has experienced way too much corruption through the years, but only if it is empowered with real authority and only if actually does something.

The final version of the legislation creating the ethics commission needs to include the ability to remove or take civil action to remove officials from their positions or suspend them to some extent for unethical or improper conduct and strip them of authority for their conduct and even impose fines.

There is less than two weeks and counting until the 2019 legislative session ends, and the last two weeks is always very hectic with the passage of bills by both legislative chambers.

The New Mexico State Senate needs to act quickly and complete all the work necessary to finally create a state-wide ethics commission and send it on to the Governor for her signature.