ABQ Mayor Candidates Outline Positions On Homeless; “Crisis” Not An “Epidemic”; Arresting And Jailing No Solution; The Law And The Homeless

The City of Albuquerque municipal election is scheduled for Tuesday, November 2. On the ballot for the office for Mayor are incumbent Democrat Mayor Tim Keller, Democrat Sheriff Manny Gonzales and Republican Trump Talk Show Host Eddy Aragon. A major issue emerging in the Mayor’s race is how they will deal with the city’s ever increasing homeless crisis. Mayor Keller has a 4 year record on the issue, while Sheriff Manny Gonzales pledges to do all he can to end homelessness and Eddy Aragon has a number of competing suggestions and potions.

This blog article outlines the candidates’ positions on what they will do if elected Mayor, discusses the nature of the homeless crisis in the city, what the city has been doing for the last 4 years.

CANDIDATES IN THEIR OWN WORDS

All 3 candidates for Mayor have outlined 3 very different views on how to deal with the City’s homeless crisis.

MAYOR TIM KELLER

Mayor Tim Keller has said if he is elected to a second term, he will continue with his commitment to the “multifaceted approach” he adopted after abandoning the one centralized location. In addition to acquiring the Lovelace Hospital Gibson facility and making into a “Gateway Homeless Shelter”, the Keller Administration has done the following:

1. Created a city division focused on the homelessness
2. Expanded operations at the Westside Emergency Housing Center from just a winter facility to a year around facility operating 24/7.
3. Boosted rental voucher funding for the homeless to help get them off the streets into temporary housing and help them move toward stability.

According to the Family and Community Services Department, the city spent more than $20 million in the 2020-2021 fiscal year on shelter, housing programs and other services for people experiencing homelessness. Notwithstanding all the efforts made during the last 4 years under Mayor Keller, the number of homeless in Albuquerque continues to increase.

Keller claims the worsening homeless crisis in Albuquerque is partly because homelessness, just like violent crime, is “exploding” around the country. Responding to the arguments made by Sheriff Gonzales and Eddy Aragon that more arrests need to be made, Keller had this to say:

“This is a good example of folks just not doing their homework. … It’s just naive to think that a mayor can come in and [just start arresting people who are homeless]. … Mayors have to understand they are not the all-powerful kings of the city and they can just do stuff that’s illegal. It’s a good lesson to learn, because their ideas will never fly in court, and it’s just going to end up costing the city a bunch in lawsuits. … My administration … [is] going to continue working with our partners, but we unfortunately have to own this problem, because we need to do more.”

Keller acknowledged that the city has laws and ordinances that allow it to dismantle homeless encampments, he said there is a “line” to walk between respecting individuals’ rights and enforcing ordinances. When it comes to government sanction and operated outdoor, public place encampments, Keller said he’s open to the concept if faith-based organizations or other agencies want to try it. However, he would want the authorized camps to be small, scattered and controlled to mitigate issues like substance abuse. Keller said:

“I think we need an all-of-the-above approach because homelessness and unsheltered is such a terrible problem for our city.”

SHERIFF MANNY GONZALES

Mayor Gonzales has said that addressing the city’s homeless crisis will be a top priority of his once he becomes Mayor. The Gonzales for Mayor campaign in his first TV ad says:

“Now Manny Gonzalez is running for Mayor with a plan to turn our city around and starts with fighting crime and ending the homeless epidemic.”

Use of the word “epidemic” by Gonzales is very unfortunate and very callous to the plight of the homeless. An “epidemic” is the rapid spread of an infectious disease to a large number of people in a given population within a short period of time. Being homeless is not an “infectious disease”. The homeless are human beings not a disease to be cured but a crisis that needs to be dealt with and solved.

Not at all surprising, Sheriff Gonzales’ plan to end the homeless crisis has a strong law enforcement component. Gonzales takes the position that if the homeless are violating “public order”, such as disorderly conduct laws and public nuisance laws by doing things such as sleeping in parks after hours and have refused to use existing services like shelters, arrests are warranted. Gonzales views arrests as a way to protect both the general public and the homeless population . Gonzales says:

“[Arrests are warranted if] they’re having sex [in the parks] in the middle of God and everybody there in the public. They’re defecating … on businesses. … Then there has to be a point where you have to enforce the law of indecent exposure and those type of things. … What you’re trying to do is get people off the streets, because it’s already unhealthy for them.”

Sheriff Gonzales opposes the new “Gateway Homeless Shelter” saying he thinks it’s unnecessary. Gonzales challenge whether the city-hired consultants understood the homeless population who found in 2019 that Albuquerque needed 463-518 new shelter beds to meet demand. Gonzales believes there are people who choose to live on the streets and people on the streets need to be “screened” by professionals and directed to the right resources. Gonzales had this to say:

“You have to diagnose what these people are suffering from before you make decisions for them. And you also have to understand that a majority of these people aren’t homeless, they’re choosing to live in the street because they’re addicted to drugs.”

Sherriff Gonzales objects to the idea of government sanctioned encampments believing it will make the homeless crisis worse and encourages the lifestyle.

RADIO TALK SHOW HOST EDDY ARGON

On August 24, Eddy Aragon held a press conference and officially announced he was running for Mayor. In his press conference announcement, Aragon questioned the “wisdom” of opening the Gateway Center homeless shelter at the former Lovelace Hospital complex on Gibson and purchased by the city. He also questioned the city’s investment in other government homeless services.

In his announcement, Aragon went out of his way to note that his grandmother experienced homelessness ostensibly as a showing he understands the homeless crisis but nonetheless said:

“I think the solutions that we’ve proposed thus far have not reduced the level of homelessness.”

Aragon to said he wants to “recriminalize” homelessness so that the city’s approach includes “penalties in addition to helping” people who live on the streets.

Aragon agrees with Sheriff Gonzales that arrests and jail need to be part of the solution to the homeless crisis. Aragon contends the city has been “coddling” the homeless population and he had this to say:

“We have too many homeless on the streets. It isn’t policed. It isn’t working, and the homeless feel like they can just stay or go or do whatever they like at any time.”

Aragon claims he favors an individualized approach. The individualized approach would include offering transportation to shelters and treatment centers and even a “tickets out of town”. Aragon believes jail should be an option when there’s “no other remedy.” He advocates arresting the homeless for panhandling and camping.

Eddy Aragon is opposed to the Gateway Homeless Shelter being located at the Lovelace Gibson location and believes it could encourage long-term homelessness. He also thinks the location of a homeless shelter there will be detrimental to the area near Kirtland Air Force Base and the planned Orion Center and had this to say:

“There’s a lot of good things that are happening up here, and I don’t think that bodes well, overall, to have the homeless facility.”

Aragon does not object to city sanctioned homeless encampments. Aragon sees government sanctioned encampments as a way to better keep track of people and guide them into programs and services they need to get them off the streets. Aragon put it this way:

“We can use it as a temporary measure where we establish connection with them, give them 30 days, we can figure out where we can transport them, if we can get them back home. If there’s something that’s broken there, we can figure out something else we can do.”

THE CITY’S HOMELESS CRISIS

Each year the “Point in Time” (PIT) survey is conducted to determine how many people experience homelessness on a given night in Albuquerque, and to learn more about their specific needs. The PIT count is done in communities across the country.

The PIT count is the official number of homeless reported by communities to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to help understand the extent of homelessness at the city, state, regional and national levels.

2021 POINT-IN-TIME (PIT) REPORT

On June 22, Albuquerque’s 2021 Point-In-Time (PIT) report was released that surveyed both sheltered and unsheltered homeless. This year, the survey asked where people stayed the night of January 25.

Major highlights of the 2021 PIT report are as follows:

There were 1,567 sheltered and unsheltered homeless people living in Albuquerque, a slight increase over the 2019 count of 1,524 homeless. The 2020 homeless count is 2.8% higher than in 2019 and 18.9% more than in 2017, despite the pandemic limiting the 2021 counting effort’s.
The 2021 PIT count found the good news that 73.6% of the homeless population was staying in emergency shelters, transitional housing or using motel vouchers rather than sleeping in alleys, parks and other “unsheltered” situations. The 73.6% in the 2021 count is much a higher than the 2019 and 2017 PIT counts.
Albuquerque’s unsheltered homeless decreased from 567 people in 2019 to 413 in the 2021 count.
42% of Albuquerque’s unsheltered were defined as chronically homeless, meaning they had been continuously homeless for at least a year and had a disabling condition
21% said they were homeless due to COVID
37% were experiencing homelessness for the first time
12% were homeless due to domestic violence.
30.19% of the homeless in Albuquerque self-reported as having a serious mental illness,
25.5% self reported as substance abusers.
In the rest of the state, 37.92% of the homeless self-reported a serious mental illness, while 63.3% self reported as substance abusers.

The combined PIT numbers for the areas outside of Albuquerque is defined in the report as “Balance of State” (BOS). The 2021 BOS PIT count reports that 1,180 sheltered and unsheltered homeless, a 31% decrease from the 1,717 counted in 2019.

Operators of programs that provide services to Albuquerque’s homeless say the actual number of homeless is far greater than indicated in the PIT count. The Albuquerque Public Schools says the number of homeless children enrolled in district schools, meaning kids from families that have no permanent address, has consistently been more than 3,000.
The link to quoted statistics is here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/2402560/homeless-numbers-see-little-change.html

https://www.cabq.gov/family/documents/2019-albuquerque-pit-count-final.pdf

ACTUAL NUMBER OF HOMELESS MUCH BIGGER

Government agencies and nonprofits report that the city’s homeless numbers are greater than those found in the PIT reports and that the number of homeless in Albuquerque approaches 4,500 to 5,000 in any given year.

The nonprofit Rock At Noon Day offers meals and other services to the homeless. Noon Day Executive Director Danny Whatley reported that there are 4,000 to 4,500 homeless people in the Albuquerque area. What is alarming is that according to Whatley, the fastest-growing segments are senior citizens and millennials (ages 23 to 38 in 2019).

Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) is New Mexico’s largest school district, serving more than a fourth of the state’s students and nearly 84,000 students. APS spokeswoman Monica Armenta stated the number of homeless children enrolled in district schools, meaning kids from families that have no permanent address, has consistently ranged from 3,200 to 3,500. APS serves many students in need with nearly two-thirds qualifying for the federal school meals program. The APS school district serves 29,000 breakfast per school day and 41,000 lunches per school day.

The centralized citywide system known as the Coordinated Entry System that the city uses to track the homeless and fill supportive housing openings reports that approximately 5,000 households experienced homelessness last year.

APPROVED FUNDING FOR CITY SERVICES AND CONTRACTS TO DEAL WITH HOMELESS

It is the city’s Family and Community Services Department that manages and deals with city services, programs and federal grants for the homeless and assist with affordable housing programs to help low income people in need of financial assistance to avoid becoming homeless. The Family and Community Services Department has a total budget of $54,868,986 and has 313 full time employees. According to the 2021-2022 fiscal year approved city budget for the Department of Community Services, the city is spending upwards of $35,145,851 a year to help the homeless and those in need of housing assistance. A breakdown of the amounts spent includes:

$18,191,960 for affordable housing and community contracts (Budget page 175.)
$6,421,898 for emergency shelter contracts (Budget page 176.)
$4,378,104 for mental health contracts (Budget page178.)
$3,624,213 homeless support services(Budget page 178.)
$2,529,676 substance abuse contracts for counseling (Budget page 179.)

You can review the detailed line item funding of programs, contract and grants administered by the Family and Community Services Department in the 2021-2022 approved city budget on the pages provided above with the link here:

https://www.cabq.gov/dfa/documents/fy22-approved-budget-numbered-w-hyperlinks-final.pdf

EVOLUTION OF SHELTERING THE HOMELESS

During his 2017 campaign for Mayor and since the day he was sworn in on December 1, 2017, Mayor Tim Keller has made it a priority to address the city’s every increasing homeless population and crisis. Initially, Keller made it a top priority to build a 300-person, 24-7 centralized homeless shelter to replace the existing West Side Emergency Housing Center, the former jail on the far West Side. In 2019, voters approved $14 million in general obligation bonds for a city operated homeless shelter.

Three preferred sites quickly emerged for the centralized emergency shelter:

1. University of New Mexico property near Lomas and Interstate 25
2. The old Lovelace hospital facility on Gibson
3. The Wells Park area near Second and Interstate 40

Strong and organized opposition emerged for a 300-bed centralized facility for all 3 locations. The University of New Mexico Hospital employees, UNM faculty and students made it clear they did not want its land north of Lomas Boulevard to be used for the shelter and the UNM regents agreed. Neighborhood Associations and businesses in the vicinity around Wells Park were particularly vocal given the high number of homeless that congregate daily at Wells Park. Criticism for all 3 locations included that a 300 bed centralized facility would negatively impact the surrounding neighborhood and businesses.

On Wednesday, May 7, 2020, Mayor Keller announced that the city was abandoning the development concept of a single, 300-bed homeless shelter and that the city would be proceeding with a “multi-site approach” to the city’s homelessness crisis. Mayor Tim Keller went so far as to state that the 300 bed Gateway Center was “off the table”.

The city officials said the new multi-site approach could mean a series of “smaller facilities” throughout the community. Ostensibly, there would be no single resource hub in one large facility as was originally proposed with the 300 bed Gateway Center. City Family and Community Services Director Carol Pierce offered insight into what the city means when it refers to small shelters and had this to say:

“We’re often talking 100 to 150 beds of emergency shelter that could be defined as a smaller shelter.”

On Tuesday, April 6, 2021, the city officially announced it had bought the massive 572,000-square-foot complex for $15 million and will transform it into a Gateway Center for the homeless. It was announced that the complex would be only 1 of the multisite homeless shelters and not the 300-bed shelter originally planned. The complex has a 201-bed capacity, but remodeling could likely increase capacity significantly.

The zoning for the Gibson Medical Center facility allows for an “overnight shelter” but only as a “conditional use” that must be applied for by the city. The city is now applying for the conditional use arguing there is a strong need for it to enhance Albuquerque’s demand for homeless services to an ever-expanding homeless population. The city has prepared an operations plan for the Gibson site and is proposing that it accommodate 100 individuals and 25 families at the Gibson Gateway homeless shelter. A zoning hearing was held on September 21, 2021 and the decision has yet to be announced.

ENCAMPMENTS, PANDHANDLING AND THE HOMELESS

Simply put, it is not illegal to be homeless, the homeless have constitutional rights like all citizens in this country, and that includes camping outdoors and even panhandling.

“[The Federal] Courts have found that depriving homeless people of the rights to perform survival activities in public spaces when no alternatives are available violates the 1st, 4th, 5th, 8th, and 14th Amendments to the Constitution. In Martin v. City of Boise, the court held that “as long as there is no option of sleeping indoors, the government cannot criminalize indigent, homeless people for sleeping outdoors, on public property.” Some legal challenges have resulted in settlements, which generally call for minimum notice before clearance of encampments, requirements for storage of personal belongings, and compensation for people who are swept from encampments and attorney fees.”

https://www.huduser.gov/portal/sites/default/files/pdf/Understanding-Encampments.pdf

It was in November, 2017 that the city council enacted the “Pedestrian Safety Ordinance”. The intent of the ordinance was to eliminate or restrict panhandling on the streets of Albuquerque. The ordinance was sponsored by Republican City Councilor Trudy Jones, a former real estate agent who lives in an affluent area of the city who argued that the homeless were bringing her constituent’s property values down.

The Pedestrian Safety Ordinance essentially made acts of charity by private citizens a crime. The language of the ordinance prohibited anyone from standing inside travel lanes, along interstate ramps on medians and prohibits “any physical altercation or exchange” between “pedestrians and occupants of vehicles in traffic lanes.” It was a prohibition not only against individual panhandlers but prevented drivers of vehicles in traffic from giving anything to panhandlers.

Despite repeated warnings by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) that the ordinance was a violation of constitutional rights, the council enacted the ordinance. Once enacted, the ACLU sued the city and the ordinance was quickly declared unconstitutional and stricken down.

https://www.petedinelli.com/2019/10/16/wasting-money-appealing-panhandler-court-ruling-apd-tactical-plan-needed/

CITATIONS VERUS ARRESTS

It is the policy of the Albuquerque Police Department(APD) to issue citations, rather than make arrests, for most nonviolent misdemeanors due to what is referred to as “McClendon Lawsuit” that was settled by a federal judge. That lawsuit, filed against the city and Bernalillo County by an inmate arrested for a non-violent misdemeanor, primarily focused on the conditions within the county lockup. At the time the lawsuit was filed, the then Bernalillo County detention center had a maximum capacity of 800, but the jail was repeatedly overcrowded with as much as twice that capacity. The misdemeanor offenses affected by the special order include many misdemeanor violations involving the homeless such as criminal trespass, criminal damage to property, vagrancy, loitering, disorderly conduct, and camping on public property, all misdemeanors. The policy remains in place to this day.

It was on May 10, 2018 that Special Order 17-53 was then made SOP 2-80 that deals with arrests on misdemeanor cases. The memo provides that officers may make an arrest if it is necessary, but will have to include the reasons why in an incident report. The special-order states that officers have the opportunity to take offenders wanted for non-violent misdemeanor offenses to Metropolitan Court to resolve warrants or fines instead of hauling them off to jail. However, the arrested individual must have the full amount of the fine or bond in cash. Those arrested also cannot go through a bonding agency.

SANCTIONED HOMELESS ENCAMPMENTS

Homeless encampments refer to two or more people experiencing homelessness who are living outside, rather than in an emergency shelter. Most homeless encampments are prohibited by local ordinances that do not allow camping and sleeping in public places and zoning laws that bar camping and accessory dwellings. Both the city and the county have policies in place that allow the dismantling encampments.

On May 5, 2021, it was reported that Albuquerque City Councilor Diane Gibson and Bernalillo County Commissioner Debbie O’Malley want the city and the county to establish “homeless encampments”. They argue the encampments would be a better alternative for those who might now be sleeping on sidewalks, in doorways, arroyos or other places unfit for human habitation. Such camps, also called “safe outdoor spaces” would be managed sites with tents or low-cost structures where people without homes can sleep and access bathrooms and showers. City and County law enforcement and code enforcement would not have any authority to cite or break up the camping on the designate areas.

O’Malley and Gibson said the homeless encampments could provide more than just tents. There are other options such as 64-square-foot aluminum structures designed specifically to house people who are homeless. The units have lockable doors and windows and are designed to accommodate electricity, heating and air conditioning. Prices start at $4,900 apiece.

https://www.petedinelli.com/2021/05/17/idea-of-a-tent-city-should-be-pitched-in-basket-sanctioned-encampments-will-invite-and-encourage-lifestyle-its-the-services-provided-and-needed-not-where-to-sleep/

COMMENTARY AND ANALYIS

What is very disappointing is the reliance on law enforcement, arrest and confinement by both Sheriff Manny Gonzales and Eddy Aragon to deal with the homeless. When Keller said “This is a good example of folks just not doing their homework”, he was being polite. Political bloggers do not have to be polite. Sheriff Manny Gonzales and Der Führer Trump Republican Eddy Aragon are hopelessly ignorant on the subject trying to pretend they understand the homeless crisis and pretend they have a solution and have nothing. Twice during debates, Aragon mentioned how his grandmother and another family member had been homeless at some point in their lives as if he understood the homeless crisis by some sort of “family osmosis” or perhaps DNA. Aragon is the same candidate for Mayor that said if elected, he could be considered as the first black mayor of Albuquerque because according to his DNA profile he is 4.5% African American which is twice the percentage of African Americans living in Albuquerque.

The greatness of a city is reflected by the commitment it makes to help its homeless who suffer from mental illness. NIMBY stands for “Not in my backyard” relating to proposed projects opposed by homeowners, property owners and business owners, such as the Gateway Homeless shelter project, the tiny homes 35-unit transitional housing project and the 42-unit HopeWorks Project for mental health services and housing.

Albuquerque has between 1,500 and 2,000 chronic homeless, with approximately 80% suffering from mental illness. The city does provide extensive services to the homeless that include social services, mental or behavioral health care services, substance abuse treatment and prevention, winter shelter housing, rent assistance and affordable housing development, just to mention a few.

Charitable organizations such as Joy Junction, St. Martins HopeWorks project, Steelbridge, The Rock at Noon Day and Albuquerque Healthcare for the Homeless provide services to the homeless, and do so by being where the homeless can be found and where the homeless can seek out, reach and have easy access to services.

All too often, we tend to forget our humanity, our political philosophy and our religious faith and beliefs of hope and charity, and condemn the homeless for what we think they represent or who we think they are.

We condemn the homeless whenever they interfere with our lives at whatever level – such as pandering for money, begging for food, acting emotionally unstable, sleeping in doorways and defecating in public, and, yes, when we stand downwind from them and smell what living on the streets results in personal hygiene.

The sight of homeless camps, homeless squatters in parks and living under bridges usually generates disgust. People condemn the families of the mentally ill for not making sure their loved one has been institutionalized or is taking their medications. All too often, the families of the homeless mentally ill are totally incapable of caring for or dealing with their loved one’s conduct.

Calling law enforcement in Albuquerque to deal with the mentally ill has a history of ending tragically, as was the case with mentally ill homeless camper James Boyd who was shot and killed by the Albuquerque Police Department SWAT in the Sandia foothills.

We easily forget the homeless are human beings who usually have lost all hope, all respect for themselves and are imprisoned for life in their own minds, condemned to fight their demons every hour, minute and second of their life until the very day they die.

One thing that must never be forgotten is the homeless have human rights to live as they choose, not as anyone says they should live. The homeless cannot be forced to do anything against their free will or change their life unless they want to do it themselves.

The homeless should not and cannot be arrested and housed like criminals or animals. Many homeless do not want to be reintroduced into society, and many have committed no crimes and they want to simply be left alone. The homeless who suffer from mental illness cannot be forced or required to do anything for their own benefit without due process of law.

Too often, the homeless are the victims of crimes, even being bludgeoned to death for fun as Albuquerque saw a few years ago when three teenagers killed two Native Americans sleeping in a vacant lot on a discarded mattress.

We as a city have a moral obligation to make every effort and make available to the homeless services they desperately need. Both Gonzales and Aragon do not understand this fact.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1214429/we-must-help-our-homeless.html

ABQ Journal Poll On Mayor’s Race: 53% Keller, 20% Gonzales and 13% Aragon; Dissecting And Consolidating Poll Results; Comparing The Three Most Recent Polls; Runoff Not Likely

On Sunday, October 24, the Albuquerque Journal published 3 separate articles on a poll it commissioned for the 2021 Mayor’s race. All 3 of the articles were written by Journal staff reporter Jessica Dyer.

The front-page headline article entitled “Keller has large lead over mayoral opponents” and reported the poll results 53% Tim Keller, 20% Manny Gonzales and 13% Eddy Aragon.

Two separate articles were also published, one on Mayor Tim Keller entitled “Half of city voters favor Keller’s job performance”, published on page A-8 and one on Sheriff Manny Gonzales entitled “Gonzales’ current job approval stands at 34%”, published on page A-9.

The poll was conducted by Research and Polling, the most respected, most accurate and most reliable polling company in the state with Brian Sanderoff as the chief principal. The Albuquerque Journal has used Research and Polling for decades as its exclusive pollster.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The poll was conducted from October 15 through October 21. This time frame is important to note in that on October 19 the televised debate on Channel 4 between the candidates occurred. During the debate, Sheriff Manny Gonzales made salacious and false accusations that Mayor Tim Keller had an affair, that he was involved in a domestic violence incident and that a “high-ranking city official who was driving drunk and was involved driving a city vehicle and involved in a crash.” COO Lawrence Rael has been identified as the city employee having a car accident, but Gonzales lied in the debate that Rael had been drunk driving. It is difficult to gage if Manny Gonzales’ debate performance had any impact on the poll results.

The Journal Poll is based on a scientific, citywide sample of 536 likely regular local election voters, including those who voted in the 2017 and/or 2019 local elections and a small sample of newly registered voters likely to vote in 2021. According to the Journal report:

“All interviews were conducted by live, professional interviewers, with multiple callbacks to households that did not initially answer the phone. Both cellphone numbers (82%) and landlines (18%) were used. The voter sample has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points.”

DISSECTING AND CONSOLIDATION

This blog article is a dissection and consolidation of all 3 poll articles on the candidates quoting only the reported poll results and deleting narrative and interpretations to allow the readers to come to their own conclusions. The links to all 3 articles are here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/2440182/keller-has-large-lead-over-mayoral-opponents.html

https://www.abqjournal.com/2440184/half-of-city-voters-favor-kellers-job-performance.html

https://www.abqjournal.com/2440185/gonzales-current-job-approval-stands-at-34.html

POLL RESULTS ON MAYOR’S RACE

Quoting and consolidating the Albuquerque Journal articles:

“Over half of the city’s likely voters – 53% – say they already have or would vote for Keller, more than the two other candidates on the ballot combined. Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales polled at 20%, while radio host Eddy Aragon is at 13%. Results of the poll show 12% of voters remain undecided.”

Keller, a Democrat, has a commanding lead among Democrats, with support from 78% of those polled.

Gonzales is also a registered Democrat … has support from just 8% of Democrats compared with 38% of Republicans.

Aragon, a radio station owner and conservative talk show host, is the only Republican on the ballot .. He has 29% of the Republican vote, the poll shows.”

“Gonzales and Aragon are battling for Republicans [which] represent approximately a third of the voters in this election.”

“… the poll … showed that more than half those who planned to vote for Gonzales selected Aragon as their second choice and those who planned to vote for Aragon named Gonzales as their second choice.”

“Keller supporters are more likely to have no one as a second choice.”

The link to the Journal front page article with graphics and photos of the 3 candidates is here

https://www.abqjournal.com/2440182/keller-has-large-lead-over-mayoral-opponents.html

POLL RESULTS FOR MAYOR TIM KELLER

Quoting and consolidating the Albuquerque Journal articles

“Slightly more Albuquerque voters are willing to cast ballots for Tim Keller this fall than think he is doing a good job as mayor.”

“Although 53% of likely voters in the city say they have voted for Keller or will vote for him, his approval rating in the same poll is 50%.”

“Thirty-six percent of likely voters disapprove of the job [Keller] is doing, and 12% say they have mixed feelings.”

“Keller … has historically enjoyed higher ratings; his job approval rating was 60% a year ago and 61% in 2018.”

Among Democrats, Keller has a 72% approval rating and 14% disapproval rating. It is nearly the opposite with Republicans – 18% approve, and 70% disapprove [of Keller.]
… a year ago, 33% of Republicans had given Keller a favorable review.”
… .

Independents are split on Keller, with 40% approving and 41% disapproving.

In other demographic breakdowns, women are more likely to give him positive reviews, with 56% approving, compared with 44% of men.

Although 80% of survey respondents who said they were voting for Keller in the Nov. 2 election say they approve of how he’s doing as mayor, 12% say they have mixed feelings and 7% say they disapprove.

The link to the full Journal front page article quoted is here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/2440182/keller-has-large-lead-over-mayoral-opponents.html

The link to the Journal article on Keller’s job performance polling is

https://www.abqjournal.com/2440184/half-of-city-voters-favor-kellers-job-performance.html

According to the Journal Poll, Democrat Mayor Tim Keller’s 53% support breaks down as follows:

GENDER

47% support from males
59% support from females

EDUCATION

47% high school graduate or less
44% some college
53 % college degree
65% Graduate Degree

POLITICAL PARTY

78% DEMOCRAT
16% REPUBLICAN
45% INDEPENDANT

MAYOR TIM KELLER’S “APPROVE/DISAPPROVE” RATINGS ON HANDLING HIS JOB AS MAYOR

According to the Journal poll, Keller’s “approve/disapprove” ratings on handling his job as mayor are as follows:

GENDER

44% of males approve of Keller’s job performance as mayor
44% of males disapprove of Keller’s job performance as mayor

POLITCAL PARTY

72% of Democrats approve of Keller’s job performance as mayor.
14% of Democrats disapprove of Keller’s job performance as mayor.

18% of Republicans approve of Keller’s job performance as mayor.
70% of Republicans disapprove of Keller’s job performance as mayor.

40% of Independents approve of Keller’s job performance as mayor.
41% of Independents disapprove of Keller’s job performance as mayor.

The link to the separate Journal articles with graphics and photos of Mayor Keller is here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/2440182/keller-has-large-lead-over-mayoral-opponents.html

https://www.abqjournal.com/2440184/half-of-city-voters-favor-kellers-job-performance.html

POLL RESULTS FOR SHERIFF MANNY GONZALES

Quoting and consolidating the Albuquerque Journal articles:

“[Sheriff Manny Gonzales] has a job approval rating of 34% and a disapproval rating of 43% … Another 15% of voters have mixed feelings.
Gonzales first won the sheriff’s job in 2014 and then scored a 10-point win in his 2018 reelection bid.

Although Gonzales was elected as a Democrat and remains registered with the party, he has little support within it.

Only 19% of Democrats approve of how he’s handled his job, compared with 59% [democrats] who disapprove.

[Sheriff Gonzales] rates better with independents – 44% approve, compared with 28% who disapprove …

[Gonzales] ranks the best with Republicans. Fifty-four percent approve, and 23% disapprove.

Approval also broke on other lines, including gender. Forty percent of men rate his performance positively but only 29% of women do the same.

Meanwhile, older voters are particularly unhappy with the sheriff, with 51% of those ages 65-plus expressing disapproval – considerably higher than any other age group.

According to the Journal Poll, Democrat Sheriff Gonzales’ 20% support breaks down as follows:

GENDER

23% support from males
17% support from females

EDUCATION

20% high school graduate or less
26% some college
21 % college degree
13% Graduate Degree

POLITICAL PARTY

8% DEMOCRAT
38% REPUBLICAN
45% INDEPENDANT

SHERIFF MANNNY GONZALES’ “APPROVE/DISAPPROVE” RATINGS ON HANDLING HIS JOB AS BERNALILLO COUNTY SHERIFF

GENDER

40% of males approve of Manny Gonzales performance as Sheriff.
40% of males disapprove of Manny Gonzales performance as Sheriff.

POLITCAL PARTY

29% of Democrats approve of Manny Gonzales performance as Sheriff.
46% of Democrats disapprove ofManny Gonzales performance as Sheriff.

54% of Republicans approve of Manny Gonzales performance as Sheriff.
23% of Republicans disapprove of Manny Gonzales performance as Sheriff.

44% of Independents approve of Manny Gonzales performance as Sheriff.
28% of Independents disapprove of Manny Gonzales performance as Sheriff.

The link to the full Albuquerque Journal article on all 3 candidates is here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/2440184/half-of-city-voters-favor-kellers-job-performance.html

The link to the Albuquerque Journal article on Sheriff Gonzales’ approval rating is here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/2440185/gonzales-current-job-approval-stands-at-34.html

POLL RESULTS FOR EDDY ARAGON

“Aragon, a radio station owner and conservative talk show host, is the only Republican on the ballot .. He has 29% of the Republican vote, the poll shows.”

“Gonzales and Aragon are battling for Republicans [which] represent approximately a third of the voters in this election. “

According to the Journal Poll, Aragon’s 13% support breaks down as follows:

GENDER

15% support from males
12% support from females

EDUCATION

17% Highschool graduate or less
19% Some college
11% College degree
10% Graduate Degree

POLITICAL PARTY

3% DEMOCRAT
29% REPUBLICAN
17% INDEPENDANT

PREVIOUS PPP POLL RESULTS

On October 5, the on-line news agency “The Paper” published a report on an opinion poll it commissioned with Public Policy Polling (PPP) . The public opinion poll was of 793 likely voters with a margin of error 3.5%, plus or minus. The results of the PPP poll as reported by the Paper and KOAT TV are as follows:

Tim Keller: 47%,
Manny Gonzales: 21%,
Eddy Aragon: 11%
NOT SURE: 21%”

The following information is quoted as gleaned from the report about the PPP poll:

“After a turbulent year under a pandemic and with violent crime reaching all-time highs, almost 1/3 of Keller’s 2017 voters aren’t ready to vote for him again. Almost 20% of respondents who say they voted for the mayor four years ago now have an unfavorable opinion of him and another 12% say they still don’t know.” …

Across the board, poll respondents indicated they did not know who [radio talk show host Eddy Aragon] is, to the tune of 63%. … [Aragon] as the lone registered Republican in the race does, however, pull votes away from the race’s other conservative, Democrat Sheriff Manny Gonzales. Some 27% of voters say they would vote for Gonzales in a runoff election after voting for Aragon in the first election.

[According to the poll] just 24% of voters see the sheriff favorably. … [The poll found that Gonzales is] unpopular with Hispanic voters [with] almost half, 45%, having an unfavorable opinion of Gonzales.

[According to the poll], Trump voters aren’t excited about Manny [ with the poll finding] 1 in 5 voters who said they voted for Trump over Biden say they have an unfavorable opinion of the sheriff. …

Tim Keller has majority support among women, both younger voters and older voters, Hispanic voters, and among Democrats or those who voted for Joe Biden in 2020. Although his overall favorability is in the red, 21% of likely voters are still undecided. That includes those 12% of his previous supporters who are still persuadable.”

The link to the The Paper news report is here:

https://abq.news/2021/10/exclusive-poll-mayor-keller-hasnt-convinced-enough-voters-to-win-again-yet/

KOB-4 SURVEY USA POLL

On October 24, KOB-4 reported on a poll it commissioned with SURVEY USA. The poll was taken from October 12, 2021 to October 18, 2021 before the October 19 live debate sponsored by KOB 4 between the candidates where KOB news reporter Chris Ramirez was one of the 2 moderators. Survey USA interviewed 800 adults from the city. Of the adults, 674 were identified as being registered to vote; of the registered voters, 576 were determined by SurveyUSA to be likely to vote in the November election for Mayor, or to have already cast their ballot.

KOB 4 news reporter Chris Ramirez reported as follows:

“Results from a poll paid for by KOB 4 and conducted by the national, non-partisan polling company Survey USA reveal it’s very possible Albuquerque’s mayoral race will be forced into a December 7 runoff …

The link to the full exclusive KOB Survey is here:

https://www.surveyusa.com/client/PollReport.aspx?g=6471216c-99f5-49ca-a55d-7ad4815f08bc

We asked the question: If you were filing out your ballot for Albuquerque mayor today, and these were the only candidates, who would you vote for?

Results of all respondents:

• Tim Keller 41%
• Manny Gonzales 22%
• Eddy Aragon 18%
• Undecided 18%

In order to win an election in Albuquerque, candidates must win with 50% plus 1 of the total vote. Our polling suggest no candidate may win with those margins, forcing a runoff election. Our poling shows all three candidates aren’t particularly popular with Albuquerque voters.

We asked the question: What is your opinion of Tim Keller?

Results of all respondents:

• Favorable 38%
• Unfavorable 36%
• Neutral 23%
• Unfamiliar 2%
• Not Sure 1%

We asked the question: What is your opinion of Manny Gonzales?

Results of all respondents:

• Favorable 27%
• Unfavorable 35%
• Neutral 24%
• Unfamiliar 10%
• Not Sure 4%

We asked the question: What is your opinion of Eddy Aragon?

Results of all respondents:

• Favorable 23%
• Unfavorable 23%
• Neutral 27%
• Unfamiliar 23%
• Not Sure 5%

The next question may reveal why the candidates are so unpopular. A majority of those polled think the city is on the wrong track.

We asked the question: Overall, are things in Albuquerque headed in the right direction? Or off on the wrong track?

Results of all respondents:

• Right Direction 34%
• Wrong Track 54%
• Not Sure 12%

Crime ranks as the top single most important issue facing the city of Albuquerque.

We asked the question: Which of the following is the single most important issue facing the city of Albuquerque today?

Results of all respondents:

• Crime 60%
• Education 10%
• Homelessness 14%
• Econ. Development 9%
• Jobs 3%
• Other 3%
• Not Sure 1%”

The link to the entire KOB-4 report is here:

https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/poll-albuquerque-mayoral-results-pre-election/6279247/?fbclid=IwAR2GN716Ky_G-68WEaPSAahDNL8498b0uXYBOudsci2ugUzv6UCEqVrsrI8#.YXYw8UsnF8E.facebook

COMPARING THE POLLS

When you compare the more recent Albuquerque Journal poll to the Paper (PPP) poll, Mayor Keller has increased his support by a full 6% going from 47% support in the PPP poll to 53% in the Journal poll. Gonzales support remained essentially the same with 21% in the PPP poll and going down by only 1% in the Journal poll to 20%. Aragon’s support increased by a mere 2% going from 11% in the PPP poll to 13% in the Journal poll.

When you compare the Journal Poll with the KOB poll, Keller still has a 19% lead at 41% over Gonzales with 22% and Keller has more than a 2 to one lead with 41% over Aragon at 18%. The Survey USA poll has Keller with 41% which is a mere 1% more of the 40% combined with Gonzales 22% and Aragon’s 18% . The Undecided of 18% is not at all likely to break entirely to anyone candidate, but it could force a runoff. Further, the momentum in the race has now shifted to Mayor Keller after Sheriff Gonzales disastrous Channel 4 debate performance falsely accusing Keller of having an affair and falsely accusing COO Lawrence Rael of DWI.

The biggest concern for all 3 candidates in the Survey USA poll is how disliked all 3 are with voters. Keller has an unfavorable rating of 36% to his 38% favorable rating, Gonzales has a 35% unfavorable rating to his 27% favorable rating and Aragon has a 23% unfavorable rating and ties with his favorable rating of 23%.

The Survey USA confirmed what many already know and that is the single most important issue facing the city of Albuquerque today is crime at 60%. This is probably the main reason Keller’s popularity has declined by at least 10% and probably more. The PPP poll released October 5 by The Paper found that almost 1/3 of Keller’s 2017 voters said they were not ready to vote for him again, and Keller won that election in the runoff by a landslide securing 62.2% of the vote to 37.8% for Republican Dan Lewis.

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

Albuquerque’s city charter requires that for a mayoral candidate to win on a first ballot, the successful candidate must get at least 50% plus one of the vote. If no candidate reaches that threshold, the top two contenders move to a runoff.

Mayor Tim Keller has double digit leads in all three of the polls taken in October. That is not at all likely to change in the few days remaining until November 2 election day. Keller now has the momentum in the race where undecided voters will break his way thanks to the very public, very personal and very false attacks made by Manny Gonzales against Keller. Keller’s momentum should be great enough for him to win outright on November 2, an if not, he will win in a run off against either Gonzales or Aragon.

Polls tend to be self fulfilling prophesies condemned by many, especially those who are shown to be losing. Based on the Journal Poll, Sheriff Manny Gonzales and Radio Talk Show Host Eddy Aragon have lost the 2021 Mayor’s race to Incumbent Mayor Tim Keller and likely do not believe they are doing as badly as the poll has found. Sheriff Gonzales has also managed to lose his own personal reputation of honesty and integrity, what little he had left after his reliance on forgeries and fraudulent documents to try and secure $630,000 in public finance.

EDDY ARAGON

The Journal poll has confirmed what many said about Eddy Aragon when he announced he was running for Mayor and qualified to get on the ballot. Eddy Aragon was the “conservative spoiler” in the race that siphoned off Republican votes from Manny Gonzales and having absolutely no effect on Keller’s support. Aragon with his talk show is on the same level as FOX News and the likes of Sean Hannity. Aragon enjoys badgering and taking issue with anyone who is Democrat or he considers progressive and that did not work in a city that is decisively Democrat.

SHERIFF MANNY GONZALES

The candidacy of Sheriff Manny Gonzales suffered immensely as a result of Aragon on the ballot. It’s no secret that Manny Gonzales was attempting to build a coalition of conservative democrats, traditional Republicans and include Der Führer Trump Republicans. After Gonzales traveled to the White House last summer to appear with Der Führer and after working and appearing with former Republican Attorney General William Barr, Gonzales became “persona non gratis” within the Democratic Party to the point some within the party demanded he resign. He is now considered a Democrat In Name Only (DINO). Gonzales appearing on FOX News to oppose Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s public health orders also alienated many Democrats.

This whole mess of the 2021 Mayor’s election will be known as the campaign of “The liar and the lies he told during a live debate.” The allegations of DWI or other criminal conduct was nothing more than sure speculation and falsehoods by an elected law enforcement official desperately trying to continue with his political career. Sheriff Gonzales is the same candidate for Mayor that argued he was denied “due process of law” when his campaign was denied public finance by the city clerk, yet he makes salacious accusations and false accusations of DWI assuming guilt without due process of law afforded to those he has accused without any proof.

Sheriff Gonzales has failed to identify the 2 high-ranking members of the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) he alleges have direct knowledge of the domestic incident involving the Keller family and an allege affair. As a law enforcement official, Sheriff Gonzales must be held to a higher standard. He has taken an oath office to uphold the law and knows that law enforcement at all levels must tell the truth. He knows he can discipline his deputies if they lie and even terminate them if they commit perjury. Gonzales has committed perjury in the court of public opinion with his lies and he knows damn well that he accused Keller of a crime and accused another of DWI with virtually no proof and he needs to be held accountable.

If Sheriff Manny Gonzales has any shred of honesty or integrity left, he should admit to his lies and apologize to Mayor Tim Keller, the Keller family and COO Lawrence Rael. If he has any shred decency left, he should withdraw from the Mayor’s race and resign as Bernalillo County Sheriff and simply retire from law enforcement. Notwithstanding, his public service career as an elected official will be going no further than being Sheriff

MAYOR TIM KELLER

Mayor Tim Keller can take great comfort in the polls that indicate he is on his way to being elected to a second term. What he cannot take comfort in is that his popularity and his approval ratings have taken a major hit. He was first elected in 2017 by beating first all 7 of his opponents to get into a runoff and then going on to win by a landslide. A year ago he had a 61% approval rating. Even with his constant, daily search for attention and news coverage, his job approval rating is now at 50%. This is likely because of the pandemic and his failure to keep his promise of reducing crime.

Keller’s accomplishments over the last 4 years have been less than stellar. The city’s high murder rate is rising even further. Violent crime and murders are still increasing. Keller has not come close to the change he promised in 2017. Keller failed to make the sweeping changes to the Albuquerque Police Department, and his promised implementation of the DOJ reforms stalled so much that he fired his first chief. Keller has appointed Harold Medina – who has a nefarious past with the use of deadly force against two people suffering from psychotic episodes – permanent chief. Keller is not even close to reaching the 1,200 sworn police officers promised nor to community-based policing. Keller’s promise to bring down violent crime never materialized and his four programs to bring down violent crime have failed. For three years of his term, murders have hit an all-time record, with many still unsolved.

The downside to winning a second term for Keller is that nothing is going to change much for him over the next 4 years. After 4 years in office, Mayor Tim Keller under his leadership still has a police department that is failing miserably to police itself, is in a catastrophic meltdown and the public is still waiting for results in reducing violent crime which has only gotten worse under his tenure. Keller has only himself to blame given the fact he promised to bring down crime, implement the police reforms and he personally selected those in charge of APD and he went back on his campaign promise to hire a new Chief from outside the agency.

Consecutive second terms are usually worse than first terms for mayor if they get one, just ask former Mayors Chavez and Berry who served consecutive terms. All the problems we have now will still exist, including skyrocketing violent crime rates, APD failing to come into compliance with the DOJ consent decree, and an ever-shirking APD, spiking homeless numbers, increasing poverty, no measurable economic development and a ghost of a downtown.

Mayor Tim Keller can be thankful that he has had two very weak candidates this election cycle. Keller has had a very charmed political career thus far filled with opportunism as he jumped from state senator to state auditor both time’s in mid term and then ran for Mayor. The charm and opportunism may not likely be the case in 4 years if his popularity continues on the downward spiral and if he wants a third term as Mayor or seeks to run for Governor or an elected federal office where he would have to run against and incumbent Democrat.

The Liar And The Lies He Told During Live Debate; Gonzales Campaign Admits COO Rael Subject Of Gonzales False DWI Claim; DA Torrez Refers Gonzales Campaign Forgery And Fraud Investigation To State Police; Gonzales Needs To Apologize, Drop Out Of Mayor’s Race And Resign As Sheriff

During the final October 19 televised debate on Channel 4 between incumbent Mayor Tim Keller, Sheriff Manny Gonzales and radio Talk Show host Eddy Aragon, the candidates were allowed to ask questions of each other. The moderators were not told what the questions would be from the candidates. Sheriff Manny Gonzales asked his question of Mayor Tim Keller.

Following is the transcript of the Gonzales and Keller debate exchange:

SHERIFF GONZALES: Mayor Keller, where is your accountability? There are serious misconduct allegations at City Hall under your watch, allegations of your own domestic violence incident being covered up by high-ranking city officials. Another allegation of a high-ranking city official who was driving drunk and was involved driving a city vehicle and involved in a crash. And the third is also you having allegations of having an affair with a city subordinate. How can the public trust you to fight crime in ABQ when you can’t even fight crime at City Hall?

MAYOR KELLR: What a disgusting prepared question you just read. . . I don’t even know where to begin. . . I have never been involved in any of the incidents you mentioned and as my family will attest to have never, ever done things like had an affair. Look, if you’re going to just make your questions the gossip on Twitter and Facebook. I mean, I hear all sorts of stuff about everyone all the time, I don’t dignify it because I don’t believe it because there’s no evidence or truth behind any of it. And this is coming from a guy who has a litany of myths and mistruths that he says. . . . There is literally nothing behind anything your saying. You’re just saying words you saw on social media.

During and after the live debate, Sheriff Manny Gonzales never identified the two “high-ranking members of the Albuquerque Police Department with direct knowledge of the domestic incident stemming from the sexual harassment scandal.” Sheriff Gonzales also failed to identify by name the “high ranking city official who was driving drunk and was involved driving a city vehicle and involved in a crash.”

After the debate, Gonzales’ campaign manager Shannan Calland said in a statement to the Albuquerque Journal:

“We have spoken to two high-ranking members of the Albuquerque Police Department with direct knowledge of the domestic incident stemming from the sexual harassment scandal and are awaiting IPRA responses based on that information (which we expect to be intentionally covered up until after election).
The statement included the phrase in parentheses. IPRA refers to the state’s … [Inspection of Public Records Act].”

You can read the entire Journal article quoted here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/2439136/televised-mayoral-debate-gets-personal-ex-gonzales-accuses-keller-of-serious-misconduct-mayor-denies-allegations.html

GONZALES LIE THAT RAEL INVOLVED IN DWI

Although Sheriff Gonzales did not specifically name the high-ranking city official who was driving drunk by name during the debate, the Gonzales campaign confirmed to the Albuquerque Journal that Sheriff Gonzales was referring to Chief Operations Officer Lawrence Rael.

On October 21, city spokeswoman Ava Montoya confirmed Chief Operation Officer Lawrence Rael was in a car accident on September 24 while driving his city owned vehicle. Montoya called the drunken-driving allegations made by Gonzales “false, defamatory and sadly motivated purely by political gain.”

The link to quoted source material is here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/2440060/city-official-not-drunk-in-accident-ex-allegation-was-made-by-gonzales-against-coo-in-mayoral-debate-with-keller.html

SEPTEMBER 14 FENDER BENDER

It was on September 14 that Chief Operations Office Lawrence Rael, while driving his city owned vehicle, was involved in what the city described as a “minor fender bender”. According to the city, the incident occurred around 9:45 a.m. as Rael was driving on Fifth, turned left on a green light at Tijeras. Fifth and Tijeras is where city hall is located. According to the City Risk management report filed out by Rael and stamped as received on September 29, Rael hit a black truck.

City spokeswoman Ava Montoya City acknowledged that city policy requires employees in city vehicles involved with an accident to call police if they get into an accident. Montoya acknowledges that Rael did not call the police but said Rael did report the incident to Risk Management. According to Montoya:

“Following City procedures, Rael went immediately to Risk Management. He was instructed to fill out a form, which he did … Risk Management then resolves these situations following normal protocols. … [no alcohol was involved]. … Rael and the other driver both agreed to exchange information and due to the minor nature of the accident, neither driver felt it was necessary to tie up law enforcement.”

According to Montoya, the car accident resulted in minor damage to both vehicles and no injuries. City risk management compensated the driver of the truck $1,116 for the damages to her vehicle.

The link to quoted source material is here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/2440060/city-official-not-drunk-in-accident-ex-allegation-was-made-by-gonzales-against-coo-in-mayoral-debate-with-keller.html

COO LAWRENCE RAEL

Mayor Tim Keller appointed Lawrence Rael Chief Operations Officer (COO) in December, 2017 and he has served in that capacity for the last 4 years. Mr. Rael is also a former Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) for the city for 12 years under former mayors. Rael is an “at will employee” that works at the pleasure of the mayor and can be fired without cause by the mayor at any time and for no reason at all. As an at will employee, Rael does not have the same protections given to classified employees.

Mr. Rael is highly respected and is known for his professionalism, knowledge and understanding on how the city operates and “the nuts and bolts” of running the city and “keeping the trains running on time” as the old adage goes.

Rael may have violated personnel rules and regulations in the delay in reporting the accident and that may be grounds to take disciplinary action against him by Mayor Keller, but that’s Keller’s decision and no one else’s.

CITY IS SELF-INSURED ENTITY

The City of Albuquerque is a self-insured entity, and as such it does not carry insurance but has a Risk Management Division that employs claims adjusters, like insurance companies. The adjusters investigate and pay claims filed either by city employees or by the public. Each year, as required by state law for self-insured entities, the City Council allocates taxpayer funding to pay projected claims.

Lawrence Rael giving the driver of the truck his business car and reporting the accident to city risk management allowed City Risk management to adjust the claim and pay the $1,116 for the damages to the other driver’s vehicle. A few years ago, APD did initiate a process to encourage the general public not to call APD for minor traffic accidents where no serious injury occurs and to exchange insurance coverage. APD allows citizens to file police reports either on-line or at police substations for car accidents for purposes of insurance claims.

KOAT TV TARGET 7 REPORT

On October 21, KOAT-TV Target 7 posted a report that a Target 7 public records request in June came back showing no evidence of a domestic violence incident involving Mayor Tim Keller.

Target 7 also reported it had obtained documents on the car crash involving a city employee and a city-owned car. KOAT TV confirm a crash occurred. Channel 7 did not identify who was driving the city vehicle.

Target 7 reported it spoke with the person whose car was hit by the city employee. The woman, who didn’t want to go on camera, claims that after the crash, the city employee got out of the car, handed her his card and then left. The woman involved with the crash told Target 7:

“Real weird, no cop, it was real simple, real fast. … He said he worked for the mayor on the 11th floor. No police came or ambulance came. Nobody came. … ” the crash victim said to Target 7.

Channel 7 asked her if she thought the city employee was driving under the influence.

She said, “no I didn’t.”

The link to the KOAT TV Report is here:

https://www.koat.com/article/albuquerque-mayoral-race-heats-up-with-personal-attacks-accusations/38018587

GONZALES DENIED PUBLIC FINACING FOR HIS LIES, FORGERIES AND FRAUD

In a letter dated July 9, Albuquerque City Clerk Ethan Watson notified Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales’ that the city was denying his campaign $661,00 in public financing citing misconduct in the qualifying process and forgery of signatures on $5 qualifying donations. City Clerk Watson wrote Gonzales he could not confirm that Gonzales had complied with the city’s Open and Ethical Election Code and associated regulations.

The Keller campaign submitted to the City Clerk 149 examples of alleged forgeries on documents submitted to the City Clerk by the Gonzales campaign. The Keller campaign also filed signed statements from upwards of 40 people contacted by a private investigator hired by Keller campaign. Most of those contacted said the signatures on Gonzales’ nominating petition was theirs and half confirmed they had contributed $5 to Gonzales’ public financing effort. Nearly all said signatures on the $5 qualifying donations were forgeries.

The city’s Office of Inspector General investigated the qualifying $5.00 contribution receipts and found that there were problems with 15% of the 239 randomly selected Gonzales campaign receipts it reviewed. According to the Inspector General, the voters identified and contacted in those instances said either that they signed the receipt but never gave money or that they never signed the receipt or gave $5.

On July 14, after repeated denials of any wrong doing by the Gonzales campaign, and in a written response to an ethics complaint filed with the Board of Ethics and Campaign Practices, Gonzales’ campaign stated.

“It does appear, upon the Gonzales campaign’s own investigation, that many of the qualifying-contribution (“QC”) receipts…were signed by someone other than the voter.”

DISTRICT ATTORNEY REFERS GONZALES FRAUD INVESTIGATION TO STATE POLICE

On October 12, Albuquerque City Attorney Esteban Aguilar Jr. wrote a letter to Bernalillo County District Attorney Raul Torrez and New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas making a referral to them to investigate allegations of fraud and forgeries by the Manny Gonzales campaign to secure over $640,000 in public financing. Aguilar outlined the fraud allegations in his letter to Torrez and Balderas and said he made the referrals because his office “lacks the prosecutorial authority to investigate or file criminal charges for violations of state law.

On October 13, District Attorney Raúl Torrez wrote a letter to Albuquerque City Attorney Esteban Aguilar Jr. notifying Aguilar that he will be referring for investigation the allegations of election-related fraud against Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales’ to the New Mexico State Police. DA Torrez wrote that the referral will be made only after the city’s November 2 election. Torrez wrote Aguilar:

“My review of this matter will begin immediately, but as you know, prosecutorial decisions must await the completion of a criminal investigation. … Further, my prosecutorial review must be independent and nonpartisan. … [For that reason, I will refer the investigation to the State Police] which is a conflict-free law enforcement agency having jurisdiction over this matter. [I want] to prevent the timing of an investigation or prosecution from having an effect on an election. … I will scrupulously adhere to this practice and will not take official action or make any public comment on this matter until the results of the upcoming election have been certified.”

Shannan Calland, a spokeswoman for the Gonzales campaign, denied any wrongdoing by the Gonzales campaign and said the campaign welcomed any investigations into the allegations. Calland said in a written statement:

“The Keller administration sending letters two weeks before the election is a shameless political stunt and demonstrates that Keller knows his campaign is in deep trouble.”

Matt Baca, a spokesman for Attorney General Hector Balderas had this to say:

“… District Attorney [Raul Torrez] has asserted jurisdiction in the case … and [the attorney general’s office will] monitor the matter in the event that we need to take appropriate action.”

The link to quoted source material is here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/2439120/da-to-refer-gonzales-fraud-case-to-state-police.html

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

This whole mess of the 2021 Mayor’s election will be known as the campaign of “The liar and the lies he told during a live debate.” The allegations of DWI or other criminal conduct was nothing more than speculation and falsehoods by an elected law enforcement official desperately trying to continue with his political career. Sheriff Gonzales is the same candidate for Mayor that argued he was denied “due process of law” when his campaign was denied public finance by the city clerk, yet he makes salacious accusations and false accusations of DWI assuming guilt without due process of law afforded to those he has accused without any proof.

Sheriff Gonzales has failed to identify the 2 high-ranking members of the Albuquerque Police Department (APD), if they even exist, he alleges have direct knowledge of the domestic incident involving the Keller family and an allege affair. As a law enforcement official, Sheriff Gonzales must be held to a higher standard. He has taken an oath office to uphold the law and knows that law enforcement at all levels must tell the truth. He knows he can discipline his deputies if they lie and even terminate them if they commit perjury. Gonzales has committed perjury in the court of public opinion with his lies and he knows damn well that he accused Keller of a crime and accused another of DWI with virtually no proof and he needs to be held accountable.

Sheriff Manny Gonzales has likely already lost his case to becoming the next Mayor of Albuquerque. This will likely be confirmed by the Journal poll to be published on Sunday, October 23. Sheriff Gonzales has managed to damaged, if not completely destroy, his own personal reputation of honesty and integrity, what little he had left after his reliance on forgeries and fraudulent documents to try and secure $630,000 in public finance.

If Sheriff Manny Gonzales has any shred of honesty or integrity left, he should admit to his lies and apologize to Mayor Tim Keller, the Keller family and COO Lawrence Rael. If he has any shred decency left, he should withdraw from the Mayor’s race and resign as Bernalillo County Sheriff and simply retire from law enforcement.

Mayor Debate Aftermath: “Verbal Altercation” Between Keller and Gonzales Reported ; The Likely Source Of DWI Coverup Charge; Journal Poll Anticipated; Expect Editorial; Gonzales Should Withdraw From Race

KOB Channel 4 devoted a significant amount of time to report on what occurred during and after the live debate it sponsored on October 19 between Incumbent Mayor Tim Keller, Sheriff Manny Gonzales and radio Talk Show host Eddy Aragon.

During the debate, the candidate were allowed to ask questions of each other. The moderators were not told what the questions would be from the candidates. Sheriff Manny Gonzales asked his question of Mayor Tim Keller.

Following is the transcript of the exchange:

SHERIFF GONZALES: Mayor Keller, Where is your accountability? There are serious misconduct allegations at City Hall under your watch, allegations of your own domestic violence incident being covered up by high ranking city officials. Another allegation of a high ranking city official who was driving drunk and was involved driving a city vehicle and involved in a crash. And the third is also you having allegations of having an affair with a city subordinate. How can the public trust you to fight crime in ABQ when you can’t even fight crime at City Hall?

MAYOR KELLR: What a disgusting prepared question you just read. . . I don’t even know where to begin. . . I have never been involved in any of the incidents you mentioned and as my family will attest to have never, ever done things like had an affair. Look, if you’re going to just make your questions the gossip on Twitter and Facebook. I mean, I hear all sorts of stuff about everyone all the time, I don’t dignify it because I don’t believe it because there’s no evidence or truth behind any of it. And this is coming from a guy who has a litany of myths and mistruths that he says. .

There is literally nothing behind anything your saying. You’re just saying words you saw on social media. . There was something in there about a co-worker and you know that’s defamation and you should know that, Sheriff. You can have a debate. We can talk about policies but unless you have any shred of evidence of any kind then that is actually to be on you. Talk about accountability. Fraud in your own campaign. Literally. And now just blatantly defaming people for a political stunt so that you can raise money off of it which is what you just asked voters to do. It’s pathetic.

The link to the full Channel 4 debate is here:

https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/watch-kob-4-hosts-albuquerque-mayoral-debate/6274455/?cat=500

KOB 4 FOLLOW UP REPORTING

On the Wednesday October 20 Channel 4 news cast, the station devoted a significant amount of air time to report on what they had found out that occurred during and after the debate.

According to the report, KOB 4 was aware of the rumors of an affair and a domestic call out to the Keller residence and received multiple tips on the allegations made by Gonzales. The 4 Investigation team went to search for records or documentation that police were called to the mayor’s house, and came up empty-handed. The tips never provided any documentation or proof.

As far as a coverup of a “DWI by a high ranking official” the Albuquerque Police Department told KOB it has not covered up a DWI.

In a statement released to KOB 4 after the debate, the Keller campaign said:

“We’re appalled by these tactics but not surprised that Manny is so desperate, with no record to run on, that all he has is internet conspiracy theories. We are pursuing legal options against these defamatory claims.”

The Gonzales’campaign manager Shannan Calland also said in a statement to the Albuquerque Journal:

“We have spoken to two high-ranking members of the Albuquerque Police Department with direct knowledge of the domestic incident stemming from the sexual harassment scandal and are awaiting IPRA responses based on that information (which we expect to be intentionally covered up until after election),” she wrote. The statement included the phrase in parentheses. IPRA refers to the state’s … [Inspection of Public Records Act].”

You can read the entire Journal article quoted here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/2439136/televised-mayoral-debate-gets-personal-ex-gonzales-accuses-keller-of-serious-misconduct-mayor-denies-allegations.html

READING A PREPARED QUESTION

Channel 4 reporter and debate moderator Chris Ramirez went out of his way to point out how Sheriff Gonzales read his line of questioning of Mayor Keller from a piece of paper. Gonzales had ostensibly hidden the paper from the moderators and produced it when he asked his question of Keller. It was reported that it was against the debate rules to have a prepared line of questioning.

According to the KOB 4 news report:

Keller’s campaign manager notified KOB 4 staff that Gonzales met with a campaign staffer during a commercial break and took a pre-prepared note into the studio. If that is true, it would violate the rules candidates agreed to prior to the debate. When these allegations were made, KOB 4 management spoke with the debate moderators and staff, but none of our staff saw Mr. Gonzales take the note into the studio.

“VERBAL ALTERCATION” REPORTED

After the debate ended, KOB 4 reported Keller and Gonzales got into a “verbal altercation” inside the studio. Keller demanded Gonzales apologize to his wife for the remarks he made. Gonzales responded by saying he has no respect for the mayor. It was Ramirez who reported that Keller and Gonzales did not get physical with each other but were yelling. Ramirez also reported that no one else in the news station was accosted or hurt by either of the men.

In addition to denying the allegations, the Keller campaign said it is planning to take legal action.

KOAT TV TARGET 7 REPORT

On October 21, KOAT-TV Target 7 posted a report that a Target 7 public records request in June came back showing no evidence of a domestic violence incident involving Mayor Tim Keller.

Target 7 also reported it had obtained documents on the cae crash involving a city employee and a city-owned car. KOAT TV confirm a crash occurred, but never identified who was driving the city vehicle.

Target 7 reported it spoke with the person whose car was hit by the city employee. The woman, who didn’t want to go on camera, claims that after the crash, the city employee got out of the car, handed her his card and then left. The woman involved with the crash told Target 7:

“It was real simple … Real weird, no cop, it was real simple, real fast. … He said he worked for the mayor on the 11th floor. No police came or ambulance came. Nobody came. … ” the crash victim said to Target 7.

Channel 7 asked her if she thought the city employee was driving under the influence.

She said, “no I didn’t.”

The link to the KOAT TV Report is here:

https://www.koat.com/article/albuquerque-mayoral-race-heats-up-with-personal-attacks-accusations/38018587

LIKELY SOURCE OF RUMORS OF ACCIDENT COVERUP

During and after the live debate, Sheriff Manny Gonzales never identified the two “high-ranking members of the Albuquerque Police Department with direct knowledge of the domestic incident stemming from the sexual harassment scandal.” Sheriff Gonzales also failed to identify by name the “high ranking city official who was driving drunk and was involved driving a city vehicle and involved in a crash.”

Not withstanding, a car accident by “ high ranking city official” on September 14, was reported on by the on line news ABQReports.

On October 14, ABQReports posted a story written by retired APD Sergeant Dan Klein, who is now a private business owner and also writes articles for ABQReports. Klein is known to support and advise Sheriff Manny Gonzales and has been severely critical of Mayor Keller and his administration. Following are the relevant excerpts from the ABQ article:

“…

ABQReport was notified by attorney, Thomas Grover, of a car accident that Albuquerque Chief Operations Officer, Lawrence Rael was involved in on September 14, 2021, while Rael was driving his city Tahoe. Grover had to tell us because APD has no record of this accident, or at least that is what the city is saying. That’s right, COO Lawrence Rael, who knows the rules and regulations for city employees never notified APD, as required, of his car accident involving an expensive piece of city property”

Thomas Grover issued the following statement to ABQReport:

“My office was alerted to this matter in September and an IPRA request was promptly filed. The day following the submission of the IPRA request, goons from Keller’s office went to the City’s fleet yards to shake employees down to find out who “leaked” this information to my office. I’d like to remind the Keller Administration that there’s a Whistleblower statute in this state (as well as a City Whistleblower ordinance) and while we know you don’t like to follow rules and laws that apply to you, others will enforce them. Also, the balance of the public records my office requested will be past due if they are not produced by close of business on Thursday, October 14, 2021.”

Editor’ Note: Private Attorney Grover is also a retired APD police officer who represents APD officers in personnel actions charging them misconduct. Grover represented ex-Albuquerque Police Officer Jeremy Dear who was cleared of all criminal wrongdoing in the 2014 fatal shooting of 19-year-old Mary Hawkes that resulted in the city paying $5 million to settle the wrongful death action filed by the Hawkes family against the city.

The ABQ Reports article continues:

Mayoral spokesman Ava Montoya emailed ABQReport this statement about Rael’s crash:

“The City’s COO was involved in a minor traffic accident at a stop light on 5th Street. There was only minor damage and no injuries so Rael and the other driver exchanged contact information and insurance information. For minor accidents like this, APD recommends that drivers exchange information and address the situation through their insurance companies. Following City procedures, Rael went immediately to Risk Management to report the accident, where he was instructed to fill out a form, which he did. Risk Management then resolves these situations following normal protocols.”

The ABQReports article provides the following links to the city’s “accident information sheet” and the Risk Management Report on the Rael car accident:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1rX0Pa8AE6FYtyL592aTgdlEFBQzlbf3B/view

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1coPZDV0-WiwsWs16nLGryj0exVI8deCn/view

The accident information sheet outlines the process that city employees are required to follow to follow when an accident occurs while driving a city vehile. The Risk Management Report provides the factual basis for the claim to be processed by the city.

The City of Albuquerque Risk Management form is required to be filled out by the drivers’ supervisor or their designee and is required to submitted to City Risk Management within 24 hours of the accident. According to the report, Rael crashed his assigned city owned vehicle on September 14, 2021, yet Risk Management didn’t sign it in until September 29, 2021. There is no explanation for the delay in the filing.

The ABQReport continues:

“More issues with this report include the fact that Rael is listed as the person filling out the form, not his supervisor or designee. Sources tell ABQReport that the damage was anything but “minor” as Rael writes in the report, and that Rael’s city vehicle was not drivable and had to be towed to the city yards. Furthermore, the other driver, Victoria Elosia, has no phone number as required by the Risk Management form. The license plate is also missing. A search of available databases doesn’t show anyone with the name Victoria Elosia (or Elosia Victoria) in the Albuquerque area.”

The link to the full ABQReport is here:

https://www.abqreport.com/single-post/did-coo-rael-break-the-rules

ABQREPORTS CALLS FOR RAEL’S RESIGNATION OR FIRING

SECOND ARTICLE PUBLISHED

ABQ Reports published a second article again written by Dan Klein on the Rael car accident demanding that Rael resign or be fired by Mayor Tim Keller for Rael’s violation of personnel rules and regulations. The most relevant portions of the second published article include:

“…

The City of Albuquerque’s rules for employees involved in an accident:

“1. Any driver involved in a motor vehicle accident, while operating a vehicle on official city business, shall immediately call the police and the drivers’ supervisor or his department investigator to the scene.

“2. The driver shall not leave the scene until the police have completed their investigation. If the police do not investigate at the scene, the driver should make a report at the police station as directed by his supervisor.

“.., An APD officer had this to say, “A person doesn’t notify the cops when they don’t want the cops to know what they were doing at the time of the accident.” Here are some reasons why people in accidents don’t want to call the police:

· The driver believes they were at fault and don’t want to get a ticket.
· The driver doesn’t want their insurance company notified.
· The driver is driving on a suspension or revocation or has warrants.
· The driver may be impaired with drugs or alcohol.
· The driver has someone with him/her that they don’t want others to know about.
· The driver was texting or talking on their phone, and they don’t want their conversation exposed.

These are the only reasons that, in my 20 years of law enforcement experience, explain why a driver doesn’t want the cops called. I am not accusing COO Rael of any of these actions, only explaining what I have witnessed with other people who did not want police notified. Unless Rael makes a public statement explaining his decision to violate city rules, this will be a cloud over his head for the rest of his political career.

Because a police officer was not called to investigate Rael’s accident, we can only use his, and the other driver’s, statement to Risk Management to determine what happened. This points out glaring issues with Rael writing his own report and not having a police officer do it. Rael’s report is inaccurate at best and a lie at worse.”

… .

The link to read the full ABQReport article is here:

https://www.abqreport.com/single-post/lawrence-rael-should-be-fired

JOURNAL POLL

Sources have confirmed that the Albuquerque Journal began taking a poll in the Mayor’s race the day of the KOB 4 debate. The poll was taken Tuesday to Thursday and was conducted by Research and Polling, the most respected and most reliable polling company in the state with Brian Sanderoff as the chief principal. The Albuquerque Journal has used Research and Polling for decades as its exclusive pollster. The result of the poll will be published on Sunday, October 24 and likely accompanied by an editorial on Gonzales performance at the debate.

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

Both the ABQReports articles ask far more questions than they answer, contain hearsay and speculation, including asking did Lawrence Rael break the city’s personnel rules and regulations that he knows extensively about and that he has enforced against many city employees over his years of service with the city. That is not the big picture.

Connecting the dots, you can see the big picture. That picture is that it’s far more likely than not that Sheriff Manny Gonzales was relying on the September 14 car accident involving Chief Operations Officer Lawrence Rael, the city documents and the ABQReports articles written by one of his supporters as the basis of his libelous and false claim “of a high-ranking city official who was driving drunk and was involved driving a city vehicle and involved in a crash.” Sheriff Gonzales did not actually name the official during the debate. Not naming the official was likely intentional by Sheriff Gonzales knowing damn well that naming and accusing Rael would be grounds for a cause of action for libel or slander if not true.

Mayor Keller appointed Lawrence Rael Chief Operations Officer and he has served in that capacity for the last 4 years. He has served the city well. Mr. Rael is also a former Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) for the city for 12 years under former mayors. Mr. Rael is highly respected and is known for his professionalism, knowledge and understanding on how the city operates and “the nuts and bolts” of running the city and “keeping the trains running on time” as the old adage goes. COO Lawrence Rael knows more about the city and how it operates than Mayor Keller, CAO Sarita Nair and all of Keller’s department directors combined, but then again they do not know much anyway about running a city like Lawrence does.

PROGRESSIVE DICIPLENARY PROCESS VERSUS “AT WILL” EMPLOYMENT

As COO, Rael is an “at will employee” that works at the pleasure of the Mayor and can be fired without cause by the Mayor at any time and for no reason at all. As an at will employee, Rael does not have the same protections given to classified employees. Classified positions are jobs were you must be terminated for cause and even then you are entitled to the “progressive disciplinary” process and ultimately a right to appeal a termination to the personnel board. Progressive discipline for classified employees begins with verbal or written admonishments, suspension of pay, being place on administrative leave with or without pay, transfer, demotion or termination for cause.

Rael may have violated personnel rules and regulations in the delay in reporting the accident and that may be grounds to take disciplinary action against him by Mayor Keller, but that’s Keller’s decision and no one else’s. To say that Rael should be terminated is too extreme. The Mayor has many other options far more appropriate but only if he decides personnel action is warranted.

Any allegations of DWI or other criminal conduct is sure speculation, yet Sheriff Manny Gonzales went there with his false allegations. Sheriff Gonzales is the same candidate for Mayor that argued he was denied “due process of law” when his campaign was denied public finance by the city clerk, yet he makes salacious accusations and accusations of DWI assuming guilt without due process of law afforded to those he has accuses without any proof.

Sheriff Gonzales has failed to identify the 2 high-ranking members of the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) with direct knowledge of the domestic incident he is alleging involves the Keller family and an allege affair. As a law enforcement official, Sheriff Gonzales is held to a higher standard and knows better and damn well that he accused Keller of a crime and accused another of DWI with virtually no proof.

CONCLUSION

Sheriff Manny Gonzales has likely already lost his case to becoming the next Mayor of Albuquerque. This will likely be confirmed by the Journal poll to be published on October 23. Sheriff Gonzales has managed to damaged, if not destroy, his own personal reputation of honesty and integrity, what little he had left after his reliance on forgeries and fraudulent documents to try and secure $630,000 in public finance.

Sheriff Manny Gonzales should apologize to Mayor Tim Keller, the Keller family and withdraw from the race and perhaps even resign as Bernalillo County Sheriff.

Sheriff Gonzales Makes Salacious Accusations Against Mayor Keller In The Form Of A Question; Gonzales Needs To Name APD High Ranking Officials With Direct Knowledge Of Domestic Incident Or Apologize And Withdraw From Race

During the final October 19 televised debate on Channel 4 between incumbent Mayor Tim Keller, Sheriff Manny Gonzales and radio Talk Show host Eddy Aragon, the candidates were allowed to ask questions of each other. The moderators were not told what the questions would be from the candidates. Sheriff Manny Gonzales asked his question of Mayor Tim Keller.

Following is the transcript of the exchange:

SHERIFF GONZALES: Mayor Keller, Where is your accountability? There are serious misconduct allegations at City Hall under your watch, allegations of your own domestic violence incident being covered up by high ranking city officials. Another allegation of a high ranking city official who was driving drunk and was involved driving a city vehicle and involved in a crash. And the third is also you having allegations of having an affair with a city subordinate. How can the public trust you to fight crime in ABQ when you can’t even fight crime at City Hall?

MAYOR KELLR: What a disgusting prepared question you just read. . . I don’t even know where to begin. . . I have never been involved in any of the incidents you mentioned and as my family will attest to have never, ever done things like had an affair. Look, if you’re going to just make your questions the gossip on Twitter and Facebook. I mean, I hear all sorts of stuff about everyone all the time, I don’t dignify it because I don’t believe it because there’s no evidence or truth behind any of it. And this is coming from a guy who has a litany of myths and mistruths that he says. . .

There is literally nothing behind anything your saying. You’re just saying words you saw on social media. . There was something in there about a co-worker and you know that’s defamation and you should know that, Sheriff. You can have a debate. We can talk about policies but unless you have any shred of evidence of any kind then that is actually to be on you. Talk about accountability. Fraud in your own campaign. Literally. And now just blatantly defaming people for a political stunt so that you can raise money off of it which is what you just asked voters to do. It’s pathetic.

SHERIFF GONZALES: All I asked was a simple question. A yes or no answer if you could. How could the public trust you fighting crime when you can’t even fight crime at City Hall. That was my question.

RADIO TALK SHOW HOST EDDY GONZALES: “Real life TV drama here.”

The link to the full Channel 4 debate is here:

https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/watch-kob-4-hosts-albuquerque-mayoral-debate/6274455/?cat=500

ALBQUERQUE JOURNAL COVERAGE

On Wednesday, October 20, the Albuquerque Journal reported the exchange in part as follows:

“Rumors have swirled for months on social media about police covering up a domestic violence response at Keller’s home and about an alleged affair Keller is having with a city employee.

Keller has previously denied the allegations in an interview with Journal reporters. A Journal public records request earlier this year seeking police incident reports and dispatch records for Keller’s home address since Jan. 1 yielded only a few calls around Jan. 6 – the date of the U.S. Capitol insurrection – in which there were reported threats to the home. Records show officers kept watch throughout their shift and found the home was secure. There were no other records.

People who have raised the allegations with the Journal have provided no proof. At the time the rumors surfaced, the police union president [Shaun Willoughby] – who has been critical of the Keller administration – told the Journal he had no documents to substantiate them.”

After Tuesday’s debate, Gonzales’ campaign manager Shannan Calland said in a statement:

“We have spoken to two high-ranking members of the Albuquerque Police Department with direct knowledge of the domestic incident stemming from the sexual harassment scandal and are awaiting IPRA responses based on that information (which we expect to be intentionally covered up until after election),” she wrote. The statement included the phrase in parentheses. IPRA refers to the state’s … [Inspection of Public Records Act].”

You can read the entire Journal article quoted here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/2439136/televised-mayoral-debate-gets-personal-ex-gonzales-accuses-keller-of-serious-misconduct-mayor-denies-allegations.html

COMMENTRY AND ANALYSIS

Live political debates, especially those on TV, are in the courtroom of public opinion. There is an old saying amongst experienced trial attorneys, especially prosecutors:

“Never, ever, ask a question of a witness on the witness stand one you do not already know the answer to. ”

The rational for the saying is that you need to know your case completely and want to be able to impeach and discredit the witness with proof they are lying if they do not tell the truth when they testify.

Sheriff Gonzales needs to identify the two high-ranking members of the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) with direct knowledge of the domestic incident he is alleging and the affair. If not, Gonzales needs to apologize to Mayor Keller and consider withdrawing from the race. As a law enforcement official, he is held to a higher standard and knows damn well that he is accusing Keller of a crime, and to make such a charge without proof is libelous.

Notwithstanding, it is not at all likely that this stunt will cost Gonzales any votes in that those who support him, like Trump supporters, will not change their minds about him. Mayor Keller’s and Eddy’s Aragon’s supporters will be embolden to vote.

Sheriff Manny Gonzales has likely already lost his case to becoming the next Mayor of Albuquerque. He has also damaged his own personal reputation of honesty and integrity, what little he had left after the forgery to public finance debacle, but he got way too personal and asked a salacious question that he ostensibly thought he had the answer to and based on gossip and innuendo.

ABQ Journal Endorses Mayor Keller Not Because He Has Done Great Job, But Because Opponents Not Qualified; Fact Checking The Endorsement

On Sunday October 17, the Albuquerque Journal published its endorsement of Mayor Tim Keller for a second term over Sheriff Manny Gonzales and radio talk show host Eddy Aragon . The link to read the full endorsement is here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/2438101/keller-best-of-field.html

The Journal endorsement of Keller was predicted by city hall watchers and political analysts. The endorsement reads in part:

“The Journal Editorial Board endorses Tim Keller for mayor as he is the most qualified candidate for the job. … The reality for Albuquerque voters is their choice of candidates consists of a radio talk show host with little to no management experience, a sheriff who talks tough about protecting the public but who’s displayed a complete disregard for the public’s right to know and Keller, the incumbent, who steered the city through the pandemic and has started some initiatives to fight crime and homelessness that have promise.”

What is revealing is that in no way can the Journal endorsement be considered unequivocal. It did not say that Keller has done a brilliant or fantastic job as Mayor. Four years ago, there were 8 candidates running for Mayor with more than 3 qualified to be mayor. Saying that Keller is the “best of the field” is a cause for snickering when only 3 are running. Saying Keller is the most qualified of the 3 is telling voters we do not have much of a choice.

At the end of the endorsement, the Journal editors make an appeal that borders on begging Mayor Keller to do better if elected to another years by saying:

“… we accompany our endorsement with an appeal that, if elected, Keller get the Gateway Center going while adopting a more aggressive approach to tackling the homeless issue, redeploy resources to cut 911 response times (so our senior citizens don’t have to play Dirty Harry) and follow through on recent promises to support legislative changes that would keep more repeat violent suspects in custody prior to trial. We also urge him to do his homework and due diligence on grand ideas like the stadium before asking for voter support. That’s quite a to-do list. Keller will need to hit the ground running to tackle these and other pressing issues to move Albuquerque toward a brighter future.”

FACT CHECKING THE ENDORSEMENT

There were a few misstatements and conclusions in the editorial containing false content and false statements made by Mayor Keller. Following are those editorial comments with fact checking analysis and commentary.

JOURNAL EDITORIAL CONTENT

“Keller inherited a tough situation after the U.S. Department of Justice hammered the Albuquerque Police Department in 2014 for a “pattern or practice of use of excessive force, including deadly force.”

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

On April 10, 2014, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), Civil Rights Division, submitted a scathing 46-page investigation report on an 18-month civil rights investigation of the Albuquerque Police Department (APD). You can read the entire report here.

https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/crt/legacy/2014/04/10/apd_findings_4-10-14.pdf

It was not just a “pattern or practice of use of excessive force, including deadly force” that the Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation found. It was a “culture of aggression” that had gone on in the department for many years, if not decades, engrained in the department, costing the city millions to settle police misconduct cases and use of deadly force cases. APD’s consent decree is totally different from all other consent decrees in the country.

What differentiates the DOJ’s investigation of APD from the other federal investigations of police departments and consent decrees is that the other consent decrees in the country involve in one form or another the finding of “racial profiling” and use of excessive force or deadly force against minorities. The DOJ’s finding of a “culture of aggression” within APD dealt with APD’s interactions and responses to suspects that were mentally ill and that were having severe psychotic episodes.

A significant number of the cases reviewed by the DOJ involved persons suffering from acute mental illness and who were in crisis. A few of those cases resulted in judgments and settlements in the millions of dollars. The investigation found APD’s policies, training, and supervision did not ensure that officers encountering people with mental illness were respected and police did not act in a manner that was safe for all involved.

JOURNAL EDITORIAL CONTENT

“… Keller told the Journal Editorial Board court-appointed independent monitor Dr. James Ginger has gone well beyond oversight and is “straight-up dictating what’s up at APD.” It’s hard to argue otherwise. Ginger has become the weekend guest who never leaves.”

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

This statement by Mayor Keller is simply false. The only people with authority to “straight-up dictate what’s up at APD”is Mayor Keller, APD Chief Harold Medina and APD’s command staff. Federal court appointed Monitor Ginger has no such authority.

Under the terms and conditions of the settlement, Federal Court appointed monitor James Ginger and his monitoring team have absolutely no management, authority or control over APD, its resources nor its personnel. The Federal Monitor has no authority under the settlement to dictate nor order APD to do anything. The only thing the federal monitor can do is “audit” APD for compliance and report findings to the Federal Judge.

The CASA is a 112-page, federal court approved agreement with 344 paragraphs containing 271 mandated reforms. A link to the CASA is here:

http://documents.cabq.gov/police/reports/department-of-justice/465-second-amended-restated-casa.pdf

Review of the monitors authority under the settlement merits review. It is paragraphs 294, 295, 296, 297 and 298 on pages 85, 86, 87, 88 of the CASA settlement that outlines with great specification the limited authority the monitor has over APD as well specifically outlining the duties and responsibilities of the monitor. Following are the paragraphs:

“A. Independent Monitor

294. The Parties will jointly select an Independent Monitor (“Monitor”) who will assess and report whether the requirements of this Agreement have been implemented, and whether this implementation is resulting in high-level, quality service; officer safety and accountability; effective, constitutional policing; and increased community trust of APD.

295. The Monitor shall only have the duties, responsibilities, and authority conferred by this Agreement. The Monitor shall not, and is not intended to, replace or assume the role and duties of APD, including the Chief or any other City official. The Monitor shall be subject to the supervision and orders of the Court, consistent with this Agreement and applicable law.

EDITOR’S NOTE: There are no provisions in the settlement giving the monitor authority to write policy, and no authority is given to disciplined nor to remove and appoint personnel and issue appropriate orders and commands to sworn personnel. The only power the monitor has is to audit as provided in the settlement terms. The specific terms of the CASA are as follows:

“296. In order to assess and report on the implementation of this Agreement and whether implementation is resulting in the outcomes … , the Monitor shall conduct the reviews specified in this Agreement, and shall review APD policies, training curricula, and programs developed and implemented under this Agreement.

B. Compliance Reviews and Audits

297. The Monitor shall conduct compliance reviews or audits as necessary to determine whether the City has implemented and continues to comply with the material requirements of this Agreement.

… .

C. Outcome Assessments

298. In addition to compliance reviews and audits, the Monitor shall conduct qualitative and quantitative assessments to measure whether implementing this Agreement has resulted in the outcomes expressed in [the settlement]. These outcome assessments shall include collecting and analyzing the following outcome data trends and patterns:

[listing A through I] … .”

http://documents.cabq.gov/police/reports/department-of-justice/465-second-amended-restated-casa.pdf

The Journal Editor’s likely know that all the monitor can do is conduct audits, file reports and report to the federal court, yet the editors failed to challenge Keller for making the accusation that the monitor is “straight-up dictating what’s up at APD.”

JOURNAL EDITORIAL CONTENT

“[Federal court appointed monitor] Ginger has become the weekend guest who never leaves.”

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

This is a very common complaint by Mayor Keller and his administration, Chief Medina and the Police Union, but the complaint is bogus when they fail to assume any responsibility for contributing to the Federal Monitor still being here after 8 years when the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) was supposed to be fully implemented after 4 years and dismissed after a full 2 years of compliance.

The CASA contains the following suspension and termination provisions:

“Termination of the Agreement

342. The City will endeavor to reach full and effective compliance with this Agreement within four years of its Effective Date. The Parties agree to jointly ask the Court to terminate this Agreement after this date, provided that the City has been in full and effective compliance with this Agreement for two years. “Full and Effective Compliance” shall be defined to require sustained compliance with all material requirements of this Agreement or sustained and continuing improvement in constitutional policing, as demonstrated pursuant to the Agreement’s outcome measures.

343. If after six years from the Effective Date the Parties disagree whether the City has been in full and effective compliance for two years, either Party may seek to terminate this Agreement. In the case of termination sought by the City, prior to filing a motion to terminate, the City agrees to notify DOJ in writing when the City has determined that it is in full and effective compliance with this Agreement and that such compliance has been maintained for no less than two years.”

The key to the Federal Monitor leaving and the case being dismissed is the “full and effective compliance” in 3 compliance levels by APD that the monitor reviews.

After a full 7 years under the CASA and in the last and the 13th Independent Monitors Report (IME13) the Federal Monitor made the following findings on the 3 compliance levels:

Primary Compliance: 100%;
Secondary Compliance: 82%;
Operational Compliance: 59%.

Since the 12th federal monitor’s report, compliance levels went down in 2 of the major compliance areas as follows:

Primary Compliance: No change at 100%
Secondary Compliance: A loss of 9.9%
Operational Compliance: A loss of 7.8%

As has been the case so many times over the past 8 years with two Mayors (Berry and Keller), 3 APD Chiefs (Eden, Geier and Medina), 3 United States Attorneys for New Mexico (Martinez, Anderson and Interim Federici) and 2 Federal Judges (Judges Brack and Browning), APD is in no better position under Keller’s leadership after 4 years to dismiss the case. The CASA is nowhere close to being dismissed after millions spent on the reforms by the Keller Administration.

The only thing that has not changed in 8 years is Federal Court Appointed Monitor James Ginger making damaging findings and the City, the DOJ, APD and the Union never being taken to task by the Federal Court in any meaningful way.

REASONS FOR NONE COMPLIANCE

All of the complaints of delay in compliance went on for a full 7 years, before the pandemic and before the national movement of police scrutiny and accountability of police misconduct. The implementation of the Department of Justice reforms falls squarely on the shoulders of Mayor Keller, Keller’s appointed APD Chief Medina and his 3 Deputies and the Police Union obstruction and interference with the reforms. It is their actions, failures to act, resistance and negligent personnel management that have delayed full implementation of the reforms.

When you read all 13 of Federal Monitor’s reports it becomes very clear that one of the biggest causes of the delay for APD not becoming in compliance with the settlement is the police union opposition and objections to the settlement. The police union leadership have said repeatedly over the last 8 years that the mandated reforms under the consent decree are interfering with rank and file officer’s ability to perform their job duties. The police union went so far as to initiate a $70,000 political ad campaign saying “You can either have compliance with DOJ reforms or you can have lower crime. You can’t have both”, discrediting the need for reforms.

According to the police union, police officers are afraid to do their jobs for fear of being investigated, fired or disciplined. The police union has never articulated in open court and in clear terms exactly what it is about the reforms that are keeping rank and file from “doing their” jobs and “why they hate” the CASA as articulated by the union president.

It’s likely the union feels what is interfering with police from doing their jobs is the mandatory use of lapel cameras, police can no longer shoot at fleeing cars, police can no longer use choke holds, police need to use less lethal force and not rely on the SWAT unit, police must use de-escalating tactics and be trained in crisis intervention, and management must hold police accountable for violation of standard operating procedures.

JOURNAL EDITORIAL CONTENT

“Keller’s creation of an Internal Affairs Department staffed by civilians rather than police officers was smart, as was creating the position of superintendent of police reform to handle the Internal Affairs division, discipline, the DOJ reform effort and the police academy.”

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

It is false to say that Mayor Tim Keller created an “Internal Affairs Department staffed by civilians”. Keller had nothing to do with it and the Internal Affairs division is still predominately staffed by APD Detectives with civilian support staff. The Internal Affairs Division (IA) is divided into two separate divisions or bureaus:

1. The Internal Affairs Compliance Bureau, Accountability and Oversight Division responsible for investigations of sworn police violating policy and working with the Department of Justice (DOJ) consent decree (CASA) and its implementation of its terms and conditions.

2. The Internal Affairs Force Division deals with investigation police misconduct cases involving excessive use of force and deadly force cases by APD.

APD Internal Affairs employs upwards of 25 full time sworn police detectives that investigate police misconduct and civilian complaints. APD has upwards of 8 “civilian investigators”, but they are not in charge nor do they supervise police officers.

On February 5, 2021, the City of Albuquerque and the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a stipulated order establishing an “External Force Investigation Team” (EFIT) on a temporary basis to assist APD in conducting use of force investigations by APD officers, while also assisting APD with improving the quality of its use of force by police investigations.

The EFIT team trains APD Internal Affairs investigators on how to properly investigate uses of force instances by APD police officers. According to the agreed to court order, the City will ensure that APD maintains at least 25 force investigators assigned to the APD Internal Affairs unit unless and until APD can demonstrate by an internal staffing analysis that fewer investigators are necessary to timely investigate uses of force by APD Officers. The EFIT teams are on negotiated contracts with $400,000 allocated for the current fiscal year and are staffed by retired police officers. The EFIT do not have management authority over APD Internal Affairs but function as another lawyer of review and bureaucracy to confirm that use of force cases have been properly done by APD Internal Affairs.

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SUPERINTENDENT OF POLICE REFORM

The Journal editorial states in part:

“Keller’s … creating the position of superintendent of police reform to handle the Internal Affairs division, discipline, the DOJ reform effort and the police academy [was smart] .”

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

Many of the citizens stakeholders involved with bringing the DOJ here in the first place and involved with the CASA reforms would disagree that it was “smart” for Keller to create the position of Superintendent of Police Reform. Along with his appointment of Harold Medina as permanent APD Chief, Mayor Keller appointed Sylvester Stanley as “Interim Superintendent of Police Reform” in addition to the position of Deputy Chief Administrative Officer (DCAO). Stanley’s extensive law enforcement background and experience, although impressive as it is, is void of any work or dealing with federal consent decrees and void of any background in constitutional policing practices which are the center piece of the DOJ reforms.

The Federal Monitors testimony in one status conference with the court are worth repeating:

“Our advice was to bring somebody in with a very good understanding nationally of how a department should be run related to uses of force, issues of mental health, those sorts of things. That was our recommendation. They chose not to implement it. That doesn’t mean it’s wrong. The proof is in the pudding, as they say. And we’ll continue to monitor and see if this bifurcated command system works.”

This testimony given to the Federal Court by the Federal Monitor totally discredits Keller’s assertion that the monitor is “straight-up dictating what’s up at APD.” In other words, the monitor can only make recommendations and not dictate to APD.

Two major shortcomings to the Stanly appointment is that he is “interim” meaning temporary and his background and experience is as traditional law enforcement as it gets. Lacking of experience with implementation of any Federal Court Approved Settlement Agreements dealing with excessive use of force and deadly force cases and police interaction with mental health issues is a cause of concern. Superintendent Stanley has also been given authority over disciplining police officers for violations of the DOJ reforms. The police union has objected to Stanley having any authority to discipline asserting that the union contract gives that authority exclusively to the Chief.

An Interim Superintendent of Police Reform with little or no background in police reforms is not likely going to make much of a difference and is setting Stanly up for failure and giving Keller and Median “plausible” deniability that they are no longer responsible for the reform failures. This “set up” by Keller is very much like what Keller did to former APD Chief Michael Geier when he terminated him and blaming him for failures to implement the reforms. The creation and the appointment of a “Superintendent of Police Reform” will not change the APD culture and union resistance to the reforms. Superintendent Stanley will likely be held ultimately accountable by Keller and Medina and will blame him for any and all failures of APD to reach 100% compliance of the reforms.

FINAL COMMENTARY

With the endorsement of the Albuquerque Journal and recent polls showing Mayor Tim Keller having a solid lead, the general consensus amongst city hall observers and political analysts is that Keller is on his way to being elected to a second 4-year term as Mayor. What Keller cannot take too much comfort in is he will NOT win because he has “done good” as he likes to say , but because his opposition is so weak and neither are qualified to be Mayor as pointed out by the Journal editorial endorsement.

The downside to winning a second term for Keller is that nothing is going to change much for him over the next four years. After 4 years in office, Mayor Tim Keller under his leadership still has a police department that is failing miserably to police itself and is in catastrophic failure. Keller has only himself to blame given the fact he personally selected those that have been in charge of APD and he went back on his campaign promise to hire a new Chief from outside the agency.

Second terms are usually worse than first terms for mayor if they get one. All the problems we have now will still exist, including skyrocketing violent crime rates, APD failing to come into compliance with the DOJ consent decree, and an ever-shirking APD, spiking homeless numbers, increasing poverty, no measurable economic development and a ghost of a downtown.

Federal Monitor’s 12th And 13th Reports Highlight Mayor Tim Keller’s “Catastrophic Failure” To Implement The DOJ Mandated Reforms