APD Overtime Reflects Poor Management of Resources and Officer Shortage

It is being reported that an effort is now underway to get APD’s overtime budget under control. (See http://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/apd-overtime-policies-being-adjusted/4420581/?cat=500).

What took so long?

During the last 7 years, the Albuquerque Police Department has consistently gone over its overtime budget by millions arguably to the detriment of other city departments and other city employees.

Actual annual earnings for police officers can be higher than base salary due to the inclusion of overtime earnings, sick leave sell back, longevity pay, shift differential, incentive pays, and other “special pays” such as time and a half paid in overtime paid for court appearances.

A total of 124 of the 250 top wage earners at city hall are employed by the Albuquerque Police Department and include patrol officers, sergeants, lieutenants, commanders and deputy chiefs, assistant chief and the chief with annual pay ranging from $95,000 a year up to $166,699 a year. (See City of Albuquerque web site for full list of 250 top city wage earners).

The average and normal yearly salary paid APD Police Officers First Class is $56,000 a year.

Five (5) APD Patrol Officers First Class are listed in the top 250 city wage workers as being paid $146,971, $145,180, $140,243, $137,817 and $125,061 respectfully making them the 6th, the 7th, the 10th, the 12th and the 20th highest paid employees at city hall.

There are listed 66 Patrol Officers First Class in the list of the top 250 wage earners at city hall earning in excess of $95,000 a year and as much as $146,000 a year.

The normal yearly salary paid and APD Police Sergeant is $64,000.

There are 25 APD Police Sergeants in the list of the top 250 wage earners at city hall earning in excess of $95,00 a year and as much as $121,884 a year.

Combined, there are a total of 91 APD sworn police officers and sergeants who are named in the top 250 wage earners and city hall.

The fact that any APD Patrolman First Class or Sergeant is paid as much as between $95,000 to $146,000, or two to three times their normal salary, in any given year should be very concerning because it is a red flag for trouble, reflects excessive overtime and mismanagement of police resources or at the very least lack of personnel.

Consecutive shifts or excessive overtime for any police officer can lead to extreme fatigue, emotional burnout and reduce an officer’s alertness and response times and reflexes that can endanger lives and public safety.

The fact that there are 91 Patrol Officers and sergeants listed in the top 250 paid City employees reflects how poorly staffed APD really is forcing overtime overruns.

Excessive overtime for field officers can endanger the public safety by increasing the likelihood of on the job injuries and accidents or mistakes in handling service calls.

CONCLUSION

The number of APD sworn officers has fallen from 1,100 in 2009 to 850 in 2016.

Only 430 sworn officers are assigned to field services responding to 69,000 priority one 911 emergency calls a year which is probably one major reason for the excessive overtime.

Albuquerque needs 1,200 sworn police officers to effectively return to community based policing that will reduce overtime costs and reduce crime statistics.

A complete reorganization and change of management at APD is in order to get more police officers patrolling our streets.

An aggressive hiring and recruitment program needs to be initiated to increase the ranks of patrol officers.

Equal Pay For Woman Ordinance Does Not Go Far Enough

In 1963, the United States Congress enacted the “Equal Pay Act” which makes it illegal for all employers to pay unequal wages to men and woman.

Notwithstanding the federal law, 54 years after enactment of the law and regulations to shrink the gap, Department of Labor and other studies show that the pay gap between men and woman for the same work is 21% or more, depending on the work or industry involved.

If you are going to do business with the city of Albuquerque and bid on a contract, you must complete a form explaining how much the company’s employees are paid in each job category employed.

The city calculates the difference in pay between genders for the same job to see if there is a measurable difference.

A business is awarded preferential or advantage points for a contract bid if the pay gap is less than 10%.

It has been reported that the Albuquerque City Council has enacted amendments to an ordinance that would make that gap even smaller at less than 7 percent “to encourage potential city contractors to review their pay scales” according to City Councilor Diane Gibson, the primary sponsor of the ordinance. (See http://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/city-council-bill-would-reward-smaller-gaps-in-pay-equality/4418156/#.WL4kxZyQevM.facebook)

Gibson claims one goal is incentivize paying employees fairly with a preference on contracts with the city.

Mayor Berry states there are now only 59 vendors who do business in Albuquerque that do have a gender pay gap of less than 10% and that are certified for the pay equity preference. (See March 8, 2107 Albuquerque Journal, “ABQ takes on pay gap through bidding process; Contractors will need to prove reduced male-female inequality”, Business Section B, page B-1)

Before Berry, Gibson and the City Council pat themselves on the back, they need to look beyond the walls of city hall.

The city ordinance applies only to business that bid on city contracts and who do business with the City of Albuquerque to get points to be awarded a city contract.

Berry and Gibson pat themselves on the back and so self-righteous and say they are not going to stand for woman making less than men for the same work in Albuquerque, yet they are doing just that by making the ordinance apply to only city vendors.

Pay equality should apply to all businesses who are licensed by the City to do business in Albuquerque and not just those businesses who do business and contract with the City.

To do business in the City of Albuquerque, you must pay a fee and secure a license to do business with the city and agree to conform to all applicable laws and regulations.

Licenses to do business are issued and regulated by the City Planning Department and can be voided for cause.

If Gibson, Berry and the Albuquerque City Council really wanted to do something about equal pay for woman, they should make “equal pay” a requirement for all businesses in Albuquerque before they can secure or renew a business license.

By City Ordinance, all businesses could be required to submit a pay equity report and statement before a business license is issued, which is now required of contractors who do business with the City of Albuquerque.

No doubt the Chamber of Commerce and business organizations will argue that it is too much government regulation for the city to require businesses in Albuquerque to adhere to federal law mandating equal pay for woman.

A Rush To Adopt Gentrification As City Policy Before An Election

It has been reported that the Albuquerque City Council has deferred adopting the two-year rewrite of the City’s comprehensive plan known as the ABC-Z project. (See Albuquerque, Metro & New Mexico, Section C, “Council defers decision on comprehensive plan” page C-1).

Adoption of the plan is beginning to generate heated debate now that affected neighborhoods are realizing just how dramatic of a change it will mean on their neighborhoods.

Some critics go as far as to say the new plan is “racist”. (See ABQ Free Press article “New ABQ Urban Plan Racist”, March 3, 2017)

Many who oppose the plan are urging postponing and adoption of the plan for 12 to 18 months to allow for more public input, particularly from communities of color, which makes sense.

The Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce and the construction and development community are pulling all stops to get the plan adopted before the October 3, 2017 municipal election, no doubt with the support of Mayor Berry.

The Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce and Mayor Berry probably fear the prospect that a new Mayor and a new City Council just may not like the new plan.

It is no secret that Mayor Berry is the darling of the construction and development community, the Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce and organizations such as NAIOP.

Adoption of the plan before Berry leaves office on December 1, 2017 will be one of Berry’s last gifts to the development community.

Mayor Richard Berry, a contractor himself, says the adoption of comprehensive plan is a much-needed rewrite of a patchwork of decades-old development guidelines that has held the city back.

Critics of the new plan say that during drafting of ABC-Z comprehensive plan, public discussion lacked a representative of a number of minority voices and minority communities, and argue the document will allow the continued location of polluting industries in predominantly minority neighborhoods. (See Albuquerque Free Press article “New ABQ Urban Plan Racist”, March 3, 2017).

GENTRIFICATION MEANS DISPLACEMENT

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “gentrification” as “the process of renewal and rebuilding accompanying the influx of middle-class or affluent people into deteriorating areas that often displaces poorer residents.”

The City web site on the plan says the rewrite of the comprehensive plan is an attempt to bring “clarity and predictability” to the development regulations and to attract more “private sector investment”. (See Albuquerque Journal “City trying to weed out redundant regulations”, page A-1, February 20, 2017)

Currently, there are sixty (60) sector development plans which governs new development in specific neighborhoods.

Forty (40) of the development plans have their own “distinct zoning guidelines” that are designed to protect many historical areas of the city.

Examples of areas of the city governed by long standing sector development plans include Barelas, San Jose, Hunning Highland, Silver Hills, Nob Hill and Old Town.

There are also historical overlay zones that will be affected.

It is being proposed that the number of zones go from 250 to fewer than 20, which by any terms is dramatic.

The city’s web site on the plan rewrite claims key goals include “improve protection for the city’s established neighborhoods and respond to longstanding water and traffic challenges by promoting more sustainable development”.

Using the words “promoting more sustainable development” means developers want to get their hands on older neighborhoods and develop them as they see fit with little or no regulation at the best possible cost to make a profit.

There is merit to what many critics say that the ABC-Z project rewrite is nothing more than making “gentrification” an official city policy and the “gutting” of long standing sector development plans by the development community to repeal those sector development plans designed to protect neighborhoods and their character for the sake of development.

POSPONE ADOPTION UNTIL AFTER THE ELECTION

The final version and adoption of the ABC-Z comprehensive plan will have long term impact on our neighborhoods and the development community for years to come.

The City Council should do what is right and conduct a series of City Council special meetings to get input directly from affected minority communities.

The Albuquerque City Council needs to show a little common sense and defer its adoption of the ABC-Z comprehensive plan until after the October 3, 2017 municipal election.

Voters need to demand that all candidates for Mayor and City Council take a position on the issue.

Get To Work With Resources You Have

DA: Doing Less with More

This ABQ Free Press Article, March 6, 2017 • ABQ FREE PRESS WEEKLY on the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office entitled ” Raul Torrez Has it Backwards on Budget, Workload” by retired APD Police Sergeant Dan Klein substantiates what I said in my February 9, 2017 blog article “Try Doing Your Job First Before Complaining.”

Based on my own experiences with the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s office, Torrez can do the job with the resources he has.

The Bernalillo County District Attorney’s office is the largest law firm in the State of New Mexico and its budget dwarfs all other DA offices in the State, as it should, because it has the highest caseloads.

The DA’s office employs 287 people which include 108 attorneys, 35 Prosecution Specialists, 15 Victim advocates, 15 investigators 114 Support Staff.

When I was appointed Chief Deputy District Attorney by District Attorney Jeff Romero, we were faced with the identical dilemma of heavy caseloads, stacks and stacks and stacks of files in the hallways because of no storage, a poor case management system and poor working conditions in a deteriorating building, low salaries, bad morale.

Four years later and when we left, the District Attorney’s office was in the best shape it had ever been with increased staffing, salary increases, an updated case management system, the construction of a brand new District Attorney’s Office and significantly reduced cases loads complying with national standards.

Torrez can get the job done, but it will require him to make difficult decisions, decisions he was elected to make, especially when it comes to caseloads and deciding what cases have merit to pursue and what cases should be dismissed.

No doubt the biggest challenge Mr. Torrez now faces is how to deal with high profile cases, especially police officer involved shooting cases.

There are over 36 police officer involved shooting cases pending review and a decision on whether to bringing charges against police officers for unjustified shootings.

I have high hopes for Mr. Torrez and confident he has a strong desire to do a good job.

Only time will tell if he is up to the task of managing the largest law firm in the State of New Mexico.

Watch Their Eyes Glaze Over


New ABQ Urban Plan Racist?

This Albuquerque Free Press article on the two-year rewrite of the City’s comprehensive plan known as the ABC-Z project should be mandatory reading for all candidates for Mayor and City Council before they are asked a question on the topic and their eye’s glaze over.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “gentrification” as “the process of renewal and rebuilding accompanying the influx of middle-class or affluent people into deteriorating areas that often displaces poorer residents.”

Gentrification by any other name still means displacement.

It sure does look like the rewrite of the City’s Comprehensive plan known as the ABC-Z project is nothing more than making “gentrification” an official city policy.

According to the City, the rewrite of the comprehensive plan is an attempt to bring “clarity and predictability” to the development regulations and to attract more “private sector investment”. (See Albuquerque Journal “City trying to weed out redundant regulations”, page A-1, February 20, 2017)

Currently, there are sixty (60) sector development plans which governs new development in specific neighborhoods.

Forty (40) of the development plans have their own “distinct zoning guidelines” that are designed to protect many historical areas of the city.

Examples of areas of the city governed by long standing sector development plans include Barelas, Hunning_Highland, Silver Hills, Nob Hill and Old Town.

There are also historical overlay zones that will be affected.

It is being proposed that the number of zones go from 250 to fewer than 20, which by any terms is dramatic.

City Planning Department Director Suzanne Lubar claims that updating the comprehensive plan is necessary to keep up with growth trends because Bernalillo County’s population of 680,000 is expected to grow by 300,000 by 2040.

The City argues that with the rewrite of the comprehensive plan, it will be able to administer and enforce the city’s zoning system consistently.

The city’s web site on the plan rewrite claims key goals include “improve protection for the city’s established neighborhoods and respond to longstanding water and traffic challenges by promoting more sustainable development”.

Economic development and job creation are also being argued as a benefit to rewriting the Comprehensive Plan.

Using the words “promoting more sustainable development” means private developers and development organizations like NAIOP want to get their hands on older neighborhoods and develop them as they see fit with little regulation at the best possible cost to make a profit.

There is merit to what many critics say that the rewrite is nothing more than the “gutting” of long standing sector development plans by the development community to repeal those sector development plans designed to protect neighborhoods and their character for the sake of development.

Berry’s Obelisk

http://www.kob.com/business-news/city-albuquerque-skyscraper-challenge-contest-downtown-vacant-buildings-mayor-richard-berry-development/4415231/?cat=500

Berry is 8 months from leaving office and is still searching for another legacy construction project he can give to all his construction buddies and development friends in NAIOP and once again at the expense of city taxpayers.

Berry wants developers to erect a commercial “iconic and skyline-defining” building at least 360 feet high in downtown Albuquerque using city owned property that would be sold or leased and located at 3rd street and Marquette or 2nd street and Silver.

The mayor’s Chief of Staff Gilbert Montano goes as far as saying “The millions of dollars that this investment could create, spur and develop for our downtown and our city, the Class A office space, the multi-use live work play opportunities that these types of developments can provide also is a tangible benefit that we hope to see created.”

There is a slight problem. Albuquerque has a chronic commercial vacancy rate city wide of 22.8% based on information from CBRE, the largest real estate investment manager in the United States.

The downtown commercial office space vacancy rate is 35% according to local commercial real estate experts.

Montano’s comments reflect a disastrous “field of dreams” approach to commercial real estate development of “build it at they shall come”.

Rental of Class A office space is highly expensive with very few businesses existing in Albuquerque that can afford it.

Private companies who can afford Class A office space usually buy and build to suite and avoid renting office space.

Maybe there is a silver lining to this if the building materializes.

In a few months, the ART Bus project will be completed and Albuquerque will have a brand new empty bus line to carry ghost passengers to an empty “class A” commercial office building if it is built.

Berry needs to get his NAIOP buddies to build him a 360-foot-high “obelisk” like the Washington Monument instead in downtown Albuquerque that won’t jack up vacancy rates and we can name it “Berry’s Obelisk” or have a contest on what to call it.