On November 6, 2017 the Albuquerque Journal did an editorial opining that a hearing was needed to determine if the Federal Monitor overseeing the APD reform process was biased against APD.
At the heart of the November 6, 2017 Journal editorial was the fact that Assistant Chief Huntsman recorded on his lapel camera a confidential discussion with Huntsman, the City Attorney and the Federal monitor that suggested that the monitor was biased.
On November 16, 2017, US Federal Judge Robert C. Brack held a daylong hearing on the Federal Monitor’s sixth progress report regarding the Albuquerque Police Department’s (APD) compliance with the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA).
At the conclusion of the daylong hearing, Judge Brack announced his decision from the bench denying the City’s Motion for and evidentiary hearing to determine if the Federal Monitor is biased against the Albuquerque Police Department.
It turns out the Huntsman lapel camera video was 14 minutes long, but the City as well as the Albuquerque Journal saw fit to only refer or quote the last nine (9) minutes of the video recording.
In the November 6, 2017 editorial, the Albuquerque Journal failed to disclose that the paper was provided the full 14-minute lapel camera video and posted only the last nine (9) minutes it felt was important on its website.
The City in its motion for an evidentiary hearing did essentially the same thing as the Journal by transcribing only the last nine (9) minutes of the lapel camera video for the Court.
The Albuquerque Journal apparently had no problem with Huntsman’s unethical conduct of recording the conversation without the monitors knowledge or consent given the fact no objection to the conduct was even mention in the Journal’s first editorial.
The Journal essentially gave the Berry Administration cover by siding with Huntsman.
The Federal Court in denying the City’s motion for and evidentiary hearing made a very clear finding that not including the first five (5) minutes of the 14 minute video took the entire conversation out of context.
The Court found that the City transcribing the last nine (9) minutes of the video and attaching it to the Motion was a clear attempt to discredit the monitor and mislead the court.
The Federal Court found that the entire 14-minute video did not show bias on the part of the monitor against APD.
What the entire 14-minute video showed was that the monitor was objecting to the City Attorney’s conduct and “blind siding” him in front of the City Council.
On November 24, 2017, the Albuquerque Journal published a second editorial regarding the Federal Courts ruling in denying the City’s Motion for an evidentiary hearing saying “we will never get to hear witnesses from both sides … regarding the deteriorating relationship between [the federal monitor and APD].”
The truth is the deteriorating relationship has been well documented in all six of the federal monitors reports submitted over the last three years that have all been highly critical of the APD command staff.
Apparently, what the Journal Editors want is a three-ring circus act to be conducted in open court and bring in the clowns Assistant Chief Huntsman, Chief Eden, and City Attorney Jessica Hernandez to testify and air their differences and disagreements with the Federal Monitor in public for all to see and hear.
An evidentiary hearing regarding the deteriorating relationship between the Federal Monitor and APD would be nothing more than putting the Federal Monitor on trial for being biased in order to set him up for removal at a later date.
Apparently by calling for an evidentiary hearing, the Journal editors do not want to be deprived of their entertainment.
The Journal in the second editorial also acknowledges that they posted “only the most relevant nine minutes on its website”.
That the Journal felt was the “most relevant”? Really?
Federal Judge Brack found that the entire 14 minute recording was relevant and that the City not transcribing the first 5 minutes of the full 14 minutes took the entire conversation out of context to try and discredit a court official as being biased.
Chief Eden, Assistant Chief Huntsman and City Attorney Jessica Hernandez are probably gone come December 1, 2017, but apparently the Journal editors do not want to be deprived of any entertainment.
The Journal labeled Judge Brack’s taking the City Council to task for a planned $25,000 audit of Ginger and his staff as being “misplaced”.
Only after the latest negative Monitor’s report did the City Council become concerned that the Federal Monitor has not spent enough time in Albuquerque.
The Federal Monitor has issued 6 extremely critical reports of APD command staff for failure to implement the DOJ reforms and Court Hearing have been held on all six reports.
The November 16, 2017 hearing on the Federal Monitor’s report was the first time any City Councilor attended such a hearing in the last three (3) years.
The only four City Councilors who did attend were Diane Gibson, Brad Winter, Issac Benton and Trudy Jones and the did not even bother to stay for the entire hearing and were absent when the Court announced his decision from the bench.
The City Council is also saying more frequent reporting is needed and the monitor doesn’t always appear before the council when requested.
Like it or not, the Federal Monitor is an employee of the Federal Court, not the Albuquerque City Council.
The City Council has absolutely no management or authority over the Federal Monitor.
The only function under the contract the City Council has is to pay the bill agreed to by the parties.
The $25,000 for the audit of the Federal Judge is a total waste of money.
All the City Council can do is forward the audit results to the Federal Judge and complain about the bill after the money has been spent.
At no time during the last three (3) years has any city councilor complained about the work or findings of the Federal Monitor.
The only accurate argument in the November 24, 2017 Journal editorial is that Federal Judge Brack did say it was time to hit the “reset button”.
Chief Eden, Assistant Chief Huntsman and City Attorney Jessica Hernandez are in all likely gone come December 1, 2017 when Tim Keller is sworn in as mayor.
December 1, 2017 is the day for Mayor Keller to hit the reset button.