The “Land of Disenchantment”

The following article was published January 31, 2018 in ABQ Reports (Dennis Domrzalski) and is a very good read.

The author Stephan Helgesen is a retired U.S. diplomat and now political analyst and author.

Mr. Helgesen has written eight books and over 750 articles on politics, economics and social trends. He can be reached at:


What happened to us? We’re now a land of low expectations
January 31, 2018
BY Stephan Helgesen

We didn’t start out with low expectations. As a matter of fact, our forefathers had so many hopes and dreams that they didn’t have room for them all in their prairie schooners as they trekked from Missouri to New Mexico. Somewhere along the way, and over the years, we’ve come to expect much less from ourselves, our leaders and our country.

Our wagons have gotten stuck in the ruts of ennui and we have learned to live with mendacity, malfeasance and mediocrity. We have ‘readjusted’ our sights, dumbed down our requirements for our children and our elected officials and made excuses for failing grades, high crime and general unaccountability. This, I’m sad to say, is most apparent in many of America’s flagship cities like Albuquerque where we’re lagging behind in the major indices of employment, GDP, industrial and commercial competitiveness, education, security, etc.

The ailments are obvious, so much so that it’s getting a little boring to keep repeating them, but if we don’t keep our collective eye on the ball (the truth about our society), we’re never going to solve our problems. Albuquerque is full of talented, decent, law-abiding people – people with imagination and drive, with optimism and can do attitudes. Many are generous, kind and compassionate, but they’re suffering right along with everybody else. At some point, we’ve become the living embodiment of the Pareto Principle (the 80/20 rule).

Those hearty souls are the 20%, working hard to help the other 80% cope with escalating crime and deteriorating family situations, from addiction to alcohol, hard drugs and marijuana. We’ve come to expect that our cars in our own driveways will be stolen, that dead bodies will show up behind big box stores or in our residential neighborhoods with horrifying regularity. We don’t even raise an eyebrow when 40 lb. bags of marijuana show up at a middle school, and when the chances of going free from a DUI arrest are better than those of being convicted (55% to 45%), something’s wrong – very wrong.

Our lowered expectations and disenchantment with our society is often expressed by our poor participation in the election process. The concept of universal suffrage (the right to vote) is one of the most precious pillars of our democracy and something absent in many countries around the world, yet we either take it for granted, are resigned to our fates or are too lazy to get off our duffs and pull a lever on a voting machine.

The right to speak our piece is being challenged these days by political correctness and by peer pressure and by individuals and groups that see their rights as more important than ours. Every American deserves to live in a safe, clean and functioning environment, and we in New Mexico are no different from anyone else. Our difference is that we don’t fight back hard enough against those things that threaten our way of life. We buckle under and become apologists for our situation. We call drug abuse, alcohol abuse, child and spousal abuse ‘social diseases.’ By removing personal responsibility from people, we turn them into victims instead of guaranteeing them an active role in their own lives.

America is a patchwork quilt of interconnected communities, many with the same problems and opportunities. Unfortunately, these communities don’t always communicate with each other. If we truly wish to raise our expectations and find common solutions to our problems then we had better get busy talking to one another.

Hung Up On Age

Political Blogger Joe Monahan started in his January 30, 2018 blog article in part by posing the following question:

“Is Mayor Tim Keller having a hard time finding department directors for his administration?”

Joe Monahan goes on to say in his blog:

“The city website lists job openings for several department director positions, including two that had previously been announced as filled: Economic Development and Animal Welfare. This could mean a number of things. No doubt, Mayor Keller’s requirements are high, with many of his top personnel holding doctorates, juris doctorates, CPAs, MBAs or multiple degrees. But are they too high?

The Gators confirm that the new administration is having some difficulty filling positions citing, for example, the vacancy in the key City Attorney post.
Although the pay for these jobs is in the $100,000 area, top notch pros could fear the uncertainty since you serve at the pleasure of the mayor and there’s not much security. And many potential candidates are already making higher salaries. Also, we’ve lost a lot of talented Millennials to the better economies of neighboring states.
Another factor: The Dems have been out for 8 years and many on their city bench are retired or gone. Those left are the old guard. Mondragon is 75 and David Campbell, a former city CAO appointed by the mayor as new city planning director, is also in the Senior Citizen [demographics.]”


Too many people have a real hang up about age, especially when it comes to politics.

Back in October, 2017 candidate Tim Keller told me he wanted to attract and hire people within his own age group, which is understandable and can be appreciated, provided you can find qualified people.

What Mayor Tim Keller, age 40, is now discovering is he is going to have a real problem hiring experienced people from the private sector in his age group who actually know how to manage and willing to work for City Hall wages.

Age and academic credentials should not be the overriding determining factor to be a City Hall Director, but competency and management skills should be.

Just because a person is in their 50s and 60s should not exclude them from any management position.

Apparently, Mayor Keller has learned this fact seeing he has now appointed an Interim APD Chief in his mid-sixty’s who has now retired twice and a Planning Director in his mid-60’s who also left city hall some time ago.

Mayor Keller needs to attract people who are dedicated to public service for what the jobs pay and that is what the real problem is and age should have very little to do with it.

Mayor Keller was elected with huge support of the progressive wing of the Democrat Party, which I suspect the majority are in the 55+ age group.

I think it is safe to say the majority of people who voted in the last election have 15 to 25 years on Mayor Keller, or at least a lot more gray hair than he does.

It is disappointing that the Mayor Keller was unable to attract or convince Brian Colon and Gus Pedrotty to go to work for the City in some capacity in that both definitely have strengths they could have brought to the table.

I doubt seriously if Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, John Mc Cain, Mitt Romney all who are over 70, would ever accept being discounted from holding office because of their age.

After Eight Years Of APD Decline, Soaring Crime Rates New Norm

ABQ Reports published the following article.

Following the article, I added additional information and commentary.

ABQ REPORTS: Violent crime spikes again in ABQ; up by 18% in 2017; Up by 77% since 2012
January 30, 2018

Dennis Domrzalski

“Just how epic is Albuquerque’s crime wave that began under then-Mayor Richard Berry?

Really epic. In 2017, violent crime in the city jumped by 18 percent over the previous year, and since 2012, violent crime has grown by an astonishing 77 percent.

The massive increase in 2017 was incredible when you consider that nonfatal shootings soared by a unbelievable 148 percent.

Homicides were up 23 percent, robberies were up by 43 percent, rapes were up 21 percent and aggravated assaults climbed by a mere 4.2 percent, according to new crime data the Albuquerque Police Department.

That big spike in crime last year followed a 15.5 percent increase in violent crime in the city in 2016, and a 13.3 percent jump in property crime. Actually, the city’s crime rate has been climbing since 2012, and last June, the city was named the auto theft capital of the nation by the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

And during last year’s mayoral race, crime, public safety and the Albuquerque Police Department were the biggest issues.

Many have blamed the sharp increase in crime in a corresponding decrease in the size of APD. The department had nearly 1,100 officers in 2010, but today has 845 full-time, sworn personnel. Many blame that decrease in manpower on the policies of former Mayor Richard Berry.

APD is budgeted for 1,000 officers, and Mayor Tim Keller has pledged to hire several hundred more officers.

The most eye-popping figures in the new crime stats are those for robberies, which increased by 43.6 percent, and nonfatal shootings, which, again, were up by 148 percent.

Retired APD Sgt. Dan Klein said the city’s homicide rate probably would have been much higher were not for the efforts of paramedics, and doctors and nurses at the University of New Mexico Hospital.”


I have no doubt that the sharp increases in our crime rates are related to the decrease in size of the Albuquerque Police Department.

At this point in time, the number one priority should be addressing and rebuilding APD rank and file.


On December 28, 2017 Albuquerque reached a record high of 75 murders in one year.

(December 28, 2017 Albuquerque Journal, page A-1, “The city has reached 75 homicides with decomposed body, police say”)

The record high was originally 70 murders in the year 1996.

Currently, there are only five homicide detectives, with three in training, and a sergeant, that are currently investing the 75 murders.

APD’s homicide clearance rate has usually been in the 80% and and it is now only 59%.

Complicating the murder investigations is the increase in the number of homeless people that have been murdered this year.

Fifteen (15) of the 75 murders involve homeless people.

The murder of homeless people are usually very difficult to solve because the murders usually occur in the outdoors and there is not much of a crime scene left where evidence and witnesses can be found.

Clearly APD’s Homicide Detective Unit is overwhelmed by the caseload and needs immediate help and resources.

The Homicide Investigation Unit needs to be at least 15 detectives.

APD is in a crisis mode and it needs to concentrate on recruiting seasoned homicide detectives from other departments if necessary.

At the very least, APD needs to ask for temporary assignment of personnel from other agencies such as the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department or the State Police to help clear out the cases.

The longer a homicide case takes to complete an investigation or is neglected because of lack of personnel, the less likely the cases will be solved.

Adding to the crisis is the emotional toll an unsolved murder takes on the families of the victims.


According to Albuquerque Police Department (APD) statistics, the total number of violent crimes in Albuquerque dipped two years and then steadily increased as follows:

2010 – 4,291
2011 – 4,207
2012 – 4,151
2013 – 4,323
2014 – 4,934
2015 – 5,409

According to the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office, from 2009 to 2015, Albuquerque’s violent crime rate increased by 21.5%.

Murders spiked in Albuquerque by over 50% from 30 murders in 2014 to 46 murders in 2015.

According to Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) statistics, in the last eight (8) years, Albuquerque has become the is fifth-most violent city in the country on a per capita basis while the nation’s violent crime rate dropped by 13.7%.


Albuquerque has become number one in the nation for auto thefts.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau’s latest Hot Spots report shows Albuquerque and of Bernalillo County as the worst place in the nation when it comes to auto theft per capita.

In 2016 more than 10,000 vehicles were stolen in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County or more than 27 vehicles a day.

According to Albuquerque Police Department (APD) statistics, the total number of property crimes in Albuquerque has steadily increased each year during the last six (6) years as follows:

2010 – 26,493
2011 – 28,109
2012 – 29,804
2013 – 30,614
2014 – 30,523
2015 – 34,082

In 2015, APD made 9,049 felony arrests, 22,639 misdemeanor arrests, 2,213 DWI arrests, and 2,552 domestic violence arrests.

In 2016, APD made 8,744 felony arrests, 19,857 misdemeanor arrests, 1,070 DWI arrests, and 2,462 domestic violence arrests.

In 2016, field service officers responded to 546,550 calls for service with a priority 1 response time of 11 minutes, 35 seconds which is approximately two minutes over the national standard.
(Source: 2017-2018 City of Albuquerque Proposed budget)


The Bernalillo Count District Attorney Office has a misdemeanor division with approximately 25 Assistant District Attorney’s assigned to the division who are responsible for prosecuting cases that mandate a court record.

In 2009, there were 746 people arraigned for felony DWI and that number dropped to a mere 104 in 2015.

In 2008, there were 6,538 people arraigned for misdemeanor DWI and in 2015 that number dropped by close to 60% to 2,942.

In 2010, the APD traffic unit had more than 34 officers and today there are less than 12.

There is a direct correlation with the dramatic decline in the number of DWI arrests and arraignments and traffic arrangement cases and the severe decline in APD personnel.


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

In 2010 , APD response times had been brought down below the national average and crime rates were hitting historical lows.

In eight (8) years, APD went from 1,100 sworn police to 853 sworn police.

From 2010 to 2014, the city council fully funded 1,100 positions despite the mass exodus of sworn police and the APD Police Academy’s failure to recruit and keep up with retirements.

Three years ago, the City Council voted to reduce funding from 1,100 sworn officers to 1,000 sworn officers because of the Berry Administration’s failure to recruit and keep up with retirements.

In 2017, response times went to historical highs with calls to APD taking hours instead of minutes to respond threatening public safety.

In 2017, APD was funded for 1,000 sworn officers but has only 853 sworn police officers.

Funding for the unfilled positions has gone to pay police overtime.

Last year, APD busted its overtime budget by $4 million dollars and it went from $9 million budgeted to $13 million spent in overtime.

In 2016, field service officers responded to 546,550 calls for service with a priority 1 response time of 11 minutes, 35 seconds which is approximately two minutes over the national standard.

Of the 853 sworn police 436 are assigned to field services, resulting in 417 sworn police officers assigned to the various specialized felony units and command staff.

Given the volume of felony arrest and cases, APD is severely understaffed to complete felony investigations.

A December 11, 2015 Albuquerque Police Department Comprehensive Staffing Assessment and Resource Study concluded that APD needs at least 1,000 sworn officers.


The truth is Albuquerque’s severe rising crime rates have been in the making for the last eight (8) years.

Albuquerque’s increasing crimes rates have a lot to do with the fact that APD is so severely understaffed it cannot complete felony investigations and get the cases over to the District Attorney for successful prosecution.

APD is not sufficiently staff to even patrol our streets and enforce basic traffic laws.

No DWI Arrests Means No Prosecutions and No Convictions

In Albuquerque, the more things change, the more things stay the same when it comes to DWI arrests and convictions.

On January 28, 2018, The Albuquerque Journal did a Sunday, bold RED headline story “ODDS OF BEATING DWI CHARGE: ROUGHLY 50-50; DA says his office making changes to get more cases to trial.

Review of Metropolitan Court statistics for 2017 reveals that 42% of all DWI cases resolved in Metropolitan Court were dismissed either by prosecutors or judges.

Last year, 58% of DWI charges ended with a guilty verdict or negotiated plea agreements.

In 2016, the percentages favored defendants, with 55% of drunken driving cases being dismissed compared to 45% ending in plea agreement or convictions.

In 2016, the number of alcohol-related traffic deaths in Bernalillo County climbed to 53 which was the highest number since the year 2000.


In November, 2019, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) released the results of a DWI court monitoring program in the six counties with the highest DWI-related fatalities.

(See November 21, 2017 Albuquerque Journal, Metro & NM Section, page A6, “New report shows high DWI dismissal rates.”)

1,106 DWI cases were monitored in six counties and it was found that 36% of the DWI cases were dismissed, 35% resulted in guilty outcomes, 23% resulted in prosecutions; 4% of the charges were reduced or amended, and 1% were found not guilty.

According to the MADD survey, the top three reasons cases are dismissed are:

1. officers or witnesses failed to appear
2. the suppression or exclusion of testimony or evidence, or
3. because the defendant received a plea deal.

The truth is the three top reasons DWI cases are dismissed have been the same reasons for decades.

Problems exist regarding the mandatory scheduling of witness interviews, especially police officer interviews, failure to exchange evidence to the defense resulting in exclusion of the evidence at trial, testing of forensic evidence and witnesses not available for trial, and conflicts with police officer witnesses not available for trial due to courtroom scheduling of multiple trials involving the same officer.


Arresting and charging someone for DWI means absolutely nothing to deter future acts unless there is a conviction and consequences for violating the law.

In 2007, DWI conviction rates in Bernalillo County ranged between 70% and 80%.

In 2016, the DWI conviction rate was 58%.

In 2017, the DWI conviction rate was 45%.

In November, 2017 Governor Martinez announced that the New Mexico Department of Transportation would be providing a grant of $300,000 to the Bernalillo County District Attorney Office help assist with DWI prosecutions.

During the Governor’s press conference announcing the grant, Bernalillo County District Attorney Raul Torrez complained that his office did not always have the resources, the staff, the training or the logistical support to effectively prosecute DWI cases.

Bernalillo County District Attorney Raul Torrez acknowledges the reduced conviction rates over the years but went on to claim the DWI dismissal rate has dropped during his first year in office because his office has taken steps of “fixing many of the technical issues that lead to the dismissals”.

The Bernalillo County District Attorney’s office is the largest law firm in the State of New Mexico employing upwards of 300 people with an annual budget of $18.2 million dollars.

The Bernalillo County District Attorney office when fully staffed is supposed to employ upwards of 120 full time felony and misdemeanor prosecutors, and would include felony DWI cases.

According to the state’s Sunshine Portal, Torrez’s office has 45 vacant positions out of the 299 positions the office has been budgeted for by the New Mexico legislature.


At least 14 of the vacancies in the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s office are for trial attorneys, and another 14 are for legal secretaries.

There is no doubt that 14 more trial attorneys as well as 14 more legal secretaries, would go a long way in reducing the backlog of felony cases that Torrez has been complaining about the entire first year he has been in office.

Torrez is also seeking a 30% increase in budget of $5.4 million from the 2018 New Mexico legislature to be used to hire 20 more prosecutors.

Having enough prosecutors is not all that is needed when it comes to DWI.


The Bernalillo County Metropolitan court handles cases for virtually all law enforcement agencies that make arrests in Bernalillo County, including the Albuquerque Police Department (APD), the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department (BCSO) and the New Mexico State Police.

85% of the DWI cases arraigned in the Bernalillo County Metropolitan court are APD cases.

The statistics from the Bernalillo County Metro Court are alarming and reveal just how bad things are with the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) being unable to patrol our streets, get drunks off the road, make DWI arrests and prosecute DWI cases.

In 2008, there were 633 felony DWI arraignments and the number steadily declined each year to 104 in 2015.

In 2008, there were 6,538 DWI misdemeanor arraignments and the number steadily declined each year to 2,942 in 2015.


According to the 2017 city budget, the Albuquerque Police Department made more than 2,200 DWI arrests just a few years ago.

In contrast, APD made only made 775 DWI arrests in the first six months of the current budget year.

In other words, DWI arrests are down around 30%.

A decade ago, APD was making more than 5,000 DWI arrests a year.

In 2010, the Albuquerque Police Department had 14 DWI officers assigned to the Traffic Division which had a total of 34 officers enforcing all traffic laws.

Today, the Traffic Division has only 12 sworn police officers with 8 that do DWI cases.

In 2012, the Albuquerque Police Department made 4,842 DWI arrests and in 2016 the number of DWI arrests dropped by more than half to 2,347.

In 2009, there were 746 people arraigned for felony DWI and that number dropped to a mere 104 in 2015.

In 2008, there were 6,538 people arraigned for misdemeanor DWI and in 2015 that number dropped by close to 60% to 2,942.


There is a direct correlation with the dramatic decline in the number of DWI arrests and arraignments and the severe decline in APD personnel.

The December 11, 2015 Albuquerque Police Department Comprehensive Staffing Assessment and Resource Study prepared by Alexander Weiss for the Department of Justice concluded that APD needs at least 1,000 sworn officers.

The Weiss report concluded that 1,000 sworn police officers were sufficient for Albuquerque provided that APD officers did not respond to certain low priority calls such as minor traffic accidents or false alarm calls.

In 2009, APD had 1,100 police officers with approximately 700 assigned to field services, patrolling our streets over three shifts.

Eight years ago, response times were at 8.5 minutes, below the national average.

In 2009, APD command staff recommended that Albuquerque needed at least 1,200 sworn officers for community-based policing and felony prosecutions.

The number of APD sworn officers has fallen from 1,100 officers to 850 over the past eight years.

In 2015, APD has 841 sworn police officers with only 440 assigned to the field services patrolling responding to 69,000 priority one 911 emergency calls a year.

Today, in 2018, APD employs 836 sworn police officers with 430 assigned to the field services, divided into three shifts, to patrol the streets and take Priority 1 calls.


Based on review of the Metropolitan Court statistics, DWI arrest and traffic are a very low priority of APD, not out of desire, but out of necessity.

With APD field officers responding to over 69,000 priority one calls a year, not to mention thousands of lower priority calls, it is surprising the statistics are not worse at Metropolitan Court.

APD cannot be proactive with DWI arrests until such time APD is fully staffed.

Without arrests, there can be no prosecutions and no convictions even if you have enough prosecutors available.

Making One Want to Puke

I think I am going to puke if I hear one more time the metaphor “let’s make lemonade out of the lemons” when it comes to the ART bus project and what City Councilor Isaac Benton has to say about the project.

On Sunday, January 28, 2018, Channel 4 reporter Jen French did an exhaustive “Eye On New Mexico” report dedicated to the ART Bus project.

Albuquerque City Councilor Isaac Benton was the only guest interviewed on the program and Channel 4’s  failure to have at least one opponent of ART to take issue with Benton was disappointing.

It was very painful to watch Benton pathetically drone on and on and continue to defend and promote the ART Bus project as he did for the past three (3) years.

Not at all surprising is that Benton now blames the Berry Administration for all the problems for the project.

It was the Albuquerque City Council and Benton who failed in their oversight responsibilities of the project and failed to press the previous administration for answers and the truth.

Least anyone forget, the Albuquerque City Council voted to approve and authorize the spending of a $69 million dollars federal grant money that has yet to be paid to the City and that congressional committees have reduced by $20 million.

Benton now wants to make lemonade out of a liquid that should be “flushed”.

Benton is a licensed architect by profession and he should have been able to identify early on the design and construction problems with ART, but he did not, and instead said it was the Mayor’s project.

City Councilor Pat Davis is also getting into the “come to the rescue act” by questioning the bidding process on the buses.

It is an embarrassment that Davis is now wondering if the city picked the best bus vendor.

Davis claims he has found out the City is paying millions more for the electric buses than another low bidder.

It was Davis who supposedly secured a bus platform for his district to the tune of $1 Million.

What Benton and Davis both did was get into heated and ugly exchanges with voters at City Council meetings and administration presentations on ART.

More than once, Benton went so far as to berate and humiliate opponents of ART, especially when addressing the audience at city council meetings when he had exclusive control of the meeting as President of the Council.

One exchange I do remember is when Benton was very condescending to a woman in a wheel chair when she said she was a bus rider and was concerned about wheel chair accessibility and being able to safely get to the platforms in the middle of the road and dodging traffic.

Benton assured the lady the architects and contractors knew what they were doing.

Now that the bus platforms have been built, it turns out that they are not in compliance with Federal handicap accessibility requirements.

A few of the platforms will have to be demolished or at the very least modified.

All the problems with ART are so bad, it was announced by the Keller Administration that it will probably not be up and running for at least a year.

City Hall needs to recognize the ART Bus project is never going to be a success in the long run, even if the “kinks” are worked out with the electric buses and the platforms.

ABQ Reports: Complaint filed against Jessica Hernandez’s law license.

January 27, 2018

Complaint filed against Jessica Hernandez’s law license.

Dennis Domrzalski

An activist who is part of the federal reform settlement agreement with the Albuquerque Police Department has filed a complaint against former City Attorney Jessica Hernandez asking that she be investigated for deceiving a federal court judge and secretly recording the independent monitor in the case.

The activist, Maria Bautista, filed the complaint against Hernandez on Friday with The Disciplinary Board of the New Mexico Supreme Court. The complaint said that “Ms. Hernandez should be investigated for violation of Rule 16-303 Candor toward the Tribunal, Rule 16-401, Truthfulness in statements to others, Rule 16-803 Reporting Professional Misconduct, Rule 16-804 Misconduct.”

The Disciplinary Board has the authority to revoke a lawyer’s license.

Bautista is active in one of the many groups that are called “amici,” or “Friend of the Court,” that have standing in federal court in the settlement agreement.

Hernandez and APD employees, including then-Assistant APD Chief Robert Huntsman, secretly recorded the independent monitor, James Ginger, at least 12 times between March of 2016 and February of 2017.

The federal court judge who is overseeing the reform case, Robert Brack, said that Huntsman’s secret recording of Ginger in March 2016 was probably a violation of the settlement agreement and an attempt to undermine Ginger and the reform effort.

Brack also said that Hernandez tried to deceive him when she filed a motion in late October of 2017 accusing Ginger of being biased against APD. Attached to that motion was a 14-minute video that Huntsman took with his department-issued lapel camera and a transcript of the video. But Brack said the transcript covered only nine minutes of the video and that Hernandez had tried to deceive him by not providing the full transcript.

On Nov. 16, 2017, Brack denied the city’s motion for an evidentiary hearing to determine if Ginger was biased against the city. He also ordered the city to turn over to him any other recordings that were made of Ginger.

On Dec. 22, 2017, Hernandez turned over audios and transcripts of 11 other recordings that she and others made of Ginger.

In a Jan 18 status conference in the reform case, Brack said he was not going to pursue sanctions against Hernandez or others for secretly recording Ginger.

“I’m letting you-all know I have no interest in looking back. My shoulder’s to the wheel and my hand is on the plow. I am looking forward with all of you and I have no intention of pursuing sanctions against the prior administration,” Brack said during the status conference, “and I certainly don’t think the successor administration has any accountability on that score.”