Mayor Tim Keller is approaching being in office a full six months and gave a speech that was billed as a “first six months update” speech.
I could not help but burst out laughing when I read what Mayor Tim Keller had to say in the speech before the monthly luncheon of the National Association of Industrial Office Parks (NAIOP) which is held at the Albuquerque Marriott every month.
It was not as much as what he said that made me laugh, but who he was saying it to.
NAIOP’s membership is considered by many elected politicians as the “heavy hitters” in Albuquerque’s commercial development industry, construction industry and the real estate community and a source of major campaign contributions.
NAIOP and many of its membership are known to donate to the candidates for Mayor and City Council and the organization even sponsors candidate forums.
Many of NAIOPs members are also big promoters of all things Republican and the Republican Agenda and Republican candidates for office.
NAIOP or many of its membership have supported “right to work” legislation, opposed increasing the minimum wage, opposed the mandatory sick leave initiative, strongly opposes city government regulations and zoning regulations and are decidedly “anti union” when it comes to construction contracts and being required to pay “union wage” rates in any shape or form.
Many of the NAIOP membership also supported the ABC-Z comprehensive zoning plan which will have long term impact on our neighborhoods and favors developers.
The enactment of the comprehensive plan was a major priority of Republican Mayor Berry and the development community pushed hard for its enactment before Berry left office and no doubt the NAIOP rejoiced in the enactment the ABC-Z comprehensive plan.
The ABC-Z project rewrite was 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.
NAIOP and it membership were staunch supporters of the previous Republican Berry Administration when it came to the disastrous $132 million ART Bus Project.
Many members of NAIOP, including developers, contractors and architects, benefited directly from the ART Bus project as well as many other construction contracts handed out over the last eight years by the Berry Administration.
WHAT MAYOR KELLER TOLD NAIOP
Not at all surprising is that Mayor Keller in his speech said that crime, homelessness and our very weak economy are Albuquerque’s biggest challenges.
Keller told the group the solutions to Albuquerque’s problems must include city residents and not government alone when he said:
“As I’m sure it’s not lost on anyone in this room, or certainly myself, there’s no way a singular leader or politician can do this on their own. … I believe in the upcoming years, we must look to ourselves for our own solutions. … We must try and hit the target instead of looking for other silver bullets. To do this, we have to come together as one Albuquerque.”
Mayor Keller encouraged local businesses to submit bids for city services by saying:
“Some of those contracts are readily available. … There’s the city’s coffee contract. There’s the city’s business card contract. The amazing thing is either people don’t know about them or the procurement process is too long. You name the reason – we’re going to work on all of those reasons and make sure they’re not a barrier anymore.”
Mayor Keller said his administration would also be reaching out soon to establish what he called a “massive volunteer program” that will have at least 4,000 volunteers that could easily double and went on to say:
“This is going to be a way to take folks who want to help the city in any way possible. … It could be filing paperwork. It could be working at one of our community centers. It could be to help facilitate some of our permitting process. It could be testing out some of the new applications on cellphones that almost nobody is using right now. … If we can come together as a city, we can reach our full potential. … It means setting our differences aside or aiming them at the particular government entity that’s causing them.”
It is when I read that Mayor Tim Keller challenged NAIOP and its membership to volunteer and come up with initiatives to help his administration’s efforts to cure the ills that beset the city that I burst out laughing knowing how many of it members donated to either Republicans Dan Lewis or Wayne Johnson who both ran against Mayor Keller.
NAIOP has never been considered a major source or a wealth of volunteerism for the city, and it never will be seeing as they do not do anything for free in their respective industries.
Profit margins is what motivates the sure existence of NAIOP and its members.
NAIOP membership is interested in bidding upon multi-million dollar city construction contracts and not the city’s coffee contract nor the city’s business card contract.
If anything, NAIOP is always looking for the “silver bullet” to solve economic development problems for its membership in that many of its membership are the very first in line to bid on city construction projects and get behind zoning changes that are detrimental to neighborhoods and to enhance developments.
NAIOP has an extensive history of being extremely critical of the city’s zoning laws, enforcement actions and regulations especially the permitting and inspection processes required by the city’s building codes.
Challenging the NAIOP membership to “volunteer and come up with in initiatives to help his administration” is somewhat embarrassing seeing as NAIOP will in all likely oppose any progressive agenda Mayor Keller wants to implement, especially when it comes to increasing the minimum wage or mandatory sick leave.
The Mayor’s call for an army of 4,000 volunteers, let alone doubling that number to 8,000 is looking through rose-colored glasses Mayor Keller no doubt found left in his office by his predecessor.
No one has time to volunteer to do anything for free for the city when you cannot make a living and perhaps holding down two jobs to make ends meet.
Mayor Tim Keller was swept into office with a 62% vote landslide giving him a mandate for change.
High crime rates, public safety, the Albuquerque Police Department, the Department of Justice reforms, the economy and increasing taxes were the biggest issues debated in the 2017 Mayor’s race.
The tone and direction the Keller Administration has taken in the last six months does not represent visionary change and frankly not much of change at all, especially when it comes to economic development.
Talking to groups like the Chamber of Commerce, the Economic Forum and NAIOP is not going to help much given that they have been part of our problem for so many years void of any vision or leadership and more concerned about protecting their own self interests.
The trajectory indications from the last six months period from Mayor Keller being in office is that Albuquerque is set to have another uninspiring four years from a Mayor filled with extensive photo ops, ribbon cuttings and talking to business organizations in the hopes of getting their support.
I totally agree when Mayor Keller say’s “there’s no way a singular leader or politician can do this on their own”, but no one is asking Mayor Keller to do it on his own.
Putting out a call for “volunteers” rings hollow given all the problems the city is facing.
What voters are asking for is leadership, inspiration and solutions, which is why so many people voted for Tim Keller for Mayor and will be very disappointed when he fails to deliver.