College has a four-year curriculum to earn a degree.
When you’re the only student in the class, there is no bell curve grading and you rise and fall in grades with your own accomplishments.
June 1, 2018 marks Mayor Tim Keller’s anniversary for his first semester of his freshman year of his four-year term in office.
KELLER’S REPORT CARD AND CLASSES
Based on the list of accomplishments for Mayor Keller’s first 6 months in office, following are the classes and assigned grades:
PUBLIC RELATIONS: “A” because Mayor Keller attends all required public functions, appears to enjoy them all and makes himself available to the public. He represents the City in such a manner citizens can take great pride with the image he portrays as he appears and speaks always with a smile on his face and a grin in his voice.
EXPLANATION: Public Relations is like gym class. It is easy to get an A and it sure can raise your grade point average amongst voters and go a long way to get you re-elected.
APPOINTMENTS OF DEPARTMENT HEADS: “B” for being able to assemble a management team to coincide with his philosophy and to carry out his programs.
EXPLANATION: Appointing of department heads is considered an easy A because you surround yourself with people you like and they owe their loyalty and living to you. There is no problem making appointments based on political loyalty as long as the person appointed is qualified and can do the job. Political appointments need have a proper vetting process because they can make or break an administration. The grade was brought down to a “B” for Keller’s failure to have a proper vetting process in place for City Clerk and City Attorney.
PUBLIC SAFETY: “C” for proposing an APD expansion plan and indications he has the ability to work with the public safety unions of police and fire which have now approved contracts. The grade in this class has been reduced by the fact that Albuquerque continues to have high crime rates and the murder rate is out of control.
EXPLANATION: Public Safety is probably the hardest subject for any Mayor to undertake with any good grades usually very difficult to attain unless crime rates are down. High crime rates can make any one a one term mayor.
APD REFORMS: “D” for not going above and beyond to do more than making a commitment to implement reforms required under the Department of Justice Consent Decree.
EXPLANATION: This is probably the third hardest subject for Mayor Keller to tackle given APD’s history of resistance to the consent decree reforms. Mayor Keller’s grade was brought down for failing his first test to take issue with APD Chief Geier and defending APD’s evidence gathering in a child abuse case saying that no policies nor procedures were violated. The Mayor and Chief’s defense reflects nothing has changed with APD management.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: “F” for his total failure to outline any economic development plan to bring new industry and jobs to Albuquerque.
EXPLANATION: This is the second hardest subject, second to Public Safety, for any Mayor to tackle and affects virtually every citizen and the taxes they pay. If you do not bother to take an exam, you should expect a failing grade.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS GRADES BASED UPON
Mayor Keller’s accomplishments the first six months that his grades are based on can be summarized as followings:
1. Appointed experienced city hall people like James Lewis, Lawrence Rael and David Campbell to key positions and woman to executive positions including Sarita Nair as Chief Administration Officer, Shelle Sanchez as Cultural Services Director, Mary Scott as Human Service Director and Ana Sanchez as Senior Affairs Director and Nyka Allen as Aviation Director.
2. Appointed a new Interim APD Police Chief and Interim Deputy Chiefs who are either retired or from within APD and shuffling and reorganizing the APD command staff and personnel staff. These interim appointments have stabilized the department somewhat.
3. Publicly committed to a federal judge in private and a court hearing to implement the Department of Justice reforms which are required under the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA). The Federal Monitor is now providing “technical assistance” to APD and APD now has a compliance bureau.
4. Signing a city council-initiated $55 million dollar a year tax increase. Keller broke a campaign promise not to raise taxes without a public vote. The increased tax revenues raised is going towards a projected $40 million deficit. 80% of the new tax revenues are dedicated to public safety.
5. Submission and enactment of a $577 million balanced general fund budget with highlights including increases in funding for more police, increased funding in social services and youth programs and $1.5 million to address the backlog of more than 4,000 untested rape kits. APD has 898 sworn police when you include a recent graduating cadet class. The 2018-2019 approved budget funds 1,040 full time sworn police officer positions.
6. Proposed an $88 million-dollar APD police expansion program over 4 years increasing the number of sworn police officers from 898 positions filled to 1,200, or by 302 sworn police officers, over a four-year period. Keller has vowed to return to community-based policing.
7. Attempting to salvage the $135 million ART bus project calling it “turning lemons into lemonade”. Keller has yet been able to secure the $69 million federal grant funding from congress after going to Washington and lobbying for a commitment.
8. Negotiating a $8 million settlement with the Albuquerque firefighters union, ending a pay raise dispute that dates back to 2011 when the previous administration was at impasse with all the City Unions.
9. Successful negotiation of a two-year contract with the police union providing for $12.2 million dollars in hourly wage increases and longevity pay increases to experienced police officers.
10. Announcing implementation of major changes to the city’s twenty five-year old DWI vehicle forfeiture program in response to a federal court ruling in a pending case. The policy change includes the city not seeking ownership of a vehicle and sell it at auction unless the suspect is convicted of DWI.
11. Signing a symbolic decriminalization of pot ordinance and a symbolic City Council resolution reaffirming Albuquerque is an “immigrant friendly” city as opposed to a “sanctuary city”, with both initiatives being city council initiatives and not the Mayor’s.
12. Mayor Tim Keller has taken photo ops to a new level by attending protest rallies to speak at, attending marches, attending heavy metal concerts to introduce the band, running in track meets and participating in exhibition football games as the quarterback and enjoying re-living his high school glory days, and posting pictures and videos on FACEBOOK. People can take great pride with the positive image Mayor Keller is portraying.
SIX LOW TEST SCORES
Mayor Keller was given low scores in 6 tests that have affected his grades:
1. Vetting and appointment missteps with a City Clerk nominee and City Attorney. The first City Clerk nominee withdrew her acceptance of her appointment because her financial problems and tax lien problems. The City Attorney was evetially appointed had not applied and was appointed after the job posting closed and interviews were conducted.
2. Appointment of a 5-member selection committee and process for a permanent APD Chief with no representatives on the chief’s selection committee from the general public, the city council, American Civil Liberties Union, APD Forward, the District Attorney’s Office nor Public Defenders Office, nor any Hispanic, Native American or other minority groups nor communities affected by police actions. There is no representation on the selection committee from any one of the stake holders in the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA).
3. Mayor Keller failed his first major test in dealing with APD in the evidence gathering of a child abuse case where the blood-stained underwear of a seven-year-old child was collected by the child’s teacher and the clothing was thrown out and not tag by APD. Initially, both Mayor Keller and Interim Chief Geier insisted that no one with APD violated any policies or procedures and said that officers and detectives did everything they could with the information they had at the time. After extensive media coverage, an Internal Affairs Investigation was announced. Keller then announced policies changes after meeting with the Albuquerque Journal editorial board giving an apology.
4. Since taking office on December 1, 2018, Mayor Keller has been trying to clean up the $135 million-dollar disaster known as the ART Bus Project. The Keller Administration itself created a problem with the ART buses when it took delivery of at least 10 of the buses in California where the buses were assembled. Instead of being shipped by rail, the buses were driven across country and sustained damages which may not be covered by the warranty or have voided the warranty.
5. Since January 1 of this year, Albuquerque has had 35 murders and counting. Mayor Keller failed to address the community on what he will do about the city’s murder rate, if anything can be done, other than hiring more cops to patrol our streets and increase APD response times to 911 emergency calls.
6. There have been repeated mis communications, conflicting communication or no communications at all by the City’s public information officers on major news stories. Albuquerque appears to have a Mayor whose PIOs have no idea what his decisions are, nor understanding what his directives are, what he wants said to the media nor what he wants his top executives to be saying.
Trajectory indications from Mayor Keller’s first six months in office, the media relations, the executive appointments made and the accomplishment are that Albuquerque is set to have another uninspiring approach to government filled with extensive photo ops, ribbon cuttings and social media communications.
Mayor Keller has three and half years left in office to get his grades up, but if his first semester grades are any indication of what we are in store for, he may not graduate to any higher office let alone be re-elected Mayor come 2021.