On Saturday, August 11, 2018, Democratic Wards 11A, 11B, and 11C held a joint Democratic Ward meeting.
About 65 people attended and most were and older crowd, 55 and older.
Mayor Tim Keller and State Senator Jerry Ortiz Pino spoke and did a fine job of addressing the many issues facing Albuquerque.
Among the topics discussed were APD, crime and the ART bus project.
Mayor Keller did say he is hoping the ART buses will be up and running by winter.
Mayor Keller reported that things are still being negotiated with the ART Bus manufacturer and that the city is still on the hook to pay for the buses already delivered.
One thing made clear is that the batteries of the buses will not allow them to be driven the 350 miles originally contracted for and that additional charging stations will need to be constructed.
Further, the buses cannot be easily modified, such as adding doors to opposite sides, that would allow them to be used on regular bus stops and the platforms constructed are all that they can be used on.
Further, it will take upwards of two years to order and get different buses from another manufacturer.
The “One Leadership Theme” Mayor Keller discussed is the philosophy of acknowledging Albuquerque serious problems that need to be acknowledge and respond with solutions.
With respect to APD, Mayor Keller talked about APD reorganization and working on a “downtown police district”.
The goal is to locate a facility, perhaps at Alvarado Transportation Center for example, to be able to have police officers patrol the Downtown area.
A downtown police station will require more sworn police, officers that APD does not currently have.
APD currently has 878 sworn police with the goal to hire 100 more over the next year.
Mayor Keller reported there are 44 cadets in the APD Police Academy with another 22 laterals hired.
Based on past performance numbers, the APD Academy in all likely graduate between 25 to 30 officers’ and the officer shortage will be affected by retirements.
Mayor Keller intends to increase funding for winter sheltering of the homeless.
The Mayor pointed out that the old west side detention facility is now, and for a number of years, provided winter shelter for the homeless.
The Homeless are housed in the common areas of the old jail with the use bunk beds and pods for limited privacy.
Keller announced that more funding has been provided for afterschool programs.
One interesting proposal Keller intends to announce is a “children’s cabinet” to get more input from kids.
Keller also talked about his economic development plan and his “increment of one” program with an emphasis on economic base jobs and businesses.
Keller noted that property crime rates have declined, but Albuquerque’s homicide rate continues to rise.
Mayor Keller disclosed that the overwhelming majority of murders in Albuquerque involve domestic violence or drugs.
Albuquerque’s Homicides rate continues to rise.
Mayor also talked about how successful the newly renovated civic plaza and fountain has increased night time activity on the plaza.
Keller discussed a volunteer’s initiative to help with clerical duties with APD.
During the question and answer session at the joint ward meeting, Mayor Keller addressed the Top Golf veto override.
Keller said that the override was an exception not the rule saying he gets along just fine with the council.
As examples of getting along with the council, Keller cited the tax increase enacted by the council he signed after promising not to increase taxes without a public vote and the council increasing funding for projects he wants such as after school programs, the Safe City Strike Force and public safety.
Mayor Keller closed with talking about a roll out of a volunteer program and his One Albuquerque campaign.
The ultimate goal is to develop a core of volunteers that can help the city and APD with matters such as fingerprint processing and records keeping and clerical duties.
The volunteer program is part of Keller’s “One Albuquerque” initiative to encourage civic involvement with city issues.
Mayor Keller briefly discusses the city’s economic development plan to assist small business owners.