Joe Monahan’s Analysis On November 6, 2018 General Election; Early Voting Surges For Democrats

On October 29, 2018, one week before the November 6, 2018 general election, Joe Monahan on his political blog New Mexico Politics With Joe Monahan, posted an excellent update giving the status on New Mexico’s general election.

Following is Mr. Monahan’s October 29, 2018 blog article:

“NM GOP Has Major Cracks; Who Will Pick Up The Pieces? Plus: Fresh Polling Has MLG Leading; Is There A Path For Pearce? And: Yvette And Xochitl Tied, State Of The Governor’s Race; It’s Not As Bad As The TV Ads Say

This one flew under the radar but is of note.

Gov. Martinez made a quiet appearance last Friday in Roswell and greeted Vice President Mike Pence there as he prepared to rally the GOP troops for Republican Guv hopeful Steve Pearce and southern congressional candidate Yvette Herrell. But she did not attend the rally that Pence conducted at the Roswell Airport and she has not publicly endorsed either Pearce or Herrell. This trio of top R’s are actually bitter foes. Martinez also refused to embrace the Trump candidacy in ’16.

Martinez’s popularity has plummeted to the low to mid 30’s. Her appearance at the rally would probably not have been welcome. But her solo sidebar with Pence speaks to the more important question of the state of the NM GOP. And it’s not good.

Martinez took the party to new heights, scoring re-election for herself and helping her brethren gain control of the state House for two years. But her popularity crashed along with the economy and her constant fighting with the legislature. Combined with the failed tenure of ABQ Republican Mayor RJ Berry, the GOP has been left in tatters.

If Pearce and Herrell were to both lose next week who would rebuild? There is no apparent answer. Lt. Gov. John Sanchez is spent and also out with Martinez at year’s end.

The stakes for the state’s minority party couldn’t get much higher. They need at least one major winner next Tuesday.


Just as we said the public polling had stalled out, here comes one. And the numbers look familiar. In the Governor’s race the Emerson College poll conducted Oct 24-26 of 936 likely voters has it Michelle Lujan Grisham 53 to 44 over Republican Steve Pearce. That’s exactly where an internal poll for MLG’s campaign had it that was conducted Oct. 22-26 and that was released over the weekend.

Pollster Brian Sanderoff is in the field this week for the ABQ Journal and will report his final results Saturday and Sunday. But right now it looks as though MLG is closing in on the prize. Pearce spokesman Kevin Sheridan begs to differ:

Anyone telling themselves this is a 9-point race is going to be in for a shock on election night.

The margin of error in the Emerson Guv poll is 3.4 percent.

As we’ve blogged, Big BernCo is Pearce’s problem child. He is underperforming here and must move some numbers. But he doesn’t seem overly interested. Monday he was campaigning in Farmington and today he is headed south to Tatum, Lovington and Hobbs. The strategy is to hype the southern numbers and others outside the Metro in hopes of overcoming MLG’s ABQ advantage.

President Bush did something similar in October 2004 when he scheduled stops in Farmington, Hobbs and Alamogordo. Hobbs had never had a presidential visit. Bush defeated Dem John Kerry here in a squeaker, 49.84% to 49.05%.

Bush lost BernCo that year by only 51.5% to 47.3. The losing margin was only12,000 votes. (He appeared in ABQ on Election Eve) But Bush carried Lea County where he had visited by a stunning 80% to 20% margin or nearly 11,000 votes, nearly the same margin he lost BernCo,

Bush’s statewide popular vote win over Kerry was only 5,988. But he won. That appears to be the needle that Steve Pearce is trying to thread as the campaign comes down to its final intense hours. The issue is whether it is too late to get BernCo closer so the south can rise again.

Emerson also did a Guv poll in August. That survey had Pearce at 42 and MLG at 40, but that one is looking more like an outlier. No other public poll has had the race that close. The Journal had it 50-43 in it’s early September survey.


The survey showed a nip and tuck race for the southern congressional seat, with Republican Yvette Herrell and Dem Xochtil Torres Small tied at 47 percent among 238 voters polled.

However, the margin of error was a quite high 6 percent. Also, most of the survey was conducted before the VP Pence rally in Roswell for Pearce and Herrell which drew widespread coverage.

This one has been tough for either candidate to put away, with over-the-top spending from the national partisans. Historically it breaks toward the R’s. We’ll see where it lands Election Night when we call the action on KANW 89.1 FM in ABQ and on


The US Senate race fizzled long ago. Emerson has it for Senator Heinrich with 48 percent. R Mick Rich garners 32 percent and Libertarian Gary Johnson comes in third with 16% and 6% is undecided.

What this tells us is that Rich has consolidated some of the GOP vote and likely will take second place. Johnson is fading, as third party candidates are prone to do during the final days.

The undecided may be more likely to go with Rich or Johnson since they already know incumbent Heinrich. The question is can Heinrich reach 50 percent in this three way race?


In the ABQ congressional race Dem Deb Haaland garners 51 percent to 41 percent for Republican Janice Arnold-Jones. Libertarian Lloyd Princeton gets 1 percent. This seat has been a safe Dem hold for a while and this poll confirms that. The margin of error is 5.7%.

In the heavy Dem northern congressional seat Rep. Ben Ray Lujan is set to win in a walk. He leads R Gerald McFall 54% to 37 percent. Undecided is 5 percent. Lujan is headed to his sixth, two year term in the US House.

Emerson also asked about favorable ratings. They have Trump at 40% favorable, 55% unfavorable; Lujan Grisham 43% favorable, 39% unfavorable and Pearce 43% favorable, 43% unfavorable. Obviously, the negative campaigning in the Guv’s race has put a lid on the candidates favorable ratings. But winning has a way of putting a halo on a hopeful and the ratings of the Governor-elect should go up after the election.

The Emerson college poll was conducted using automatic robo calls and on line surveys.


Given the onslaught of campaign ads accusing Pearce and Lujan Grisham of being little better than corrupt mob bosses, the hands of Mr. and Mrs. New Mexico might be trembling as they approach their ballot to make their choice. What to do?

Well, rest assured the two contenders are not in line to be honored by the Mother Teresa society but the charges against the pair are actually garden variety. They hit them for fudging and misleading statements–not an exchange of cash for services which would take them from the garden to the jailhouse.

The awarding of state contracts is inherently a political process. The contractors are always looking for an edge and the politicians are looking to keep their friends happy. Sometimes the line gets crossed and you have pay to play and perp walks. Remember the metro courthouse scandal or those involving two state treasurers?

In the case of MLG and Delta Consulting there is a case to be made that the contract was politically tinged. There’s that report that Delta was the only one submitting a bid to run the high risk insurance pool and continuing questions about how much the contract was advertised. Also, the fact that the congresswoman was indeed politically connected to Governor Richardson. But the more important questions are: Was Delta qualified? Did Delta deliver the services promised? Did Delta or MLG embezzle funds? The answers so far are that the company was qualified and there was no illegal activity.

As for Pearce, it’s true he prevaricated (to use a fancy word for not telling the truth) when he listed a company on his disclosure form as engaging in party rentals when it was actually an oil and gas company. Why he felt the need to cover that activity is perplexing given that Pearce is well known to have gotten rich from the SE oilfields. It’s not behavior that engenders confidence but is it evidence of a quid pro quo in which Pearce received direct payments from the oil and gas industry (not only campaign contributions) to influence his congressional votes? In other words was he on the take? So far, the answer to that question is no.

The aforementioned Mr. and Mrs. New Mexico don’t have to worry that they are putting in office a modern version of Al Capone as the TV ads infer. What they do have to worry about is how the power will shape whoever eventually wins. On that score. . .

The past two gubernatorial administrations ended in a sea of corruption charges. Gov. Richardson was nearly indicted. Governor Martinez’s chief political adviser Jay McCleskey narrowly escaped a federal indictment. Both Governors came under scrutiny for awarding contracts to political allies. After Big Bill state investment procedures had to undergo a radical overhaul because of pay to play scandals over the state’s billions in savings. Under Martinez the behavioral health system was destroyed and has to be rebuilt because she brought in out of state contractors to run the system.

The corruption charges in the incendiary TV spots against Pearce and MLG are far from disqualifiers but they are markers for the government watchdogs. If Pearce is elected they will follow the oil and gas money and look for signs of any outsized influence in the administration. If MLG wins, all eyes will be on her relationship with Gov. Richardson and his allies and for any movidas to secure state contracts under her.


To keep corruption at a minimum you need accountability. But the past two Governors have seen little of it. Both won re-election in historic landslides and went on to crash and burn, ending with dismal approval ratings.

Bruce Donisthorpe, the late pollster, consultant. congressional staffer and decades-long veteran of La Politica had a favored solution: “Elect them. But never re-elect them,” he would often declare.

He had a point. If Richardson, Martinez and Johnson left office at the end of their first terms they would have left as heroes.

I’m often reminded of our old friend Bruce, especially in the final stretch when we would call on him and others with exceptional political acumen like consultant Harry Pavlides and Andrew Leo Lopez, the original Senior Alligator of the ABQ South Valley. All were brilliant and all of them made me shine. Thanks, fellas. We’ll carry on. . .


State Republicans may or may not have something to party about Election Night. Whatever the case, they will gather at the ABQ Crowne Plaza as the returns roll in. The State Dems will gather at the Hotel ABQ. . .

Southern GOP congressional candidate Yvette Herrell has raised a total of $1.2 million for her campaign, not the $1.6 million we had in a first blog draft.”


Early voting numbers show a major surge with thousands flocking to voting booths ahead of Election Day.

According to the Secretary of State’s Office, Democrats are dominating early voting across New Mexico.

Two very recent KRQE new reports revealed that the latest numbers showed Democrats accounted for 56 percent of early ballots, despite the fact they make up 46 percent of registered voters.

In Bernalillo County, Democrats came up with 71 percent of the early vote and Republicans with 16 percent.

As of last Thursday, statewide, there were more than 162,000 ballots cast.

That includes more than 29,000 absentee ballots.

In Bernalillo County alone, nearly 60,000 ballots have also been cast.

Early voting ends November 3, 2018.

Joe Monahan publishes reports on his blog 4 days a week, Monday through Thursday.

The link to New Mexico Politics With Joe Monahan is

You can also email Joe Monahan directly at his email address

Trump Goes Where He Was Not Invited And Not Wanted

Two days after I posted my blog article entitled “Trump’s Shooting Off His Mouth Is Going To Get Some Killed; “Political Serial Bomber” Targets Trump Critics”, 11 people were shot dead and six injured in a synagogue in the Squirrel Hill section of Pittsburgh.

Almost immediately, President Trump’s response to the shooting was to shoot off his mouth once again saying the synagogue massacre could have been prevented had it had arm security.

Well Mr. President, the synagogue did have security.

Trump wants more guns and security to protect people at their place of worship, but I doubt he would include Muslim temples.


The Anti-Defamation League logged a 57 percent rise in anti-Semitic incidents in the United States in 2017, compared to the previous year, including bomb threats, assaults, vandalism, and anti-Semitic posters and literature found on college campuses.

Swastikas and other anti-Semitic graffiti have been cropping up on synagogues and Jewish homes around the country. Jews online are subject to vicious slurs and threats.

Many synagogues and Jewish day schools have been amping up security measures.

The number of threats against synagogues in the United States is up 56% in the last year, yet Trump stokes hatred and violence at his pre-midterm rallies and he denies he has something to do with the discourse going on in this country.

When asked at the daily White House Press briefing as to whether President Trumps words and actions are dividing the country and contributing to discourse, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders took sharp issue with the question and said President Trump was in fact uniting the country.

Huckabee Sanders went on to blame the media as causing 90% of the discourse in this country with all the negative reporting of Trump.


Trump announced his intent to travel to Squirrel Hill section of Pittsburgh and did so on October 30 accompanied by First Lady Melania Trump and his daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Cushner, who are both Jewish.

The Mayor of Pittsburgh had requested Trump not go and to wait a week so that the community could bury their dead without distraction nor expense that a Presidential visit entails for local law enforcement.

None of the top four congressional leaders traveled with the Trump and first lady to Pittsburgh, despite invitations from the White House.

Trump was not greeted by a delegation of local elected officials as is the case with most Presidential trips.

When Trump showed up with his family members to the Tree of Life Synagogue where the 11 were killed, he was greeted by a few thousand protesters some chanting “go home” or “your not welcomed here”.

Notwithstanding, Rabbi Jeffrey Myers for the Tree of Life Synagogue greeted President Trump with respect.

Two of those killed were buried that day.

President placed stones, as part of Jewish tradition, and white roses on the Stars of David set up in a makeshift memorial for those killed.

After visiting the synagogue, the president and first lady went to a hospital where they met with medical staff and officers who were wounded in the attack.

The day after his trip, Trump dismissed the demonstration tweeting that the “small protest was not seen by us, staged far away.”


In a remarkable and open letter to President Trump, a Pittsburg Jewish steering committee known as BEND THE ARC JEWISH ACTION, sent the following letter to the White House:

“President Trump:

Yesterday, a gunman slaughtered 11 Americans during Shabbat morning services. We mourn with the victims’ families and pray for the wounded. Here in Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood, we express gratitude for the first responders and for the outpouring of support from our neighbors near and far. We are committed to healing as a community while we recommit ourselves to repairing our nation.

For the past three years your words and your policies have emboldened a growing white nationalist movement. You yourself called the murderer evil, but yesterday’s violence is the direct culmination of your influence.

President Trump, you are not welcome in Pittsburgh until you fully denounce white nationalism.

Our Jewish community is not the only group you have targeted. You have also deliberately undermined the safety of people of color, Muslims, LGBTQ people, and people with disabilities. Yesterday’s massacre is not the first act of terror you incited against a minority group in our country.

President Trump, you are not welcome in Pittsburgh until you stop targeting and endangering all minorities.

The murderer’s last public statement invoked the compassionate work of the Jewish refugee service HIAS at the end of a week in which you spread lies and sowed fear about migrant families in Central America. He killed Jews in order to undermine the efforts of all those who find shared humanity with immigrants and refugees.

President Trump, you are not welcome in Pittsburgh until you cease your assault on immigrants and refugees.

The Torah teaches that every human being is made b’tzelem Elohim, in the image of God.

This means all of us.

In our neighbors, Americans, and people worldwide who have reached out to give our community strength, there we find the image of God. While we cannot speak for all Pittsburghers, or even all Jewish Pittsburghers, we know we speak for a diverse and unified group when we say:

President Trump, you are not welcome in Pittsburgh until you commit yourself to compassionate, democratic policies that recognize the dignity of all of us.”


Bend the Arc: Pittsburgh Steering Committee


The embarrassment for Trump is that the Pittsburgh Jewish Community told him in no uncertain terms he was not wanted in their community but he went anyway.

With his trip, Trump shows that he has absolutely no shame, and probably never will, and that everything just has to always be about him.

With any luck, the American people have had a belly full of Trump and the Republican Party and send a strong message to both in the November midterms by electing Democratic majorities in the United State House and Senate.

Just once in his lifetime, Trump could have had respect for others and not go to Pittsburg where he was not invited, not wanted and not needed.

We need to pray that Trump will get the message someday and take responsibility for the division and discourse going on in this country and stop shooting off his mouth via “TWITTER”.

APD Deputy Chief Of Staff In Charge Of Media Relations Is “Political Damage Control” Position

On October 29, 2018, ABQ Report published the following article “Human Robot Simon Drobik Bills City for 26 hours of Work in a Single Day”
written by contributing reporter Charles Arasim and editor and reporter Dennis Domrzalski:

– Drobik billed taxpayers for 26 hours in a single day

– Billed an astounding 275.6 hours of work in a two-week period

– Mayor Tim Keller refuses to comment or call for an audit

– City councilors say nothing

– Nobody seems to care

Albuquerque’s human robot, Officer Simon Drobik of the Albuquerque Police Department appears to be smashing all records when it comes to a human’s ability to work.

So far this year there have been only four days in which Drobik, one of APD’s public information officers and an hourly employee, has not billed the public for working. Drobik appears to have worked while on vacation, and while on paid time off, and on one occasion he billed the public for 26 hours of work in a single 24 hour day, according to city of Albuquerque payroll records.

[You can review Simon Drobik’s pay stubs at the below link] :

And in one two-week pay period, Drobik billed APD for an astounding 275.66 hours of work. That apparently included 84 hours of overtime, 57 hours of regular pay, seven hours of chief’s overtime and 22 hours of something called contract based overtime. But while putting in more than 160 hours of regular work and overtime, Drobik still managed to get 10 hours of holiday pay and 13 hours of paid leave, according to payroll records.

So far this year, Drobik, whose pay rate is $31.50 an hour, has made around $150,000, according to city records. He appears to be working an average of 100 hours a week, pretty much seven days a week.

Neither Mayor Tim Keller’s office, nor any of the nine city councilors responded to ABQReport requests for comments on Drobik’s super-human feats of work and the massive amount of overtime pay he has been receiving. Keller’s office did not respond to a request for a comment, and whether Keller, a former state auditor, was concerned about the situation, and whether the mayor would ask for an audit of Drobik’s time sheets.

Here’s another highlight from Drobik’s pay records. On Sunday, Feb. 18, he billed the city for 26 hours of work. That appears to have included 10 hours of overtime for having worked a holiday, and 10 hours for having taken the holiday off. It also included 10 hours of Chief’s Overtime.

On another day, Friday, April 13, billed the city for 24 hours of work. On two other days, Drobik billed taxpayers for 22 hours of work.


This is not the first time that Simon Drobik’s overtime has been called into questioned by ABQ Reports.

On October 16, 2018, reporter and editor Dennis Domrzalski of ABQ Report published an investigative report that APD’s Public Information Officer and Patrolman First Class Simon Drobik had earned $146,000 so far this year and is on track to make $200,0000 this year as a result of overtime pay.

You can read the entire October 16, 2018 ABQ Report here:

Drobik’s base pay is around $48,500 a year but he has been paid well over $100,000 in overtime so far this year.

APD is claiming that APD Public Information Officer Simon Drobik works full-time as PIO during weekdays as his primary assignment, working 7 days a week, and he also works as a patrol officer entitling him to be paid for that position as well, in essence holding down and being paid for two positions.


On September 25, 2018, a grand jury indicted a former Albuquerque police officer on 10 counts of fraud, embezzlement and other charges for “time card fraud” when he was a sergeant with the department.

The indictment, filed in 2nd Judicial District Court on Tuesday, charged James Geha, 50, with computer access with intent to defraud or embezzle over $2,500; fraud over $2,500; and eight counts of paying or receiving public money for services not rendered or in the alternative making or permitting false public voucher.

Geha is alleged to have bilked the city out of $13,000 through the time card fraud.

In March of 2017, a city internal audit report revealed that the Albuquerque Police Department spent $3.9 million over its “overtime” budget resulting $13 million was paid in overtime when the actual budget was for $9 million.

The audit found that too often, officers didn’t follow the rules when it came to get overtime pre-approved or didn’t properly submit overtime for “grant funded” traffic over time.

According to the audit, there were potentially 38,000 cases of unapproved overtime that occurred during fiscal year 2016 based on a sampling of time cards.


On October 18, 2018 Mayor Tim Keller announced the appointment of Elizabeth Armijo as a Deputy Chief of Staff at APD in charge of public and media relations.

Elizabeth Armijo served as Lieutenant with the New Mexico State Police in the division of Community Outreach and Public Affairs.

Elizabeth Armijo as a New Mexico State Police Lieutenant managed response plans, coordinated with different law enforcement agencies and focused on community engagement.

According to the Keller Administration, Armijo’s experience in law enforcement with an emphasis on community outreach will be “invaluable as Deputy Chief of Staff at APD where she will work on implementing initiatives that will focus on building trust with the community”.

The Keller Administration did not announce the salary paid to Elizabeth Armijo, but Deputy Chief’s are normally paid between $125,000 to $140,000 a year in salary, not including benefits.


The Keller Administration has hired yet another public relation person to deal with “all APD all the time” news cycles and interactions with the media, but this time it has created an APD Deputy Chief of Staff Position which is unheard of and probably unnecessary.

Deputy Chief of Staff Elizabeth Armijo given her background and experience no doubt is capable of dealing with the media and community and she is a sworn police officer.

It is difficult justifying making essentially a public information officer an APD Deputy Chief, unless you want to insulate the Chief, the Deputy Chief’s and perhaps the Mayor from adverse publicity and dealing with criminal cases that are high profile such as the murder and dismemberment of 9 year old Victoria Martens or the shooting of homeless camper James Boyd.

The James Boyd killing was an absolute disaster in the manner in which it was handled with the media and a Mayor absent from the city contributing to the public relations nightmare.

Dealing with the media and public on heinous crimes often results in a real need for what is called “damage control” by APD when APD’s actions are called into question.

APD Public Information Officers do not need to be sworn police officers, should not be Deputy Chief’s, and should not be paid an hourly wage of a sworn police with the duties assumed by citizen staff under the direction and supervision of the Mayor’s Office and the Mayor’s Public Information Officer.

A mandatory “cap” on the amount overtime any sworn police officer can be paid needs to be established that is fair and equitable for all sworn personnel to make available overtime to more sworn police officers in the department.

All Public Information Officers for the City should be made at will employees and paid a set yearly salary with no overtime paid and work out of the office of the Mayor under the direction of the administration.

With the appointment of a newly created position of Deputy Chief of Staff at APD in charge of public relation and media relations, there really is no need for the continued services of Simon Drobik to serve as a public information officer for APD.

Mayor Tim Keller and APD Chief Michael Geier should relieve Simon Drobik of his PIO duties and return him to the field full time exclusively as a police officer.

Mayor Tim Keller campaign and promised transparency and accountability and he should order a payroll audit of APD and Public Information Officer Simon Dolbik.

The payroll records and time sheets of Simon Drobik need to be audited to find out who at APD has been signing off on what looks like an outrageous and impossible amount of overtime.

An audit of APD payroll clearly needs to be conducted to determine if there is yet another abuse of overtime pay and policies within APD.

Keller Angers APD Oversight Progressives With Two Hires

Mayor Tim Keller has angered a number of progressives with the recent hiring of two high ranking officials and paying them six figure salaries to work for the Albuquerque Police Department (APD).

The first Keller appointment is Former United State Attorney Damon Martinez as the Senior Public Safety Advisor to APD Chief Michael Geier and as an APD policy writer.

The second appointment is Leonard Nerbetski to manage APD’s Real-Time Crime Center.

Keller’s Chief Administrative Officer Sarita Nair recently met with 20 police oversight activists, who represented community groups, including Black Lives Matter, Millions For Prisoners and Save the Kids who are highly critical of both appointments.

Many of the police oversight activists who met with CAO Nair took credit for and proclaimed they were instrumental in getting the Department of Justice to come to Albuquerque to investigate APD for excessive use of force and deadly force.

Many of the activists also worked on Tim Keller’s campaign to get him elected Mayor.

The group went as far as to demand that Damon Martinez be fired.

Many of the police oversight activists who met with CAO Nair told her bluntly that they worked hard to get Keller elected Mayor and many felt betrayed by Mayor Keller with both of the hires.

One activist went so far as to say she felt like she had been “punched in the gut” by Mayor Keller when he gave Damon Martinez a six-figure job.

The group expressed serious doubt about the commitment Leonard Nerbetski, who Keller appointed Director of APD’s Real Time Crime Center, to fully support the Department of Justice mandated reforms given his past record of civil rights violations and excessive use of force as a New Jersey State Trooper.


On October 18, 2018, the Keller Administration announced that former U.S. Attorney for New Mexico Damon Martinez was hired full time as a Senior Public Safety Advisor for APD Chief Michael Geier and to write APD police policy.

Damon Martinez is being paid $118,000 a year.

As US Attorney for New Mexico, Mr. Martinez was instrumental in leading the DOJ efforts to get the Albuquerque Police Department to agree to a reform effort and a Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA).

Mr. Martinez will also serve as APD’s primary civilian liaison with the 2nd Judicial District Attorney, 2nd Judicial District Court, the District Court for the District of New Mexico, tasks that are normally a function of the City Attorney.

Mr. Martinez is tasked with overseeing the development of strategic policies designed to improve APD’s ability to fight crime and ensure the successful prosecution of criminals.

The Keller Administration said Martinez was hired to help turn around a troubled APD Crimes Against Children Unit and modernize its evidence lab and he will help to craft APD policies.

Damon Martinez will not be involved with the ongoing APD reform efforts mandated by the Federal Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA).

CAO Nair told the police oversight activist during her meeting that the Keller Administration did not use a competitive hiring process or gather resumes to fill the newly created position filled by Damon Martinez and that Martinez approached city officials about a job.

Mr. Martinez recently ran for congress in the June 5, 2018 Democratic primary and came in second to progressive Democrat Debra Haaland for the Democratic nomination.

During his campaign for congress, Damon Martinez’s oversight and participation as United State Attorney in a four-month undercover operation by the federal bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in southeast Albuquerque in the spring and summer of 2016 became a major issue and contributed to his loss.


To call the meeting the police oversight activists had with the CAO Sarita Nair over the hiring of Damon Martinez as being “heated” is a serious understatement of the true hostility expressed against Damon Martinez by many during the meeting because of the smear tactics and the false accusations made against him.

You can view the entire one-hour meeting with CAO Nair and the APD oversight activists at the below link to YOUTUBE:

The APD oversight activists used words like “outrageous” and “disgusting” to describe the hiring of Damon Martinez and calling Martinez “unqualified”.

One activist went so far as to say that Keller “hired the worst of the worse” with Damon Martinez inflicting on Albuquerque’s “communities of color” an unwarranted sting operation.

One activist noted that Keller campaigned on making the city safer, but Keller turned around and hired someone who targeted our “black and brown” communities.

One activist stated that Damon Martinez had the “audacity” to call himself a progressive during his recent congressional race accusing him of being the most conservative candidate in the field of 8 Democrats.

Damon Martinez was accused of being a “racist” with many “enemies within the community”.

Another activist bragged about and took credit for organizing opposition to Damon Martinez in his congressional race to make sure he would lose the election after polls showed he was the front runner.

The single most disturbing, inflammatory and in all likely false accusation made during the meeting about Damon Martinez was that he hired a CI, or confidential informant, to go to the home of an activist to shoot up her house with an automatic rifle so that he could hold onto power.

The group demanded Mayor Keller and CAO Nair “find a way to get rid of this guy”.

On October 27, 2018, Mayor Tim Keller announced that he was standing by his appointment of Damon Martinez and had this to say:

“[My] issues are with the ATF and the operation, and that’s who I believe is responsible for what happened there. I think for accusations like [racial profiling], I don’t agree … I don’t think [Damon Martinez] was directly involved in that. And I also believe that the ultimate decision on an issue that big should be a judge or something like that. I don’t think it’s really our place to judge whether or not he broke civil rights violations based on either my opinion or [anyone’s research].”


The 2016 ATF sting operation in the Southeast heights of Albuquerque was highly controversial leading to allegations of racial profiling as well as federal lawsuits.

A total of 103 people were arrested in the ATF sting operation, all mostly very low level drug users as opposed to major drug dealers.

Of the 103 arrested, 57.28% were Hispanic, 27.18% were African American, 14.56% were white (anglo) , and less than 1% were Native American.

There is a dramatic contrast between the arrests made and the city’s ethnic breakdown which led to the accusations of racial profiling.

According to the United States Census bureau, the ethnic breakdown of Albuquerque’s population is 46.7% Hispanic, 42% Anglo, 3% African American, and 4.6 Native American.

27.18% of the arrest made during the sting were African American, while African Americans comprise of only 3% of Albuquerque’s general population.

You can read New Mexico In Depth investigative reports here:

Accusations of racial profiling and admonitions from federal judges have occurred in other parts of the county against the very ATF team involved in the ATF sting operation in Albuquerque.

Damon Martinez defended the 2016 ATF Sting Operation saying ATF was invited to Albuquerque “in the middle of a crime wave” when APD was too short-handed to deal with it.

As United States Attorney, Martinez touted the large number of arrests made and argued that guns and drugs had been taken off the streets.

New Mexico In Depth Report (NMID), a nonpartisan, online news organization reported that Damon Martinez was among those who invited the ATF to Albuquerque to conduct the 2016 sting operation.

Federal documents obtained by NMID detail the U.S. Attorney’s’ Office specific roles in monitoring undercover ATF operations , including the use of confidential informants, such as the one carried out in Albuquerque.

What is problematic for Mayor Keller is that when he was running for Mayor, he condemned in no uncertain terms the 2016 ATF Sting operation calling it “racial profiling”.

During a mayoral forum hosted by the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), then candidate Tim Keller went so far as to condemn the ATF tactics saying they were “wrong” and the arrest were the result of racial profiling.


On October 18, 2018, Keller Administration and APD announced the recruiting and hiring of Leonard Nerbetski to manage APDs Real-Time Crime center.

Leonard Nerbetski is an out of state law enforcement veteran who has worked 20 plus years as a New Jersey State Trooper.

Real Crime Time Center Director Leonard Nerbetski was accused 19 years ago in lawsuits of using excessive force while conducting a traffic stop as a New Jersey state trooper.

In 1996, newly appointed APD Real Time Crime Center Leonard Nerbetski was accused of twisting the arm of an Egypt-born woman in her 20s and holding a gun to her head.

In 1999, Leonard Nerbetski was also named as one of two New Jersey State troopers accused of using excessive force and roughing up Laila Maher and Felix Morka, both minorities and both law students at the time, during a traffic stop on the New Jersey Turnpike.

The lawsuit, which also included racial profiling claims stemming from other incidents involving other troopers, was eventually settled, with the State of New Jersey paying out $750,000 in settlements.

While the State of New Jersey admitted to no wrongdoing under the settlements, the traffic stop involving Nerbetski and the other state troopers led to changes in how the New Jersey State Police handle complaints of misconduct.

On October 20, 2018, it was reported that APD and the Keller Administration were standing by its decision to hire Leonard Nerbetski to head up the real time crime center.

APD also said it would reach out to Leonard Nerbetski’s former employer to get more information about his background.

The Keller Administration said the Nerbetski hire came highly recommended by the Federal Court appointed Monitor.

CAO Sarita Nair during her meeting with police oversight activist notified the group that Leonard Nerbetski will not be a sworn police officer for APD but a civilian and will not carry a gun nor a badge and that he took a pay cut to come to Albuquerque.

CAO Nair told the activists that a national search was conducted for the position and by far Leonard Nerbetski “was the most qualified candidate” for the position because of his experience in running a real crime time crime center in New Jersey.

CAO Nair also said she was aware of Mr. Nerbetski’s past “excessive use of force” cases and that it did not matter because the incidents occurred 20 years ago.

The police oversight activists who met with CAO Nair found it very difficult to believe that no one else could be found who did not have a history of excessive use of force in their background.


With the hiring of former New Mexico United States Attorney Damon Martinez as policy writer for APD and Public Safety Advisor for the APD Chief, Mayor Keller did not understand or comprehend the extent to which he would anger many within the police oversight community and alienate many within the progressive base that elected him.

One police oversight activist who meet with CAO Nair predicted that if Mayor Keller decided to keep Damon Martinez and stick to the appointment it could turn into a “watershed moment” for Mayor Keller and cost Mayor Keller the support of a broad swath of the progressive base that helped Keller win by a landslide.

What is problematic for Damon Martinez is that his appointment looks to many city hall observers and APD insiders as nothing more than a political appointment to provide a six-figure paying job to a prominent Democrat who came in second in a congressional race.

Shawn Willoughby, the president of the Albuquerque Police Officers Association (APOA), had this to say about the hiring of Damon Martinez:

“[Martinez’s hiring] doesn’t make any sense. … It’s concerning for the APOA that the [Keller] administration would find it beneficial to hire an attorney who doesn’t have any extensive police policy writing in his background to deal with policies that aren’t related to the consent decree. … We are talking about policies that are very benign and that should be written and overseen by chief of police and his command staff. … policies about how cops wear their uniforms and take-home cars.”

A major problem for Mayor Keller is that he and his CAO Nair admitted that they never asked Mr. Martinez about the 2016 ATF sting operation in the Southeast heights, feeling that it was not important.

Notwithstanding the accusations leveled against Damon Martinez, Mr. Martinez is a seasoned and talented trial attorney needed within the City Attorney’s Office, not the Mayor’s Office and surely not in APD answering to the Chief of Police.

Mr. Martinez has far superior credentials to many of the appointments made by Mayor Tim Keller.

Another opinion expressed by APD insiders is that Damon Martinez has been relegated to a position far below his pay grade as an APD policy writer assigned to the Chief of Police as a Public Safety Advisor.

Mayor Keller has given Mr. Martinez very little authority to make meaningful decisions that will have an impact other than serving in a public relations position for the Keller Administration.

When Keller ran for Mayor, he said he wanted to reach out to the most vulnerable within our community and help the homeless community and those suffering from drug addictions, which is a progressive agenda.

The 2016 ATF sting operation, given the arrests made, was contrary to what Keller advocated as a candidate for Mayor and even now as Mayor.

It cannot be ignored or explained away, as Mayor Tim Keller is trying to do now, that Damon Martinez was involved and responsible for the 2016 ATF sting operation seeing that he invited ATF to Albuquerque and his office oversaw the operation and Martinez publicly expressed satisfaction with the operation.


The accusation made that Damon Martinez held himself out as a “progressive” during his Congressional race and accusing him of being the most conservative candidate in the field of 8 Democrats reflects remarks from people who do not really know Damon Martinez or have an axe to grind against him.

Given Mr. Martinez’s background, his years of experience as a public servant, his work as an attorney and military service to our country as a reserve officer, he was the most qualified person running for the first congressional district out of the 8 candidates running.

Being the most qualified candidate running for office has never guaranteed a win in an election, but only gets your foot in the door for consideration when running for office.

The majority of Damon Martinez’s career has been that of a US Federal prosecutor.

Damon Martinez is a progressive Democrat and he has worked for former US Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall in Washington, DC and was appointed New Mexico’s US Attorney by President Barack Obama, all three who are progressive as they come.

Damon Martinez is no “Bernie Sanders” progressive, but he is a Progressive Democrat.

Bernie Sanders is a Socialist Independent, and has never been a Democrat, even though he sought the Democratic nomination for President.

The progressive wing of the New Mexico Democrat strongly supported Bernie Sanders for President in 2016 over Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton and the divisions within the Democratic party still remain.

The progressive wing of the New Mexico Democratic all to often shuns and at times condemns anyone who is viewed as not “progressive enough” in their eyes, which is the perception many progressives have of Damon Martinez because he is a career prosecutor.

To accuse Damon Martinez of being a racist and committing a crime of hiring someone to shoot up a person’s home is disgraceful and should be condemned and not tolerated, even by Bernie Sander Democrats.

CAO Sarita Nair failed to fully explain the rationale for hiring Damon Martinez but what was most egregious is she allowed many slanderous statements to be made without taking exception or demanding proof claiming she attended the meeting only to listen.


The hiring of Leonard Nebreski’s as the Director of the Real Time Center hires contradict what Mayor Keller said on the campaign trail to get votes by advocating APD reforms to prevent excessive use of force and deadly force versus what he is doing now with the hiring of Leonard Nebreski.

Law enforcement bad habits, attitudes and philosophy are difficult to overcomer, even with new training.

Leonard Nebreski is now part of APD management but with his own history of use of force costing taxpayers thousands of dollars.

What is very troubling is that CAO Sarita Nair admitted that the Keller Administration was fully aware of Real Time Crime Center Director Leonard Nebreski’s past regarding the civil lawsuits for excessive use of force while he was a New Jersey state trooper, but it did not matter to them when it should have.

Mayor Keller and CAO Nair have essentially said the public needs to look the other way when it comes to the hire because what he was accused of happened 19 years ago as a state trooper and he is a now management hire.

The Keller Administration prefers to ignore that the conduct led to changes in how state police handle complaints of misconduct so the conduct must have been pretty egregious and then it did not result in much of an Internal Affairs investigation.

This is the type of hire and justification for the hire that creates a credibility gap with the public and the Keller Administration that proclaims it is doing a stringent vetting process.

The city cannot afford to pay another $61 million in police misconduct cases for excessive use of force and deadly force cases nor have anyone in APD management who has a history of excessive use of force and who may have no problem with such conduct and who may look the other way when it does happen.


Not at all surprising is that Mayor Tim Keller is standing by his appointments of Damon Martinez and Leonard Nebreski to their respective positions.

What remains to be seen is their job performance.

What also remains to be seen is how long Mayor Tim Keller will stand by his appointments out of sense of loyalty if there is a poor job performance and creating controversy that may affect Keller’s own approval rating as Mayor.

A message that should be conveyed loud and clear by Mayor Keller to police oversight advocates is that making false accusation of racism and malicious false accusation of criminal activity of threats has no place in any discussion involving any one appointed to a position within APD.

Only time will tell if both hires were good hires by Mayor Tim Keller.

Trump’s Shooting Off His Mouth Is Going to Get Someone Killed; “Political Serial Bomber” Targets Trump Critics

It has been reported that at least 14 pipe bombs were sent to Democratic outspoken critics of President Trump and people who he has vilified at his political rallies and vilified on TWITTER.

Pipe bombs were sent to the home addresses of:

Former President Barack Obama
Former Vice President Joe Biden
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
Former United States Attorney General Eric Holder
Former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) John O. Brennan
California Congresswoman Maxine Waters
Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Billionaire philanthropist George Soros
Actor Robert Di Nero

A pipe bomb was also delivered to the offices of CNN in Midtown Manhattan.

Authorities have also retrieved three more suspicious packages, one addressed to New Jersey Democratic US Senator Cory Booker, one to James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence, and addressed to CNN, both who have been very outspoken critics of Trump, and one to California US Senator Kamala Harris.

The pipe bomb delivered to CNN resulted in the evacuation of CNN newscasters while they were on the air.

Secret Service intercepted packages addressed to Hillary Clinton and former President Obama.

None of the pipe bombs exploded on their own.

Initial examination by law enforcement showed the pipe bombs are rudimentary but functional all having similar construction.

The envelope and printed address labels on the packages were all similar.

X-rays of the packages revealed pipe bombs.

A law enforcement official told CNN at least one pipe bomb contained projectiles, including shards of glass and the pipe bombs were unstable and could have been set off by handling.

At least one had a timer that can be bought for a few dollars online.

The FBI reported that the packages were in manila envelopes with bubble-wrap interior and each package had six American flag Forever stamps on the envelope.

Law enforcement suggest that the packages were mailed out of and originated in the State of Florida.


The New York Times reported on Friday, October 26, 2018 that Federal authorities made an arrest in connection with the nationwide bombing campaign against outspoken Democratic critics of President Trump.

The suspect is identified as Cesar Sayoc Jr., 56, of Aventura, Florida.

Sayoc is registered Republican, he has a lengthy criminal history in Florida dating back to 1991.

Sayoc’s criminal record includes felony theft, drug and fraud charges, as well as being arrested and accused of threatening to use a bomb.

The 2002 bomb charge is based on a threat by Sayoc to blow up the local electric utility if it turned off his utilities.

Sayvoc’s white van was also seized as evidence.

The van’s windows were plastered with a thick collage of pro-Trump stickers.

Photos of the van showed that one of the stickers depicted President Trump standing in front of flames and the American flag.

Another was of Hillary Clinton’s face in the crosshairs of a rifle scope.

A third said: “CNN SUCKS.”

Photos and video have emerged of Sayvoc holding a placard reading “CNN SUCKS” attending a February, 2017 Trump Rally in Melbourne, Florida.

Social media posts maintained by Cesar Sayoc Jr., contain conspiratorial memes promoting President Trump and mocking, criticizing and threatening virtually every prominent Democrat he sent a pipe bomb.

One post involving Eric Holder said “See you real soon. Tick Tock”.

In a September TWEET to Joe Biden he wrote: “Hug your loved son,Niece,wife family real close everytime U walk out your home.”

The Department of Justice has brought five charges against Sayoc in the Southern District of New York.

Sayoc is charged with interstate transportation of an explosive, the illegal mailing of explosives, making threats against former presidents and certain other persons, making threatening interstate communications, and assaulting federal officers with criminal penalties adding up to 58 years in prison.

The criminal complaint can be read here:


On Wednesday, October 24, 2018, after a briefing with FBI, DOJ, Homeland Security and Secret Service and during a subsequent White House function, President Trump had this to say about the “pipe bombs”:

“The safety of the American people is my highest and absolute priority. … The full weight of our government is being deployed to conduct and bring those responsible for these despicable acts to justice. We will spare no resources or expense in this effort. And I wanted to tell you that, in these times, we have to unify, we have to come together, and send one very clear, strong, unmistakable message, that that acts or threats of political violence have no place in the United States of America.”

Trump also began an evening rally on Wednesday in Wisconsin by commenting with a straight face and somber voice his desire for “all sides to come together in peace and harmony.”

On Thursday, October 25, 2018, the very a day after CNN and Democrats were the targets of the pipe bombs, Trump in a TWEET blamed the media for much of the “anger” in society by saying:

“A very big part of the anger we see today in our society is caused by the purposely false and inaccurate reporting of the Mainstream Media that I refer to as Fake News. It has gotten so bad and hateful that it is beyond description. Mainstream Media must clean up its act, FAST!”

Former CIA Director John Brennan, who was an intended recipient of one of the pipe bombs, responded to Trump’s tweet, telling the President in a scathing tweet of his own:

“Stop blaming others. Look in the mirror. Your inflammatory rhetoric, insults, lies, & encouragement of physical violence are disgraceful. Clean up your act. … try to act Presidential. The American people deserve much better. BTW, your critics will not be intimidated into silence.”


Trump has made the following inflammatory remarks regarding his critics who were sent the pipe bombs:

Regarding former President Barack Obama:

Trump was front and center promoting the proven lie, viewed by many people as racist, that Obama, the nation’s first African-American president, was not born in the United States. Trump went on to proclaim “I think President Obama has been the most ignorant president in our history. His views of the world as he says don’t jibe and the world is a mess.”

Regarding former Vice President Joe Biden:

Trump proclaimed that Biden was “crazy” and “weak, both mentally and physically.”

Regarding former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:

“Crooked Hillary” and “Lock her up!”

Regarding former United States Attorney General Eric Holder:

In a series of tweets acknowledging the anniversary of 9/11, Trump took a jab at Eric Holder saying “Eric Holder could be running the Justice Department right now and it would be behaving no differently than it is.”

Regarding former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Robert O. Brennan:

“John Brennan is panicking. He has disgraced himself, he has disgraced the Country, he has disgraced the entire Intelligence Community. He is the one man who is largely responsible for the destruction of American’s faith in the Intelligence Community and in some people at the….top of the FBI.”

Regarding California Congresswoman Maxine Waters:

On June, 25, 2018 Trump said on Twitter: “Congresswoman Maxine Waters, an extraordinarily low IQ person, has become, together with Nancy Pelosi, the Face of the Democrat Party. She has just called for harm to supporters, of which there are many, of the Make America Great Again movement. Be careful what you wish for Max!”

On the news media, Trump has said:

Trump tweeted n February 17, 2018,“The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!

On December 10, 2017, Trump tweeted “Very little discussion of all the purposely false and defamatory stories put out this week by the Fake News Media. They are out of control – correct reporting means nothing to them. Major lies written, then forced to be withdrawn after they are exposed… A STAIN ON AMERICA!


On January 23, 2016, Donald Trump said at a rally in Sioux Center that his supporters are so loyal that he would not lose backers even if he were to shoot someone in the middle of downtown Manhattan.

“I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, okay, and I wouldn’t lose any voters, okay?” “It’s, like, incredible.

On February 21, 2016, Trump told a crowd of his supporters in Cedar Rapids that he would pay their legal fees if they engaged in violence against protesters and said:

“If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously, OK? Just knock the hell out of them … I promise you I will pay for the legal fees. I promise, I promise.”

On March 9, 2016, as a protester was being escorted out of a Trump rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, he was sucker-punched by another attendee.

At a Las Vegas campaign rally in March, 2016 Trump said security guards were too gentle with a protester and said “He’s walking out with big high-fives, smiling, laughing. … I’d like to punch him in the face, I’ll tell you.”

In yet another campaign rally in March, 2016 in Warren, Michigan, Trump said of a protester “Get him out. …Try not to hurt him. If you do, I’ll defend you in court. Don’t worry about it.”

In July 2017 during a speech to police officials, Trump encourage law enforcement officials to be more violent in handling arrested offenders when he said:

“When you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon, you just seen them thrown in, rough. I said, ‘Please don’t be too nice … When you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting their head you know, the way you put their hand over [their head],” Trump continued, mimicking the motion. Like, don’t hit their head and they’ve just killed somebody, don’t hit their head. … You can take the hand away, OK?’”

During a rally in Montana just last week ahead of the 2018 midterms, Trump praised Republican Greg Gianforte for body slamming a reporter while running for his congressional seat in 2017 and said “any guy who can do a body slam, he is my type!”


There is no doubt that President Trump promotes hostility, mistrust and violence towards the press as well as his critics with his own words and actions.

Trump promoted violence, hostility and mistrust when he was running for President and he is doing it now at his political rallies before the midterms.

Trump has often derided the media as “fake news,” even labeling reporters as “enemy of the people”.

A few months ago, Trump told his supporters at one of his pre-2018 mid-term rallies:

“I just cannot state strongly enough how totally dishonest much of the Media is. Truth doesn’t matter to them, they only have their hatred & agenda. This includes fake books, which come out about me all the time, always anonymous sources, and are pure fiction. Enemy of the People!”

Trump’s blaming of the media for the “anger” in this country a day after potential pipe bomb attacks on a major media outlet and political figures who have criticized him is outrageous and dangerous.

Our President has repeatedly used harsh rhetoric targeting journalists and political opponents during campaign rallies creating and inflaming an extremely tense and divisive political environment of hostility, mistrust and violence.

Trump refuses to take any responsibility for promoting hostility and mistrust, and at times violence, in this county and against his critics and American citizens.

The Republican US Senate and US House leadership do not object in any meaningful way Trump’s antic’s thereby condoning his words and actions.

Voters need to hold Trump accountable for his words and actions of promoting hostility, mistrust and violence towards others by voting in the midterms for a Democratic controlled House and Senate.

Sooner rather than later, Trump our “reality TV host” President is going to get someone killed shooting off his mouth.

Evaluating the Evaluators; Vote “Yes” To Retain All 18 Metro Judges

The Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission (JPEC) is recommending that voters vote “NO” to retain 4 of the 18 judges on the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court with the recommendations posted on its web site.

The New Mexico Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission is recommending that voters vote “NO” to retain Judges Michelle Castillo Dowler, Kenny Montoya, Linda Rogers and Judge Edward Benavidez.

According to the commission, the four “do not retain” judges had different deficiencies.

JPEC court observers raised concerns about Judge Castillo Dowler’s demeanor and impartiality during court hearings.

JPEC officials reported on its website that in Judge Kenney Montoya’s meeting with the JPEC, he failed to recognize and didn’t commit to try improve his knowledge “regarding substantive law and the rules of procedure and evidence”.

According to JPEC, Judge Linda Rogers scored high in some regards, but attorneys raised concerns about her demeanor on the bench, and her scores among resource staffers, who include police officers, were low.

In Judge Benavidez’s case, JPEC found he had some of the lowest approval ratings among lawyers, those that appear before him, and his ratings continued to decrease after he was evaluated by JPEC midway through his term with no mention of the fact that he oversees the drug court program which is one of the most effective programs.

The Metropolitan Recovery Court Program is a highly critical program that has an impact on people’s lives by offering repeat DWI offenders a chance at rehabilitation and recovery instead of incarceration.

On October 23, 2018, the Albuquerque Journal issued its editorial advocating voters to retain virtually all 18 Metro Judges currently serving, including the 4 that the JPEC recommended not be retained.

You can read the Journal recommendations for retention of all the Metro Judges here:

In its Editorial endorsement to retain all 4 Judges the JPEC wants removed from the bench, the Journal specifically referenced what the 4 had had accomplished to justify voting “YES” for retention and said:

“While we respect JPEC, we disagree after interviewing JPEC and the judges and looking at their records.”

The Journal went on to recommends voters retain all 18 Judges on the bench including Benavidez, Castillo Dowler, Montoya and Rogers as well as the other Metro Court judges up for retention: Henry Alaniz, Rosie Lazcano Allred, Vidalia Chavez, Rosemary Cosgrove-Aguilar, Maria Dominguez, Sandra Engel, Yvette Gonzales, Jill Martinez, Daniel Ramczyk, Christine Eve Rodriguez, Frank Sedillo, Renee Torres, Victor Valdez and Courtney Bryn Weaks.


The Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court is often referred to as the “people’s court” and it is a court of “limited jurisdiction.”

As a court of limited jurisdiction, Metro Court Judges deal with misdemeanor crimes, such as traffic citations, misdemeanor DWI charges, misdemeanor domestic violence cases, misdemeanor criminal charges, arraignments and bond hearing, civil landlord-tenant and civil disputes of up to $5,000 and for that reason hearings can often become very emotional and contentious.

Without question, the Metropolitan Court is the busiest court in the State of New Mexico.

There are 18 Metropolitan Court Judges with each caring crushing caseloads.

In 2017, the total number of traffic cases going to arraignment and handled by the Metro Court Judges was 28,643.

Mid-year for the 2017-2018, 13,053 traffic cases went to arraignment and were handled by a Metro Court Judge.

Statistics compiled by the New Mexico Supreme Court for the Metropolitan Court for the period of July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017 reflect the following caseload statistics:


General Civil Cases: 5,390 disposed
Landlord Tenant Cases: 11,190 disposed
TOTAL CIVIL CASES: 16,580 disposed
Total jury and non-jury trials: 12,912 disposed


Misdemeanor Cases: 11,594 cases disposed
Misdemeanor DWI/DUI: 2,640 cases disposed
Traffic Cases: 28,844 cases disposed
Misdemeanor Domestic Violence: 5,711

Misdemeanor Jury Trials: 178
DWI/DUI Jury Trials: 675
Domestic Violence Jury Trials: 2,122

Misdemeanor Bench Trials: 7,239
Misdemeanor DWI/DUI Bench Trials: 675
Domestic Violence Bench Trials: 2,122

Statistic Source:


The New Mexico Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission (JPEC) was created by the Supreme Court of New Mexico to improve the performance of judges and provide useful, credible information to voters on judges standing for retention.

The JPEC is made of up 15 individuals, 7 lawyers and 8 non-lawyers, who are appointed to staggered terms by the Supreme Court of New Mexico.

Commission members are selected from nominations by the Governor, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Speaker of the House, President Pro Tempore, House Minority Leader, Senate Minority Leader and President of the State Bar.

Members are appointed to represent divergent professions, backgrounds and geographical areas of the state.

Members go through an approval process and agree to donate a significant amount of time to evaluate judges midway through their terms in office as well as when they are standing for retention.

All New Mexico Court Judges at all levels are initially elected in partisan elections to full terms and then after serving the term, they must go before voters thereafter for retention to serve another term.

Every election cycle where Judges appear on the ballot, the Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission evaluates judges by sending out a confidential survey to all licensed attorneys who grade the Judges and the Commission then rates the judges and recommends to voters who they should retain.

JPEC evaluates judges in five major areas: legal ability, fairness, communication skills, preparation, and temperament and control over proceedings.

To perform the evaluations, the JPEC distributes confidential surveys to licensed attorneys, court jurors and others who interact with the court.

The commission also interviews the judges, reviews statistics from the Administrative Office of the Courts and sends observers into the courtroom.

New Mexico judges who are up for retention must receive approval from 57% of voters to keep their seat on the bench and not the 50% plus one required in contested races.

The JPEC posts all the results and recommendations to retain or not retain on its web site.

Historically, judges who JPEC recommends not be retained receive about 12% fewer votes than judges who are recommended for retention.


It is very noteworthy that the Albuquerque Journal would take such a strong opposite position on the 4 Judges from that of the JPEC.

The Albuquerque Journal has been highly critical of Judges recently and have taken sharp issue with Judges in editorial’s regarding sentencings and decisions made in criminal cases.

Two recent cases where the Journal has editorialized on a Judge’s decision was the Judge who rejected a plea agreement in the murder case of 9-year-old Victoria Martens and the Taos District Judge who released the 5 defendants without bond who were accused of terrorism and the killing of a 10 year old child at a remote compound.

Virtually all Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court Judges carry what many trial attorneys would consider crushing caseloads.

All too often, certain segments of the New Mexico Bar, court personnel who work for them or police officers who appear before them, target and disparage Metro Judges because they do not like the Metro Judge’s rulings or personal treatment and want the Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission to make a negative recommendation at election time.

The JPEC recommendation have a definite impact on any Metro Judge’s chances for retention.

Any Judge who does not secure a “yes” vote from 57% of those voting on their retention are removed from office and the Governor then appoints a judge to fill the vacancy who then must run in the next general election in a partisan race.

All State of New Mexico Judges are strictly prohibited by the Code of Judicial Conduct from holding any elected or appointed positions in political parties.

All State Judges are strictly prohibited from endorsing any candidate for office and cannot solicit donations for elections.

Candidates running for Judge must have registered measured finance committees to raise money for them to prevent the Judges from knowing who donated to their campaigns.

A Judge is also prevented by the Code of Judicial Conduct from making “extrajudicial comments” to the media or groups that may reflect on their fairness and impartiality which is the likely reason why the 4 judges singled out declined to make public comment on the JPEC ratings.

Judges are prohibited from defending their decisions and sentencings and their job performance in a public forum outside of their courtrooms so criticizing judges is like “shooting fish” in a barrel.

Once the Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission issues its ratings, there is virtually very little or no recourse for any Judge to dispute the no retention recommendation given to them by the JPEC.

The JPEC does not give “equal time” on their web page to the Judges who are rated as would be the case at a debate on an incumbent candidate’s job performance.

The New Mexico Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission’s is suppose “to provide useful, credible information to voters on judges standing for retention”.

It is doubtful that confidential surveys from those who may have a personal axe to grind against any judge are much of a use to give a complete and accurate picture of any judge’s job performance everyday they are on the bench.

The New Mexico Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission wants voter’s to accept as gospel without challenge the recommendations they make on retention.

All the current Metro Judges by and large are all highly dedicated public servants performing the best they can to discharge their duties in a fair and impartial manner.

There has to be a better way for JPEC to seek removal of Judges for poor job performance than to go to voters with recommendation and removal should be done by the Supreme Court.

If there is indeed a problem with the job performance of any judge that would justify removal, the appropriate remedy would be an investigation by the Judicial Standards Commission and result in the Judge’s removal by the New Mexico Supreme Court.

Voters should ignore the JPEC recommendations regarding the 4 Metro Judges they have singled out in this election.

Voters should vote to retain all 18 of the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court Judges and not blindly accept the recommendations of the JPEC.