On December 13, the on line news and opinion outlet ABQ Reports published a political satirical piece that was a little too close for comfort. The article was written and published by editor Dennis Domraski.
For a number of years, Mr. Domraski was a reporter for the Albuquerque Tribune where he covered city hall and APD and he is one of the most knowledgeable reporters in Albuquerque when it comes to APD and city hall. He has over 34 years experience as a reporter. The link to ABQ Reports is here: https://www.abqreport.com/
MORPHING KELLER INTO BERRY
The December 13 ABQ Reports article published 3 photos of Mayor Tim Keller “morphing” into former Mayor Richard Berry.
The first photo is that of Mayor Tim Keller and what he looked like after he was elected and served a full year describing him as “handsome, confident and, as usual, smiling, and ready to play football, go jogging or attend a heavy metal concert.”
This second photo has Mayor Tim Keller slowly morphing into former Mayor R.J. Berry and to quote the article:
“complete with that creepy mustache. … At this point, Keller is starting to hide from reporters and has sneaked in to a couple of NAIOP luncheons. He’s even starting to have warm feelings about the ART project and think that retail and restaurant chain outlets should replace every independently owned business on Central Avenue.”
This third photo is described what Mayor Keller
“will look like at the end of his third year in office if he doesn’t immediately change his ways. He’ll hire [former APD Chief] Gorden Eden as the police chief, bring back Rob Perry, become NAIOP’s executive director and proclaim ART the greatest public works project in the history of the human race. No more heavy metal concerts for this dude! He’ll be watching Lawrence Welk reruns on cable, lusting after the Lennon Sisters and eating Swanson TV dinners while complaining loudly that they need more salt. And then he’ll slink away in disgrace never to be heard from again.”
Below is the link to the full ABQ Report article where you can review the morphing photos:
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. The 3 “morphing photos” courtesy of ABQ Reports of Mayor Tim Keller turning into former Mayor RJ Berry are creepy, but none the less, fair game in politics and are legitimate political commentary. The article should be funny, but it sadly reflects what has been happening to Mayor Tim Keller for the first two years of his term.
FAILING TO MAKE LEMONADE OUT OF LEMONS
Mayor Tim Keller a few months after being elected announced that the ART Bus project was “a bit of a lemon”. Instead of abandoning the project, Keller made the deliberate decision to finish the ART Bus Project. Keller spent half of his term to complete the project, even having to file a breach of contract lawsuit against the original bus manufacture only to settle the case with a mutual dismissal of claims and no damages paid to the city. With 11 bus accidents in the first few weeks of operation, Berry’s Boondoggle has now becomes Keller’s Nightmare that has destroyed historic Route 66.
ANOTHER LEGACY PROJECT
The building of $125 million disastrous ART Bus project was considered by many as Berry’s legacy project. Berry called it a “world class project” and he crammed it down the cities throat without any public vote. Mayor Tim Keller has now found his own version of a legacy project and it is the Railyards Development, but this project is one that has the risk of being nothing but a money pit where taxpayer money will be thrown down a hole.
NEW BOSS SAME AS THE OLD BOSS
Immediately after Mayor Keller was elected, he appointed as APD Chief Michael Geier, a retired APD commander. Keller also appointed many retired APD officers or officers eligible for retirement as command staff to Deputy Chief positions, essentially failing to appoint a new generation of command staff. Keller’s approach to replacing the APD command staff was essentially identical to what Mayor Berry did when he appointed Republican political operative and former sheriff Darren White as Chief Public Safety Officer, decided to keep APD Chief Ray Schultz and later hired former US Marshal and former Gov. Susana Martinez Cabinet Secretary Gordon Eden who brought back Bob Huntsman, a retired APD commander, and created and appointed him as “Assistant Chief”. Huntsman was the one who secretly recorded federal monitor James Ginger and the city later used the recording to try and get the removal of James Ginger as the federal monitor.
FAILED PERSONNEL RESOURCE MANAGEMENT
During the last two years under Mayor Tim Keller, there have been APD personnel mismanagement issues identical to that under Mayor Berry, including police overtime abuses that were the targets of city audits and failure to hold people accountable for conduct.
Keller, like Berry, has failed to hold APD personnel accountable for their actions, such as the fiasco of reporting bogus crime statistics, negligence in the collection of evidence in cases, and botched murder investigations. Recently, a 17-year-old child was arrested and spent 6 days in jail and was falsely accused of murder by APD homicide detectives.
The APD Homicide unit has now hit an all-time low of a 49% clearance rate. Like Berry, Keller is nowhere to be found when bad press involving APD is reported, such as the day the city’s murder rate broke the all-time record of 74 murders. Keller refused to answer questions on the subject during a morning press conference, said a statement would be issued and he then proceeded be unavailable for interviews all the rest of the day. Channel 4, after repeated requests for an interview, tracked Keller down outside of city hall on his way to participate in phone banking for a candidate for City Council. Keller had trouble answering Channel 4’s questions.
TAKING CREDIT FOR LOWERING CRIME RATES THAT HAVE ACTUALLY INCREASED
In 2013 during Berry’s reelection bid for Mayor, Berry insisted crime was down dramatically. It was a lie. The truth was the city hit a historical high number in murders, property crimes and drug offenses. The city’s murder and violent crime rates continued to rise as did all crime rates in general during Berry’s second term. Since taking office on December 1, 2017, every quarter when APD has released the city’ crime statistics, Mayor Keller has done a press conference to proclaim and to some extent take credit for crime going down in all categories. In July, 2019, Mayor Keller reported crime was down substantially, with double-digit drops in nearly every category, between the first six months of 2018 and the first six months of 2019. The 2019 mid-year statistics and the statistics released at the end of 2018 had to be revised dramatically to include hundreds, and in some cases thousands, more incidents than were initially reported. The final crime rate numbers released showed violent crime actually increased under Mayor Keller. The city has now had 78 homicides in one year, the highest in its history for one year.
ASTRONOMICAL SALARIES PAID TOP EXECUTIVES
Former Republican Mayor Richard Berry was notorious for paying astronomical, out of line salaries to his top political operatives, especially during his second term in office. For example he gave former CAO Rob Perry a $33,000 raise in one year paying him $189,000 a year while only giving rank an file city hall wage earners 1.5% to 2.5% wage increases and even cutting wages paid one year. Former Chief Administrative Officer Rob Perry pay of $189,936 made him the #1 highest paid employee at city hall. Former APD Chief Gordon Eden was paid $166,699 (#2 highest paid employee), former Chief Administrative Officer Michael Riordan was paid $152,319 (#4 highest paid employee), former City Attorney Jessica Hernandez was paid $150,217 (#5 highest paid employee), former Fire Chief David W. Downey was $138,993 (#11 highest paid employee), former Deputy Fire Chief Eric Garcia was paid $133,872 (#13 highest paid employee) and former APD Assistant Chief Robert Huntsman was paid $132,435.
Keller is now paying all of his Department directors literally thousands more a year than Berry paid his department directors. Keller is paying many of his top managers $20,000 more a year than when they started with the city two years ago. Keller’s Chief Administrative Office (CAO) Sarita Nair started with the city being paid $169,556.80 a year and is now paid $190,000 a year. Berry’s Former Chief Administrative Officer Rob Perry was paid $189,936. Keller’s Chief Operations Officer Lawrence Rael started with the city being paid $165,524.80 a year and is now paid $185,000. Berry’s Former Chief Operations Officer Administrative Officer Michael Riordan was paid $152,319 a year. Keller’s APD Chief Michael Geier started with the city being paid $159,513.60 and is now paid $187,000 a year. Berry’s former APD Chief Gordon Eden was paid $166,699. Keller’s Albuquerque Fire and Rescue Chief Paul Dow started with the city being paid $132,691.20 a year and is now paid $153,005 a year. Berry’s former Fire Chief David W. Downey was paid $138,993 a year. Keller’s Finance Administrative Service CFO/Director Sanjay Bhakta. Bhakta started with the city at $131,200.00 a year and Berry’s former Director of Finance Department Lou Hoffman was paid $99,732 a year.
PET PROJECTS FUNDED
Mayor Berry convinced the Albuquerque City Council to get behind and support the ART Bus project and to even allocate funding for the project. Berry also supported the City Council to unilaterally enact $65 million in revenue bonds for city projects such as pickle ball courts and baseball fields, all pet projects, without public input or voter approved bonds. Mayor Tim Keller convinced the city council to enact a $30.5 million dollar “Sports Tourism Lodger Tax” to upgrade or build facilities he wants throughout the city without a public vote, which is essentially what Berry did with revenue bonds.
DEVELOPER’S DREAM TEAM
The enactment of the ABC-Z comprehensive plan, known as IDO, was a major priority of Republican Mayor RJ Berry. The development community pushed hard for its enactment before Berry left office. The Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce and the construction and development community, including the National Association of Industrial and Office Parks (NAIOP), pulled all stops to get the plan adopted before the October 3, 2017 municipal election, no doubt to support Mayor Richard Berry. It is no secret that Berry, a construction contractor and developer himself, was the all-time darling of the construction and development community, the Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce and organizations such as NAIOP because he did their political bidding.
The ABC-Z project rewrite was nothing more than making “gentrification” an official city policy. It “gutted” long-standing sector development plans designed to protect neighborhoods and their character and help developers who wanted to repeal those sector development plans. When running for Mayor, Tim Keller took absolutely no position on the enactment of the new comprehensive plan and neither did any other candidate. This past year, amendments to the plan were offered by Republican City Councilor Trudy Jones to reduce even further public hearing input for objections by neighborhoods to developments. Mayor Keller took no position on the legislation and signed off on it. By all appearances, Mayor Keller is continuing with the pro development agenda of Mayor RJ Berry.
CATERING TO THE REPUBLICAN BUSINESS COMMUNITY
Former Mayor Berry was known for his yearly and bi annual presentations to NAIOP, the Economic Forum and the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce at functions and luncheons not open to the general public. NAIOP is the construction industry organization whose membership benefited from and were given ART Bus construction contracts. Mayor Keller gave his very first State of the City Address to NAIOP. Keller has continued with the Berry practice of giving city government updates to NAIOP, the Albuquerque Economic Forum and the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce at functions not open to the general public.
The December 13 ABQ Reports ended with this final comment after the third photo where the “morph” had been completed:
“This is the future for Keller unless he immediately starts acting like a real leader. Tim, is this what you want? Think of your wife and children! Please! No more horror shows for Albuquerque! One was too many.”
Mayor Tim Keller has already made it known he is seeking a second term as Mayor. If he keeps going the way he is, and he is elected, it will be the fourth term of Mayor RJ Berry. So much for electing change two years ago.