A New Level Of Incompetence By APD Personnel Management Revealed; Police Union Piles On Savoring The Moment

On January 30, Channel 7 in one of its Target 7 investigation reports, revealed that the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) unknowingly hired Amir Chapel, a three-time felon a who was convicted of forgery, misuse of a credit card and robbery in the early to mid-2000s, one crime each committed in the states of Texas, California and Illinois respectively.

Chapel was hired at an annual salary of $72,000 as APD’s Policy and Compliance Manger for the federal Court Approved Settlement Agreement. The position is a civilian mid management position and as such he is not a sworn police officer. He worked at APD’s downtown main headquarters. His job duties were to review and make sure APD’s policies were up to date and followed the city’s settlement agreement with the Department of Justice.


Target 7 submitted an open records request for Chapel’s employment records, and from the records obtained, it was able to piece together what happened. Chapel also resigned on the very day the employment records were released by the city.

It was in May, 2019 that Chapel was first hired. According to his city work application, he gave a wrong birth date and Social Security number. APD memos obtained revealed that during the hiring process in April 2019, Chapel checked a box on a city form indicating he had never been convicted of a felony. On the form he said he was born in 1981, but his driver’s license says he was born in 1980. A memo from investigators says Chapel didn’t use his own Social Security number on a document used for a background check. According to emails, with the information Chapel provided, he passed a background check and was classified as being eligible for hire. On his resume, he lists high-ranking APD officers as references. When Target 7 asked the city for a list of people interviewed for the job, it was told a list did not exist.

After Chapel was hired, the APD received a tip about his criminal record. When Chapel’s supervisor found out he was a convicted felon, the APD supervisor on October 7 emailed all APD commanders and deputy chiefs saying Chapel was “not available” to do his job due to “unforeseen circumstances”. Surprisingly, APD emails show Chapel returned to work on October 14, seven days after the previous email that said he was not available and after APD learned of his felony convictions and the discrepancies in the application process.

The city refused to do an on-camera interview on the hiring, but did issue the following statement:

“The city cannot comment on personnel matters. APD typically runs background checks, which are conducted by a contractor, and which generally provide criminal history information for the last seven years.”


The City’s personnel rules and regulations are very clear that applicants for jobs are ineligible for employment if they are fraudulent or make a false statement on an application or if they have a prior conviction of a felony involving “moral turpitude”.

“Crimes involving moral turpitude have been defined to be those crimes that involve conduct that is reckless, evil, and/or morally reprehensible. Specifically, a crime may be considered a crime involving moral turpitude if it has any one of the following characteristics:

1. Shocking to the public conscience;
2. Vile or depraved;
3. Contrary to the rules, morality, and duties of society.”


The 3 crimes of forgery, misuse of credit card and robbery committed by Chapel are considered as crimes of “moral turpitude” with any one being enough to disqualify a person for employment by APD.

City personnel rules and regulations require that criminal background checks must be done on any potential employee that is being hired for sensitive positions at city hall and all positions at APD, including all civilian positions. The background checks are mandatory and must be completed before anyone is hired and before they start to work at APD.


Target 7 was able to track down Amir Chapel where he still lives in Albuquerque in order to get his version of what happened. Chapel said he never interviewed for his position because he knew two commanders at APD who reached out to him about the job. Proclaiming “… I didn’t lie” Chapel insisted he didn’t do anything wrong, he said legally he didn’t think he needed to check the box indicating he was a felon because the convictions were so old. His felony convictions happened in 2002, 2003 and 2007. Chapel would not explain why he used different Social Security numbers and dates of birth on his application and directed further questioning to APD Chief Michael Geier and City Attorney Estaban Aguilar.


Although Amir Chapel was not a sworn police officer and not a member of the Albuquerque Police Officers’ Association, the union president felt compelled to comment. The police union is now demanding every civilian employee hired by the police department in the past year to have their background checks audited.

Union President Shaun Willoughby had this to say:

“How did this slip through the cracks? You’re the police department! … He was a high-level management, civilian employee of the police department. … This falls on the management of this police department. This should have been caught by this police agency and it wasn’t caught and that is a problem. … This is a police department where integrity and trust and honesty mean something. How many people slipped through the cracks? Are we auditing this? What are we doing to prevent this from happening in the future?”

The entire Target 7 News Report can be viewed at this link:



On August 1, 2019, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) issued a “Staffing Snapshot” that reported the extent of resources and personnel dedicated to implementation of the Department of Justice (DOJ) mandated reforms under the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) with APD’s Compliance Bureau.

According to the staffing report, APD as of August 1, 2019 has a total of 972 sworn officers with 600 officers assigned to the field services patrolling 6 area commands and neighborhoods. 61 officers are reported to be assigned to DOJ Compliance Bureau. The staffing report has a breakdown of sworn officers assigned to the various departments. You can view the APD staffing breakdown here:


The APD Compliance Bureaus consists of the Internal Affairs Professional Standards Division, Policy and Procedure Division, Accountability and Oversight Division, Internal Affairs Force Division and the Behavioral Health and Crisis Intervention Section. One of the major concentrations of the bureau is the ongoing cooperation with the Department of Justice (DOJ) consent decree (CASA) and its implementation of its terms and conditions. Internal Affairs deals with the investigation police misconduct cases. Crisis Intervention deals with the crisis intervention teams who deal with the mentally ill. Policy and Procedures deals with the review and writing of standard operating procedures.

The staffing reported for the Compliance Bureau is 1 Deputy Chief, 3 Commanders, 1 Deputy Commander, 6 Lieutenants, 10 Sergeants and 40 Detectives for a total of 61 which is 6.28% of the department sworn police officers. Confidential APD sources are reporting that the actual number of sworn police officers assigned to the compliance bureau is now at 70 sworn police.


It’s embarrassing enough that APD unknowingly hired a three-time felon who was convicted of crimes of moral turpitude of forgery, misuse of a credit card and robbery. What adds a major element of incompetence is that he was being paid $72,000 a year to be APD’s Policy and Compliance Manger for the Federal Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA). There is no way he would have been hired for such a sensitive position had a standard background check been conducted.

Other very difficult questions that need to be answered are:

1. Was the position ever advertised and how many people applied?
2. What are the minimum qualifications for the position and did Chapel possesses the experience and background for the job?
3. Was a background check even conducted and what did the city pay for it on contract?
4. Is there any truth to the statement that Chapel was never interviewed for the position because he knew two APD commanders who reached out to him about the job and if so, why was there no interview and who are the APD commanders that acted as references?
5. Does Mayor Keller or Chief Geier intend to take any personnel actions to hold anyone accountable for what happened?

For the past 5 years, APD has been struggling to implement the Department Of Justice mandated reforms. APD has upwards of 70 sworn police that are involved with the reform process and the compliance bureau. The City has also hired a former federal magistrate to work on policy and procedures for the DOJ. It is difficult to understand, given the amount of personnel assigned to the DOJ compliance bureau, why there was a need to hire Chapel in the first place.

It is very disappointing but not at all surprising that APD refused to go on camera for an interview. APD Chief Geier and for that matter, Mayor Tim Keller tend to shy away from bad press or answering hard questions that call into question the competency of City actions and of APD. That was the norm with the prior Republican Administration. However, Mayor Tim Keller from day one of being elected Mayor said there would be “transparency” with what city hall did and he further said he and the city would acknowledge their mistakes, learn from those mistakes and take action to correct those mistakes.

There is absolutely nothing transparent by acknowledging a mistake issuing a press release saying “The city cannot comment on personnel matters …” . By refusing to make any comment other than the statement issued, the Keller Administration opened the garage door to allow the Union President to pile on, which he did.

What is pathetic is that you have the police union president piling on and no doubt savoring the moment, demanding an audit of all civilian APD hires over the last year and making statements like:

“How did this slip through the cracks? You’re the police department! … This is a police department where integrity and trust and honesty mean something.”

The union president needs to be reminded he is part of the police department. This is the same union president who said about the crime rate reductions Mayor Tim Keller reported that were in fact seriously flawed and false:

“I don’t think this was done intentionally, but I think the public is going to have a credibility issue with the Police Department, and this administration [in particular], and we need to work together as a team to prevent this from ever happening again.”


This is also the same union president who called Mayor Tim Keller dishonorable for issuing an apology about the culture of aggression found within APD.


Mayor Keller and Chief Michael Geier need to get out in front on this controversy and provide and explanation as to why there was a failure to conduct a complete background check. A far better explanation is needed from the APD command staff as to what happened with the hiring and termination of a 3 time convicted felon in a highly sensitive position. Otherwise the controversy will only fester.

Red Flag Passes Senate Committee Along Party Lines; Elected Sheriff’s Hide Behind Second Amendment To Avoid Doing Their Jobs To Serve And Protect Those Who Elected Them

On January 28, after more than two hours of emotional testimony, Senate Bill 5 entitled the “Extreme Risk Firearm Protection Order Act” also known as “The Red Flag Gun Law”, passed the Senate Public Affairs Committee on a party-line vote of 4 Democrats for and 3 Republicans against. The legislation is sponsored by Senator Joseph Cervantes of Las Cruces, Representative Damon Ely of Corrales and Representative Joy Garratt of Albuquerque. The legislation is backed by Democratic Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, who added it to the agenda of the 30-day session.

The Senate Public Affairs Committee hearing was held in the Senate chambers to accommodate the audience. In an extraordinary move of caution, the over 200 people who showed up to attend the hearing were screened for weapons upon entering the Senate Gallery.


In argument before the committee, State Senator Joseph Cervantes, D-Las Cruces, one the bill’s sponsors, cited last year’s shooting rampage in El Paso, Texas where the gunman targeted Hispanics and New Mexico’s high rates of gun deaths and suicide as reasons to enact the legislation. Senator Cervantes had this to say:

“It’s time that New Mexico provide a mechanism for law enforcement and family members to protect themselves when individuals announce their intentions to do harm.”

Opponents of the Red Flag law questioned law enforcement agencies’ ability to temporarily store seized guns and also argued the proposed law would be misused in heavily contested divorce cases.

As what happened last year, this year’s red-flag gun bill once again has strong opposition from the states elected County Sheriff’s with 30 of the state’s 33 county sheriffs opposing the measure. Upwards of 20 elected county sheriffs showed up for hearing, they were allowed to carry guns in the chamber and all argued that if Senate Bill 5 became law, it would infringe on individual’s constitutional rights.


New Mexico State Police Chief Tim Johnson and top Albuquerque Police Department officials, including APD Deputy Chief Harold Medina support the bill.

Governor Lujan Grisham has acknowledged that getting the bill to her desk will be hard but said she’s confident it will happen and had this to say:

“It will not stop all gun violence. … It will not stop all suicides. But if it saves one life, it’s worth it.”

If lawmakers pass the law, New Mexico would join 17 other states and the District of Columbia with “extreme risk protection orders.” Those states that have enacted “red flag” laws are: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington.


Under Senate Bill 5, a relative, household member or law enforcement officer would file a sworn affidavit and petition in state District Court seeking an extreme-risk protection order to prohibit someone from possessing firearms that pose a serious threat to themselves or others. The petitioner would have to disclose whether there’s any other pending legal action between the two parties. A judge could issue a 15-day emergency order to seize the weapons and ammunition from that person. There would also an option for a one-year firearm prohibition, based on a “preponderance of evidence” to determine if there was a need for a one-year order. When the court order expires, the guns and ammunition would then be returned to the individual.

According Representative Ely, one of the sponsors:

“This bill is a good balance between people’s rights to bear arms and public safety … It protects the public. It protects people who might be an imminent threat of suicide, and it protects law enforcement. That’s what this bill does.”

According to Governor Lujan Grisham the bill assures due process for gun owners by saying:

“You have to have a sworn affidavit, you’re under oath so there are real repercussions for someone who might use this in a negative way because that’s not the intent here at all.”

Red flag laws have been approved in 17 states and the District of Columbia. While the laws differ, many states have enacted them in response to mass shootings, such as the February 2018 shooting in Parkland, Florida that left 17 people dead. Red flag laws have survived court challenges in some states.

Supporters describe Senate Bill 5 as a common-sense way to save lives by taking guns from people who are an immediate threat.

Opponents say the law will result in abuse and could result in innocent people losing their guns. Zac Fort, the President of the New Mexico Shooting Sports Association said his organization opposed the red-flag law saying previous versions of the bill failed to protect the rights of gun owners. You can also anticipate the National Rifle Association (NRA) will oppose the legislation in some manner.


After the Senate Public Affairs Committee meeting, state Senator Joseph Cervantes, who is also a respected trial attorney, said he felt confident the proposed law will be upheld as constitutional if challenged. Cervantes added the bill will be amended in the coming days based on feedback from law enforcement officials and others.



Most gun deaths in New Mexico are a result of suicide and therefore the state’s suicide rate is a critical part of the debate. Overall, the state suicide rate is 21.9 deaths per 100,000 people, which is more than 50% higher than the national average. Ten counties in New Mexico that are largely rural areas of the state have suicide rates at least twice the national average, which is 14 suicide deaths per 100,000 people. Studies in states that have “red flag laws” and that have “risk-based firearm seizure laws” were associated with reduced suicide rates.


Since 1995, the United States has had 95 mass shootings, including seven of the 11 deadliest. Three of the 11 biggest mass shootings in American history have now taken place in the United States during the last two years.

There is no doubt we have a deadly mass shooting epidemic on our hands.

The mass shooting with guns in the last 10 years include: Orlando, Florida (49 killed, 50 injured), Blacksburg, Va. (32 killed), San Ysidro, Cal (21 killed), San Bernardino, (14 killed), Edmond Oklahoma (14 killed), Fort Hood (13 killed), Binghamton, NY (13 killed) Washington, DC (12 killed), Aurora, Colorado (12 killed), Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, Conn (21 children and 6 adult staff members killed) and the largest mass shooting in this country’s history that occurred in Las Vegas, Nevada with at least 59 dead and at least 515 wounded and the Parkland/Stoneridge High School shooting that resulted in 17 children’s deaths. Since 1995, the United States has had 98 mass shootings, including seven of the 11 deadliest. Three of the 11 biggest mass shootings in American history have now taken place in the United States in the last two years. . There is no doubt we have a deadly mass shooting epidemic on our hands.


The biggest criticisms against “red flag” laws are that they violate a citizen’s United States Constitution Second amendment right to bear arms. Such an argument resonates with the New Mexico gun culture. Another major criticism is that a person’s constitutional right of due process of law is violated when a court can issue a temporary “ex parte” order to seize guns from people without an evidentiary hearing and without any notice, but that is not what the proposed red flag law does. Both arguments are made by the 30 of the state’s 33 county sheriffs opposing the proposed measure.

Governor Lujan Grisham has said a “red flag” law will make communities safer and for that reason she has attempted to work with the Sheriff’s to reach a compromise, but has been unable to win support for a “red flag” law thus far from the Sheriffs. The New Mexico Sheriffs Association opposes “red flag” laws believing they are ineffective and that they infringe on Second Amendment constitutional rights to bear arms.

Sheriffs are elected officials just like the Governor, and as such the Governor has little control over how they should approach law enforcement. For that reason alone, the Governor needs to do whatever she can to convince all New Mexico Sheriff’s to support the law. Also, Attorney General Hector Balderas should lend his weight and prestige of his office to get the law enacted. Included in the discussions with the elected Sheriff’s should be an offer of state funding to support the enforcement of the law.

What is shameful is that elected county sheriffs are far more concerned about “second amendment rights” that allows almost anyone, including those who pose a harm to themselves and others, to have a firearm of their choosing. The elected sheriff’s hide behind the 2nd Amendment so as not to protect or enforce the rights of others who have the rights of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” just as much guaranteed under the constitution as the right to bear arms.

The elected sheriffs who oppose the meaningful gun control legislation that the red flag law represents ignore their duty and responsibilities to serve and protect the general public that elected them preferring to promote their own “pro gun” political philosophy and their own personal interpretation of the law. The public’s safety and enactment of laws for the protection of those that easily become victims of gun violence, even by family members, should be law enforcement’s number one priority, not enforcing only those laws they feel that conform to their own “pro gun” philosophy. The enactment of laws is the responsibility of the legislature, not law enforcement. The meaning and interpretation of the laws enacted is the responsibility of the court’s, and not of law enforcement.

The two major gun control measures enacted by the 2019 New Mexico Legislature, one requiring back ground checks on private sales of guns and the other requiring domestic violence abusers to surrender firearms, were a good start to address New Mexico’s gun culture. The problem is, no one knows for certain to what extent those laws are being ignored by the elected sheriff’s. Notwithstanding, the enactment of a “red flag” law will be another small step in the right direction. Far more needs to be done by the New Mexico legislature to combat gun violence and to keep the public safe from those who pose a risk to themselves and others.

Unless congress enacts responsible gun control measures, which is not at all likely, we can expect more mass shootings at soft targets such as schools, movie theaters, malls, department stores and major public events like concerts and at state fairs. The mass shootings will again be followed by the predictable cycle of news coverage, more outrage, more nighttime candle vigils, more funerals, more condolences, more rhetoric demanding action. It could easily happen in New Mexico.

New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and the New Mexico State Legislature are wise to do all they can and enact the red flag law, and if one suicide can be prevented and if just one shooting by a mentally ill person can be prevented by it, it is worth it.

No Hate Groups In New Mexico But Plenty Of Gangs To Victimize

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) of Montgomery, Alabama defines a hate group as:

“an organization that – based on its official statements or principles, the statements of its leaders, or its activities – has beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.”

According to its web page, the SPLC does not list individuals as hate groups, only organizations. Organizations on the SPCL hate group list:

“vilify others because of their race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity, prejudices that strike at the heart of our democratic values and fracture society along its most fragile fault lines.”

The SPCL defines a “group” as an entity that “has a process through which followers identify themselves as being part of the group. This may involve donating, paying membership dues or participating in activities such as meetings and rallies. Individual chapters of a larger organization are each counted separately, because the number indicates reach and organizing activity.”


The reason given by the Southern Poverty Law Center for identifying and tracking hate groups is as follows:

“Hate groups tear at the fabric of our society and instill fear in entire communities. American history is rife with prejudice against groups and individuals because of their race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or other characteristics. As a nation, we’ve made a lot of progress, but our history of white supremacy lingers in institutional racism, stereotyping and unequal treatment of people of color and others. Hate also plays a particular role in crime and thus the existence and location of hate groups is important to law enforcement. The U.S. Department of Justice warns that hate crimes, more than any other crime, can trigger community conflict, civil disturbances, and even riots. For all their “patriotic” rhetoric, hate groups and their imitators are really trying to divide us; their views are fundamentally anti-democratic and need to be exposed and countered.”


Race, religion and sexual orientation are the most common targets of hate groups. For that reason, the New Mexico statistics are worth review.


According to the United States Census, New Mexico’s approximate total population as of July 1, 2019 was 2,096,829. The Overall race or ethic breakdown is reported as follows:

Hispanic population: 49.1%
White or Anglo population: 37.1%
American Indian: 10.9%
African American: 2.6%
Asian: 1.8%


The Williams Institute, a leading research institute on sexual orientation and gender identity law and policy at the UCLA School of Law, released the following data on New Mexico’s Same-Sex Couples and Their Families in New Mexico:

Same-sex couples: 5,825
LGBT individuals (18yrs+): approximately 45,000
Percentage of same-sex couples with children: 18%



On January 15, 2015, a survey by the Jewish Federation of New Mexico was released and found the Jewish population in New Mexico is approximately 24,000 residents with a range as high as 31,000 or as low as 21,000.


On August 18, 2018, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported that according to the U.S. Religion Census, which reports the number of congregations by county in the U.S. for different faith groups, about 4,000 Muslims live in New Mexico, with about 450 in Santa Fe or about 0.3% percent of the city’s population.



According to a Pew Institute “Religious Landscape Study of New Mexico Adults”, the state’s population has the following religion breakdown:


Catholic: 34%
Evangelical Protestant: 23%
Mainline Protestant: 14%
Historically Black Protestant: 1%
Mormon: 2%
Orthodox Christian: Less than 1%
Jehovah’s Witness: 1%
Other Christian: Less than 1%

Non-Christian Faiths:

Jewish: Less than 1%
Muslim: Less than 1%
Buddhist: 1%
Hindu: Less than 1%
Other World Religions: Less than 1%


Atheist: 3%
Agnostic: 5%
Nothing in particular: 13%



In 2018, Southern Poverty Law Center identified and tracked 1,020 “hate groups” throughout the United states and produced a map to illustrate the locations of the hate groups. You can review a listing of hate groups in each state by reviewing the map at this link and typing in the name of a state and a list will then appear for that state:


New Mexico is the only state in the country that in 2018 the SPLC found had no organized hate group. But that does not mean the state has never had any in the past. Since 2000, the number of hate groups in New Mexico has varied from a high of 6 in 2013 to zero in 2004, 2005 and 2018. The hate groups found in New Mexico in the past have included the Christian Crusade for Truth, World Church of the Creator, National Socialist Movement, Civilian Combat Squad, New Mexico Skinheads, Frontline Aryans, 11th Hour Remnant Messenger, Supreme White Alliance and the Loyal White Knights of the KKK.

In New Mexico, the FBI documented 28 reported hate crimes in 2018, compared with seven reported incidents in 2017. Twenty-One of the hate crimes were based on race, ethnicity or national origin. Three were based on religion, three were based on sexual orientation and one on gender identity.

The finding of no hate groups in New Mexico in 2018 is in contrast to the FBI’s Hate Crime Statistics report for 2018 which found the number of hate crimes in New Mexico spiking to 4 times what it had been in 2017.

The SPLC interim research director Keegan Hankes said the two reports are not contradictory by saying:

“It is not necessary to have an organized hate group in your community for hate crimes to occur. … These are independent of each other. The presence of a hate group obviously contributes and marks the potential for hate crimes, hate incidents and hateful activity in your community.”

Hankes said the SPLC has been tracking “a massive spike in hate crimes” since Donald Trump was elected president. Hankes noted:

“One of the drivers of hate crimes is toxic political rhetoric particularly in describing immigrants. The language used resonates with fringe hate groups and provide them with “the ultimate validation of their world view. They feel emboldened and empowered, and that their ideas have [purpose].”

In order to underscore just how pervasive hate crimes are, Hankes pointed to the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey, which annually collects data on crimes both reported and not reported to police. In the five years between 2013 and 2017, there were an average of 204,000 hate crimes each year.


Excluding New Mexico, the states with the fewest hate groups in 2018 were Vermont and Wyoming, each with 1 group, Rhode Island and Delaware, each with 2, North Dakota and Iowa, each with 3 and Kansas and Alaska, each with 4.
The states with the largest number of hate groups were California with 83, Florida with 75, Texas with 73 and New York, with 47.


According to a recent Albuquerque Journal report, over the past decade, the most common types of hate incidents reported have been anti-Semitic, racial or ethnic graffiti in public parks and on public and private buildings. Accounts of hostile comments made toward people because of sexual orientation were reported as well as reports of university students using or being the target of racial slurs.

According to one Albuquerque Journal report:

“Increasingly, acts of violence have been directed at the homeless, some of whom were seriously injured or killed. While the homeless are not now a protected class of individuals, a number of organizations, including the New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness, have called for legislation to add them as a protected class under the state’s Hate Crimes Statute.”



The Anti-Defamation League focuses on tracking anti-Semitic hate crimes. Scott Levin, Mountain States Regional director of the Anti-Defamation League agreed there does not have to be a hate group for hate crimes to happen and had this to say:

“It doesn’t take a group to commit a hate crime, people can act on their own. … They just might not be organized and meeting together. It may be a whole bunch of lone individuals with extremist ideologies. … Most hate crimes in the United States today are racially based, but there are certainly pockets where religion is going to be a bigger factor. … [Larger cities have larger populations of Jewish people] so there is a much higher incidence of anti-Semitic hate crimes there than in other parts of the country.”


According to the Southern Poverty Law Center nearly 50% of race-based hate crimes were directed against African Americans. Hate crimes directed at LGBTQ individuals increased by almost 6%, including a significant 42% increase in crimes directed against transgender individuals. Anti-Hispanic hate crimes increased by 14%. Even though religion-based hate crimes decreased by 8% from 2017, nearly 60% of these hate crimes targeted Jews and Jewish institutions in 2018.

The FBI reported 7,120 hate crimes in 2018, a slight decrease from the 7,175 reported in 2017. The FBI’s statistics are based on the numbers collected from law enforcement agencies around the country which likely means there is an under count of hate crimes. The vast majority of law enforcement agencies are not required to report hate crimes for their jurisdictions. In many states, hate crimes are classified as an enhancement to other crimes and “are not a charge in and of themselves.”


The hate crimes reported in New Mexico mirror the national trend in that the most common type was race or religion based.


New Mexico posted the nation’s second-highest violent crime rate and its highest property crime rate in 2018 driven by high crime rates in Albuquerque. According to Federal Bureau Investigation (FBI), in 2018 New Mexico had the second-highest violent crime rate and highest property crime rate in the nation. While the national crime rate in 2018 was around 369 violent crimes and 2,200 property crimes per 100,000 residents, New Mexico had 857 violent crimes and 3,420 property crimes per 100,000 residents. Front and center of the States drug and gun violence are gangs.


On May 24, 2019, it was reported by APD that gangs are driving much of the drug and gun violence crime and that city gangs are at the center of much of the city’s gun violence and drug trafficking. The report showed that APD can barely keep up with the problem and gave a summary of a number of gang and drug related murders, including teenager murders.


The story reported something law enforcement has known for decades: gangs are a serious problem in New Mexico. In July 1990 the New Mexico Judicial Council did a survey that queried 30 local law enforcement agencies across the State on the extent of gang activity in their jurisdictions. The 16 responding agencies identified 127 gangs statewide with an estimated membership of between 4,200 and 5,800. A total of 111 of these gangs are in Albuquerque and comprise the majority of the total gang membership.

Evidence indicates that 80% of the State’s street gangs are involved in narcotics trafficking. Twenty percent of reported crimes committed by gang members are narcotics violations, 36% are violent crimes, and 40% are property crimes. Of the 111 Albuquerque gangs, 61 are Hispanic, 31 black, and 19 white.


Fast forward to October 15, 2012. It was reported that the then Mayor responded to rising violent crime rates by tripling the size of its Gang Unit to a 15 member team split into a plain-clothes squad dedicated to undercover investigative work and a uniformed task force to patrol the entire city of Albuquerque. According to APD at the time, there were as many as 246 active gangs in Albuquerque at the time and a total of 7,700 documented gang members.



The following recent reports of murders support the point that drugs and gangs are at the center of Albuquerque’s violent crime problem:

In December, 2018, 15-year-old Collin Romero and 14-year-old Ahmed Lateef went reported missing on the west mesa. Weeks later, Sandoval County authorities found the boys dead in a shallow grave. Investigators say two Albuquerque teens were tortured and killed over marijuana. The Office of Medical Investigators (OMI) autopsy reports revealed that 15-year-old Romero was shot nine times and he was beaten and stabbed in his joints. 14-year-old Lateef was shot 19 times. Police say 19-year-old Stephen Goldman is the suspect in the murders.


On April 10, 2019 APD detectives arrested Ryan Winter, 46, and his three children, who APD police say are gang members, Keith, 16, Kevin, 16, and Faith, 17, in connection with the vicious beating of a man and a woman on Feb. 9. Allegedly, the family tracked down the victims after a fight between Faith Winter and others, including the female victim. The Winters beat the woman with a gun and shoved a shotgun in the man’s face outside a gas station.

On April 16, 2019 APD detectives arrested Donald Crapse “a self-admitted motorcycle gang member” after allegedly witnessing him snort drugs outside a southwest Albuquerque home during a surveillance operation.

On May 7, 2019 police arrested Cesar Marquez and Adrian Marquez after APD received a call of a juvenile running around with a gun in a Walmart parking lot. According to a police spokesman “As officers entered the parking lot they heard multiple gunshots. ” Police found the 2 men in a blue Ford Mustang and identified Adrian Marquez as the suspect who fired off shots. Inside the car, detectives found a loaded gun and an ounce of cocaine.

On May 9, 2019 APD Detectives arrested Chris Salcido after a month’s long investigation alleging that he is gang member involved in several shootings and a “driver of crime and gun violence.” Salcido was caught at a southwest Albuquerque home after a standoff with police. Inside the home, they found three ounces of cocaine, two pistols and an assault rifle that had been reported stolen. Salcido has also been tied to several shootings and associated with 36 calls for service, including shots fired, suspected narcotics trafficking and aggravated battery.

On May 9, 2019 police arrested Dana La Monda and Juan Carlos Pacheco at a home in southwest Albuquerque after following up on reports of possible gang activity and suspected ties to several shootings. LaMonda was booked on a felony warrant for aggravated burglary of a firearm and Pacheco for separate charges.

On September 14, 2019 it was reported that 5 people were murdered and at least five injured in connection with three shootings in Albuquerque. APD Police said 3 of the 5 victims that were murdered were teens. Police identified them as Daniel Alexis Baca (17), Victoria Cereceres (16), and Noah Tafoya (18). The two other adults who died were identified as Christine Baca (36), and Manuelita Sotelo (77). The friends of 17 year old Daniel Alex Baca said friends said he died because of “the life he chose” and that was drug dealing and drugs.


One of the biggest sources of pride and comfort to New Mexico is that it is clearly a state of inclusion, diversity and tolerance where ethnic and religious groups accept each other and get along.

Many in New Mexico would strongly dispute the Southern Poverty Law Center’s report finding that New Mexico has no hate groups to report. That does not mean they do not exist. Many such groups, especially white supremacy groups, keep extremely low profiles, especially in a State like New Mexico that is classified a Minority-Majority State, where people of color far exceed the Anglo population. Further, the lack of listing of hate groups as was noted does not mean hate crimes do not happen in the state.

The real problem in the State of New Mexico are not hate groups but criminal gangs, drugs and violence. According to a law enforcement “Gangs of Albuquerque Report”, there are 127 gangs statewide with an estimated membership of between 4,200 and 5,800 involved with drugs, property crime and violent crime. The nightly local news is a constant reminder of how bad Albuquerque’s violent crime rates are.

With such high levels of violent crimes, especially in Albuquerque, a cynic would say “we do not need any hate groups when we have so many gangs.” In other words, you can take some comfort that there are no hate groups that will target you for your race, color, religion or sexual orientation. You should be safe from being a victim of a crime so long as you have no property or vehicle someone wants to steal, you do not have a home to break into, you do not do drugs and you can feel safe so long as you do not anger someone who has a gun and who will kill you.



For news coverage on gang related murders see:




NM Has Largest Increases In Homeless In US: 27% Overall, 57.6% In Chronic; Destruction Of Behavioral Health Care System Major Contributor

Each year, the “Point in Time” (PIT) survey is conducted to determine how many people experience homelessness on a given night, and to learn more about their specific needs. The PIT survey is conducted on only one night to determine how many people experience homelessness and to learn more about their specific needs. The PIT count is done in communities across the country in both urban and rural areas, and counting both sheltered and unsheltered homeless people.

The PIT count is the official number of homeless reported by communities to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for funding and to help understand the extent of homelessness at the city, state, regional and national levels.


The City of Albuquerque contracts with The New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness to conduct the annual PIT survey. In even-numbered years, only homeless people who stay in shelters are counted. In odd-numbered years, a more comprehensive count is conducted counting people wherever they can be found including people sleeping in cars, in parks, beneath underpasses, commercial entry ways, alleys and anywhere they can be found.

According to city officials, The PIT count requires the use of the HUD definition of “homelessness” and counts only people who are sleeping in a shelter, in a transitional housing program, or outside in places not meant for human habitation. Those people who are not counted are those who do not want to participate in the survey, who are sleeping in motels that they pay for themselves, or who are doubled up with family or friends.

HUD defines homelessness as “an individual or family who lacks a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence, or has a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not meant for human habitation, or is living in a publicly or privately operated shelter.”

HUD defines “chronic homelessness” as “a person who has been homeless for one year, or has had four episodes of homelessness over three years with the combined episodes adding up to one year, and has a disabling condition that makes it difficult to obtain housing.”

According to the New Mexico Coalition To End Homelessness, the cause of homelessness and the number of homelessness can be described as follows:

“Homelessness is caused by poverty and a lack of affordable housing. Homelessness has grown dramatically since the 1970’s due primarily to the steady decrease in public benefits for people living in poverty including welfare payments and public housing. In part because of the decrease in spending for public housing, there has been a steady decline in affordable housing. According to the National Coalition to End Homelessness, between 1970 and 1995, the gap between the number of low-income renters and the amount of affordable housing units in the U.S. went from almost no gap to a shortage of 4.4 million affordable housing units.

People who experience homelessness in New Mexico include families with children, people who are working at low-wage jobs, people suffering from mental illness, those with substance abuse problems, migrant workers, runaway or throwaway teens, victims of domestic violence and veterans. In other words, people who experience homelessness are a diverse group of people with a variety of factors contributing to their homelessness.”


On January 8, 2020, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) report released the annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress containing the statistics for Albuquerque and New Mexico.

The link to the report is here:



The PIT survey found that an estimated 567,715 people nationwide, both sheltered and unsheltered, were identified as homeless which is a 2.7% increase over 2018. Overall homelessness declined in 29 states and the District of Columbia, but increased in 21 states.

Nationwide, 396,045 people experienced homelessness as individuals, meaning they did not have children with them. Individuals made up 70% of the total homeless population. Half of those who experienced homelessness as individuals were staying in sheltered locations.

According to the HUD report, the number of unsheltered homeless people nationally rose by 8.7%, which includes increases of 15% among unsheltered women and 43% among people who identify as transgender.

California has 53% of all unsheltered homeless people in the country, with 108,432 people living on the streets. California’s homeless numbers are nearly 9 times higher than the number of unsheltered homeless people in Florida, which had the second highest count at 12,476.

According to the report, African Americans “accounted for 40% of all people experiencing homelessness in 2019, despite being 13% of the U.S. population.”

The number of homeless Veterans went down. Compared to 2009 numbers there were 40% fewer homeless veterans nationwide during 2019. The number of homeless veterans in 2019 shows a 2% decline from 2018. In raw numbers that means 36,282 fewer homeless veterans than there were in 2009. The decline was attributed to partnerships between HUD and the Department of Veterans Affairs in funding supportive housing programs for veterans.


According to the PIT, New Mexico had the nation’s largest percentage increase in homelessness from 2018 to 2019 in the nation with an increase of 27%. New Mexico also had a 57.6% increase in chronic homelessness last year, also the highest in the nation. The percentage increase in Albuquerque’s homeless population alone rose by 15%. In New Mexico there were 2,464 homeless people in 2019 and of that total, 1,283 persons, or about 52%, were chronically homeless.


The New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness was contracted by the City of Albuquerque to conduct the annual PIT count. The Coalition puts the number of homeless people in Albuquerque at 1,524 sheltered and unsheltered individuals. This 1,524 is 206 more than were counted in 2017 when 1,318 homeless people were counted in the city limits.


Under the PIT count, only homeless people who stay in shelters are counted in even-numbered years. Both sheltered and unsheltered homeless people are counted in odd-numbered years. Only those homeless people who can be located are counted, either sheltered or unsheltered, as well as only those who agree to participate in the survey. A 100% accuracy number cannot be determined, only an overall estimate.

The nonprofit Rock At Noon Day offers meals and other services to the homeless. Noon Day Executive Director Danny Whatley believes that based on Noon Day observations, the number of homeless people in Albuquerque is likely between 4,000 and 4,500. What is alarming is that according to Whatley, the fastest-growing segments are senior citizens and millennials defined ad ages 23 to 38 in 2019.

Government agencies and nonprofits report that the city’s homeless numbers are greater than the 1,524 found and the number of homeless in Albuquerque approaches 4,500 in any given year.

Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) is New Mexico’s largest school district, serving more than a fourth of the state’s students and nearly 84,000 students. APS spokeswoman Monica Armenta stated the number of homeless children enrolled in district schools, meaning kids from families that have no permanent address, has consistently ranged from 3,200 to 3,500. Johanna King another APS spokesperson said the number includes people who live in motels or who are doubled up with family or friends. APS serves many students in need with nearly two-thirds qualifying for the federal school meals program. The APS school district serves 29,000 breakfast per school day and 41,000 lunches per school day.

City officials have said the number of homeless in Albuquerque may be as much as 5,000. The centralized citywide system known as the Coordinated Entry System that the city uses to track the homeless and fill supportive housing openings reports that approximately 5,000 households experienced homelessness last year.

Links to news stories can be found here:




Lisa Huval, deputy director for Housing and Homelessness for the Albuquerque Family and Community Services Department, when asked what was the reason for the increases in homelessness in the City and State, had this to say:

“One of the driving factors in the increase in chronically homeless people in New Mexico is what happened to our behavioral health system under the previous governor, with the dismantling of the behavioral health infrastructure as we knew it amid accusations of Medicaid fraud “This forced a number of providers to close their doors and caused lots of people to lose access to services. In many ways, we’re still recovering from that. … [Another part of the story] , is our state’s struggle with funding and supporting behavioral health programs at the scale they’re needed, and with folks being able to get into housing and being able to stay in housing.”

In June 2013, under the direction of the former Republican Governor, the Human Services Department (HSD) cut off Medicaid funding to 15 behavioral health nonprofits operating in New Mexico. In 2014, more than 160,000 New Mexicans received behavioral health services, with most of those services funded by Medicaid, according to the Human Services Department.

After the audits were completed, the former Republican Administration said that the outside audit showed more than $36 million in over billing, as well as mismanagement and possible fraud. Under the orders of the Republican Governor, Human Services Department agency brought in 5 Arizona providers to take over from New Mexico providers.

In early 2016, following exhaustive investigations, the Attorney General cleared all 15 of the healthcare providers of any wrongdoing and exonerated all of them of fraud. Even though the NM Attorney General found no fraud and cleared the nonprofits of fraud, the damage had been done to the nonprofits. With the Medicaid funding freeze, many of the 15 nonprofits could not continue and just went out of business leaving many patients without a behavioral health service provider.

Lawsuits against the state were initiated by 15 mental health care providers. The administration of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has announced it has entered into settlement agreements with at least 10 of the behavioral health care providers whose Medicaid funding was frozen in 2013.


On November 5, voters approved general obligation bonds of $14 million for a city operated 24-7 homeless shelter that will house upwards of 300.

The 24-hour, 7 day a week facility to temporarily shelter the homeless within the city is critical toward reducing the number of homeless in the city. The city owned shelter would assist an estimated 300 homeless residents and connect them to other services intended to help secure permanent housing. The new facility would serve all populations, men, women, and families, and a “clearing house” function.
The city facility would have on-site case managers that would guide residents toward addiction treatment, housing vouchers and other available resources. According city officials, the new homeless shelter would replace the existing West Side Emergency Housing Center, the former jail on the far West Side.

The City is seeking another $14 million in capital funding from the 2020 New Mexico Legislature to build phase two of the city homeless shelter.

On January 13, 2020, the New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness released a report stating that a one-time $262 million to build permanent supportive housing and fund short-term rental assistance will allow New Mexico to get another $30 million in federal dollars and end homelessness for an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 people across the state.


On Feb. 26, 2015, the Bernalillo County Commission approved a 1/8 % gross receipts tax increase on a 3-2 vote to fund new behavioral and mental health services to improve access to mental and behavioral health care services in the county. The tax generates approximately $20 million annually.

When enacted, the county commission announced the intent for the tax was to invest the funding “in proven ways to better manage the high cost of addiction, homelessness and mental health problems”. According to a county commission announcement, “these issues impact families throughout the community and drive up the cost of public services, especially at the Metropolitan Detention Center.” The gross receipts tax costs shoppers one cent on a $10 purchase of goods and services.


The 1/8th% gross receipts tax was supposed to be used for the purpose of providing more mental and behavioral health services for adults and children in the Albuquerque and Bernalillo County area. The intent is to provide a safety net system for those in need of mental health not otherwise funded in New Mexico.

When the Bernalillo County Commission approved the tax, it failed to develop a plan on how all the money would be used, including not identifying services to be provides, location of facilities and qualifiers to obtain the services offered. As a result of having no spending plan or identifying priorities, the tax has been collected but not spent. Since enactment of the tax in 2015, the tax has generated $91.6 million. Bernalillo County has approved a mere $20 million toward Behavioral Health Initiative projects with $70 million in tax revenue having accumulated but not spent.

The county has earmarked the bulk of what it has amassed for one-time expenditures. Those expenditures include $30 million for a new crisis triage center, $12 million for supportive housing and $4 million for the Bernalillo County CARE campus, formerly known as the Metropolitan Assessment and Treatment Services center, or MATS. The renovations to the CARE campus when complete will create an outpatient behavioral health clinic and living room space for peer-to-peer counseling sessions.

In November, 2019, the Bernalillo County Commission approved a resolution that permits “stakeholders, providers, community members, staff, commissioners, or other interested parties” to propose behavioral health service ideas through a website. Up until now, only county staff had been authorized to propose behavioral health service ideas. All program appropriations will require final approval of the County Commission. Under the new ordinance passed, each idea from stakeholders, providers, community members, staff and commissioners will go through a vetting process. A county commission appointed committee will ensure each proposal meets the criteria for an expenditure based on the behavioral health tax language approved by voters. A separate subcommittee of stakeholders and subject matter experts will also review the idea and recommend the next steps.


New Mexico having the nation’s largest percentage increase in overall homelessness at 27% and with 57.6% increase in chronic homelessness can only be considered shocking. It is yet another tragic statistic for the state. New Mexico is once again at the very top of another very bad list which includes poverty, violent crime and drug addiction.

One of the cruelest things that former Republican Governor “She Who Shall Not Be Named” did was when she ordered an “audit” of mental health services by nonprofits in New Mexico based on questionable information. The audit eventually devastated New Mexico’s behavioral health system. The process to rebuild the state’s behavioral health care services will be a slow process that no doubt will take years as will reducing homelessness.

According to some reports, approximately 80% of the cities chronic homeless are suffering from mental illness. The city does provide extensive services to the homeless that include social services, mental or behavioral health care services, substance abuse treatment and prevention, winter shelter housing, rent assistance and affordable housing development, just to mention a few.

It is extremely disappointing that Bernalillo County after enacting the behavioral health tax on February 17, 2015, and more than $90 million collected in taxes, very little progress has been made with implementing needed mental health care programs. What is difficult to comprehend is that after 4 years of collecting the tax, the County only now is trying to figure out how to spend all the taxes that have been collected.

After more than four years of collecting the tax and collecting $90 million in taxpayer funding, the County Commission needs to step up the process, be far more aggressive in identifying and implementing behavioral health programs so desperately needed after the decimation of the all the programs by the former Republican Governor.

The City of Albuquerque, Bernalillo County and the State of New Mexico have a moral obligation to assist the homeless, especially those who suffer from chronic mental illness. More needs to be done by the city, county and state to reduce the ever-increasing numbers of homeless. The only way all three are going to be able to reduce the number of homeless is to reach a viable consensus and implement an aggressive plan on how to reduce the number of homeless. This will mandate the city, county and the state to work with virtually all the charitable providers, “pooling of resources” and work to get arrive at an action plan.

A good start of pooling of resources will be for the 2020 New Mexico legislature and Bernalillo County to allocate sufficient funding to help the city build the 24-7 homeless shelter and to establish perhaps a county wide shelter.



The Family and Community Service Division of the City of Albuquerque has an annual approved operating budget of $79.7 million. The city spends $8 million a year to provide 775 vouchers for rental assistance and to move homeless people from the street into housing. In the 2019-2020 approved city budget, an additional $2 million was added to the fund which allowed another 125 to 150 people to get into housing.


Highlights to the increases in social services provided by the Family and Community Service Division contained in the 2019-2020 approved budget include:

$15 million in affordable housing contracts.
$8.2 million in homeless services.
$5.7 million in mental health and substance abuse contracts.
$18.2 million for homeless and behavioral health programs. Prior to the enactment of the gross receipts tax increase, these programs were originally projected to be cut by $2 million.
$1 million and over in funding of early intervention and prevention programs, domestic violence shelters, domestic violence services, sexual assault services, services to abused and for neglected and abandoned youth.


The City of Albuquerque has at least 10 separate homeless service provider locations throughout the city. The entire general fund budget for the Department of Family and Community Services is approximately $41 million. The $41 million is not just exclusive funding for services to the homeless.

The service offered by the Family and Community Services Department are directly provided by the city or by contract with nonprofit providers. The services include social services, mental/behavioral health, homeless services, health care for the homeless, substance abuse treatment and prevention, multi-service centers, public housing, rent assistance, affordable housing development, and fair housing, just to mention a few.

The following homeless services are funded by the City of Albuquerque, HUD’s Continuum of Care grants, Emergency Shelter Grants, and other grants administered by the City of Albuquerque:

1. Emergency Shelters for short-term, immediate assistance for the homeless for men, women, families, emergency winter shelter and after-hours shelter. The city’s West Side Emergency Housing Center has up to 450 beds available. The shelter is now open year-round. The operating cost of the facility is $4.4 million a year.
2. Transitional Housing assistance designed to transition from homelessness to permanent housing.
3. Permanent Supportive Housing for homeless individuals dealing with chronic mental illness or substance abuse issues.
4. Childcare services for homeless families.
5. Employment Services and job placement for homeless persons.
6. Eviction Prevention or rental assistance and case management to prevent eviction and homelessness.
7. Health Care services for homeless individuals and families.
8. Meal program providing for homeless individuals and families in need.
9. Motel Vouchers or temporary vouchers for homeless individuals with immediate medical issues and families with children, where emergency shelters cannot accommodate them. The city spends $8 million a year to provide 775 vouchers for rental assistance and to move homeless people from the street into housing. In the 2019-2020 approved city budget, an additional $2 million was added to the fund which will allow another 125 to 150 people to get into housing.
10. The Albuquerque Heading Home program initiative which moves the most medically fragile and chronically homeless people off the streets and into permanent housing. Since its inception in 2011 to January, 2017, it has placed 650 people into housing that assists with housing and providing jobs.

Annual “Citizen Satisfaction Survey” Reveals Decreased Optimism; Transportation Ignored; Citizen’s Not “ONE BURQUE” For Satisfaction; Meaning To Mayor Keller’s Re Election Bid

The “Citizen Satisfaction Survey” is a research study commissioned by the City of Albuquerque to assess residents’ perceptions of the overall quality of life in Albuquerque, satisfaction with City services, and issues relating to crime, safety, and the economy. On January 21, the City of Albuquerque released the results of the 2019 study. The survey was of 607 adults living in Albuquerque and conducted November 8 to 24, 2019 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4% points.

The 2019 survey questionnaire consisted of 48 questions. The final survey report is 105 pages long and contains multiple bars and graphs to illustrate the results. The survey was done by Research and Polling, consider by many as the very best polling service as to accuracy in Albuquerque.

This blog article is a deep dive analysis of the survey results and what it may mean for Mayor Keller’s efforts to seek an second 4 year term in 2021.

You can review the entire survey at this link.



The major differences comparing the 2018 to the 2019 “Citizen Satisfaction Survey” can be summarized as follows:


Residents were asked if they are very hopeful, somewhat hopeful, somewhat concerned, or very concerned about the direction of the City in 2019. Short of half at 49% of residents say they felt either somewhat hopeful at 36% or very hopeful at 13% about the direction of the City. A nearly equal percentage of residents say they are either somewhat concerned at 26% or very concerned at 21% for a total of 47%.

The percentage of residents who say they were hopeful about the direction of the City fell dramatically from 68% last year to 49% while concern has risen from 29% to 47%

City residents were asked if they feel Albuquerque has become a better place to live in the past year, a worse place to live, or is about the same:

Nineteen percent of residents believe Albuquerque has become a better place to live in the past year, while nearly one-in-three, or 32%, residents feel it is become a worse place to live. Nearly half, 48%, the residents surveyed do not feel the quality of life in Albuquerque has changed in the past year.

Nearly half of the respondents, 47%, said Albuquerque has become a worse place to live due to more crime, crime rates increasing while 16% say there is more homelessness.


Not at all surprising, rime was cited among those who said the city is getting worse. On December 31, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) officially recorded the 82 homicide for the city, an all-time record. It was on December 9, 2019, the city recorded its 74th homicide breaking the previous record of 72 murders set in 2017. Before 2017, the last time the City had the highest number of homicides in one year was in 1996 with 70 murders.

A solid majority of 65% said they felt safe while outside alone in their neighborhoods at night. However, the number who said they feel “somewhat” or “very” unsafe increased from 21% a year ago to 28% in 2019. For opinions on feeling safe in specific quadrants and areas of the of the city see the postscript below or page 28 of survey entitled:


Residents were asked if they feel different types of crimes in Albuquerque are going up, going down, or not changing. 64% of residents believe violent crimes are going up and 62% believe that crimes involving guns are going up. Just over half at 53% of the residents surveyed believe crimes against children are going up compared to 11% who feel these are going down and 26% who feel this is not changing.

Approximately half at 51% of the survey respondents believe auto thefts are going up, while 17% say auto thefts are going down and 27% feel this is not changing. The plurality of residents at 43%, feel home burglaries are going up in Albuquerque, compared to 18% who say home burglaries are going down and 31% say this is not changing.

Close to half of residents, 49%, believe the Albuquerque Police Department is doing a good job handling public safety and responding quickly to emergencies, up from 45% in 2018. However, more than half of the respondents said they feel that violent crime, crimes against children, crimes involving guns and auto thefts are rising.

The overwhelming majority of those surveyed, or 84%, agreed Albuquerque Fire Rescue is doing a good job, up from 83% in 2018.


Over two-fifths or 42% of residents agree that the City of Albuquerque is doing a good job of attracting out of-state companies to open in the City. 25% of residents disagree while 27% have neutral or mixed feelings.

Approximately 31% of the residents surveyed agree the City of Albuquerque is doing a good job of helping local businesses and entrepreneurs create jobs, though 26% disagree and 33% have neutral or mixed feelings.

Residents are twice as likely to disagree at 43% than to agree at 20% the City of Albuquerque is doing a good job of keeping young local talent from leaving the City. Twenty-eight percent of voters have neutral or mixed feelings.


With respect to the city’s handling of homelessness, the survey revealed 35% of those surveyed felt the city was doing “very poor.” Only 19% agreed that the city is doing a good job providing treatment for those with substance abuse problems and support for those with mental health issues.

On November 5, 2019, voters approved $14 million to build a 24-hour, 7 day a week homeless shelter. The City is also requesting $14 million from the New Mexico legislature for phase two of the project. The Mayor and the City Council have not decided on a location, but the wants to break ground on the centralized homeless shelter next winter.

On the issue of where to locate a new homeless shelter, Downtown had the most support, with 27%. Another 18% said it should go near the Veterans Affairs hospital, while 15% preferred a location near the University of New Mexico Hospital.



In “Citizen Satisfaction Survey” half of the respondents were asked if they supported or opposed building a new soccer stadium for New Mexico United games. A solid majority of 61% saying they favored it. The other half of the survey takers were asked if they supported or opposed building a new “multipurpose arena” for use by both New Mexico United and other events beyond soccer, and 67% said they supported it. Support for using public funds for a new stadium or multipurpose arena was 50% while 38% of respondent said they opposed using public funds for the facility or opposed the facility altogether.

Supporters of a stadium or multipurpose arena chose by an overwhelming margin the UNM sports complex area as the best site. Of five locations presented, 48% preferred building it around the UNM athletic venues, with Downtown and the West Side in a tie for distant second, each getting support from 12% of the respondents.



The Citizens Satisfaction Survey questionnaire consists of 48 questions and can be found on pages 87 to 103 of the final report. The research study was commissioned by the City of Albuquerque in order to “assess residents’ perceptions of the overall “quality of life” in Albuquerque, satisfaction with City services, and issues relating to crime, safety, and the economy.”

One major city service that affects overall quality of life that was totally ignored in the survey with not a single question asked about was the city’s road system and mass transportation. No questions were asked about bus services, roads, bridge and street maintenance and citizens’ problems and concerns commuting around the west-side, commuting back and forth from the west side to the east side of the city and all-around town. No questions were asked about such topics as:

1. The controversial ART Bus project and if it should be expanded as Mayor Keller is suggesting or if it should be abandoned with the platforms dedicated to another purpose

2. The city’s existing bus system and if it is meeting the city’s needs and what would make it more attractive for use

3. The need for more bridges across the Rio Grande or expansion of existing bridges

4. Albuquerque’s neighborhood and main street maintenance

5. The city’s traffic light control system and the increase use of round-abouts

6. Overall driving conditions and street safety

7. Neighborhood and main thorough fair street lighting


Matt Ross, a spokesman for Mayor Tim Keller, downplayed the survey results that citizens surveyed reported that they feel “somewhat” or “very” hopeful about the city’s direction and it dropping by 19% within a year from 68% to 49%. Ross noted that the survey was conducted in November when there was intense media coverage of the city breaking the all-time year record for murders in the city. According to Ross, there was “no question” that crime drove the responses in November and he said:

“Our general reaction to the poll is it’s a snapshot in time.”



In 2017, candidate Tim Keller campaigned to be elected mayor on the platform of implementing the U.S. Department of Justice-mandated reforms, increasing the size of the Albuquerque Police Department, returning to community-based policing and promising to bring down skyrocketing crime rates. On November 15, 2017, Democratic Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller was elected in a runoff securing a 62.2% vote over his Republican opponent Dan Lewis who secured 37.8% of the vote. Only 29% of registered voters actually voted for a total 97,419 votes cast in the Mayor’s race. Keller was sworn into office on December 1, 2017. The 2018 Citizen’s Satisfaction Survey was done less than one year into Mayor Tim Keller’s first term.

Mayor Tim Keller once sworn into office hired his own command staff, reorganized APD and he has been given everything he has wanted from city council for public safety, and then some. For two years, Keller tried to take credit for crime rates being on the decline. It turns out the numbers were inflated, with Keller blaming it on antiquated APD software. The city recorded 82 homicides in 2019, an all-time record.


According to Research & Polling President Brian Sanderoff, the 2019 results likely reflect the “honeymoon” period for Mayor Tim Keller is over and people ar very concerned about crime and the homeless. Sanderoff further said the “hopeful” results reflected in the 2018 were surprisingly high. The “hopeful” results were a likely carry over from Keller’s landslide win. The 2019 survey was taken about midway through Keller’s first term . The 2019 survey reflects a more even balance between those who are hopeful and those who are concerned. Sanderoff’s summation of the recent survey is that crime and homelessness clearly loom large in the minds of citizens and he put it this way: “Year after year, people get more frustrated if they perceive crime as not declining and so the cumulative effect will increase people’s frustration, and that will show up in the polling data.”

Any poll is always considered by the news media, public officials, elected officials and those running for office as a “snapshot in time” and to determine momentum of a candidate. Candidates for office and politicians know you need to examine similar polls over a period of time to get a clear picture. The problem is, the “Citizen Satisfaction Survey” was more than just a poll, but a detail survey of people’s attitudes.

It’s a bogus argument and wishful thinking by the Keller progressive loyalists if they think the survey was a “snapshot in time”. The truth is, if the survey was just a “snap shot in time” as Mayor’s spokesman Matt Ross said, and if you follow his logic, the snapshot got “blood red” as the homicide rate became worse in December with the year ending with the most homicides ever recorded in one year by the city.

The Citizen Satisfaction Survey was a survey that dealt with how citizens feel on a large number of major issues and not just the candidacy of a person in a single political race nor the job performance of Keller. It is possible that Keller still has a high percentage of people who feel he is doing a good job, but that job approval rating has probably gone down. Research and Polling does all the polling for the ABQ Journal and you can expect the Journal to do a poll on Mayor Keller’s and Governor Lujan Grisham’s approval ratings, assuming such a poll has not already been done.


Ever since Mayor Tim Keller assumed office on December 1, 2017, he has taken political showmanship to all new levels. Keller is known for his photo ops and press conferences, 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 reliving his high school glory days, and posting pictures, press conferences and videos on his FACEBOOK page.

Since being elected in November 2017, Mayor Tim Keller has implemented a public relations and marketing campaign to re brand the city image with his “One ABQ” slogan an using the slang nickname “BURQUE” for the city. Keller came up with a strained logo that rearranges the letters in the city’s name to reflect the slang name “BURQUE” in red letters with t-shirts and created a web page with slick videos promoting the city.

Since taking office, Keller has spent more than $312,000 dollars on his “One Albuquerque” positive image campaign and re branding the city as BURQUE. The City spent over $53,000 on the “One Albuquerque” letter sculpture that rearranges the letters in the city’s name to reflect the slang name “BURQUE. $54,000 was spent on a “One Burque” sculpture.

Last year’s Citizens Satisfaction survey asked residents their “overall feelings about the term BURQUE to describe the city of Albuquerque.” The results found city residents evenly divided as follows:

28% have an unfavorable opinion.

28% have a favorable opinion.

35% felt neutral about using it.

9% stated they did not know or would not say how they felt.


This year’s “Citizens Satisfaction Survey” revealed almost half of citizens at 49% say they felt either somewhat hopeful at 36% or very hopeful at 13% about the direction of the City. The percentage of residents who say they were hopeful about the direction of the City fell dramatically from 68% last year to 49% this year while concern for the city has risen from 29% to 47%. The Citizens Satisfaction Survey reflects that the city is a long way away from being the “ONE ALBUQUERQUE” Keller promotes.


Mayor Tim Keller made it known on election night November 5, 2019 in a radio interview he is seeking another 4-year term. About 4 months ago, a poll not released to the general public showed Keller at 62% approval rating, the same percentage he had when he was first elected. Keller was swept into office by a strong democratic party vote with a large base of support from the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.

With all the negative press on crime, the city’s high violent and murder rates, and the crime statistics fiasco, Keller’s popularity has likely dropped but no one knows for sure until a poll is actually taken. The constant mantra you hear from Keller supporters is that he “inherited a mess”, he has done a “good job” and needs more time. Keller loyalist quickly jump to his defense when anything remotely critical of his job performance is raised preferring to ignore his shortcomings.

No doubt Keller has upwards of a 95% name identification level within the city because of his never-ending public relations efforts. For that reason, Keller will have the tremendous advantage of incumbency and the almost daily press coverage that comes with it, a built-in campaign organization of city staff where many will likely take a leave of absence to help collect 3,000 qualifying signatures and to collect the $5.00 qualifying donations to qualify for $660,000 in public finance. Keller’s long time paid political consult who has been with Keller since he ran for State Auditor, now works for the city being paid $80,000 a year. One of Keller’s former campaign managers when he successfully ran for State Senate is a professional political consultant and headed up the measured finance committee that raised over $600,000 to spend to promote Keller, and the same can be expected in 2021.

Keller will in all likely again seek public finance in 2021 as he did in 2017 and say he is “walking the talk” opposing dark money and big donor money in politics by being a public financed candidate while at the same time giving a “wink of an eye” of encouragement to measured finance committees that will raise $1 million or more on his behalf. In his 2017 bid to become Mayor, Keller was the only candidate out of 8 that qualified for public finance and given a total of $506,254 in public finance and he collected $37,870 in “in kind” donations.

Notwithstanding being a public finance candidate, Keller had three (3) measured finance committees that either raised money directly to spend on his behalf or that indirectly spent money and supported him financially. ABQ Forward Together raised $663,000 for Keller, ABQFIREPAC, organized by the City’s local Fire Union raised $67,000 to help Kellerand Democrat City Council candidates. The measured finance committee ABQ Working Families also supported Tim Keller and raised $122,000.

Broken down, at least $1,169,254 minimum was spent on Tim Keller’s 2017 campaign for Mayor ($506,254 public finance money + $663,000 ABQ Forward = $1,169,254 total). Broken down further, the maximum of $1,358,254 was spent on Tim Keller’s campaign for Mayor ($506,254 public finance money + $663,000 ABQ Forward + $67,000 ABQFIREPAC + $122,000 ABQ Working Families = $1,358,254.)




A big wild card for the 2021 Mayor election and the municipal election is that it has been moved from the October ballot to the November ballot because of the new “local elections” law. The Mayor’s race will be on the same November ballot with all local elections as was the case last year. The voter turnout will be much higher as a consequence and progressive Democrats may not be as motivated to vote for Keller as they were in 2017 after 8 years of Republican leadership.

Two term Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzalez has made it know he is running for Mayor in 2021 against Keller. The second Gonzales said he would be running, Keller supporters went into overdrive and dismissed his candidacy pointing to the Keller’s 62% approval rating and saying the Sheriff will be a one issue candidate.

Sheriff Gonzalez is well liked, has won to terms as Sheriff, but will likely divide the Democrat vote that will allow others a shot at winning, much like what happened to Marty Chavez and Richard Romero with Richard Berry winning in 2009 on the first ballot. Another problem is the Sheriff will be viewed as a one issue candidate of law and order and his opposition to police lapel cameras will very problematic, especially when it comes to the Department of Justice reforms and the federal consent decree. Then again, a law and order candidate will appeal to an angry population upset with our high crime rates.


Notwithstanding, credibility and popularity are difficult to hold onto by any Mayor year after year, just ask former Mayors Ken Schultz, Jim Baca, Marty Chavez and Richard Berry, all who had tremendous popularity but ended their careers as Mayor with extremely low approval ratings. When it comes to all Albuquerque Mayors, they may win reelection but go onto having their political careers ended as was the case with both Marty Chavez and Richard Berry.

Just one major controversy can end the career of any Mayor, just ask David Rusk and his failure to cut weeds, Richard Berry with his ART Bus Project and the APD shooting of homeless camper James Boyd. Jim Baca and Ken Schultz did not make it into a runoff serving one term with each coming in 3rd for re-election. Ken Schultz years later has the dubious distinction of becoming a convicted federal felon for his role in the Metropolitan Courthouse scandal.

What is very troubling is that all the increases in APD budget, personnel and new programs are not having any effect on bringing down the violent crime and murder rates. The city is no longer safe on many levels in virtually all quadrants of the city, despite Chief Michael Geier saying “Generally, it’s a safe city”. It is no longer an issue of not having the money, personnel or resources, but of a failed personnel resource management issue.


Comparing all the 2018 to the 2019 “Citizen Satisfaction Survey” results , the biggest take away that can be made is that the people of Albuquerque are increasingly becoming restless as a result of the city’s high crime rates. After more than two years in office, they are expecting results from Mayor Tim Keller and many feel he is not delivering on his promises. The fact that Research and Polling, the most accurate polling company in New Mexico, did the survey explains the spin by the Keller Administration calling it a “snapshot in time”, which is what the politicians say when they are down in the polls.

The 2019 Citizens Satisfaction Survey is a major red flag relating to Keller’s job performance. If Keller continues to ignore the signs that his APD management team are not cutting it, Keller runs a significant risk of being just another one term Mayor. Even progressives want results and Keller is not delivering when it comes to reducing our high crime rates and the economy. Others will run when they see more blood in the water as Keller’s popularity declines. Never underestimate the power of a crisis mishandled to bring down a Mayor. The city’s high violent and murder rates are Keller’s Achilles Heel and saying he needs more time to fix things he inherited is not much of a campaign slogan.



The 105 page “Citizen Satisfaction Survey” contains an executive summary in 8 major categories:


Following are edited summaries:


“Overall, the vast majority (87%) of residents say they feel either very safe (57%) or somewhat safe (30%) when alone outside in their neighborhood during the day.
The majority (65%) also feel either very safe (28%) or somewhat safe (37%) when alone outside in their neighborhood at night (28% feel unsafe alone at night).

Those residing in the UNM/Southeast Heights are the least likely to feel very safe. Males and those residing in higher income households are more likely to feel very safe.
Approximately two-thirds (68%) of residents also say they feel either very safe (26%) or somewhat safe (42%) when attending public events in the City.

In comparison, 19% say they feel unsafe when attending public events in Albuquerque.

When asked to rate their feelings of personal safety in different areas of the City, the following results are found. The results show that different areas of Albuquerque are viewed very differently when it comes to perceived safety:

79% feel either very safe (37%) or somewhat safe (42%) in Uptown, compared to just 6% who feel unsafe.
73% feel either very safe (29%) or somewhat safe (44%) in Old Town compared to just 10% who feel unsafe.
70% feel either very safe (29%) or somewhat safe (41%) in the Cottonwood Mall area (just 5% feel unsafe).
67% feel either very safe (30%) or somewhat safe (37%) in City parks in your neighborhood, though 20% of residents feel either somewhat unsafe (11%) or very unsafe (9%)
64% feel either very safe (23%) or somewhat safe (41%) walking, hiking, or biking trails in the City. Eleven percent feel unsafe on these trails.
51% of residents report feeling either very safe (11%) or somewhat safe (40%) in the Nob Hill/University area, though 28% say they feel either somewhat unsafe (21%) or very unsafe (7%).
38% feel either very safe (6%) or somewhat safe (32%) Downtown. Forty-four percent of residents say they feel either very unsafe (17%) or somewhat unsafe (27%) when they are Downtown.
35% of residents say they feel either very safe (8%) or somewhat safe (27%) in the Coors Blvd. and I-40 area, though nearly two-fifths (38%) of residents feel unsafe in this area (12% have no opinion).

When residents who feel each of the different areas of the City are unsafe were asked (unaided) to give the reasons why, they are most apt to mention homelessness, drugs/drug use, and a high crime rate.”


“Residents were asked if they feel different types of crimes in Albuquerque are going up, going down, or not changing. Overall, 64% of residents believe violent crimes are going up and 62% feel that crimes involving guns are going up.

Just over half (53%) of the residents surveyed believe crimes against children are going up compared to 11% who feel these are going down and 26% who feel this is not changing.
Approximately half (51%) the survey respondents believe auto thefts are going up, while 17% say auto thefts are going down and 27% feel this is not changing.

The plurality of residents (43%) feel home burglaries are going up in Albuquerque, compared to 18% who say home burglaries are going down and 31% say this is not changing.”


“Homelessness, substance abuse, and mental health are major issues facing many cities throughout the nation with no easy solutions. Just 13% of residents give the City positive marks for addressing the homelessness issue. The majority of residents (59%) feel the City is doing a poor job of addressing homelessness, while 26% give the City a mixed review on how it’s handling the issue.

When given the choice of different locations where a new City homeless shelter could be built, 27% of the residents surveyed prefer that it be located Downtown, while 18% prefer it be located near the VA Hospital, 15% prefer the area near UNM Hospital, 11% prefer the Far Westside of the City, and 10% say they prefer Mesa Del Sol. Just 19% of residents agree the City of Albuquerque is doing a good job of providing substance abuse treatment programs for those addicted to drugs and alcohol. In comparison, 48% disagree the City is doing a good job of providing substance abuse programs, while 23% have neutral or mixed feelings.

Nineteen percent of residents also agree the City of Albuquerque is doing a good job of providing support for people with mental health issues, though 51% disagree. Although the City of Albuquerque is making considerable efforts to address these issues, many residents appear to be either unaware of what is being done, or do not believe the programs have been effective to date. All of these issues will take time and as the City continues to develop new programs and facilities to address these issues, public perceptions should change over time.”


“When it comes to the Albuquerque Police Department, half the residents (49%) believe APD is doing a good job addressing public safety issues and making quick responses to emergencies, while 22% have mixed feelings and 27% do not believe APD is doing a good job in this regard. Overall, these results are similar to those observed last year. Residents are somewhat polarized when it comes to how well APD is doing when it comes to interacting with people who have substance abuse and mental health issues.

While 35% believe APD is doing a good job in their interaction with those who have substance abuse or mental health issues, 28% disagree, and another 28% have a neutral/mixed opinion. The survey results also show that 40% of City residents say the Albuquerque Police Department is doing a good job working with the U.S. Department of Justice to implement new policies and reforms designed to reduce the use of force and encourage policing that ensures residents’ constitutional rights. Approximately one-in-five residents (21%) rate APD poorly for implementing the new policies and reforms, while 27% have neutral/mixed feelings.”


Residents continue to view Albuquerque Fire Rescue highly as 84% of residents agree the Department is doing a good job responding to emergency medical services needs and making quick responses to medical emergencies, with 53% who strongly agree and just 3% who disagree. The majority of residents (55%) also agree that Albuquerque Fire Rescue is doing a good job interacting with people who have substance abuse and mental health issues, compared to 11% who disagree. It is interesting that 55% of residents feel Albuquerque Fire Rescue is doing a good job interacting with people who have substance abuse and mental health issues compared to 35% who feel APD is doing a good job interacting with this population.


“Residents were read various statements relating to the City of Albuquerque and the economy, and for each one, asked to rate how strongly they either agree or disagree using a 5-point scale where 5 is strongly agree and 1 is strongly disagree.

42% agree the City of Albuquerque is doing a good job of attracting out-of-state companies to open in the city, though 25% disagree and 27% have neutral or mixed feelings.

31% agree the City of Albuquerque is doing a good job of helping local businesses and entrepreneurs create jobs, though 26% disagree and 33% have neutral/mixed feelings.

20% agree the City of Albuquerque is doing a good job of keeping young local talent from leaving the city, compared to 43% who disagree (28% have neutral/mixed feelings) While the City has made strides in encouraging new businesses and economic development, the survey results show that many residents either believe more still needs to be done, or perhaps are not aware of what is being done to encourage more economic development.”


“There is a perceived need for more before school, after school and summer programs for kids, as nearly three-in-four residents (74%) agree that more of these programs are needed, with 54% who strongly agree. Just 7% of residents do not agree that Albuquerque needs more before and after school programs and summer programs. Nearly nine-in-ten (84%) parents with children under the age of 18 feel more of these programs are needed.

Although there is a perceived need for more youth programs, there also appears to be a lack of knowledge about the programs that currently exist. Just two-fifths of the residents surveyed say they are aware the City offers summer and before and after school programs for kids. Among parents with children under 18 years of age, 64% say they are aware of these City programs for kids. Thirty-six percent of the parents with children under the age of 18 say they have kids who participate in the City summer and before and after school programs. Hispanic parents (45%) are much more likely than Anglo parents (26%) to say they have children who participate in the programs.”


“There appears to be strong public support for building a new multipurpose arena that could house soccer games for New Mexico United, or a standalone soccer stadium. Two-thirds of survey respondents say they support building a new multi-purpose arena that could be used for New Mexico United soccer games and other events, compared to 24% who are opposed. Furthermore, 61% of respondents say they support a new standalone soccer stadium for New Mexico United, compared to 29% who are opposed.

Residents who support either the multipurpose arena or standalone soccer stadium were given different options where the facility could be located and asked which location they would prefer. Nearly half (48%) say the stadium/multi-purpose arena should be located near the UNM football stadium, basketball stadium, and Isotopes Park.

In comparison, just 12% believe the facility should be located downtown and another 12% feel it should be located on the Westside of Albuquerque. Overall, half of the residents surveyed say they support using public funding to build either the soccer stadium or multipurpose arena that could be used for soccer games. However, 38% are either opposed to using public funds for the facility, or are opposed to building a facility altogether, while 7% say it depends.

In a separate question, residents were informed the City of Albuquerque is considering either building a new performing arts center or renovating existing facilities such as the KIVA Auditorium to bring in Broadway shows, popular musicians, and other national touring acts and further revitalize Downtown. They were then asked, if they would prefer that the City build a new performing arts center or renovate an existing facility, assuming the costs would be approximately the same. The majority of residents (55%) say they would prefer renovating an existing facility, while 30% would prefer building a new performing arts center.”

Jason Barker Guest Column: New Mexico’s Neglected Medical Cannabis Laws In 2019 Prevents Governor’s 2020 Legalization Plan

Jason Barker is an advocate for Safe Access New Mexico, an Affiliate of Americans For Safe Access. He is also a freelance writer for Cannabis News Journal and he is a medical cannabis patient in New Mexico. Mr. Baker’s work has focused solely on medical cannabis issues, decriminalization of cannabis, hemp policy and does not work on legalization of cannabis for non-medical purposes or other illicit drug issues. Mr. Barker is not paid or employed in the medical cannabis industry nor does he have any financial interest in the medical cannabis industry or in a future recreational cannabis industry. Mr. Baker lives in Albuquerque with his dog, Tecumseh, who has a very severe case of canine epilepsy.

DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed in this guest opinion column written by Jason Barker are those of Mr. Barker and do not necessarily reflect those of the www.petedinelli.com blog. Further, Mr. Baker has paid no consideration for its publication and has given his consent to publication. www.PeteDinelli.com has not been paid any compensation to publish the guest column.

Following is the guest column written by Mr. Baker was submitted to this blog for publication:

“This week, New Mexico’s citizen legislature returns to the Roundhouse in Santa Fe where all 112 legislators are gearing up for what is expected to be a fast and furious legislative session. The entire Legislature is also up for election later this year in November.

The Second Session of the 54th Legislature is only a 30 day session, limited to budgetary matters and those items placed on the governor’s agenda, or “call”, the Session will conclude on February 20th 2020 at noon. And for the second year in a row, the robust oil production in southeastern New Mexico is leaving the state flush with additional new budget money to the tune of $797 million.”


The last two weeks we have all seen the talk on the news and in the newspapers about the Governor’s agenda for the legislature with recreational cannabis legalization dominating those priorities in the news. Since legislators in the Roundhouse have $797 million coming in for the new budget year, there is absolutely no need to fast track recreational cannabis legalization for New Mexico in 2020 during a limited 30-day session.

Those are the two obvious reasons why legalization is not a legislative necessity in 2020 nor is New Mexico ready for legalization. The Governor has all that new money coming in and it is such a limited 30-day session. Also remember, last year the state had $1.2 billion come in from the oil boom and then in early December 2019, KOB 4 news reported that nearly $1 billion worth of capital outlay grant money was never allocated by lawmakers due to “lack of communication.”


“With all that money coming in over those two years, the Governor has missed a huge opportunity and a chance to fix the biggest problem in the state: A dysfunctional “citizen legislature” that is more properly termed a “volunteer legislature” because our legislators are unpaid and they all must have outside jobs, businesses or other sources of income.

This current structure of our citizen legislature is holding New Mexico back, being the last state without a professional hybrid style legislature is holding New Mexico back from true success. It takes New Mexico’s legislature 2 ½ years to equal the same legislative work done in just one year in other state legislatures, like Colorado’s.

[It’s] … is also worth pointing out that none of the 11 current states with legal recreational cannabis did so with a legislature structured like New Mexico’s “volunteer legislature”. This makes the ethics of the legislative process much more important as our state tackles the legalization debate because our legislators are unpaid and they all must have outside jobs, businesses or other sources of income.”


“The biggest problem with the Governor’s push for recreational cannabis legalization in 2020 is that doing so would defy Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s very own campaign promise made about legalization.

For starters, … Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham wants the medical marijuana program protected in any legislation legalizing a commercial marijuana industry.”

See: ‘Legal pot or not? A New Mexico debate’ | ABQ Journal 2019 |


Unfortunately, 2019 has been a very rough year for the state medical cannabis program participants. The state has three medical cannabis laws on the books, all three have multiple violations currently happening, and all of these violations are being ignored by the State of New Mexico. Even more disappointing was how we saw more medical cannabis program participants get arrested in 2019 for doing what the law allows, than the last four years of Governor Martinez’s administration combined.

The first one of these violations stems from last year’s legislative session when lawmakers passed SB-204, the Medical Cannabis in Schools bill and the Governor signed it into law. The policy guidance for the medical cannabis in schools law, by the Public Education Department, states that the Department of Health is not going to allow school personnel to administer medical cannabis to patients in the state’s medical cannabis program. This policy guidance from the PED is changing the law and the PED has ignored the work of the state’s legislature.

The PED did this by allowing APS, Rio Rancho, and schools across the state to continue to discipline students and their families by not allowing for the “reasonable accommodation” part of the new law, forcing parents or caregivers to come to the child’s school to give the medicine.

The “medical cannabis in school’s law” is written very clearly and the Public Education Department does not have the ability to change how the law was written or the intent of how the law was written. And that’s exactly what has happened.

The Governor and her office have completely ignored this matter, as the education clause of the New Mexico Constitution guarantees a “uniform system of free public schools sufficient for the education of, and open to, all the children of school age…” And they are ignoring this while the Yazzie-Martinez lawsuit is active, that case addresses the Public Education Departments disparities across the State of New Mexico. And the PED’s failure to follow the “medical cannabis in schools law” just added to that disparities problem.

Amending and fixing the medical cannabis in school law should be a 2020 legislative priority before recreational cannabis legalization, according to that promise made by the Governor. I have even taken the liberty of writing an amended SB-204 mock bill, providing it to last year’s bill sponsors. Hopefully the Governor allows them to do their duty as elected officials.”


“Today the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program has over 80,257 registered participants with almost 300 of those participants being pediatric medical cannabis patients.

The Dept. of Health has issued 35 licenses for the production of medical cannabis but currently there are only 34 active licenses and those 34 producers operate over 85 dispensaries across New Mexico. One producer had their license taken away by the Department of Health and nothing has been done to license a new program producer.

These 34 medical cannabis producers are now growing 39,400 cannabis plants in a 3-5-month cycle which only provides ½ of a medical cannabis plant worth of medicine per patient. And this is another violation of the law that is occurring, the state has a serious issue with adequate supply for the medical cannabis program. “Adequate Supply” is a program legal requirement in the original medical cannabis program law, Lynn And Erin Compassionate Use Act, and that legal requirement is not being followed.

The Governor also promised to increase the program’s adequate supply for the current producers and to license new ones and that did not happen in 2019.

New Mexico hasn’t ever done any research into medical cannabis production and dosage for the medical cannabis program for establishing a cannabis plant count to provide “Adequate Supply”, and there is even an excellent medical cannabis research program at UNM that could do this for the state.

It makes complete sense for the state of New Mexico to know how much cannabis they will need to grow for the medical cannabis program before trying to legalize recreational cannabis. Right now, the state has no idea.

Another violation of the law happened in December 2019 when the Department of Health, the Medical Cannabis Program Office and the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board was unable to fulfill their duties and responsibilities for the program law. The advisory board shall convene at least twice per year and they did not have legal quorum for the December 2nd meeting.

New Mexico needs to fix the medical cannabis program before passing a recreational cannabis law, period.”


“The Governor’s Legalization Work Group recommends adopting a totally new model for a joint medical-adult use program in New Mexico and that is very serious fatal flaw that will devastate New Mexico’s medical cannabis program. Using the state’s medical cannabis program for a recreational cannabis law is ethically wrong to be doing. And there is a very good reason why no other state has that model, as it will ruin any medical cannabis program in any state because it is a system of regulation being built on the backs of current medical cannabis laws.

Cannabis policy experts from Americans For Safe Access have noted that recreational cannabis use and medical cannabis use only have the criminal justice system in common. A joint medical-adult use program will result in the destruction of the medical cannabis program in our state because its regulations and supply chain are not designed for a joint program.

Representative Javier Martinez told NM Political Report that his intention is to “ensure social equity and that cannabis patients have enough affordable medicine.”
The timeline for Social Equity in the Cannabis Regulation Act does not happen until 2022, putting those candidates at a severe disadvantage trying to enter the new industry. Social Equity is only a carrot on a stick in this bill.

Nor does the Cannabis Regulation Act provide the medical cannabis program with “adequate supply” of medical cannabis products for patients, the bill actually allows the Recreational Consumer to have more possession rights and more buying power over the medical cannabis community.

It would be a dishonest statement for any elected official or anyone for that matter to claim this bill “protects the medical cannabis program” because of how the Cannabis Regulation Act changes “adequate supply” and that prevents patients from having the uninterrupted availability of cannabis for a period of three months and that is derived solely from an intrastate source.

Preventing that also defies the purpose of the state’s medical cannabis program law; The purpose of the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act is to allow the beneficial use of medical cannabis in a regulated system for alleviating symptoms caused by debilitating medical conditions and their medical treatments.

Since the medical cannabis program has over 80,257 registered participants, the 34 licensed producers are only growing those 39,400 cannabis plants which currently only provides ½ (half) of a medical cannabis plant worth of medicine per patient. The Cannabis Regulation Act wants allow anyone over 21 years old to access that already very limited supply.

That’s a recipe for disaster and lawmakers are blatantly ignoring that fact to push legalization in 2020.

Another way to look at this adequate supply issue would be in terms of chile, would the chile farmers in our state be able to meet demand for everyone if they were all only limited to growing 40,000 chile plants?”


“The Cannabis Regulation Act needs to be amended with its own set of producers licensed separately for growing cannabis and its own separate plant count and its own separate dispensary system.

If lawmakers in New Mexico are going to take on the Failed War on Drugs in 2020, then please finish what you started with Medical Cannabis in 1978.

New Mexico’s medical cannabis history started in 1978. After public hearings the legislature enacted H.B. 329, the nation’s first law recognizing the medical value of cannabis. Later renamed The Lynn Pierson Marijuana & Research Act set forth a program that had over 250 New Mexicans receiving medical cannabis.

Also consider this: In other states with medical cannabis programs, after recreational cannabis legalization, ALL of those state medical cannabis programs have suffered … legalization has not benefited any states medical cannabis program to date. Even our neighbor to the north, in Colorado’s medical cannabis program has seen over a 19% decline in participation in recent years. And in Illinois in 2020, after only two weeks of recreational cannabis sales, medical cannabis patients started facing shortages for their medicine that could last more than six months.”


“Lawmakers can defer recreational cannabis to a special session in the fall of 2020, if the proponents are right about the financial gains for the state then recreational cannabis sales will easily cover the state’s cost at doing the special session for legalization.

As a medical cannabis patient, and advocate, I do not support the recreational legalization bill state legislators and Drug Policy Alliance have planned for the 2020 legislative session, nor does Safe Access New Mexico, as it will cause great harm to the current medical cannabis program. And we will not support that type of policy until the discrimination against children and others in the Medical Cannabis Program has ended and legislation is passed into law Repairing and Expanding the current neglected medical cannabis program laws.

New Mexico needs to fix the medical cannabis program before passing a recreational cannabis law, period.”


Jason Barker




‘Dad pleads for medical cannabis’ | Friday, November 22nd, 2019 | ABQ Journal

“New Mexico as it stands just does not have the logistics for recreation, said Chad Lozano, secretary of the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Patients Advocate Alliance.”
‘Medical cannabis experts caution against New Mexico’s push to legalize recreationally’ | ABC 7 KVIA |

‘Medical marijuana users struggle to keep up with costs’ | Nov. 2019 | ABQ Journal |


‘Mixed responses to suggestions from marijuana legalization work group’ | NM Political Report |



Recreational Cannabis Bill Introduced; Endorsed By Governor MLG; Commentary By John Strong: Bill Does Not Address One Very Big Problem

NM Legislature Should Avoid Traditional Licensing Of Recreational Cannabis Based On Population; “Let Supply And Demand” Market Forces Decide

“Recreational Pot” Task Force Report Long On Recommendations, Short On Legislation; Legalizing Recreational Pot Far From Certain