93% Increase In APD 911 Response Times Since 2011; 48 Minutes Average Response Time To Arrive; Increase Despite New Priority Call System

A February 20th KOAT TV Target 7 investigation into the Albuquerque Police Department’s (APD’s) response times revealed an alarming level of time time it takes APD to respond to 911 emergency calls. The time it takes for APD to respond to priority 1 calls in all likely has a major impact on increasing physical injury. It was reported that it takes APD 23 minutes longer to get to an emergency call than it did 8 years ago. There has been an astonishing 93% increase since 2011 with response times getting worse every year since.

In 2011, the average response time to all calls, whether it was a life or death emergency or a minor traffic crash was 25 minutes. In 2019, that time period spiked to 48 minutes in the average response time.

https://www.koat.com/article/apd-response-times-continue-to-climb/31028667

UNDERLYING CAUSE OF DELAYS

The main reason for the dramatic increase in response times is a reduction in the number of sworn police with a corresponding increase in calls for service and 911 emergency calls. Not at all surprising is that when you examine APD’s manpower levels over the past nine years, response times were quicker when there were more sworn police assigned to the field services.

On December 1, 2009, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) was staffed at 1,100 police officers. At the time, APD was the best trained, best funded, best equipped and best staffed in the history of the police department. The city’s overall crime rates were significantly lower than they are today.

For the full 8 years from December 1, 2009 to December 1, 2017, APD spiraled down wards as a result of poor management, budget cuts, police salary cuts and an investigation by the Department of Justice (DOJ) resulting in a finding of a “culture of aggression” within the department. The DOJ investigation resulted in a federal lawsuit and a consent decree mandating major reforms to APD and included the appointment of a federal monitor. When Mayor Keller took office on December 1, 2017, APD had plunged to approximately 870 full time police officers and the numbers went down even further to 830 at one time.

Early 2011, APD was staffed with nearly 1,100 sworn police cops. In 2011, it took an average of 25 minutes for an officer to get to respond to a 911 emergency call. It was in 2016 that APD’s manpower dropped. Currently, APD has about 950 officers.

On August 1, 2019, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) issued what it entitled “Staffing Snapshot” providing a report on the number of sworn police officers APD has and where they have been assigned. According to the report, APD as of August 1, 2019 had a total of 972 sworn officers with 600 officers in the field patrolling 6 area commands and neighborhoods. The snapshot does not account for time delays from Human Resources and Payroll that have effective dates and retirements into the future.

https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/apd-staffing-numbers-how-many-officers-are-in-your-neighborhood-/5449523/?cat=500

As of January 1, 2020, according to pay stubs on file with the city, APD has 950 sworn police officers. The loss of 22 sworn police can be attributed to retirements and the Police Academy not keeping up with replacing officers. There is an APD Academy Class in session that should result in 35 to 40 more new officers added to the force in the Spring.

Although last year APD hired 117 sworn police, including laterals, not all of those officers are patrolling the streets with upwards of 60 sworn police assigned to the compliance bureau of APD for the Department of Justice Court Approved Settlement Agreement CASA) Order Consent decree.

APD ADDS NEW PRIORITY CALL CATEGORIES AS ATTEMPT TO REDUCE RESPONSE TIME

The Albuquerque Emergency Communications Center has been trying to reduce response times for several years. In March, 2019 it was reported that 911 changed what is called the “priority system.”

Before when a call would come in, it was given one of three priorities based on it’s level of importance. With so few priorities, however, calls like someone locking a dog in a car was given the top priority. That was the same importance as if someone with a gun was robbing someone.

On March 6, 2019, APD announced that the way it was dispatching police officers to 911 calls was changed. 911 calls expanded priority the list to include a total of five categories a opposed to 3.

Call priorities were generally on a scale of 1 to 3 with 1 being the highest or most important type of call.

For decades APD had a three priority 911 dispatch system defining the calls as follows:

A PRIORITY 1 call is a felony that is in progress or there is an immediate threat to life or property.

A PRIORITY 2 call is where there is no immediate threat to life of property. Misdemeanor crimes in progress are priority 2 calls.

A PRIORITY 3 call is any call in which a crime has already occurred with no suspects at or near the scene.

Routine events and calls where there are no threat to life or property are priority 3 calls.

http://isr.unm.edu/reports/2009/analyzing-calls-for-service-to-the-albuquerque-police-department..pdf

In 2018, Albuquerque Police Department (APD) police officers were dispatched to 476,726 calls for service. The 2018-2019 City general fund performance measures contained in the 2018-2019 fund budget, reflects significantly more calls for service with the projected number of calls for service reported as 576,480, and the actual number being 580,238.

Under the new system, a Priority 1 call is “any immediate life-threatening situation with great possibility of death or life-threatening injury or any confrontation between people which could threaten the life or safety of any person where weapons are involved.” A major goal of the new system was to determine what calls do and do not require a police officer.

A Priority 5 call is a where a crime has already occurred and there “is no suspect at or near the scene and no threat of personal injury, loss of life or property.”

In announcing the change in policy, APD Public Information Officer Gilbert Gallegos had this to say:

“What we want to do is get officers to the scene of a call as quickly as possible for the most urgent calls, and by that I mean calls where there is a life-threatening situation. … Basically we’re adapting to the situation where we’re trying to make the system much more efficient and much more effective “.

https://www.krqe.com/news/politics-government/city-changes-the-way-officers-are-dispatched-to-calls/1829973373

APD stresses every call is different and depending on the circumstances of that call the level of priority can always change. The single most compelling reason for the change is that it was taking way too long to dispatch police officers after a call is received. Police are now being dispatched to calls where an officer is not always needed freeing up resources.

Under the new 5 call policy, police officers only run code lights and sirens to life-threatening situations like a shooting, stabbing, armed robbery, or a crime where a weapon is involved. Under the system, the public are asked to go to the telephone reporting unit to make a report and APD will not dispatch officers unless it meets some other criteria elevating the call. For the lower priority calls where an officer isn’t needed, callers have three ways to file a report: online, over the phone, or at any police substation.

APD PERFORMANCE MEASURES REPORTED IN 2019-2020 GENERAL FUND BUDGET

Whenever response time for 911 of calls is discussed, it must be viewed in the context of how those calls are broken down with respect to types of crime, arrests, number of police officers. The City budget is a “performance based” budget where yearly, the various departments must submit statistics reflecting job performance to justify the individual department budgets.

According to the 2019-2020 approved budget, in the last fiscal year APD responded to the following:

Number of calls for service: 580,238
Average response time for Priority 1 calls (immediate threat to life or great bodily harm): 12:26 minutes, (NOTE: The National standard 9 minutes.)
Number of felony arrests: 9,592
Number of misdemeanor arrests: 18,442
Number of DWI arrests: 1,403
Number of domestic violence arrests: 2,356

You can review the performance measures of APD on page 211 of the budget here:

http://documents.cabq.gov/budget/fy-19-approved-budget.pdf

REAL NUMBERS OF SWORN OFFICERS RESPONDING TO CALL

APD has an approved general fund budget for fiscal year 2019-2020 of $188.9 million dollars, which represents an increase of 10.7% or $18.3 million above last year’s budget. According to the approved budget, APD has 1,560 approved full-time positions with 1,040 sworn police budgeted positions and 520 budgeted civilian positions. The links to city hall budgets are here:

http://documents.cabq.gov/budget/fy-19-approved-budget.pdf (Page 209)

https://www.cabq.gov/dfa/budget/annual-budget

The Albuquerque Police Department (APD ) has five major bureaus:

1. The Field Services Bureau
2. Investigative Bureau
3. The Compliance Bureau
4. The Administrative support Bureau
5. The Support Services Bureau

Each bureau has a Deputy Chief appointed by the APD Chief of Police.

APD divides the city into six geographical areas called “area commands.” Each area command is managed by an APD Commander (formerly called Captains) and staffed with between 82 and 119 officers, depending on size of the area command and level of calls for service. All officers are dispatched through the police communications operators by calling (505) 242-cops for non-emergency calls or 911 in an emergency.
APD also has 3 divisions that are separate from the other divisions and they are:

1. The Bike Patrol
2. Operations Review
3. Others

https://www.cabq.gov/police/contact-the-police/area-commands

UPDATED STAFFING REPORT

On August 1, 2019, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) issued what it entitled “Staffing Snapshot” providing a report on the number of sworn police officers APD now has and where they have been assigned. According to the report, APD as of August 1, 2019 a total of 972 sworn officers with 600 officers in the field patrolling 6 area commands and neighborhoods. The snapshot does not account for time delays from Human Resources and Payroll that have effective dates into the future.

https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/apd-staffing-numbers-how-many-officers-are-in-your-neighborhood-/5449523/?cat=500

It is the field services bureau that forms the front line of sworn officers that repond to emergency calls for service. Following is the complete breakdown of sworn police assignments:

FIELD SERVICES BUREAU — TOTAL STAFFING: 600 (Out of 970)

The field service bureau’s primary function is to provide uniformed police officers throughout the city and at the six police substations and area commands. Officers assigned to field services handle calls for service and patrol the area commands in 3 separate shifts. These are the sworn police in uniform that are on the front line of law enforcement dealing with hundreds of thousands of calls for service a year. This is where the “rubber hits the road” when it comes to keeping neighborhoods safe and community-based policing.

The number of sworn officers assigned to each area command is somewhat fluid and based on the number of calls for service in the area command. Area commands with higher crime rates have always had far more officers assigned than those that have lower crime rates.

One Deputy Police Chief is appointed to oversee and manage the Field Services Bureau.

Following is a breakdown of sworn police assigned to each one of the area commands:

SOUTHWEST AREA COMMAND

The Southwest Area Command is bordered by Interstate 40 the north, the Rio Grande to the east, the South Valley to the south, and Albuquerque city limits to the west. Following is the staffing reported:

58 Patrol Officers, 1 Commander, 3 Lieutenants, 7 Sergeants

VALLEY AREA COMMAND

The Valley Area Command is bordered by the Albuquerque city limits to the north and south, Interstate 25 to the east, and the Rio Grande, Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, and the North Valley to the west. This Area Command has an extensive history of having the second highest crime rates in the City. Following is the staffing reported:

67 Patrol Officers , 1 Commander, 3 Lieutenants, 6 Sergeants, 2 School Resource Officers

SOUTHEAST AREA COMMAND

The Southeast Area Command is bordered by Interstate 40 to the north, Eubank Boulevard to the east, Kirtland Air Force Base and Albuquerque city limits to the south, and Interstate 25 to the west. This Area Command has an extensive history of having the highest crime rates in the city. Following is the staffing reported:
89 Patrol Officers, 4 Lieutenants, 9 Sergeants, 2 School Resource Officers

NORTHEAST AREA COMMAND

The Northeast Area Command is bordered by Albuquerque city limits to the north, Eubank Boulevard to the east, Interstate 40 to the south, and Interstate 25 to the west. This Area Command has a more recent history of increasing crime rates in the city, especially residential break-ins and robberies. Following is the staffing reported:
78 Patrol Officers, 1 Commander, 3 Lieutenants, 8 Sergeants, 2 School Resource Officers

FOOTHILLS AREA COMMAND

The Foothills Area Command is bordered by San Antonio NE to the north, the Sandia Foothills to the east, Kirtland Air Force Base to the south, and Eubank Boulevard to the west. This Command Area has some of the lowest crime rates in the City. Following is the staffing reported:
57 Patrol Officers, 1 Commander, 2 Lieutenants, 8 Sergeants, 3 School Resource Officers

Northwest Area Command

The Northwest Area Command is bordered by Albuquerque city limits to the west and north, the west bank of the Rio Grande to the east, and Interstate 40 to the south. This Command Area has some of the lowest crime rates in the City. Following is the staffing reported:

59 Patrol Officers, 1 Commander, 3 Lieutenants, 7 Sergeants, 1 School Resource Officers

INVESTIGATIVE BUREAU – TOTAL STAFFING: 173

The Investigative Bureau consists of Criminal Investigations Division, the Special Investigations Division, Scientific Evidence Division and the Real Time Crime Center. This bureau deals primarily with the completion of felony investigations and prepares the cases, including evidence gathering and processing scientific evidence such as DNA, blood and fingerprints, for submission to prosecuting agencies, primarily the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office. Units in the bureau include homicide and auto theft. Following is the staffing reported:

142 Detectives, 1 Deputy Chief, 3 Commanders, 6 Lieutenants, 10 Sergeants

COMPLIANCE BUREAU – TOTAL STAFFING: 61

The 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 this 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 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.

Following is the staffing reported:

40 Detectives, 1 Deputy Chief, 3 Commanders, 1 Deputy Commander, 6 Lieutenants, 10 Sergeants

SUPPORT SERVICES BUREAU – TOTAL STAFFING: 116

The Support Services Bureau is comprised by the Homeland Security and Special Events Division, the Metro Traffic Division, the Records Division, the APD Police Academy, and the Public Safety Districts such as the Downtown Public Safety Division. Following is the staffing reported:

68 Officers, 1 Deputy Chief, 2 Commanders, 8 Lieutenants, 20 Sergeants, 6 Cadets/Pre-hires

ADMINISTRATIVE SUPPORT BUREAU – TOTAL STAFFING: 43

This bureau provides clerical, secretarial, administrative, budgetary preparation and grant application support to the entire APD Department. Following is the staffing reported:
34 Officers, 1 Deputy Chief, 1 Commander, 2 Lieutenants, 4 Sergeants

SPECIAL OPERATIONS AND TACTICAL UNIT – TOTAL STAFFING: 30

This unit consists of the Special Weapons and Tactics Unit (SWAT). SWAT is trained to deal with situations of unusual danger, especially when requiring aggressive tactics or enhanced firepower, as in rescuing hostages, thwarting terrorist attacks or assassinations, and subduing heavily armed suspects. Following is the staffing reported:

24 Officers, 1 Commander, 2 Lieutenants, 3 Sergeants

BIKE PATROL- TOTAL STAFFING: 16

The bike patrol is what the name implies: Uniformed police ride on bikes an patrol the areas assigned to show a police presence such as in the Downtown Central Area, the City Plaza and Nob Hill. A total of 16 officers are assigned to the Bike Patrol.

OPERATIONS REVIEW

Police operations is generally defined as standard operating procedures, review of job duties, responsibilities, and activities that law enforcement agents complete in the field. 7 Officers, 4 Lieutenants and 5 Sergeants are reported as staffing Operations Review.

OTHER SWORN POLICE: TOTAL STAFFING 51

There are 41 APD recruits, laterals and sergeants assigned to on-the-job training.

10 sworn APD are assigned to etro Court officers to provide security to the Metropolitan Court and Mayor’s security detail that provides protection to the Mayor and security to the Mayor’s Office.

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

It’s no wonder that with only 600 out of 980 sworn police in field services handling call for service that response times are dangerously high. The high response times by APD to Priority 1 calls for service are unacceptable on so many levels and pose a clear threat to the city’s public safety. Every year from January 8, 2010 to mid-2015, response times for Priority 1 by APD have risen.

https://www.abqjournal.com/608132/calling-911-expect-longer-wait-for-an-apd-officer.html

Midway through 2015, APD response time to “Priority 1” calls, which included shootings, robberies, finding dead bodies and car wrecks with injuries, was 11 minutes and 12 seconds. In fiscal year 2016, APD actual response time to “Priority 1” calls was 11 minutes and 35 seconds. In fiscal year 2017, APD actual response time to “Priority 1” calls was 12 minutes and 16 seconds. In 2019, that time period spiked to 48 minutes as the average response time.

There is no doubt rising response times over the years by APD was a side effect of the dwindling police force that went from 1,100 police officers in 2010 to 853 sworn police in 2017, the lowest number of sworn police officers since 2001. Aggravating the increase in response time to 911 Priority 1 calls was the increase in the overall number of calls for service. The dramatic increase in the city’s overall crime rates, violent crime rates and the city’s population also increased response times beyond the national average of 10 minutes.

The Keller administration is spending $88 million dollars, over a four-year period, with 32 million dollars of recurring expenditures to hire 350 officers and expand APD from 878 sworn police officers to 1,200 officers in order to return to community-based policing. The Keller Admiration also negotiated with the police union significant APD pay raises and bonuses and an aggressive hiring and recruitment program offering incentives to join or return to APD.

When it comes to violent crimes such as aggravated domestic violence cases, rapes, murders and armed robberies, seconds and minutes can make a difference between life and death of a person. City officials project that by the summer of 2020, APD will employ a total of 980 sworn police. With the establishment of new categories priority call and the addition of more police the APDs response time should have a dramatic decline, but it has not.

With more police officers and the change in Priority 1 categories, APD should be able to better dispatch and save resources, yet overall response times continue to climb to dangerous levels.

Erika Wilson, the 911 Director had this to say:

“I think APD is doing the best it can with the resources it has.”

The truth is, that is a very weak excuse by any one’s standard as is 48-minute average response time being inexcusable.

Currently, there are 61 sworn police assigned to the compliance bureaus, which includes APD Internal Affairs. There are 40 detectives involved with the Department of Justice reform enforcement. Those 40 officers would be better utilized in the field services patrolling the streets and bringing response times down to more respectable levels.

People in Albuquerque will never genuinely feel safe or have confidence in APD as long as they know when they make a 911 call for help, it may take upwards of 48 minutes before you see a uniform, if not longer, or perhaps not at all.

Mayor Keller Needs To Knock It Off Fundraising For His Charitable Foundation; ABQ Journal Weighs In; Inspector General Needs To Review

Over a year ago on January 7, 2019, Mayor Tim Keller announced the creation of the One Albuquerque Foundation. It’s a foundation formed by the city to collect donations from the general public to support city initiatives and projects. According to the city’s website page:

“… the endowment Fund raises funds in support of and to supplement measurable city priorities, including the housing voucher program for people experiencing homelessness, recruiting and retaining public safety officers, expanding opportunities for young people in Albuquerque, and equipping our workforce with the skills they need to succeed. Additional funding for these priorities will accelerate progress and help scale significant investments the City is already making go much farther, much faster.”

The web page described the fund as akin to the Mayor’s Charity Ball which raised money to be distributed to charitable efforts. It really is not, because with the Mayor’s Charity ball, the money raised was given to charitable causes, while the One Albuquerque Fund collects donations for the city and gives it to city priorities and projects, not charitable organizations or causes.

ONE ALBUQUERQUE FOUNDATION IS A 509(A)(3) SUPPORTING ORGANIZATION

On September 23, 2019, city officials estimated that the One Albuquerque Foundation could bring in as much as $400,000 annually. At the time, the city said it intended to apply donations to first responder recruitment, homelessness reduction efforts, youth programming and workforce development. Mayor Keller for his part said of the One Albuquerque Foundation:

“Every day, people in Albuquerque ask how they can step up and be part of addressing our city’s greatest challenges.”

According to news reports, the One Albuquerque Foundation is a 509(a)(3) supporting organization under the Internal Revenue (IRS) Code. Internal Revenue Service regulations state:

“A supporting organization is a charity that carries out its exempt purposes by supporting other exempt organizations, usually other public charities. … This classification is important because it is one means by which a charity can avoid classification as a private foundation, a status that is subject to a more restrictive regulatory regime.”

The One Albuquerque Foundation has no designated staff but it does have a board of directors. The board president is Charles Ashley III. A contract for fundraising has been negotiated by the board and the board makes necessary staffing decisions according to city spokeswoman Jessie Damazyn.

The city says the foundation complies with the Inspection of Public Records Act (IPRA), New Mexico’s sunshine law. Some local foundations that exist solely to support public entities do not adhered to IPRA. The University of New Mexico Foundation is the best example. According to city spokeswoman Jessie Damazyn, the foundation “will comply with IPRA at the direction of Mayor Keller.”

https://www.krqe.com/news/albuquerque-metro/one-albuquerque-fund-raises-17000-to-help-the-homeless/

https://www.abqjournal.com/1369627/donations-support-police-retention-recruitment.html

DONATIONS ANNOUNCED

On January 6, 2020, a year from the date it was created, Mayor Tim Keller held a press conference at a Downtown restaurant attended by city officials and members of the business community to formally launch the “One Albuquerque Fund”. Mayor Keller announced that since the One Albuquerque Fund was announced, the fund has raised $200,000. According to One Albuquerque Foundation president Charles Ashley III, none of the money currently in the fund came from diverting money from existing city programs.

During the press conference, the foundation presented checks of $5,000 to fund APD police recruitment efforts and $20,000 to provide additional housing vouchers for the homeless. The foundation’s board of directors has identified four areas that it wants to provide funding to:

1. Police recruitment
2. Job training
3. Homeless and
4. Youth initiatives

During the press conference Mayor Tim Keller had this to say about the One Albuquerque Foundation:

“[This is] the best way for the city to partner with businesses, individuals, nonprofits and foundations, because we’re all in this together as One Albuquerque. [It allows the city to better] facilitate public-private partnerships to deal with some of our biggest issues.”

https://www.abqjournal.com/1407588/new-foundation-will-support-city-initiatives.html

35 ENTITIES AND INDIVIDUALS DONATE $248,250 TO KELER’S FOUNDATION

On February 7, the Albuquerque Journal reported that the Albuquerque One Foundation has raised nearly $250,000. Records provided by the city pursuant to a request for public records show most of the money is not coming from individual citizens but rather a cross section of well-known businesses and individuals. The donations that make up the $250,000 are not small donations from people but are in the thousands made by a few.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1421506/familiar-businesses-back-abq-foundation.html

All told, 35 entities and individuals donated $248,250 to the fund. A breakdown of the larger donations made are as follows:

Garcia Subaru: $50,000. This is the single largest donation. Garcia Subaru is owned by the Garcia family, which also own several car dealerships, including Honda, Volkswagen, Infiniti, Cadillac, Mercedes, Jaguar, Land Rover and Alfa Romeo. The Garcia family also own significant parcels of commercial real estate in the Old Town Area and has a stake in the New Mexico United professional soccer team, with the city currently looking for a new site for a soccer stadium.

Comcast: $10,000 Comcast is the city’s cable contract provider.

New Mexico Gas Co.: $10,000. New Mexico Gas Co. has a utility franchise agreement that is subject to renewal with the city and pays a franchise fee to the city.

Blue Shield of New Mexico: $10,000. Blue Shield in the past has been a health care provider insurance carrier to city hall employees.

Netflix: $10,000. In 2018, Mayor Keller signed off on a $4.5 million city economic incentive package to assist NETFLEX in its purchase of Albuquerque Studios.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1239976/mayor-signs-off-on-netflix-deal.html

Golden Pride Chicken: $20,000, owners Larry and Dorothy Rainosek.

Frontier Restaurant: $5,000, owners Larry and Dorothy Rainosek.

Restaurants such as Golden Pride and the Frontier Restaurant must maintain a license to do business with the city and are subject to the zoning and code enforcement regulations including health code inspections.

Fresquez Concessions: $20,000. Fresquez Concessions has the current contract to run all the food and beverage concessions at the Albuquerque International Sunport.

Bradbury Stamm Construction: $10,000. Braburry and Stamm was the main general contractor for the $130,000,000 Art Bus Project and consistently bids on city construction contracts.

Property management company RMCI: $10,000. RMCI currently lists commercial properties in Albuquerque for sale.

Only six people made donations under their individual names. Those individuals making donations include:

Doug Brown, the president of the University of New Mexico Board of Regents: $5,000

Gary Goodman, the real estate developer behind Winrock Town Center: $5,000. Winrock Town Center is being developed under a Tax Increment District (TID) with all construction and development subject to City Planning Department review and approval

Nick Kapnison, owner of Nick and Jimmy’s Restaurant, Mikinos Creek Restaurant and Papa Fillipes: $3,350.

Restaurants must maintain a license to do business with the city and are subject to the zoning and code enforcement regulations including health code inspections.

MAYOR KELLER PERSONALLY INVOLVED WITH SOLICITING DONATIONS

Mayoral spokeswoman Jessie Damazyn confirmed that many contributions made to the One Albuquerque Foundation came in response to face-to-face requests made by Mayor Tim Keller himself to meet with donors. Damazyn did not say exactly how many of the existing donors Keller met with personally to solicit contributions, but said that he had talked with “nearly all” of those on the list of 35 as well as many others “in contexts from coffees to community events to speaking engagements about how they can play a role from volunteering to donating.”

Golden Pride and Frontier owner Larry Rainosek said he donated the $25,000 after a meeting with Keller that the mayor’s office had arranged with him. Rainosek said he did not think his contribution bought influence with the mayor. However, he said the meeting about the foundation that eventually cost $25,000 gave him a long-awaited opportunity to air his grievances about Albuquerque Rapid Transit (ART) project and some changes he would like to see in the future.

Rainosack was a strong opponent of the ART Bus project and made it known that the ART Bus project was a disaster to his Frontier Restaurant and destroyed the character of Route 66. Rainosek is a highly respected and successful businessman. He should be entitled to express his opinion just like any other citizen without having to make any kind of donation requested by the Mayor, but none the less he obviously felt compelled to make the donation especially when he said:

“[Mayor Keller] had his agenda … and I had mine. … We always try to do things that will benefit the city and community”.

OVERSIGHT DEPARTMENTS FOR CORRUPTION

There are two primary, independent departments that function independent from the Mayor’s Office and City Council that that are primarily tasked for investigation of misconduct within city hall: the City Office of Independent Audit and the Office of Inspector General. Both can initiate investigations on their own. The City of Albuquerque Office of Independent Audits is designed to promote transparency, accountability, efficiency and effectiveness of City government. The responsibilities of the office of Inspector General include:

• Investigation of suspected corrupt City elected and appointed leaders
• Investigation of employees suspected of misconduct
• Investigations of suspected fraud, waste, mismanagement and abuse

https://www.cabq.gov/inspectorgeneral

https://www.cabq.gov/audit

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

The propriety of Mayor Tim Keller scheduling meetings to solicit private denotations for his charitable foundation from those who do business with the city or who interacts with city departments and who want to talk with him is so very, very wrong on so many levels with respect to ethical conduct and the appearance of impropriety. The solicitations by Mayor Keller during city business smacks of “pay to play” at worst and at best gives the appearance of impropriety and the exertion of political influence to compel donations from those who do business with the City of Albuquerque, either by contract or being regulated by city departments.

Donations of $50,000, $20,000, $10,000 and $5,000 as were made in the political world more likely than not come with the expectations of at least access to the elected official or a candidate and even commitments to be performed. What is very disturbing is that Keller had his office arranged the meetings, had the private conversations, but nothing is disclosed as to what was discussed, how the donation amounts were determined nor what commitments, if any were made, by Keller to the donors or the donors to Keller. On November 5, election night, Keller made it known on an election night radio program he is running for a second term in 2021. It is reasonable to assume that Keller when he solicited the donors to his foundation also solicited their support of him for his reelection bid and even donate to his campaign when the time was right. Arm twisting to make donations, even with Mayor Keller’s smile and knack for pleasant conversation and likeability, is still arm twisting and influence peddling.

The biggest argument that is being made publicly for the creation of the One Albuquerque Fund by Mayor Keller is that institutions such as the Albuquerque Public Schools, Central New Mexico Community College and the University of New Mexico all have their own foundations to support those entities and the City of Albuquerque should have its own foundation. The argument is bogus. The City has unilateral taxing authority that can be enacted by the City Council whenever it chooses while all the other institutions must rely upon the New Mexico Legislature for their funding. It is highly doubtful the One Albuquerque foundation is a 509(a)(3) supporting organization because the city is not a charity that carries out its exempt purposes by supporting other exempt organizations or other public charities. It’s a government entity responsible for essential services.

It is difficult to understand Mayor Keller’s motivation with One Albuquerque Foundation when he says “[This is] the best way for the city to partner with businesses, individuals, nonprofits and foundations … .” Simply put, no its not. The Albuquerque Community Foundation has been in existence for decades that is doing many of the things being suggested for One Albuquerque. Charitable donations from the general public are difficult enough as it is for private charitable organizations such as the United Way and the Albuquerque Community Foundation and now they have to compete with the Mayor’s One Albuquerque Foundation so he can say “we are all in this together”. The “United Way” charitable foundation sends the very same message and at one time city hall employees were allowed to participate in “United Way” fundraising and it was discontinued by Keller’s predecessor.

It is a pathetic practice for any government entity and its elected Mayor to solicit donations from the general public to carry out it duties and responsibilities to the public, especially when it has already allocated millions to specific causes in a $1.1 Billion budget such as police recruitment, job training and vouchers to provide temporary housing for the homeless. The City of Albuquerque is bloated not only with a $1.1 Billion Budget, but $55 Million Tax Increase revenues from a 2019 enacted tax that Keller agreed to breaking a his campaign promise to raise taxes without a public vote, a $35 Million Orphan Month Windfall as well as $30.5 million in lodger tax bond revenues. Mayor Keller’s approach is to ask for even more funding for his charitable foundation. Such a request reflects a total disconnect from reality. It reflects management negligence and an inability to live within one means and always demanding more.

To be perfectly blunt, Mayor Tim Keller needs to knock it off with his solicitation of donations for his charitable foundation from people who do business with the city, disavow any connection with it and step back and have a clean break from the foundation. Further, the Offices of General Counsel and Independent Audit need to review the fund-raising activities of the Mayor for the foundation and determine if his efforts were unethical and the propriety of the Foundation. At a bare minimum, all 35 donors need to be interviewed to determine what promises and commitments were made and if done in the context of any re election bid.

In the eyes of many city hall insiders, observers and and a few city hall confidential sources, Keller engaged in unethical conduct with his Charitable Foundation, but his top Administration Officials have gone along with it without any objection because he is “the Mayor”. For Keller to continue with the solicitation of donations by him will only make things worse and tarnish his reputation even further and no doubt will become an issue as he seeks a second term.

_______________________________________

POSTSCRIPT

On Thursday, February 20, the Albuquerque Journal published the following editorial:

Editorial Headline: ABQ may need a foundation, but not fundraiser in chief

“The One Albuquerque Fund sounds like a good idea. Launched last year by the city, it is designed to attract additional resources “in support of and to supplement city priorities.” Some examples: spending on police recruiting, housing vouchers and workforce development.

While all are fine ideas for the city to pursue given its police manpower shortage and homelessness issues, they also sound a whole lot like a political agenda.
And while there is no evidence of impropriety, when it comes to appearances Mayor Tim Keller is skating on thin ethical ice by personally soliciting money to help with pet projects that may help his political future.

First, it’s important to note the city’s elected officials can’t solicit campaign contributions – or receive them – from vendors who do business with the city. The same is true for Bernalillo County commissioners. And the reasons for that should be obvious. It just looks bad.

All told, according to a story published Monday by Journal reporter Jessica Dyer, 35 entities and individuals have ponied up $248,250 in contributions to the One Albuquerque Fund.

Keller spokesman Jessie Damazyn didn’t say how many donors Keller had met with personally but did say he had talked with “nearly all” of them. Fresquez Concessions, which has an active agreement with the city to run all food and beverage business at the Albuquerque International Sunport, contributed $20,000.

Other heavy hitters on the list who aren’t vendors but some of whose operations could intersect with city regulators include Comcast, Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Mexico, New Mexico Gas Co., McDonald’s and Netflix. They have given $10,000 each.

The real estate and development industry also has contributed. Bradbury Stamm and property management company RMCI each gave $10,000. Real estate developer Gary Goodman kicked in $5,000, as did local restaurateur Nick Kapnison.

Golden Pride Chicken gave $20,000, and Frontier Restaurant gave $5,000. Both are owned by Larry Rainosek, who said he made the donations after a meeting with Keller that was set up by the Mayor’s Office.
Rainosek is an incredibly successful businessman, as well as a philanthropist who supports other causes. There is no reason to doubt him when he says “we always try to do things that will benefit the city and the community.”

Rainosek said he didn’t think the contribution bought influence but said the meeting about the foundation gave him a long-awaited opportunity to air his grievances about Albuquerque Rapid Transit and some changes he would like to see.

“He had his agenda,” Rainosek said. “And I had mine.”

It’s perfectly reasonable for Rainosek to want to vent his frustrations and objections to the mayor about ART. The problem is in the ask by the mayor, and that it appears Rainosek didn’t get a chance to air those grievances until the mayor wanted a donation for his foundation.

Meanwhile, Damazyn said donations would not affect how the city chooses contractors, citing the city’s procurement process. She also noted other entities like Albuquerque Public Schools and the University of New Mexico have foundations.

And while it is a big plus that the city foundation will comply with the state Inspection of Public Records Act, according to Damazyn (the UNM Foundation has argued in court it is not subject to the state’s public records law), it is important to note APS and UNM have separate boards so the superintendent and president can do their jobs running their respective operations rather than a perennial fundraising tour of pet projects.

If Keller wants the One Albuquerque Fund to succeed and prosper, with no political taint, he can’t be fundraiser in chief as well as mayor. He needs to remove himself from the fundraising process and let the foundation rise or fall on the work it does.”

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1422529/abq-may-need-a-foundation-but-not-fundraiser-in-chief.html

COMMENTARY

The Albuquerque Journal editorial was a lot more diplomatic than I was in my blog article. As far as I am concerned the Journal let Keller off way too easy. My reasons are clear, Keller made a reputation as State Auditor to run for Mayor on the carefully cultivated image of being a crusader against “waste, fraud and abuse” of public money. Charitable donations are no different. To be perfectly blunt, Mayor Tim Keller needs to knock it off with his solicitation of donations for his charitable foundation from people who do business with the city, disavow any connection with it and step back and have a clean break from the foundation. Further, the Offices of General Counsel and Independent Audit need to review the fund-raising activities of the Mayor for the foundation and determine if his efforts were unethical and the propriety of the Foundation. At a bare minimum, all 35 donors need to be interviewed to determine what promises and commitments were made and if done in the context of his reelection bid.

Monahan’s Take On 2020 NM Legislature Short Session and More; A “So-So” 30-Day Session Comes To An End

The 2020 New Mexico 30-day Legislative Session adjoined Thursday, February 20 at 12:00 Noon, with adjournment referred to or announced as “sine die”.
Political blogger Joe Monahan on his blog “New Mexico Politics With Joe Monahan” published an article on the “Hits And Misses” highlights of the 30 day short session. Below is Joe Monahan’ February 19, 2020 blog followed by his website address.

This blog article also elaborates on highlights of legislation worth mentioning.

“Thursday, February 20, 2020
The Hits And Misses of Legislative Session 2020
BY Joe Monahan

“As these things go the legislative session set to adjourn at noon today wasn’t bad and like all of them this one had its share of hits and misses.

THE HITS

–They finished their main task, crafting a state budget of $7.6 billion for the fiscal year that begins July 1 and represents a 7.6 percent increase over the current one. Teachers and state employees get another round of pay raises and more state vacancies will be filled.

Thanks to the SE oil boom the budget has grown from $6 billion in the past two sessions but as several lawmakers noted there were no or tiny increases under eight years of Gov. Martinez and that the budget basically catches up with inflation and a bit more.

—The long running early childhood crisis in the state received more attention than uusal. An Early Childhood Trust Fund of $320 million was approved that supporters hope will put $30 million annually toward the cause but there is no guarantee. The fund plan is flawed and modest and anything but “transformational” as supporters argued, but it was a welcome turn.

—The proposed constitutional amendment for early childhood would provide a guaranteed source for early childhood from the nearly $20 billion Land Grant Permanent Fund. It scored a big win when two Dem senators switched their position in favor of it and it passed Senate Rules. However, in the end opposition again killed it. So a hit and a miss on that one.

—The conservative coalition of Republicans and a handful of conservate/moderate Democrats finally showed cracks in the wall after a decade in power. The biggest coming when Sen. Clemente Sanchez voted in Rules for a scaled down version of the early childhood amendment. He faces a June primary opponent but also noted the state’s dismal ranking in child well-being and he wants change. Senator Munoz, another coalition member, unexpectedly voted for the Red Flag law, signaling that the Senate is loosening up a bit–just a bit.

–The Legislature killed a misguided plan to reform the Public Regulation Commission (PRC). Voters will decide a reform plan in November.

–The Red Flag law getting approved in the wake of the El Paso mass shooting was a job well done. It was amended to be not as stringent, but still sent a clear signal that the state values human life. (It was also a major win for MLG even though it will give her heartburn in the south) EDITOR’S NOTE: SEE BELOW FOR MORE DETAIL ON RED FLAG LEGISLATION ENACTED

–The move to legalize marijuana failed. That’s “a hit” because the state is simply not ready for it, especially under the complex legislation that was readily dismissed. Its time may come, but not yet.

–Infrastructure was another hit as the annual capital outlay bill was over $520 million. That is a lot of buildings, road repairs, water system updates and the like. And we’re told there’s even $5,000 tucked away in the bill for a capitol statue for the late Sen. Carlos Cisneros. New Mexicans can thank the oil boom for this second year of an immense capital outlay bill.

THE MISSES

–The “reform bill” for the government employee retirement fund known as PERA was perhaps the most unnecessary piece of legislation approved this year. That pleased Wall Street which will get more state pension funds to invest as a result.

It was strange seeing the ardor for this bill that fixated on retiree checks 25 years from now, even as we face a social conditions crisis in education, crime and drugs this very day. By the way, there is no PERA “crisis” according to the Brookings Institution.

–Another miss was lawmakers not getting more specific in targeting the increase in education funding to address the “at risk” student population. They were at the center of a district court ruling that found the state was in violation of the Constitution for not providing them with adequate education. It’s a theme that House Education Committee Chairman Andres Romero will be hitting on in the off season.

–The “opportunity scholarship” offering free higher education was a miss. The Guv unveiled it as a top priority but did not have her ducks in a row. The problems with the legislation became an unneeded distraction and was greatly watered down.

All 112 lawmakers are up for election this year so they tried to keep things relatively quiet, to the chagrin of the political junkies. But there were signs that the senate’s long running budget dominance over the House has peaked. Speaker Egolf’s public complaints were notable and that may be what’s most remembered about the session.

Now attention turns to the election. The June primary will be one of the most important in recent memory as progressive challengers take on at least four coalition Dems who help control the senate. Then it’s on to November to see if the R’s can take back some of the House seats they lost in ’18 and whether the Dems can make inroads against GOP senators.

THE BOTTOM LINES

If you’re free this Sunday at 11 a.m., join me at Collected Bookworks in Santa Fe as we dissect the 2020 session with Santa Fe Journey.”

The link to Joe Monahan’s blog is http://joemonahansnewmexico.blogspot.com/ and his email address is newsguy@yahoo.com

ACRIMONIOUS FINAL HOURS

The final hours before adjournment were dominated by clashes between lawmakers over procedures and slow-moving debate as Republican legislators sought to limit the flow of legislation supported by the Democratic majorities in both chambers. Final approval of the main budget bill which authorizes a substantial increase in state spending, fueled by an oil-driven revenue boom, resulted in an intense confrontation in the House overnight. Between House Speaker Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, and Republican lawmakers of cutting off debate too quickly.

BUDGET DETAILS

The New Mexico legislature adjourned their 30-day session after overnight approval of the $7.6 billion spending plan. The enacted budget increases spending by 7.6% over current levels. The new budget includes $17 million for the new college scholarship program sought by Lujan Grisham. The $17 million is much less than the Governor had initially requested. The goal is to provide need-based tuition aid for full-time students who already qualify for a separate, lottery-funded scholarship program.

PUBLIC EMPLOYEE RETIREES ASSOCIATION (PERA) SOLVENCY

The 2020 New Mexico Legislature enacted what they believed to be a PERA Solvency legislation that is aimed at erasing the state pension system’s $6.6 billion unfunded liability. The goal is to turn around New Mexico’s chronically underfunded retirement system for police, firefighters and other public employees. The legislation is largely based on recommendations from a task force Governor Lujan Grisham appointed last year to come up with pension reform recommendations. The Governor’s PERA Pension reform task force was essentially packed with public safety union representation with their own political agenda to protect their own funds and none who had any financial background in government pensions. Pension reform proposals were made by the task force to the detriment of other pension programs arguing “spread the pain” among all.

The most controversial provision of the legislation is that it will freeze many retirees cost of living adjustments (COLA) for two years and then move to a “profit-sharing” model with annual raises fluctuating from 0.5% to 3%, depending on investment returns and the financial health of the pension fund. The legislation will require government agencies and their employees to pay more into the pension system. It also substantially revises how retirees’ annual cost-of-living adjustments are calculated. Most retirees now get a 2% raise each year. SB 72 includes an injection of $76 million to help improve the financial health of the pension funds.

During her campaign, candidate for Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said she would oppose cuts to benefits, including any reduction in the annual inflation-related pension adjustments that retired state workers and teachers receive. The PERA solvency plan the Governor supported alienated some of her strongest supporters but she could not care less.

It has become the mantra of some pension fund administrators, financial consultants that benefit from such schemes and ideological zealots that government pension funds must be 100% funded. These individuals are wrong as was the Governor. The Governor bought into the bogus argument the there is a PERA financial crisis, when there is not. The Governor fast tracked pension reform in a 30-day session to favor public safety pension programs at the expense of existing retirees and other pension programs that are not underfunded as the public safety programs.

Rather than reducing Cost of Living Adjustments the legislature could have made adjustments like increasing age of retirement, change the formula to calculate retirement, make increases in contributions and infuse state funding into the pension funds, but only those that are underfunded which currently the municipal fire fighters fund and the general worker fund. Better management of the pension funds and increasing returns on investment with benchmarks should have been enacted to pay for future benefits. Instead, the “task force” recommendations were followed which were nothing more than a political agenda and not in the best interest of all retirees, something that no doubt will be remembered when the Governor seeks a second term.

PUBLIC WORKS PACKAGE

Lawmakers overnight also granted final approval to a $528 million spending package on public works. It includes about $4.1 million to plan for a new professional soccer complex in Albuquerque and about $4.6 million to preserve more open space near the oxbow wetlands on the city’s West Side. Spaceport America in Sierra County would get about $10 million for a payload center and information technology building.
The $528 Million capital spending package approved includes funding of $6 million to upgrade the computer-aided dispatch and records system for the Albuquerque Police Department, $1.8 million is being allocated to improve the APD laboratory and evidence warehouse which is still dealing with the back log of rape kits and $2.5 million is being allocated for a crime scene vehicle. The total “public safety” outlay for Albuquerque is $10.3 million. The Keller Administration asked for $10 million for a statewide Violence Intervention Program (VIP) which would have gone to create programs aimed at reducing teen crime, but lawmakers chose not to fund the VIP project.

The $528 Million capital spending package approved by the House includes $4.1 million that will go toward the design, planning and construction of a sports and cultural center, including art exhibits, playing fields and dining and retail space. The $4.1 in funding is intended to be applied to the effort to build a soccer stadium for New Mexico United, a professional team in Albuquerque. The team now plays at Isotopes Park and within a year must have a permanent dedicated stadium.

It is estimated that it will cost $75 million to build a 15,000-seat stadium. United owner Peter Trevisani said the team is prepared to put $1 million or more funding into the planning and design phase for the stadium, which would include a site and project funding analysis. Other potential funding sources include naming rights and borrowing money backed by future stadium revenues commonly referred to as revenue bonds.

CRIME BILL PACKAGE

A public safety package was enacted in the final hours of the session that stiffened criminal penalties. The “public safety” package was a consolidation of separate Bills into on “crime package”. The crime bill increases the sentencing enhancement for using a gun to commit a crime from 1 year to 3 years for a first offense, and from 3 years to 5 years for the second offense, but is not mandatory sentencing and leaves it to the discretion of the court. The bill changes the crime of being a “felon in possession of a firearm” from a 4th degree felony to a 3rd degree felony. The bill changes the definition of a “felon” and would include anyone who has ever been convicted of a felony no matter the time passed. Under the current law, the definition of a felon includes only those who have completed a prison sentence in the previous 10 years from the date of the most current conviction. The bill makes it a 3rd degree felony to carry a firearm while trafficking a controlled substance. A 3rd degree felony carries a sentence of three years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines.

RED FLAG BILL PASSAGE

Senate Bill 5 establishes the Extreme Risk Firearm Protection Order Act. It will allow for the court-ordered seizure of guns from individuals deemed an imminent danger to themselves or others. Under the legislation, it allows law enforcement officers, acting on information provided by a relative, school administrator or employer, to seek a court order prohibiting someone from having firearms. Exclusive authority is given to law enforcement to make the decision to file a petition, but the petition must be based on whether there’s probable cause to believe the individual “poses a significant danger of causing imminent personal injury to self or others.” A court could order the temporary seizure of the person’s firearms for up to 10 days and until a hearing could be held. After a hearing, the ban could be extended one year. The original version of the bill would have allowed family and others to file the petitions, but that was taken out as a compromise to those that claimed that it would result in abuse.

Senate Bill 5 is a natural extension of the 2019 New Mexico Legislature passage of Senate Bill 328 which prohibits gun possession by someone who’s subject to an order of protection under the Family Violence Protection Act. Under the enacted legislation domestic abusers must surrender their firearms to law enforcement. The gun possession prohibition also applies to people convicted of other crimes.

ENDING SECRET SETTLEMENTS

The New Mexico legislature enacted SB 64 which ended the practice of “secrete settlements. The legislation removes all waiting periods required before settlement agreements involving state employees, officials and agencies where the State pays amounts to settled cases can be made public. The legislation also removes the existing penalty for those who break confidentiality provisions.

GATEWAY HOMELESS SHELTER FUNDING SETBACK

The $528 Million capital spending package contains no large infusion of funding set aside to help Albuquerque build the “Gateway Center” homeless shelter that would be open around the clock seven days a week. The capital outlay bill includes a mere $50,000 for the Gateway Center construction, fall short of what is needed to complete the project. The bill does contain $4 million for supportive housing for homeless, but that money cannot be used for construction costs of the shelter.

With only $14 million in place, the city only has enough to complete the first phase of the project. The city will now have to find funding elsewhere within the city budget or wait another year to ask for funding in the 2021 legislative session. During last year’s 2019 legislative session, the city sought $28 million for the project. The legislature funded only $985,000 last year for construction costs.

LEGISLATION THAT DIED UPON ADJOURNMENT

Some of the most ambitious proposals of the session died upon adjournment with the legislation never making it out of Senate committees after approval in the House. Proposals to overhaul the probation and parole system and to tap more heavily into New Mexico’s largest permanent fund failed to reach the Senate floor in time for a vote. A Senate committee rejected a proposal to legalize recreational marijuana for adults and it never reached the House for any vote.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1422928/76b-budget-88-bills-get-through-session.html

CONCLUSION

The accomplishments and legislation enacted during the 2020 New Mexico 30-day legislative session is a mixed bag. Notwithstanding, it was a continuation of the very successful 2019 legislative session. Consequential legislation was enacted that made it a success. It is more likely than not that during the 2021 legislative session the Governor and the legislature will again tackle legalization “recreational marijuana” as well as full funding of the homeless shelter and a soccer stadium for a United New Mexico.

ABQ Public Safety And Soccer Stadium Win Out Over “Gateway Homeless Shelter”; $528 Million Capital Spending Bill Passes 2020 Legislature

The 2020 New Mexico legislature ends today, February 20 at 12:00. On February 18, less than 48 hours before the 2020 legislative session adjourns, the New Mexico House of Representatives voted 60-0 to pass a $528 million capital spending bill. Late Wednesday, February 19, the New Mexico Senate approved the capital outlay bill 40-0. The bill will now be sent to Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham who has line-item veto power.

The majority of the $528 million capital spending is funded through severance tax bonds. Severance taxes bonds are backed by future tax revenue generated by the extraction of oil, natural gas or other natural resources. Some of the capital projects provided for in the bill will be paid from the State’s general fund or other recurring funding sources.

The good news for Albuquerque is that the city’s delegation delivered on successively securing funding for the city’s public safety priorities. The bad news is that the city’s proposed “Gateway Homeless Shelter” took a hit calling into question if it will ever get built.

PUBLIC SAFETY

On November 19, Mayor Tim Keller announced that he had asked New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and the New Mexico State Legislature for $30 million in funding during the upcoming 2020 legislative session to “modernize” APD. Keller said $20 million dollars of that will go to changing the way police file reports and produce crime stats and how they connect all the crime-fighting data into one. The $20 million in upgrades in the city’s existing crime-fighting technology includes upgrades to the Albuquerque Police Departments (APD) computer and records systems. The systems are used by APD police in their assigned squad cars and the mobile crime scene units. It also includes funding for new technology in gunshot detection devices and license plate scanners. The funding was in serious doubt when it was reported that there was a major delay in filing of appropriation legislation.

The $528 Million capital spending package approved by the House includes funding of $6 million to upgrade the computer-aided dispatch and records system for the Albuquerque Police Department, $1.8 million is being allocated to improve the APD laboratory and evidence warehouse which is still dealing with the back log of rape kits and $2.5 million is being allocated for a crime scene vehicle. The total “public safety” outlay for Albuquerque is $10.3 million. The Keller Administration asked for $10 million for a statewide Violence Intervention Program (VIP) which would have gone to create programs aimed at reducing teen crime, but lawmakers chose not to fund the VIP project

GATEWAY HOMELESS SHELTER

On November 5, 2019 Albuquerque voters approved general obligation bonds of $14 million for a city operated 24-7 homeless shelter that will house upwards of 300. The actual cost will be $30 million. Mayor Tim Keller’s administration had sought $14 million in state funding for the “Gateway Center” homeless project to match $14 million that city voters approved in the last bond election.

The $528 Million capital spending package contains no large infusion of funding set aside to help Albuquerque build the “Gateway Center” homeless shelter that would be open around the clock seven days a week. The capital outlay bill includes a mere $50,000 for the Gateway Center construction, fall short of what is needed to complete the project. The bill does contain $4 million for supportive housing for homeless, but that money cannot be used for construction costs of the shelter.

With only $14 million in place, the city only has enough to complete the first phase of the project. The city will now have to find funding elsewhere within the city budget or wait another year to ask for funding in the 2021 legislative session. During last year’s 2019 legislative session, the city sought $28 million for the project. The legislature funded only $985,000 last year for construction costs.

No real reasons have reported why the New Mexico legislature has declined to help with the “Gateway Center” funding that is needed to complete it. Speculation from Santa Fe legislative observers have said that the New Mexico legislature does not believe “homelessness” is a state wide issue but an Albuquerque issue. Keller has said the goal is to break ground next winter.

HOMELESS SHELTER VERSUS SOCCER STADIUM

The primary purpose of the 2020 New Mexico 30-day legislative session is enactment of the budget. The session ended on February 20. The $528 Million Capital Spending Package bill passed by the House was approved by the Senate and forwarded to the

The $528 Million capital spending package approved by the House includes $4.1 million that will go toward the design, planning and construction of a sports and cultural center, including art exhibits, playing fields and dining and retail space. The $4.1 in funding is intended to be applied to the effort to build a soccer stadium for New Mexico United, a professional team in Albuquerque. The team now plays at Isotopes Park and within a year must have a permanent dedicated stadium.

It is estimated that it will cost $75 million to build a 15,000-seat stadium. United owner Peter Trevisani said the team is prepared to put $1 million or more funding into the planning and design phase for the stadium, which would include a site and project funding analysis. Other potential funding sources include naming rights and borrowing money backed by future stadium revenues commonly referred to as revenue bonds.

Notwithstanding, a full financing package has yet been developed. New Mexico United Soccer owner Pete Trevisani had this to say about the $4.1 million in funding:

“I think it’s a great start. … It shows a commitment to vetting the project, and I think with the city, state and the private sector all working together, this time next year we could be funding and getting close to breaking ground on a stadium.”

According to NM State Representative Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque, at least 20 lawmakers have already contributed from their discretionary money to fund the stadium despite not knowing exactly where in Albuquerque it would be built. Maestas said that his own contribution was “a couple hundred thousand dollars” and he believes the Legislature’s support for the stadium may be enough to purchase land at the preferred site. Maestas did not contribute to the Albuquerque homeless shelter but did contribute to the stadium funding.

Many unknowns ostensibly did not hurt stadium support among lawmakers, but the opposite was true when it came to the city’s homeless shelter. According to Representative Maestas, the lack of concrete plans and the city is still evaluating shelter probably affected legislative funding for the shelter. Maestas explained legislative reluctance to the shelter this way:

“I think members are reluctant to put into a pot unless they’re for sure knowing that that pot is going to get spent in the next 12 months. … Not only do these capital dollars provide services, but they also boost our economy, so those bigger projects are difficult. That may have come into play with regard to the support, but I don’t know that for a fact.”

For news reports see:

https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/lawmakers-approve-funding-for-some-capital-outlay-projects-for-albuquerque/5650329/?cat=500

https://www.abqjournal.com/1421964/lawmakers-spend-on-public-safety-and-stadium-scrimp-on-shelter.html

NEW MEXICO “POINT IN TIME” HOMELESS COUNT

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.

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.

ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY

The primary purpose of the 2020 New Mexico 30-day legislative session that ends February 20 is the enactment of the state budget for the fiscal year that commences July 1, 2020. The $528 Million capital spending bill enacted by the House and Senate was enacted with just hours to spare but could still change somewhat with the Governor’s line item veto power, but it is more likely than not she will sign it.

NM House $528 million capital spending package, like all capital spending package bills, is the result of a secretive committee process in which legislators and the governor each have discretionary money to earmark for their pet projects. Each legislator was given $3.047 million for projects they deem were necessary in their districts whether needed or not. Sometimes, legislators will combine their allocation to fund major projects.

The proposed soccer stadium, and for that matter, the homeless shelter are such projects. Most of the time lawmakers fund small projects in their districts that they can go back to their constituents and take credit for funding. Such smaller project funding give a great advantage to incumbents and are very important to small rural communities in the state. Proposals that would require additional transparency in the capital funding process have repeatedly failed year after year in the Roundhouse. Legislators no doubt do not want to be called out for failing to support or advocating projects come election time.

It is always a source of great wonderment when elected officials, including Governors, legislators, Mayor’s and City councilors proclaim how they support and want “transparency” in government, especially when it comes to spending taxpayer money, but when push comes to shove, they do not want to make public the process used to finance major capital projects.

It is downright pathetic how the New Mexico legislature feels that the construction of a $75 million dollar soccer stadium should take priority over $14 million in construction cost for a homeless shelter that is so desperately needed ignoring New Mexico again being on top of yet another bad list.

APD Starts Media Recruitment Campaign; Incentives To Attract Recruits Offered; APD Continues Having Problem Attracting New Generation of Police

On December 1, 2019 when former Republican Mayor Richard Berry was sworn into office, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) was staffed at 1,100 police officers. At the time, APD was the best trained, best funded, best equipped and best staffed in the history of the Department. The city’s overall crime rates were significantly lower than they are today.

For the full 8 years from December 1, 2019 to December 1, 2017, APD spiraled down wards as a result of poor management, budget cuts, police salary cuts and an investigation by the Department of Justice (DOJ) resulting in a finding of a “culture of aggression” within the department. The DOJ investigation resulted in a lawsuit and a consent decree mandating major reforms. When Mayor Keller took office on December 1, 2017, APD had plunged to approximately 870 full time police officers and the numbers went down even further to 830 at one time.

APD EXPANSION

In 2017, Candidate Tim Keller campaigned to be elected mayor on the platform of implementing the DOJ mandated reforms, increasing the size of the Albuquerque Police Department, returning to community-based policing and promising to bring down skyrocketing crime rates. To that end, the Keller Administration began implementing an $88 million-dollar APD police expansion program increasing the number of sworn police officers from 898 positions filled to 1,200, or by 302 sworn police officers, over a four-year period. The massive investment was ordered by Mayor Tim Keller to full fill his 2017 campaign promise to increase the size of APD and return to community-based policing as a means to reduce the city’s high crime rates.

In 2018, The Keller Administration and the APD Union were able to negotiate a 2-year contract. The Albuquerque Police Department’s very generous hourly pay increases and increased longevity pay incentive bonuses allowed APD to recruit experienced police officers from other New Mexico law enforcement agencies. APD was able to recruit sworn police officers as “lateral hires” from other law enforcement agencies in the State of New Mexico. In August, 2019 APD reported having 980 officers by growing the ranks with both new cadets and lateral hires from other departments, including APD retirees. The Police officers who left other agencies to join APD are some of the more experienced and highly trained officers at the agencies they are leaving.

APD has an approved general fund budget for fiscal year 2019-2020 of $188.9 million dollars, which represents an increase of 10.7% or $18.3 million above last year’s budget. It is anticipated that the 2020-2021 APD Budget which will be submitted April1, will be even bigger. According to the current approved budget, APD has 1,560 approved full-time positions with 1,040 sworn police budgeted positions and 520 budgeted civilian positions. You can review the entire APD approved budget here:

http://documents.cabq.gov/budget/fy-19-approved-budget.pdf (Page 209)

On August 1, 2019, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) issued what it entitled “Staffing Snapshot” providing a report on the number of sworn police officers APD has and where they have been assigned. According to the report, APD as of August 1, 2019 had a total of 972 sworn officers with 600 officers in the field patrolling 6 area commands and neighborhoods. The snapshot does not account for time delays from Human Resources and Payroll that have effective dates and retirements into the future.

https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/apd-staffing-numbers-how-many-officers-are-in-your-neighborhood-/5449523/?cat=500

As of January 1, 2020, according to pay stubs on file with the city, APD has 950 sworn police officers. The loss of 22 sworn police can be attributed to retirements and the Police Academy not keeping up with replacing officers. There is an APD Academy Class in session that should result in 35 to 40 more new officers added to the force in the Spring.

APD BEGINS RECRUITMENT CAMPAIGN

On January 7, 2020, it was reported that APD has instituted an aggressive recruitment campaign. In the previous years, APD had one person in charge of recruitment. APD recruitment has increased from 1 to 4 full-time recruiting officers. Further, others within the department work on efforts that has helped double cadet class sizes in the past year. According to APD Recruiting Director Dave Romo, APD has already made recruitment trips to Michigan, Florida and Texas and will be going to Los Angeles and Colorado.

The recruitment campaign includes a media campaign. APD unveiled a new recruitment video on social media using current officers to highlight what it means to be a police officer and the journey it takes to become one. The video is just one part of a public relations campaign for APD looking for hundreds of people to join the police force and start a law enforcement career. Police recruitment videos and advertising are a very common practice across the country and have been used by APD in the past.

In a recruitment video, an Albuquerque Police Officer appears and says:

“I was making a choice to change my life, and do something good with it and help others with similar situations like me … The day I decided to be a police officer was one of the single greatest days of my life. … If I can, you can!”

https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/apd-launches-new-recruitment-video-campaign/5601233/

Director of APD Recruiting Dave Romo had this to say about the videos:

“We like to call it the heart behind the badge because that’s one thing that’s never recognized is that, you know, behind each badge there’s a human being. We are looking at ways that are not only out of the box but are also assisting the community to join our police department, get in our academy and be successful. … If it helps us recruit one officer, then it’s worthwhile. We’re looking to recruit not only basic officers but lateral police officers. We’ve hired probably over 75 lateral police officers in the last year. ”

According to Romo, the video campaign is designed to humanize officers with the hopes of more people into the department. APD’s numbers have now increased in the last two years from a low of 820 sworn police to 950 sworn officers.

OTHER INCENTIVES BEING OFFERED

In addition to the recruitment video, APD is offering new incentives to new recruits. Those incentives include:

Free child care for single parents during their time at APD’s training academy
Offering free gym memberships around town to help new recruits meet APD’s fitness requirements.
Assistance in paying off student loans
APD also plans to advertise more around the city, like on city buses. You can expect to see that later this year.
Mayor Keller’s goal is to have a total of 1,200 officers on APD’s force.
For news stories see:

https://www.krqe.com/news/albuquerque-metro/albuquerque-police-offers-new-incentives-to-join-apd/

https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/apd-launches-new-recruitment-video-campaign/5601233/?cat=500

LUCRATIVE PAY AND INCENTIVE PAY

A critical component to attracting more people to join APD is pay, including incentive pay to experienced officers to reduce retirements. In 2018, The Keller Administration and the APD Union negotiated and agreed to a 2-year contract.

Starting pay for an APD Police Officer immediately out of the APD academy is $29 an hour or $60,320 yearly. (40 hour work week X 52 weeks in a year = 2,080 hours worked in a year X $29 paid hourly = $60,320.)
Police officers with 4 to 14 years of experience are paid $30 an hour or $62,400 yearly. (40-hour work weeks in a year X 52 weeks in a year = 2,080 hours worked in a year X $30 paid hourly = $62,400.)
Senior Police Officers with 15 years or more experience are paid $31.50 an hour or $65,520 yearly. (40 hours work in a week X 52 weeks in year = 2,080 hours worked in a year X $31.50 = $65,520.)
The rate for APD Sergeants is $35 an hour, or $72,800. (40-hour work week X 52 weeks in a year = 2080 hours worked in a year X $35.0 paid hourly = $72,800.)
The rate for APD Lieutenants pay is $40.00 an hour or $83,200. (40 hour work week X 52 weeks in a year = 2080 hours worked in a year X $40.00 = $83,200.)

HIGHEST PAID CITY HALL EMPLOYEES ARE POLICE OFFICERS

APD Patrol Officers First Class are some of the highest paid city hall employees.

There are approximately 5,000 full time city hall employees. A review of the city’s 250 top earners in 2018 reveals that 140 are sworn police officers working for APD, mostly patrol officers first class and 40 are employed by Albuquerque Fire and Rescue. The 140 top wage city hall wage earners employed by the Albuquerque Police Department include patrol officers first class, sergeants, lieutenants, commanders the deputy chiefs, and the chief with annual pay ranging from $101,000 a year up to $192,937 a year.

(See City of Albuquerque website for full list of 250 top city wage earners).

Five (5) APD Senior Patrol Officers First Class are listed in the top 250 city wage earners for 2018 as being paid $166,692, $163,223, $160,692, $152,876 and $151,313 respectfully making them the 3rd, 5th, 7th, 10th, and 11th highest paid employees at city hall. The amounts paid in excess of $100,000 a year to patrol officers first class can be attributed mostly to overtime pay and “time and a half” paid.

LONGEVITY PAY

A major incentive for working for APD is the longevity pay, which can be described as a one lump bonus paid at the end of a pay year for number of years’ experience The approved longevity pay scale is as follows:

For 5 years of experience: $100 will be paid bi-weekly, or $2,600 yearly
For 6 years of experience: $125 will be paid bi-weekly, or $3,250 yearly
For 7 to 9 years of experience: $225 will be paid bi-weekly, or $5,800 yearly
For 10 to 12 years of experience: $300 will be paid bi-weekly, or $7,800 yearly
For 13 to 15 years o experience: $350 will be paid bi-weekly, or $9,100 yearly
For 16 to 17 years or more: $450 will be paid bi-weekly, or $11,700 yearly
For 18 or more years of experience: $600 will be paid bi-weekly, 15,600 yearly

Specialty pay and longevity bonuses offered by APD can add $100 to $600 to an officer’s paycheck. Time employed by lateral at other law enforcement agencies qualify for the APD longevity bonuses.

APD announced in October, 2018 that officers from other departments are eligible to get credit for up to 10 years of experience they have had with other law enforcement agencies which means $3,900 longevity pay after working for APD for only 1 year. In the past, lateral hires were given credit for only half of their previous work experience. That work experience directly increases an officer’s pay in the form of yearly incentive retention bonuses.

HEAVY WORK LOAD REFLECTED BY CALLS FOR SERVICE ARE OVERWHELMING

According to the 2019-2020 approved budget, in the last fiscal year APD responded to the following:

The number of calls for service was 580,238
Average response time for Priority 1 calls (immediate threat to life) was 12:26 minutes
The number of felony arrests was 9,592
The number of misdemeanor arrests was 18,442
The number of DWI arrests was 1,403
The number of domestic violence arrests was 2,356
You can review the performance measures of APD on page 211 of the budget here:
http://documents.cabq.gov/budget/fy-19-approved-budget.pdf

DIFFCULTY IN FILLING APD RANKS

Despite all the incentives and pay increases, APD continues to struggle to recruit and grow the department to the desired level of 1,200 sworn as promised by Mayor Keller. Part of the problem includes the qualifications mandated in order to have a quality police officer and the steps required to become one.

MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS TO BE AN ALBQUERQUE POLICE OFFICER

All prospective Albuquerque Police Department officers must meet the following eligibility criteria:

1. Be a US citizen and at least 21 years old at the time of police academy graduation
2. Have a high school diploma or GED, and possess a valid driver’s license.
3. Applicants must have completed a minimum of 32 college credits unless the applicant has at least of two years of experience with and received an honorable discharge from the United States military.
4. Two years of continuous service as an Albuquerque police service aid or prisoner transport officer or five years of continuous service in a government or private sector position may also qualify for a waiver of the college credit requirement.
5. Immediate disqualification occurs if an applicant has a felony conviction, has been convicted of domestic violence, or has been convicted of a misdemeanor within three years of the application date.

STEPS TO BECOME AND ALBUQUERQUE POLICE OFFICER

Having the “minimum” qualifications to be an Albuquerque Police Officer only gives you an opportunity to test for the job.

The actual steps that must be taken to become an Albuquerque Police Officer are complicated and are as follows:

1. Meet the minimum qualifications for prospective officers and verify your eligibility by submitting an interest card to the Albuquerque Police Department.
2. Take the City Entrance Exam, which is similar to a civil service exam.
3. Submit a personal history statement.
4. Pass a physical abilities test.
5. Take the Nelson-Denny Reading Test (Note: this is a multiple-choice test measuring skill in vocabulary and reading.)
6. Submit the required personal documents, such as a credit report and photograph.
7. Complete a written psychological evaluation and background investigation.
8. Take a polygraph exam.
9. Complete a psychological interview.
10. Attend a panel interview with the Chief’s Selection Committee.
11. Complete a medical exam and drug screen.
12. Accept a conditional hire offer and attend the police academy.
13. Begin working as an Albuquerque patrol officer and [completing six months of patrol work with another sworn officer].

https://www.criminaljusticedegreeschools.com/criminal-justice-resources/police-departments-by-metro-area/albuquerque-officer-requirements/#requirements.

CONTRIBUTING FACTORS HAMPERING RECRUITMENT

Notwithstanding the recruitment efforts, lucrative pay and incentives offered, APD is still severely understaffed and struggling to implement expansive and expensive Department of Justice (DOJ) agreed to and mandated reforms. Recruiting a younger, new generation of sworn police officers and growing the size of the police department has become very difficult and unachievable for any number of reasons.

There are any number of reasons why so many sworn police retire as soon as they have been employed for the number of years required to be able to retire at an early age. Those reasons include:

1. APD’s poor and negative national reputation.
2. Albuquerque’s high violent crime rates are not conducive to attracting people who want to begin a long-term career in law enforcement in Albuquerque.
3. The increased dangers of being a police officer in a violent city such as Albuquerque.
4. An APD police officers heavy work load
4. The DOJ oversight requirements.
5. Many recruited lateral hires may also be looking to retire sooner rather than later, coming to the City to increase their high three salary to retire with a more lucrative pension and collect the longevity pay bonuses, and
6. From a personnel management standpoint, it is highly likely that many APD police officers who are eligible for retirement now have decided to stay on and continue for a few more years with APD because of the significant increases in hourly pay and longevity pay and increasing their retirement benefits but still plan on retiring in three years once they get their high 3 years of pay.

OTHER FACTORS CONTRIBUTING TO REDUCTION IN ACADEMY GRADUATES

APD consistently has thousands of applicants that apply to the police academy every year as evidenced by the number of “interest cards” submitted which is the first step to applying with APD. The overwhelming number of police academy applicants fail to get into the academy for any number of reasons including failing to meet minimum education and entry qualifications, unable to pass criminal background checks, unable to make it through psychological background analysis, failing the polygraph tests, lying on the on the applications or failing a credit check.

Once in the police academy, many cadets are unable to meet minimum physical requirements or unable to handle the training and academic requirements to graduate from the academy. The APD Police Academy is unable to keep up with retirement losses and for a number of years graduating classes have averaged 35 to 40 a class, well below the number to keep up with yearly retirements.

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

It is great news that APD has added 116 new police officers to its ranks and respectable progress has been made in 24 months to rebuild the department. Mayor Keller’s goal to grow APD to leve1 of 1,200 sworn police as he promised is very commendable but in order to do that APD will have to hire and recruit a minimum of least 250 more police officers in order to go from the current number of 950 to 1,200. It’s likely in order to keep up with retirements at least 80 more will need to be hired for a total of 320.

It is highly doubtful APD will reach the goal of 1,200 sworn police by the end of Keller’s first term ending on January 1, 2022. The recruitment of new hires will be much easier said than done even with a media campaign and much harder for three reasons:

1. APD’s ability to attract officers from other New Mexico Law enforcement agencies has likely peaked with the other agencies also increasing their pay to compete with APD, and
2. Many recruited lateral hires are likely looking to retire sooner rather than later, coming to the City to increase their high three salary to retire with a more lucrative pension and collect the longevity pay bonuses, and
3. From a personnel management standpoint, it is highly likely that many APD police officers who are eligible for retirement now have decided to stay on and continue for a few more years with APD because of the significant increases in hourly pay and longevity pay and increasing their retirement benefits but still plan on retiring in three years once they get their high 3 years of pay.

Keller will probably have to be elected to a second term in 2021 to be able to reach his goal. No doubt Keller will campaign for a second term saying he needs to finish the work he has started. Another term as mayor is never guaranteed, as was the case with Harry Kinney, David Rusk, Ken Schultz, Jim Baca and even Martin Chavez. Louis Saavedra left office after one term. Richard Berry left office after serving two terms but left with an approval rating of 35% thereby ending his aspirations for governor.

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.

APD is still under a DOJ consent decree, violent crime continues to be at unacceptable levels and political fortunes can change dramatically and swiftly over the 2 years left in Keller’s first term. People of Albuquerque are increasingly becoming restless as a result of the city’s high crime rates. After more than two years in office, voters are expecting results from Mayor Tim Keller and many feel he is not delivering on his promises.

Mayor Keller Solicits Money For His One Alb Foundation From Those Who Do Business With City; Message: “The City Has Scratched Your Back, You Scratch My Foundation’s Back”

Over a year ago on January 7, 2019, Mayor Tim Keller announced the creation of the One Albuquerque Foundation. It’s a foundation formed by the city to collect donations from the general public to support city initiatives and projects. According to the city’s website page:

“… the endowment Fund raises funds in support of and to supplement measurable city priorities, including the housing voucher program for people experiencing homelessness, recruiting and retaining public safety officers, expanding opportunities for young people in Albuquerque, and equipping our workforce with the skills they need to succeed. Additional funding for these priorities will accelerate progress and help scale significant investments the City is already making go much farther, much faster.”

The web page described the fund as akin to the Mayor’s Charity Ball which raised money to be distributed to charitable efforts. It really is not, because with the Mayor’s Charity ball, the money raised was given to charitable causes, while the One Albuquerque Fund collects donations for the city and gives it to city priorities and projects, not charitable organizations or causes.

ONE ALBUQUERQUE FOUNDATION IS A 509(A)(3) SUPPORTING ORGANIZATION

On September 23, 2019, city officials estimated that the One Albuquerque Foundation could bring in as much as $400,000 annually. At the time, the city said it intended to apply donations to first responder recruitment, homelessness reduction efforts, youth programming and workforce development. Mayor Keller for his part said of the One Albuquerque Foundation:

“Every day, people in Albuquerque ask how they can step up and be part of addressing our city’s greatest challenges.”

According to news reports, the One Albuquerque Foundation is a 509(a)(3) supporting organization under the Internal Revenue (IRS) Code. Internal Revenue Service regulations state:

“A supporting organization is a charity that carries out its exempt purposes by supporting other exempt organizations, usually other public charities. … This classification is important because it is one means by which a charity can avoid classification as a private foundation, a status that is subject to a more restrictive regulatory regime.”

The One Albuquerque Foundation has no designated staff but it does have a board of directors. The board president is Charles Ashley III. A contract for fundraising has been negotiated by the board and the board makes necessary staffing decisions according to city spokeswoman Jessie Damazyn.

The city says the foundation complies with the Inspection of Public Records Act (IPRA), New Mexico’s sunshine law. Some local foundations that exist solely to support public entities do not adhered to IPRA. The University of New Mexico Foundation is the best example. According to city spokeswoman Jessie Damazyn, the foundation “will comply with IPRA at the direction of Mayor Keller.”

https://www.krqe.com/news/albuquerque-metro/one-albuquerque-fund-raises-17000-to-help-the-homeless/

https://www.abqjournal.com/1369627/donations-support-police-retention-recruitment.html

DONATIONS ANNOUNCED

On January 6, 2020, a year from the date it was created, Mayor Tim Keller held a press conference at a Downtown restaurant attended by city officials and members of the business community to formally launch the “One Albuquerque Fund”. Mayor Keller announced that since the One Albuquerque Fund was announced, the fund has raised $200,000. According to One Albuquerque Foundation president Charles Ashley III, none of the money currently in the fund came from diverting money from existing city programs.

During the press conference, the foundation presented checks of $5,000 to fund APD police recruitment efforts and $20,000 to provide additional housing vouchers for the homeless. The foundation’s board of directors has identified four areas that it wants to provide funding to:

1. Police recruitment
2. Job training
3. Homeless and
4. Youth initiatives

During the press conference Mayor Tim Keller had this to say about the One Albuquerque Foundation:

“[This is] the best way for the city to partner with businesses, individuals, nonprofits and foundations, because we’re all in this together as One Albuquerque. [It allows the city to better] facilitate public-private partnerships to deal with some of our biggest issues.”

https://www.abqjournal.com/1407588/new-foundation-will-support-city-initiatives.html

35 ENTITIES AND INDIVIDUALS DONATE $248,250 TO KELER’S FOUNDATION

On February 7, the Albuquerque Journal reported that the Albuquerque One Foundation has raised nearly $250,000. Records provided by the city pursuant to a request for public records show most of the money is not coming from individual citizens but rather a cross section of well-known businesses and individuals. The donations that make up the $250,000 are not small donations from people but are in the thousands made by a few.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1421506/familiar-businesses-back-abq-foundation.html

All told, 35 entities and individuals donated $248,250 to the fund. A breakdown of the larger donations made are as follows:

Garcia Subaru: $50,000. This is the single largest donation. Garcia Subaru is owned by the Garcia family, which also own several car dealerships, including Honda, Volkswagen, Infiniti, Cadillac, Mercedes, Jaguar, Land Rover and Alfa Romeo. The Garcia family also own significant parcels of commercial real estate in the Old Town Area and has a stake in the New Mexico United professional soccer team, with the city currently looking for a new site for a soccer stadium.

Comcast: $10,000 Comcast is the city’s cable contract provider.

New Mexico Gas Co.: $10,000. New Mexico Gas Co. has a utility franchise agreement that is subject to renewal with the city and pays a franchise fee to the city.

Blue Shield of New Mexico: $10,000. Blue Shield in the past has been a health care provider insurance carrier to city hall employees.

Netflix: $10,000. In 2018, Mayor Keller signed off on a $4.5 million city economic incentive package to assist NETFLEX in its purchase of Albuquerque Studios.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1239976/mayor-signs-off-on-netflix-deal.html

Golden Pride Chicken: $20,000, owners Larry and Dorothy Rainosek.

Frontier Restaurant: $5,000, owners Larry and Dorothy Rainosek.

Restaurants such as Golden Pride and the Frontier Restaurant must maintain a license to do business with the city and are subject to the zoning and code enforcement regulations including health code inspections.

Fresquez Concessions: $20,000. Fresquez Concessions has the current contract to run all the food and beverage concessions at the Albuquerque International Sunport.

Bradbury Stamm Construction: $10,000. Braburry and Stamm was the main general contractor for the $130,000,000 Art Bus Project and consistently bids on city construction contracts.

Property management company RMCI: $10,000. RMCI currently lists commercial properties in Albuquerque for sale.

Only six people made donations under their individual names. Those individuals making donations include:

Doug Brown, the president of the University of New Mexico Board of Regents: $5,000

Gary Goodman, the real estate developer behind Winrock Town Center: $5,000. Winrock Town Center is being developed under a Tax Increment District (TID) with all construction and development subject to City Planning Department review and approval

Nick Kapnison, owner of Nick and Jimmy’s Restaurant, Mikinos Creek Restaurant and Papa Fillipes: $3,350.

Restaurants must maintain a license to do business with the city and are subject to the zoning and code enforcement regulations including health code inspections.

MAYOR KELLER PERSONALLY INVOLVED WITH SOLICITING DONATIONS

Mayoral spokeswoman Jessie Damazyn confirmed that many contributions made to the One Albuquerque Foundation came in response to face-to-face requests made by Mayor Tim Keller himself to meet with donors. Damazyn did not say exactly how many of the existing donors Keller met with personally to solicit contributions, but said that he had talked with “nearly all” of those on the list of 35 as well as many others “in contexts from coffees to community events to speaking engagements about how they can play a role from volunteering to donating.”

Golden Pride and Frontier owner Larry Rainosek said he donated the $25,000 after a meeting with Keller that the mayor’s office had arranged with him. Rainosek said he did not think his contribution bought influence with the mayor. However, he said the meeting about the foundation that eventually cost $25,000 gave him a long-awaited opportunity to air his grievances about Albuquerque Rapid Transit (ART) project and some changes he would like to see in the future.

Rainosack was a strong opponent of the ART Bus project and made it known that the ART Bus project was a disaster to his Frontier Restaurant and destroyed the character of Route 66. Rainosek is a highly respected and successful businessman. He should be entitled to express his opinion just like any other citizen without having to make any kind of donation requested by the Mayor, but none the less he obviously felt compelled to make the donation especially when he said:

“[Mayor Keller] had his agenda … and I had mine. … We always try to do things that will benefit the city and community”.

OVERSIGHT DEPARTMENTS FOR CORRUPTION

There are two primary, independent departments that function independent from the Mayor’s Office and City Council that that are primarily tasked for investigation of misconduct within city hall: the City Office of Independent Audit and the Office of Inspector General. Both can initiate investigations on their own. The City of Albuquerque Office of Independent Audits is designed to promote transparency, accountability, efficiency and effectiveness of City government. The responsibilities of the office of Inspector General include:

• Investigation of suspected corrupt City elected and appointed leaders
• Investigation of employees suspected of misconduct
• Investigations of suspected fraud, waste, mismanagement and abuse

https://www.cabq.gov/inspectorgeneral

https://www.cabq.gov/audit

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

The propriety of Mayor Tim Keller scheduling meetings to solicit private denotations for his charitable foundation from those who do business with the city or who interacts with city departments and who want to talk with him is so very, very wrong on so many levels with respect to ethical conduct and the appearance of impropriety. The solicitations by Mayor Keller during city business smacks of “pay to play” at worst and at best gives the appearance of impropriety and the exertion of political influence to compel donations from those who do business with the City of Albuquerque, either by contract or being regulated by city departments.

Donations of $50,000, $20,000, $10,000 and $5,000 as were made in the political world more likely than not come with the expectations of at least access to the elected official or a candidate and even commitments to be performed. What is very disturbing is that Keller had his office arranged the meetings, had the private conversations, but nothing is disclosed as to what was discussed, how the donation amounts were determined nor what commitments, if any were made, by Keller to the donors or the donors to Keller. On November 5, election night, Keller made it known on an election night radio program he is running for a second term in 2021. It is reasonable to assume that Keller when he solicited the donors to his foundation also solicited their support of him for his reelection bid and even donate to his campaign when the time was right. Arm twisting to make donations, even with Mayor Keller’s smile and knack for pleasant conversation and likeability, is still arm twisting and influence peddling.

The biggest argument that is being made publicly for the creation of the One Albuquerque Fund by Mayor Keller is that institutions such as the Albuquerque Public Schools, Central New Mexico Community College and the University of New Mexico all have their own foundations to support those entities and the City of Albuquerque should have its own foundation. The argument is bogus. The City has unilateral taxing authority that can be enacted by the City Council whenever it chooses while all the other institutions must rely upon the New Mexico Legislature for their funding. It is highly doubtful the One Albuquerque foundation is a 509(a)(3) supporting organization because the city is not a charity that carries out its exempt purposes by supporting other exempt organizations or other public charities. It’s a government entity responsible for essential services.

It is difficult to understand Mayor Keller’s motivation with One Albuquerque Foundation when he says “[This is] the best way for the city to partner with businesses, individuals, nonprofits and foundations … .” Simply put, no its not. The Albuquerque Community Foundation has been in existence for decades that is doing many of the things being suggested for One Albuquerque. Charitable donations from the general public are difficult enough as it is for private charitable organizations such as the United Way and the Albuquerque Community Foundation and now they have to compete with the Mayor’s One Albuquerque Foundation so he can say “we are all in this together”. The “United Way” charitable foundation sends the very same message and at one time city hall employees were allowed to participate in “United Way” fundraising and it was discontinued by Keller’s predecessor.

It is a pathetic practice for any government entity and its elected Mayor to solicit donations from the general public to carry out it duties and responsibilities to the public, especially when it has already allocated millions to specific causes in a $1.1 Billion budget such as police recruitment, job training and vouchers to provide temporary housing for the homeless. The City of Albuquerque is bloated not only with a $1.1 Billion Budget, but $55 Million Tax Increase revenues from a 2019 enacted tax that Keller agreed to breaking a his campaign promise to raise taxes without a public vote, a $35 Million Orphan Month Windfall as well as $30.5 million in lodger tax bond revenues. Mayor Keller’s approach is to ask for even more funding for his charitable foundation. Such a request reflects a total disconnect from reality. It reflects management negligence and an inability to live within one means and always demanding more.

To be perfectly blunt, Mayor Tim Keller needs to knock it off with his solicitation of donations for his charitable foundation from people who do business with the city, disavow any connection with it and step back and have a clean break from the foundation. Further, the Offices of General Counsel and Independent Audit need to review the fund-raising activities of the Mayor for the foundation and determine if his efforts were unethical and the propriety of the Foundation. At a bare minimum, all 35 donors need to be interviewed to determine what promises and commitments were made and if done in the context of any re election bid.

In the eyes of many city hall insiders, observers and and a few city hall confidential sources, Keller engaged in unethical conduct with his Charitable Foundation, but his top Administration Officials have gone along with it without any objection because he is “the Mayor”. For Keller to continue with the solicitation of donations by him will only make things worse and tarnish his reputation even further and no doubt will become an issue as he seeks a second term.

_______________________________________

POSTSCRIPT

On Thursday, February 20, the Albuquerque Journal published the following editorial:

Editorial Headline: ABQ may need a foundation, but not fundraiser in chief

“The One Albuquerque Fund sounds like a good idea. Launched last year by the city, it is designed to attract additional resources “in support of and to supplement city priorities.” Some examples: spending on police recruiting, housing vouchers and workforce development.

While all are fine ideas for the city to pursue given its police manpower shortage and homelessness issues, they also sound a whole lot like a political agenda.
And while there is no evidence of impropriety, when it comes to appearances Mayor Tim Keller is skating on thin ethical ice by personally soliciting money to help with pet projects that may help his political future.

First, it’s important to note the city’s elected officials can’t solicit campaign contributions – or receive them – from vendors who do business with the city. The same is true for Bernalillo County commissioners. And the reasons for that should be obvious. It just looks bad.

All told, according to a story published Monday by Journal reporter Jessica Dyer, 35 entities and individuals have ponied up $248,250 in contributions to the One Albuquerque Fund.

Keller spokesman Jessie Damazyn didn’t say how many donors Keller had met with personally but did say he had talked with “nearly all” of them. Fresquez Concessions, which has an active agreement with the city to run all food and beverage business at the Albuquerque International Sunport, contributed $20,000.

Other heavy hitters on the list who aren’t vendors but some of whose operations could intersect with city regulators include Comcast, Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Mexico, New Mexico Gas Co., McDonald’s and Netflix. They have given $10,000 each.

The real estate and development industry also has contributed. Bradbury Stamm and property management company RMCI each gave $10,000. Real estate developer Gary Goodman kicked in $5,000, as did local restaurateur Nick Kapnison.

Golden Pride Chicken gave $20,000, and Frontier Restaurant gave $5,000. Both are owned by Larry Rainosek, who said he made the donations after a meeting with Keller that was set up by the Mayor’s Office.
Rainosek is an incredibly successful businessman, as well as a philanthropist who supports other causes. There is no reason to doubt him when he says “we always try to do things that will benefit the city and the community.”

Rainosek said he didn’t think the contribution bought influence but said the meeting about the foundation gave him a long-awaited opportunity to air his grievances about Albuquerque Rapid Transit and some changes he would like to see.

“He had his agenda,” Rainosek said. “And I had mine.”

It’s perfectly reasonable for Rainosek to want to vent his frustrations and objections to the mayor about ART. The problem is in the ask by the mayor, and that it appears Rainosek didn’t get a chance to air those grievances until the mayor wanted a donation for his foundation.

Meanwhile, Damazyn said donations would not affect how the city chooses contractors, citing the city’s procurement process. She also noted other entities like Albuquerque Public Schools and the University of New Mexico have foundations.

And while it is a big plus that the city foundation will comply with the state Inspection of Public Records Act, according to Damazyn (the UNM Foundation has argued in court it is not subject to the state’s public records law), it is important to note APS and UNM have separate boards so the superintendent and president can do their jobs running their respective operations rather than a perennial fundraising tour of pet projects.

If Keller wants the One Albuquerque Fund to succeed and prosper, with no political taint, he can’t be fundraiser in chief as well as mayor. He needs to remove himself from the fundraising process and let the foundation rise or fall on the work it does.”

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1422529/abq-may-need-a-foundation-but-not-fundraiser-in-chief.html

COMMENTARY

The Albuquerque Journal editorial was a lot more diplomatic than I was in my blog article. As far as I am concerned the Journal let Keller off way too easy. My reasons are clear, Keller made a reputation as State Auditor to run for Mayor on the carefully cultivated image of being a crusader against “waste, fraud and abuse” of public money. Charitable donations are no different. To be perfectly blunt, Mayor Tim Keller needs to knock it off with his solicitation of donations for his charitable foundation from people who do business with the city, disavow any connection with it and step back and have a clean break from the foundation. Further, the Offices of General Counsel and Independent Audit need to review the fund-raising activities of the Mayor for the foundation and determine if his efforts were unethical and the propriety of the Foundation. At a bare minimum, all 35 donors need to be interviewed to determine what promises and commitments were made and if done in the context of any reelection bid.