Corona Virus Update: NM Cases Increase; Hospital Bed Shortage; City Provides Services; City To Get U.S. Army Field Hospital; Public Schools Closed For Year

As of Monday March 30, the coronavirus death toll in New Mexico is now at 4. According to state health officials, 2 women, one in her 70s and one in her 90s, died on Monday both with underlying medical conditions. New Mexico officials added 44 new positive cases resulting in a total of 281 with 26 people having recovered from the virus and 24 are currently hospitalized for the virus.

The latest positive tests include 16 new cases in Bernalillo County, bringing its total to 117. Five new cases each in Sandoval and San Juan Counties in each county, 3 each in Santa Fe, Torrance, Valencia and McKinley counties, 2 in Chaves County and 1 each in Dona Ana, Rio Arriba, Socorro and Taos counties.


Governor Lujan Grisham made it clear in her news conference last week that the state may hit a peak in new cases in mid-April. The problem is New Mexico has fewer hospital beds per capita than the national average, with 1.8 hospital beds per 1,000 people. For most people who come down with the virus they exhibit symptoms that include a fever and respiratory problems and they recover within two to three weeks. It is the most vulnerable, ages 60 year and up and who have preexisting conditions that are likely be hospitalized with life threatening symptoms.

Last week Governor Lujan Grisham had asked the federal Department of Defense for a 248-bed U.S. Army field hospital in Albuquerque to absorb the anticipated surge cases. On March 30, President Donald Trump told Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham in a conference call with Governors that he will grant her request for the U.S. Army field hospital and instructed his staff to look into it.

On March 30, a Bernalillo County spokeswoman announced that a 39-year-old man in the custody of the Metropolitan Detention Center tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend, causing several other inmates and staff members to be quarantined.


The Keller Administration announced that people who have medical needs that have been made worse by the corona virus will be able to get help at one of four Health and Social Services Centers in Albuquerque. According to Deputy Director of Public Health Gilbert Ramirez, each quadrant of the city has a center, and each has been designated a “mission critical” facility.

The services and items provided by the centers include monthly food boxes, limited supplies of diapers and hygiene products, and clothing. The centers also have an eviction prevention program funded by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. Tenants facing eviction must have identification and a lease or payment history that reflects delinquency and how much is owed. The problem is the federal program has just under $47,000 available. The city is asking for donations for its motel voucher program for homeless people, particularly for those who have chronic medical problems and reduced immune systems.

Donations can be made to the centers to provide eviction protection for those people who do not qualify for the federally funded program. On Wednesday, there was only about $10,000 available for that program. People who donate can designate where they want the money to go such as eviction protection, diapers, food or other items.

People needing the services of a Health and Social Services Center should go to the one in their quadrant of the city.

Following is a listing of the centers:

John Marshall, 1500 Walter SE, 848-1345;
Alamosa, 6900 Gonzales SW, 836-8800;
Los Griegos, 1231 Candelaria NW, 761-4050; and
East Central, 7525 Zuni SE, 767-5700.
said Lisa Huval, deputy director for housing and homelessness.


Two community centers have been designated to provide emergency shelter for those who do not have the virus but are in the higher-risk older-age demographic. Individuals placed at the 2 centers must be referred from the West Side Emergency Housing Center. The 2 centers are:

The Thomas Bell Community Center, 3001 University SE
The Jack Candelaria Community Center, 400 San Jose SE


On March 30, the Keller Administration made the following announcements regarding city services:

Citywide: All City buildings are closed to the public, as of 5 p.m., March 24. This includes City Hall. Signs will be posted instructing people how they can access the County Clerk’s office.
City Clerk: All hearings are either postponed or will be held remotely.

Planning Department:

• Plaza del Sol will be closed to the public.
• Permitting will continue via telephone, while inspections and field work will continue as normal.
• A drop box will be set up for applicants to drop any paperwork. Staff will pick up and review submissions and then set a time for applicants to pick up any permits.

Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority: All walk-in payment locations are temporarily closed. Payments may be mailed or made online.

Parks & Recreation and Citywide Youth Programs:

• All Spring Break youth programs are canceled.
• City golf courses are closed
• All playgrounds in City parks are closed, although the parks themselves will remain open.
• Maloof Air Park is closed.
• Horsemen’s Complex is closed; however, owners must continue to care for their animals.


On Friday, March 27, Public Education Secretary Ryan Stewart announced that the statewide school closure will be extended for the rest of the academic year because of the corona virus pandemic. Public preschools and K-12 schools across the state have been ordered to shut down effective March 16 to help stop the spread of the virus. Students were initially scheduled to go back to school April 6, but given the worsening spread of the virus, that is no longer feasible.

Students with special needs will receive all feasible supports and accommodations that can be delivered while maintaining safe social-distancing.

Individual school districts will design measures by which seniors can demonstrate eligibility for graduation. Those measures could include testing, completing a series of assignments, achieving a set score on a college entrance exam or demonstrating applied work experience. High school seniors will have until June 19 to demonstrate eligibility, and those who fail to do so will be offered credit recovery in the summer. They can also appeal to their local school board or to the secretary. No student will be denied graduation for lack of access to demonstrate competency.

Every New Mexico school district has a plan to continue providing childhood nutrition during this period. You can see those plans here. The Public Education Department is also seeking permission to distribute Electronic Benefits Transfer cards that would allow qualifying families to purchase meals with their free breakfast/lunch allotment.


Older adults and those with chronic illnesses are most at risk to contract the virus that could result in death from complications. Even healthy young people not worried about getting sick should take steps to protect themselves and others in that they could still carry the virus but not show signs of it. The strategy must be to limit the chance of transmitting the disease to persons who are more vulnerable.
Government officials urged people to protect themselves by:

Self-quarantine until the end of April

Honoring the “quarantine” and staying home and avoid large crowds and public events

Washing your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds

Cleaning “high-touch” surfaces daily with regular household cleaners

When coughing, use a tissue or cough into the forearm of your elbow

Avoiding the sharing of personal household items

Stay at home when sick

Practice “social distancing” when talking to others in person by standing 6 feet away from them

Wear face masks if available that seals around mouth and nose when out in public

Limit activities to grocery shopping, filling your car with gasoline and medical appointment

For a related blog article see:

Updated New Mexico COVID-19 Cases Now at 191; A Breakdown Per County

Candidates On June 2 Primary Ballot; Many Incumbents Get “Free Rides”; N.M. Secretary of State Should Plan For Mail In Voting For June 2 Primary

In the political world, “free ride” is the term used for candidates for office who do not have any opponents, either in a primary or general election. The term free ride also means in part that a candidate for office does not have to run around and collect campaign donations or spend their own money to get reelected. All the candidates who get a free ride have to do is show up and vote for themselves and they win!

All too often, candidates who get free rides like to proclaim they have no opponent’s because they have done such a fantastic job that they have run off any any all opponents. No one has the heart to tell some of them that the reason they have no opponent’s is not that they have done a such a fantastic job, but that no one wants their jobs in the first place considering the jobs as thankless. Notwithstanding, those who run for office and who are willing to serve in any capacity need to be thanked for showing a willingness to run and subject themselves and their families to scrutiny by the public and the press.

March 10 was the filing day for, Bernalillo County Commission, County Judges, the District Attorney, County Clerk and County Treasurer offices and the New Mexico House and State Senate. The majority of the candidates running for another term have ‘free rides” some only in the primary and others also in the general election.


Following are the various positions and those who declared their candidacies who will appear on the June 2 ballot:

Bernalillo County District Attorney: Incumbent Democrat Raul Torrez is unopposed for a second term in both the June 2 primary and the November 3 general election.

Bernalillo County Clerk: Incumbent Democrat Linda Stover is unopposed for a second term in both the June 2 primary and the November 3 general election.

County Treasurer: Incumbent Democrat Nancy Bearce, Democrats Donny Albert Daniels, Patrick Padilla and Bernadette Sanchez. No Republicans filed so whoever is elected in the Democratic Party primary wins the general election.


There are 3 seats on the 5 member Bernalillo County Commission up for election.

District 2 Commissioner: Incumbent Democrat Stephen Michael Quezada and Democrats Frank Baca and Rudy Zamora. No Republican filed so whoever wins the Democratic primary on June 2 is elected.

District 3 Commissioner: Democrats Adriann Barboa, Adrian Neal Carver and Marcos Gonzales. No Republican filed so whoever wins the Democratic primary on June 2 is elected.

(Editor’s Note: County Commissioner Maggie Hart Stebbins resigned from the District 3 Commission seat to take a state government job. County Commissioner Jim Collie was appointed to the District 3 seat to replace Hart Stebbins but agreed not to run for the seat as a condition for the appointment bt the Governor).

District 4 Commissioner: Republican two term County Commissioner Lonnie Talbet, the only Republican on the County Commission, cannot run for another term because of term limits. Former Republican Bernalillo County Commissioner Tim Cummins, who served from 2000 to 2008 and Republicans George Benson, Sean Kesani and Tina Tomlin Have filed in the Republican primary and Democrats Felix Nuñez and Wende Schwingendorf have filed in the Democratic primary for the District 4 seat.


Division 6 judge in the 2nd Judicial District: Democrat Daniel Ramczyk, who is the current Division 6 Judge and who was appointed by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham is opposed by former Metropolitan Court Judge Edward Benavidez who lost his reelection bid in the 2018 when he failed to win a retention election.

Democrat Metro Court Judge Courtney Weaks is challenging incumbent Republican District Judge Daniel Gallegos.

State law requires newly appointed judges to run in the general election immediately after their appointment in order to keep their appointed positions.

Four District Court judges, Lisa Chavez Ortega, Erin O’Connell, Amber Chavez Baker and Joshua Allison are running unopposed to stay in their positions, as are Metro Court judges Brittany Maldonado Malott, Jason Jaramillo, Felicia Blea-Rivera and David Murphy.


All 112 of New Mexico’s legislative seats are on the ballot this year. The current breakdown in the New Mexico House of Representatives is 46 Democrats and 24 Republicans. The current breakdown in the New Mexico Senate is 26 Democrats and 16 Republicans.
A total of 9 of those seats will have new legislators because the incumbents have decided to retire or are running for another office. Many incumbent legislators who in the past have run without opposition have opponents this election year.


Powerful Senate Democrats facing opposition in their primary include Democrat Senate Finance Committee Chairman John Arthur Smith of Deming, Senate President Pro Tem Mary Kay Papen of Las Cruces, Senate Corporations and Transportation Committee Chairman Clemente Sanchez of Grants and Senate Finance Committee Vice Chairman George Muñoz of Gallup. These Senate Democrats are conservative leaning and side often with Republicans in a coalition to defeat progressive legislation and allocations.

Two Democratic senators appointed to fill a vacancy by county commissions will face primary challenges as they seek election to hold on to their seats. Senator Shannon Pinto of Tohatchi, Senate District 3, who succeeded her grandfather, John Pinto, after he past away last year, faces challenges from Democrats Dineh Benally of Shiprock and Shawn Nelson of Gamerco.

In Senate District 28, Senator Gabriel Ramos of Silver City will face Democrat Siah Correa Hemphill, also of Silver City

Republican Senator Fulfer is among the incumbents facing a challenge from within his own party. He was appointed by then Republican Governor “She Who Must Not Be Named” to the Senate in late 2018.


In House District 50, Representative Matthew McQueen of Galisteo is opposing Democrat Rebecca King Spindle, a rancher from Stanley and granddaughter of former Governor Bruce King.

In House District 65, Representative Derrick Lente of Sandia Pueblo is opposed by former State Representative James Roger Madalena of Jemez Pueblo in the Democratic primary.

Madalena is one of several ex-lawmakers seeking to return to the Legislature. The others include Republican Ricky Little of Chaparral and Democrats Shannon Robinson of Albuquerque and Ben Rodefer of Corrales.


Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s statewide stay-at-home order for non-essential workers runs through April 10 as a result of the Corona virus outbreak. Some states are already delaying their primaries because of the virus outbreak. It is more likely than not that the outbreak will continue beyond New Mexico’s June 2 primary with some medical experts saying the outbreak will continue through July.

Early voting scheduled to begin in 6 weeks and requires staffing voting sites in every county. If there is a large voter turnout, voting will be complicated with the “social distancing” of 6 feet being recommended to combat the spread of the corona virus. There is also no guarantee voters would even show up an result in a very low voter turnout. Then there is the problem with poll workers, many who are dedicated to the jobs and are over 60 years old and in the high-risk category for the virus. Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver needs to seriously consider as a viable option conducting a statewide vote by mail primary. Hopefully by November, 2020, the pandemic crisis will be over and the general election can proceed as normal.

Unless of course our war time President decides to declare marshal law, cancel the election and appoint himself President for life. Don’t laugh too hard, it could happen with our “clown in chief”.



The following article was published 8 hours after today’s blog article:

Clerks seek emergency court action for all-mail voting

Monday, March 30th, 2020 at 3:30pm

SANTA FE — More than two dozen of New Mexico’s county clerks asked the state Supreme Court on Monday for an emergency order that would allow them to move to a mail-in election for the June 2 primary.
The clerks said they otherwise face an impossible choice — putting voters’ and election workers’ lives at risk or violating their oath of office.

“The state of New Mexico faces a public health emergency unprecedented in modern times,” the clerks said in an their emergency petition, filed Monday.

An attorney for Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, New Mexico’s chief election officer, also signed onto the petition.

The 27 clerks — mostly Democrats but also including five Republicans — argued that poll workers are scared to work and that election sites, such as schools, are already closed with no plans to re-open.

An immediate special legislative session to change election procedures isn’t practical amid the pandemic, the clerks argue, and they are beseeching the court for permission to hold the election by mail.

Updated New Mexico COVID-19 Cases Now at 191; A Breakdown Per County

It was reported on Friday, March 27, that the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Mexico is now at 191 with 55 more people testing positive. The a 40% increase in one day, though alarming, should not come as a surprise to anyone in that it coincides with increased testing throughout the state.

According to state officials, the number patients hospitalized increased by 4 and is now 17 with 6 of those hospitalized in intensive care or on ventilators to help them breathe. Twenty-seven of the new cases are in Bernalillo County. Most of New Mexico’s cases are connected to international or interstate travel. This prompted Governor Lujan Grisham to issue a two-week quarantine order for air travelers upon their arrival to the city.

On March 27, the New Mexico Department of Health release the following data:

Updated New Mexico COVID-19 cases: Now at 191
Mar 27, 2020 | Press Room

“SANTA FE – New Mexico state health officials on Friday announced 55 additional positive tests for COVID-19.

Per the state Department of Health, the most recent cases are:

27 new cases in Bernalillo County
1 new case in Cibola County
1 new case in Eddy County
1 new case in Lea County
2 new cases in McKinley County
1 new case in Rio Arriba County
1 new case in Roosevelt County
5 new cases in Sandoval County
3 new cases in San Juan County
7 new cases in Santa Fe County
5 new cases in Taos County
1 new case in Valencia County
The Department of Health on Thursday reported no additional deaths in the state related to COVID-19. The number of deaths in the state related to COVID-19 remains at one.

Including the above newly reported cases, New Mexico has now had a total of 191 positive tests for COVID-19:

Bernalillo County: 82
Cibola County: 2
Chaves County: 4
Curry County: 1
Doña Ana County: 16
Eddy County: 2
Lea County: 2
McKinley County: 5
Rio Arriba County: 3
Roosevelt County: 1
Sandoval County: 15
San Juan County: 17
San Miguel County: 1
Santa Fe County: 29
​​Socorro County: 2
Taos County: 8
Valencia County: 1

As of today, there are 17 individuals hospitalized in New Mexico for COVID-19. This number may include individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 out of state but are currently hospitalized in New Mexico. This number does not include New Mexicans who tested positive for COVID-19 and may have been transferred to a hospital out of state.

The Department of Health has detected community spread and is investigating cases with no known exposure. The agency reports that given the infectious nature of the virus it is likely other residents are infected but yet to be tested or confirmed positive. To that end, all New Mexicans have been instructed to stay home except for outings absolutely necessary for health, safety and welfare. These additional restrictions have been enacted to aggressively minimize person-to-person contact and ensure spread is mitigated. All businesses except those deemed essential have been ordered to close. New Mexicans are strongly urged to limit travel to only what is necessary for health, safety and welfare.

The New Mexico Department of Health has active investigations into the positive patients, which includes contact-tracing and swabs of symptomatic individuals who have had contact with the positive cases.

Every New Mexican must work together to stem the spread of COVID-19. Stay home.

New Mexicans who report symptoms of COVID-19 infection, such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath, should call their health care provider or the NMDOH COVID-19 hotline immediately (1-855-600-3453).

While the state is gratified that COVID-19 testing is increasingly available, we need to prioritize testing for persons with symptoms of COVID-19 infection – fever, cough, or shortness of breath. This is allergy season, and allergy symptoms such as sneezing or itchy eyes, nose or throat do not indicate a need for testing.

New Mexicans who have non-health-related questions or concerns can also call 833-551-0518 or visit, which is being updated regularly as a one-stop source for information for families, workers and others affected by and seeking more information about COVID-19.

The state Department of Health will update its dedicated COVID-19 webpage with additional tests as the state lab provides results.”

You can review future updates from the New Mexico Health Department at this link:


Older adults and those with chronic illnesses are most at risk to contract the virus that could result in death from complications. Even healthy young people not worried about getting sick should take steps to protect themselves and others in that they could still carry the virus but not show signs of it. The strategy must be to limit the chance of transmitting the disease to persons who are more vulnerable.

Government officials urged people to protect themselves by:

Washing their hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds

Cleaning “high-touch” surfaces daily with regular household cleaners

When coughing, use a tissue or cough into the forearm of your elbow

Avoiding the sharing of personal household items

Stay at home when sick

Avoid large crowds and public events

Practice “social distancing” when talking to others in person by standing 6 feet away from them

Wear medical mask if available that seals around mouth and nose when out in public

Self-quarantine for 14 days if you can

Limit activities to grocery shopping, trips to gas station and medical appointment

All News Now Tied To Pandemic, Even Crime

On the evening of March 27, KOAT TV, Target 7, posted the follow story:

“Most people are locked inside their homes right now. But are criminals?

Early data suggests they are; however, local security companies suggest otherwise.

“The crime situation in Albuquerque is holding steady and actually down slightly,” Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said at his daily coronavirus response briefing. “Because more people are home, there are a lot of theories on this could be why crime is slightly down.”

Target 7 combed through arrest records to find out.

Since the governor’s first public health order March 12, there have been 51 fewer people arrested on felonies when compared to the same time last year. There is also a 6% drop in police reports filed this year. But some say they are seeing more crime despite what the data says.

“The number of car burglaries and business burglaries in the last 48 hours is completely off the chart,” said Peter Darrel Kindig, owner of Narrowgate Security Agency. “My phone is ringing off the hook.”
Kindig said businesses that are forced to close have been calling him, wanting his service and a new type of security system that alerts security officers in the field if there is suspicious motion.
When the system goes off, it alerts an officer in a car, video pops up, and the officer can activate red and blue lights and a siren and even talk to the person remotely.
“People now don’t want just an alarm that goes off after they are burglarized,” Kindig said. “They want something that alerts before the burglary takes place.”


It is truly amazing, and somewhat depressing, how everything we see and hear on the local, state and national news is all consuming and tied to the corona virus pandemic.\

In Albuquerque, it looks like it has taken a worldwide pandemic to get Albuquerque’s high crime rates down seeing as nothing else has worked for the last 8 years!

You gotta wonder if the the Mayor, the DA, the legislators and the courts will now lay the claim it was their plan all along to bring down the city’s high crime rates.

Juris Doctorate Don Harris Thinks He Can Practice Medicine With His Law Degree

On Thursday, March 26, political blogger Joe Monahan on his blog “New Mexico Politics With Joe Monahan” broke a story entitled in part “Dangerous Don”? ABQ Councilor Stirs Pot With Controversial Coronavirus Comments; Guv’s Office Pushes Back”. Following are the relevant portions of the article with the link to Mr. Monahan’s blog:

“ABQ GOP City Councilor Don Harris is getting pushback after controversial comments on the coronavirus in New Mexico–comments the Governor’s office calls “dangerous.”

Harris has become one of the first elected officials to publicly question the Governor’s stay at home order to combat the coronavirus. Several hours after the first reported NM death from the virus was reported Wednesday, Harris told us:

I am sensing that the Governor is going lockstep with places that have much different problems than we do, particularly New York. Testing there shows a very high infection rate, while in New Mexico it is two percent. You can’t treat the country as a unified entity when New Mexico is a sparsely populated state and has a a different climate than New York.

The longtime councilor, first elected in 2005 from District 9 in the far NE Heights, also brought up the hot button issue of possible increased suicides among the millions of workers laid off because of the shuttering of much of the economy. President Trump brought up the same issue but the AP came with a fact check that disputes that notion.

Harris, an attorney in private practice, urged an “open discussion” about the stay at home order, saying his chief concern is that it could be extended beyond the scheduled April 10 expiration, causing extensive economic harm.

Hopefully we will have some good data by April 10 and be very cautious about extending it and with regard to whom and how long. We should talk about the young people resuming normal life and keep those people away from the elderly. I think we need to have an open discussion about the harm that the economic lock down is doing to people.

Harris wrote on Facebook that his speaking out was prompted by the state’s use of the emergency alert system Wednesday to urge all New Mexicans to stay home:

I received an emergency text from the Governor or her agency ordering me to stay home. At the time I was walking in the foothills. . . . Albuquerque ranks number one in the nation in per capita for land devoted to open space and we are the fifth least-densely populated state in the country with 17 people per square mile on average. We have a high-desert climate with lots of sun and virus killing UV radiation. We are not New York City.

Harris also questions ABQ Mayor Keller’s order closing city golf courses:

People can stay six feet away from each other. Why not let people go out and golf?

Harris is up for re-election in 2021 but he tells us he is “uncertain” about seeking another term.


Gov. MLG

Governor’s office spokeswoman Nora Myers Sackett came with this response to the Harris comments:

“Councilor Harris’ misinformed comments are not only misdirected, they are downright dangerous.

The only way to prevent a spike in the infection rate is with measures exactly like what Governor Lujan Grisham is doing; a statewide stay-at-home instruction, closing of non-essential businesses. That is the only way to flatten the curve and not overwhelm the state’s health care facilities, at which point the public health emergency will be disastrous.

If is critically dangerous for the Councilor to imply that only the elderly are affected by COVID-19. That is categorically false. The majority of New Mexico’s cases are under the age of 50. Like most viral infections, high-risk individuals are more at risk, but every New Mexican is at risk of contracting COVID-19. That is why it is essential that all New Mexicans stay home. Period. It is the only way to slow the spread of COVID-19.

New Mexico’s sunshine will not eradicate COVID-19. I am dismayed that an elected official would suggest something so dangerous. The governor understands the terrible situation that this public health emergency puts our economy in – but the alternative, should the spread of COVID-19 not be stopped, is even greater economic and public health devastation.

The only way to slow the spread of COVID-19 is for New Mexicans to stay home and not interact with each other. Not just older New Mexicans, all New Mexicans. Any New Mexican is susceptible to this virus. Want proof? A baby under one was recently announced as having tested positive for COVID-19, with no known exposure to anyone else who had tested positive. This is not a virus of the elderly, and if New Mexicans, including Councilor Harris, do not take this seriously, we will feel the repercussions for months to come.”

The link to “New Mexico Politics With Joe Monahan” is here:

E-mail your news and comments to:


Don Harris is a 4 term Republican City Councilor who represents District 9, the far Southeast Heights and Foothills area of the city, including the 4-Hills Country Club area. He was first elected to the City Council in 2005. He is in the private practice of law, but was employed for a few years as an Albuquerque Assistant City Attorney before going into the private practice of law and then running for City Council.

To use Don Harris’ comments, the only “open discussion” we need to have is the discussion as to why his constituents keep electing this do nothing to the city council. Don Harris has a very well deserve reputation for doing very little, and some would say absolutely nothing, on the City Council and just draws his city council salary without doing any work. He is one of those City Councilors who once he leaves, no one will ever know he ever served, which is the classic definition of a “do nothing” elected official.


Some of the very few highlights of the voting record of Don Harris include:

Don Harris voted repeatedly for and supported Republican Mayor Berry’s ART Bus project and funding. Harris refused to advocate to put ART on the ballot for public approval. Harris voted to spend federal grant money that had yet to be appropriated by congress. The ART Bus project has been a total disaster resulting the destruction of the character of Route 66 and having a negative impact and resulting in several businesses going out of business. Harris failed to attend any of the federal court hearings on the case where Central Businesses were trying to obtain an injunction to stop ART and he failed to attend any of the Berry Administration public meetings on the project to solicit input from citizens.

The Albuquerque City Council plays a crucial oversight role of the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) including controlling its budget. Harris was on the City Council when the Department of Justice found a culture of aggression within APD that resulted in the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA). Don Harris did absolutely nothing when it comes to the APD reforms and never challenged the APD command staff in any meaningful way demanding compliance with the Department of Justice (DOJ) consent decree reforms. Each of the 10 times the Federal Monitor presented his critical reports of APD to the City Council, Harris was nowhere to be found and was silent and has declined to demand accountability from Republican Mayor Berry. Harris failed to hold the APD command staff responsible for dragging their feet on the reforms. Harris failed to attend any of the federal court hearings on the consent decree.

Harris voted for over $63 million dollars in revenue bonds to build pickle ball courts, baseball fields and the ART bus project down Central not seeking public input and bypassing the capital improvements process (CIP) that mandates hearings and public votes. The use of revenue bonds is discretionary with the City Council requiring seven (7) votes and revenue bonds do not require significant review and public hearings as is required with capital improvement bonds.

Republican Don Harris partnered with Democrat Pat Davis to write and sponsor a city ordinance to address blighted, abandoned or substandard commercial properties requiring property owners to make repairs. At the time, Harris a former Assistant City Attorney, already knew that a number of city ordinances and building codes were already on the books that were not being enforced to address substandard properties including one of the strongest nuisance abatement ordinances in the country. Rather than trying to re-invent the wheel for publicity sake, Harris and the City Council failed to fully fund the Safe City Strike Force, which Harris served on as an Assistant City Attorney, and refused to utilize condemnation actions to address blighted commercial properties that were irreparable and that had become magnets for crime.

Harris voted for the final adoption of the ABC-Z comprehensive plan which will have long term impact on our neighborhoods and favors developers. The enactment of the comprehensive plan was a major priority of Republican Mayor Berry and the development community pushed hard for its enactment before Berry left office. The ABC-Z project rewrite is nothing more than making “gentrification” an official city policy and the “gutting” of long standing sector development plans by the development community to repeal those sector development plans designed to protect neighborhoods and their character.

Don Harris lists on his City Council web page as a major accomplishment a constituent survey he had done on the Tiny Homes Village, which is a joint City and County project. Harris represents portions of the Southeast Heights, including the Four Hills area, where sites had been identified for the Tiny Homes project. In response to the survey results, City Councilor Don Harris sponsored a moratorium on the construction of any tiny home villages in the city until an independent and comprehensive analysis was completed on “the best way to deliver services to the homeless that will generate measurable results.” Don Harris opposing the Tiny Homes project and calling for a moratorium on the project was so damn laughable. He conducted the survey to placate his constituents only after totally ignoring them and ignoring what had been going on in his district for well over a year. Harris failed to attend a single public forum held on the project, ignored his constituents and even refused to meet with a number of them on the issue.

Most recently, on Monday, March 16, the Albuquerque City Council convened an emergency session and enacted changes to the city’s “Emergency Powers Ordinance” . The 1960’ Emergency Powers Ordinance is clearly unconstitutional on many levels that even a first-year law student would understand. The emergency city council meeting was a clear violation of the New Mexico Open Meetings Act by barring the general public. It is embarrassing and damn pathetic that Republican City Councilor Don Harris, who is a licensed New Mexico Attorney, did not question the constitutionality of the original ordinance nor the propriety of excluding the public from the meeting in violation of the law.


With the comments made by Republican Don Harris regarding the Governor’s stay at home orders, it’s obvious he is in lock step with the philosophy of President Trump, despite the fact that the stay at home order is likely to have a major benefit of protecting a large number of his constituent’s. City Council District 9 that Harris represents has a large percentage of people in the high-risk group ages over 60 and a number of retirees.

Don Harris needs to be told that the Juris Doctorate Degree he holds to practice law does not mean he can give free medical advice to avoid a pandemic.



Below is an email received on March 26 from one of City Councillor Don Harris’ many constituents:

“Bravo …! For identifying a few of the inane, but more often illegal, comments and actions coming from Do-Nothing, Dandy Don Harris. Having been subjected here in Dist. 9 to his “throw Four Hills under the bus” retaliatory tactics as a result of those trying to recall him, we are left in the wake of his squalor with

a) a second community center built on a historic archaeological piece of land donated to the city for preservation as a park (Singing Arrow Park),

b) leaving the original SA Park in blight with no plans for demolition or remodeling although Go-Bonds were approved for such),

c) sponsoring a bill that was adopted that allows Councilors to “re-purpose” bond money–although clearly illegal,

d) failing as a lawyer to recognize and dispel illegal acts of City Council when other Councilors request a clarification…ie. When City Councilors ask: “Are we doing something illegal?” He just sits there, talking on the phone, maybe consulting his tarot-card adviser,…

e) leaving the public in harm’s way with a 10-year abandoned shopping center called “Franklin Plaza” where a serial rapist (now convicted) operated freely;

f) turning all the motels into homeless camps through city issued motel vouchers

g) approving the order to have APD stand down on crime in the motels on E. Central,

h) failing to propose a city ordinance he promised APD that would require ID when renting a motel room, regardless if homeless or not,

i) Failing to use a single dollar of MRA funds to revitalize his district…..The list goes on, but I’m tired of typing.It’s time to wake up and look at all the petals that have dropped off Don Harris’ rose.

The flower is dead and only the barbed stem remains.”

Unconstitutional 1960’s “Public Health Emergency Ordinance” Should Have Been Repealed; Power Grab By City Council; Intentional Violation Of Open Meeting Act Demands Another Vote

It was on March 11, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham became the first New Mexico Governor to invoke the 2003 Public Health Emergency Response Act (PHERA), issuing an Executive Order declaring a “public health emergency” giving her administration broad powers to deal with the coronavirus.

On March 16, as if not to be outdone by the Governor, the Albuquerque City Council voted 6 to 3 in favor of amending the city’s “Emergency Powers Ordinance” to help prevent further spread of COVID-19. The updated bill expands the mayor’s power to respond to the pandemic outbreak. City Councilors Isaac Benton, Diane Gibson, Cynthia Borrego, Klarissa Peña and Lan Sena voted Yes to pass the legislation while City Councilors Brook Bassan, Don Harris and Trudy Jones voted NO.

Passed in the 1960s, the Civil Emergency Powers ordinance was initially enacted to address potential widespread rioting and limits emergency powers to situations like riots and natural disasters. At the time, the country was experiencing extensive civil disobedience disorder as a result of the Viet Nam War and protests. The original bill includes many provisions that would be unenforceable or unconstitutional, such as closing down gun stores and gas rationing which are within the actual previews of the state or federal government.

At the March 16 City Council meeting, Albuquerque City Councilor Pat Davis offered a “floor substitute” of the “Emergency Powers Ordinance” containing original provisions of the ordinance, repealing some language of the ordinance and providing for significant amendments to the ordinance. The amendments essentially update the existing ordinance adding a public health provision to the provisions governing disasters like earthquakes and riots. The rules governing disasters like earthquakes and riots do not apply to situations such as the corona virus pandemic.


The new ordinance broadens the mayor’s “emergency powers”. Under the updated ordinance, the mayor can invoke specific powers like reallocating city resources to combat the epidemic and ordering the closure of streets, day cares and places of “mass assembly” like theaters and sports venues. The mayor could also require retailers to set limits on how many “medical, health and sanitation” products they sell to one person per day.

Under the changes to the “Emergency Powers Ordinance” the Mayor can declare a public health emergency for up to 7 days. While the mayor can issue the proclamation, the City Council is given the authority to amend, cancel or extend the order. The city council is also given authority to reverse any decision declared by the mayor. The powers granted to the mayor would only last for 30 days, but could be lengthened or shortened by the city council.

Under the updated ordinance, the Mayor now has the authority to close streets, limit the quantities of certain items sold at stores and close places where big gatherings happen such as places of worship. It also gives the Mayor power to close city facilities, relocate city staff and divert funding around to deal with a crisis. However, the ordinance does not let a Mayor seize private property or put individuals in quarantine. The emergency power would join others the mayor has like declaring a civil emergency if there is a riot or a natural disaster.

You can find the entire floor substitute containing all older provision and updated provisions here:


On Wednesday, March 18, less than 48 hours after the Albuquerque City Council passed the amended “Emergency Powers Ordinance”, Mayor Tim Keller declared a Public Health Emergency to deal with the corona virus in the city. The Mayor announced and signed the emergency declaration even before the ink was dried on the enacted legislation and the city clerk’s signature on the transmittal notice of enactment.

Mayor Keller went out of his way to back up the declaration with a press release that that the new legislation would not allow him to confiscate guns or halt alcohol sales. The new legislation does not allow it either. The need to address the gun and alcohol issues was the result of severe criticism and false information spread about both issues on social media. Keller was forced to explain the primary purpose for the declaration was to give him more flexibility in freeing up financial resources to address the coronavirus threat.

The Mayor’s emergency declaration ends by making two specific requests for financial assistance from the New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and state agencies and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The entire written Emergency Declaration can be read here:


According to a city website analysis offered by City Councilor Pat Davis, what the ordinance does is as follows:

• Creates a new section of emergency law allowing the Mayor to declare an emergency in the case or actual or imminent outbreak of infectious disease
• Allow the Mayor to declare that emergency for up to 30 days, subject to amendment, extension or cancellation by the City Council
• Limit the kinds and quantities of items retailers may sell per customer per day
• Encourage private employers to take measures to limit exposures in their locations
• Order the closing of place of mass assembly, including sporting events, theatres clubs, etc.
• Order the closing of public and private educational and childcare institutions
• Cancel city-sponsored events
• Reallocate city staff and appropriations, as necessary, to address and respond to the threat
• Requires the Mayor to immediately share any order issued under this provision online, with the media and with the City Council

According to the same city website analysis offered by Councilor Davis, what the ordinance does not do is as follows:

• Does not address or change decades-old civil emergency laws, granting temporary (48-hour) authority to protect public safety in times of riot or natural disaster.
• Allow the city to quarantine any individual or seize any personal or private property
• Does not allow the prohibition of sales of any item during a public health

You can find the entire floor substitute containing all older provision and updated provisions here:

Councilor Pat Davis offered his own analysis of his substitute bill on the city website as follows:

“As we see too often today, social media posts can quickly spread misinformation. Unfortunately, we’ve seen those distract from the important work we need to do. These new provisions have nothing to do with gun ownership, or martial law. They simply allow the city to move staff and dollars to manage our response and impose common sense social distancing measures to prevent a crisis. Nothing more.”


On Monday, March 16, in an extraordinary first for the Albuquerque City Council, the general public was not allowed to sit in the public audience area of the council chambers. The City Council Chamber doors were closed to the public, audience seats were vacant, all as a precaution to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Only members of the media, city councilors and some city workers were allowed inside during the meeting. Outside of the council chambers, APD Police were stationed to keep people out or checking people’s credentials who were trying to get in. The city council meeting was broadcast on GOV TV and the public could watch the meeting online, but could not make comment. For those who wanted to participate in public comment, they could have emailed, faxed or hand delivered their comments to the councilors before the meeting.

The actions of City Council President Pat Davis, who presided over the meeting and not knowing the council was in violation of the open meeting act, can be fully explained by his well earned reputation for knee jerk reactions based upon news events, his arrogance, and ill-advised actions of not knowing what he is doing.

On Tuesday, March 17, the very day after the City Council meeting, Attorney General Hector Balderas issued “Guidance to Public Entities Regarding Open Meetings Act and Inspection of Public Records Act Compliance During COVID-19 State of Emergency”. It is more likely than not that the Attorney General found out about the City’s Council’s illegal actions after news accounts. The guidelines give specific steps to be followed by public entities to comply with the Open Meetings Act. You can read the Attorney General’s guidelines in the postscript to this blog article.


On March 17, the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union issued a statement and said Albuquerque’s newly approved emergency powers ordinance may be an “overreach.” In a statement issued by Peter Simonson, executive director of the ACLU of New Mexico, the ACLU said the ordinance passed by the city council is too vague, particularly in defining a “public health emergency” and a “reasonable threat,” which the organization said could allow the mayor to invoke “sweeping powers to shut down businesses and ban people from public spaces in response, for example, to a common flu outbreak.”


The 1960’ s Civil Emergency Powers ordinance enacted by the City Commission, which was initially passed to address potential widespread rioting, “unlawful assembly “ and natural disaster such as “flood, conflagration, cyclone, tornado, earthquake” contains the following provisions:


Whenever the Mayor shall, after consultation with the Chief of Police find that a civil emergency exists as defined herein and that invocation of the extraordinary powers conferred herein is necessary to ensure or to restore the public peace, he shall forthwith proclaim in writing the existence of such emergency. Upon such determination the Mayor is hereby empowered to invoke any or all of the following provisions:

(A) To declare hours of curfew upon all or any portion of the city thereby requiring all persons in such designated curfew areas to forthwith remove themselves from the public streets, alleys, parks or other public or semi-public places. The curfew shall be declared by proclamation which shall be delivered to the Chief of Police, who shall see that copies thereof are delivered to all news media within the city and who shall also use public address systems to notify the public of said proclamation and curfew hours and warn the public that violation of said curfew constitutes a misdemeanor and violators are subject to arrest.

(B) To close any and all streets, alleys and other public ways in the city to the public whenever it is necessary for the preservation of life and property and the maintenance of law and order.

(C) Order the closing of all retail package liquor stores and outlets.

(D) Order the closing of all bars and other establishments selling intoxicating liquor or beer by the drink.

(E) Order the discontinuance of selling, distributing or giving away gasoline or other liquid flammable or combustible products in any container other than a gasoline tank properly affixed to a motor vehicle said sale to be limited to not more than one gallon per motor vehicle, or in the alternative, order the closing of gasoline stations and other establishments, the chief activity of which is the sale, distribution or dispensing of liquid flammable or combustible products.

(F) Order the discontinuance of selling, distributing, dispensing or giving away of any firearms or ammunition of any character whatsoever, or in the alternative, order the closing of all establishments or portions thereof where arms and/or ammunition are kept for sale or distribution.

(G) Issue such other orders as are imminently necessary for the 2 protection of life and property [throughout the duration of the emergency, 3 including any provisions above that have not been previously invoked.”


The major provisions contained in the substitute that were adopted in an effort to update the ordinance are as follows:


Whenever the Mayor shall, after consultation with the Director of the City Office of Emergency Management, find that a public health emergency exists as defined herein and that invocation of the extraordinary powers conferred herein is necessary to help preserve and maintain the health, safety, and welfare of the general public, he shall forthwith proclaim in writing the existence of such emergency.

Upon such determination the Mayor is hereby 12 empowered to invoke any or all of the following provisions:

(A) To close any and all streets, alleys and other public ways in the city to the public whenever it is necessary for the preservation of life and public health and safety.

(B) Order retailers to limit the kinds and quantities of items that a business may sell per customer per day.

(C) Order the closing of places of mass assembly, including but not 19 limited to theaters, clubs, places of worship, live or telecast performances 20 intended for a public audience, and athletic venues.

(D) Order the closing of places of institutional childcare or education 22 such as daycares, preschools, and private educational institutions.

(E) Order that places of private employment take reasonable measures (as determined by each employer) to minimize any exposures to infectious diseases or health risks to employees and customers by, for example, partial or full closures, or authorizing non-essential employees to work from home or take leave, or deploying social distancing protocols.

(F) Cancel city sponsored events and gatherings, cancel or impose limitations or special protocols for the provision of City services and the use of city facilities, and authorize the redistribution or rededication of city resources and budgetary appropriations as necessary to help address or combat the proclaimed emergency.

(G) Enter any agreements authorizing the use of City owned property by 2 third parties, or agreements for the City’s use of non-city owned property, 3 outside of the usual requirements for City real property transactions 4 prescribed ROA 1994 § 5-2-1 et. seq. as necessary to help address or combat 5 the proclaimed emergency.

(H) Issue such other orders as are imminently necessary for the 7 protection of life and property throughout the duration of the emergency, 8 including any provisions above that have not been previously invoked.


(B) Any public health emergency proclaimed in accordance with the 2 provisions of §§ 2-9-1-1 et seq. shall take effect immediately, and terminate upon the date set forth by the proclamation, not to exceed thirty (30) days from the issuance thereof, or may terminate sooner upon the issuance of a proclamation by the Mayor determining an emergency no longer exists, whichever occurs first; provided, however, that any emergency proclamation may be sooner terminated or amended by resolution of the City Council prior to the termination of 30 days or may be extended by any resolution of the Council as originally proclaimed or with amendments for any such additional periods of time as deemed necessary by the City Council up to a maximum of ninety (90) days per proclamation].


Nothing herein is intended to limit the power or authority of the Mayor with respect to the control and management of City resources and facilities that generally exists even outside the existence of a civil emergency. However, notwithstanding the emergency powers authorized herein, closures or limitations for any office or place of gathering or meeting necessary for carrying out the business of the City Council may occur only by order of the City Council.”


The entire 1960 Civil Emergency Powers ordinance should have been repealed out right. It contains archaic language and many provisions that are likely unenforceable and unconstitutional. In particular the provisions of the original ordinance regarding curfews (section A) gasoline sales and rationing (section E) and order the discontinuance of selling, distributing, dispensing or giving away of any firearms or ammunition (section F) are all likely unenforceable or unconstitutional. Sections (C) allowing the Mayor to close all retail package liquor stores and outlets and (D) allowing the Mayor to close all bars and other establishments selling intoxicating liquor or beer by the drink usurps the powers of the State that has exclusive authority over liquor licensing. Sections A, C, D E, F of § 2-9-1-3 of the 1960’s Emergency Powers Ordinance usurp the powers of the State or Federal Government and are not within the authority of the city council as provided by the city charter.

Instead of repealing the 1960 Civil Emergency Powers, the City Council, and in particular President of the City Council Pat Davis, had a knee jerk reaction because of current events involving the corona virus pandemic. The City Council rushed the enactment of amendments to the ordinance in a panic by calling an emergency meeting that violated the New Mexico Open Meetings Act. The city council barred the public from attending the meeting. It was also a mistake for Mayor Keller to sign off on the changes to the ordinance and he should have vetoed it. Instead, Keller declared an emergency less than 48 hours after passage of the ordinance amendments.


The Emergency Powers Ordinance as amended by the City Council gives the City Council the authority to amend, cancel or extend the Mayor’s order, which amounts to nothing more than a “power grab” by the city council. The City Council can now very easily usurp the authority of the Mayor once an Emergency Declaration is proclaimed, something the Mayor has now acquiesced in by not vetoing the ordinance amendments.

Mayor Tim Keller under the city charter already has inherent emergency authority powers to protect the public health, safety and welfare to do much of what is contained in his emergency declaration when it comes to allocating city staff and resources as necessary to address the current COVID-19 pandemic. The Mayor has authority to issues directive and set priorities for the Police, Fire, Planning Code enforcement and Family and Community services. He did not need the city council’s permission to make the declaration. Those inherent powers would also likely include making “emergency procurements”, likely subject to city council approval, to protect the health and safety of citizens and property.

Likewise, the Mayors’ requests for financial assistance from the New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and state agencies and the Federal Emergency Management Agency could have been made with a Declaration of Emergency without the new provisions or the amendments to the ordinance.


The ordinance enacted is in fact void and unenforceable. Notwithstanding, Mayor Keller signed off on it and then immediately issued his Declaration of Emergency. But that does not excuse the City Council from following the law.

From a practical standpoint, the most prudent thing for the City Council to do now is to rewrite the ordinance and convene another meeting and ensure compliance with Open Meeting Act and to try to follow the guidelines of the Attorney General. The urgency of the legislation has been diminished significantly with the city implementation of actions as well as the Governor’s actions.

It is in time of crisis such as these that the character of elected officials and their true commitment to civil rights is revealed. No one is above the law, especially the Albuquerque City Council who acted irresponsibly and rushed to put forth and enact legislation without any real public input or listening to the public concerns. The City Council enacted legislation without allowing voters the right to exercise their constitutional rights of free speech and due process. Instead the city council engaged in a “power grab” to make sure they could take actions to interfere with the Mayor’s efforts to deal with the crisis.



On Tuesday, March 17, the very day after the City Council meeting, Attorney General Hector Balderas issued “Guidance to Public Entities Regarding Open Meetings Act and Inspection of Public Records Act Compliance During COVID-19 State of Emergency” following is the press release in full:
For Immediate Release:

March 17, 2020
Contact: Matt Baca — (505) 270-7148
AG Balderas Issues Guidance to Public Entities Regarding Open Meetings Act and Inspection of Public Records Act Compliance During COVID-19 State of Emergency

Santa Fe,NM—Today [March 17], Attorney General Balderas issued the following guidance to public entities across the State of New Mexico regarding their ongoing obligations to comply with the Open Meetings Act (OMA) and the Inspection of Public Records Act (IPRA) during the state of emergency in New Mexico.

“The health and safety of New Mexican families is the number one priority across our State, but government must remain transparent and accountable, especially during a state of emergency,” said Attorney General Balderas. “All public entities should follow the guidance of public health officials and make any necessary adjustments to ensure compliance with our transparency laws during this time.”

The Office of the Attorney General advises all public entities subject to OMA to first and foremost follow the guidance of the Department of Health and other health officials to ensure the health and safety of both members of the entity and the public. Accordingly, the most prudent thing to do to ensure compliance with OMA would be to postpone any non-essential public meeting during the pendency of the state of emergency. If, however, a public entity has an emergency or time-sensitive matter to attend to, it may proceed with a virtual meeting under the following guidelines:

· Notice of the meeting must still comply with the mandates of OMA, and it should contain detailed information about how members of the public may attend and listen via telephone, live streaming, or other similar technologies—this should include such detail as relevant phone numbers, web addresses, etc.;
· While provided by alternative means, the public must have some form of access to the meeting to substitute for the access it would during any normally scheduled public meeting subject to OMA;
· Where possible, videoconference is the best alternative method of holding meetings;
· At the start of the meeting, the chairperson should announce the names of those members of the public entity participating remotely;
· All members of the public entity participating remotely must identify themselves whenever they speak and must be clearly audible to the other members of the public entity and to the public;
· The chairperson or person leading the meeting should suspend discussion if the audio or video is interrupted;
· All votes of the public entity should be by roll call vote;
· The public entity should produce and maintain a recording of the open session of the meeting.

To comply with IPRA, the Office of the Attorney General recommends that, first, agencies continue to satisfy IPRA’s deadlines and fulfill IPRA requests however possible in light of Department of Health’s recommendations and any order pursuant to the state of emergency. Of paramount importance, as is always the case, a public entity’s records custodian should communicate promptly with the requesting party, however now regarding the circumstances of production in the context of the state of emergency.

Pursuant to public health guidelines during the state of emergency, public entities should suspend all in-person inspection of public records during the pendency of the state of emergency. Public entities should make every effort to comply with the mandates of IPRA by producing records electronically. If circumstances arise where records are not available electronically and cannot be produced in the timeframes mandated by IPRA, an agency may designate a request as excessively burdensome due to the state of emergency, and communicate to the requestor that the request will be fulfilled as required by IPRA when the state of emergency is lifted.

In short, IPRA very much still applies and all deadlines should be satisfied to the fullest extent possible. Where the state of emergency hampers or otherwise prohibits an entity’s ability to respond, we reiterate that the entity nonetheless should communicate promptly with the requester to make alternative arrangements to allow for the inspection of records, in keeping with the spirit and intent of IPRA.
The Office of the Attorney General continues to be available to any public entity that has questions or concerns about OMA and IPRA compliance, and will also continue to take OMA and IPRA complaints during the state of emergency.”

For a related blog articles see:

March 16 City Council Meeting Violated New Mexico Open Meetings Act By Excluding Public Attendance; Criminal Penalties Provided; City Council’s Enactment of Ordinance Giving ABQ Mayor “Emergency Powers” Void

Mayor Tim Keller Declares Public Health Emergency Without Press Conference; ACLU Raises Overreach Concerns; Rio Grande Foundation Files Suit Alleging Violation Of Open Meetings Act; Gov. MLG Upstages Mayor With Her Press Conference