Political Grand Standing At Its Worst By Elected Republicans; Gov. MLG Gets High Marks; Mistake For Economic Recovery Council Not To Be Open To Public

On April 22, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that she was extending the quarantine orders to May 15. According to the Governor, state officials will begin easing upon business restrictions with a “phase in” process. She announced a 3-step phased in plan. The governor did not say specifically when closed businesses might be allowed to reopen. The Governor also announced the creation of an “Economic Recovery Council”.


The 15-member Economic Recovery Council will provide the Governor’s Office with advice about a “slow reopening” of the state’s economy. The Economic Recovery Council appointed by the governor will include major business and health leaders from across the state. The council will includes industries hit hard by the pandemic including entertainment, hospitality, oil and gas, agriculture and banking. The group will be co-chaired by formerstate Representative Brian Moore of Clayton, a grocery store owner who worked in the previous Republican administration.

Council members include Guadalupe Regional Hospital Administrator Christina Campos of Santa Rosa, Brian O’Leary of NBC/Universal, Peter Trevisani of New Mexico United professional soccer team, a representative of the San Francisco-based renewable energy developer Pattern Energy and a representative of the New York-based mass media conglomerate NBC Universal, a subsidiary of Comcast. The council will help the governor decide when and what to open in New Mexico.

Lujan Grisham said last week that she will consult with a council of business leaders as the administration develops a phased plan for possibly relaxing restrictions on nonessential businesses and social distancing directives.


The “Open Meetings Act,” NMSA 1978, Sections 10-15-1 to 10-15-4, is known as a “sunshine law.” Virtually every state has such a law, which are essentially motivated by the belief that the democratic ideal is best served by a well-informed public. Sunshine laws generally require that public business be conducted in full public view, that the actions of public bodies be taken openly, and that the deliberations of public bodies be open to the public. It is the New Mexico Attorney General who is authorized by Section 10-15-3(B) of the Act to enforce its provisions.

On April 28, Charlie Moore, the spokesman for the Taxation and Revenue Department raised more than a few eyebrows from the media and political observers when he said that the Economic Recovery Council is not subject to the state’s Open Meetings Act and that its deliberations will be closed to the public. According to Moore, instead of meetings open to the public, summaries will be provided of the work by the Economic Recovery Council and Moore said:

“We do not at this point plan on opening the group’s discussions to the public. … The Recovery Council is an advisory group only and for that reason not subject to Open Meetings Act requirements.”


The Economic Recovery Council has not released meeting calendars and agendas.

According to the Governor’s Office, a bipartisan council of mayors also is being assembled to provide advice through the governor’s chief of staff, John Bingaman. It was unclear which mayors may participate.


The Governor has already announced a phased in business opening plan. The timeline for the state’s phased in reopening plan will depend on when certain criteria are met. Social distancing measures will be mandated to avoid a spike in COVID-19 cases. Human Services Secretary Dr. David Scrase said that without social distancing, it doesn’t matter how much testing you do, the virus will still spread. The phase-in reopening of the economy plan will include a timeline based on performance against criteria. Social distancing will continue to be a critical component. The Governor’s “phase in” business reopening plan includes at least 3 major phases:

Preparation Phase

– All individuals instructed to stay home
– Industry Councils to develop COVID safe practices (CSP)
– Define how businesses will protect employees and customers

Phase One

– Vulnerable individuals instructed to stay home
– Some non-essential businesses permitted to reopen in compliance with CSPs.
– Certain businesses will still be closed

Phase Two and Beyond

– Additional businesses permitted to reopen in compliance with CSPs.
– Larger gatherings and events still restricted for the foreseeable future
– Other changes TBD


Governor Lujan Grisham has vowed to sanction businesses that flout restrictions on nonessential business. State Police officers have been dispatched to cities and small towns across the state to enforce the restrictions. As of April 28, the New Mexico State Police had issued 124 cease and desist orders to first-time violators and three citations on second offenses. Two individuals were referred to the Department of Health for repeated noncompliance and could face civil penalties.

The most notable act of defiance thus far has come from Democrat Grants Mayor Martin Hicks, who has reopened city hall and order city workers back to work. Mayor Hicks has encouraged businesses in his city to defy the governor’s orders and reopen to the public. On Monday, April 27, Mayor Hicks and several dozen supporters rallied with him as he encouraged business owners in his community to defy the governor’s lock-down order that shuttered nonessential shops to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

It turns out that those at the morning rally in Grants included political activists from elsewhere. They waved American flags as one person held a sign that read: “Open Grants Now.” The State Police did not send any extra officers to Grants due to the mayor’s earlier threats of a confrontation.

Mayor Martin “Modey” Hicks vowed in defiance to allow all small businesses in Grants to reopen. Governor Lujan Grisham for her part has said the mayor’s plan makes “absolutely no sense whatsoever” and warned that State Police would continue enforcing the health order.

For related news coverage see:






Late Sunday, April 26, Albuquerque Republican City Councilors Brook Bassan and Don Harris held a press conference to announce they were introducing a City Council Resolution asking Mayor Keller to re-evaluate public health restrictions and consider reopening some local businesses. The proposed resolution will be introduced to the City Council at the May 4 meeting.

The Councilors suggested liquor stores, barbershops, salons, and small specialty shops as well as outdoor activities facilities like golf courses and tennis courts be allowed to open. They also suggested that if the businesses were allowed to re-open, they must follow public health rules like occupancy limits, social distancing and have employees wear masks and gloves. Both Councilors also asked Mayor Keller to immediately analyze the necessity of the continued ban on non-emergency medical procedures.

Republican City Councilor Don Harris had this to say:

“As necessary as the initial public health orders may have been, the economic, social, cultural, and recreational interests of the residents of Albuquerque have suffered immensely as a result of the ordered closures. These impacts have been especially hard on the city’s small businesses and service workers and we want to work with the mayor’s office to reevaluate the closure of non-essential businesses. ”

A spokesperson for Mayor Tim Keller’s office responded to the city councilor’s resolution with this statement:

“We announced last week that we’re already crafting data-driven plans so that businesses can re-open and stay open while the health care system maintains capacity. We have invited council to join us in our collaborative efforts with the State, area hospitals, and the local business community.”

Mayor Keller for his part has talked about opening a few businesses at a time, having a plan for COVID-19 cases in the workplace, and implementing rules like having employees wear masks and getting their temperatures taken. As for when that could happen, the Mayor said he’ll follow the governor’s lead.



Least anyone forget, a little over a month ago, Don Harris became 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, Harris was quoted as saying to political blogger Joe Monahan:

“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. … 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 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.

Harris wrote on Facebook that his speaking out was prompted by the state’s use of the emergency alert system 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 questioned Mayor Tim Keller’s order closing city golf courses by saying:

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

When Harris popped off to political blogger Joe Monahan, there was only one death attributed to the virus, a month later, 109 more people died from the virus. On Wednesday, April 26, a little over a month since Juris Doctor Don Harris decided to practice medicine and make comment to blogger Monahan, New Mexico reported 2,974 positive tests, 58,771 negative tests, 705 reported recoveries and 110 deaths.

In the 2019 U.S. Census Bureau estimates, 10.9% of the state’s population was identified as Native American. New Mexico’s Native American tribes and pueblos have been disproportionately impacted by the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, according to data released by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s administration. Recent COVID-19 outbreak clusters on New Mexico tribal land, including on the Navajo Nation, have led to elevated infection rates, with Native Americans making up 36.7% of the state’s confirmed coronavirus cases, according to the state-level data. New Mexico’s Native American tribes and pueblos have been disproportionately impacted by the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, according to new data released by the Lujan Grisham’s administration. New Mexico’s Native American tribes and pueblo reservations are located in remote and sparsely populated areas of the state with plenty of New Mexico sunshine. The virus has still spread to the reservations which in an of itself seems to discredit more than a few remarks made by Harris regarding population and climate.



On Tuesday, April 28, New Mexico House Republican legislators in the House in a letter to the Governor urged her to accelerate the lifting of restrictions. They argued that many businesses won’t survive if restrictions last through mid-May. They also said New Mexicans are growing restless and may take matters into their own hands. The lawmakers wrote there is a need “to keep the situation from devolving into social chaos.”

In a conference call with the media to release the letter, the Republican law makers went so far as to suggest that civil unrest and “social chaos” will soon occur if the state is not reopened for business soon and Republican House Minority Whip Rod Montoya of Farmington told reporters that the state needs to avoid a “Kent State situation”. Kent State was where the Ohio National Guard shot Viet Nam war protesters in 1970. Montoya told reporters:

“It’s just unpredictable as to what could happen. ”

Nora Meyers Sackett, a spokeswoman for Lujan Grisham, called Montoya’s reference to the Kent State massacre “appalling” and said:

“Evidence-based decisions and protecting public health have been and will remain the foremost priorities. … The state is immensely grateful to the local community officials and stakeholders from all across New Mexico who recognize the importance of safeguarding public health and upholding the measures we all must undertake to minimize transmission of this virus and ensure New Mexicans are as safe and healthy as they can be.”


On Apr 24, 2020, “The Majority Institute – Public Policy Polling” released its newest New Mexico survey. It found that Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has a 62% approval rating for her handling of the coronavirus, to only 26% who disapprove for a net +36 rating. By contrast Donald Trump has a net -15 approval rating for his handling of the virus, with just 40% approving of the job he’s doing to 55% who disapprove. That is a net 51% difference.

Key findings from the survey include the following:

1. Lujan Grisham is getting overwhelming support from both Democrats (83/9) and independents (60/28) for her handling of the virus and receives good marks from 32% of Republicans as well.

2. 63% of voters in the state think the state’s response to the coronavirus has been ‘about right.’ Only 27% think it’s overreacting. By contrast just 35% of voters think the federal response to the virus has been about right, with 49% saying that the Trump administration’s response has been an under reaction.

3. 89% of voters in the state say they are at least ‘somewhat concerned’ about the coronavirus, with 61% saying they are ‘very concerned.’ Voters are more concerned that they or a family member will get the virus than they are about its economic impact.

4. Lujan Grisham’s overall approval rating shows a high degree of popularity, with 59% approving and just 32% disapproving of the job she’s doing. By contrast Trump has only a 40% approval rating, with 56% of voters disapproving of him.

PPP surveyed 1,009 New Mexico voters on April 20th and 21st. The survey was conducted half by calls to landlines and half by texts to cell phones, and the margin of error is +/-3.1% This research was conducted on behalf of The Majority Institute.




Ever since assuming office on January 1, 2018, Democratic Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has relied upon advisory groups to develop and advance major policy initiatives for the state. Two major advisory groups that come quickly to mind are the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) Pension Reform Advisory group that formulated major recommendation for changes to the PERA Retirement system and the Legalization of Recreational Marijuana Advisory group that formulated legislation for the creation of an entire new industry. The Governor’s office has also announced that a bipartisan council of mayors is being assembled to provide advice through the governor’s chief of staff, John Bingaman.

The PERA Pension reform advisory group was chaired by one of the Governor’s Chief of Staff, and the Legalization of Recreational Marijuana Advisory group was chaired by an Albuquerque City Councilor. Both the Pension Reform and Recreational Marijuana Advisory Group held meetings that were open to the public and encouraged public participation.

Although it is clear that the Economic Recovery Council the Governor has appointed does not have to follow the requirements of the Open Meetings Act, it is a major mistake for it not to do so. It will have an impact of the credibility of the advisory group and on whatever recommendations that they make to the Governor. The New Mexico Open Meetings Act is motivated by the belief that the democratic ideals are best served by a well-informed public. The open meetings act requires that public business be conducted in full public view, that the actions of public bodies be taken openly, and that the deliberations of public bodies be open to the public.

Nothing can be more public than the discussions and decisions to open New Mexico again for business. During these very difficult times when the Governor is demanding so much sacrifice from the general public that is having a direct impact on their financial wellbeing, it is a major mistake for the Economic Recovery Council to do business and make recommendations behind closed doors. The spirit and intent of the Open Meeting Act needs to be honored by the Economic Advisory Council.


The actions of Democrat Grants Mayor Martin “Modey” Hicks vowing in defiance to allow all small businesses in Grants to reopen is about as pathetic as it gets seeing as he does not have that authority and the Governor does. The interviews Mayor “Modey”Hicks gave to the news media looked like that of an unhinged fool of New Mexico proportions. His confrontation with a constituent taking issue with him said it all and can be viewed here:


Mayor Hicks has fired the city manager and has ordered city hall employees return to work. The voters in Grants need to recognize his antics for what it is: political grand standing at its worst, especially when it was revealed that the protestors included political activists from elsewhere. It was also reported that many businesses in Grants are ignoring the Mayor, which they should. Now that Mayor Hicks has gotten his few minutes of fame, perhaps Attorney General Hector Balderas should take aggressive against Mayor Hicks for his removal from office for his open defiance of the public health orders.


Republican City Councilor Don Harris has a very well deserved 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. 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. Only now with a pandemic crisis being handled by Mayor Tim Keller and Governor Lujan Grisham does Don Harris decide to pop off and offer his observations.

It appears that Republican lawmakers cannot handle the fact that Governor Lujan Grisham is getting high marks for her handling of the pandemic. The Governor has said that it’s time for New Mexico to consider slowly relaxing its restrictions even though she has extended the current public health orders through May 15. She has made it clear that her Administration is working on detailed plans for reopening the state in phases. But none of that matters to the Republican law makers and they could not care less. The New Mexico Republican House leadership choose to promote a right-wing agenda more concerned about the almighty dollar and not people’s lives and health. They apparently want to reopen the state for business too soon and risk another spike or another wave of reported corona virus cases.

Notwithstanding the progress that is being made to come up with viable plans to reopen the state for business, both Republican House members and Republican Albuquerque City councilors are trying to force the premature opening of the state and the city. The holding of a press conference to release a letter to the Governor and holding a press conference to release a proposed City Council resolution should be called for what they are which is political grandstanding at its worst that stokes the fears of people to get a political advantage and news coverage.

Cool heads must prevail during these very difficult times, but the antics of some elected officials show the opposite. It is totally irresponsible for the Republican law makers to say civil unrest and “social chaos” will soon occur if the state is not reopened for business soon. The Republican lawmakers ignore that New Mexico citizens and businesses are in fact doing their very best to honor the restrictions placed upon them. To invoke images of students getting shot at Kent State during the Viet Nam war was beyond the pale of common decency and it sure hell was not leadership of any kind.

Corona Virus Pandemic Results In Domestic Violence Spike; DA Office Spokesman And Chanel 7 Reporter Not Immune; Virus Will Test New Gun Control Measures

In 2018, 20% of Albuquerque-area homicides were related to domestic violence. In 2019, there were 19 homicides, or 14%, of 65 homicide cases that were related to domestic violence.

On April 5, the on line news agency New Mexico Political Reports reported that domestic violence incidents in Bernalillo County jumped by a whopping 78% which coincides with soaring unemployment and gun sales during the corona virus pandemic.



It was on March 16, 2020 that Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham issued her first emergency public health order to deal with the corona virus outbreak. On March 23 the Governor expanded the orders and issued social distancing and self-quarantine or “shelter orders” asking everyone who does not provide “essential services” stay home and “self-quarantine”.

Since the Governor’s March 23 stay home or self-quarantine orders, there is now more data that reveals that there is a major spike in domestic violence. On April 18, the Bernalillo County District Attorney Office announced that following the governor’s March 23 orders, domestic violence arrests jumped from 34 to 58 a week and then to 62 a week. District Attorney Raul Torrez said the caseload is actually higher because arrest numbers do not account for court summons and nonarrest cases.

According to Torrez:

“This is a trend they’ve been seeing around the country, and around the world … The thing that concerns us the most is we have victims that are either unable to report the crime or, if they’re able to report the crime, feel like they’re going to be trapped with their offender.”



Sadly, the District Attorney’s Office is not immune from the tragedy of domestic violence and neither is the local news media. On April 20, Michael Patrick, the spokesman for the Bernalillo County District Attorney, was charged with “battery on a household member.” The alleged victim is his wife, KOAT Channel 7 News Reporter Shelly Ribando. According to police reports, police were called to the couple’s Northeast Albuquerque home after a credit card agent on the phone with Ribando reported that she heard a scuffle and that Ribando said her husband had hit her.

According to the police report, the married couple were arguing because Patrick had used a credit card to get an apartment, and Ribando was trying to cancel the payment. Ribando reportedly told responding officers that Patrick pushed her down and that he also pushed their 8-year-old daughter. It was originally reported that Patrick denied the allegations. Police said they did not observe any injuries on anyone.


Three APD Officers were dispatched to the scene. Lapel camera video was released. APD originally announced that a criminal complaint would be filed, yet to date nothing has been filed. You can review the video obtained from APD and posted on Youtube by freelance videographer Charles Arasim here:


Following are 3 other links consisting of lapel video also obtained from APD and posted on Youtube by freelance videographer Charles Arasim:




One lapel camera video shows Michael Patrick deny the allegations. He is also allowed by APD to gather personal belongings as he was ordered by police to remove himself from the couple’s home. Ribando for her part told officers she did not need medical treatment.

The video with the assisting female officer has the officer conversing with Patrick at length with the assisting officer talking more than asking questions. At one point the assisting officer says words to the effect arguing is not illegal.

The DA’s office in a statement issued said that Patrick was placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation into the alleged incident. The DA’s office also noted that APD would be making a criminal referral to an independent special prosecutor because of the conflict the office would have in prosecuting its own employee.



The Michael Patrick and Shelly Ribando video is a prime example of a domestic violence call out. The biggest difference is that it involves two “public figures”. Review of the video reflects a number of actions that can be consider violations of standard operating procedures or at a minimum raises many questions as to training. A few of the more glaring problems are as follows:

1. Ribando and her daughter were interviewed and asked questions together in the upstairs bedroom. Ribando and her child should have been separated immediately and asked questions separately about what happened. Ribando at one point seemed to correct the child. From what they both said, they both could have been considered victims.

2. Two officers where present with Ribando and both interacted and asked questions. Only one officer should have asked all the questions and conversed with Ribando conducting the interview, and that was the officer who had his lapel camera on. The other officer should have stood absolutely quiet or conversed only with the other officer in the room who was conducting the interview. When asked how and where she was shoved, the “non-interviewing” officer suggested perhaps in the shoulders. Ribando never made make it clear just how or where she was shoved but said she was of slight buildt and fell.

3. Neither Ribando nor the child were asked about bruising or physical injury inflicted. Ribando was asked if she needed medical attention and she said no, but it was never determined if the child needed such attention. There was a female officer who was present that could have asked to be shown any bruising or physical injury.

4. Patrick was never confronted directly by the investing officers with the accusations made by Ribando nor the child. The female assisting officer did engage in a lengthy conversation with Patrick and at one point expressed an opinion that it is not illegal for people to argue.

5. When Patrick asked to get belongings so he could leave the residence, he was given unfettered access to the entire house first to an upstairs bedroom and then down downstairs into the garage, followed by one police officer who lost direct sight of Patrick’s whereabouts and the police officer could not see what Patrick was actually retrieving .

6. Neither Patrick nor Ribando were asked their employment nor future contacts, at least not in the video.

7. The video does not give any indications if Ribando was given contact information for the Albuquerque Domestic Violence Resource Center which works with APD.

8. Patrick was allowed to leave the home without providing contact information where he was going or how he could be found.

9. The video that was released by APD did not have the face of the 8 year old child redacted which was solely the responsibility of APD forensics before the video was released.

10. Although it was originally reported that APD would be issuing a criminal summons for Michael Patrick for the charge of battery on a household member, to date nothing has been filed. Sources have confirmed that APD has not filed any criminal complaint with the courts and that it is not likely one will be filed at all.

Michael Patrick has resigned his position as spokesman for the District Attorney’s office.


The term “cycle of violence” refers in domestic violence cases to repeated and dangerous acts of violence as a cyclical pattern. The term is associated with high emotions and violent actions of retribution or revenge. The pattern, or cycle, repeats over and over again in time, it can last years, happening many times during a relationship. The pandemic quarantine orders have added to the cycle of violence. You can read about the cycle of violence in the postscript to this blog article.

According local advocacy groups that help domestic violence victims, the pandemic quarantine orders have created a volatile and even more complicated problems for victims of domestic violence. The quarantine orders are resulting in victims being isolated with their abuser during times of severe emotional strain bought on by unemployment and the financial strain that accompanies it.

Domestic violence shelters are reporting that they are being forced to cut their capacity to follow social distancing guidelines. Advocacy groups are also largely being force to change the way they interact with victims of domestic violence and are forced to use mobile devices for counseling and to do interventions to help victims.

Vincent Galbiati, executive director at the Domestic Violence Resource Center, said the pandemic has created the “perfect storm” for domestic violence by saying:

“There’s not one set pattern, but you can imagine that if you are isolated as a victim with your abuser, it’s an incredibly vulnerable, and at times dangerous, situation.”

Galbiati said that his resource center has seen an increase in one month by a staggering 80% in all services it offers. Those increases include the counseling help line, remote counseling and overall intakes. Normally, the resource center helps around 350 victims each month. The number of intakes has jumped to 450 since the virus outbreak. Galbiati said he expects the number of victims to peak to 650 victims a month and said:

“When this became something that we felt could compromise our operations, we pulled our directors together and went through, I’ll call it, a ‘war room scenario … We’re just not planning for the next six weeks – we’re planning for the next six months. … What it really boils down to, in every case where there is a victim that is under immediate or dire threat, they need services and we’re just not going to deny that. That’s just not part of our culture ”

Galbiati said that in the “most dire” cases, where a restraining order or relocation is needed, the Domestic Violence Resource Center will dispatch someone to be there in person.

A major obstacle for the Domestic Violence Resource Center is victims refusing to reach out for help. Galbiati explained the reluctance of victims this way:

“If you are in a situation that you’re isolated, you’re just not going to take a risk. Even reaching out to DVRC constitutes a risk. … You’re not going to try to provoke any situation that may turn violent, and you are also not going to turn to help in the event that your abuser realizes you’re trying to get yourself out of that situation. It’s a huge, huge concern.”

When it comes to “safe houses” for domestic violence victims, safe houses are being affected in a totally different way. Patricia Gonzales, executive director at, said she saw a drop in crisis calls and intakes to the shelter and said:

“I suspect people were kind of hunkered down at home, afraid to leave, there was such an unknown about this virus. In general, people coming into a shelter are afraid because it’s communal living. You don’t know who you’re sharing space with, where these people are coming from, whether they’ve been exposed or not. Right now we are at about half-capacity, that we can adequately serve individuals and still keep social distancing. And so, everyone else we are putting them up in hotels.” S.A.F.E. House New Mexico has cut their shelter capacity, from 85 to 40 to abide by social distancing regulations.



Galbiati believes the domestic violence cases will move much like the virus. He believes that the initial spike will plateau and then go down in May or June before it surges up again and finally tapers off later into the year. Galbiati also cautions about a “new normal” by saying:

“I just think this second wave is what people have to pay attention to equally as what we’re paying attention to now. … The elevation of being isolated with a victim, I think it heightens everybody’s awareness that they are in situations that are volatile. I think what you’re going to see from this, and this elevation, is you’re going to see a new normal. … Let’s say DVRC is seeing 350 victims a month, to think that we are going to begin seeing, as our new normal, 500 a month is relatively predictable and probably will happen.”


According to the most recent annual study published by the Violence Policy Center, it was reported women are more likely to be killed by men in New Mexico than nearly any other states.


The study found the state has the 10th-highest rate of women killed by men, marking the third straight year New Mexico had appeared toward the top of the list, while New Mexico’s overall homicide rate ranked lower. The report found that New Mexico spends little on treatment programs for domestic violence offenders and has little evidence of the effectiveness of those programs. The study counted 16 women killed by men in New Mexico during 2015, the most recent year for which data was are available at the time.

The rate of 1.52 victims per 100,000 women is higher than the national rate of 1.12. Nearly all the woman killed were by someone they knew. Most of the killings were not connected to any other felony. Half followed arguments between the victim and her killer. Current statistics are 1 in 3 New Mexico women will experience domestic violence in thier lifetime. 18,000 domestic violence calls were made in 2017 with 8,000 calls made in Albuquerque. 30% of the calls had a child as a witness. Nationwide 3 women are killed daily from domestic violence.

New Mexico has ranked among the top 10 states with the highest rates of women killed by men during the last decade. The Violence Policy Center promotes gun control and found that each state at the top of the list of women killed by men have a high rate of firearm ownership which no doubt includes New Mexico’s gun culture. Children exposed to domestic violence often come from broken homes and live in poverty. Study after study reveal that domestic violence involving children usually results in the child growing up with mental health problems and become an abuser of their own children and spouse.
For more see the following links:




Two major gun control measures were enacted by the 2019 New Mexico Legislature, one requiring back ground checks on private sales of guns and the other requiring domestic violence abusers to surrender firearms. Senate Bill 8 enacted by legislature and signed into law requires background checks for guns sold privately and at gun shows. Private gun sales have to go through a federal firearms licensee to do a federal instant background check. Senate Bill 328 also enacted and signed into law 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 such as battery on a household member.


During the 2020 legislative session, the “Extreme Risk Firearm Protection Order Act” or red flag was enacted, signed into law by the Governor and will take effect May 20, which is 90 days after the 2020 New Mexico legislative session ended. New Mexico will be the 18th state to adopt such a “red flag” law. The petitions can be filed upon request from a spouse, ex-spouse, parent, child, grandparent, school administrator or employer. If a law enforcement officer declines to file a petition upon request, the officer will have to file a notice of the decision with the county sheriff. A District Judge can enter an emergency 10-day risk protection order if “probable cause” is found that an individual poses a danger of causing “imminent” injury to themselves or others. The individual is then required to surrender all their firearms within 48 hours of a judge’s order or sooner. A one-year order can be imposed after a court hearing, although such an order requires a higher evidence threshold. One-year risk protection orders are subject to appeal. All firearms are required to be returned to their owner within 10 days after an order’s expiration.

During both the 2019 and 2020 legislative sessions, 30 of the state’s 33 elected county sheriffs strenuously objected to the legislation as did virtually all Republican lawmakers. Elected sheriffs mounted a strong lobbying campaign to defeat passage to the point of appearing before the legislative committees in mass, fully uniformed and armed to make their point of disdain for the legislation. The County Sheriffs repeatedly spoke out against the gun legislation during legislative committee hearings. Some elected sheriffs testified that they simply would not enforce the legislation if it became law.



Some of the most dangerous calls for service any APD officer can handle are domestic violence call outs. All too often, such calls result in a suspect, a victim or a police officer getting killed because the call escalates out of control. At a bare minimum, APD needs to review the Michael Patrick and Shelly Ribando lapel camera video and determine if there was in fact any violations of the APD’s standard operating procedures, and determine why no arrests were made. If the officers involved need further training, then it should happen. More importantly, APD needs to determine if its training in the area of handling domestic violence cases is lacking. Further, APD Chief Michael Geier needs to explain why no criminal charges have been filed and the reasons given why they have not been filed.

Three years ago, then New Mexico State Auditor and candidate for Mayor Tim Keller garnered much publicity with his efforts to get the backlog of rape crisis kits processed, which had now been accomplished. As Mayor, Keller has identified that domestic violence is also a very big part of the city’s increasing violent crime and murder rates. If Keller is to believed that he is committed to addressing the city’s violent and domestic violence crime rates, he needs to get to the bottom of what happened in with the Michael Patrick and Shelly Ribando domestic call out and make sure APD’s command staff are addressing the issues. Keller should not view it as just another photo op or the subject of a press conference. Its called holding your police department accountable for their actions, including the command staff.


Bringing down violent crime involving guns, such as murders and domestic violence, is always more difficult because of issues such as inadequate mental health care and substance abuse problems. Domestic violence is clearly the most difficult category to bring down when it comes to violent crime because of the “cycle of violence” involved with such crimes. All too often in domestic violence cases, the abused decline to charge and prosecute and return to their partner or spouse with the “cycle of violence” continuing. New Mexico has ranked among the top 10 states with the highest rates of women killed by men during the last decade.

Years ago, early on in my legal career, as an Assistant District Attorney, I was assigned to the violent crime’s division and prosecuted murders and rape cases, and even reviewed child abuse cases. Years later, as Chief Deputy District Attorney for Bernalillo County, I had supervisory authority over all the felony divisions, including the Violent Crimes Division and the Domestic Violence Division. What I learned as Chief Deputy District Attorney is that Albuquerque’s dirty little secret is that domestic violence is the number-one reason why a woman is admitted to the emergency room of the University of New Mexico Hospital. Statics in Albuquerque showed that after about the 10th or 11th time there is a call out of the Albuquerque Police Department to a home for domestic violence, it is usually to pick a woman up in a body bag.

Studies reveal that domestic violence involving children usually results in the child growing up and become an abuser of their own children and spouse. Children exposed to domestic violence often come from broken homes and poverty.

New Mexico has now enacted 3 very reasonable gun control laws:

1. Back ground checks on private sales of guns
2. A law requiring domestic violence abusers to surrender firearms
3. The “Extreme Risk Firearm Protection Order Act”

During these very difficult times brought on by the corona virus pandemic and the financial and emotional problems associated with layoffs because of the pandemic, all three laws can have a major impact on getting a handled on the increase in domestic violence. The public’s safety and enactment of all 3 laws were for the protection of those who easily become victims of gun violence especially family members and domestic violence. Now is the time for law enforcement to set aside its objection to the laws. Now that all 3 laws are on the books, law enforcement should set aside any political reservations and objections to the laws and do everything they can to enforce all 3 laws and save a few lives in the process.




The term “cycle of violence” refers in domestic violence cases to repeated and dangerous acts of violence as a cyclical pattern. The term is associated with high emotions and violent actions of retribution or revenge. The pattern, or cycle, repeats over and over again in time, it can last years, happening many times during a relationship.

According to the Women’s Center-Youth & Family Services of Stockton, California, the “cycle of violence” theory was developed by Dr. Lenore Walker.

The Women’s Center-Youth & Family Services explains the cycle of violence has three distinct phases which are generally present in violent relationships:

1. Tension Building Phase
2. Violent Episode Phase
3. Remorseful/Honeymoon Phase

Outlined below by the Women’s Center-Youth & Family Services are typical feelings and behaviors exhibited by family members in the various phases of the cycle of violence.


WOMAN FEELS: Angry, unfairly treated, hopeless, tense, afraid, embarrassed, humiliated, disgusted, depressed.
BEHAVIOR: Nurturing, submissive, “walking on eggshells,” afraid to express feelings, may use alcohol and/or drugs to avoid situation.
PARTNER FEELS: Tense, frustrated, disgusted, self-righteous, or jealous.
BEHAVIOR: Verbally abusive, fits of anger, silent, controlling, arrogant, possessive, demanding, irritable, may use alcohol or drugs.


WOMAN FEELS: Frightened, trapped, helpless or numb.
BEHAVIOR: May try to protect self, hit back, submit helplessly, get away or seek help.
PARTNER FEELS: Angry, enraged, “right,” jealous and/or frustrated.
BEHAVIOR: Dangerously violent, has a deliberate desire to hurt or kill, out of control, irrational, “Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde”.


WOMAN FEELS: Relieved, angry over the incident, resentful, guilty, hopeful, in denial over the seriousness of the incident.
BEHAVIOR: Offers excuses for the batterer, may be withdrawn, tries to solve or prevent future incidents, hopes/believes changes will last.
PARTNER FEELS: Apologetic, remorseful, forgetful about degree of violence, self-righteous, unable to understand why the woman is still angry.
BEHAVIOR: Makes promises to change, blames her or others for the problem, may use alcohol or drugs as an excuse.”

For more information on the Stockton, California Women’s Center-Youth & Family Services click on the below links:



Study after study has revealed that domestic violence involving children usually results in the child growing up with psychological issues and becomes an abuser of their own children and spouse.


According to their web site “The Albuquerque Domestic Violence Resource Center” organization was formed in 1996 to provide an advocate alongside the Albuquerque Police at domestic violence scenes. The Domestic Violence Resource Center provides trauma informed counseling for survivors of domestic violence working towards recovery and specializing in counseling for child witnesses.

The location and contact information for the Domestic Violence Resource Center are:

Domestic Violence Resource Center
625 Silver SW, Suite 185
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87102
Main Office Line: (505) 843 – 9123
Services Helpline: (505) 248 – 3165
EMAIL: dvrc@dvrcnm.org
For more on the Albuquerque Domestic Violence Resource Center click on the below link:

Governor MLG Extends Quarantine Orders To May 15; Phased In Re Opening Announced; Mayor Keller Gets Into Act For City

On April 22, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that she was extending the quarantine orders to May 15. The order was set to expire May 1. She also announced that New Mexico has “flattened the curve” and is on track to avoid a shortage of hospital beds as it confronts the coronavirus outbreak. According to the Governor, state officials will begin easing up on business restrictions with a “phase in” process. The governor did not say specifically when closed businesses might be allowed to reopen. During her April 22 press conference, the governor acknowledged the state-ordered business closures have taken a toll on workers and business owners alike. She also said some stores may not be able to reopen due to financial reasons.


Lujan Grisham has appointed a 15-member Economic Recovery Council which will provide the Governor’s Office with advice about a “slow reopening” of the state’s economy. She also made is clear that New Mexicans should not expect life to go back to normal any time soon. Large public gatherings will likely not be allowed for the foreseeable future and restaurants are still limited to take out order. Wearing masks and gloves in public will also be likely encouraged for months to come.

The 15-member Economic Recovery Council appointed by the governor will include major business and health leaders from across the state. The council will include industries hit hard by the pandemic including entertainment, hospitality, oil and gas, agriculture and banking. The group will be co-chaired by former state Representative Brian Moore of Clayton, a grocery store owner who worked in the previous Republican administration. Council members include Guadalupe Regional Hospital Administrator Christina Campos of Santa Rosa, Brian O’Leary of NBC/Universal, Peter Trevisani of New Mexico United professional soccer team among others. The council will help the governor decide when and what to open in New Mexico.

The Recovery Council will have its work cut out for it. The Governor is now being pressured to reopen the state for business by Republican legislators, Chambers of Commerce, and business owners. The Clovis and Curry County Chamber of Commerce told the Governor that considering the low number of COVID-19 cases in the county all businesses in the eastern New Mexico county should be allowed to reopen with safeguards. The Rio Grande Foundation is calling for the Governor to allow churches to reopen with social distancing measures, along with golf courses, gun stores and state parks.

Carol Wight, CEO of the New Mexico Restaurant Association, said her group is working with state health officials to come up with rules under which restaurants can safely operate and reduce the risk of spreading the virus. New Mexico restaurant industry has been hit particularly hard. According to statistics released, 47,000 of the 71,700 people employed at New Mexico restaurants have been laid off or furloughed.

According to the Governor’s Office, flower shops and nurseries will be allowed to resume curbside pickup and delivery. Other types of businesses could be allowed to reopen in the coming days, though they will remain under restriction reading distancing and person-to-person contact. No indication was given when restaurants will be allowed to reopen for full sit-down services. Hospitals around the state will be allowed to resume elective procedures but only once certain criteria are met.


The increase in coronavirus testing capacity is a major requirement to allow a slow reopening of New Mexico’s economy. According to Health Secretary Kathy Kunkel there are 64 testing sites spread across all 33 New Mexico counties. New Mexico ranks among the best in the nation in testing.

The timeline for the state’s phased in reopening plan will depend on when certain criteria are met. Social distancing measures will be mandated to avoid a spike in COVID-19 cases. Human Services Secretary Dr. David Scrase said that without social distancing, it doesn’t matter how much testing you do, the virus will still spread.

The phase-in reopening of the economy plan will include a timeline based on performance against criteria. Social distancing will continue to be a crtical component. The Governor’s “phase in” business reopening plan includes at least 3 major phases:

Preparation Phase

– All individuals instructed to stay home
– Industry Councils to develop COVID safe practices (CSP)
– Define how businesses will protect employees and customers

Phase One

– Vulnerable individuals instructed to stay home
– Some non-essential businesses permitted to reopen in compliance with CSPs.
– Certain businesses will still be closed

Phase Two and Beyond

– Additional businesses permitted to reopen in compliance with CSPs.
– Larger gatherings and events still restricted for the foreseeable future
– Other changes TBD

Governor Lujan Grisham has announced that she will convene a special session of the New Mexico Legislature I mid June.


Albuquerque is subject to statewide stay-at-home orders that Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has now said she is extending to May 15. Meanwhile on April 23, Mayor Tim Keller says he is “confident” businesses in the city will begin reopening sometime in May. Keller and Chief Operating Officer Lawrence Rael cautioned that that progress in reopening the city for business will likely occur in “fits and starts” and that it may not always track with the rest of the state.

Both Keller and Rael also made it clear that normalcy is still a long way off. Summerfest activities through the end of June have been cancelled and the city just wind up cancelling the Fourth of July celebration at Balloon Fiesta Park but are thinking of ways to accommodate social distancing such attendees watching fireworks from their cars.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has closed nonessential businesses, severely restricted activity at hotels and limited restaurants to takeout and delivery orders. Since the COVID-19 crisis reached New Mexico, Keller has had daily press briefings and has routinely distinguished Albuquerque from the rest of the state. Albuquerque is clearly different from the rest of the state as to its population density and facilities such as the airport, hospitals and shopping malls. When the Governor loosens or lifts restrictions, Keller said he could make different decisions for Albuquerque, including extending closures if he deems it necessary.

Keller, during his April 23 briefing, said the city may take a “staggered” approach that may require incremental steps such as lifting some restrictions then waiting a week to see the results before taking additional action. Keller did warn that there will be “relapses,” such as an outbreak at a business that has reopened, that forces it to close once again for testing and contact tracing. The Mayor said the goal is to avoid that on a large scale so that the overall economy can keep advancing and the health care system maintains capacity.

Links to related news stories can be found here:





John B. Strong Guest Column: Help NM Recovery Last With Liquor License Reform, Blockchain Economy, Software Programmer Bootcamps

On April 22, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that New Mexico has “flattened the curve” and is on track to avoid a shortage of hospital beds as it confronts the coronavirus outbreak. However she still announced that she was extending the quarantine orders to May 15. She also announced that state officials can begin gradually easing up on business restrictions. Lujan Grisham said that her 15-member Economic Recovery Council will provide the Governor’s Office with advice about a “slow reopening” of the state’s economy. She also made is clear that New Mexicans should not expect life to go back to normal any time soon. Large public gatherings will likely remain off-limits for the foreseeable future and restaurants are still limited to take out order. John B. Strong offered his thoughts on what will help New Mexico to recover now that “reopening” of the state is on the horizon.


John B. Strong is a private business owner in New Mexico and an investor. Mr. Strong has been investing in startups since 2004. He is a co-founder or board member at several different companies, mostly in technology, healthcare, and financial services. Mr. Strong describes himself as being “obsessed with entrepreneurship and small businesses. Mr. Strong has been a contributor to this blog in the past.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: The opinions expressed in this article are those of John B. Strong and do not necessarily reflect those of the political blog www.petedinelli.com. Mr. Strong was not compensated for the column).

“New Mexico’s economy will recover from the effects of the pandemic. In the aftermath of this pandemic, we will have an historic opportunity to re-make our economy for the new century. To build new technology and industries that can dramatically reshape our workforce and lead us into the future. There has never been a better time to focus on these problems, and they have never been more important. Here’s a few ideas on what we can do to speed up the State’s economy and make it last.

Over the last year, I have written on several different economic and policy subjects for our legislature to consider. Given the current times, I thought it might be a good time to revisit some of them as our elected leaders start to discuss the recovery from this historic pandemic.

Let’s start with Liquor license reform. I wrote about this last July and you can read that here: https://www.petedinelli.com/2019/07/24/a-serious-conversation-on-liquor-license-reform-in-new-mexico/

Not many industries have been devastated during this time as badly as food and beverage. Small locally owned restaurants have never had a level playing field in New Mexico when it comes to alcohol, trying to compete with multimillion dollar chain locations, large hotels, and Casinos who can shell out up to and over $500,000 for the right to sell liquor by the drink, while small family restaurants are limited to beer and wine because of the cost of these licenses.

It’s long past time to get serious about reforming this system. Here’s one way to do it: of the 1, 411 licenses out there about half are retail package (ie: Walgreens, Convenience stores, Grocery stores). About half are restaurants that sell by the drink. The retail package licenses are not the big problem, so leave them for another time. The big problem in inhibiting competition and fairness are the restaurant licenses.

If we placed a small tax (about 5%) on liquor by the drink, and about (2.5%) on package sales at stores we could likely raise about $50-$70,000,000 per year. Bonding against that revenue we could purchase back all of these licenses and cancel them, going instead to a yearly license in the $1,000 per year range. The bond could be paid off over 4-5 years for this and you would then have a very steady stream of income to allocate to something else. I argued that not only would that put these businesses on a level playing field with large chains, but you would also have hundreds of new businesses open, including small music venues, comedy clubs, bistros, and speakeasies.

In addition to this, in cities like Albuquerque and Santa Fe in particular, we can begin to reclaim some of the entertainment dollars that are lost to venues outside of the city. Currently, a large percentage of entertainment dollars by Albuquerque residents are spent at casinos on concerts, dining, alcohol and gaming, depriving the city of tax revenue that is needed to pay for city services.

Of course, many will say this is too complicated, that there are legal challenges, and the lobby for the license holders is too powerful, but that is why we have a legislature … they can address these issues. One thing is certain though. The subject of reform is wildly popular with the public.

Let’s move on the emerging Blockchain economy. I wrote about that here:


I argued here that even though Wyoming is leading the nation in staking a claim to this multitrillion-dollar industry, New Mexico is the logical home for it. We have the highest concentration of PhD level brain power in the world with two national labs, and a competent research University system. Wyoming, has none of that, and yet they have landed millions of dollars in startups and new businesses in this emerging industry simply by-passing legislation making it attractive to locate there. Colorado has tweaked their own laws and attracted more than $100,000,000 in investments in the state.

The point here is that the companies in this emerging technology are not asking for money, but legislation to create a favorable climate to do business, and experiment in an industry that is so new and groundbreaking that there is little law and regulation that covers it. Wyoming has had great success by creating a “sandbox” that exempts these companies from certain rules and regulations while they experiment with new products and technologies.

Let’s be clear, the blockchain will revolutionize all aspects of business and communication, and it is likely the only industry that can grow enough to actually replace our dependence on the Permian oil fields. It would be irresponsible not to do what we can to make New Mexico a national leader in this space.

Lastly, let’s talk about Boot Camps. I wrote about that here:


Boot Camps, specifically for software programmers and engineers, as well as Data Scientists are in critical need in New Mexico. Local companies such as RS21, Real Time solutions, and many others are having difficulty in recruiting and hiring programmers and Data Scientists. The need is real, and people like Charles Rath at RS21 will tell you it is much larger than we think. The problem is that these boot camps are not covered by traditional student loan programs, and instead rely on cobbled together bits of funding from philanthropic groups, the state itself, and grants from companies in the industry.

Most of these camps cost approximately $10,000 and in completion have a placement rate of over 85% in jobs that start at or above $50,000 per year. Instead of graduating dozens from these boot camps each year we should be graduating hundreds. The need is there and the State should simply find the money to implement a tuition program for these students. The return on this investment would far outstrip other economic development incentives such as rebates to the film industry. Once you place someone in the job market in this industry, they are self-sufficient and need no further help.

Coupled with the job multiplier of 4.3 for these positions, and the fact that that multiplier is heavily weighted to professions is reason enough to find a way to fund as many students as possible. It is becoming very clear that traditional 4-year degree programs are simply not adequate for the new economy, where specialized technical and computer related jobs are quickly gaining in importance. We would do well to mimic the medical fields, where technical certificates and short degree programs are now a staple in training everything from dental assistant, phlebotomists, and medical technicians are now the norm.

Finally, let’s talk about small business startups. New Mexico has a very vibrant and active startup industry, and many notable emerging companies in technology, healthcare, and bio-science. We are fortunate that informal groups such as Kevin and Diana McDonald’s Entrepreneurs club have have brought this community together to meet, mingle, and discuss the needs of these young companies. Most of them rely on “Angel” funding, and the small grants from incubators from ABQ ID and T.J. Cook. Other important players are Kyle Lee at CNM Ingenuity as well as Stuart Rose and his Bio-Science center as well as John Chavez, Bill Bice, and Harold Lavender.

There are a number of state programs available for small business startups to seek money and funding, but they are onerous to apply for, and frankly, not well known or understood. It would be much more efficient to simply put an amount of money into the hands of these players, who know these businesses and founders well, and are in front of them often. They have made many investments already, and would likely want to double down on some, and make investments in others if they had the funding. Giving them the ability to make these investments would be the most efficient way to help the startup industry and ensure that most of these companies can survive this time of upheaval. Many of these companies have proven their concepts and already have revenues and partnerships, but will need that runway for survival while they grow a bit more. Business leaders such as Dale Dekker and Paul Silverman have written about these issues recently as well. You can read their comments here:


Not many of us will argue the importance of these issues, but unfortunately, the ones who will argue, are the ones who can solve it…. our legislators, who have not, with a few exceptions, shown much appetite for bold actions, and investment in our future, so it is up to each and every one of us to let them know we are counting on them to pay close attention to the recovery, and our future.

And one final comment: We are very fortunate to have had Governor Michelle Lujan-Grisham at this critical time. She has been ahead of this pandemic from the beginning and arguably performed better than any other Governor and kept our state as safe as possible, but in the end, I would caution, that people will forget that they may have been saved from illness, but they will remember if they’re jobs, their businesses and their families futures were saved.”

Below are links to other Dinelli Blog articles written by John B. strong:

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

John Strong: “New Mexico Needs A Moonshot in Technology”

John B. Strong: “Keeping up with Wyoming” Or How to “Stake our claim to a piece of a multi-trillion dollar industry”

A Serious Conversation On Liquor License Reform In New Mexico

John B. Strong: Damage From The Failed ART Project Goes Far Beyond Just Central Avenue

Lynn Wilson Guest Column: Purpose of Proposed Singing Area Community Center Is To Stoke the Ego Of City Councilor Don Harris Ignoring Community Opposition

Lynn Wilson is an 83-year-old retiree from Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). He is a graduate of the University of Colorado with post graduate work in psychology. Mr. Wilson spent 30 years at LANL in human resources. He has been married for 63 years to Bonnie and the couple have 2 children and 2 grandchildren, all residents of New Mexico. Lynn Wilson was a founder of a crises intervention center and he was a daily volunteer for that organization. He particularly loves the out-of-doors and his hobbies include skiing, including being an active member of the National Ski Patrol, hiking, backpacking and golf. He does not consider himself to be a political activist. He and his wife are current residents adjacent to the Singing Arrow Park which they use daily for exercise and walking. Lynn Wilson submitted the below guest column for publication on this blog.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: The opinions expressed in this article are those of Lynn Wilson and do not necessarily reflect those of the political blog www.petedinelli.com and Mr. Wilson was not compensated for the column).

“Mayor Keller’s using the coronavirus to proceed with funded city construction projects will certainly lead to some great pic-ops. Assuring citizens that he has a handle on the city’s operational budget raises huge red flags. Commerce is in the toilet. Gross receipt taxes way down. Tourists travel is dead. The state’s shutdown duration is unknown. On-going drought heightens area fire danger and threatens the silvery minnow. The extent of business failures and recovery time are unknown. Any federal fiscal help won’t be available to bail out the city operational expenses. Relying on a beleaguered state to restore the city’s reserve operating funds in 2021 is pure folly. So how will the city recover financially? Increasing the gross receipts tax by the city council for a second time in two years no doubt will be in the cards.

Mayor Keller’s inclusion of a new Singing Arrow Community Center for the purpose of creating construction jobs during the coronavirus to spur the economy is wrong on several levels:

The Singing Arrow Community center, comprising 3 portables, play area, half size outdoor basketball court and 45 parking spaces was expected to be temporary. In 2011 and 2013, voters approved a general obligation bond explicitly to fix long unaddressed maintenance problems and improve the facility or to replace the existing center.

City Councilor Don Harris chose to repurpose the money for a second center 140 yards east from the existing center opining the park was underutilized. The purchase of the vacant 100 vehicle park-and-ride lot, the city bus hub on Wenonah, and free park land resulted in his decision to place a new community center at the east end of Singing Arrow Park. The only program scheduled for the new center is the before-and-after school program currently being served by the existing center.

Parks and Recreation’s stated goal in selecting building sites for new facilities is to allow for potential expansion of facilities as determined by future needs. The selected center location abuts existing archaeological sites limiting the facility’s placement and size.

Additionally, the selected site creates three serious issues for center users:

FIRST: Accessing the center from the bus terminal requires crossing Wenonah. Frequently there are as many as 4 buses, 3 on Wenonah and an ART bus at the corner of Tramway and Wenonah blocking visibility (pedestrian killed in 2019).

SECOND: The busiest times for vehicle traffic to and from the proposed center will be 7 to 8 am and 5 to 6 pm, the same as commuter traffic, and there are no turn lanes on Wenonah.

THIRD: It will be inconvenient for a parent having one child in child day care in the existing facility and another in before/after school program in the new facility.

What is lost if the proposed facility is built on the east side of the park is disastrous and something Councilor Harris apparently could not care less about as he refuses to listen to his constituents. Among the things that will be lost and contribute to the areas’ quality of life include:

A significant amount of the park’s irreplaceable green space;
A place to escape the built-up urban environment;
A place for unstructured play;
An area large enough for flying kites and drones;
Room and space for an increasing number of exercising seniors and dog walkers; Room for a large number of people to gather;
The unity of the Singing Arrow community.

Mayor Tim Keller has announced that the City is now faced with a serious deficit of at least $27 million dollars and the deficit will probably be much higher with another major recession in the city’s future. Keller and his Chief Financial Officer have said that the city may be forced to furlough or lay off city workers because of the deficit. The new Singing Arrow Community Center once completed will require 18 additional city employees to staff the facility, positions that are not likely to be created and funded.

Singing Arrow Neighborhood Association elected a new president at the 2018 annual meeting because the president was not representing a majority of the members. The ousted president disrupted the meeting so much that APD had to be called. Don Harris vilified the Association for having an illegal election because of the use of proxies. That ex-president still acts as an spokesman for Harris and has formed his own unrecognized neighborhood association further dividing the community.

Harris has accused those who oppose the building of a new community center in the park as selfish, rich retirees. There has been little maintenance done in the east end of the park since those who oppose the construction live in the immediate area.

The one person who benefits the most by building at the east end of the Singing Arrow Park is City Councilor Don Harris so he can stroke his ego and have his name placed on a dedication plaque to satisfy it.

Mayor Tim Keller needs to put a stop to the new Singing Arrow Community Center and he has the authority to stop its construction. The voters of the Singing Arrow community will be far more appreciative of a Mayor who listens to their concerns and desires because their own City Councilor Don Harris acts on his own behalf and ignores them.”

For Related Dinelli Blog Articles that outline the voting record of Don Harris See:

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

Dandy “Do Nothing” Don Harris To The Rescue!

ABQ Journal Guest Columns: Coronado Park and Lovelace Medical Opposed For City Homeless Shelter; Mayor Keller Has Failed To Build Consensus

During his campaign for Mayor and since taking office on December 1, 2017, Mayor Tim Keller has deemed that a 24-hour, 7 day a week temporarily shelter for the homeless as critical toward reducing the number of homeless in the city. The city owned shelter is projected to assist an estimated 300 homeless residents and connect them to other services intended to help secure permanent housing. The new facility would serve all populations, men, women, and families.

The city facility would have on-site case managers that will guide residents toward addiction treatment, housing vouchers and other available resources. According city officials, the new homeless shelter will replace the existing West Side Emergency Housing Center, the former jail on the far West Side.

The goal is for the new homeless shelter to provide first responders an alternative destination for the people they encounter on so-called “down-and-out” calls. Many “down and outs” today wind up in the emergency room even when they are not seriously injured or ill. According to city officials, in a recent one-year period, only 110 of 6,952 “down and out” people were taken by first responders to the Emergency Room with life-threatening conditions.

On November 5, voters approved general obligation bonds of $14 million for a city operated 24-7 homeless shelter that will house upwards of 300. The actual cost will be $30 million and the City asked the 2020 New Mexico Legislature for the additional $14 million to complete phase two of the project, but the funding request failed.


On February 27, the City of Albuquerque released a report and analysis announcing the top 3 preferred locations for the new 24/7 homeless shelter known as the “Gateway Center”. The 3 locations, in order of preference, were listed as follows:

1. University of New Mexico land next to the state laboratory, near Interstate 25 and Camino de Salud
2. Coronado Park at 3rd Street and Interstate 40
3. The former Lovelace hospital on Gibson


On Friday, February 28, Mayor Tim Keller held a press conference with local church leaders at the vacant UNM land site and announced his support for building the 300 person “Gateway Project” for the homeless on the UNM property. Confidential UNM sources have confirmed that UNM President Garrett Stokes and a few regents were not at all happy with Keller using a press conference to pressure the university to agree to the putting the shelter on the UNM property. Keller holding the press conference with church leaders and using words such as “if the UNM community is not interested in sharing it [with the community] then this will be off the table” was viewed as him trying to shame and force UNM’s hand and force them to agree to something they do not want to agree to and who have extreme reservations about the project.

On March 12, it was announced that the University of New Mexico was no longer interested in offering the empty lot they own off the I-25 Frontage Road for consideration as the possible site for Albuquerque’s new Gateway Center.

UNM President Garnett Stokes in a statement announcing the decision had this to say:

“In listening to the University community, it is clear that many people support UNM being a part of tackling the issue of homelessness and serving the various vulnerable populations in our City. Regarding the proposed use of UNM land, there was not a single variable that led to this decision. Ultimately, our concerns about enrollment and future needs of our health system had to be considered in our determination of whether the UNM site was appropriate for the City’s plans.”

The decision by UNM left Coronado Park and the former Lovelace Hospital complex as the two finalists for the new shelter.



On Monday, April 13, 2020, and Wednesday, April 15 the Albuquerque Journal published two separate guest editorial columns. The April 13 column was written by Connie Vigil, a long time resident of Wells Park and founder of the Greater Albuquerque Small Business Alliance (GABA) who strongly opposes the selection of the Coronado Park site. The April 15 column was written by Kristin Greene representing the Albuquerque Elder Homestead Neighborhood and who strongly opposes the selection of the Lovelace Hospital Complex for the shelter.

Below is background information on each site followed each by the Journal Guest column and the link to the columns:


Opposition to the Coronado Park as the site for the new shelter is very strong. Wells Park Neighborhood association adamantly opposes to the city developing another major project geared toward homeless people in the area. The Wells Park Neighborhood Association has said residents’ pleas for help from the city addressing the associated issues have gone largely unanswered by the city. The Wells park neighborhood association has voted to oppose placing the shelter anywhere in the city unless there are matching funds deployed to the selected location to help with infrastructure and to mitigate any potential problems.

According to a report released by the City on February 27, building the new shelter at Coronado would cost a total of $12.7 million. The city would need to buy abutting land, which may include office space across from the park, to have enough space. The overwhelming number of those who completed an on line city survey chose the Interstate 40 and 2nd street location as the best area for the shelter with upwards of 31% of the respondents saying the area was the best location. The area is in the same general vicinity as Coronado Park, a city park that has attracted for years many homeless people and those that feed the homeless. The city uses the park as a pickup location for those needing rides to the West Side shelter.

Marit Tully, the president of the Near North Valley Neighborhood Association has said that Coronado Park has seen major problem over the years due to the park’s existing concentration of people who are homeless.. Tully said area residents have for years raised concerns with the city, but the city has made little improvement. According to Telly, her neighborhood association could not support any shelter site unless the city invests just as much in the chosen neighborhood.


ABQ Journal Headline: Mayor Wrong To Force Shelter On Neighborhood
Monday, April 13th, 2020 at 12:02am

(EDITOR’S NOTE: The opinions expressed in the Journal guest column by Connie Vigil are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the political blog www.petedinelli.com)

“Mayor Tim Keller has no clue what to do with the homeless, a population that has grown exponentially during his brief time as mayor due to his liberal policies without true solutions.

So now they are kept overnight at the West Side jail with some in quarantine and sick. I wonder how they take showers, are fed, are tested and monitored for coronavirus? Still, there are about a thousand living on sidewalks, under bridges, in Coronado Park, waiting to catch a contaminated bus or (be) dropped off at a dollar store or liquor store to get “supplies” and food not available at the shelter.

It seems (the Journal) and (Family & Community Services Director) Carol Pierce want to give Keller the medal of honor for “moving forward” on a shelter in light of this devastating virus! (He deserves) just the opposite. He is a bully politician who puts the lives of the residents, businesses and even the homeless as his last priority.

The homeless are chronically sick and do not have good health practices. They do everything opposite virus guidelines. Meanwhile they are kept in tight quarters (and) transported in crowded buses to and from Coronado Park. They are out and about in groups as if there were no virus, no social spacing needed. As with the University of New Mexico (proposed shelter site), the city did not hold one single meeting with the neighborhoods most affected to ask their permission, but took the easy way out of creating a NIMBY survey of the city.

Can one single neighborhood actually claim it thinks it is a good idea to place 400 people in one building for 24 hours at a cost of $14 million and claim this is the solution? The answer is a resounding “No!”

Keller cannot and should not be considered a hero, just a bully politician who does not think of the welfare of the homeless, residents or businesses but only how he can appease enough folks to get re-elected.

Do we need a shelter in an area already blighted, full of liquor stores and drug dealers? Or a comprehensive and collaborative plan?

Keller wants to destroy a historic city park, skate park for kids, dog park and close Third Street to Downtown as his only solution. This story truly is the tale of “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” He cannot see his own absurdity. It’s time he woke up and got dressed. We will tell him that building a mega shelter with half the money he said he needed, in a city park without truly addressing the real issues of drug addiction and mental health, job rehabilitation and transitional housing for those without behavioral issues is not the real solution.

If he pushes the shelter during a time when people watch their businesses fail, employees struggle, people get sick and die while this city is literally falling apart (under a) lack of leadership, he will not be known as a hero but one of the worst mayors this city has ever had.

We urge him to take the time to allow residential treatment to be built, to collaborate with the county, state and federal government, on the Gabriel’s Village site on South Second next to the Animal Resource Center, which he has hidden from the public. Build a comprehensive site, not just an overnight shelter no one will go to. Let’s truly help those in need while still supporting the businesses and neighborhoods already hurt by our homeless crisis.

Stop social discrimination of a poor, historic neighborhood and businesses that have for so many years called Wells Park home. They count, too – not just those in wealthy neighborhoods, or those who have money, power and clout to deny a shelter while pretending to care about the homeless.

How about let’s be One Albuquerque by helping the homeless while respecting the dignity and honor of residents and businesses who pay taxes and support this city with their hard work and paychecks – you know. mayor, the ones who pay your salary?”

The link to the Connie Vigil guest editorial column can be found here:



According to the February 27 city report and analysis, the Lovelace Hospital Complex would be $14 million in acquisition and renovation costs. Although the former Lovelace hospital on Gibson was not listed in the on line survey, 42 people who took the survey wrote it in as an option. It was not listed on the survey because the city did not have permission from the building’s owners to list it. It was in 2007 Lovelace Medical Center closed down. It was later purchased by local private investors. The investors who purchased the former Lovelace Hospital on Gibson were Jimmy Daskalos and Nick Kapnison. Nick Kapnison is one of the owners of “Nick and Jimmy’s” Restaurant, Mikinos Creek Restaurant and El Patron Mexican Restaurant.

The Loveless facility is a 529,000-square-foot building and upwards of 50% of it is said to be vacant. According to one news report, an estimated $10 million in upgrades in the Lovelace Hospital Complex, including remodeling for specific tenants, improving common areas and the parking lot and installing a 540-ton cooling unit out back were made. Parts of the building date back to 1950 and what was then known as the Lovelace Clinic, and as a result the need for any asbestos remediation is subject to speculation and has not been reported on by the news media.


The Lovelace Hospital complex has been identified as a location to house corona virus patients with the City and State with the city working with the US Core of Engineer’s to take over the complex and prepare it for corona virus patients.


ABQ Journal Headline: Short-Changed District 6 Doesn’t Deserve Shelter
BY Kristin Greene / Albuquerque Elder Homestead neighborhood
Wednesday, April 15, 2020

(EDITOR’S NOTE: The opinions expressed in the Journal guest column by Kristin Greene are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the political blog www.petedinelli.com)

“As I read yet another editorial in favor of placing the Gateway Shelter at the Lovelace Gibson location, I can’t help but think how wonderful it must be to know such a project will never wind up in your own area, that you can declare another district as deserving of one more service to further blight it.

District Six has suffered over 30 years of being underserved, overburdened and disenfranchised by every administration at the city helm. When it comes to addiction centers, mental health facilities, homeless services, methadone clinics, halfway houses on every level, Tiny Home shelters, and other programs, D6 has taken far more than the lion’s share of the burden – more so than any other except District Two, with whom we are being pitted against in a Thunderdome-style battle in which the winner takes all and the loser faces plummeting property values.

Already we face a shortage of police while barrages of bullets fly day and night. We watch our tax dollars get siphoned away to more affluent areas of town, and we’re told it’s because those areas are more vocal in demand. For example: D6 has the most pedestrian fatalities citywide but will be receiving none of the Mayor’s Vision Zero dollars to help our blighted section of Central Avenue because, to paraphrase the Department of Municipal Development, “it’s tough down there.” Yes, we know. We live here.

We’re regularly admonished that it’s up to everyone to fight homelessness. Then why is it District Six and District Two are most often tasked with accepting programs such as Gateway? What seems glossed over is that this will be a wet shelter, accepting people in any state they arrive: full drug psychosis, dangerously intoxicated, in the throes of mental illness. Experts have advised that by allowing these conditions into the shelter, those most in need of emergency services and those who would avail themselves of the services to end homelessness will be the least likely to arrive. They’ve warned that at-risk women and families are adverse to enter a shelter if they perceive danger from unpredictable behaviors, that the mentally ill are unlikely to enter a large, bustling facility, and instead advocate for smaller, specialized facilities spread citywide.

Additionally, no one utilizing the shelter will be required to use the services for transitioning out of homelessness. What this means to D6 is that people can arrive nightly to sleep, then head out to neighborhoods all day to drink, use drugs and load up before returning to the shelter. We have numerous parks already unusable to taxpayers due to large camps, routinely broken up by police because of drug-selling operations, or awash with used syringes and paraphernalia. How can we believe the claims that our neighborhoods will be protected from further abuse when we are inundated already, receiving little as is? Roadway, median and beautification projects stop dead at our edges, even at the expense of our neighboring base for whom neglect is the first impression for officials and servicemen visiting our city. Where is the pride?

I bought my home in this area because I love the diverse culture, exceptional restaurants, plentiful museums and the friendly vibe exuded by the vintage neighborhoods. What should be a prized, multicultural gem has suffered enough neglect. Adding the Gateway Shelter would not only endanger our neighborhood further, it would overburden a struggling community to the breaking point. I urge the mayor, City Council and the citizens of Albuquerque to strongly consider switching from the mega-shelter model to the smaller, more specialized units advocated for by the experts, and many of the homeless themselves, in order to better assist those willing and able to transition, rather than creating a large, unmanageable catch-all sure to become Tim Keller’s ART-style legacy.

A petition against Lovelace Gibson as a homeless shelter site is at


The link to the Kristin Greene guest editorial column can be found here:



When it comes to city projects the term “NIMBY” stands for “Not In My Back Yard”. It describes opposition to proposed projects by home owners, property owners, and business owners. Two of the biggest issues that generate public outcry are the location of methadone clinics and homeless shelters. Mayor Keller’s desire to build a 24 hour, 7 day a week city built and run homeless shelter is a case of NIMBY and Mayor Keller is not listening to those who will have to deal with it long after he is gone as Mayor.

The two guest editorial columns reflect that debate rages on as to where to put the Keller 24-7 City Homeless Shelter. For that reason alone there is a likelihood a large segment of the voting public will get upset, no matter how necessary the shelter is needed. Mayor Tim Keller wants to break ground for the new shelter in the summer of 2021 which is when the race for Mayor begins to heat up, which is what happened with the ART Bus construction project.

Many issues are beginning to come into focus for the 2021 Mayor’s race where Tim Keller has already made it known that he is running for a second term. Those issues include increased high violent high crime rates, failure to increase APD sworn to 1,200 as promised, failure to implement community policing, Department of Justice consent decree reforms, increasing taxes without voter approval, severe budget cuts, reduced city services, the Mayor’s managing of the city’s response to corona virus and the city’s economic development efforts. Voters are also watching exactly what Mayor Tim Keller is doing as to his preferred location for the shelter which is the location likely the City Council will adopt.

Mayor Tim Keller is now perceived as mishandling the site selection process for the shelter, especially with his press conference to force UNM’s hand, and his failing to build true consensus on what the city should do and where the shelter should go. Mayor Tim Keller has added the location of the 24-7 city homeless shelter to the list of the many issues that will divide large segments of the city and that may deprive him of a second term.


UNM Site Off The Table For City Homeless Shelter; PR Pressure Tactic Failed; Mayor Keller Caught “Flat Footed”; BERNCO Has Funding

Debate On Location Of City Homeless Shelter Heats Up; ABQ Journal Accuses Mayor Keller Of “Bait And Switch”; Likely Issue In 2021 Mayor’s Race; Take The Survey!

City Identifies Top 3 Locations For Homeless Shelter; Final Selection And Planning On Going; Analysis of 3 Locations

Compromise, Consensus And Concessions Needed For City Homeless Shelter; Vote YES On Bond Question 2