Seven Takeaways from the Final 2020 Presidential Debate: Trump Tones It Down; Covide 19; Obama Care; Personal Attacks; Race; Climate Change; Foreign Policy; CNN Poll: Biden Wins Debate; One Third Have Voted

On October 22, the Chicago Tribune published the below Associated Press article written by political reporters Bill Barrow and Zeke Miller. It is one of the better analysis of the debate. The article, with one minor edit listing the order of the seven takeaways, is followed by a link to the article, a CNN poll and further commentary and analysis.

SEVEN TAKEAWAYS FROM THE FINAL 2020 PRESIDENTIAL

President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden met for the second and last time on a debate stage Thursday after a previously scheduled town hall debate was scrapped after the Republican incumbent became one of the millions of Americans to contract coronavirus.

For Trump, the matchup at Tennessee’s Belmont University was perhaps the final opportunity to change the dynamics of a race dominated, much to his chagrin, by his response to the pandemic and its economic fallout. For Biden, it was 90 minutes to solidify an apparent lead less than two weeks before the election.

Here are key takeaways:

1. TRUMP TONES IT DOWN

Three weeks after drawing bipartisan criticism for his frequent interruptions and badgering of his Democratic rival, Trump adopted a more subdued tone for much of the debate.

Trump took to asking moderator Kristen Welker for the opportunity to follow up on Biden’s answers — “If I may?” — rather than just jumping in, and he thanked Welker repeatedly to boot.

From the first question, this debate seemed different from round one, when Trump’s incessant interruptions and flouting of time limits derailed the 90-minute contest from the outset.

Sure, there still were digs.

“We can’t lock ourselves up in a basement like Joe does,” Trump said, reprising his spring and summer attacks on Biden staying at his residence rather than campaigning in-person amid the pandemic.

Biden smirked, laughed and shook his head. He mocked Trump for once suggesting bleach helped kill coronavirus.

The two men had a lengthy back-and-forth about their personal finances and family business entanglements.

But on the whole, voters at home got something they didn’t get on Sept. 29: a debate.

It marked a recognition by Trump that his bombastic side was a liability with the seniors and suburban women voters who have flocked from the GOP to Democrats.

2. COVID-19 STILL A DRAG FOR TRUMP

Trump’s difficulty articulating a defense of his handling of the coronavirus remains a drag on his campaign. The opening topic of the debate was entirely predictable — Trump has received variations of the same question in interviews and has rarely delivered a clear answer.

Asked to outline his plan for the future, Trump instead asserted his prior handling was without fault and predicted a rosy reversal to the pandemic that has killed more than 220,000 Americans.

“We’re rounding the turn, we’re rounding the corner,” Trump claimed, even as cases spike again across the country. “It’s going away.”

Biden, who has sought to prosecute Trump’s handling of the virus in his closing pitch to voters, came prepared. “Anyone who’s responsible for that many deaths should not remain as president of the United States of America,” he said.

Biden added: “He says we’re, you know, we’re learning to live with it. People are learning to die with it.”

3. TRUMP ATTACKS OBAMACARE, AGAIN

Trump and Biden each sought to position himself as the defender of American’s health care, keenly aware that it ranked among the top issues for voters even before the coronavirus pandemic struck the nation.

But Trump’s efforts to repeal and undermine the Obama-era Affordable Care Act proved to be a liability, as Biden hammered his efforts to strip coverage from tens of millions of Americans and his lack of a plan to cover those with preexisting conditions.

Biden, by contrast, fended off Trump’s attack that his plan to reinforce the Obama-era law with a “public option” amounted to a step toward socialized medicine by relying on his well-established public persona — and his vanquishing of Democratic primary rivals with more liberal health care policies.

“He thinks he’s running against somebody else,” Biden said. “I beat all those other people.”

4. TRUMP’S INDIRECT PERSONAL ATTACKS

Aiming to alter the trajectory of the race, Trump returned to a tactic that he believes boosted him to the Oval Office four years ago — staccato personal attacks on his opponent.

Trump repeatedly leveled unsupported allegations against Biden and his son Hunter in an attempt to cast his rival and his family as corrupt.

“I don’t make money from China, you do. I don’t make money from Ukraine, you do,” Trump said.

Trump offered no hard proof for his assertions, and he has a record of making claims that don’t withstand scrutiny.

When the Democrat sought to change the subject from the president’s attacks on his family to issues more relatable to voters, Trump fired back with the charge that Biden’s canned line reflected him being “just a typical politician,” mockingly adding, “Come on, Joe, you can do better.”

Both candidates struggled to explain why they weren’t able to accomplish more while in office, falling to the familiar tactic of blaming Congress for its inaction.

A larger question may be whether voters are moved at all, especially those undecided voters whom both candidates are trying to win over, especially given that more than 47 million Americans have already cast ballots.

5. WHITE MEN AND RACE

With centuries of institutional racism coming to a head in 2020, it’s been a bit of disconnect to see a 74-year-old white Republican and a 77-year-old white Democrat battle for the presidency. Trump and Biden did little to dispel that disconnect.

Welker offered both multiple opportunities to talk directly to Black Americans. Both men said they understood the challenges Black citizens face, but the segment amounted mostly to them blasting each other.

Trump blamed Biden as an almost singular force behind mass incarceration, especially of “young Black men.” Trump declared himself “the least racist person in this room” and repeated his claim that “nobody has done what I’ve done” for Black Americans “with the exception of Abraham Lincoln, possible exception.”

Biden, incredulous, called Trump a “racist” who “pours fuel on every single racist fire.”

Polls suggest many young voters of color do not support Trump but aren’t particularly enthusiastic about Biden either. It’s unlikely their final debate altered that view.

6. CLIMATE

Trump and Biden faced off on global climate change in the first extensive discussion of the issue in a presidential debate in 20 years.

Biden sounded the alarm for the world to address a warming climate, as Trump took credit for pulling the U.S. out of a major international accord to do just that. Trump asserted he was trying to save American jobs, while taking credit for some of the cleanest air and water the nation has seen in generations — some of it a holdover of regulations passed by his predecessor.

Biden, tapping into an issue of particular importance to his base, called for massive investment to create new environmentally friendly industries. “Our health and our jobs are at stake,” he said.

Biden also spoke of a transition from the oil industry, which Trump seized upon, asking voters in Texas and Pennsylvania if they were listening.

7. FOREIGN POLICY MAKES A CAMEO

Biden finally got a chance to talk a little foreign policy. But only a little. The former vice president loved the topic in the early months of the Democratic presidential primary, but the general election has been dominated by the pandemic and other national crises.

He used it to hammer Trump’s cozy relationship with North Korea’s authoritarian leader Kim Jong Un. “His buddy, who’s a thug,” Biden said, arguing that Trump’s summit with Kim “legitimized” a U.S. adversary and potential nuclear threat.

Trump defended his “different kind of relationship … a very good relationship” with Kim, prompting Biden to retort that nations “had a good relationship with Hitler before he, in fact, invaded the rest of Europe.”
It certainly wasn’t a deep dive into a pool of complex issues.

The link to the Chicago Tribune is here:

https://www.chicagotribune.com/election-2020/ct-trump-biden-final-debate-takeaways-20201023-sunjbxxs5rbvdidymcl3znwuby-story.html

BIDEN WON THE DEBATE ACCORDING TO CNN POLL

According to a CNN Instant Poll of debate watchers, former Vice President Joe Biden was viewed as winning the debate. Overall, 53% of voters who watched the debate said that Biden won the matchup, while 39% said that President Donald Trump won.

Viewers once again said that Biden’s criticisms of Trump were largely fair. 73% said they were fair, 26% unfair. Those polled were split over whether Trump’s attacks on Biden were fair at 50% saying yes and 49% saying.

That’s a more positive outcome for Trump. In a CNN Instant Poll after the first presidential debate, just 28% said they thought the President had won the debate, and 67% called his criticism of Biden unfair.

The final debate did not do much to move impressions of either candidate. Favorable views of Biden before the debate stood at 55%, and they held steady at 56% in post-debate interviews. Likewise, Trump’s numbers held steady, with 42% saying they had a favorable view of the President in interviews conducted before Thursday’s debate and 41% saying the same afterward.

CRITICAL ISSUES

Thursday’s debate watchers preferred Trump over Biden on the economy with 56% saying they think Trump would better handle it as opposed to 44% who say Biden would.

The poll divided about evenly between the two on foreign policy with 50% preferring Biden to 48% preferring Trump.

Biden held a wide edge as more trusted to handle the coronavirus at 57% for Biden to 41% for Trump)

Biden held a wide edge as more trusted as to climate change with 67% for Biden to 29% for Trump.

Biden also held a wide edge on the issue of dealing with and racial inequality in the US with 62% for Biden to 35% for Trump.

Biden was also largely seen as offering a better plan for solving the country’s problems with 54% for Biden to 42% for Trump.

Voters split over who seemed to be the stronger leader with each garnering 49% each.
Although Thursday’s event was far less contentious than the first presidential debate, Biden was far more apt to be seen as directly answering the moderator’s questions with 62% said he did and only 31% said Trump answered the moderator’s questions.

BREAKDOWN OF GENDER, AGE AND INDEPENDENTS

The CNN poll reflected that women were more likely than men to say that Biden did the better job in the debate with 60% of women saying Biden won and 35% saying Trump won Trump
Among men, 47% said Biden won while 44% of men said Trump won.

Among Independents, Biden won 55% to Trumps 36% Trump as did moderates with 56% for Biden to 37% for Trump.
White voters with college degrees gave Biden 64% to Trumps 29% Trump.

Among those 65 and older, the verdict was a split decision with 46% saying Biden won, 43% Trump won and 10% saying they both did equally well.

Younger voters broadly saw Biden as the winner with 66% to 27% for Trump among those under age 45.

The link to the full CNN news story is here:

https://www.cnn.com/2020/10/22/politics/cnn-poll-final-presidential-debate/index.html

EARLY VOTING SHATTERS RECORDS

“As of Friday, October 23, with just 11 days left before the election at least 50 million voters have cast ballots in the 2020 election, according to Michael McDonald, an Associate Professor of Political Science at University of Florida who specializes in elections, and the U.S. Elections Project. That figure accounts for over a third of all votes cast in the 2016 presidential election at 36.5% with less than two weeks to go until Election Day.

With over 6.3 million votes cast, Texas surpassed 70% of its total 2016 voter turnout.”

A link to the full story is here:

https://www.baynews9.com/fl/tampa/news/2020/10/22/millions-of-americans-have-already-voted

COMMENTARY

One major take away from watching the final debate is that being able to cut off the microphones had an impact on the debate. Both men were at least halfway civil to each other. The debate was a healthy discussion of the issues. Voters for the first and very last time were able to see just how far apart both Biden and Trump are on the issues. It may not matter at all, given the fact that the number of those who have voted early the outcome of the election may have already been decided. Further, voter turnout will hit a historical high, perhaps even as high as 65% signaling that many voters understand full well what is at stake in this election.

Please VOTE!

You Have No Constitutional Rights Or Civil Rights If You Are Dead! Wear The Damn Mask!

On Wednesday, March 18, Mayor Tim Keller declared a Public Health Emergency and signed the “Declaration of Local State of Emergency Due to Novel Corona Virus COVID-19”. The ordinance gives the Mayor authority to close places of big gatherings and gives the Mayor power to close city facilities, relocate city staff and divert funding around to deal with a crisis. The mayor can invoke specific powers such as 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. Under the ordinance, the Mayor even has the authority to close streets.

For the last 7 months, Mayor Tim Keller has been conducting almost daily press briefings on the city’s efforts to deal with the corona virus and attempting to keep up with Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s briefings on the state level. The corona virus pandemic has also allowed Mayor Keller to take his public relations efforts to even higher levels to deal with the pandemic and to announce city initiatives and inform the public. The best example of the new level of public relations is that Keller and his Department Directors conduct “virtual town hall” meetings. The town hall meetings are sophisticated telephone conference calls to thousands to provide to the public information and to answer the public’s questions regarding what the city is doing when it comes to the pandemic.

DRAMATIC SURGE IN CASES

As of October 22, there have been a total of 950 deaths and 38,715 cases reported statewide with 827 new infections with 20,332 reported recoveries and 1,039,372 negative tests. As of October 21, 202 people are hospitalized in New Mexico for COVID-19. According to Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s Office, 80% of adult general hospital beds and 71% of adult intensive care unit beds are occupied in hospitals throughout the state. This includes those who are hospitalized for COVID-19 and other illnesses.

The City’s and the County’s case numbers are now soaring. On October 21, Albuquerque reported 292 new cases, one of its highest daily counts to date. Ryan Mast, director of the city’s Environmental Health Department, said last week’s infections totaled 1,185, compared with 589 the week before and said numbers are rising elsewhere around the country.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1509486/state-sets-another-record-for-daily-virus-cases.html

SURGE AT JAIL AND HOMELESS SHELTER

Bernalillo County’s latest surge has included outbreaks at the county jail. The Metropolitan Detention Center announced 48 new virus cases among inmates and two among staff, which puts the facility at 354 active cases among inmates and 49 infected staff members out of work.

Albuquerque’s Westside Homeless Shelter is also dealing with a very serious outbreak. According to the city, 125 residents and five staff members have been infected with COVID-19. The city has closed the homeless shelter to incoming people while current residents are tested and isolated.

CITY ANNOUNCES CRACKDOWN

On Wednesday, October 21, Mayor Tim Keller and City officials held a news conference to discuss plans to enforce the city’s emergency order after the city’s COVID-19 cases doubled in the last week. Keller announced that the city will be taking new steps to help control the spread of COVID-19 and will be working with the state and use other city staffers, including the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) to help with the enforcement. The city plans on conducting an enforcement blitz, focusing on different parts of the city based on zip codes.

With the dramatic increase in cases, the city wants to remind businesses, especially grocery stores, that they have to have special hours for senior citizens and people who are at high risk. The public health order requires retail stores and bars is to close by 10 p.m. Even though that’s an order from the state, the city will now help to enforce it. Keller added that restaurants could soon get a red sticker for not following COVID-safe practices, as well as restricting non-residents from city buildings.

https://www.koat.com/article/mayor-keller-to-give-covid-19-update/34440970

During the October 21 press conference, Keller had this to say:

“We are going to be drastically ramping up enforcement … under the existing public health order. There’s nothing new here; we have just got to make sure we do a better job of actually following that public health order.”

https://www.abqjournal.com/1509486/state-sets-another-record-for-daily-virus-cases.html

KELLER GETS THE MESSAGE FROM GOVENOR MLG

Noncompliance of the public health order can result in a criminal citation. Violations of the public health order is a misdemeanor and the penalty is a $100 dollar fine and can escalate to six months in jail or both. Businesses can also receive a $5,000 fine if cited.

A KRQE News 13 investigative report found that the city has only issued four citations and none in the past few months despite the governor pushing for cities and local law enforcement to begin citing people for failing to wear masks, mass gatherings, and businesses breaking the rules.

https://www.krqe.com/health/coronavirus-new-mexico/city-of-albuquerque-announcing-new-round-of-covid-19-enforcement/

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has criticized the City’s enforcement action. Education, not punishment, has always been the main message for Mayor Keller. During the October 21 press conference, Keller defended the city’s response enforcing the public health order so far, calling it the best response in the state.

According to the city officials, since April it has have handed out 227 warnings. Since April, the city has responded to 19 occupancy issues but in October, the number rose to 32 with the increase likely caused by the weather impacting outside dining.

While the Governor is encouraging people to stay home, and have shut down state-run museums and historical sites, Keller said Albuquerque-run museums and the ABQ BioPark will remain open. He said they will continue to ensure COVID-safe practices will be implemented to keep everyone safe

ANNOUNCED ENFORCEMENT ACTION

Plans will be focusing on places people tend to go to and making sure businesses are following the occupancy rules. The city will be monitoring parks, ensuring there are no groups larger than five, and making sure people aren’t participating in sports that require a large group. The city is also considering restricting people from out of state from public buildings by requiring proof of residency.

Keller had this to say about the city’s enforcement action:

“We are working on, with our state partners, on a targeted enforcement blitz … Like any sort of blitz operation, like DWIs, we don’t want to share all those specific details, but we are going to let you know we are going to be drastically ramping up enforcement. Big box stores, and chains, chain restaurants especially, we’ve had a lot of complaints about load violation there. ”

Keller also reminded young people to avoid gathering in crowds or parties and said:

“We all remember high school and college, but this is an example of the kind of thing that’s happening in Albuquerque. These sort of COVID parties. This is a dangerous idea.”

https://www.krqe.com/health/coronavirus-new-mexico/city-of-albuquerque-announcing-new-round-of-covid-19-enforcement/

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

Since the very beginning, Keller has been emphasizing “educating the public” over “aggressive enforcement”. It obvious you can not force anyone to become educated.

The general public has a tendency to resist anything perceived as an infringement on their civil rights with many believing the corona virus is simply not a serious public health crisis.

We are not “turning the corner” when it comes to the pandemic but going around in circles thanks to Trump. Please, wear the damn mask. Your life and the life of others depends upon it. You have no constitutional rights or civil rights if you are dead. If you vote early and pass for any reason before election day, your vote still counts. Please vote for Joe Biden for President so we can have real leadership to defeat this damn pandemic.

City Council Enacts 2020-2021 Budget Of $1.1 Billion; APD Budget Increased From $205 Million To $215 Million; $29 Million Funding For DOJ Reforms Still Major Drag On City Resources

City finances have been totally upended as a result of the corona virus pandemic. The virus has impacted the city economy and in turn the city gross receipts tax returns have declined. Under normal circumstances, the Mayor submits a proposed budget on April 1, the city council conducts hearings, makes adjustments and enacts a budget that becomes effective July 1.

On March 16, 2020, the New Mexico Department of Finance Local Government Division authorized New Mexico municipalities to submit their last year’s fiscal budget for 2019-2020 budget as their fiscal budget for year 2020-2021 until reliable tax revenue projections could be determined. That is exactly what the City Council did. On April 13, 2020, on a unanimous vote of 9-0, the Albuquerque City Council enacted R-20-31 enacted an interim operating budget for fiscal year 2020-2021. The budget resolution enacted was a “bare bones budget” consisting of only 7 pages of line item appropriations for each of the city departments with no explanation or elaboration on the actual use of the millions appropriated.

On Thursday September 3, and after a 6-month delay, Mayor Tim Keller held a press conference to release the long anticipated proposed budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. The new fiscal year began on July 1, 2020 and ends June 30, 2021. Mayor Keller’s total proposed budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year was $1.15 Billion which is slightly more than the 2019-2020 budget by about $50 Million. The budget is a 266-page document that gives a detail budget for each of city departments. The City Budget is a “performance based” budget where each department prepares an analysis and listing of accomplishments from the previous years. Not surprising, public safety and APD continued to be a top priority for the 3rd year in a row for the Keller Administration.

The link to the 2020-2021 proposed adjusted budget is here:

https://www.cabq.gov/mayor/documents/final_fy21-budget-presentation-_09032020.pdf

COUNCIL ENACTS 2020-2021 BUDGET Of $1.1 Billion

Since its introduction on September 3, the Albuquerque City Council has been conducting hearings on the proposed budget and made significant changes including major cuts to the original proposed budget. The budget hearing concluded on Thursday, October 18 and the final budget was forwarded to the City Council for final adoption.

On Monday, October 19, on an 8-0 vote, with City Councilor Don Harris absent, the Albuquerque City Council enacted the 2020-2021 fiscal year budget with little debate. The newly enacted budget totals $1.1 Billion dollars for second year in a row and for that reason is considered a zero-growth budget. The fiscal year began on July 1 and will end June 30, 2021.

HIGHLIGHTS OF ADOPTED BUDET

The major highlights of the adopted budget include:

CITY COUNCIL GUTS “ALBUQUERQUE COMMUNITY SAFETY” DEPARTMENT

The approved City Council budget guts Mayor Keller’s budget plan for a new “Albuquerque Community Safety” (ACS) department. The ACS as originally presented was to have social workers, housing and homelessness specialists and violence prevention and diversion program experts. They were to be dispatched to homelessness and “down-and-out” calls as well as behavioral health crisis calls for service to APD. The new department was to connect people in need with services to help address any underlying issues. The department personnel would be dispatched through the city’s 911 emergency call system. The intent is to free up the first responders, either police or firefighters, who typically have to deal with down-and-out and behavioral health calls.

The City Council approved budget slashes Keller’s proposed $7.5 million budget to $2.5 million for fiscal year 2021. The City Council removed virtually all of the positions originally proposed by Keller. Cut from Keller’s proposed budget for the new department were 83 employees and $5 million in staffing costs. The staffing cut include 53 security personnel, 9 parking enforcement employees and 6 people from the city’s crossing guard program. The City Council’s budget gives the department a mere 13 positions. The positions include 7 civilian employees from the APD Crisis Outreach and Support Teams, and 3 Family and Community Services Department staffers which include one social worker and 2 people who respond to homeless encampments.

APD BUDGET INCREASE

The Albuquerque Police Department (APD) continues to be the largest budget department in the city with the city council approving a $212 million budget. The approved budget is an increase of 3% from last budget year with nearly $32 million coming from the city’s federal coronavirus relief money.

The new budget for APD contains $10 Million from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and “Operation Legend”. The CARES Act funding is earmarked to hire 40 new APD police officers.

The approved budget funds a total of 1,678 full time positions that includes 578 civilian staff and funding for 1,100 sworn police. Currently, APD has 980 sworn police.

The APD approved budget includes:

$2.5 million to support the hiring of 100 new officers, which factors in existing vacancies and savings from retirements and other separations.
$5.2 million for continued work to comply with the Court Approved Settlement Agreement with the Department of Justice.
$627,000 to acquire electronic control weapons that have an audit trail to monitor usage and compliance with use of force policies.
$594,000 to purchase on-body cameras, as required by the CASA and state law.
$500,000 for the Violence Intervention Program, including restorative justice programs, which has a track record of dramatically reducing violence in cities across the nation.”

The Fiscal Year 2020-2021 approved general fund budget for APD contains a line item of $29,280,000 for “PD-PROFESSIONAL ACCOUNTABILITY”. The funding is funding for the Compliance Bureau which has 61 sworn police assigned to the APD divisions associated with the Department of Justice Consent Decree reforms and enforcement.

GARBAGE AND RECYCING RATES INCREASE

The city council approved a garbage and recycling collection rate increase raising rates by $2 instead of the $1.55 as was originally requested by the Keller Administration. The monthly residential rate will now be $17. The rate increase is needed to allow the Solid Waste Department to increase its workload maintaining medians, clearing illegal dump sites and more.

NO JOBS LOST, BUT NO RAISES

The City employs upwards of 6,000 full time employees. With the decline in city revenues and the pandemic, the Keller Administration and the City’s Finance Department was very concerned that there would be a need for layoffs and furloughs in order to balance the budget. On Friday, April 17, the Keller Administration announced that the City of Albuquerque had a projected budget shortfall that could last through 2021. The City’s Chief Financial Officer Sanjay Bhakta said preliminary estimates indicated the city would bring in $600 million in revenue this fiscal year, down from the $627 million projected.

According to Bhakta, the city took steps to lessen the impact of the budget crisis by implementing the following:

The city imposed an aggressive hiring freeze with the exception of public safety
All travel for the remainder of the year was canceled
All city contracts with vendors are being reviewed and cut if necessary
The mayor has ordered his department heads to find cost-saving measures

https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/city-of-albuquerque-faces-budget-shortfall-due-to-covid-19-crisis/5703446/

The 2020-2021 enacted budget was able to avoid layoffs and furloughs in order to balance the budget. The city received $150 million through the CARES Act and is continuing to spend down the balance before the December 30 deadline. City officials credited the $150 million in federal assistance for preventing layoffs and furloughs.

Under the 2020-2021 adopted city council budget, municipal workers will not get a cost-of-living raise. Notwithstanding no raises, the city budget is providing a one-time payment to help each city employee to offset increases in health care insurance coverage.

REACTION TO ENACTED BUDGET

City Council Budget Chairman Isaac Benton had this to say about the enacted budget:

“I think it’s a good budget. It’s mostly, largely, what the mayor proposed. He proposed a good budget. … We’ve tweaked it somewhat, but I think we’re all going the same direction, and that’s a good thing.”

The enacted budget will now go to Mayor Keller for his approval. Keller for his part had this to say:

“We worked closely with City Council throughout this difficult, unprecedented budget cycle. … This financially-sound budget focuses on investing in fighting violent crime, supporting families and small businesses through the pandemic, and strengthens our commitment to public safety with a new cabinet-level department that we will be able to build up over time.”

https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/albuquerque-city-council-passes-fy-2021-budget-head-to-mayor-kellers-desk/5899775/?cat=500

https://www.abqjournal.com/1508853/city-council-oks-11b-budget.html

ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY

The most critical functions of the Albuquerque City Council are the oversight authority over city finances, all appropriations, the job performance of the various departments and enacting a balanced budget. The oversight authority includes having public hearings on the city’s budget to allow public the opportunity to give input on how the city spends taxpayer money. Further, the budget process is critical to force all city departments to justify their budgets and to adjust department’s budgets as the need mandates it.

A PUBLICITY STUNT FOR A SERIOUS PROBLEM

Mayor Tim Keller secured considerable news coverage nationally back in June when he called the Washington Post on a Sunday to first announce the new “Albuquerque Community Safety” (ACS) department. No one should be surprised at Tim Keller for wanting a national story given his penchant for news coverage, promoting the city and running for a second term.

The new department as originally proposed by Keller was to have 192 employees. Keller cut it to 100 positions and then the City Council gutted it to 13 positions. The projected budget went from $10.9 Million when it was announced by Keller with great fanfare to a Keller proposed budget of $7.5 Million. The City Council has now gutted it to $2.5 Million in the approved budget.

The Albuquerque City Council has caught onto Keller’s publicity seeking ways and is now demanding a more thought-out approach when it comes to creating and funding a whole new department. Now that the new department has been pared down to 13 employees, it really is not a city department.

Mayor Keller must be faulted for the sloppy manner in which his new department was first proposed. The lesson Keller needs to learn is that just because you come up with a great idea that you know will generate press, you need to make sure all the groundwork is in fact done and nothing in the planning and preparation can be left to chance.

People are onto it now that Keller thinks all he has to do is hold a press conference, flash his trademark smile, and all his desires and wishes will materialize. City government just does not work that way. Keller needs to put in the hard work, as does the CAO and department heads to get anything done. You cannot build an entire new city department on a “lick and a promise”, which is exactly what Keller tried to do with his new Community Safety Department. People want results, not public relations.

DOJ CONSENT DECREE STILL HUGE DRAIN ON CITY RESOURCES

In 2017, Candidate Tim Keller campaigned to be elected mayor on the platform of implementing the DOJ mandated reforms, increasing the size of the Albuquerque Police Department, returning to community-based policing and promising to bring down skyrocketing crime rates. To that end, the Keller Administration began implementing an $88 million-dollar APD police expansion program increasing the number of sworn police officers from 898 sworn positions f to 1,200, or by 302 sworn police officers, over a four-year period.

Since Mayor Tim Keller has taken office, APD has added at least 116 sworn police officers to the force. Last year’s 2019-2020 fiscal year budget provided for increasing APD funding from 1,000 sworn police to 1,053. The approved budget funds a total of 1,678 full time positions that includes 578 civilian staff and funding for 1,100 sworn police. Currently, APD has 980 sworn police.

The Albuquerque City Council also plays a crucial oversight role of the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) including controlling its budget. Another critical responsibility of the City Council is to demand that APD be in compliance with the Department of Justice (DOJ) Court Approved Settlement Agreement mandated reforms. The Court Approved Settlement Agreement was negotiated to be fully implemented within 4 years and after a full two years of compliance, the case is supposed to be dismissed.

The City Council approved 2020-2021 police budget contains $5.2 million ear marked for continued work to comply with the Court Approved Settlement Agreement with the Department of Justice. The city has already paid the federal monitor $4.5 Million over the last six years. The $212 million dollar plus APD budget also includes another $800,000 more to be paid to the Federal Monitor whose only function is to compile data.

It has now been 6 years since the settlement with the DOJ was negotiated. The biggest complaint of all the DOJ consent decrees in the country is implementation and enforcement “go on and on” for years, costing millions in taxpayer dollars. The approved $29,280,000 for “PD-PROFESSIONAL ACCOUNTABILITY contained in the 2020-2021 budget for Professional Accountability and the 61 sworn police assigned to enforce the CASA reforms reflects the continuous drain on city finances and resources that could be better utilized for essential services. The amount demands a full explanation as to why complete compliance with the CASA has not been achieved by the APD command staff after a full 6 years.

CONCLUSION

After 3 years of the Keller Administration, the Albuquerque City Council is finally acting like a governing body with enactment of a responsible balanced budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. The real question is, how long will it last? The Federal Monitors 12 report on the DOJ reforms is due to be filed in early November. It is genuinely hoped that the City Council take a far more active role in reviewing the report and demand far more accountability from APD management and determine exactly why the CASA reforms have not been achieved by the APD command staff after a full 6 years.

VOTE TO RETAIN DISTRICT COURT JUDGE CHRISTINA ARGYRES

Election day is Tuesday, November 3. On the reverse side of the ballots are 18 District Court Judges that are up for retention. For that reason, let’s talk about Judicial retentions and in particular the need to vote to retain DISTRICT JUDGE CHRISTINA ARGYERES.

IT’S PERSONAL

I have been a license attorney in New Mexico for 42 years, mostly as a trial attorney, including being felony and violent crimes prosecutor for 15 years and being an appointed Administrative Law Judge for 7 years. During my legal career, I have been in private civil law practice and have also served as Bernalillo County Chief Deputy District Attorney, a Deputy City Attorney and Chief Public Safety Officer for Albuquerque.

Throughout my entire 42-year legal career, I have paid very close attention to who has been appointed and elected to the 2nd Judicial District Court, Bernalillo County. I know the importance and the need to have district judges that can be fair and impartial. Judges must do their very best to apply the law, resist political pressures and see that justice is served in a fair and impartial manner. The legal profession and the quality of our judges is very personal to me, especially this election year, and to my son Mark Dinelli who is also an attorney.

It is for the below reasons that I ask that my readers of www.PeteDinelli.com vote to retain District Court Judge Christina Argyres.

DISTRICT COURT JUDGE CHRISTINA ARGYRES THE PERSON

It is extremely important for voters to know the people they elect to the bench. A person’s background and their life experiences and what contributions they make to our community are always indicative of the type of judge they become and who they are on the bench.

I have known Judge Christina Argyres and her family for over 30 plus years. Her father, Pete Argyres was the owner of the Town House Restaurant, an iconic and historic place in Nob Hill. That was the place for politicians and business people of all walks of life to congregate. Pete passed away a few years ago before Christina made it to the District Court bench, but he did see his daughter get appointed and win her Metropolitan Court Judgeship.

Both Pete and Mary Argyres, Christina’s mother and father, were immigrants from Kalamata, Greece, located in the southern Peloponnese. They came to America in search of the American Dream. Pete and Mary became American Citizens, very much like Lorenzo and Rachael Dinelli who came before them many years before to the New Mexico Territory in 1900.

Pete and Mary Argyres instilled in their 3 children their very strong work ethic that if you work hard, follow the rules, you can accomplish anything in the United State. They also instilled a duty to give back to the community and the true meaning of family.

In particular, Pete and Mary Argyres instilled in their children the basic principles of honesty and integrity. They also instilled in their children the meaning of compassion and to always do the right thing in life, especially when it comes to people, and never believing you are any better than anyone else. These are all basic and critical traits that are required to be a competent and effective judge, a judge that can see both sides of an issue and make rulings.

This election is especially important to Judge Christina Argyres because her mother Mary passed away a few weeks ago from her long battle with dementia, a battle where Judge Argyres was a health care provider.

District Court Judge Christina P. Argyres is a true embodiment of all she was taught and that her parents represented and she has earned retention to the bench.

DISTRICT COURT JUDGE CHRISTINA ARGYRES THE PROFESSIONAL

Judge Christina Argyres is a Valley High School graduate and UNM graduate. She went on to further her education and earned a Master’s Degree from Harvard University. She then decided to go to law school and graduated from Ohio Northern School of Law.

Following her graduation from law school , Christina worked at the United States Attorney’s Office here in Albuquerque. She later became a Public Defender. She then started her own practice and traveled throughout the state defending individuals who were accused of wrongdoing. Judge Christina Argyres has more than 20 years of combined experience defending and representing people and presiding as a Judge in field of criminal law.

While defending and helping others to better their lives, she decided the biggest impact she could make in the lives of others was to become a Judge. After going thru a lengthy judicial selection process, Governor Bill Richardson appointed Christina to the Metropolitan Court Bench in June, 2010. Two years later, an opening occurred in the District Court and Christina took the opportunity to better serve the public.

Christina has been on the District Court Bench since January 2013 and has presided over thousands of cases in the Criminal division.

She is also the presiding Judge of a Specialty Court geared specifically to Veterans who find themselves in the judicial system. Judge Argyres has been a speaker at National Drug Court conferences and has shared her knowledge and experience in dealing with Veterans by teaching other Jurisdictions and other Courts within New Mexico how to run this specialized program. The program success has been measured by the achievements of the graduates who are inspired to give back to the community and lead productive lives.

VOTE TO RETAIN DISTRICT COURT JUDGE CHRISTINA ARGYRES

Argyres is a straight shooter and holds both sides accountable. Her hard work, dedication and tenacity makes her the type of person we want to keep on the bench.

Please join me this election on November 3 or before with early voting and say YES to keep Judge Christina P. Argyres on the District Court.

Publicity Stunt Keller’s “Community Safety Department” Gutted By City Council; New Department Goes From 192 Positions To 13 Positions; $10.9 Million Projected Budget Goes To $7.5 Million, Cut To $2.5 Million; Still No Mental Health Officials

On Sunday June 14, in an exclusive interview with the Albuquerque Journal and the Washington Post and the then during a June 15 press conference, Mayor Tim Keller announced plans to create a new Albuquerque Community Safety Department (ACS). The new department as announced was to be responsible to send trained professionals to respond to certain calls for service in place of armed APD police officers or firefighter. It was to be an entirely new city department that was to be on equal footing with all the other 19 city departments, including APD and AFRD, that have hundreds of employees and separate functions, tasks, and services.

The ACS as originally presented was to have social workers, housing and homelessness specialists and violence prevention and diversion program experts. They were to be dispatched to homelessness and “down-and-out” calls as well as behavioral health crisis calls for service to APD. The new department was to connect people in need with services to help address any underlying issues. The department personnel would be dispatched through the city’s 911 emergency call system. The intent is to free up the first responders, either police or firefighters, who typically have to deal with down-and-out and behavioral health calls.

KELLER GENERATES LOCAL AND NATIONAL NEWS COVERAGE

All three local news stations, Ch 4, 7 and 13 and the Albuquerque Journal covered Mayor Keller’s announcement of the new public safety department. In addition to local news coverage, Mayor Tim Keller’s June 14 announcement also generated substantial news headlines across the country, including the Washington Post, US News and World Report, The HILL, the New York Post, FOX News, MS Magazine. The Postscript to this blog article contains links to 15 national and local news stories.

On June 14, in addition to the Albuquerque Journal, Mayor Keller and CAO Nair went out of their way to make a Sunday phone call to the Washington Post so it could break the news story nationally and generate other news stories.

According to the Washington Post article:

“As calls to defund law enforcement reach a fever pitch nationwide, New Mexico’s largest city is answering concerns about its police department by forming an alternative. … Albuquerque’s plan for a new branch of public safety comes amid a nationwide movement to slash police department funding after George Floyd’s death in police custody in Minneapolis.

The department, called Albuquerque Community Safety, may be the first of its kind, experts say. A spokesperson for the mayor told The Washington Post the new department was partially the city’s response to the “defund the police” movement. …

[Quoting Mayor Keller]

… There is a huge portion of our community that doesn’t necessarily want two officers showing up when they call about … behavioral and mental health. … So this is a new path forward for us that has been illuminated because of what we’ve learned during these times. Look, there’s political will; there was not political will to make this huge of a step three weeks ago.”

The link to the Washington Post article is here:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/06/15/wake-calls-defund-police-albuquerque-creates-an-alternative-department/

COST OF ALBUQUERQUE COMMUNITY SAFETY DEPARTMENT AS ORIGINANLY ANNOUNCED

Although Mayor Keller and CAO Sarita Nair did not disclose the estimated or projected cost of creating the new department, they did provide sufficient information on the personnel needs for the department during the June 15 press conference to make a projection. Keller’s Chief Administrative Officer Sarita Nair said a rough estimate suggested that 192 positions would be needed for the new ACS Department with 32 people for each of the 6 area commands, staffed around the clock, to respond to tens of thousands of calls a year.

Based upon the average salaries paid to social workers and mental health professionals and the number of projected employees need for each area command, the projected employee costs can be calculated as follows:

The average Social Worker (MSW) salary in Albuquerque, NM is $60,903 as of July 27, 2020, but the range typically falls between $54,845 and $67,461. Salary ranges can vary widely depending on many important factors, including education, certifications, additional skills, the number of years a person has spent in the profession.

https://www.salary.com/research/salary/benchmark/licensed-clinical-social-worker-salary/albuquerque-nm

The average Psychologist ( Ph.D) salary in New Mexico is $94,840 as of July 27, 2020, but the range typically falls between $85,334 and $106,510. Salary ranges can vary widely depending on the city and many other important factors, including education, certifications, additional skills, the number of years you have spent in your profession.

https://www.salary.com/research/salary/benchmark/psychologist-phd-salary/nm

The Department will also require the hiring of a cabinet level Director. Mayor Keller pays his Department Directors an average of $116,000 a year.

Based upon the average salaries paid and the number of projected employees need for each area command, the projected employee costs would be:

32 employees, divided into working three 8 hour shifts for 6 area commands = 192 total. (32 employees X 6 area commands)

Each one of the 6 APD area commands would likely need at least 1 psychologist paid an average salary of at least $85,334, to supervise the social workers and mental health experts for a total salary cost of: $596,040 ($94,840 (average Ph.D, salary) X 6 positions).

The remaining 186 positions, divided into working three 8 hour shifts for 6 area commands would likely be trained social workers licensed and certified to deal with the mentally ill or drug addicted and paid and average salary of $54, 845 for a total salary budget of $10,201, 170.

Total estimated personnel budget:

6 psychologist position salaries: $596,040
186 Social Worker positions: $10,201,170
Department Director: $116,000

TOTAL: $10,913,210

A link to an original projected cost analysis is here:

https://www.petedinelli.com/2020/08/25/11-million-a-year-projected-cost-for-new-public-safety-department-hiring-social-workers-to-do-first-responders-work-wont-be-cheap-take-the-public-survey/

PARRED DOWN BUDGET

On Thursday, September 3, Mayor Tim Keller held a press conference to release the long anticipated proposed budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. The new fiscal year began on July 1, 2020 and ends June 30, 2021. Mayor Keller’s total proposed budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year is $1.15 Billion which is slightly more than the 2019-2020 budget by about $50 Million.

The link to the Keller Administration Proposed budget is here:

https://www.cabq.gov/mayor/documents/final_fy21-budget-presentation-_09032020.pdf

In his September 3, transmission document of the 2021 proposed budget to the City Council, Mayor Keller emphasized as a top priority the creation of the Albuquerque Community Safety Department and said:

“Albuquerque Community Safety Department: Policing alone will not make our community be safer or feel safer. Our Fiscal Year 2021 budget formally establishes the Albuquerque Community Safety Department (ACS), a third public safety department that will respond to the calls and needs of our City that are not best served by the police. We propose an initial investment of over $7.5 million in personnel, equipment and contractual services. In addition, ACS will leverage existing contracts with behavioral health and substance abuse service providers. ACS will begin its work through thoughtful and strategic responses in the areas of homeless encampments, responses to non-violent and non-criminal calls like abandoned vehicles, and better utilization of the Crisis Outreach and Support Teams. In addition, the Albuquerque Fire Rescue Department (AFR) has stepped up to provide administrative and back office services for the Albuquerque Community Safety Department. Through a budget-neutral reorganization and strengthening of administrative functions, AFR’s support will enable ACS to focus its funding to have a direct impact on the community.”

See page 5 of proposed budget document:

https://www.cabq.gov/dfa/documents/budget-documents/fy21-adjusted-proposed-w-hyperlinks.pdf

The 192 positions originally proposed for the new department was pared down by the Keller Administration in the 2020-2021 proposed budget. The new ACS Department was cut from the originally suggested 192 positions to 100 employees funded by the proposed budget. A line item review of the $7.5 million dollar proposed budget for the new ACS Department reveals that 60 positions have been identified for the new department that have been taken from other city departments. The positions were to be existing positions being transferred from other departments. The $7.5 million funding, like most of the staff, was to come from existing programs and departments, including Municipal Development, APD and Family and Community Services Departments.

There were 83 positions outlined in the proposed 2020-2021 budget. Those positions included 40 transit security officers, 13 security staffers from the Municipal Development Department, 9 parking enforcement workers, 6 crossing guard supervisors and one from the city’s syringe cleanup program. Seven civilian employees from the APDs Crisis Outreach and Support Teams who work nonviolent cases and are required to have a degree in a social work-related field, and people from the Family and Community Services Department, including a social worker-coordinator, were included in the budget.

NO MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONALS

None of the 83 positions outlined in the Keller 2021 proposed budget requires a licensed mental health professional which is very problematic. The new ACS Department was represented as an alternative to first responders such a police or firefighters answering 911 calls, including those related to homelessness, behavioral health and addiction and the calls are supposed to be responded to by licensed mental health professionals.

Mayor Keller’s proposed budget created 4 new administrative positions. According to the Keller Administration, some of the positions were expected to have mental health licensure and credentials. The budget included $1 million for outreach and prevention positions and those positions would have licensure requirements.

According Mayoral Spokeswoman Jessica Campbell, the city is still sorting out many of the specific details for a department and had this to say:

“[City staff responding to 911 calls] may have backgrounds as social workers, peer to peer support, clinicians, counselors or similar fields. We do not have additional details [about the personnel] because this proposed budget is only for the next eight months, and provides time for a thoughtful, community-driven approach to building the department. ”

The ACS Coordinator Mariela Ruiz Angel added:

“The work has to start now. Building a first-of-its-kind department is going to take time, and we intend to use this fiscal year to build a strong foundation for the meaningful work this department will do.”

https://www.abqjournal.com/1501575/newly-proposed-department-light-on-mental-health-pros-2.html

CITY COUNCIL GUTS KELLER’S “COMMUNITY SAFETY DEPARTMENT”

For the last few months, the Albuquerque City Council has been conducting budget hearings on the Keller 2020-2021 fiscal year budget that began on July 1, 2020. Under normal circumstances, the Mayor submits a proposed budget on April 1, the city council conducts hearings, makes adjustments and enacts a budget before July 1. Because of the pandemic and uncertainty of city revenues, a temporary budget was enacted to allow the city to operate. Only now in October is the City Council is conducting budget hearings with the intent to enact a final and approved budget by the end of the year.

It was on Thursday, September 3, that Keller released his proposed budget for fiscal year 2020-2021. The proposed budget contained a $7.5 million dollar proposed budget for the new Albuquerque Community Safety Department (ACS). Soon after release of the ACS budget, city councilors began to question the proposed staffing plan even going as far as saying it was top heavy with law enforcement employees and lack social workers and mental health professionals as was originally proposed.

One city councilor went so far as to question whether law enforcement type employees would be able to meet the city’s intended goals to help those in need of help such as those living on the streets, needing mental health care and needing assistance applying for Medicaid. Council President Pat Davis had this to say:

“The proposal as presented gives the impression we’re leading with enforcement officers as the primary people who will be engaging with people who need help. It’s one step down from the police, but it doesn’t take those support services out of the enforcement realm, and so it didn’t go far enough.”

On Thursday, October 15, the city council conducted its budget hearing on Mayor Tim Keller’s budget plan for his new “Albuquerque Community Safety” department. To the likely surprise of the Keller Administration, the Albuquerque City Council significantly gutted Mayor Keller’s budget plan for the new department. The council significantly reduced the Mayor’s security guard-heavy staffing proposal and is requiring detailed reporting before the department can use $1 million set aside for its operations.

The proposed Keller budget for the new department was slashed from $7.5 million to $2.5 million for fiscal year 2021. The City Council removed virtually all of the positions originally proposed by Keller. Cut from Keller’s proposed budget for the new department were 83 employees and a $7.5 million cost. The staffing cut include 53 security personnel, 9 parking enforcement employees and 6 people from the city’s crossing guard program.

The City Council’s budget gives the department a mere 13 positions. The positions include 7 civilian employees from the APD Crisis Outreach and Support Teams, and 3 Family and Community Services Department staffers which include one social worker and 2 people who respond to homeless encampments. Three management positions are included.

The council’s budget bill creates a committee to develop a “comprehensive plan” for the department. The committee is charged with the task of determining what employee training will be required and the supervisory hierarchy. The committee will report to the council quarterly on its progress and performance measures before the department will be allowed to spend $1 million appropriated for its programming.

The council’s budget goes so far as to even gutting Keller’s name for the new department “Albuquerque Community Safety” and dubbing it as a “new department”

KELLER’S REPONSE

According to a mayoral spokeswoman, Mayor Keller will review whatever budget arrives on his desk and said he has “no real concern” about the council’s proposal to remove the security and parking positions.

The city’s Chief Financial Officer Sanjay Bhakta had this to say:

“I think what we all agree on is that there is certainly a need for the new department and we all agree on that … Ultimately, the goals of the mayor and council seem to be the same. However, the mayor wants to do this in a rather aggressive manner.”

Keller for his part downplayed the Council’s action and said:

“We want to move fast and bold and innovative, and I think council wants to move at a more gradual manner. … And that’s okay, so we’ll basically work with them and meet with them. And we basically have the same end goal, so I’m not really concerned about it.”

https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/city-council-keller-at-odds-over-funding-of-new-community-safety-department/5897551/?cat=500

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

There is only one word that can describe the manner Mayor Tim Keller’s new “Community Safety Department” was put together and that word is SLOPPY. Two other words to describe it would be “publicity stunt.” It is apparent that the new department as reflected in Keller’s proposed budget was simply thrown together in a haphazard manner to be included in his proposed budget.

The proposed Albuquerque Community Safety Department (ACS) is a department that is supposed to be a solution to reduce APD’s calls for service involving mental health calls and to transfer such calls to another civilian department with mental health experts to deal with those in crisis. The fact that none of the positions outlined in the 2021 proposed budget requires a licensed mental health professional goes against the spirit and intent of the department. It is a department that must be equipped to respond to 911 calls related to addiction problems and behavioral health issues, or it will fail and fail miserably and may even result in a social worker getting killed.

The new department as originally proposed by Keller was to have 192 employees, Keller cut it to 100 positions and then the City Council gutted to 13 positions. The projected budget went from $10.9 Million as originally projected when it was announced by Keller with great fanfare to a Keller proposed budget of $7.5 Million. The City Council has now gutted it to $2.5 Million.

A key component of the new department is to have trained and licensed mental health care professionals and that is still missing. The ACS department as presented in the proposed budget does not address behavioral health care and long-term counseling nor solutions. Without considerably more licensed health care professionals, the new department is relegated to be a “pickup, delivery or referral” of people in crisis to take them either to jail or to a hospital. In order to be successful, the Mayor’s new department needs to deal with the city’s long-term behavioral health system needs and programs that are desperately needed now and in the future.

A PUBLITY STUNT FOR A SERIOUS PROBLEM

Mayor Tim Keller and CAO Sarita Nair secured considerable news coverage nationally back in June when they called the Washington Post on a Sunday to first announce the new department. The below postscript contains just some of the news coverage. No one should be surprised at Tim Keller for wanting a national story given his penchant for news coverage, promoting the city and running for a second term. No one knows for sure how many other national news agencies Keller called on a Sunday to give interviews. Now that new department has been pared down to 13, it really is not a city department and has no certified mental health professionals, a cynic would say Keller’s new department announcement was nothing more than a typical Keller publicity stunt to please his staunches supporters as he seeks a second term.

Mayor Keller must be faulted for the sloppy manner in which his new department was first proposed and the way it is taking shape. The lesson Keller needs to learn is that just because you come up with an great idea that you know will generate press, you need to make sure all the ground work is in fact done and nothing in the planning and preparation can be left to chance. Keller’s press conference to announce his site selection for his new homeless shelter to force UNM to accept the project is another example of the problem Keller has with his attraction like a moth to news camera lighting.

People are onto it now that Keller thinks all he has to do is hold a press conference, flash his trademark smile, and all his desires and wishes will materialize. City government just does not work that way. Keller needs to put in the hard work, as does the CAO and department heads to get anything done. You can not build and entire new city department on a “lick and a promise”, which is exactly what Keller tried to do with his new Community Safety Department. People want results, not public relations.

At least the city council has caught onto Keller’s ploy and is now demanding a more thought out approach, no doubt to the chagrin of Mayor Keller, but then again Keller already got the news coverage he wanted with his publicity stunt to deal with a serious problem.

_____________________________________

POSTSCRIPT

Following are links to news coverage:

WASHINGTON POST

“Amid calls to defund police, Albuquerque creates an alternative department”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/06/15/wake-calls-defund-police-albuquerque-creates-an-alternative-department/

NEW YORK POST

“New Mexico mayor proposes agency to use social workers instead of cops in some cases”

https://nypost.com/2020/06/16/new-mexico-mayor-wants-social-workers-over-cops-in-some-cases/

FOX News

“Alb. to send unarmed social workers, not police officers, to some 911 calls”

https://www.foxnews.com/us/albuquerque-social-workers-911-calls

US NEWS AND WORLD REPORT

“Albuquerque Proposes New Agency Amid Calls for Police Reform”

https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/new-mexico/articles/2020-06-15/albuquerque-proposes-new-agency-amid-calls-for-police-reform

THE HILL

“Albuquerque will use social workers to respond to certain 911 calls instead of police”

https://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/502856-albuquerque-will-use-social-workers-to-respond-to-certain-911-calls

NEWS BREAK

“When Cities Replace Police with Social Workers”

https://www.newsbreak.com/new-mexico/albuquerque/news/1593884602749/when-cities-replace-police-with-social-workers

THE SCOOP

“Albuquerque claims social workers will now respond to 911 calls — not cops”

https://scoop.upworthy.com/albuquerque-claims-social-workers-will-now-respond-to-911-callsnot-cops

THE BLAZE

“Albuquerque Democratic mayor announces plan to shift police resources to unarmed social wokers”

https://www.theblaze.com/news/albuquerque-mayor-police-resources-social-workers

THE EPOCH TIMES

Albuquerque to send social workers instead of armed police to some 911 calls calls

https://www.theepochtimes.com/albuquerque-to-send-social-workers-instead-of-armed-police-to-some-911-calls_3390625.html

MS MAGAZINE

When cities replace police with social workers

https://msmagazine.com/2020/07/09/when-cities-replace-police-with-social-workers/

Links to local news coverage are here:

ALBUQUERQUE JOURNAL

“Mayor proposes public safety department

https://www.abqjournal.com/1466317/mayor-proposes-public-safety-department.html

LOCAL TV NEWS COVERAGE

KOB CH 4

https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/mayor-keller-announces-creation-of-albuquerque-community-safety-department/5760086/

KOAT TV CH 7

https://www.koat.com/article/mayor-keller-announces-civilian-response-department-to-help-with-abq-public-safety/32869947

KRQE CH 13

Mayor Keller announces new Albuquerque Community Safety Department

Mayor Keller announces new Albuquerque Community Safety Department

If It’s Friday, It’s NFL Football Jersey Day At APD! Why Not When A Mayor Shows Up In Flip Flops, T-Shirts And Cargo Shorts!

On September 2, 2020, Interim APD Chief Harold Medina issued “DEPARTMENT SPECIAL ORDER SO 20-75” to “ALL DEPARTMENT PERSONNEL”. The subject line read: FOOTBALL APPAREL FRIDAY”

The memo reads as follows:

“Effective immediately, all plainclothes civilians/sworn personnel are authorized to wear football apparel on Friday of every week, during football season. Personnel will ensure that their apparels are professional and do not represent the city of Albuquerque or the Albuquerque Police Department in a negative manner’.

BY ORDER OF:
HAROLD MEDINA
Interim Chief

ABQReports ARTICLE

Dan Klein is a retired Albuquerque Police Sergeant after 20 years of public service. He has been a small business owner in the private sector now for 16 years. Mr. Klein has been a reporter for both on line news outlets the ALB Free Press and ABQ Reports.

On October 14, the following article written by Dan Klein was posted in ABQReports:

HEADLINE: Playing Football While Albuquerque Burns

Albuquerque has a crime problem. Albuquerque Police Department has a leadership problem. Mayor Tim Keller has a public relations problem (his name is Mike Geier). How will the brilliant Tim Keller and his new police chief fix these problems? How will Interim Chief Medina show that he is the man for the job?

They issue an order allowing non-uniformed members of APD to wear their favorite NFL football jersey on Fridays. Yeah, right, football jerseys will fix all of Albuquerque crime woes.

Wearing a football jersey is a PR stunt, it won’t help reduce crime. This should not come as a surprise because Keller’s tenure as mayor of Albuquerque has been heavy on PR stunts—PR stunts to further his political career—and light on solving Albuquerque’s crime and police leadership problems. One only has to sit back and watch the bickering between ex-Chief Mike Geier and Keller’s staff to realize that the kindergartners have been running the city. (Apologies to kindergartners.)

With that in mind, I would like to award a free meal, at your favorite restaurant, to the first APD Homicide detective who wears a Buffalo Bills O.J. Simpson Jersey to work on Friday. How about a New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez jersey? Or maybe a Carolina Panther Rae Carruth jersey? Or a Kansas City Chiefs Jovan Belcher jersey? Or Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens. Yes, you guessed it, all of them were accused of murder. Three of them were accused of murdering their girlfriends. If you were the family of a murder victim how would you feel if the detective interviewing you wore one of these jerseys? Not so good.

Why not have a sex crimes detective wear a Pittsburgh Steelers Ben Roethlisberger jersey? He has been accused of sexual assault twice in his career. Maybe a Crimes Against Children detective could wear an Adrian Peterson jersey. Maybe a detective investigating animal abuse could wear a Michael Vick jersey. The list goes on and on, as do the dumb ideas from Mayor Keller’s office. For Keller it’s all PR all the time.

The football jersey order is stupid. Allowing detectives to wear football jerseys makes the officer/detective appear less than professional to the public he is serving. It’s been almost forty years since I went through the APD academy, but I still remember the academy instructors demanding that our uniforms be perfect. Why? Because when you put on that badge, whether in uniform or in detectives, you are representing the entire city of Albuquerque. You are an ambassador to our city and therefore you must represent it with pride. Football jersey Friday doesn’t reflect pride, it reflects a mayor that is out of solutions so everything he does now is to further his PR political career. That’s a disservice to Albuquerque citizens.

APD has some big issues in front of it. Allowing detectives and officers to not represent our city in a professional manner will only make those issues grow. A police officer should take pride in wearing the uniform. A detective should take pride in wearing in wearing a suit or other professional attire. APD isn’t a fast-food restaurant or brewery, officers and detectives must hold themselves to a higher standard, and part of that is their appearance. Your appearance reflects your attitude. Professional attire equals professional actions.

Keller must stop treating APD policy as a public relations stunt for his political career. Albuquerque citizens deserve professionalism from their police department and mayor. Albuquerque police officers are professionals who deserve a professional mayor.

As of now, a professional Albuquerque’s mayor has been missing, or he is incognito in sunglasses and a hat, sitting at Coronado Park?

The link to the ABQReports article is here:

https://www.abqreport.com/single-post/playing-football-while-albuquerque-burns

APD STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURES ON GROOMING STANDARDS AND ATTIRE

The Albuquerque Police Department has 6 pages of standard operating procedures (SOPs) dealing with agency grooming standards and attire that apply exclusively to APD. SOP 1-3-3 Procedures covers “Grooming and Attire” and covers all levels of grooming, hygiene and attire, including personal hygiene, haircuts and styling, including wigs and toupe’s, cosmetics, facial hair, fingernails, tattoos, jewelry and body piercings, and dental ornamentation.

A link to APD’s grooming standards is here:

http://documents.cabq.gov/police/standard-operating-procedures/1-03-grooming-standards.pdf

When it comes to Interim Chief’s Medina’s special order allowing the wearing of NFL Jersey’s, what he is doing is declining to enforce the departments SOP’s that apply:

1-3 GROOMING STANDARDS

1-3-1 Purpose The purpose of this policy is to provide the grooming standards that shall be adhered to by all department personnel.

1-3-2 Policy Department policy establishes that all employees meet appropriate grooming standards as prescribed by the Chief of Police. All employees, while on duty, unless otherwise directed by their commanding officer, shall be well groomed and clean. Clothes and shoes shall be clean and properly cared for. Attire shall conform to department rules and regulations. All department personnel are expected to dress appropriately for the work place. The Chief of Police reserves the right to determine the appropriate standard for personnel in a particular assignment.

1-3-3 Procedures A. Grooming and Attire – All Department Personnel

1. Personal Hygiene …
2. Attire . …

a. Clothing is to be neat and clean, without rips, tears or holes and appropriate for the work environment. Employees should not wear suggestive or provocative attire, halter tops, non-uniform shorts, flip flops, T-shirts and other similar items of casual attire, nor should attire be unusually tight fitting, short, or low-cut.
… .”

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

At first blush, many people would say it is no big deal when a boss allows subordinates a little leeway to relax a little once a week on the job to show pride in their favorite sports team. The reality is, the Albuquerque Police Department is a “para military” agency. Unlike other city departments, it must be held to a much higher standard because its mission statement to “serve and protect” and that includes a very stringent dress code. Truth is, as the old saying goes “cloths make the person”. Virtually every court in Bernalillo County has a dress code for court appearances when it comes to attorneys and court personnel. Police Officers appearing in court in football jerseys on a Friday to testify no doubt would be sent home to get dressed properly for court.

Virtually all APD sworn personnel, whether in uniform or as plainclothes detectives, are representing not just the city of Albuquerque but law enforcement as well. Uniforms and dress apparel are just as important as any badge and a gun in order to convey professionalism and dressing appropriately and professionally commands a level of respect. Sworn police officers carrying a badge and a gun wearing sports jersey’s every Friday undercuts virtually all the SOP’s on grooming and dress attire. Interim APD Chief Harold Medina obviously does not care how he looks nor his subordinates look and dress, but the public damn well sure does and the public does not care to see its law enforcement personnel dressed like they are going to a weekend football game party to drink beer and eat pizza.

Mayor Keller and CAO Sarita Nair need to send the right message by going over to APD’s main station and tell Interim Chief Medina and all others dressed in football jerseys to take one hour of vacation time, go home and return to work properly dressed. Then again, Keller himself may be reluctant to question anyone’s attire or dress code seeing as he is known to show up at events in flip flops, t-shirts and cargo shorts with a beard or wear polo shirts and slacks as if getting ready to play a round of golf.