The annual “Citizen Satisfaction Survey” is a research study commissioned by the City of Albuquerque to assess residents’ perceptions of the overall quality of life in Albuquerque, satisfaction with City services, and issues relating to crime, safety, and the economy. City ordinance requires the annual survey. On September 22, the city released the Annual Citizen’s Satisfaction Survey. A link to the survey is here followed by a link to the announcement:
The survey was conducted by Research & Polling Inc. in August. Research & Polling Inc. is New Mexico’s largest full-service market research and public opinion research company. When it comes to polling in New Mexico, Research and Polling is considered the “gold standard” of polling in New Mexico politics The. Survey was conducted by cell phone and land lines from August 12 to 18 with 303 adults contacted living in the greater Albuquerque area.
The Keller Administration this year separated the survey into two sections. According to the Keller Administration news release “Due to the unprecedented nature of this year, the survey was split into two parts to address urgent needs faced by the community. Part one focuses specifically on the City’s response to COVID-19, equity and inclusion initiatives, and policing. Part two focuses on a wider variety of topics related to general quality of life.
These results reflect the first part, which featured 303 adult respondents surveyed by cell phone and land lines from Aug. 12-18.
The highlights of the survey are as follows:
DIRECTION THE CITY IS HEADING
More than 50% of Albuquerque residents are concerned about the direction the city is heading. According to the survey, 51% of those surveyed are “somewhat” or “very” concerned about the city’s direction. This is up from 47% found 2019 and 29% found in 2018.
According to the survey report “Generally, residents who are ‘very concerned’ about the direction Albuquerque is heading are more likely to say they are ‘very comfortable’ participating in the activities. ”
The survey shows that residents’ hopefulness about the city’s direction has continued its decline with 46% characterizing their feelings as “very” or “somewhat hopeful.” This is down from 49% in 2019 and down from 68% in 2018.
CITY RESPONSE TO CORONA VIRUS
The survey showed that 61% score the city government well for how it has dealt with the coronavirus, compared with just 16% who gave poor marks. Another 22% offered a neutral score.
Early in the outbreak of the pandemic, the Mayor Tim Keller issued emergency health orders that closed most of city facilities. The city did not completely shut down but continued limited bus service, senior meals and the Planning Department continued to function. Keller has reopened many other facilities, such as pools and libraries.
Nearly two-thirds or 65% of the survey respondents agreed that the city has specifically done a good job communicating with the public during the outbreak and 60% said the city has done well keeping residents safe.
Mayor Tim Keller increased his public relations activities once the corona virus hit hard in February. Keller held daily news conferences as if competing with the Governor’s daily press conferences. He also took his public relations to another level and holds telephone “town halls meetings”. The “town hall” meetings are especially effective and consist of calling upwards of 13,000 people at one time on city compiled call lists likely prepared by the city’s 911 call center.
However, far fewer at 36% agreed that the city has done well helping business owners during the pandemic or providing assistance to those who have lost their jobs or been furloughed.
The Keller Administration has been able to avoid employee furloughs and layoffs in part because it received $150 million in federal coronavirus relief. The Keller Administration has said it will likely use most of the federal funding for COVID-19-related payroll costs. The federal funds have also gone to programs like mobile WiFi hot spots and grants to nonprofit organizations and artists.
LEVEL OF COMFORT PARTICIPATING WITH ACTIVITIES
The survey asked about Albuquerque residents’ comfort with various activities during the pandemic. 57% of those survey said they were comfortable dining outside at restaurants. However, only 34% said the same for dining inside at restaurants. 24% felt the same about sending K-12 students back to school this month. Now that winter is approaching, outside dining offered is likely to be curtailed
APPROVAL OF APD
Albuquerque, like most large American cities, has seen protests as a result of the George Floyd death at the hands of the Minneapolis Police. Most of the protests in the city have been peaceful with June 15 protest over the Juan de Oñate sculpture outside the Albuquerque Museum turning violent with one protester shot and wounded.
Survey respondents agreed with a solid 59% that the Albuquerque Police Department has done a good job of handling recent protests. Those surveyed also agreed with 49% that APD “reflects the values of the city’s residents,” while only 23% disagreed and 24% were neutral.
Survey respondents were divided almost evenly three ways on how well city government is keeping residents safe with 37% giving a favorable review, 32% giving a negative review and 30% were neutral.
Asked about the city’s performance “reforming public safety and public service programs to better serve the community,” the results were also almost evenly divided three ways with 34% saying the city was doing good or excellent with public safety programs, 30% said it was doing a poor job, and 33% were neutral.
ALBQUERQUE JOURNAL POLL ON CITIZENS CONCERNS
On Sunday, September 13, the Albuquerque Journal published the results of a statewide poll asking voters their top concerns that are facing New Mexico families. One again, as was the case with the city’s survey, the Albuquerque Journal poll was conducted by Research & Polling Inc.
For the past 8 years, crime has dominated as the number one issue voters have been identified as being problematic. The Journal poll reflected there has been a dramatic change ostensibly since February when the pandemic hit the nation and state hard. Voters now list health and safety related to COVID-19 as their number one concern with 40% of all those polled state wide. Concerns about crime has dropping like a rock to 6th place in voters mind to an anemic 4%. Below are the results of the poll:
40% percent of voters listed health and safety related to COVID-19 as the biggest concern
23% of voters cited economic uncertainty as their biggest concern
13% of voters cited loss of jobs and unemployment as their biggest concern
12% of cited education and back-to-school challenges as their biggest concern
7% of voters cited return to “usual activities” before COVID-19
4% of voters mentioned crime as their biggest concern
3% of listed travel restrictions as their biggest concern
2% of voters listed the direction of the country and future of America, leadership of the country and the election.
According to the Journal poll report:
“Democrats were more likely than Republicans to identify COVID-19 health and safety concerns as their family’s biggest issue. In the survey, 49% of Democrats listed it as the top concern, while just 30% of Republicans and 31% of independents did. …
All told, voters’ responses fell into about 50 categories. After travel concerns, the concerns most listed were the direction of the country and future of America, leadership of the country and the election. Each were listed by 2% of voters. Less-common answers included inability to access health care, taxes and food insecurity. Four people – fewer than 1% – mentioned the governor and Democrats in office as their family’s biggest concern. …
The percentages add up to more than 100 because some respondents identified more than one issue. About 9% said “nothing in particular.”
The link to the full Albuquerque Journal story with graphs reflecting the poll results and methodology is here:
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
When comparing the City’s Annual Citizen’s Satisfaction Survey to the Albuquerque Journal Poll on citizen’s concerns, the similarities cannot be ignored. Citizens’ concerns for “crime all the time” have now been replaced by public health concerns over “pandemic all the time”, at least until a vaccine is found.
Mayor Tim Keller can take very little comfort with the fact that the pandemic has replaced crime as people’s number one concern in the city. During the last two years, New Mexico has posted the nation’s first or second-highest violent crime rates in the country and some of the highest property crime rates in the country driven by high violent and property crime rates in Albuquerque.
FBI statistics reveal that Albuquerque has the dubious distinction of having a crime rate about 194% higher than the national average. Albuquerque has been on the forefront of the trend on violent crime increasing for the last 5 years and homicides have more than doubled. In 2014, the city had 30 homicides and each year thereafter homicides increased and in 2019 the city had 82 homicides, the most in the city’s history. As of October 9, the city has had 58 homicides.
In 2019, in response to the continuing increase in violent crime rates, Mayor Keller scrambled to implement 4 major crime fighting programs to reduce violent crime: the Shield Unit, Declaring Violent Crime “Public Health” issue, the “Violence Intervention Plan” (VIP program) and the Metro 15 Operation program. Based upon the statistics, the Keller programs have had very little effect on reducing violent crime.
The country will have a vaccine sooner rather than latter to deal with the pandemic. However, crime is not getting any better and only worse in Albuquerque and there appears to be no real hope in the near future to reduce crime at least not from Mayor Tim Keller and his administration. Mayor Tim Keller forcing the retirement of Chief Michael Geier is an admission of failure on Keller’s part to bring down our crime rates as he promised 3 years ago running for Mayor. Keller has been a failure in finding a vaccine for our high crime rates.