Giuliani Is The Smell And Look Of A Rotting Trump Presidency; Republican Party Believes Election Rigged

On November 3, former Vice President Joe Biden was elected the 46 President of the United States. Biden won the popular vote securing 51.1% of the popular vote (79,693,395 votes) to President Donald Trump’s 47.2% of the popular vote (73,708,217). President Elect Biden also won the electoral college, securing 306 to 232 electoral votes. Trump won the electoral college vote by the exact count over Hillary Clinton and declared he had won by a landslide even though Clinton had won the popular vote by over 3 million votes.

On Nov. 19, 2020, during a news conference at Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington, with the smell of sweat blackened by his cheap hair dye running down his face, an unhinged former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani had this to say:

“I know crimes, I can smell them. You don’t have to smell this one, I can prove it to you, 18 different ways. I can prove to you that he won, Pennsylvania, by 300,000 votes. I can prove to you that he won Michigan, probably 50,000 votes. …

It’s not a singular voter fraud in one state. This pattern repeats itself in a number of states, almost exactly the same pattern, which any experienced investigator prosecutor, which suggests that there was a plan — from a centralized place to execute these various acts of voter fraud, specifically focused on big cities, and specifically focused on, as you would imagine, big cities controlled by Democrats, and particularly if they focused on big cities that have a long history of corruption.”

“And I’ve often said, I guess sarcastically but it’s true. … The only surprise I would have found in this is that Philadelphia hadn’t cheated in this election. Because for the last 60 years, they’ve cheated in just about every single election. You could say the same thing about Detroit.”

During the November 19 press conference, Giuliani promised major suits in Georgia and Arizona and said the legal team is looking at New Mexico as well. Giuliani also promised “hundreds” of affidavits but said he could not show them to reporters. Notwithstanding the new lawsuits announced, Republicans announced that they were dropping federal election lawsuits in Michigan, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Since the November 3 election, Trump on a daily basis loudly dismisses the results the election to deny President Elect Joe Biden’s legitimacy. The problem is that Trump’s followers continue to drink the propaganda Kool Aide and want to disenfranchise all who voted by absentee. Trump himself is attempting to steal the election from President Elect Joe Biden with his daily false fraud claims and frivolous lawsuits in all the battleground states Trump is acting like a wounded animal with his refusal to engage in a normal presidential transition and ordering lawsuits filed in the battleground states.


Trump’s Republican party is supporting his efforts to discredit the election with the likes of Republican Senators Mitch Mc Connell, Lindsay Graham and Rudy Giuliani supporting his legal challenges. McConnell, the Senate majority leader said that “President Trump is 100% within his rights to look into allegations of irregularities and weigh his legal options,” while severely criticizing Democrats for expecting Trump to “accept preliminary election results”. Trump may have the right to legally challenge election results, but he does not have the right to press on in a court of law without absolutely no proof and just lying that the election was rigged.

Trump still has a strangle hold on the Republican party and it will play into his thirst for power after he leaves office. A Reuters/Ipsos poll found that 52% of Republicans believe Trump “rightfully won” the U.S. election and that the election was stolen from him by widespread voter fraud. The poll found that just 26 percent of Republicans said they thought Biden’s win was “legitimate.”

A link to the poll is here:

The opinion poll taken November 13-17 shows that Trump’s open defiance of Biden’s victory in both the popular vote and Electoral College appears to be affecting the public’s confidence in American democracy, especially among Republicans. Altogether, 73% of those polled agreed that Biden won the election while 5% thought Trump won.

When asked specifically whether Biden had “rightfully won,” Republicans showed they were suspicious about how Biden’s victory was obtained. 52% of Republicans said that Trump “rightfully won,” while only 29% said that Biden had rightfully won.

What is alarming is that when Republicans were asked they did not feel that Biden “rightfully won” they said that state vote counters had tipped the result toward Biden. 68% of Republicans said they were concerned that the election was “rigged,” while only 16% of Democrats and one-third of independents were similarly worried.

Altogether, 55% of adults polled said they believed the November 3 presidential election was “legitimate and accurate. That percentage is down 7 points from a similar poll that ran shortly after the 2016 election. The 28% who said they thought the election was “the result of illegal voting or election rigging” is up 12 points from four years ago.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll showed that more Americans appear to be more suspicious about the U.S. election process than they were four years ago. The poll showed Republicans were much more likely to be suspicious of Trump’s loss this year than Democrats were when Hillary Clinton lost four years ago. In 2016, 52% of Democrats said Hillary Clinton’s loss to Trump was “legitimate and accurate,” even as reports emerged of Russian attempts to influence the outcome. This year, only 26% of Republicans said they thought Trump’s loss was similarly legitimate.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted online, in English, throughout the United States. It gathered responses from 1,346 respondents, including 598 Democrats and 496 Republicans, and has a credibility interval, a measure of precision, of 5 percentage points.


Trump is already making it known that he wants to run again in 2024 and telling his supporters he wants to keep his options open. As he has done for the last 4 years, he promotes hostility and mistrust amongst his supporters denouncing as “rigged” one of the most secured elections in American history. Lawsuits that are being filed by Trump to challenge the elections in individual state are being dismissed within days of being filed for lack of any proof.

Whether or not Trump actually runs in 2024 is not what is dangerous. It is his supporters that are the most dangerous and what damage he does over the next 4 years to undermine President Joe Biden.

Princeton historian Sean Wilentz has put it this way:

“[Imagine]a counter-government, administered by tweets, propped up by Fox News or whatever alternative outlet Trump might construct for himself — a kind of Trumpian government-in-exile … telling his tens of millions of supporters as well as his congressional backers to reject Biden’s presidency … Trump would be trying to establish a center of power distinct from and antagonistic to the legitimately elected national government — not formally a separate government like the Confederacy but a virtual one, operating not just out in the country but inside the government, above all in Congress. “Two things could stop Trump: either his legal troubles become so severe that he can’t continue, or the Republican Party decides he’s hurting more than helping. … I would not bet on either one of these coming to pass.”


The swearing in of President Elect Joe Biden as the 46 President of the United States can not come soon enough. Until then, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is the smell and look of a dying and rotting Trump Presidency that hopefully will not come back from the dead in 2024. One thing is for certain, the control of the United States Senate is still at stake with the two Georgia US Senate seats to be decided in a January runoff. Democrats need to take control of the Senate and bury the obstruction tactics that is the Republican party and embodied in Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnel.

“This Is New Mexico Space Command, Do You Copy Orion Voyager One?”

As farfetched as the headline sounds, the city and state could, within just a matter of a few years, become an aerospace space industry heavy weight.

On November 19, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced in a prepared statement that Albuquerque has made the short list of cities nationwide that the U.S. Air Force is considering to permanently locate the new U.S. Space Command. Albuquerque was one of 31 cities that the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) said last summer it would consider in an initial round of screening for potential locations.

Albuquerque’s Kirkland Air Force base is now competing against 5 Air Force bases in Colorado, Florida, Nebraska, Alabama and Texas. The other finalists are:

Offutt AFB (NE), previously housed the strategic Air Force Command headquarters.

Patrick AFB (FL) at Cape Canaveral in Florida, which has 50 years of infrastructure and space-related history.

Peterson AFB (CO), the Space Command’s current temporary headquarters.

Port San Antonio (TX) which at one time housed three Air Force bases in and around it.

Redstone Army Airfield (AL) which also has extensive military infrastructure and a strong congressional delegation to lobby.

The new Space Command where ever it is located would bring more than 1,000 new, high paying jobs. It will also bring billions in federal and military spending and contracts for local companies. Albuquerque’s chances to secure the Space Command are considered very good given New Mexico’s extensive military and space-related assets.

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham had this to say in her prepared statement about the city making the cut:

“We are excited to hear that Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque has been selected as one of the final candidates for the new Space Command headquarters. … Our state’s strong and growing role in space exploration, space science and national security related space matters puts it in a strong position to become the home of the new Space Command. We look forward to working with the Department of Defense in the weeks and months ahead.”

The US Department of Defense in an announcement said will begin virtual and in person site surveys in the coming weeks. The Defense Department said the goal is to announce in January a list of up to three alternative sites.

Links to related news sources are here:


In December, 2019, President Donald Trump authorized the new United States Space Force. The Space Command is separate from the Space Force. The Space Force is now the 6th branch of the United States military. The Department of Defense established the Space Command in August 2019. It is the military’s 11th unified combatant command and is temporarily located at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs.

Last May, the U.S. Air Force officially launched a competition to choose a new, permanent command headquarters for the United Stated Space Command. In June, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Mayor Tim Keller jointly submitted a letter proposing Albuquerque as the new location for the headquarters.

On August 4, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) announced Albuquerque was one of 31 locations nationwide that the DOD was considering to set up the new headquarters. The city was considered as a potential candidate for the headquarters in the formal evaluation process.

When the announcement was made that the City was on the list of 31 locations, Lujan Grisham said in a prepared statement:

“New Mexico’s defense and science installations as well as our emphasis on a growing aerospace sector should give us an edge for this potential economic driver. … I am excited that Albuquerque and our state are moving forward in this process.”


According to news sources, the Space Command is a unified “combatant command that coordinates all branches of the military when conducting operations in, from or through space.” The command will oversee all military space operations, whether that’s deterring aggression or defeating adversaries in an attack.

New Mexico has numerous space-related defense entities housed at Kirtland Air Force Base that make the city a natural for the headquarters. Those entities include the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Space Vehicles Directorate, which is currently leading much of the military’s research and development efforts to modernize space-related defense systems. The Starfire Optical Range at Kirtland also offers comprehensive ground-based monitoring of space assets and activity, making it a center of excellence for space domain awareness.

New Mexico has other major assets that make it a natural for the headquarters, including the space-related defense entities that operate at Kirtland and extensive military infrastructure in Albuquerque and elsewhere in the state. That includes White Sands Missile Range in southern New Mexico, which offers missile defense testing and inland launch capabilities. Sandia National Laboratories and Los Alamos National Laboratory offer high-tech support capabilities, and Kirtland itself offers extensive base infrastructure to accommodate Space Command personnel and their families.


New Mexico’s entire congressional delegation is lobbying to land the Space Command. In a prepared statement, US Senator Martin Heinrich had this to say:

“New Mexico has a long history of leadership in both space exploration and national defense, dating back to the earliest days of the U.S. space program … New Mexico makes perfect sense right now as the best location for the new U.S. Space Command headquarters.”


On Thursday, November 12, the City of Albuquerque Environmental Planning Commission approved the new site plan for the “Orion Center.” It is an aerospace and technology facility that will be built on the 122-acre plot of land located between Kirtland Air Force Base and Albuquerque International Sunport. “Group Orion”, the developer, is a subsidiary of Theia Group Inc., a Washington D.C. based, privately held aerospace company. The Theia Group is attempting to develop a network of satellites to digitally image and collect data on the physical world, providing solutions in areas from logistics to biology.

The mass area acreage was originally where the North-South airport runway was located. The land has now been designated for industrial development by the city. In 2017 after the runway was removed, the City named the acreage as the “Aviation Center for Excellence”. The city began to offer the vacant land area for commercial and office developers.

According to city officials, the city will seek to secure permission from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and complete a lease agreement with “The Group Orion” for the property. Group Orion is seeking to build a “campus” like facility that will include a 2 million square foot manufacturing center, an eight-story office and laboratory building, a new food hall and an extended-stay hotel. The campus will be named the Orion Center. Other long-term developments and expansion is envisioned. The campus as originally envisioned is to house 1,000 jobs once it opens. The plans submitted to the City on behalf of Group Orion includes a 2,500 jobs expansion plan.

The campus will have a number of separate buildings, spread out on both sides of Girard Boulevard, south of Gibson Boulevard. The square footage size of the campus is estimated to be 4.1 million square feet spread out across a total of 6 buildings to be built. The focal point of the campus will be an assembly building consisting of a 2 million square-foot, single-story building that will serve as the company’s main manufacturing and testing center.

Plans for the campus also include an 8-story building that will include laboratories, offices and additional assembly space. Plans on the western side of the campus call for an “extended stay” hotel to house new hires and other guests, a food hall for employees and an 8 story parking garage. A skybridge over Girard to help employees cross the street safely is also being proposed.

Group Orion has hired local engineers and has paid the city $125,000 as a retainer to hold the land. If the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approves the Center, then construction of the Orion Center could start in spring 2021 with the projected opening of the campus being in 2023.


According to the city’s Economic Development Department, the global space economy is projected to be worth $3 trillion by 2045. With the announcements that Albuquerque is one of 5 finalists for the new Department of Defense U.S. Space Command and that the Orion Group aerospace company is planning to establish a major manufacturing center near the Albuquerque International Sunport, the city and state’s emerging national standing as a space industry powerhouse is clearly in the stars. (Please excuse the pun.)

Come January 20, President Joe Biden will become the next President of the United States. With any luck, Democrats will also control the United States Senate if Georgia elects two Democrat United States Senators in the December run off. With that said, the New Mexico congressional delegation will have its work cut out for it to make sure the new Space Command headquarters is located in Albuquerque.


A link to a related blog article is here:

2020 “Orion Center” Type Of Development Foreseen In 2013 “Energize Alb” Plan; PATHETIC: City Set Aside Of $5.8 Million For Economic Development Out Of $1.1 Billion City Budget; Mayor Keller Relies On Luck For Economic Development

Crime Down Slightly In NM And In ABQ; Pandemic Major Contributing Cause

On November 1, it was reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) issued its annual “Crime in the United States Report” for 2019. The FBI collects crime data from law enforcement agencies across the country using a uniform data collection process.

Effective January 2021, the FBI is requiring law enforcement agencies to change their crime data collection from the Summary Reporting System (SRS) to the National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS). According to the Department of Public Safety several jurisdictions in New Mexico, including Albuquerque, Aztec, Bloomfield, Hobbs, Las Cruces and Sunland Park police departments and Bernalillo, Doña Ana and San Juan County sheriff’s offices, have gone from SRS to NIBRS system.

Summary Reporting System (SRS) broke violent crime into four categories and property crime into four categories. SRS index crimes are recorded in a hierarchical fashion. Only the most serious crime is counted whenever multiple offenses are committed in a single incident. Given this “hierarchy rule,” and the fact that many crimes, especially less serious ones, go unreported, the crime index necessarily under-represents the true volume of crimes committed. Nevertheless, the index is a useful indicator of the volume and types of crimes reported to police.

The National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS) is an incident-based reporting system for crimes known to the police. For each crime incident coming to the attention of law enforcement, a variety of data are collected about the incident. These data include the nature and types of specific offenses in the incident, characteristics of the victim(s) and offender(s), types and value of property stolen and recovered, and characteristics of persons arrested in connection with a crime incident. Incident-based data provide an extremely large amount of information about crime. The information is also organized in complex ways, reflecting the many different aspects of a crime incident.

The NIBRS format divides incidents into “crimes against persons,” “crimes against property” and “crimes against society” and includes a total of 32 crimes, some of which are further divided into even more specific categories.


The good news is that for the first time in several years, both violent crime and property crime appeared to dip in New Mexico. The bad news is that crime rates in New Mexico remain much higher than the national average. The data is also misleading because Albuquerque’s property crime data is not included because the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) overreported burglaries. Also not included in the 2019 report is data from Bernalillo County, Doña Ana County and 8 other counties and a few other cities are not included in the 2019 FBI report.

According to APD spokesman Gilbert Gallegos, the problem with APD over reporting burglaries was a result a data compilation change regarding apartments and storage sheds. APD reported more than 80 burglaries, accounting for break-ins at each storage unit across 3 facilities. It should have counted each facility that was broken into, not each unit. APD has since corrected the data but it was not included in the data Albuquerque submitted to the FBI for its annual report.

It is unknown whether crime actually decreased from 2018 to 2019 because some jurisdictions were not reported or fully reported according to a spokesman for the New Mexico Department of Public Safety.


Violent crime and property crime rates decreased across the country last year. The national violent crime rate decreased 1% from 2018 to 2019 and the national property crime rate decreased 4.5%.

The national crime rates are much lower than New Mexico’s. The estimated violent crime rate in the United States is 366.7 offenses per 100,000 inhabitants, less than half the New Mexico rate of violent crime.

Nationwide, the estimated property crime rate is 2,109.9 offenses per 100,000 inhabitants, two-thirds of New Mexico’s rate.

It was in 2014 that both the violent crime and property crime rates began to increase in New Mexico in 2014. From 2014 to 2018 violent crime rates spiked 43%. From 2014 to 2017, property crime increased 11% then began to fall.

According to the FBI, violent crime began decreasing nationally three years before 2019, and property crime began decreasing 17 years prior.


Major highlights in the FBI’s Crime in the United States Report include the following:
Across New Mexico, the violent crime rate was 2.7% lower than last year. There were 832.2 crimes per 100,000 in 2019 compared to 856.6 crimes per 100,000 in 2018.

Property crime rate was 8.9% lower with 3112.7 crimes per 100,000 in 2019 compared with 3,419.7 crimes per 100,000 in 2018.

In 2019, 17,450 violent crimes were reported throughout New Mexico including murder, rape, robbery and assault.

In 2019, 65,269 property crimes were reported, including burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft.

According to the FBI annual report, although fewer violent crimes were reported in New Mexico in 2019 than the year before, more murder and non-negligent manslaughters were reported. Statewide, there were 14 more murders in 2019 than in 2018. Albuquerque reported 15 more murders in 2019 than in the previous year. In 2019, the city had a record high of 84 cases of murder or non-negligent manslaughter.


On Monday, September 21, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) released the city’s crime statistics using the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS). It is the new system the FBI will require of all police departments use in their annual reports starting in 2021. According to APD, this is the third year APD has used NIBRS and for that reason the city cannot compare pre-2018 crime statistics to 2018 statistics and later.
According to the statistics release, crime is down by 5% across all categories in the first six months of 2020 as compared with the first six months of 2019. The good news is APD reported that crime has decreased 15% since 2018. The bad news is that in some cases, the improvements this year were minuscule.

The NIBRS format divides incidents into “crimes against persons,” “crimes against property” and “crimes against society” and includes a total of 32 crimes, some of which are further divided into even more specific categories.

CRIMES AGAINST PERSONS: Under NIBRS, all violent crime combined is called “Crimes Against Persons”. The crimes include murder, deadly weapons assault and injury and rape. The decreases in “violent crime” from 2019 to 2020 was a decrease by only 21 crimes or a 0.28%. Over a two year, it decreased 4%. According to the FBI statistics released, there were 7,362 crimes against persons reported in the first six months of 2020 and there were 152 more in the second quarter than in the first.

CRIMES AGAINST PROPERTY: Under NIBRS, “Crimes Against Property”, which includes arson, burglary, motor vehicle theft, larceny, robbery, and more, have decreased 6% from 2019 to 2020, but decreased by 19% since 2018. There were 24,052 crimes against property reported in the first half of 2020, with about 2,000 more in the first quarter than in the second.

CRIMES AGAINST SOCIETY: Under NIBRS, “Crimes Against Society” include animal cruelty, drug offenses, prostitution, weapon law violations and more. Crimes against society have decreased 8% from 2019 to 2020, and 12% from 2018 to 2020. There were a total of 1,644 crimes against society reported in the first half of 2020, with 130 more in the first quarter than in the second.

According to APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos:

“Rape and robbery were down, but aggravated assault was up slightly. … The one difference is Albuquerque’s homicide rate was down while most major cities [reported]increases in homicides. However, we have since seen an increase in homicides in the third quarter.”


Following is the raw data gleaned from the 2020 mid-year crime statistics:


Crimes Against Property: 24,052
Crimes Against Persons: 7,362
Crimes Against Society: 1,644


1st Quarter: 13,035
2nd Quarter: 11, 007
Mid-Year Albuquerque Police Department: 24,052


1st Quarter: 3,605
2nd Quarter: 3,57
Mid-Year Albuquerque Police Department: 7,362


1st Quarter: 887
2nd Quarter: 757
Mid-Year Albuquerque Police Department: 1,644

The link to Albuquerque’s mid-year crime statistics report is here:


New Mexico and Albuquerque residents can take very small comfort from the released statistics that reveal that overall crime in the state and the city are down slightly The pandemic certainly is a contributing reason for lower property crime rates and many other crimes. The slight reduction in crime can be easily attributed the pandemic that hit the state and the city hard in February resulting in quarantine, major event cancellations not to mention the closure of thousands of businesses closed for several months. In others words, people being home, malls and businesses being closed means opportunities for criminals were reduced, businesses could not be robbed or have shoplifters, homes could not be robbed and many cars were parked in garages reducing auto thefts.

City Audit Finds Over $400,000 Paid In Overtime To 4 Police Officers; Abolish Overtime and Longevity Pay To Police; Establish Stable Salary Structure

The City of Albuquerque’s Internal Audit Department undertook an audit to determine whether the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) has a framework in place to effectively administer, manage and monitor the department’s overtime. On October 26, the Internal Audit Department released the performance audit.
According to the audits “Executive Summary”:

“In a sample that included 56 weeks of officer time tested, the audit identified 64 instances of overpayments totaling at least $4,545, resulting from officers being paid based on their scheduled hours, instead of the actual hours worked. In these instances, the hours reported by the officer to Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) were at least 30 minutes less than the hours the officer was scheduled and ultimately paid for.

Additionally, not all officers had CAD reports to support any non-training related hours paid. Specifically, in the sample tested there were 40 days where CADs were missing. Amounts paid related to this time totaled a minimum of $8,635. The Office of Internal Audit also found Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are outdated and not in line with best practices.

While APD has recently taken steps to limit overtime usage, opportunities exist to further these efforts. Specifically, officers are allowed to use paid time off to work overtime which can cause a cascading effect that increases APD’s need for more overtime. OIA compared APD’s Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with the Albuquerque Police Officers Association (APOA) to those of four other similar police departments and found that unlike APD, three of the four other departments do not consider paid sick leave as time worked when computing overtime.

Lastly, the audit found an isolated instance where one APD employee inappropriately utilized the system login credentials of their supervisor, to approve their own time, which included overtime payments totaling $8,830 in fiscal year 2020.”

The link to the full audit report is here:

APD also said when officers are “on-call” they are not logged onto the CAD system and then called back to work. The audit found several instances of employees being paid based on their scheduled hours and not those hours they actually worked.

The Internal Audit report recommended officers be asked to pay back their wages if they were overpaid. It also recommended regular spot checks to see if officers are really working the hours they are reporting.

APD concurred with the recommendation of repayment if necessary. However, an APD spokeswoman said she was not aware of anyone being asked to repay anything.

Salaries account for upwards of 78% of APD’s annual budget of $211 million. According to the audit report:

“Overtime related costs constituted a large portion of total APD salaries paid for … the fiscal year 2019 … APD paid $17.9 million and in [2020] $18.3 million related overtime costs.”

Notwithstanding the excessive overtime paid, the Internal Audit Department made no accusation of fraud. According to an APD spokesperson, working 38 hours of overtime a week is not always against policy.


The release audit found that 4 APD Officers claimed over 2,000 hours of paid overtime, paid at the rate of time and a half, during the fiscal year of July 1, 2019 and ending June 30, 2020. The names of the 4 police officers were not released by APD.

The overtime paid average was 38 hours of overtime each 40-hour work week or 78 hours a week claimed in hours worked. During the 2018-2019 fiscal year, 2 other police officers also exceeded 2,000 hours of paid overtime. The amount paid in overtime to each of the 4 was over $100,000 for more than a total $400,000 paid.


The released audit reported that Paulette Diaz, the assistant to former APD Chief Michael Geier, used the credentials of former Chief of Staff John Ross, her supervisor, to approve her own overtime hours. She received 282 hours of overtime and was paid $8,830 in overtime over a 7-month period. An internal affairs investigation has been opened into Diaz’s overtime.

Diaz and Ross were embroiled in controversy when Diaz wrote a memo to former APD Chief Michael Geier outlining multiple allegations against Chief of Staff Ross, including that he improperly purchased electronics for his own use. An internal affairs investigation later found those allegations to be unsubstantiated.

Geier, Ross and Diaz left APD within weeks after the controversy.


The Internal Audit Department made 4 specific recommendations on ways APD could improve or correct and reduce the amount of overtime. The recommendations are:

1. Officers who were overpaid be asked to make repayments if they were overpaid. APD concurred with the recommendation of repayment if necessary, but no repayment requests have been reported.

2. Supervisors conduct “spot checks” to ensure officers are working the hours they are reporting. APD also said when officers are “on-call” they are not logged onto the CAD system and then they are called back to work.

3. APD needs to continue to update policies and procedures around the approval and monitoring of overtime.

4. The city needs to re-negotiate with the police union so that officers can not use “paid time off” as time worked in a 40 hour week and then work “overtime” in the same week to get paid time and a half.

Links to related news articles are here:


Overtime abuse by APD sworn personnel has going on for many years and has long been controversial and scrutinized. In October, an Internal Affairs Investigation concluded that the department’s former spokesman, Simon Drobik, had been paid thousands of dollars of overtime and was paid for work he did not do.

For successive years, as APD Spokesman, Drobik was routinely among the highest earners in the city. Drobik ranked No. 1 among all city employees in 2018 by being paid $192,973. In 2019, Drobik was ranked as the 7th highest wage earner in 2019. When Drobik retired in July 2020, he had already collected $106,607 for the year when his base pay rate was listed as $31.50 per hour, or $65, 520 a year according city records ( $31.50 per hour X 2,080 hours a year= $65,520).

Rather than being fired, Drobik resigned and retired.


At the end of each calendar year, City Hall releases the top 250 wage earners. The list of 250 top city hall wages earners is what is paid for the full calendar year of January 1, to December 31 of any given year.

Starting pay for an APD Police Officer immediately out of the APD academy is $29 an hour or $60,320 yearly. (40 hour work week X 52 weeks in a year = 2,080 hours worked in a year X $29 paid hourly = $60,320.)

Police officers with 4 to 14 years of experience are paid $30 an hour or $62,400 yearly. (40-hour work weeks in a year X 52 weeks in a year = 2,080 hours worked in a year X $30 paid hourly = $62,400.)

Senior Police Officers with 15 years or more experience are paid $31.50 an hour or $65,520 yearly. (40 hours work in a week X 52 weeks in year = 2,080 hours worked in a year X $31.50 = $65,520.)

The hourly pay rate for APD Sergeants is $35 an hour, or $72,800. (40-hour work week X 52 weeks in a year = 2080 hours worked in a year X $35.0 paid hourly = $72,800.)

The hourly pay rate for APD Lieutenants is $40.00 an hour or $83,200. (40 hour work week X 52 weeks in a year = 2080 hours worked in a year X $40.00 = $83,200.)

In 2018, the breakdown of the 250 top paid city hall employees revealed that all were paid between $100,000 to $192,937.23. In 2018, there were 140 Police Officers on the list of 250 top wage earners.

In 2019, the breakdown of the 250 top paid city hall employees showed they were paid between $107,885 to $193,666.23. In 2019 there were 160 sworn APD police in the top 250 wage earners with 70 APD patrol officers in the list of 250 top paid employees earning pay ranging from $108,167 to $188,844.

The excessive pay numbers in APD, especially to patrol officers, can be attributed directly to overtime paid to APD sworn police.

New Mexico Office State Auditor Brian Colon and Attorney General Hector Balderas have announced a joint investigation of APD’s overtime practices. The investigation is ongoing and involves a number of APD police officers.


One major change recommended in the recently release audit is that APD should try to renegotiate its collective bargaining agreement with the Albuquerque Police Officers’ Association so that police officers can no longer count paid time off as hours worked which allows them to be paid the overtime pay rate at time and a half for the same week. The report highlights one case where an officer worked 20 hours of their regular 40-hour week, used 20 hours of vacation time, and then worked 42 hours overtime. The audit points out:

“This officer did not work 40 hours before being eligible to earn overtime. ”

APD Spokeswoman Rebecca Atkins in response to the recommendation to renegotiate the collective bargaining agreement said the Keller Administration did not agree and had this to say:

“Right now, it’s a part of the contract we have to adhere to. Any changes would have to come from future negotiations with the APOA. … It is understood by all parties that the APOA has no interest in changing their position on this. No change is expected to occur. ”


On October 27, APD announced the major changes to the department’s overtime policy. The Keller Administration hopes the major changes will stop APD officers from abusing overtime. Under the new policy, all overtime will require approval from higher up the chain from a commander or above. The city will audit “Chiefs’ Overtime” records and increase discipline for violations.

According to an October 27 news release, the following 5 major changes to the police overtime policy will be made:

1. Almost all forms of overtime and any exception to normal practice now require a Commander or above approval. This should reduce the instances of overtime being claimed but not worked.

2. In addition, the department has implemented a compensatory time reduction plan. Compensatory time, or “comp time,” has been a source of abuse in the past. This reduction plan will minimize comp time that is paid out once the cap has been met.

3. APD has also added numerous audit functions for anyone approving overtime. To further ensure transparency, the Payroll Department will now release regular reports to help those in leadership keep track of overtime and detect any issues as a warning system.

4. The Chief’s Overtime Office additionally will audit 30 percent of all Chief’s Overtime forms to make sure dispatch records match time worked on the forms submitted for reimbursement.

5. The sanctions for every section of the policy have been significantly raised to equate the sanction for a violation of the seriousness of this issue and to ensure robust compliance.

In October, APD spokeswoman Rebecca Atkins said the changes will go into effect immediately as the formal policy is put through a review process.


Reiterating a refrain used again and again by city officials in recent months, Atkins laid the blame on former Police Chief Michael Geier who Mayor Keller forced to retire in September.

“This is another example of why we needed leadership change at APD. … The former Chief was standing in the way of meaningful change.”


Police officers earning excessive overtime is nothing new. It has been going on for years and is very common knowledge. From a personnel management standpoint, when you have a select few that are taking home the lion’s share of overtime, it causes moral problems with the rest. Excessive overtime paid is a red flag for abuse of the system, mismanagement of police resources or the lack of personnel.

Links to related blog articles are here:


A complete restructuring of the existing APD 40-hour work week and hourly wage system needs to be implemented. As an alternative to paying overtime and longevity bonus, the City should do away with APD hourly wage and time and a half for overtime for sworn police and implement a salary structure based strictly on steps and years of service.

A base pay salary system should be implemented for all APD sworn personnel. A base salary system with step increases for length of service should be implemented. The longevity bonus pay would be eliminated and built into the salary structure. Mandatory shift time to work would remain the same, but if more time is needed to complete a work load or assignments for the day, the salaried employee works it for the same salary with no overtime paid and a modification of shift times for court appearances.

APD Patrol Officers First Class who handle DWI during nighttime shifts should be required to change their shift times to daytime shifts when the arraignments and trials occur to prevent overtime pay. As an alternative to DWI arraignment, the City Attorney’s Office should explore the possibility of expanding or modifying the Metro Traffic Arraignment Program with the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office assisting to include not just traffic citations but DWI arraignments to eliminate the need for APD officers to appear at such arraignments.

Until the APD salary structure is changed, APD will always have patrol officers first class making 2, 3 and even 4 times their base salary. Emotional burnout will be the norm, not the exception endangering public safety. Until the APD salary structure is changed, you will also have more than a few employees “gaming the system”. Historically, time and time again, year after year, the temptation to be paid 2, 3, even 4 times more a year to what your base pay is by padding hours of worked is way too great. The overtime “gaming system” has got to stop.

It’s the taxpayer and other city employees who are getting hurt when APD exceeds its budget by the millions and when APD management do not give a damn about anyone else but APD. When APD exceeds its overtime pay budget, the money has to come from somewhere and that somewhere is other city departments and other city employees. If Mayor Keller, APD Management and City Council do not realize that APD exceeding it overtime budget in fact causes morale issues and resentment with other city departments and employee who are not paid overtime, they are fools.

One guarantee way of stopping anyone within APD from “gaming the system” would be get rid of the old system of overtime pay and bonus pay. Sooner rather than later, the city and the APD union need to recognize that being a police officer is not a mere “trade” justifying hourly wages, but a “profession” that requires employees to put whatever time in is necessary to get a day’s work done that may arise in that day and police need to be compensated by a decent salary and not hourly wages.

Negotiations for a new APD union contract have been suspended because of the pandemic. If and when the City and the APD union return to the bargaining table to negotiate a new contract, the abolishment of hourly wages for APD sworn and implementation of a salary structure should be the first negotiated item for the new contract.

2020 “Orion Center” Type Of Development Foreseen In 2013 “Energize Alb” Plan; PATHETIC: City Set Aside Of $5.8 Million For Economic Development Out Of $1.1 Billion City Budget; Mayor Keller Relies On Luck For Economic Development

On Thursday, November 12, the City of Albuquerque Environmental Planning Commission approved the new site plan for the “Orion Center.” It is an aerospace and technology facility that will be built on the 122-acre plot of land located between Kirtland Air Force Base and Albuquerque International Sunport. “Group Orion”, the developer, is a subsidiary of Theia Group Inc., a Washington D.C. based, privately held aerospace company. The Theia Group is attempting to develop a network of satellites to digitally image and collect data on the physical world, providing solutions in areas from logistics to biology.

The mass area acreage was originally where the North-South airport runway was located. The land has now been designated for industrial development by the city. In 2017 after the runway was removed, the City named the acreage as the “Aviation Center for Excellence”. The city began to offer the vacant land area for commercial and office developers . According to Nyika Allen, Albuquerque’s Director of Aviation, the city began working with “Group Orion” in late 2018.


According to city officials, the city will seek to secure permission from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and complete a lease agreement with “The Group Orion” for the property. Group Orion is seeking to build a “campus” like facility that will include a 2 million square foot manufacturing center, an eight-story office and laboratory building, a new food hall and an extended-stay hotel. The campus will be named the Orion Center. Other long-term developments and expansion is envisioned. The campus as originally envisioned is to house 1,000 jobs once it opens. The plans submitted to the City on behalf of Group Orion includes a 2,500 jobs expansion plan.

The campus will have a number of separate buildings, spread out on both sides of Girard Boulevard, south of Gibson Boulevard. The square footage size of the campus is estimated to be 4.1 million square feet spread out across a total of 6 buildings to be built. The focal point of the campus will be an assembly building consisting of a 2 million square-foot, single-story building that will serve as the company’s main manufacturing and testing center.

Plans for the campus also include an 8-story building that will include laboratories, offices and additional assembly space. Plans on the western side of the campus call for an “extended stay” hotel to house new hires and other guests, a food hall for employees and an 8 story parking garage. A skybridge over Girard to help employees cross the street safely is also being proposed.

Group Orion has hired local engineers and has paid the city $125,000 as a retainer to hold the land. If the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approves the Center, then construction of the Orion Center could start in spring 2021 with the projected opening of the campus being in 2023.

The Group Orion has not requested any economic development incentives from the Local Economic Development Act funds.


During the November 12th press conference announcing the development, Albuquerque Economic Development Director Synthia Jaramillo said the Orion Project represents a real opportunity to attract development from the commercial space industry. According to Jaramillo:

“The global space economy is projected to be worth $3 trillion by 2045.”

Jaramillo cited Albuquerque’s “engineering-savvy” workforce, low property tax rates, which are some of the lowest in the country, and tax deductions that target the aviation and aerospace industries. In addition, the city boasts “large swaths of vacant land, unrestricted air space and low population density.”

James Reid Gorman, Vice President of Administration for Theia, said Albuquerque was appealing to the company because of its “pipeline of engineering talent” from the University of New Mexico Engineering College. One goal is for the company to partner with all New Mexico universities to attract graduates and he said “It’s going to be a big part of our strategy in recruiting.”

Links to news coverage sources are here:


According to the 2020-2021 enacted City Budget:

“The Economic Development Department provides services intended to bring long term economic vitality to the City. Included in the department are the economic development division, the film and music offices, the international trade division, the management of contracts for tourism, the Albuquerque Convention Center and the program for economic development investments.”

The mission statement of the City of Albuquerque Economic Development Department states its purpose is to “develop a more diversified and vital economy through the expansion and retention of businesses; develop appropriate industry clusters and recruit target industries; and assist new business start-ups and promote the film and music industries.” According to its mission statement, the department supports the tourism and hospitality industries through collaboration and oversight of the City’s contractors. The department also fosters international trade efforts and increased international business opportunities for Albuquerque companies.”

On Monday, October 19, the Albuquerque City Council enacted the 2020-2021 fiscal year budget on a unanimous vote with little or no 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.

Included in the $1.1 Billion dollar budget is funding for the City of Albuquerque Economic Development Department. The City’s Economic Development Department employs 12 full time employees. The approved adjusted proposed FY/21 General Fund budget of $5.8 million, a decrease of 4.0% or $237 thousand below the FY/20 original budget. The approved budget includes funding for the following:

Convention Center Funding: $ 2,202,000
Economic Development: $1,943,000
Econ Development Investment: $474,000
International Trade Program: $198,000

The balance of the $5.8 million is primarily for salaries


It was on July 20, 2018, after a near full 8 months in office, Mayor Tim Keller unveiled his long anticipated economic development strategy for the city.

The Keller Economic Development plan has six main areas:

A. INCREMENT OF ONE: supporting homegrown entrepreneurship and “game-changer” business already in the community.

B. SMART RECRUITMENT: recruiting business in a strategic way. Recruitment outside of the state will focus on businesses that align with the city’s priorities.

C. INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS: capitalizing on “unique placement” along two interstates with an international airport and foreign trade zone. Keller cited the Railyards as an example of the “Placemaking” initiative. In 2007, the city purchased the Railyards for $8.5 million and it is now being used for weekend markets and other events.

D. CREATIVE ECONOMY & FILM: emphasizing culture, cuisine, art music and film industries as key to economic development. The Keller Administration wants to establish a code of conduct for film productions here.

E. INTERNATIONAL MARKETING: The city will continue to market itself to businesses internationally, targeting Israel, Singapore, Taiwan, Germany and Japan, and is exploring how to bring a direct flight to Guadalajara, Mexico, to the Albuquerque International Sunport.

F. CITY BUYING LOCAL: Directing more government purchases to local businesses. City departments will be required to seek out local vendors with vendor registrations made available to all who want to register to do business with the city.

When Keller ran for Mayor, he proclaimed he would bring in “bold ideas” such as individualized “tax increment districts” to allow small business development. When Mayor Keller announced his economic development plan, he scaled down his comments about what could be done and said there is “no silver bullet” to bring jobs to Albuquerque. When announced, Keller’s economic development plan was met with more than a few snickers and considered very lackluster, totally uninspiring by many within the business and development community. The plan was viewed as nothing more than “the same old same old” from the previous Republican administration that brought the city the disaster and failed ART Bus project.


It was in 2019 that the film industry began to seriously emerge to be one of the biggest hopes for Albuquerque and New Mexico to diversify both the city and states economies. The unmistakable evidence was the immense investment in the city and state by NBC Universal and the Netflix purchase of Albuquerque studios as the site of a new production hub. Both announced NBC and Netflix announced opening film production facilities in Albuquerque.


On June 14, NBC Universal announce it would open a studio in Albuquerque as part of a 10-year venture with Garcia Realty and Development. The media giant took over and renovated and created sound stages at a now vacant industrial building south of I-40 on Commercial Street, north of downtown in the vicinity of historic Martinez town. The media giant is expected to provide more than 330 full-time jobs year-round at the film studio.

NBC Universal employees earn about $58,000 a year which is a far cry from the minimum wage jobs the city is use to announcing with the arrival of new businesses. The studio operation is projected to generate an economic impact of $1.1 billion over a 10-year period.

The state’s Economic Development Department is providing $7.7 million through the Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) to the redevelopment and production commitment. The City of Albuquerque will provide another $3 million from its LEDA fund which was approved by the Albuquerque City Council on June 17, 2019 by a unanimous vote.


On October 8, 2018, it was announced that Netflix was buying Albuquerque Studios. The State contributed $10 million of Local Economic Development Act funds. The City of Albuquerque contributed another $4.5 million of Local Economic Development Funds. Albuquerque beat out other places such as Denver, Salt Lake City, Austin, New York, Georgia and Los Angeles. The Albuquerque site will be Netflix’s first hub purchased in the United States. Albuquerque Studios is an enormous complex that includes 9 sound stages, a backlot and management offices. New Mexico’s other 4 production studios are I-25 Studios, Garson Studios, Santa Fe Studios and Las Cruces Studios as other productions seek studio space for their projects.

It is estimated that at least 1,000 well-paying jobs per year will be created. The jobs will run the gamut of film and TV production work, most of which is project-based contract labor. Many of the jobs are expected to pay $70,000 a year. The purchase deal also calls for $1 billion worth of production spent over 10 years which will have a dramatic effect on the City and State economies.


The City Council and Mayor Keller have a track record of bickering on development projects. Mayor Tim Keller took a backhanded approach on the use of the lodger’s tax funding for city wide recreational facilities that are not tourist related nor economic development related.


It was on July 3, 2018, that it was reported that Mayor Tim Keller vetoed the $2.6 million economic development package that would help Topgolf in constructing a $39 million entertainment complex at the site of the former Beach Waterpark. The City Council had voted 8-1 to give the incentives after a 9-0 veto override Keller’s veto of a resolution expressing the city councils support.

At the time Mayor Keller called the incentive’s a “raw deal for taxpayers” which is probably the case given the fact that much construction work has now been done on the project, but after two full years, the facility is still under construction and has yet to open. Keller undercut his own veto message when he said:

“From the beginning, we have expressed our desire to welcome Topgolf, but this project failed to meet our criteria for growing the local economy and creating good-paying jobs. While we were able to improve the deal, we’re still not there yet. … This deal also sends the wrong signal that we are prioritizing out-of-state companies over similar local efforts, and that a company can end-run an independent professional vetting process through a political process. It’s our job to protect taxpayers, and I know that we can do it better. We want to work together and take the time to get it this right.”

When you do not have a job, you’re not interested in hearing economic doublespeak from government officials of creating high paying “economic based jobs”.


Least anyone has forgotten, on September 6, 2019, Mayor Tim Keller submitted his $29 million infrastructure bond tax package to the Albuquerque City Council to be financed by the City’s Lodger’s Tax. The Keller Administration labeled the lodger tax bond package as a “Sports – Tourism Lodger Tax ” because it was to be used for a number of projects around the city labeled as “sports tourism opportunities” that would help with economic development and tourism.

On October 7, the City Council approved a $30.5 million “Sports -Tourism” lodger tax package on a unanimous vote to upgrade and build sports facilities throughout the city. Revenue generated by the lodgers tax will be used to pay off the $30.5 million bond debt.

Seven of the 10 projects are not tourism related and are used overwhelming by the general public and not the tourist industry nor by the hotel or lodger tax industry. It is a real stretch of the imagination to say the projects will attract tourism and help economic development. Without any financial analysis or actual proof to back him up, Mayor Keller and his administration simply argued that the projects would attract conventions or other sports-related tourism and events to Albuquerque and help with the city’s economic development efforts making the city more attractive to businesses to relocate to the city.


The Orion Center Development is truly and exceptional development using the city property and resources to expand the city’s economy, especially during the time of a pandemic. There is no doubt that the success of the project will fit squarely into the long-term need for the city to expand its economy and recruit in a targeted and expanding global aerospace industry. Surprisingly, the Group Orion has not requested any economic development incentives from the Local Economic Development Act funds. With any real luck, the Orion Group will not seek such funding from the city.


The proposed “Orion Center” approved by the city’s Albuquerque Environmental Planning Commission sounds very familiar to the economic development plan called “Energize ABQ” proposed by yours truly during the 2013 election for Mayor. Energize ABQ called for a $300 million expansion at the Albuquerque International Sunport. It called for pursuing partnerships with private groups to build a manufacturing or assembly center at the Sunport or at the Westside “Double Eagle Two” airport.

“Energizer ABQ” proposed a Sunport expansion for a manufacturing, assembly or airline shipping terminal center at either airport. Construction would not have begun until a major shipping company, manufacturing or assembly company or a delivery company like FedEx made a commitment to invest with the city. An initial development by AMAZON would have been a natural and given the fact the Jeff Bezos is from Albuquerque and is known to still come to the city from time to time, it is something that may have not have been farfetched. Another potential source would be to contact Bill Gates who got his start first in Albuquerque but moved on to another State where there was more opportunities for investment.

The problem in the 2013 Mayor’s race was that the local media and the incumbent Republican Mayor seized upon the idea of a Sunport expansion and proceeded to “gut” the idea by lampooning it and falsely characterizing the idea as just building another “passenger terminal” at the airport. It was not. That was never the intent of Energize ABQ, but such is politics, especially when your outspent 3 to 1 during a campaign and try to rely on ideas that have merit while the local media is too damn lazy or biased toward an incumbent. The same incumbent Mayor had the advantage of having two well-known news reporters in prominent positions who also influenced news coverage in his favor.


On August 28, 2019, Mayor Keller called himself the “promoter in chief” when it comes to promoting Albuquerque as a good place to live, work, play and invest. Saying “We rise and fall on Downtown” Keller announced 3 new initiatives to make Downtown Albuquerque as a safer, more attractive place for visitors and for economic development.

The three initiatives were:

1. Opening a police substation at the Alvarado Transportation Center to address the serious crime and homeless problems in the Central Avenue downtown area that have reached a crisis point.

2. In order to create a tourist draw and spur economic development, Keller announced the city would begin remediation efforts and activate a second building at the Albuquerque Rail Yards The historic and vacant Albuquerque Rail Yards has 18 buildings still standing erected between 1915 and 1925 and include four major maintenance facilities built by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway.

3. Keller announced he wanted to ramp up plans to reinvent the historic Albuquerque Rail Yards by finding a development partner to transform a city-owned parking lot into “an amenity where thousands can gather year-round.”

Mayor Tim Keller’s claim “We rise and fall on downtown” resulted in more than a few snickers within the development community. The reason is that it no way reflects the truth and what has been going on in the city for the last 60 years. The truth is “Downtown Albuquerque” has been transforming during Mayor Tim Keller’s entire life of 42 years plus another 20 years before he was born. As one who was born and raised in Albuquerque, Keller showed very little knowledge of the city’s history of downtown revitalization and the city’s expansion away from the downtown he was referring to in his announced plan.


If Mayor Keller views himself as the city’s “promoter in chief”, his approved budget of $5.8 million for the Economic Development Department is an embarrassment to his efforts to promote the city given the fact that the city has a total operating revenue and approved budget of $1.1 Billion dollars for fiscal year 2020-2021. Truth be known Mayor Keller has only given lip service to economic development for the last three years, and then it was to get publicity over projects and to somehow take some credit for the development projects that did come to the city on their own, which were still too few and far between.

Mayor Tim Keller and his Administration have taken great pains to take credit to some extent for the NBC Deal, the Net Flex Deal and the “Orion Center” development by making sure Mayor Keller held press conferences to announce all 3 projects. On Thursday, November 12, standing in the middle of the “Orion Center” vacant land site next to mock up photo of the completed project and accompanied by Chief Operating Officer Lawrence Rael, and no one from the Orion Group, Mayor Keller called the Orion Center project potentially “transformative” for central New Mexico and had this to say:

“It is a frankly unbelievable bright spot in the midst of a pandemic … This project is such a big deal we haven’t wanted to talk about it that much. We basically don’t want to jinx it.”

The link to the FACEBOOK post is here:

Keller made sure the press announcement was posted on his FACEBOOK page and no one from the Orion Group appeared with him. It is more likely than not the Orion Group did not want Keller to talk about it given his publicity seeking ways and to force development on parties like he did with the University of New Mexico and his proposed the homeless shelter. The truth is that all 3 projects have essentially landed in Albuquerque with little or no help from the Keller Administration and with some help from the State of New Mexico.


John Strong has written guest columns for this blog on “Boot Camps” for software developers and programmers and data scientists as on where city and state government can spend money to help with economic development. Boot Camps are immersive, intensive training programs of up to 12 weeks or so lasting a full time, 40 hours per week plus. When you exit them, a person is certified as a software programmer and developer or data scientist.

According to one John Strong guest column:

“These Boot Camps are an increasingly important part of the technology ecosystem and are professional occupations that are in very high demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says these are the 5th fastest growing professional jobs in the country, and we will be needing in excess of 300,000 of them at a minimum in the next 10 years. Extrapolated for population New Mexico should be getting over 6,000 of these jobs, but we can get many more if we make the commitment. …

We [can] get an incredible return on the investment in boot camps, but don’t spend nearly enough money on them. The demand for software programmers and data science graduates in boot camps is off the charts, and we need them more than ever. We also need technical grads from certificate programs for the film industry in fields such as film and video editing. …

… The placement rate for graduates in these Boot Camps is in excess of 85% in the first 6 months. The average starting salary for a Software developer/programmer or full stack developer is $50,000 per year and increasing to around $60-$70,000 from there. For a Data Scientist it is $95,000 rising to over $110,000 after a year or two. In addition to that for each Data Scientist that we create , they will need the support of as many 5-software developer/programmers. … .”

The link to the full John Strong guest column entitled “New Mexico Needs A Moonshot In Technology” is here:


During the last 3 fiscal budget cycles, Mayor Keller failed to seek any significant increased appropriation for economic development. Ostensibly, the reason for the failure to seek such funding for economic development is that from day one, Keller’s priorities have been public safety, police reforms, increasing APD’s budgets by millions and growing the ranks of APD in an effort to implement community-based policing and increasing the size of APD to bring down the city’s crime rates. The Keller Administration has committed $88 Million dollars to grow the department to 1,200 full time sworn police over 4 years with an additional $35 million in none recurring costs. Keller’s efforts with APD have fallen severely short given the recent Federal Monitor’s report on the police reforms that said that APD was on the “brink of catastrophe” and has failed to police itself.

It is very regrettable that Tim Keller has not made the same type of political commitment to economic development as he has with public safety. On many levels, economic development is ultimately just as important as public safety. A sound and expanding economy go to eliminating major contributors or causes of crime: poverty, reducing high unemployment rates and education and training.

Albuquerque can and must expand and find better ways to use financial incentives for economic development such as tax increment districts (TIDS), industrial revenue bonds, and even fund economic development investment programs such as initial startup funding with claw back provisions. A good start would also be the funding of “Boot Camps” for software developers and programmers and data scientists. Help from Intel who has now severely reduced its operations in the state just may be interested in reviving its relations with the state.

The city needs to get serious with spending more on economic development. Another good start would be creating a $20 million fund for initial startup funds for new businesses with claw back provisions with the program administered by the Economic Development Department. Public-private partnerships in the growth industries where ever possible should be encouraged and developed. Albuquerque needs to pursue with a vengeance real growth industry like heath care, transportation and manufacturing, the film industry and the aerospace industry to diversify our economy.


A $5.8 million dollar budget for an Economic Development Department just is not going to cut it and will never get much done with the City relying more on luck as it has with the NBC Deal, the Netflex deal, and now the Orion Center. Sooner rather than later, the city and its elected officials and the business community need to get their act together and work more to invest far more when it comes to economic development. Otherwise Albuquerque is destined to become a dusty little dying city in the Southwest that failed itself because it failed to make any effort to expand its economy or do any meanifull economic development.

Legalization Of Recreational Marijuana To Be Introduced During NM 2021 Legislative Session; Legalize, Regulate, Tax!

The legalization of recreational marijuana will again be introduced and considered by the New Mexico legislature when the 60-day legislative session starts on January, 19, 2021. The odds of a revised bill will make it to the Senate floor for a final vote have improved substantially because of the turnover in the Senate. New Mexico Democratic legislators backing and sponsoring the legalizing recreational marijuana believe they have an excellent chance to get the legislation passed in the 2021 session because Senate Democratic legislators who opposed marijuana legalization were defeated in this year’s primary election.

During the last two years, bills to legalize recreational cannabis have not gone forward in the Senate because 4 conservative Democrats formed a coalition with Republican Senators to oppose the legislation. Four conservative incumbent Democrats were ousted by progressive challengers in the June primary election and three progressive Democrats went on to win election to the Senate in the November 3 general election. Long time serving Democrats Senate Finance Committee Chairman John Arthur Smith, Senate President Pro Tem Mary Kay Papen, Clemente Sanchez of Grants and Senator Gabe Ramos of Silver City were all defeated in the June primary.

Last year’s defeat of the legalization legislation came after Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham created a marijuana legalization working group or task force to study the issue. The group came up with recommendations that were later made part of proposed legislation. On Tuesday, November 10, New Mexico State Representative Javier Martinez, D-Albuquerque, the sponsor of last years failed legislation, said during a legislative committee hearing, he would again be introducing legislation for consideration. Martinez said he plans to introduce legislation that will be similar to a bill filed last year.

Rep. Martinez said the new 2021 bill would be slimmed down from last year’s version. Notwithstanding, Martinez said it will still contain provisions aimed at protecting New Mexico’s medical cannabis program. New Mexico’s medical program has more than 98,000 enrolled members. According to Martinez, some of the money generated by recreational cannabis sales would be used to eliminate the gross receipts tax on medical marijuana. Rep. Javier Martinez had this to say:

“I believe the time is now, I believe New Mexico is at the cusp of being a national leader in recreational cannabis legalization and am I looking forward to making that happen. … In 2021 we’re looking at streamlining the bill a little bit. That was one of the critiques we heard from some of the opponents, that the bill was too lengthy, too convoluted, so we’re streamlining that bill—but that bill will still be true to the core values.”

New Mexico House Speaker Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, for his part said he expects the House will pass a cannabis legalization bill during the upcoming 60-day session. Egolf said the bill will get a “much friendlier” reception in the Senate and said “I think its chances are much improved.”

Democratic state Sen. Jacob Candelaria of Albuquerque is a sponsor of past recreational marijuana and drug decriminalization initiatives and he had this to say:

“I think the prospect for a recreational bill to pass this year are looking much better. … What matters most is just the numbers in the New Mexico Senate. I think we just have better numbers.”

Candelaria, a medical marijuana patient himself and attorney who represents current cannabis business license holders, urged the Lujan Grisham administration to lift what he called artificial limits on medical marijuana production. According to Candelaria, the current plant limits on medical cannabis producers has led to chronic market shortages.


State Senator Mark Moores, R-Albuquerque was one of several Senate Republicans who filed a legalization bill in 2019 that called for state-run recreational marijuana stores. Moores said he was open to working with Democrats on new legislation in 2021 session.

Moores cautioned that for a bill to win bipartisan support it would need to allow businesses to maintain drug-free workplaces and include provisions for keeping cannabis out of young children’s hands. Moores had this to say in a Albuquerque Journal interview:

“I think there’s a number of senators and representatives on both sides who are willing to work on the issue.


Despite the confidence expressed by New Mexico State Representative Javier Martinez and Speaker of the House Brian Egolf, passage is still not assured. Last year’s House Bill was opposed by business groups and the state’s Conference of Catholic Bishops, who described the legislation as too far-reaching.

State Senator Bill Tallman, D-Albuquerque, expressed doubts during the November 10 meeting of the Economic and Rural Development Committee about how much money cannabis legalization could generate. Tallman challenged claims that the cannabis industry would create roughly 15,000 new jobs statewide by saying:

“I find it kind of hard to believe this is going to generate more jobs than oil and gas and their support industries. … I’m not convinced that we’re going to grow a lot of marijuana here because we have a shortage of water here, and it’s getting worse.”

Republican House minority whip Rod Montoya of Farmington said he is wary of efforts to commute sentences and expunge past drug convictions, arguing it would undermine efforts to stamp out smuggling and black markets.


New Mexico already has a marijuana decriminalization law on its books. Last year, Governor Lujan Grisham signed into law a bill that made possession of up to a half-ounce of cannabis a civil offense punishable with a $50 fine. The governor and other supporters say legalization is still necessary, arguing it would generate tax dollars that could be used on public safety programs.

There are 15 states that have now legalized recreational marijuana or are in the process of doing so. The states of Arizona, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota approved cannabis legalization measures in the November 3 general Presidential election. Mississippi approved the creation of a medical marijuana program. The Arizona passage gives urgency to the passing similar legislation in New Mexico to take advantage of the emerging market and demand. Governor Lujan Grisham and other supporters say legalization is still necessary, arguing it would generate tax dollars that could be used on public safety programs.

Texas has yet to pass legalization and it is anticipated that will benefit New Mexico’s economy. Duke Rodriguez, president and CEO of Ultra Health, New Mexico’s largest medical marijuana company told lawmakers at a recent legislative committee hearing that they need to think broadly about the future of New Mexico’s marijuana industry. According to Rodriquez, New Mexico will be “a production juggernaut” and a magnet for tourists and cannabis patients from Texas, despite federal prohibitions against transporting cannabis across state lines.

Advocates of recreational legalization argue it will generate at least 13,000 jobs and millions of dollars for the economy. Rodriguez, also told lawmakers that legalizing recreational marijuana will generate up to $800 million a year, a $200 million increase from the last years estimate of $600 million. Rodriguez had this to say:

“It’s going to change New Mexico and ways we can’t imagine. … I think we will be a powerhouse, not only within the state, but we have the potential of being a powerhouse not only in this country, but you’d be surprised, we have the ability to also compete internationally.”


Representative Javier Martinez said his new bill will aim to safeguard the state’s 13-year-old medical marijuana program from disruptions, levying taxes of up to 20% on sales and create business opportunities for minority and low-income communities adversely affected by the drug war and criminalization of marijuana. The bill has not yet been published. The contents of the failed 2020 recreational cannabis legislation merits review given the fact the Rep. Javier Martinez has said an attempt will be made to streamline it and keep the core concepts.

The legislation introduced in the 2020 legislative session was a cumbersome 173-pages long. A Cannabis Control Division of the Regulation and Licensing Division was to have been created and was to have very broad and extensive authority to regulate the industry. The division would have had the powers to promulgate rules and regulations, including many mandates and limitations on license issuance and quality control

The legislation would have legalized the use and sale of recreational marijuana for anyone age 21 and older. The 2019 New Mexico Legislature decriminalized possession which is now a $50 civil fine with no jail time. The legislation proposed in the last session provided for taxes on recreational pot at roughly 17% to 19% and made medical marijuana tax-free and entirely subsides medical marijuana for low income patients.

The 2020 legislative session bill would have regulated both commercial and medical marijuana programs. The legislation avoided a traditional licensing system as is created for full-service alcohol licenses.

As was written, the recreational cannabis legislation contained no limit on the number of recreational cannabis licenses.

Under the proposed legislation, the holder of a recreational cannabis license issued will have no vested property right in the license and the license is deemed property of the state. A license issued pursuant to the Cannabis Regulation Act would not have been transferable from person to person, corporation to corporation or corporation to person. The licenses could not have been leased and was not be considered property subject to execution, attachment, a security transaction, liens, receivership or all other incidents of tangible personal property under the laws of this state.

The legislation called for food-grade testing of marijuana products. The legislation if passed would have required all cannabis products sold in New Mexico to be tested and free from contaminants. Packaging would have been required to be clearly labeled with the THC dosage. The legislation also included restrictions on advertisements that target youth. The legislation required investments in training that would assist law enforcement officers in identifying impaired driving and not just limited to only cannabis-induced impairment.

The legislation did give local governments some authority to determine where cannabis dispensaries can be located. However, the state’s counties will not have been given any authority to be able to prohibit cannabis sales nor prohibit the licensing of stores. In other words, local zoning rules would have been able to be used to control the number of stores in an area where they the stores could be located. This is identical to zoning restrictions placed on retail stores that sell pornography.

The legalization bill called for a 19% tax rate. Each county and city have varying gross receipts tax rates and the cannabis tax would have been added to those sales taxes. The tax is much lower than in other states and it is hoped it will prevent buyers from turning to the black market. The legislation would have exempted residents in the medical cannabis program from the tax and would require cannabis growers to serve the medical market before the recreational market


When it comes to the legalization of the recreational use of marijuana, the legislature needs to avoid a traditional licensing system like it created for full-service alcohol licenses. With present alcohol full-service licenses, the number of licenses are capped and based on population numbers. Liquor licenses are now being sold for upwards of $1 million where only the wealthy or major restaurant chains can only afford them.

The result and unintended consequence will be identical with recreational marijuana licenses purchased for a few thousand dollars from the state and held onto for a windfall profit.

The exact same thing will happen with recreational marijuana licenses unless the licenses are not tied to population. There should be no limit on the number of recreational pot licenses that will create a market of licenses that increase value and are considered an investment by the private sector as opposed to regulation by the state to protect the public health safety and welfare.

New Mexico doesn’t initiate legislation by ballot measures, though constitutional amendments are approved by referendum. If the 2021 NM Legislature were to enact legislation for a constitutional amendment for legalize recreational use of marijuana, voters would no get the measure for almost a full year. If a strong consensus can be achieved and if a recreational legalization program can be supported by large majorities in both the House and Senate, they should proceed and vote to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.

Legalize, regulate, tax recreational marijuana like alcohol and cigarettes.

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