In 2020, Dinelli Blog Had 105,793 Total Reader Views, 70,208 Total Blog Visitors; Thanks For Viewing And Visiting; Onto A Better 2021 New Year! PLEASE WEAR THE DAMN MASK!

HAPPY 2021 NEW YEAR TO ALL!

On November 16, 2016 www.Pete Dinelli.com was launched as political blog. The blog was launched because of the belief the local news outlets gloss over wat too much without getting into the real substance of stories. The local media all too often ignore analysis of what is being reported and do not have the time nor space to report details and gloss over information.

The blog does not generate income, there is no advertising, no subscription fees and it is absolutely free to anyone who wants to read it and for that matter wants to share the articles. The blog is maintained by a professional site manager that charges a monthly fee.

The year 2020 proved to be a wild and wonderful year that saw a huge spike in blog article readership and visitors at www.PeteDinelli.com. The most common question is how many people actually read the articles or go to the blog site?

The blog has a tabulator that has been installed by the internet web manager that tabulates and reports to subscribers. The tabulator reports on days, weeks, months and years of views and shares of articles and by visitors. The tabulator breaks the numbers down into two major categories of VIEWS and VISITORS.

A VIEW is counted when a visitor to the blog loads or reloads an article to be read.

A VISITOR is counted when a user or browser for the first time makes a visit in a given period.

The tabulator counts by day, week, month, or full year.

The articles are first posted on the internet blog and then posted on FACEBOOK which is separate from the blog.

MAJOR SPIKE IN READERSHIP IN 2020

In a little over 4 full years of the blog, the number of VIEWS, or article “reads”, more than tripled from 30,411 in 21017 to 105,793 in 2020. The number of VISITORS, or first-time visitors to the blog, more than doubled from 15,807 in 2017 to 70,208 in 2020.

Following are the tabulator numbers for the 4 full calendar years:

2017: 30,411 TOTAL VIEWS, 15,807 TOTAL VISITORS

2018: 42,397 TOTAL VIEWS, 26,092 TOTAL VISITORS

2019: 68,622 TOTAL VIEWS, 43,227 TOTAL VISITORS

2020: 105,793 TOTAL VIEWS, 70,208 TOTAL VISITORS

The blog does have a “CONTACT” link on the web page at www.PeteDinelli.com where anyone can send a message and make comments on articles that allows further contact and messaging. Suggestion on articles or information for articles is always appreciated.

2020 was the first year that a number of readers submitted “guest columns” on varying topics of interest to them, some in opposition to blog articles published. The guest columns have turn out to be very successful. The guest columns are not paid for and what is submitted is only edited as to format and not content.

TIMELY NEWS TOPICS GOAL OF ARTICLES

Since the blog started on November 16, 2016, there have been written and published 1,096 blog articles. Many news reporters and politicos have said the articles are way too long for “news” articles and no one will read them. At first, that was very true, but no longer if the statistics for the las 4 years are to be believed. The purpose and intent of the blog which is to inform, share research and institutional knowledge and lessons learned as a public figure for 28 years and a licensed attorney for 44 years.

The goal from day one of the blog has been to be informative and to give insightful political analysis relying on institutional knowledge after 28 years in government, and knowledge as former elected official, public servant and a 44-year career as a licensed attorney. It is to be informative than just a political gossip column.

The approach taken with the articles is to first report on current events with research and then followed by “ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY”. The commentary is used to suggest solutions to problems identified. One elected official said, “I read another blogger for the political gossip and your blog for the facts and research.” I take that as a compliment.

The single most common remark I get from people is that they read the blog articles, they do not always agree with what I have to say or my opinions, but enjoy reading it. I have never hidden the fact that I am a progressive Democrat especially on social issues and civil rights issues, which explains those that disagree with what I may say, especially conservative Republicans. The blog is not a Democrat, Republican or Independent blog, but my blog.

The blog articles are always posted on my FACEBOOK page to 5,000 FACEBOOK friends to see and other FACEBOOK pages. The blog reaches thousands more on the internet. I email the articles to those whose names are actually mentioned and include government officials and elected officials who I think may be interested in the topic and who may want to take issue.

The blog articles are not written to please all the people who read them all the time. The articles are an effort to promote civil discussion. In addition to “guest opinion columns” from others, I also submit Guest Opinion Columns to the Albuquerque Journal. The Journal has been very accommodating over the last 4 years, has published them and I then publish them again on the blog.

Our First Amendment Freedom of Speech is the most important right we have as citizens. Being fully retired, I enjoy my freedom of speech to say what I want, when I want and how I want without any fear of reprisal, something I had never experienced as a public or elected official and especially when I was a judge.

I do get very frustrated finding clerical and spelling errors after I publish the article and try to correct them as soon as I can. The mistakes are the hazard of doing your own editing and kicking out articles on an almost daily basis. All the articles are posted and can still be read at www.PeteDinelli.com The blog does have a search engine block in the upright hand corner.

The blog has some detractors, but that is to be expected whenever political opinions are expressed . I always tell people who “unload” on me about an article, there is no need to get upset and if you do not like what I write, then don’t read the blog articles and unfriend me on FACEBOOK. I do want to tell readers I am not a communist, I am not a socialist, I am not a fascist and being called a “libitard” is just plain stupid. I am an American who deeply loves my country, this great democracy of ours and very proud that it survived the last 4 years.

TOPICS REPORTED

Over the last 4 years, the blog has covered all sorts of topics including:

The 2020 Presidential Election
The President
The Governor
The Legislative sessions
The City Council
The Mayor
The Albuquerque Police Department
The District Attorney’s Office
The criminal justice system
The Judicial System
The Pandemic
APD Overtime abuse
New Mexico politics
National news and the press
City budgets and finance
Albuquerque Public Schools
The University of New Mexico
Reports on the Court hearings on the Department of Justice consent decree
The 12 Federal Court monitor’s reports
The ART Bus project
Freedom of Speech
Freedom of Religion
The homeless crisis
The Railyards Development
Downtown Redevelopment
City history
The minimum wage
Mandatory sick leave
Public financed campaigns
City election code reform
City and state economic development
Gun control legislation
Sanctuary city
Immigration reform
Mass shootings
Legalization of marijuana
The war on drugs
City crime rates
City zoning issues
Nuisance abatement laws and actions
The city and state economy
Economic development proposals and projects
The file industry in New Mexico
The public education system
UNM athletics
Mental and behavioral health care services,
Taxation
State elections and issues
PERA reform and solvency issues
Liquor License Reform
Bail bond reform
The Department of Justice Consent decree
Tributes to family and friends

CONCLUSION

I am truly humbled by the sure number of views and shares that I have had over the last 4 years. I am also very proud of the steady increase for each year. To all those who read the blog, THANK YOU for reading. To my FACEBOOK friends, please follow me on FACEBOOK and share the blog articles whenever you can!

A special thanks goes to Wayne Scheiner and his advertising firm for helping set up the blog over 4 years ago!

PLEASE WEAR THE DAMN MASK AND GET THE VACCINE SO THAT I CAN GET OUT OF THE HOUSE AND START TRAVELING AGAIN!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

A Bi Partisan Approach To Working Together To Better Criminal Justice System

On Monday, December 14, the Albuquerque Journal publish a guest column on its editorial page making suggestions to improve our criminal justice system. The guest column was written by Democrat New Mexico State Representative Damon Ely and Republican Brenda Boatman, the Community Engagement Director for the Americans for Prosperity, New Mexico. Following is the guest column:

“Working Together To Better Criminal Justice System”

In 2018, we ran against each other for a seat in the New Mexico State House – Democrat vs. Republican. It goes without saying that we have disagreements on a number of issues. But there are areas where we believe people from across the political spectrum can work together to solve problems facing New Mexico. One of those is criminal justice reform.

Let’s start with the broad goals. Both sides should want swift and certain justice, improvements to public safety and efficient use of taxpayer money.

Due to the economic impact of COVID-19, New Mexico is anticipating revenue shortfalls. Corrections and the criminal justice system are a significant portion of the state budget, and squarely in the crosshairs of potential cuts. Now is the time to revisit our goals and priorities.

Here is what we would propose to make our criminal justice system smarter on crime and softer on taxpayers:

• Expand citations in lieu of arrest authority for law enforcement. Give law enforcement officers more freedom to cite and release individuals suspected of lower-level crimes, rather than book them into jail. This will allow law enforcement to focus on criminal activity that harms public safety and reduce the number of negative interactions between officers and their community.

• Modify how certain crimes are defined and charged. Many states have right-sized the punishment associated with certain lower-level offenses, such as drug and property crimes. This can include increasing the property theft threshold for what dollar amount of theft classifies as a felony. More than 35 states have increased their property theft threshold, while property crime continues to decrease. Making simple drug possession a misdemeanor can save our state millions of dollars without threatening public safety, while equipping people to more effectively overcome a substance-use disorder.

• Invest and expand alternatives to prison and then carefully and independently monitor outcomes. Incarceration is expensive and, by itself, not likely to reduce recidivism. Rather than locking people up, we should invest in diversion programs such as drug courts, mental health courts, and juvenile diversion courts that help people contribute to their communities. These programs are significantly less expensive over the long run and have been shown to reduce recidivism compared to prison. Moreover, we should ensure lawmakers have access to real-time data that will tell us what programs are effective, what can be done to improve programs, and what programs are not working.

• Remove sentencing enhancements for nonviolent offenses. Give judges the discretion to deviate from sentencing enhancements when it is in the best interest of justice. Forcing individuals to serve sentences that don’t match the severity of their crime benefits no one. We can preserve public safety and allow for more proportional sentences that don’t strain taxpayer resources.

• Strengthen community supervision. Finally, we should reduce revocations to prison from community supervision. Revocations for technical violations are a main driver of many state prison populations. Imprisoning large numbers of individuals based on non-criminal actions does not increase public safety. Lawmakers can also push for probation reform for good behavior and preventing people from going back to jail for technical violations while on probation, giving courts needed flexibility to release people who’ve shown themselves to be adequately reformed.

The point of these reforms is to get us out of the ineffective war of words about who is “tougher on crime,” which is both expensive and ineffective. We are wasting limited taxpayer money and unintentionally creating career criminals.

We need to be smarter about crime. Lawmakers have an opportunity to make our state safer and give thousands of New Mexicans the tools to successfully reintegrate into their communities and return to their families.

While we may not agree on everything, we are committed to bringing people together to make our criminal justice system more just.

The link to the Alb. Journal guest column is here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/1526480/working-together-to-better-criminal-justice-system.html

ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY

Democrat New Mexico State Representative Damon Ely and Republican Brenda Boatman are commended for the bi-partisan attitude and approach to working together to better our criminal justice system. They should not stop with the guest column.

Virtually all of the suggestion made in the Ely – Boatman guest column have real merit and are worthy of consideration. With that said, New Mexico State Representative Damon Ely can show real leadership and introduce legislation that embodies the proposals for the upcoming 2021 session that begins on January 21, 2021. Asking Brenda Boatman to testify before legislative committees would further their bi partisan effort. Securing Governor Michell Lujan’s support she also be a top priority.

Legacy and Calvary Churches Hold “Super Spreader” Christmas Eve Services; “Give Unto Caesar The Things That Are Caesar’s, And Unto God The Things That Are God’s.”

The latest statistics on COVID-19 in New Mexico as of Sunday, December 28 reflects that in New Mexico there are 747 new cases of Covid 19 for a total to 137,968, 30 new deaths bringing the total to 2,346 with 758 hospitalizations.

With respect to the United States, the month of December has been a devastating month for coronavirus spread with more than 63,000 Americans having died so far this month, the highest on record in one month, bringing the total to more than 333,000 people lost to the virus in the U.S. according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation predicts that 193,000 could lose their lives over the next two months to the virus.

A link to the source report is here:

https://www.koat.com/article/coronavirus-new-mexico-cases-covid-19/31401320

CHRISTMAS EVE SUPER SPREADER SERVICES

State officials warned the public to stay home and not gather during Christmas holiday. Under the public health orders, and because Bernalillo County is still in the red zone, places of worship are only allowed to hold services at 25% of their maximum capacity.

Notwithstanding the public health orders, it was reported by KRQE News 13 that 2 of Albuquerque’s largest Christian churches held services celebrating the Christmas holiday with few face masks and with little or no social distancing. Legacy and Calvary churches held Christmas Eve services essentially ignoring the public health orders.

Photos taken at the Calvary Church service show the church assembly area packed with not much social distancing. While some people were wearing masks, it didn’t include everyone.

Legacy Church posted a video of their Christmas service revealing a very crowded congregation room with hundreds of people packed into the congregation area and again with limited social distancing and few masks. News 13 downloaded the video of the service from the church’s website before they took it down Sunday.

LEGACY CHURCH LITIGATION

The Legacy Church services was particularly egregious because in April, a federal judge shot down Legacy’s request to boost indoor capacity from 25% to 50%. Legacy Church filed a lawsuit against then-New Mexico Health Secretary Kathy Kunkel and the state of New Mexico. Legacy Church argued that the public health orders violated the church’s religious freedoms.

U.S. District Judge James O. Browning in July handed down his ruling in that lawsuit, saying the state has the right to ban large gatherings in houses of worship during a public health crisis, and that the public health orders neither violated the church’s free exercise rights nor its assembly clause rights. Judge Browning ruled that the public health orders “are unrelated to the suppression of speech or religion, serve a compelling state interest, and significantly less restrictive alternatives are not available.”

https://www.abqjournal.com/1530780/megachurches-fined-for-violating-public-health-orders.html

In response to the current controversy, Legacy Church provided KRQE News 13 with this statement about their Christmas Day service:

“We have taken the pandemic seriously from the start, and have prudent measures in place. But when governments exceed their constitutional authority and contradict what we are called on by God to do, we answer first to His authority.”

The link to the KRQE News 13 news story is here:

https://www.krqe.com/health/coronavirus-new-mexico/albuquerque-churches-hold-mass-gatherings-for-christmas-service/

GOVERNOR LUJAN GRISHAM REACTS

Tripp Stelnicki, a spokesman for Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, said the parishioners and leaders of Legacy and Calvary violated both the state’s public health order “and common sense.” and said:

“They endangered the lives livelihoods and health of not only their parishioners but their entire communities — and given how quickly this virus can spread, potentially our state as a whole. … These church leaders should reflect on the danger they’ve unleashed in their communities. … [All New Mexicans wish that the pandemic was over but] no pastor may deem it so.”

The New Mexico Department of Health announced it will serve both Calvary Church and Legacy Church a “notice of contemplated action” after they appeared to hold a Christmas Eve service that violated the current public health order. The violation carries a fine of up to $5,000 for violating the public health order.

https://www.koat.com/article/albuquerque-church-violates-public-health-order-with-unmasked-full-capacity-christmas-eve-service/35085594

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

There is no doubt that the pastors of both Legacy Church and Calvary sincerely believe that they were spreading the word of Jesus Christ, but the services they presided over were more likely than not spreading the Corona Virus as well.

Since 1905, the United States Supreme Court has said repeatedly in rulings that it is constitutional in a public health crisis for the government to require people to do certain things or to prohibit certain things that they normally would not do or could do and even refuse to do. In 1905, during the small pox epidemic, the United State Supreme Court case of Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11 (1905), upheld the authority of states to enforce compulsory vaccination laws and health care orders. Jacobson was a Christian Minister who refused to be vaccinated as required by the government and refused to pay a fine imposed. The United States Supreme Court has heard several challenges to these mandates and public health orders and has consistently ruled the mandates are indeed constitutional based on protecting the public health, safety and welfare.

Our freedoms of speech and freedom of religion are two of our most precious rights protected by our United State Constitution. With that said, those freedoms do have limitations and carry with them the responsibility to use them in a responsible manner that does not violate the law. For example, Freedom of Speech does not allow someone to yell fire in a crowded theater when there is no fire, nor does it allow you to threaten to kill someone. Freedom of Religion too has limitations. For example, you cannot make a human sacrifice in praise of your god, even if your human sacrifice agrees to it and wants to be killed and become a martyr. The point is that Freedom of Religion does not mean freedom to violate the law.

Under no circumstances has government exceeded its constitutional authority when it comes to the public health orders, nor is it “contradicting” any church from doing what they are called upon by God to do. What Legacy Church and Calvary Church have done is believing falsely they are above the law and in turn placed their own congregations in harm’s way by conducting “super spreader event’s” on Christmas eve. No matter how faithful the congregations are, the corona virus is just as deadly to the faithful as it is to the atheist.

One thing is for certain, both churches could have held more services on Christmas Day respecting the 25% occupancy requirement and even have conducted “virtual services” or “parking lot” services while the congregations remained in their cars.

The pastors of both Legacy Church and Calvary Church need to ponder the teachings of Jesus Christ when he said:

“Give unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.”

It’s not just about saving the soul by the churches, but the governments responsibility to protect the health and safety of people and saving lives.

US Senator Martin Heinrich: “ABQ Right Location For Space Command”; City and State Make Pitch For Space Command; The Orion Group Aerospace Development

In December, 2019, President Donald Trump authorized the creation of the United States 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, Colorado.

On November 19, 2020, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that Albuquerque 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 other Air Force bases located in Colorado, Florida, Nebraska, Alabama and Texas. The other finalists are:

1. Offutt AFB (NE), previously housed the strategic Air Force Command headquarters.
2. Patrick AFB (FL) at Cape Canaveral in Florida, which has 50 years of infrastructure and space-related history.
3. Peterson AFB (CO), the Space Command’s current temporary headquarters.
4. Port San Antonio (TX) which at one time housed three Air Force bases in and around it.
5. Redstone Army Airfield (AL) which also has extensive military infrastructure and a strong congressional delegation to lobby.

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.

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.

New Mexico’s entire congressional delegation is lobbying to locate the Space Command in Albuquerque. In a prepared statement, US Senator Martin Heinrich had this to say when the announcement was made about Albuquerque being on the short list:

“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 Monday, December 21, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller along with the Kirtland Partnership, a nonprofit organization that works to preserve and expand Kirtland Air Force , made a virtual presentation to Pentagon Officials to locate the new U.S. Space Command in Albuquerque.

A link to a related news article is here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/1528722/pentagon-to-hear-nms-pitch-for-space-command.html

US SENATOR MARTIN HEINRICH: ABQ RIGHT LOCATION FOR SPACE COMMAND

On Sunday, December 20, 2020, the following guest opinion column by US Senator Martin Heinrich was published in the Albuquerque Journal:

“Representatives from the U.S. Air Force and Space Force are beginning to conduct on-site and virtual visits to determine whether Albuquerque is the right place to build the new headquarters for U.S. Space Command. I am convinced they will come to the same conclusion reached by an increasing number of leading private space companies: New Mexico is the future of space.

There’s a reason THEIA Group Inc., a major remote sensing satellite company, chose to build a multibillion, 122-acre spacecraft manufacturing campus right next to Kirtland Air Force Base. There’s a reason SolAero, a manufacturer of nearly half the world’s space solar cells and panels, built a massive facility in Albuquerque. And there is a reason that Applied Technology Associates, an industry-leading developer of space-based systems for the U.S. government, was founded and remains headquartered in Albuquerque.

These companies and other space innovators that employ thousands of New Mexicans are invested in our state not because they’ve been lured here by tax incentives – in fact, THEIA applied for none prior to committing to New Mexico. They chose New Mexico as the home base of their operations because of the unique features that make the state the nation’s premier location to build and grow organizations focused on space innovation.

They understand how important it is to be located next door to other leading space R&D companies in a location rich with space-based human talent. They recognize how valuable it is to work alongside the nation’s leading program management and acquisition entities already located at Albuquerque’s Kirtland Air Force Base.

Leading public and private space innovators based inside and outside the fence at Kirtland have repeatedly set the standard for how to develop novel space technologies at the speed of relevance. The Air Force Research Lab’s Space Vehicles Directorate, the Space Rapid Capabilities Office and many small, medium and large private companies centered near Kirtland are national leaders in space research and development.

Our state’s reasonable cost of living, high quality of life with ready access to the outdoors, and the availability of land for new facilities make the state a smart place to put down roots. We have also developed an exceptional training pipeline for a science and engineering workforce thanks to strong partnerships that join the STEM programs at our community colleges, the University of New Mexico, New Mexico State University and New Mexico Tech and private industry, our national laboratories, NASA’s White Sands Test Facility and Spaceport America.”

The link to the Heinrich opinion column is here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/1528572/abq-is-right-location-for-space-command-headquarters.html

WHAT KIRKLAND HAS TO OFFER

In addition to the advantages outlined by Senator Heinrich for locating the Space Command, , there are a number of assets and services offered by Kirtland Air Force Base. Kirkland already houses six Air Force commands. Those commands include the global strike, air combat, materiel, education and training, special operations, and space system commands. The Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s Missile Defense Agency, National Assessment Group and Joint Navigation Warfare Center are also located at Kirkland.

Many of the agencies managed by those commands are directly focused on space. That includes the Space Rapid Capabilities Office and the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Space Vehicles Directorate, which are at the forefront of developing, rapidly deploying and operating defense-related space systems.

There are others that directly contribute to space technology and management, including AFRL’s Directed Energy Directorate, which develops laser systems, high power electromagnetics and electro-optics that are critical to space systems. AFRL’s Directed Energy Directorate also operates the Star Fire Optical Range at Kirtland which is a center of excellence for space domain awareness that offers comprehensive ground-based monitoring of space assets and activity.

There are other research assets at the base, including Sandia National Laboratories, Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and the National Nuclear Security Administration that oversees Sandia Labs and LANL operations. And DOE’s Office of Secure Transport for nuclear.

STATE OFFERS A SKILLED WORKFORCE

There is no doubt that New Mexico is a world-class research center with two DOE labs, the AFRL, and three research universities. According to the New Mexico Partnership, the city and state has a highly skilled workforce in place consisting of nearly 36,000 people employed in science, computer, math and engineering. The proportion of local workforce employed in science jobs is 1.7 times higher than in the U.S. overall, and employment in engineering specifically is 1.5 times higher.

The link to a related news source is here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/1528722/pentagon-to-hear-nms-pitch-for-space-command.html

THE ORION GROUP AEROSPACE COMPANY DEVELOPMENT

The Space Command if in fact located here along with the Orion Group Aerospace development will make Albuquerque within just a matter of a few years an aerospace space industry juggernaut.

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.

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

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 6 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 juggernaut is clearly in the stars.

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 January 5 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.
____________________________________

NEWS UPDATE:

On Wednesday, January 13, it was reported that the U.S. Air Force chose Huntsville, Alabama, over five other states including New Mexico to locate the new U.S. Space Command.

In an official announcement Wednesday afternoon, the Air Force said Huntsville compared more favorably against the other states in providing a large qualified workforce, quality schools, superior infrastructure capacity, and low initial recurring costs. Alabama also offered a facility to support the Space Command headquarters at no cost while a permanent facility is constructed.

After speaking with Manasco, however, Heinrich said he was very disturbed by the Air Force process that culminated in choosing Alabama, which he said seemed like it was rushed to reach a final decision before President Donald Trump leaves office next week.

“I’m utterly disappointed with this process. … I don’t think it (Huntsville) was a logical place to choose for the Space Command. It seems clear to me that this was the least-deliberative Air Force basing decision I’ve been a part of.”

https://www.abqjournal.com/1535761/nm-loses-race-to-land-space-command.html

Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales Spreads Lies As He Runs For Mayor Or Congress; Next Likely Lie Will Be That No One Needs To Take The Vaccine

It looks like Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales is getting the attention he so covets as he runs for Mayor or Congress. Gonzales is even getting “national” attention via FOX News no less. On Tuesday, December 11, his Youe Tube video where he says the Governor’s Health Orders are “unconstitutional”, was a featured story in a Fox News segment along with commentary from a former national public affairs director who applauded the sheriff.

It was on December 19, a defiant Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales on a video proclaims he will not enforce “unconstitutional laws” when it comes to the corona virus pandemic. In the YouTube video, Gonzales said he sympathizes with business owners and houses of worship, and accused politicians of “turning everyday citizens into villains.” Gonzales got the publicity he covets when local news agencies covered the story. Gonzales had this to say:

“I choose to direct this agency’s time and resources to the laws deemed to keep people free of crime. … Overreaching restrictions will harm our community. For that reason, we will not follow along with any orders that subvert constitutional rights.”

A link to the YouTube Video is here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v95B1lpt_PM

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCMENT?

In the 11 minute YouTube video, Sheriff Gonzales says that he has listened to concerns of “what has been characterized as oppressive lockdown mandates”. He goes on to say that he sympathizes with families, business owners and houses of worship who believe their civil liberties are being compromised.

Bernalillo County Sheriff Spokeswoman Jayme Fuller said in a statement:

“This was intended to be a public service announcement for the people in order to mitigate any fears they were having about their Constitutional rights, which were perceived from various media platforms. … Bernalillo County residents need to hear from the Sheriff that our focus is on combating crime in our county and maintain confidence in the government.”

BCSO Spokesperson Jayme Fuller was asked on what authority the Sheriff was relying on to say the public health orders are unconstitutional and she said:

“The Declaration of Independence and the government’s purpose is to ‘secure’ our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Depriving people from opening their business or breaking up their family functions during Christmas qualifies as a deprivation of each.”

Spokeswoman Nora Meyers Sackett for Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham did not mince words about the Sheriff’s conduct or video and said that claiming the public health orders infringe on “constitutional rights is a lie”. Spokeswoman Nora Meyers Sackett further said in statements:

“Public health measures don’t infringe upon anything except the spread of the COVID-19 virus, which is why it’s important that New Mexicans do their part to get through the pandemic by adhering to them and that municipal agencies, including law enforcement, do their part to ensure that their community is being safe. … Every law enforcement agency in the state is empowered to enforce state public health orders, just as they enforce all other state laws.”

“It is deeply disappointing, not to mention directly harmful, that any public official would take any action that undermines the health and safety of their community. … All New Mexicans should agree on the importance of doing anything and everything we can to save lives.”

The link to a related story and quoted source material is here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/1529284/sheriff-gets-national-attention-pushback-for-stance-on-public-health-orders.html

STATES AND CITIES CAN ISSUE PUBLIC HEALTH ORDERS AND MANDATE IMMUNIZATION

Since 1905, the United States Supreme Court has said repeatedly in rulings that it is constitutional in a public health crisis for the government to require people to do certain things or to prohibit certain things that they normally would not do or could do and even refuse to do. In 1905, during the small pox epidemic, the United State Supreme Court case of Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11 (1905), upheld the authority of states to enforce compulsory vaccination laws and health care orders. The United States Supreme Court has heard several challenges to these mandates and public health orders and has consistently ruled the mandates are indeed constitutional based on protecting the public health, safety and welfare.

Since 1952, it has also been well settled United States Supreme Court constitutional case law that the legislative branch can give the executive branch the authority to issue executive orders in times of national emergency over private enterprise. In 1952, the United States Supreme Court ruled in the case of Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, 343 U.S. 579 (1952) that the authority to issue executive orders is whatever authority the legislative branch gives to the executive.

In New Mexico, the legislature has enacted two laws authorizing and empowering the Governor, the executive branch, to issue public health orders in time of a public health emergency such as the pandemic. The two statutes enacted are the “Public Health Act” and the “Public Health Emergency Response Act.”

Virtually all the lawsuits filed by private business owners, the Republican Party and those backed by Republican Party Chairman Steve Pierce, both in state court and federal court, to set aside the Governor’s health orders as being “unconstitutional” have been thrown out of court and dismissed almost as fast as they have been filed. New Mexico Courts have consistently ruled the the Governor’s public health orders and imposing restrictions, including restricting houses of worship to 25% maximum capacity, are legal and do not violate religious freedoms.

COMMENTARY AND ANLAYSIS

Bernalillo County Sheriff Spokeswoman Jayme Fuller quoting the “Declaration of Independence” as legal authority for the Sheriff’s conduct is downright pathetic. She is showing her ignorance if she really believes it is legal authority. It is the U.S. Constitution and United States Supreme Court rulings interpreting it that are legal authority. Since 1905, the United States Supreme Court has ruled that public health orders are constitutional and do not violate anyone’s constitutional rights.

The video of Sheriff Manny Gonzales saying his office will not enforce the public health orders needs to be called what it is: a government financed paid political announcement to promote his candidacy for Mayor or Congress. You can also call the video “truth decay”.

Sheriff Manny Gonzales acts as if his badge gives him a license to practice law without a license by declaring fully legal public health orders as “unconstitutional”. He is a throwback to law enforcement thinking they are above the law. Sheriff Gonzales is using the exact same inflammatory rhetoric and tactics as right-wing extremist use to set aside the health orders.

Stay tuned for another publicity stunt from Gonzales as he runs for Mayor or Congress and declares no one has to take the vaccines.

Manny Gonzales needs to just stop the pandering, stop his “truth decay”, and stop undermining the public health orders. If not, he should resign as he runs for higher office and let someone who wants the job be appointed by the County Commission.

ACLU Files Lawsuit Against APD For Charging And Arresting 17-Year-Old Girl For Murder She Did Not Commit; APD Homicide Unit’s Shameful History; Double The Size of Homicide Unit To 24

On July 10, Calvin Kelly, a 21-year-old, was shot to death during an alleged robbery attempt in a Northeast Albuquerque parking lot. Kelly’s body was found face down in the parking lot of “The Retreat” at Candelaria apartments, near Morris, around 6 a.m. He had been shot in the back with a high-caliber rifle. Police say a passerby found Kelly on July 10 around 6 a.m. in the apartment complex.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1343747/apd-investigating-fatal-shooting-at-se-abq-park.html

On December 5, 2019, then 17-year-old Albuquerque High School Student Gisell Estrada was arrested and charged with the murder of Calvin Kelly. It is a murder she played no part in. She had never been arrested before and had absolutely no criminal arrest and conviction record, misdemeanor nor felony. She spent 6 full days in jail on a case of “mistaken identity.”

A CASE OF MISTAKEN IDENTITY

According to news reports, APD homicide detective Jessie Carter was in charge of the homicide investigation of Calvin Kelly. Detective Carter joined APD in 2008 and in 2017 joined the homicide unit. Carter was able to identify 4 possible suspects that were eventually arrested: Alexis Pina, 17, Jassiah Montoya, 15, Adam Cazares, 31, and Cazares’ girlfriend Cynthia Salgado.

One of the suspects, Cynthia Salgado, told Detective Carter she and 3 others conspired to rob Kelly in a plan she said was masterminded by a teenage girl named “Lexi,” later identified as Alexis Pina. According court pleadings filed, Salgado told Detective Carter that Pina was homeless and on drugs and described her as short and chunky with “one lazy eye.”

According to the District Attorney’s Office, Pina was the “mastermind” of the robbery. Pina knew Calvin Kelly through FACEBOOK and she lured Kelly to her and the other 3 under the guise of needing a ride. Police say the 4 tried to rob Kelly outside “The Retreat” at Candelaria apartments complex and, when he tried to run, Cazares shot him in the back with a high-caliber rifle. The arrest warrant affidavit filed in Metropolitan Court alleges that Cynthia Salgado told a detective a girl she and Cazares knew as “Lexi” proposed the robbery after seeing Kelly with a significant amount of cash on Facebook.

The lawsuit alleges that Detective Carter took photos from FACEBOOK profiles for Alexis Pina and her FACEBOOK profile said Pina went to Highland High School. Gisell Estrada went to Albuquerque High School. Carter showed Alexis Pina’s profile photos to an Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) resource officer in the hopes of identifying her. The APS employee cooperated but mistakenly identified Gisell Estrada as Alexis Pina. Detective Carter did no follow up with witnesses to confirm the identification of Gisell Estrada nor her involvement with the murder of Calvin Keller. Detective Carter made no personal nor phone contact with Gisell Estrada nor her parents to confirm her identity.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1398091/aps-employees-mistake-left-innocent-teen-jailed-for-murder.html

17 YEAR OLD GISELL ESTRADA CHARGED WITH MURDER

On December 5, 17-year-old Albuquerque High School Student Giselle Estrada was charged by a criminal complaint with the murder of Calvin Kelly. The criminal complaint was “sealed” in Juvenile Court meaning no one had access to it nor able to read it without the court unsealing it for review. A warrant was issued for Estrada’s arrest. A private defense attorney contacted Estrada by mail to see if she needed a defense attorney. The lawsuit states that Estrada and her mother were “in disbelief” as the private attorney wanted to charge $60,000 to defend Estrada in a murder case. According to Estrada:

“I had no idea what this was about, the charges were sealed so I didn’t know what I was accused of.”

Contact was made with the Public Defender for defense. Public Defender Todd Farkas was assigned to defend Estrada and told Detective Carter multiple times that his client was not the girl they were looking for and charging for murder. Carter told Farkas to give him any information to clear Estrada’s name because he “did not want to put the wrong person in jail.”

The sealing of the complaint left Estrada’s Public Defender attorney blind to the detailed fact allegations against her and all they knew was the charges. According to Estrada’s Public Defender Farkus, the sealed complaint and the homicide’s detective’s unwillingness to share any case details, including the victims’ names, witnesses and dates, left the Public Defender’s Office no choice but to advise Estrada not make any statements to police and to turn herself in. Estrada, following the advice of the Public Defender turned herself in.

On November 8, Estrada was booked into the juvenile detention center on an open count of murder, armed robbery and conspiracy charges in the July 10 slaying of Calvin Kelly. APD Detectives for their part said Estrada’s refusal to speak left them with no choice but to book her on the charge of murder and jail her once she turned herself in.

The Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office then filed a motion to detain Giselle Estrada until trial alleging:

“The community is not safe if she is not detained. … There are no conditions of release this court can impose which will prevent her from planning another robbery or prevent someone else from dying.”

A full 5 days after Estrada turned herself in and was booked, another suspect in Calvin Kelly’s homicide, Jassiah Montoya, 15, as he was being led to his cell, told Detective Carter “You have the wrong Lexi, I just spoke to her yesterday”. The next day, Estrada was released on her own recognizance and Carter then turned his attention to Alexis Pina as the prime suspect.

Notwithstanding the motion for detention, Estrada was released a full 6 days later after she was arrested and the charges were dismissed. Review of the motion for detention, it is clear it contains “boiler plate language” with the District Attorney’s Office failing to conform the motion to the actual facts of the case.

After her release, Estrada said she struggled to catch up in school, her reputation was damaged and she alleges in her lawsuit she is still undergoing counseling. Estrada has graduated from Albuquerque High School and is pursuing an education in cosmetology.

Estrada said she experiences flashbacks from her false arrest and ordeal in jail and gets nervous when she sees an officer driving behind her and claims she is afraid she will be arrested. Estrada says of her ordeal:

“It’s not really how I used to be, it changed me. I feel like I have to remember everything, like I’m reliving everything. … “I just hope this doesn’t happen to anyone else, this is not something you should make a joke [of], this is something very serious and really hard to go through.”

Link to source material quoted:

https://www.abqjournal.com/1523423/aclu-sues-city-in-mistaken-identity-arrest-of-high-school-student.html

ACLU FILES CIVIL LAWSUIT

Fast forward to Thursday, December 3, 2020. The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico (ACLU) filed a lawsuit on Estrada’s behalf seeking unspecified monetary damages against the City of Albuquerque. The lawsuit alleges that APD Detective Carter’s actions amounted to a false arrest and deprivation of state constitutional rights.

https://www.koat.com/article/teen-who-was-wrongly-arrested-charged-with-murder-files-lawsuit-against-city-of-albuquerque/34867293#

According to the lawsuit filed, Gisell Estrada is shy, soft-spoken teenager, who does well in school and who has never been in trouble. She has never been arrested before and has absolutely no criminal record or arrest record and no convictions of any crime, misdemeanor nor felony. It is alleged she spent 6 full days in jail on a case of “mistaken identity.”

The lawsuit filed alleges that in the criminal complaint, Detective Carter did not mention any of the details as to how Gisell Estrada was identified leading to her charges and arrest. In the arrest warrant affidavit, Detective Carter wrote that Alexis Pina and Gisell Estrada “look extremely similar in date of births, facial features and body type among others” . The lawsuit alleges that, unlike Pina, Estrada was born with only one thumb and it was something Carter could have easily verified. Estrada’s cellphone records also placed her at her home at the time of the homicide.

According to the lawsuit, Detective Carter “misled the district attorney and court” by writing that Salgado identified Estrada when Carter did not show Estrada’s photo to Salgado to confirm he had the right person. The lawsuit alleges:

“Detective Carter knew that Ms. Salgado did not ‘positively identify’ [Estrada] as a person involved in Mr. Kelly’s murder. If that single sentence was removed from the document, nothing else within would explain how [Estrada] was identified as the offender, who was known by a different name.”

According to the Public Defender’s Office, Carter’s unwillingness to share case details led them to advise Estrada to not make a statement to police and Estrada decided to turn herself in which in and of itself caused extreme emotional stress.

The lawsuit alleges:

“Her family was afraid that if she did not turn herself in, the police would come to her home and arrest her violently. That night at home, nobody could sleep. The whole family cried all night, wondering what was going to happen.”

According to the civil lawsuit complaint, Estrada’s arrest by APD was only the beginning of an emotional ordeal that has left her emotionally scared. After being booked, Estrada spent a full 7 days in jail and she alleges she was “strip-searched several times” and treated like a “guilty person.” According to Estrada, the 7 days she spent in jail were the first nights she had ever spent away from home. The lawsuit alleges that during her stay in jail, Estrada was “too nervous to eat” and spent her nights “awake in her bunk, wondering if she would be free again.” Family visits were full of tears and the guards wouldn’t let her mother hold her hand.

ACLU Attorney Alvarez Hernandez who filed the lawsuit on behalf of Estrada had this to say:

“Because the true criminal was still out there [at the time of Estrada’s incarceration] and they could still hurt people, this lack of thoroughness and investigation doesn’t just affect the person directly, it affects our entire community. [What happened to Gisell Estrada was a] nightmare born of the incompetence of those who have sworn to protect and serve her. … The ordeal that APD put Gisell Estrada through was nothing short of horrific. The system failed her at every turn. … Sloppy police work from an APD detective meant that Gisell … was torn from her family’s loving arms and placed behind bars for a week.”

ACLU Attorney Alvarez Hernandez said the lawsuit is being filed to provide Estrada peace of mind and had this to say:

“[The lawsuit is being filed] to clear her name and build up her confidence, because every time she goes to a job interview, she’s self conscious as to whether they would want to hire her, whether they’re going to think that, despite the fact that [the charges were] … dismissed, that she actually had something to do with the murder.”

https://www.abqjournal.com/1523423/aclu-sues-city-in-mistaken-identity-arrest-of-high-school-student.html

Gisell Estrada for her part said of her arrest and incarceration:

“It changed me. … I just hope this doesn’t happen to anyone else. … It destroyed me, my parents, my family’s life, by just misidentifying me. … I really thought I was going to be [in jail] … for the rest of my life because I know that these types of cases take forever to solve.”

APD INCREASES SIZE OF HOMICIDE UNIT

As of Friday, December 17, there have been 75 homicide cases in 2020. The city has had 4 homicides in December and its likely there will be more by the end of the year. Of the 75 homicides, half remain unsolved. There are only a dozen homicide detectives with caseloads high above the national average.

On December 17, the Albuquerque Police Department announced plans to improve its homicide unit. APD is adding extra support staff, detectives, and new training. APD is adding 2 more detectives, totaling 12 for the department. An extra sergeant and acting commander will also be assigned to look over cases as well.

HOMICIDE DETECTIVE ACADEMY

During the December 17 press conference, APD announced it was creating a new detective training academy for all detectives, not just those in the homicide unit. The department will be bringing in veteran police officers with experience, working with younger detectives who are also “tech savvy.” According to APD officials, every detective in the department will go through specialized training. For some officers that includes homicide investigations. APD’s goal is to have the Detective Academy running by next summer.

APD Lt. Hollie Anderson had this to say:

“We not only need good trained detectives and a supportive chain of command, but we also need the community to participate and assisting us in solving these issues.”

APD says they’re also working more closely with prosecutors and investigators in the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s office and at the New Mexico Attorney General’s office.
The link to the news source is here.

https://www.koat.com/article/homicides-setting-record-in-abq/35018090

In making the announcement of changes at APD, Interim Police Chief Harold Medina addressed crime trends over the last three decades had this to say:

“Albuquerque’s homicide rate is way too high. … They generally swing very drastically over time. … There are many factors that contributes to our homicide rates—economic reasons, domestic violence, drugs, and illegal narcotic sales. Access to firearms. …

One thing that we’ve learned over the past couple years is we struggle with investigations as a department, and we want to improve our ability to conduct these investigations, but in order to do that we have to put the threat tools in the toolbox so to speak for our officers and our detectives. It’s search and seizure issues developing strong criminal complaints, understanding crime trends, so we could tie more crimes together and get a bigger impact for when we arrest somebody who’s a serial burglar for example. ”

https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/apd-announces-new-improvements-to-homicide-unit/5955828/?cat=500

APD CLEARANCE RATES

FBI statistics reveal that Albuquerque has the dubious distinction of having a crime rate 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 December 17, there have been 75 homicides reported in Albuquerque for 2020. With 75 murders thus far for 2020, the city is on track to once again to match or exceed the all-time record of 80 homicides in one year or come very close to it by the end of the year.

The FBI reports that the national homicide clearance rate is 61%. In 2019, APD’s clearance rate was 52.2% when the city reached 80 homicides in one year. In Albuquerque, so far the clearance rate is again at 52% for 2020. It more likely than not the clearance rate will fall even further in 2020 as more murders occur.

SOURCE OF CLEARANCE RATES

The city’s APD yearly budget contains performance evaluation statistics mandated by the city’s “performance evaluation” based budget. According to city budget documents, APD’s homicide clearance rate reported in the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report was 80% from fiscal year 2009 to fiscal year 2016. In 2018 and 2019, the percentage of homicides solved by APD dropped to 52%. That number reflects homicides that weren’t deemed justifiable. The overall clearance rate for 2018 and 2019 was is slightly higher because detectives solved 9 homicides from prior years.

For the past 3 years during Mayor Keller’s tenure, the homicide clearance percentage rate has been in the 50%-60% range. According to the proposed 2018-2019 APD City Budget, in 2016 the APD homicide clearance rate was 80%. In 2017, under Mayor Berry the clearance rate was 70%. In 2018, the first year of Keller’s term, the homicide clearance rate was 56%. In 2019, the second year of Keller’s term, the homicide clearance rate was 52.5%, the lowest clearance rate in the last decade.

https://www.krqe.com/news/albuquerque-metro/detectives-investigating-overnight-homicide-in-ne-albuquerque/

APD HOMICIDE HAD SPECIALIZED TRAINING IN SUMMER 2019

One year ago, on December 26, this blog published the article “All Time Low APD Clearance Rate; Charging And Jailing An Innocent Child For Murder; Can Lead Homicide Unit To Water But Refused To Be Trained”. The article was emailed to Mayor Tim Keller, the APD Chief and all the Deputy Chief’s.

https://www.petedinelli.com/2019/12/26/all-time-low-apd-clearance-rate-charging-and-jailing-an-innocent-child-for-murder-can-lead-homicide-unit-to-water-but-refused-to-be-trained/

This blog reported in the December 26, 2019 blog article that sources confirmed that the firm “Law Enforcement Training and Consulting Services” were retained in the summer of 2019 year on a three-month, sole source contract for $75,000 to train the APD homicide unit on investigations, evidence gathering and follow-up. All APD sergeants, detectives and lieutenants, who investigate and supervise violent crime investigations, were given the training. A total of 126 APD personnel went through and completed the training and instructions provided by a former retired APD homicide detective now with “Law Enforcement Training and Consulting Services”. The former APD Detective has been involved with investigations of high-profile murder cases in the country.

Law Enforcement Training and Consulting Services reviewed the arrest warrant regarding the 17-year-old high school girl Gisell Estrada arrested and jailed for a murder she did not commit because of a case of mistaken identity by the APD Homicide unit. Law Enforcement Training and Consulting Services concluded it went against everything APD officers had been trained on.

The firm stated they could provide no reason why the homicide division made such “colossal” mistakes contrary to all they had been trained and the arrest could have been prevented had the detective followed basic follow up practices to confirm identity. Instead, the detective ran with the information he had without even an attempt to verify, either out of being lazy or incompetence.

APD HOMICIDE UNIT HAS SHAMEFUL HISTORY OF BOTCHED INVESTIGATIONS

The APD Homicide Unit has a dubious history of botching any number of high-profile murder investigations. The APD Homicide Unit has compiled a history of not doing complete investigations, misleading the public, feeding confessions to people with low IQs, getting investigations completely wrong and even arresting innocent people.

A listing of homicide investigations reflecting negligence include:

2005 to 2008: Robert Gonzales: A a mentally retarded young man was arrested by APD and charged with the rape and murder of an 11-year-old neighbor. Weeks after the arrest DNA evidence confirmed Gonzales was not the offender. The Homicide and the Bernalillo County DA never turned this evidence over to the court and defense attorneys. Only after Gonzales spent 965 days in jail for a crime he didn’t commit and and only after he was released by the judge was the DNA evidence exposed.

2007 to 2011: Michael Lee and Travis Rowley, working as a group of salesmen, were arrested and charged with the murders and rape of an elderly Korean couple. Both Lee and Rowley had below normal IQs. Lee confessed to the murders, Rowley did not. Shortly after the arrests, DNA evidence excluded both men and confirmed that Albuquerque serial killer, Clifton Bloomfield was the offender. APD and the DA kept both men locked up for over a year before they were released.

2015 to 2016: Christopher Cruz and Donovan Maez are wrongly arrested for the murder of Jaydon Chavez Silver. They spent10 months in jail before the Bernalillo County DA reviewed the entire case sent to them by APD Homicide, finding that there was no evidence that Cruz and Maez were involved. APD Homicide is alleged to have fed witnesses information for them to repeat in interviews and threaten witnesses to provide false information.

https://www.petedinelli.com/2018/07/02/abq-report-apd-homicide-units-legacy-of-shame/

10 YEAR OLD VICTORIA MARTENS MURDER

The most egregious negligent murder investigation was the murder investigation of 10-year-old Victoria Martens. On August 24, 2016, she was murdered, dismembered and here body was burned in a bathtub. The initial APD Homicide investigation alleged that it was Jessica Kelley that stabbed 9-year-old Victoria Martens and that Fabian Gonzales strangled her while Michelle Martens, the child’s mother, watched the murder.

Gonzales was accused of drugging, raping and killing 10-year-old Victoria. After further investigation, Bernalillo County District Attorney Raul Torrez was forced to abandon the prosecution’s theory of the case and forced to drop the rape and murder charges against Gonzales. DA Torrez then accused Gonzalez of helping his cousin dismember the body of 10-year-old Victoria Martens after the child was reportedly killed by an unidentified man who was looking for Gonzales for revenge.

It was revealed that Jessica Kelley did not murder the child. Michelle Martens falsely admitted to committing the crimes. Forensic evidence revealed she and her boyfriend Fabian Gonzales were not even in the apartment at the time of the murder, they did not participate in the murder and that there was an unidentified 4th suspect in the case who committed the murder with supposedly DNA evidence found on the child’s dead body. The unidentified 4th suspect in the case is still at large.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1393384/fabian-gonzales-released-from-mdc.html

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

One would be inclined to break out laughing to the point of tears if it were not so damn pathetic that Interim Chief Harold Medina would actually say:

“Albuquerque’s homicide rate is way too high. … One thing that we’ve learned over the past couple years is we struggle with investigations as a department, and we want to improve our ability to conduct these investigations, but in order to do that we have to put the threat tools in the toolbox so to speak for our officers and our detectives.”

No “S_ _ _ Sherlock!” when Medina says “Albuquerque’s homicide rate is way too high” which has been the case now for the last 10 years!

NO EXCUSE FOR MEDINA’S INGNORANCE

Truth be known, Interim Chief Harold Medina has learned nothing over the past 3 years while he was a Deputy Chief and then First Deputy Chief. For those full 3 years he knew what was going on with the homicide unit. Only now that he is Interim Chief trying to become permanent that he tries to tell everyone that it is he that has come up with a solution of training. Medina continues with his false narrative that all that is wrong with APD now is the fault of former APD Chief Michael Geier. It was Medina who orchestrated Geier’s departure with the help of CAO Sarita Nair.

There can be little or no doubt that Medina was aware that the firm “Law Enforcement Training and Consulting Services” were retained in the summer of 2019 year on a three-month, sole source contract for $75,000 to train the APD homicide unit on investigations, evidence gathering and follow-up. All APD sergeants, detectives and lieutenants, who investigate and supervise violent crime investigations, were given the training. A total of 126 APD personnel went through and completed the training and instructions provided by a former retired APD homicide detective now with “Law Enforcement Training and Consulting Services”.

DOUBLE THE SIZE OF THE HOMICIDE UNIT TO 24

Soon after Mayor Tim Keller took office on December 1, 2017, he increased the homicide unit from 5 to 11. APD is now adding one more making it 12. This is the most detectives they’ve had in the unit in more than 20 years. The homicide clearance percentage has sat in the 50%-60% range for the past two years, but this is lowest clearance rate in the last decade. According to the proposed 2018-2019 APD City Budget, in 2016 the APD homicide clearance rate was 80%. In 2017 the clearance rate was 70% and the clearance rate for 2018 was 56%. The clearance rate is now below 50%.

The longer a homicide case takes to complete an investigation or is neglected because of lack of personnel, the less likely the cases will be solved and prosecuted. Adding to the crisis is the emotional toll an unsolved murder takes on the families of the victims. Now we have collateral damage with false arrests such as Gisell Estrada.

Because of the sure number of homicides and the pathetic homicide clearance rate, the Homicide Investigation Unit needs to be increased from 12 detectives to at least 25 detectives. Far more needs to be done with respect to recruiting and training. APD is in a crisis mode and it needs to concentrate on recruiting seasoned homicide detectives from other departments if necessary. At the very least, APD needs to ask for temporary assignment of personnel from other agencies such as the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department or the New Mexico State Police to help clear out the cases.

Mayor Tim Keller refuses to recognize the fiasco the APD homicide unit has become, even after he was encouraged almost 2 years ago to do something. What’s even worse, Keller has declined to hold the unit responsible for incarcerating an innocent 17-year-old girl for murder. Now that Keller is running for another term, maybe he will finally act and show more leadership and more backbone and less public relations and make sure that 17 year old’s are not charged with murders they did not commit.

A link to a related blog article is here:

All Time Low APD Clearance Rate; Charging And Jailing An Innocent Child For Murder; Can Lead Homicide Unit To Water But Refused To Be Trained