Biden Announces Violent Crime Prevention Strategy As 2020 Becomes Deadliest Gun Violence Year In Decades; 2021 Shaping Up To Be Even Worse

Biden Announces Violent Crime Prevention Strategy As 2020 Becomes Deadliest Gun Violence Year In Decades; 2021 Shaping Up To Be Even Worse

According to a recent Washington Post article, through the first five months of 2021, gunfire killed more than 8,100 people in the United States, about 54 lives lost per day. “ The Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit research organization, reported 14 more deaths per day than the average toll during the same period of the previous six years. Experts have attributed the increase to a variety of new and long-standing issues — including entrenched inequality, soaring gun ownership, and fraying relations between police and the communities they serve — all intensified during the coronavirus pandemic and widespread uprisings for racial justice. As far as Albuquerque is concerned, the city has made the top 100 list of most dangerous cities 5 years in a row. Se the postscript below to this article.

Links to the Washington Post article and the Gun Violence Archive are here:


President Joe Biden has repeatedly said that the country is are experiencing an epidemic of gun violence. After years of decreasing crime statistics, the homicide rate has surged across the country in major cities. The surge began in 2020 and the trend is anticipated to continue this year.

According to a June 23, White House press release, Homicides rose 30%, and gun assaults rose 8% in large cities in 2020. The number of homicides in the first quarter of 2021 was 24% higher than the number of homicides in the first quarter of 2020, and 49% higher than in the first quarter of 2019. Black and brown Americans are disproportionately harmed by the direct and indirect consequences of gun violence.

On June 23, President Joe Biden announced a comprehensive strategy on violent crime prevention amid a nationwide surge in violent crime and mass shootings. The strategy implements preventative measures that are proven to reduce violent crime, and attacks the root causes of violent crime and includes addressing the flow of firearms used to commit crimes.

Not surprisingly, Biden again advocated that congress enact an assault weapons ban.

In making the announcement, Biden had this to say:

“Crime historically rises during the summer and as we emerge from this pandemic with the country opening back up again, the traditional summer spike may be more pronounced than it usually would be. … There are things we know that work to reduce gun violence and violent crime, and things that we don’t know about. … Things we know about [include] background checks for purchasing a firearm are important. A ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines — no one needs to have a weapon that can fire over 30, 40, 50, even up to 100 rounds, unless you think the deer are wearing Kevlar vests or something. Community policing and programs that keep neighborhoods safe and keep folks out of trouble — these efforts work, they save lives, but over time, these policies were gutted, are woefully underfunded.”

Biden took the opportunity to defend his administration against charges it would inappropriately curtail Americans’ Second Amendment rights. He also and countered the gun lobby’s arguments about rises in violent crime.

“The Second Amendment, from the day it was passed, limited the type of people could own a gun, and what type of weapon you could own — you couldn’t buy a cannon. The point is that there’s always been the ability to limit, rationally limit, the type of weapon that can be owned and who can own it.”


President Biden announced “a major crackdown to stem the flow of guns used to commit violent crimes,” warning his administration will pursue a “zero tolerance” policy “for gun dealers who willfully violate existing laws and regulations.” Biden said:

“If you willfully sell a gun to someone who is prohibited from possessing it, if you willfully fail to run a background check, if you willfully falsify a record, if you willfully fail to cooperate with the tracing requests or inspections, my message to you is this: We’ll find you and we’ll seek your license to sell guns.”

Biden’s crime prevention strategy initiates a number of measures among federal agencies. It also will allow states to use American Rescue Plan dollars for more flexible applications, including hiring law enforcement above pre-pandemic levels or using the funds toward community violence intervention programs.

The Biden strategy will address the direct link between gun violence and the rise in violent crime by taking immediate steps to keep guns out of the wrong hands, including strengthening the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) efforts to stem the flow of firearms used in crimes, and launching multijurisdictional firearms trafficking strike forces to stop illegal gun trafficking across state lines.

Biden announced that his administration will convene and support a community violence intervention collaborative programs in more than a dozen jurisdictions. The jurisdictions must commit to using a portion of their American Rescue Plan funding or other public funding to increase investment in community violence intervention programs.


The Biden Administration is moving to act with a whole-of-government approach as the country enter the summer months when cities typically experience a spike in violence and as the country begins to reopen from the pandemic quarantine. On June 23, federal agencies announced initiative to combat violent crime.

The Treasury Department announced guidance that highlights that communities experiencing a surge in gun violence as a result of the pandemic may use American Rescue Plan funds for policing-related efforts.
The Office of Personnel Management will now consider whether to remove barriers for employment to formerly incarcerated individuals.

Housing & Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge issued a letter that addresses housing needs for formerly incarcerated individuals, including the use of 70,000 emergency housing vouchers funded by the American Rescue Plan.

Attorney General Merrick Garland said the Department of Justice is also taking steps to help solve the surging crime wave. Attorney General Garland said:

“The Justice Department’s violent crime reduction strategy, and our initiatives to stem the rising tide of illegal guns, will save lives. But these steps alone will not solve the problem of violent crime. … Success depends on all of us joining together — those of you in this room, the many like you across the country who are working to keep communities safe, and the people of our communities themselves.”


Biden’s “Comprehensive Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gun Crime and Ensure Public Safety” will focus on five major strategy goals:

1. Stem the flow of firearms used to commit violence, including by holding rogue firearms dealers accountable for violating federal laws;
2 Support local law enforcement with federal tools and resources to help address summer violent crime;
3 Invest in evidence-based community violence interventions;
4 Expanding summer programming, employment opportunities, and other services and supports for teenagers and young adults; and
5 Help formerly incarcerated individuals successfully reenter their communities.

Following is a discussion of each strategy goal as outlined by a White House press release:


“The Biden Administration announce that it is taking action to help stem the flow of guns into the hands of those responsible for violence. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is e stablishing a zero tolerance for rogue gun dealers that willfully violate the law. Gun dealers across the country are regulated by federal law that is enforced by the Dealers that fail to comply with their obligations under the law create risks for all of us.

The Justice Department is announced a new policy to underscore zero tolerance for willful violations of the law by federally licensed firearms dealers that put public safety at risk. Absent extraordinary circumstances that would need to be justified to the Director.

ATF will seek to revoke the licenses of dealers the first time that they violate federal law by willfully:

1) Transferring a firearm to a prohibited person,
2) failing to run a required background check
3) falsifying records, such as a firearms transaction form
4) failing to respond to an ATF tracing request, or
5) refusing to permit ATF to conduct an inspection in violation of the law.

ATF will notify every firearms dealer whose license is revoked about how to lawfully transfer any remaining inventory, as well as the potential criminal consequences of continuing to engage in the business of buying and selling guns without a license.”

ATF announced the following actions:

Better coordination with state and local officials with on-the-ground knowledge of which dealers are supplying firearms that show up at crime scenes.
Formalizing the use of data-driven prioritization of inspection resources. This data-driven prioritization will allow ATF to target its limited inspection resources to ensure compliance with federal law.
Equipping states that have their own gun dealer licensing systems with data from ATF inspections. ATF will begin sharing inspection data with these states so that officials there can determine whether to take their own steps to shut down dealers that fail to live up to their obligations under state law.


“In preparation for a possible increase in violence typically seen over the summer months, where needed and appropriate, the Justice Department is providing the following law enforcement support:

The FBI is making available cutting-edge analytical resources to support state and local law enforcement efforts to identify the most violent offenders and most dangerous criminal organizations in communities. The FBI is also deploying agents to assist with enforcement operations targeting these entities.

Where feasible, the ATF is embedding with local homicide units and expanding the availability of its National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) Correlation Center, which matches ballistics from crime scenes to other ballistic evidence nationwide.

The Enforcement Administration (DEA) will focus its efforts, in coordination with state, local and Tribal law enforcement, to disrupt the activities of the most violent drug trafficking gangs and egregious drug-trafficking organizations operating in the highest-crime areas.

The United States Marshals Service, in coordination with state and local authorities, is conducting fugitive sweeps throughout the country focused on individuals subject to state or local warrants for homicide, aggravated assault with a firearm, aggravated robbery, robbery with a firearm, rape or aggravated sexual assault.

The Treasury Department is notifying communities experiencing a surge in gun violence as a result of the pandemic may use the American Rescue Plan’s $350 billion in state and local funding for purposes such as:

A. Hiring law enforcement officials or paying overtime where the funds are directly focused on advancing community policing strategies in those communities experiencing an increase in gun violence associated with the pandemic.
B. Increase enforcement efforts to reduce gun violence exacerbated by the pandemic, including prosecuting gun traffickers, rogue dealers, and other parties contributing to the supply of crime guns, as well as collaborative federal/state/local efforts to identify and address gun trafficking channels.
C. Investing in technology and equipment to allow law enforcement to more efficiently and effectively respond to the rise in gun violence resulting from the pandemic.”


“Community violence intervention (CVI) programs have been shown to reduce violence by as much as 60%. These programs are effective because they leverage trusted messengers who work directly with individuals most likely to commit gun violence, intervene in conflicts, and connect people to social, health and wellness, and economic services to reduce the likelihood of violence as an answer to conflict.

President Biden announced his Administration will convene and support a CVI Collaborative of 15 jurisdictions that are committing to use a portion of their America Recovery Fund funding or other public funding to increase investment in their CVI infrastructure, including to anticipate and respond to the potential rise in violence this summer.

Over the next 18 months, the Biden Administration will convene meetings with officials from these communities, facilitate peer-to-peer learning, and provide technical assistance. This effort will support both proven and new strategies that reduce gun violence and strengthen community-based infrastructure to enhance public safety for children, families, and communities and to advance equity.”


“The Department of the Treasury and the Department of Education announced how American Rescue Plan funding of $350 billion in state and local funding and the $122 billion in school funding, can be used for a variety of public safety strategies. Within the parameters explained in those guidance documents, State and territory, local, and Tribal governments can:

Hire support personnel such as nurses, counselors, and social workers;
Pay court personnel and operations costs to return to pre-pandemic operation levels;
Provide and expand employment services, including summer jobs for young people and programs that provide training and work experience for formerly incarcerated persons and other individuals who live in communities most impacted by high levels of violence;
Provide and expand summer education and enrichment programs, including summer camp;
Scale up wraparound services—such as housing, medical and mental health care, trauma-informed care, substance use disorder treatment, food assistance, and job placement services—for victims of crime, young people, formerly incarcerated persons, and individuals and households facing economic insecurity due to the pandemic;

Youth Workforce Development Funds. Young people are disproportionately likely to be involved in gun violence, either as perpetrators or victims. Youth employment programs, including summer jobs programs, can reduce their involvement in violence by as much as 35% or 45%. Workforce development programs will be implemented to keep young people safe and give them a path to success.

On June 10, the Department of Labor awarded $89 million through its YouthBuild program to provide pre-apprenticeship opportunities for young people ages 16-24. Sixty eight grantee organizations will serve more than 5,000 youth in dozens of cities.

on June 10 The Department of Labor also awarded $20 million through its Workforce Pathways for Youth program to expand workforce development activities that serve youth ages 14-21 during “out of school” time (non-school hours). Through these grants, four national grantee organizations will serve approximately 7,000 participants in multiple cities across the country. The organizations will provide career exploration services; work readiness training; career counseling; work experience (internships, summer and year-round employment, pre-apprenticeships, and registered apprenticeships); mentoring; and assistance in placing youth in employment, education, or training.”


“Employment is a key to formerly incarcerated individuals’ successful reentry into their communities. Individuals who secure employment after release have much lower recidivism rates than those who do not. Good, stable jobs promote public safety. The Biden Administration announced is taking steps to facilitate employment and associated services, such as housing assistance, for people who are formerly incarcerated.”


“On June 21, the Department of Labor awarded $85.5 million to help formerly incarcerated adults and young people in 28 communities transition out of the criminal justice system and connect with quality jobs. This includes $60 million for Pathway Home projects that will serve approximately 6,000 adults. By enabling services to begin while participants are still incarcerated and continue services post-release, the Pathway Home initiative eliminates the gap between release from incarceration and enrollment into a reentry program.

The Department of Labor also awarded $25.5 million in Young Adult Reentry Partnership grants to organizations that will help provide education and training services to young adults between 18-24 who were previously involved with the justice system or who left high school before graduation. The program will serve approximately 3,000 young people, offering accelerated and work-based learning such as registered apprenticeships in high-demand occupations with living wages. Grantees reduce barriers to labor market entry by providing career exploration activities, case management services, legal and other supportive services, and both job preparation and placement. Priority was given to organizations serving communities with high rates of poverty and crime.”


“The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) will evaluate the existence of any barriers faced by formerly incarcerated persons in accessing federal employment and consider whether the federal government should take further action as appropriate, including creating a new “Schedule A” excepted service hiring authority for formerly incarcerated persons. This Schedule A hiring authority would allow federal agencies to hire qualified individuals for any job opening through the non-competitive, excepted service hiring process. Schedule A positions equip people with the skills and experience to become more competitive in the job market.”


The Office of Personnel Management will also publish proposed regulations to implement the Fair Chance to Compete for Jobs Act of 2019’s “ban the box” policy. The Fair Chance Act prohibits federal employers and federal contractors in all three branches of government from inquiring into arrest and conviction history until they have made a conditional job offer.


“The Department of Justice plans to post an application next month for a formerly incarcerated individual to work at DOJ as a Second Chance Act visiting fellow. This is a unique opportunity to draw on the expertise of a formerly incarcerated person as a policy advocate, legal or social services provider, or academic focusing on the successful reintegration of people returning home to their communities after incarceration. The fellow will develop innovative strategies that build upon and improve DOJ’s investments in reentry and reintegration.’


“The Department of Labor and Department of the Treasury will help employers leverage the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC), which includes incentivizes to hire formerly incarcerated individuals. Under WOTC, employers can receive up to a $2,400 credit against federal income taxes for hiring a person within one year of their conviction or release from prison for a felony offense. The Departments of Labor and Treasury will encourage employers to take up this opportunity to hire formerly incarcerated individuals. Specifically, within 90 days, the Departments will issue guidance, provide technical assistance to state workforce agencies, and release materials on ways employers can leverage this tax credit and other resources, such as the Federal Bonding Program and the American Rescue Plan’s Employee Retention Credit (ERC). For example, a small business that hires someone who was released in the last twelve months and employs them through the second half of the year could qualify for a credit of up to $16,400 per worker by claiming both the WOTC and the ERC. The Department of the Treasury will also revise online materials to make it easier to claim the tax credit.”


On Friday, May 28, 2021, the United States Department of Justice, Public Affairs Department, issued a press release regarding funding increases by the Biden Administration for the Fiscal Year 2022. The press release is entitled:

“Proposal Reinvigorates Civil Rights Enforcement, Counters International and Domestic Terrorism, Combats Violent Crime and Gun Violence, Advances Environmental Justice, Invests in Community Policing, Addresses Inequities in the Nation’s Criminal Justice System, and Reduces the Immigration Court Backlog

Below is the press release with the link:

On May 28, 2021, President Biden submitted his Budget for Fiscal Year 2022 to Congress, totaling $35.3 billion for the Department of Justice (DOJ).

The request seeks to sustain and enhance the Justice Department’s vital work to counter both international and domestic terrorism, reinvigorate civil rights enforcement, address inequities in the nation’s criminal justice system, combat gun violence, advance environmental justice and help reduce the backlog in the nation’s immigration courts.

“This budget proposal advances the Justice Department’s three overarching goals: keeping Americans safe, adhering to the Rule of Law, and seeking equal justice under law for everyone,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “These funds will strengthen our ability to counter international and domestic terrorism, support our efforts to curb violent crime, enhance our enforcement of voting rights and other civil rights laws, protect our nation from cyber-attacks, and double our resources dedicated to addressing gender-based violence and the support of survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Our request will increase public safety through investments in policing and criminal justice reform, as well as by dedicating funds to combating gun violence. Importantly, this budget makes a down payment on improving access to justice, a prerequisite to equal justice. The department looks forward to working with members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to help secure its timely passage.”

At the Department of Justice, the Budget would provide:

“• More than $1.5 billion to combat international and domestic terrorism – an increase of more than 12% over the FY 2021– which includes an additional $101.2 million to address domestic terrorism with a broadscale approach across the Department.
• $2.1 billion, an increase of $184.3 million, to combat gun violence while focusing on programs that address both gun safety and violent crime.
• $177.2 million over the FY 2021 appropriation to reinvigorate Federal civil rights efforts, including to re-establish and expand the Office for Access to Justice and to support the Community Relations Service with conciliators in local communities.
• $1.0 billion, an increase of $486.5 million, to address gender-based violence through the Office on Violence Against Women, nearly twice the FY 2021 investment in this effort.
• $1.6 billion, an increase of $669.3 million, to implement further reforms to the criminal justice system and continue critical investment in implementation of the First Step Act of 2018.
• $1.3 billion, an increase of $379.8 million, to support programs designed to further strengthen relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve.
• $44.0 million in new resources to advance environmental justice initiatives, including facilities modernization and repair.
• $177.5 million more than FY 2021 to reduce the immigration court backlog and fund new legal support efforts for children and families.
• $1.1 billion, an increase of $150.7 million, to augment Cyber Investigations and Cyber Security.”

Countering International and Domestic Terrorism

“As the Nation’s top law enforcement agency, the Department of Justice is devoted to a broad-scale approach to counter the threat of both international and domestic terrorism. While the United States has seen unprecedented and troubling levels of domestic violent extremism, the department and its law enforcement agencies remain acutely aware of the threats posed by international terrorist organizations.

The budget request includes increased funding for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the principal DOJ law enforcement agency charged with combating terrorism, to conduct domestic terrorism investigations, and for the U.S. Attorneys to manage increasing domestic terrorism caseloads. Further, the budget will support additional response capabilities at the U.S. Marshals Service and support research on the root causes of domestic radicalization at the National Institute of Justice.”

The FY 2022 budget invests more than $1.5 billion to combat international and domestic terrorism, including an additional an $101.2 million to address the rising threat of domestic terrorism.

Combating Violent Crime and Gun Violence

“The Department is committed to addressing the epidemic of gun violence and other violent crime that has taken the lives of too many people in our communities. As part of the department’s recently announced strategy to reduce violent crime, including through grantmaking opportunities, the budget request establishes innovative new grants for States to incentivize Red Flag and Gun Licensing Laws; creates a new $100 million Community Violence Intervention Initiative to tackle gun violence in our neighborhoods; provides grants for Project Safe Neighborhoods, and expands ATF’s Crime Gun Intelligence through the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network. A new pilot program promotes the development, adoption and use of programs designed to help communities address situations where people become legally prohibited from possessing the firearms they own.”

The FY 2022 budget invests $2.1 billion to address gun violence and gun safety, an increase of $184.3 million over FY 2021.

Reinvigorating Civil Rights Efforts

“Protecting our Nation’s civil rights is a top priority for the Department, as far too many of our citizens still face discrimination. To help protect marginalized communities, the budget request includes funding to re-establish the Office for Access to Justice, and increases funding for the Civil Rights Division, the Community Relations Service, the Office of Justice Programs and the Office on Violence Against Women. These funds will support the enforcement of voting rights and the protection of constitutional and civil rights; mediation and conciliation services for community conflicts arising from discriminatory practices; the prosecution of hate crimes across the nation, especially in communities uniquely impacted by bias, xenophobia and hate driven by the COVID-19 pandemic; and other civil rights activities.”

The FY 2022 budget invests a total of $307.2 million in civil rights efforts, an increase of $177.2 million over FY 2021.

Addressing Inequities in the Criminal Justice System

“The Department’s budget request addresses the need to ensure equal justice for all Americans. The budget request prioritizes improving community relations through the Office of Justice Programs. The budget request establishes new programs for community-based alternatives to prison, expands the Part B Formula Grants, and increases funding for the Second Chance Act program. The Department will implement Executive Order 14006 by transferring Federal Prisoner Detention detainees from privately operated to alternate State, local, and Federal facilities with an additional $75.0 million. Finally, the budget continues the historic investment of $409.5 million by the Bureau of Prisons in the First Step Act.”

The FY 2022 budget invests over $1.6 billion to address inequities in the criminal justice system in America, an increase of $669.3 million over FY 2021 levels.

Investing in Community Policing

“Creating strong, positive ties between law enforcement and the communities they serve is critical to making the Nation’s communities safer and to rooting out systemic inequities in the justice system. Providing resources to police departments to help them reform and gain the trust of communities is a priority of this Department and this Administration. The department’s budget addresses the need to further strengthen relationships between communities and police officers by hiring local police officers and investing in racial sensitivity, hate crime and implicit bias training.

The FY 2022 budget invests a total of $1.3 billion to support law enforcement agencies, including through programs that support community-oriented policing policies and practices, as well as training for law enforcement on racial profiling, de-escalation and the duty to intervene. This is a $379.8 million increase over the FY 2021 level.”

Advancing Environmental Justice

“The Department is committed advancing environmental justice and supports the President’s Executive Order 14008, “Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad.” The Executive Order establishes a “whole-of-government” approach to addressing the climate crisis and formalizes the government’s commitment to environmental justice. The budget request includes increased funding for the Environment and Natural Resources Division to expand its use of existing authorities in affirmative cases to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address the impacts of climate change and to continue defensive and other work related to climate change. In addition, the Bureau of Prison will invest in energy saving modernization and repair projects to replace aging equipment with energy efficient models, resulting in reduced energy costs and consumption, as well as other environmentally-sound operational benefits.”

The FY 2022 budget invests $44.0 million to advance environmental justice, tackle climate change, and enhance environmental stability.

Reducing the Immigration Court Backlog

“Although the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) has doubled the number of Immigration Judges onboard since 2015, caseloads continue to grow at an even faster pace, and processing times continue to increase due to a rise in the number of complex adjudications, such as those of asylum claims. The FY 2022 budget addresses this challenge by both providing additional Immigration Judges, and by promoting efficiency initiatives within EOIR. The request supports hiring 100 new Immigration Judges, as well as necessary support staff and attorneys. The request would also enable EOIR to continue to modernize its IT capabilities.

The FY 2022 budget invests $177.5 million in new resources to reduce the immigration court backlog, as well as create the Legal Representation for Immigrant Children and Families Pilot, which supports the enhancement of legal representation of immigrant children and families who seek asylum and other forms of legal protection in the United States after entering at the borders.”

The link to quoted source material is here:

A link for more information on the President’s FY22 Budget is here:


As of June 24, the city has seen at least 6o murders. When it comes to Albuquerque, Bidens’ Violent Crime Prevention Strategy and the federal dollars it promises, it cannot come soon enough as the summer approaches.



Neighborhood Scout’s provides comprehensive database of real estate data and compiles a listing of what it considers are the 100 most dangerous cities in the United States based on violent crime rates and population. Over the last 5 years, the city has gone from the low rank of #74 to a current rank of #21.

Following is Albuquerque’s rankings in Neighborhood Scout’s for the last 5 years:


#21 Ranking Out Of 100
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 13.7
Chance of being a victim: 1 in 72


#23 Ranking Out Of 100


#25 Ranking Out Of 100
Albuquerque Violent Crime Rate: 13.9
Chance of being a victim: 1 in 72


#50 Ranking Out Of 100
Population: 559,277
Albuquerque’s Violent Crime Rate: 11.50
No. of Violent Crimes: 6,429
Assault: 3,859 | Robbery: 1,962 | Rape: 547 | Murder: 61
Chance of being a victim: 1 in 87


#74 Ranking Out Of 100
Albuquerque Number of Crimes
Violent Crime 7,711
Property Crime 32,338
Total Crime: 40,049
Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents)
Violent crime rate: 13.76
Property crime rate: 57.69
Total crime rate: 71.45

Police Union Exercises Free Speech Right Using “You Tube” And Political Blogger To Complain; “Counter CASA” Effect Is Not Free Speech But Police Union Actions To Obstruct APD Reforms

In April, the Albuquerque Police Officers Association (APOA) launched a $70,000 ad campaign to discredit the Department of Justice (DOJ) mandated reforms saying the police reforms are preventing officers from doing their jobs and combating crime and increasing crime. The police union claims city leaders have the ability to push back on policies and procedures that they do not believe work for the Albuquerque Police Department.


The Police Union ad campaign is called “Crime Matters More” campaign. The ad campaign consists of billboards around the city and testimonials on TV, radio and social media from former Albuquerque Police Department officers. The public relations campaign urges the public to tell city leaders that “crime matters more” than the police reforms mandated by the settlement.

The public relations campaign included providing an email template for people to use and contact civic leaders. The template says APD has made progress with the reforms and says we are “tired of living in a city filled with murder, theft and violence. … I’m urging you to fight for this city, stand up to the DOJ, and help us save the city we love, before it’s too late. ”

APOA Police Union President Shaun Willoughby described the need for the public relations campaign this way:

“You can either have compliance with DOJ reforms or you can have lower crime. You can’t have both. We think it’s time that our city leaders hear from the public that crime matters more because it does. … They want to focus on the growing crime problem, instead of wasting millions of dollars on endless Department of Justice oversight. … This conversation of reform needs to come back to common sense. … Right now, the City of Albuquerque capitulates to everything the DOJ wants and that might not necessarily be the right direction for the City of Albuquerque. … You don’t need enemies when you have friends like the city attorney. … We believe that our community deserves better from this police department. … We believe our community deserves better from this consent decree process.

[We are asking] for the city of Albuquerque to stand up and support Albuquerque police officers and support common sense reforms that allow our officers to succeed. … . We’re talking about the bureaucracy of police officers being taken off the street because somebody that was not used force on said ‘ow”. And how that impacts this community, our ability to respond to the community and this community’s ability to control crime. Your Albuquerque police officers are terrified that they will lose their job for simply doing their job and it’s not fair.”

The APOA has also used its FACEBOOK page to get the word out with one post saying:

“Are you tired of the growing crime problems facing the city of Albuquerque? Are you tired of break-ins, stolen cars, vandalism, theft and murder being part of everyday living in our community? Then do something! If you don’t speak up and get involved right now, things will get worse. Tell your City leaders that you care more about fighting crime then than wasting millions on endless Department of Justice oversight. Share and make your voices heard because crime matters more.”

The police union ad campaign was not the first time the police union has attempted to publicly disparage the reform process. In a February 11 Target 7 news report Shaun Willoughby, President of the Albuquerque Police Officers’ Association said:

“The whole [reform effort] system is set up to fail and the taxpayers and the people that live in this community like me and my family are the ones that are taking the brunt of [violent crime]. … Really look at this process. … It is absolutely out of control. … The entire department and the processes within it are out of control. Your officers are running out the door. Really look at every single state or agency that’s been involved in this process. … What is happening? Did it bring harmony and trust with the community? I don’t think so.”

Willoughby is blaming the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) and its mandated reforms for the city’s high crime rates in Albuquerque and it’s a false narrative even disputed by the unions attorneys.


On June 9, a Federal Court hearing was held on the 13th Independent Monitor’s Report. Three advocacy groups consisting of APD Forward (19 organizations), the Amicus McClendon Sub-Class (Plaintiff’s in a jail overcrowding case) and Amicus Community Coalition (various members of the community) asked the court that the police union be held in contempt of court. Federal Judge James Browning made it very clear to the 3 advocacy groups that the court would not take any action in the case unless such requests were made by the Plaintiff Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Defendant City of Albuquerque (City)


Both the City and the DOJ refused to ask for the union to be held in contempt of court sought by the 3 amicus advocacy groups. During the June 9 hearing, DOJ Attorney Paul Killebrew and the City of Albuquerque Chief Administrative Officer Sarita Nair were asked point blank by Judge Browning if the DOJ and the City had the “appetite” to seek contempt against the police union and if the Union should be thrown out as a party to the case.


Killebrew’s response was quick and he said in part:

“The Albuquerque Police Officers’ Association, and indeed, the officers of the APD who are its members, have a First Amendment right to speak on a matter of public concern, and they are exercising those rights. I will say that it was not a surprise to me personally to know that the APOA would like the city to renegotiate some terms of the CASA. That has been a flavor of their position from the outset, and so I don’t take that as a surprise. I will say that at any time we are willing to hear out anyone’s proposals for how the CASA can better achieve its aims and whether modifications may be necessary.”


City of Albuquerque Chief Administrative Officer Sarita Nair, who is also an attorney said , the union’s political ad campaign was a failure. Nair gloated with sarcasm and a snicker over the failure of the police union ad campaign when she said:

“In terms of what actually happens in the larger context of public input, this was a negligible effort … I appreciate that they spent [$70,000], you know, $85 per unique user, but it doesn’t really change the impact. And I believe that seeking sanctions at this point is just going to become a sideshow. … I believe that seeking sanctions at this point is just going to become a sideshow.”


On June 25, it was reported that the APD Police Union initiated a YouTube series of “confessional” videos from APD officers who are reportedly looking for jobs elsewhere. At least 10 videos from officers will be published on You Tube. It shows what the union is calling “the dark side of policing in Albuquerque.” In the videos, anonymous APD officers will be bashing the department complaining they cannot do their jobs with the DOJ reforms and that they are leaving the department.

According to Police Union President Sean Willoughby, the You Tube campaign is another effort to get the city to re-evaluate the Department of Justice’s reform policies and said “There is a more common-sense approach” and says the city is going too far with DOJ reforms when the focus should be on tackling crime.

The first You Tube video was that of an anonymous APD officer who became very emotional and ostensibly teared upped on camera with his face blurred. The anonymous officer who is a first-year rookie cop says he had a goal to work for APD for 4 years before leaving, but now after 1 year, he is quitting. He says he’s still being investigated by APD for how he handled a domestic violence case more than a year ago and said:

“[The suspect] proceeded to fight us, we used force on him, got him in custody and we’re in trouble for that, a lot of trouble. … Most of my life I’ve just said, ‘Hey, do the right thing, work hard, get through it. … Not here. It’s just not sustainable … And that’s what other guys have told me too and that’s why most everybody in my squad is quitting.”

Willoughby claims this officer, who has already accepted another job out of state, isn’t the only one who wants to quit and said:

“I know there’s a huge uptick in the department of officers getting their professional documents and training documents and packets so they can send them to jobs.”

Links to quoted source material are here:


APD Chief Harold Medina said he realizes morale is down for police officers locally and nationwide. Medina said the department is working to tweak its disciplinary policies. Medina had this to say:

“I think there’s a lot of officers frustrated as we work through this process and we learn and it’s unfortunate but we have to meet the requirements of the settlement agreement”. [APD is tweaking the disciplinary policies] … so that it’s easier on officers in terms of when a second violation is committed and the amount of discipline that is imposed. ”


In a response to the police union video series, the mayor’s office issued the following statement:

“Mayor Keller values the work officers are doing and the challenges they face on a daily basis, which is why he has invested in competitive pay, critical technology, and the hiring of more officers to keep communities safe. At the same time, APD has a responsibility to conduct thorough, appropriate internal investigations when the situation requires. We need to support officers as a community to ensure they are well trained to engage in Constitutional, community-based policing.”


Joe Monahan is a “political blogger” who for years has reported on the New Mexico political scene he calls “La Politica”. His Monday through Thursday day columns are widely read by politicians, elected officials and what many would call political junkies who are interested in the political gossip of the day. On Thursday, June 24, New Mexico Politics With Joe Monahan published the following inquiry and comments from police union President Shaun Willoughby:

“As ABQ records its 60th homicide of the year putting it on track for an all time record, we asked Shaun Willoughby, president of the APD officers union (APOA) to offer his explanation for the wave of violence:

The increase in crime we are experiencing across this country is directly related to the lack of respect for law enforcement, the defund the police movement and the liberal agenda that keeps criminals out on the streets instead of behind bars. We have allowed officers to become enemy number one in this country, and as a result we are seeing people leave the law enforcement profession in mass droves and there is no one in line to replace them. The media has told our youth that it’s not a profession to be revered, so why would young people consider becoming a police officer now? Then we have judges, district attorneys, mayors, and governors across the United States, more focused on keeping criminals out of jail then on how to keep people safe in their homes. This crime wave will continue until people start to speak up, get engaged, and support law enforcement to do their job and then value the job they do for our communities.”

The link to New Mexico Politics With Joe Monahan is here:


It was on September 10, 2018, at a status telephone conference call held with the Federal Judge assigned the case at the time that Federal Monitor Dr. James Ginger first told the federal judge that a group of “high-ranking APD officers” within the department were trying to thwart reform efforts. The Federal Monitor revealed that the group of “high-ranking APD officers” were APD sergeants and lieutenants. Because sergeants and lieutenants are part of the police bargaining unit they remained in their positions and could not be removed by the APD Chief. Federal Monitor Ginger referred to the group as the “counter-CASA effect.”

Ginger described the group’s attitude as certainly ambivalent” to the reform effort and the CASA. According to the transcript of the proceeding, Dr. Ginger told the Judge:

“The ones I’m speaking of are in critical areas and that ambivalence, alone, will give rise to exactly the sort of issues that we’ve seen in the past at the training academy. … So while it’s not overt, you know, there’s nobody sabotaging computer files or that sort of thing, it’s a sort of a low-level processing, but nonetheless, it has an effect. … It’s a small group, but it’s a widespread collection of sworn personnel at sergeant’s and lieutenant’s levels with civil service protection that appear to be, based on my knowledge and experience, not completely committed to this process … It is something that is deep-seated and it’s a little harder to find a quick fix or solution to it, but I think, in the long term, by having this foundation with new leadership and a new direction from the top down, we should be able to get through this and survive it.”

The entire 53-page transcript of the conference call can be read here:


In advance of the December 4 hearing on the Federal Monitor’s 12th Compliance Report attorneys and advocacy groups submitted letters to Federal Judge James Browning. The letters outlined what they wanted to discuss at the December 4 hearing.

The reform advocates for the first time in 6 years requested that the Federal Court be far more aggressive with mandating the reforms by appointing a receiver or special master to take over and manage APD. The letters also identified the police union as obstructing the consent decree reforms.

A link to the court document “Notice Letters From Amici and Casa Stakeholders Regarding Issues to be Addressed During December 4, 2020 Public Hearing” is here:

Mr. Cubra in his letter for the McClendon Sub-Class suggests a finding, based on the 12th Monitor’s Report that the City and the Albuquerque Police Officers Association be held in civil contempt of Court. Cubra said in his letter that if the Court could appoint an administrator to oversee APD and give instructions to subordinates in the city government and said:

“That would be a receivership, where the agent of the court could act as the de facto police chief in order to get the existing agreed court order complied with.”

Attorney Cubra noted that the Keller Administration formulated new policies and procedures for investigating excessive use of force a couple of years ago and that those were implemented earlier this year. However, Cubra said systemic problems remain and added:

“Not only did this report find things are still out of compliance, but it found both city employees and union employees actively interfering with the implementation of the court order. … They got a second chance, and they blew it.”

APD Forward in its letter by Peter Simonson points out that the Federal Monitor reports several places where he traces resistance to interference by the police officer’s union. According to Simonson, the current situation is so desperate that putting APD under an outside receivership might be the only way for it to reform. Simonson put it this way:

“I don’t see a way out, and I don’t think APD Forward sees a way out for this reform to succeed. … It doesn’t seem to be an exit strategy. … Given the systemic nature of the problems that the monitor has identified, it seems to us that the situation is too dire to hope that the department and the city can pull together.”

Both Simonson and Cubra said their frustrations extend beyond APD, the city and mayoral administrations. They said they are frustrated that the DOJ hasn’t already done more to make sure APD is complying with the settlement agreement.

A link to related news coverage and sources is here:


The monitoring team was highly critical of APD’s Use of Force Board (UFB), which includes management that are members of the union and reported as follows:

“… [D] during the reporting period we encountered system-wide failures related to the oversight of force used by APD officers and supervisory and command review of those uses of force. The monitoring team has been critical of the Force Review Board (FRB), citing its past ineffectiveness and its failing to provide meaningful oversight for APD’s use of force system. The consequences are that APD’s FRB, and by extension APD itself, endorses questionable, and sometimes unlawful, conduct by its officers.”

(EDITORS NOTE: APD officers and their supervisors of Lieutenants and Sergeants are all members of the police union.)

… Of the cases … reviewed that were approved by the Force Review Board, the [monitoring team] saw:

-Instances where obvious uses of force went unreported and investigated
-Evidence of supervisory failures
-One instance of misconduct in which unjustified force was used on a handcuffed person who was likely suffering from a form of mental disability. …”


The 12TH Federal Monitor’s report makes a number of findings specifically related to the Police Union membership as follows:

“.. APD Internal Affairs routinely permits officers and union representatives to hijack internal fact-finding.

… “[There] are strong under currents of Counter-CASA effects in some critical units on APD’s critical path related to CASA compliance. These include supervision at the field level; mid-level command in both operational and administrative functions, [including] patrol operations, internal affairs practices, disciplinary practices, training, and force review). Supervision, [the] sergeants and lieutenants, and mid-level command, [the commanders] remain one of the most critical weak links in APD’s compliance efforts.

“We have no doubt that many of the instances of non-compliance we see currently in the field are a matter of “will not,” instead of “cannot”! The monitoring team expected there would be a period of time during which mistakes were made while applying the new policies and training, but issues we continue to see transcend innocent errors and instead speak to issues of cultural norms yet to be addressed and changed by APD leadership.”

… Supervision, which includes Lieutenants and Sergeants in the union, “needs to leave behind its dark traits of myopia, passive resistance, and outright support for, and implementation of, counter-CASA processes.”

The link to the City web site with entire 12th Federal Monitor’s report is here:


On May 3, 2021 the Federal Court Appointed Monitor Ginger filed with the Federal Court his 13th compliance report of APD. The 13th Federal Monitor’s report is the harshest report containing very disturbing findings. Following are major highlights of IMR-13:


“At the present time, APD’s most critical tasks are two-fold. …

First, it needs to control the uses of force effectuated by its personnel, ensuring that each use of force is carefully assessed for compliance to approved policy and that each use of force was the minimum necessary to accomplish a legitimate policing objective.

Secondly, APD needs to actually enforce the mandates of its established disciplinary system and ensure that improper uses of force in the field are addressed through fairly applied remedial measures, e.g., counseling, retraining, enhanced supervision, and discipline.”

(IMR 13, page 1)


“… it continues to be apparent that APD has not had and currently does not have an appetite for taking serious approaches to control excessive or unwarranted uses of force during its police operations in the field. Command and control practices regarding the use of force continue to be weak. APD continues to lack the ability to consistently “call the ball” on questionable uses of force, and at times is unable to “see” obvious violations of policy or procedure related to its officers’ use of force.”


“At this point, the disciplinary system at APD routinely fails to follow its own written policy, guiding disciplinary matrices, and virtually decimates its disciplinary requirements in favor of refusals to recognize substantial policy violations, and instead, often sustaining minor related violations and ignoring more serious violations. … In other cases, APD simply defies its own written guidance regarding discipline, for example.”


“… APD is willing to go through almost any machination to avoid disciplining officers who violate policy or supervisors who fail to note policy violations or fail to act on them in a timely manner.”


“… we note this aversion to discipline does not seem to apply to civilian personnel, who are often subjected to maximum penalties for relatively minor violations. To the monitor, this constitutes clear evidence of deliberate indifference to the requirements of the CASA [as applied to APD sworn police personnel]. Again, during this reporting period, we provided APD with highly detailed step-by-step recommendations regarding the use of force investigations and supervision at all levels of the department, among other critical issues. Despite this advice, APD has actually lost ground in its compliance efforts as it relates to training related to and operational implementation of the requirements of the CASA.”

(IMR-13, page 3)


“This monitor’s report can be synopsized in a single sentence. Due to a catastrophic failure in training oversight this reporting period and similar failures at the supervisory and command levels of APD, the agency suffered a 9.9%-point loss in compliance elements related to the training and supervisory functions at APD and a 7.8% loss in overall compliance …. Overall, there is an argument to be made that operational compliance rates have held relatively steady, at slightly less than 60 percent, since IMR-8, two and one-half years ago.”

(IMR-13, page 4. )


During the June 9 hearing, Judge Browning asked Federal Monitor James Ginger if he felt that the settlement reforms was leading to higher crime and what he thought of the police unions ad campaign. Ginger told the court:

“[The ad campaign is] a union canard. We’ve talked about the counter-CASA effect in Albuquerque for years and years, and it is still alive and well. This latest process from the union is just another piece of counter-CASA. The union would like us out of town, I’m sure, and remember this monitoring team – as much as we love Albuquerque – would be glad to be done with the job. But we’re not going to give passing scores unless passing scores are earned. … [if the city] will actually focus on compliance” [it could be done with the CASA in 2 to 3 years]. … We’re constantly making the same recommendations over and over and over again,” Just like this time – 190-plus recommendations. It’s a get-out-of-the-CASA-free card, those 190 recommendations. What’s dragging this out, quite frankly, your honor, is a police department not focusing its resources on complying with the CASA.”


It is clear that the Police Union, its President and its members of Lieutenants and Sergeants are emboldened to do and act anyway they please under the charade of their first amendment rights of freedom of speech. Their actions have become far more aggressive because the City, the DOJ and the Court have refused to take action against the police union for its behind the scenes activities known as the “Counter CASA Effect” to undermine the police reforms .


Shaun Willoughy’ s comments to New Mexico Politics With Joe Monahan are without a doubt protected free speech but he plays fast and loose with the facts. Willoughy totally ignores the main causes why there is a lack of respect for law enforcement today. He ignores the real cause of the defund the police movement. Both have nothing to do with any kind of a “liberal agenda” but everything do to with how police have lost the respect of the general public because of systemic racism, their own crimes on duty, their own police misconduct, police using excessive force and deadly force, and police violating people’s civil rights and constitutional rights, all conduct that has been overlooked for decades or covered up by far too many police departments across the country.

It was APD police misconduct that resulted in the CASA when the DOJ found a “culture of aggression” within APD and a pattern of excessive use of force and deadly force. Cell phone cameras and lapel cameras now document police misconduct, as was the case with the killing of African American George Floyd by Minneapolis Police officer Derick Chauvin who was sentence to 22 and a half years in prison and the killing of mentally ill homeless camper James Boyd in Albuquerque gunned downed by the APD SWAT officers.

Willoughby also uses the line of attack against politicians, judges and prosecutors as being “focused on keeping criminals out of jail”, which is a lie. Judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys are all required to follow the law, ensure due process of law and protect constitutional rights. Prepared garbage in by police becomes garbage out in the form of dismissals and not guilty verdicts. Ultimately it is the application of the law to the facts that decides if and when a person goes to jail.

Police often resent actions and criticism by “politicians” and the media with police not understanding that it is civilian oversight and holding law enforcement accountable. It is the elected officials, the politicians, who are ultimately held accountable for what cops do. No one forces anyone to become a cop. If any cop feels it is too dangerous to be a cop, or they do not want to engaged in constitutional policing practices or follow standard operating procedures, they need to move on and find another line of work.


The three advocacy groups of APD Forward (19 organizations), the Amicus McClendon Sub-Class (Plaintiff’s in a jail overcrowding case) and Amicus Community Coalition (various members of the community) within the last 7 months have sought 2 very different remedies from the Federal Court Judge James Browning during the status conferences on the Monitors 12th and 13th reports:

1. On December 4, 2020 the 3 amici groups asked the Federal Court for the appointment of a receiver to take over APD.

2. On June 9, 2021, the 3 amici groups asked the Federal Court to hold the third-Party Intervenor police union in Contempt of Court for undermining the reform process with a $70,000 public relations campaign.


During the December 4, 2020 hearing, Paul Killebrew, Special Counsel for the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, said that after the 12th Federal Monitor’s report was released on November 2, the DOJ and the City realized that something had to be done. If not agreed to by the city, the DOJ would have to take aggressive action.

Killebrew told Federal Judge Browning on December 4:

“The city agreed the problems were serious and needed to be addressed … that’s significant. If we had gone to the city and the city disagreed with our picture of reality, and had they not been willing to address the problem we identified, I think we would be in a different posture … We might have needed to seek enforcement action over the city’s objections.”

“APD has proven over and over again its agility to avoid the requirements of the CASA.”

Killebrew had this to say about contempt of court and the appointment of a receiver, and the and the creation of the External Force Investigation Team (EFIT):

“… [W]hat we have is a city that has failed to comply with that court order over and over and over again. It’s not an option right now to do nothing. If we sit back and wait, using all the tools that we have already been using, I don’t know why we would expect things to change on their own. The sense of the United States when we received the monitor’s report was that additional interventions were required. …

When we read [the 12th report], we believed that there were likely grounds for contempt, and that we could probably make a good case for a receivership, at least as it regards serious force investigations.

This [EFIT team] is essentially something short of a receivership, but far more extensive than what is occurring now. What we’re talking about is having external folks assisting Albuquerque investigators in each investigation to ensure that those investigations identify out-of-policy force and to ensure that there is a strong factual record available so that policy violations can be identified and that officers can be held accountable. That is simply a nonnegotiable term of the consent decree.

We must have officers held accountable for out-of-policy force, and after six years, we cannot wait for that to happen any longer.”


It is downright pathetic that DOJ Attorney Paul Kilibrew took the easy way out proclaiming the unions ad campaign is “protected free speech” so that he could avoid doing his job. The DOJ told the court that the union was not a party to the CASA, the union is not required to defend the reforms and the union was merely “expressing its opinions on a matter of public interest.” The unions activities has been far more than expressing opinions on a public matter.

The DOJ essentially made all the arguments why the union should not be held in contempt of court and just ignored the Counter CASA effect and the unions activities to undermine the reforms. What should be nonnegotiable is to require accountability from the union for its obstructionist’s activities to undermine the consent decree.

Judge Browning did not rule that the ad campaign was protected free speech. The Judge did not indicate what he felt about the ad campaign nor if it was out of line for a third-party intervenor. The courts only inquiry was if the DOJ or the City had the “appetite” to seek sanctions.

Judge Browning asked Union President Willoughby how long he thought it would be before the CASA goes away, and Willoughby said 6 more years. Browning then asked Willoughby that if he felt the DOJ was going to be here for 6 more years, why was the ad campaign undertaken. Willoughby said to allow public input.

Browning asked the City and the DOJ more than once if they had the “appetite” to want the union held in contempt for their actions or “thrown out” of the case. Browning made it clear in other hearings that he would NOT do anything that was not asked for by the DOJ and City. It was the City and DOJ that decided not to seek contempt of court or sanctions, ostensibly that is why Browning did not do anything at all, not even caution or worn the union about the propriety of their actions.


In a previous ruling on a motion in the case, Judge Browning ruled the police union does not have the duty to defend the CASA. The ruling did not mean the Court gave the union and its membership the right to sabotage and resist implementation of the reforms by use of union membership that are APD management which are what the Sergeants and Lieutenants are: APD management.

When DOJ Attorney Paul Killibrew told Judge Browning “ … the officers of the APD who are its members, have a First Amendment right to speak on a matter of public concern, and they are exercising those rights” Killebrew totally ignored what the union has been doing in private to undermine the reforms for the past 6 years such as objecting to the use of deadly force and delaying the rewrite of the policy for a full year by repeatedly demanding changes. What is NOT protected free speech is the unions conduct of undermining the reforms through its membership of Sergeants and Lieutenants.

Federal Monitor Ginger has repeatedly said that the Sergeants and Lieutenants are the “counter casa effect”. Ginger said it again in reference to the police ad campaign which is worth repeating:

“[The ad campaign is] a union canard. We’ve talked about the counter-CASA effect in Albuquerque for years and years, and it is still alive and well. This latest process from the union is just another piece of counter-CASA. The union would like us out of town, I’m sure, and remember this monitoring team – as much as we love Albuquerque – would be glad to be done with the job. But we’re not going to give passing scores unless passing scores are earned. … [if the city] will actually focus on compliance” [it could be done with the CASA in 2 to 3 years]. … We’re constantly making the same recommendations over and over and over again,” Just like this time – 190-plus recommendations. It’s a get-out-of-the-CASA-free card, those 190 recommendations. What’s dragging this out, quite frankly, your honor, is a police department not focusing its resources on complying with the CASA.”


The police union with its You Tube Video campaign is now taking its “Crime Matters More” to a whole new level with the use of testimonial videos in an effort to change or modify the CASA. The Police Union, as a third-party intervenor, should be taking their grievances to the Federal Court, and not the “court of public opinion”.

The police officers who are giving the YOU TUBE testimonials solicited by the union could just as easily testify in court. It is likely they do not want to because they would be placed under oath and subject to cross examination by the DOJ and the City Attorney. The union attorneys are more than capable of filing pleadings in support or opposition of the CASA, present evidence under oath to the Judge and make argument in a court of law as to how the CASA reforms should be changed.


The Federal Monitor has declined to make any recommendation to the court remove the Union as a party to the case nor even demand that Sergeants and Lieutenants be removed from the union and made at will employees for the “counter casa effect”. The Federal Monitor relies on his tired old refrain of “it’s not my job, I only audit and report”. It may not be the monitor’s job to take action, but it is the job of the DOJ and it is resistant to get aggressive and ask for relief over the unions Counter CASA Effect.

APD sergeants and lieutenants, even though they are part of management with supervisory authority over sworn police officers, are not “at will” employees and they are allowed to join the police union and benefit from its civil service protection. Including sergeants and lieutenants in the collective bargaining unit creates a clear conflict within management and sends mixed messages to rank and file sworn police officers.

APD police sergeants and lieutenants are on the front line to enforce personnel rules and regulations, standard operating procedures, approve and review work performed and assist in implementing DOJ reforms and standard operating procedures policies.

Sergeants and lieutenants need to be made at will employees and removed from the police union bargaining unit in order to get a real buy in to management’s goals of police reform and the CASA. APD Police sergeants and lieutenants cannot serve two masters of Administration Management and Union priorities that are in conflict when it comes to the CASA reforms. Until sergeants and lieutenants are removed from the union and made at will employees, do not expect the CASA reforms.

The New Mexico Public Employees Bargaining act is very clear that “management employees” are prohibited from joining the police union for the rank and file, yet the City for years has allowed APD Lieutenants and Sergeants to be part of the collective bargaining unit that represents lower ranking officers. Judge Browning is encouraged to enter a sua sponte order removing Lieutenants and Sergeants from the police union for their counter casa actions.

Unless something is done and done soon, the APD Police Union will continue with its disruptive nonsense of undermining the reforms to prevent compliance of the mandated reforms as it runs the clock on yet another Mayor and APD Chief.

A link to a related blog article is here:

NY Times: “How Police Unions Became Such Powerful Opponents to Reform Efforts”; This Sounds WAAAY Too Familiar! Dismiss Police Union As Party To Federal Lawsuit

June 25 City Council Petition And Qualifying Donations Update; Council Candidates Dan Lewis, Dist. 5 And Renee Gout, Dist. 9, Qualify For Ballot And Public Finance; All City Council Incumbents Lag Behind Collecting Signatures And $5.00 Qualifying Donations

The blog article is an updated report on qualifying petition signatures and donations as of June 15 for candidates for Mayor and Albuquerque City Council


From April 17 to June 19, 2021, publicly financed candidates for Mayor were required to gather both 3,000 signatures from registered voters within the City and 3,779 qualifying donations of $5.00. According to the city’s public finance laws, public finance candidates are given $1.75 cents per voter for regular elections and 60 cents per voter if there is a runoff between the two top vote getters. In the 2021 municipal election, candidates for Mayor who qualify for public finance will be given $661,309.25.

Both incumbent Mayor Tim Keller and Sheriff Manny Gonzales have secured more than the required 3,000 qualifying signatures to be placed on the ballot and secured more than the 3,779 qualifying $5.00 donations.

Candidate for Mayor Patrick Ben Sais has failed to secure the required number of signatures and donations, but he still has the option to continue as a write in, privately financed candidate. Mr. Sais said in an email he is going to continue with his campaign as a write in, privately finance candidate. According to the municipal election code and state law, a publicly financed candidates must gather nominating signatures in the period in which they start. A candidate who starts in the public finance period and gathers the required signatures during that period but does not gather the requisite number of qualifying contributions can continue in as a privately financed candidate. A candidate who starts in the public finance period but does not gather the requisite number of contributions or signatures cannot start again in the private finance period. All candidates sign a form agreeing to the provision.


NMSA 1978 1-22-3.2. Municipalities; municipal election provisions; adjustment of dates … .

From June 8 to August 10, 2021, PRIVATELY financed candidates for Mayor must gather more than 3, 000 nominating petition signatures from registered voters within the City. No privately fiancé candidates that have announced for Mayor and none are listed by the City Clerk.


From May 31 to July 5, 2021, all City Council candidates must gather 500 qualifying signatures from registered voters within the district and must gather the $5.00 qualifying donations. The number of qualifying donations required and the amount of public financing given vary in each city council district based on the population of registered voters. Thus far no candidate has collected the required number of nominating petition signatures nor the $5.00 qualifying donations.

Following are the City Clerk numbers for Processed Petition Signatures and $5.00 qualifying donations in each of the city council districts.


City Council District 1 candidates who qualify for public finance will be given $41,027.

LAN SENA (Incumbent)

Required Petition Signatures: 500
Verified Petition Signatures: 345
Rejected Petition Signatures: 33
Remaining Petition Signatures Needed: 155
Percentage of Verified Petition Signatures Met: 69%

Required $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 411
Verified $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 214
Rejected $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 14
Remaining $5.00 Qualifying Contributions Needed: 197
Percentage of Verified $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 52%


Required Petition Signatures: 500
Verified Petition Signatures: 190
Rejected Petition Signatures: 36
Remaining Petition Signatures Needed: 310
Percentage of Verified Petition Signatures Met: 38%

Required $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 411
Verified $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 164
Rejected $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 18
Remaining $5.00 Qualifying Contributions Needed: 247
Percentage of Verified $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 40%


City Council District 3 candidates who qualify for public finance will be given $40,000


Required Petition Signatures: 500
Verified Petition Signatures: 414
Rejected Petition Signatures: 103
Remaining Petition Signatures Needed: 86
Percentage of Verified Petition Signatures Met: 83%

Required $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 315
Verified $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 214
Rejected $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 31
Remaining $5.00 Qualifying Contributions Needed: 101
Percentage of Verified $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 68%


Required Petition Signatures: 500
Verified Petition Signatures: 75
Rejected Petition Signatures: 58
Remaining Petition Signatures Needed: 425
Percentage of Verified Petition Signatures Met: 15%

Required $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 315
Verified $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 16
Rejected $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 4
Remaining $5.00 Qualifying Contributions Needed: 299
Percentage of Verified $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 5%


Required Petition Signatures: 500
Verified Petition Signatures: 76
Rejected Petition Signatures: 50
Remaining Petition Signatures Needed: 424
Percentage of Verified Petition Signatures Met: 15%

Required $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 315
Verified $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 27
Rejected $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 1
Remaining $5.00 Qualifying Contributions Needed: 288
Percentage of Verified $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 9%


City Council District 5 candidates who qualify for public finance will be given: $50,489.


Required Petition Signatures: 500
Verified Petition Signatures: 181
Rejected Petition Signatures: 25
Remaining Petition Signatures Needed: 319
Percentage of Verified Petition Signatures Met: 36%

Required $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 505
Verified $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 221
Rejected $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 24
Remaining $5.00 Qualifying Contributions Needed: 284
Percentage of Verified $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 44%


Required Petition Signatures: 500
Verified Petition Signatures: 534
Rejected Petition Signatures: 31
Remaining Petition Signatures Needed: -0-
Percentage of Verified Petition Signatures Met: 100%

Required $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 505
Verified $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 527
Rejected $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 22
Remaining $5.00 Qualifying Contributions Needed: -0-
Percentage of Verified $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 100%


Required Petition Signatures: 500
Verified Petition Signatures: 234
Rejected Petition Signatures: 59
Remaining Petition Signatures Needed: 266
Percentage of Verified Petition Signatures Met: 47%

Required $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 505
Verified $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 7
Rejected $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: -0-
Remaining $5.00 Qualifying Contributions Needed: 498
Percentage of Verified $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 1%


City Council District 7 candidates who qualify for public finance will be given $44,194.


Required Petition Signatures: 500
Verified Petition Signatures: 182
Rejected Petition Signatures: 35
Remaining Petition Signatures Needed: 318
Percentage of Verified Petition Signatures Met: 36%

Required $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 442
Verified $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 72
Rejected $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 5
Remaining $5.00 Qualifying Contributions Needed: 370
Percentage of Verified $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 16%


Required Petition Signatures: 500
Verified Petition Signatures: 475
Rejected Petition Signatures: 41
Remaining Petition Signatures Needed: 25
Percentage of Verified Petition Signatures Met: 95%

Required $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 442
Verified $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 347
Rejected $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 14
Remaining $5.00 Qualifying Contributions Needed: 95
Percentage of Verified $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 79%


Required Petition Signatures: 500
Verified Petition Signatures: 354
Rejected Petition Signatures: 44
Remaining Petition Signatures Needed: 146
Percentage of Verified Petition Signatures Met: 71%

Required $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 442
Verified $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 233
Rejected $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 17
Remaining $5.00 Qualifying Contributions Needed: 209
Percentage of Verified $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 53%


Required Petition Signatures: 500
Verified Petition Signatures: 314
Rejected Petition Signatures: 51
Remaining Petition Signatures Needed: 186
Percentage of Verified Petition Signatures Met: 63%

Required $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 442
Verified $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 126
Rejected $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 5
Remaining $5.00 Qualifying Contributions Needed: 316
Percentage of Verified $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 29%


Required Petition Signatures: 500
Verified Petition Signatures: 228
Rejected Petition Signatures: 39
Remaining Petition Signatures Needed: 272
Percentage of Verified Petition Signatures Met: 46%

Required $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 442
Verified $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 221
Rejected $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 31
Remaining $5.00 Qualifying Contributions Needed: 221
Percentage of Verified $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 50%


City Council District 9 candidates who qualify for public finance will be given $41,791.


Required Petition Signatures: 500
Verified Petition Signatures: 354
Rejected Petition Signatures: 14
Remaining Petition Signatures Needed: 146
Percentage of Verified Petition Signatures Met: 71%

Required $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 418
Verified $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 259
Rejected $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 4
Remaining $5.00 Qualifying Contributions Needed: 151
Percentage of Verified $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 62%


Required Petition Signatures: 500
Verified Petition Signatures: 591
Rejected Petition Signatures: 95
Remaining Petition Signatures Needed: 0
Percentage of Verified Petition Signatures Met: 100%

Required $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 418
Verified $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 432
Rejected $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 55
Remaining $5.00 Qualifying Contributions Needed: -0-
Percentage of Verified $5.00 Qualifying Contributions: 100%



Before signing any petitions or donating to candidates, voters should know where candidates stand on the issues they care about and what they will do if elected.
A few questions and issues candidates for City Council need to think about and disclose their positions on include any of the following:


1.As an elected city councilor, you will be tasked to vote on and on and approve the Mayor’s major appointments. Should the current Chief Administrative Officer, City Attorney, Chief of Police, Fire Department Chief, Chief of Staff, Chief Operations Officer and all other current department directors be replaced?
2. Are you in favor of a state “right to work statute” that would impact or eliminate city employee unions?
3. Should city unions be prohibited from endorsing candidates for municipal office?
4. Are you in favor of privatizing city services or work such as public safety, the 311 call center operations, the bus system or the maintenance and repair work done at city facilities such as the Bio Park?


1.What is your position on the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) consent decree and mandated reforms?
2. The city and APD have been working under a federal court approved settlement agreement for 6 years after the Department of Justice found a “culture of aggression” and the use of deadly force. The city has spent millions a year on the reforms and the city is no closer to the dismissal of the case. Is it time to have APD placed in receivership of the federal court or should the case just be dismissed?
3. What would you do to enhance civilian oversight of APD and the implementation of the Department of Justice mandated reforms?
4. Should the APD Chief, Assistant Chief, Deputy Chiefs and APD command staff be replaced with a national search and replaced by “outsiders”?
5. Should a national search be conducted for a new law enforcement management team to assume control of APD and make changes and implement the DOJ consent decree mandated reforms?
6. Should the function of Internal Affairs be removed from APD and civilianized under the city Office of Inspector General, the Internal Audit Department and the City Human Resources Department?
7. What are your plans for increasing APD staffing levels and what should those staffing levels be?
8. Since 2010, there have been 41 police officer involved shootings and the city has paid out $50 million to settle deadly force and excessive use of force cases. Should the City return to a “no settlement” policy involving alleged police misconduct cases and require a trial on the merits or a damages jury trial?
9 What are your plans or solutions to bringing down high property and violent crime rates in Albuquerque?
10. Should APD personnel or APD resources be used in any manner to enforce federal immigration laws and assist federal immigration authorities?
11. Should APD and the Bernalillo County Sherriff’s Office be abolished and consolidated to form one regional law enforcement agency, combining resources with the appointment of a governing civilian authority and the appointment of a Superintendent of Public Safety?


1.What strategy would you implement to bring new industries, corporations and jobs to Albuquerque?
2. Albuquerque’s major growth industries include health care, transportation, manufacturing, retail and tourism with an emerging film industry. What programs would you propose to help or enhance these industries?
3. Do you intend to keep the current Director of the City’s Economic Development Department and support staff?
4.The current budget for the Economic Development is $7.5 million out of a $1.2 Billion Budget, would you be in favor of more than tripling the budget to allow for investment grants?
5. To what extent should tax increment districts, industrial revenue bonds and income bonds be used to spur Albuquerque’s economy?
6. What financial incentives do you feel the city can or should offer and provide to the private sector to attract new industry and jobs to Albuquerque, and should that include start-up grants or loans with “claw back” provisions?
7. What sort of private/public partnership agreements or programs should be implemented to spur economic development?
8. What sort of programs or major projects or facilities, if any, should the city partner with the State or County to spur economic development?
9. What programs can the city implement to better coordinate its economic development with the University of New Mexico and the Community College of New Mexico (CNM) to insure an adequately trained workforce for new employers locating to Albuquerque?
10. Are you in favor of the enactment of a gross receipt tax or property tax dedicated strictly to economic development, programs or construction projects to revitalize Albuquerque that would be enacted by the City Council or be voter approved?
11. What programs can Albuquerque implement to insure better cooperation with Sandia Labs and the transfer of technology information for economic development.
12. On September 6, 2019, a $29 million infrastructure bond tax package was approved by the Albuquerque City Council at the Mayor’s request to be financed by the City’s Lodger’s Tax. The lodger tax bond package was labeled 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.” The lodger tax is paid by those staying at hotels and vacation rentals in the city and by ordinance is to be used to promote tourism, not athletics facilities for general population use. Do you feel that this was appropriate?


1.What is your position on the rewriting of the comprehensive zoning code which was an attempt to bring “clarity and predictability” to the development regulations and to attract more “private sector investment”? Critics say it has essentially “gutted” sector development plans by the development community and it has repealed all sector development plans designed to protect neighborhoods and their character.
2. Should the City of Albuquerque seek the repeal by the New Mexico legislature of laws that prohibit city annexation of property without county approval?


1.Should the City of Albuquerque have representation or be included on the Albuquerque School board, the University of New Mexico Board of Regents and the Community College of New Mexico Board?
2. What should the city do to help reduce high school dropout rates?
3. Should the City of Albuquerque advocate to the New Mexico legislature increasing funding for early child care development programs and intervention programs with increased funding from the permanent fund?
4. What education resources should or can the city make available to the Albuquerque school system?


1. What should be done to reduce the homeless population in Albuquerque?
2. What services should the City provide to the homeless and poor if any?
3. Should the City continue to support the “coming home” program?
4. Should the city be more involved with the county in providing mental health care facilities and programs?
5. The city has purchased the 530,000 square foot Gibson Medical Center for $15 Million. Should the facility be converter to one, single 24/7 homeless shelter facility for 300 or more homeless as a centralized facility or should the city use a “multi-site approach” to the city’s homelessness crisis and have a number of smaller shelters that would only house up to 50 to 75 people?


1.Are you in favor of increasing the city’s current gross receipts tax or property taxes to pay for essential services and make up for lost gross receipt tax revenues caused in part by the repeal of the “hold harmless” provision and that has mandated budget and personnel cuts during the last 7 years?
2. Do you feel that all increases in gross receipts taxes should be voter approved?
3. The City has borrowed over $63 million dollars over the past two years to build “pickle ball” courts, baseball fields and the ART bus project down central by bypassing voters and using revenue bonds as the financing mechanism to pay for big capital projects. Do you feel revenue bonds is an appropriate funding mechanism for large capital projects?


1. What is your position on the mandatory sick leave initiative known as the “Healthy Workforce” ordinance mandating private businesses to pay sick leave to employees?
2. Should the City and the City Attorney’s office enforce the increase in the minimum wage and mandatory sick leave initiatives?
4. If you qualify to be a public finance candidate, will you truly be a public finance candidate or do you intend to rely upon measured finance committee’s set up to promote your candidacy?
5. Should major capital improvement projects such as the Albuquerque Rapid Transit (ART) project, be placed on the ballot for voter approval?
6. What is your position on the ART Bus project and should the line be dismantled and should historic Route 66 be restored to its original number of lanes and the ART Bus platforms dedicated to new uses ?
7. Should Albuquerque become a “sanctuary city” by City Council resolution or by a public vote or not at all?


The city cannot afford city councilors who makes promises and who offer only eternal hope for better times that result in broken campaign promises. What is needed are city councilors who actually know what they are doing, who will make the hard decisions without an eye on their next election or higher office, not make decisions only to placate their base and please only those who voted for them. What’s needed is a healthy debate on solutions and new ideas to solve our mutual problems, a debate that can happen only with a contested election.

Voters are entitled to and should expect more from candidates than fake smiles, slick commercials, and no solutions and no ideas. Our City needs more than promises of better economic times and lower crime rates for Albuquerque and voters need to demand answers and hold elected officials accountable.
A link to a related blog article is here:

June 18 Mayor and City Council Petition And Qualifying Donations; Both Keller And Gonzales On Ballot And Both Qualify For Public Finance; All City Council Candidates Still On The Hunt For Signatures and Qualifying Donations

City Council Enacts Zoning Restrictions On Recreational Marijuana Sales, Rejects Mayor Keller’s Restrictive Zoning Changes; Council Temporarily Bans Cannabis Shops From Operating In Old Town; Council Needs To Enact Requirements On Licenses To Do Business

On March 31, in a special session of the New Mexico legislature, the state became the 18 state to legalize recreational cannabis . New Mexico already has a medical cannabis program that has more than 107,000 enrolled patients. The new recreational sale law takes effect July 1 and sales are to begin no later than April 1, 2022.

Under the state law, cannabis establishments can also offer on-site consumption in certain circumstances. The state law allows people 21 years or older to buy, possess and use marijuana outside the home of up to 2 ounces of marijuana. People will be able to buy no more than 2 ounces of cannabis or 800 milligrams of edible cannabis. There are also limits on extracts.

The state will regulate all sellers and there will be no limits on the number of licenses issued. This is a dramatic departure from the limited number of licenses available in liquor licenses which have a cap based upon population. There will be a cap on the number of plants sellers can grow. Households would be permitted to grow up to 12 mature plants for personal use.

The New Mexico Cannabis Control Division is in charge of making statewide rules and regulations for the new industry. On Tuesday, May 26, it was reported that the first proposed rules dealing primarily with marijuana producer license and plant fees were released. The link to the proposed regulations is here:

The first proposed state regulations deal with marijuana producer license and plant fees. The drafted sets the cost of both producer and retailer licenses at $2,500 annually. Licenses for cannabis consumption areas, or designated places where adults can smoke, eat or drink cannabis products, would cost $2,500 annually under the draft rule. The state regulations must be adopted in order to meet the specific deadlines for implementing the law. The deadlines for the regulations under the state law are as follows:

No later than September 1: Start accepting and processing license applications from producers.

No later than Jan. 1, 2022: Start issuing licenses and server permits; begin training and education programs.

No later than April 1, 2022: Begin retail sales of recreational cannabis.


A major provision of the enacted state law is that local jurisdictions, city and counties, cannot opt out of commercial sales, but can establish restrictions on operating hours and locations. The state legislation gives local governments some authority to determine where cannabis dispensaries can be located. The state’s 14 counties do not have the authority to prohibit cannabis sales nor prohibit the licensing of stores.

On June 17, 2021, the Albuquerque City Council held a special council meeting to offer amendments to the Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO) that establishes the rules to regulate the recreational cannabis industry. The council meeting lasted several hours where public input was allowed. Twenty-one amendments to the ordinance were offered, debated and voted upon. One of the 21 amendments was withdrawn.

Public comments addressed everything from distance regulations to clarifying how existing medical cannabis retailers will be affected. The city council adopted an amendment that medical-only retailers do not fall under the new zoning restrictions, but are “grandfathered” in.


Mayor Tim Keller had requested the City Council enact amendments to the Integrated Development Ordinance that would limit any marijuana dispensary to operate within 300 feet from any school, daycare, church or residential neighborhood. It is essentially identical to restrictions place on bars and adult entertainment establishments by state law. The proposed ordinance also said they could not open within 660 feet from any main street.

As was originally written, Keller’s proposed zoning restrictions would have barred cannabis businesses from opening on streets abutting “Main Street” corridors, which included the large stretches of Central Avenue, plus parts of San Pedro, Fourth Street, Bridge and Broadway and included the Nob Hill Central Area.

According to the Keller Administration, the regulations proposed were based mostly on their review of regulations in other communities that already have legalized recreational marijuana

On June 2, it was reported that the Keller Administration had modified the zoning proposal that would have heavily restricted where the legalized recreational marijuana market could operate in Albuquerque. Ostensibly, the first proposal was rushed because the city has only one opportunity per year to update its zoning code.

The yearly updating of the comprehensive zoning code was already underway when state lawmakers in April voted to legalize recreational cannabis. Keller’s initial proposal would have blocked new shops from opening in Nob Hill and areas of Downtown and limited opportunities in mixed-use zones. According to the Keller Administration, the original proposal was based largely on other communities around the U.S. that have already legalized recreational marijuana and the frameworks they have instituted.

On June 2 after objections by the industry were raised, the Keller Administration released an updated proposal. The new proposal from the Keller administration would:

1. Prohibit cannabis dispensaries on the five roads designated as “Main Streets,” which include much of Central Avenue and parts of Fourth, Broadway, San Pedro and Bridge, where considerable public money has been spent on revitalization.

2. Allows cannabis storefronts on side streets from the identified main streets reversing the original proposal barring them for 660 feet off the main streets.

3. Cannabis dispensary licensing application proposed within 300 feet of a residential mixed-use zone would be required to get “conditional use” approval through a public hearing.

4. Mandates 1,000 feet between cannabis retail businesses.

5. Time of operation for all retail sales dispensaries would be limited to 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

6. Off-premise, roadway signs would be prohibiting. State law allows signs of any size on the actual buildings.

7. All of the 47 current medical cannabis dispensaries in Albuquerque will be grandfathered in even if they become a recreational cannabis retail site regardless of what zoning is put in place.

The link source material is here:


Several of the amendments adopted amounted to a rejection of what Mayor Keller wanted. The council vote no to implement a proposed rule from Mayor Tim Keller’s administration to keep cannabis retailers from opening new shops within 1,000 feet of each other or “adult entertainment” or “adult retail” operations. The council also voted no on a ban on cannabis shops within 300 feet of religious institutions which was sponsored by City Council President Cynthia Borrego.

The council approved amendments to the IDO to govern how newly legalized recreational cannabis market can operate in the city. Those zoning restrictions regulations include setting a distance of 600 feet between marijuana retailers unless the operator succeeds with a conditional use application that requires a public hearing before a city hearing officer and subject to appeal.

Councilor Pat Davis proposed several amendments that relaxed where cannabis businesses could operate, including removing some distancing rules for cannabis cultivators and manufacturers looking to operate near residential zones. Those amendments were enacted. Davis explained it this way:

“[Manufacturing] businesses are not open to the public. They are just simply facilities to operate and prepare products for other places and don’t usually have any impacts on the neighbors.”

One major proposal Mayor Keller wanted was to strictly prohibit retail sales of recreational sale of cannabis from main street corridors such as Central Avenue. The amendment was sponsored by Republican Trudy Jones at the request of the Democrat Mayor. The council voted eight to one against the amendment with Councilor Trudy Jones also voting no even though she was the sponsor. Jones explained she had talked to Central Avenue business owners who said they are struggling and would welcome any vitality the recreational cannabis industry might bring and said:

“I am sponsoring this by request [of Mayor Keller]. They would very much like to have some traffic and some business.”

Jones added that the business people she spoke to do not see the cannabis industry as “harmful.”

Keller’s proposed restrictions on what can be displayed on cannabis business signs also failed.

The only amendment offered by the Keller Administration that passed was to “grandfather” in existing medical cannabis operators. The medical cannabis operators will be allowed to continue uninterrupted and expand into the recreational market even if their existing location is not compliant with the new cannabis-related rules.

The council also enacted separate standards for cannabis “microbusiness” licensees, giving them more latitude when it comes to locations. The amendment was sponsored by Democrat Lan Sena who told the council it was intended to promote “equity” and ensure smaller operators could compete with those with greater financial resources.

After public comments and several hours of discussion, the council voted on each of the 20 proposed amendments. Councilor Lan Sena complained that the process to decide how to regulate the cannabis industry in Albuquerque seemed a bit rushed and told the councilors:

“I really do struggle with the fact that we did rush through an industry that was so new without having more guidelines from the state “I really do wish that there was more time so that we could have more people at the table, specifically those that are still awaiting expungement — for those that have previously been incarcerated and harmed and wanted to be part of this conversation. … We do not decriminalize cannabis every two months. … it’s a once-in-a-generation decision and for us to have gone through so fast, I just will be voting ‘no’ in the overall ordinance.”

The Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO) is open for amendments only once each year, and the deadline to amend it was fast approaching leaving the city council no choice to act now. As the industry develops, amendments to the IDO can be made in future years.


On June 21, the Albuquerque City Council voted unanimously 9-0 to temporarily ban cannabis shops from operating in Old Town Albuquerque.

City Councilors established a moratorium to stop cannabis sales, cultivation and manufacturing use in Old Town until July 2022 or until the city’s zoning code updates are released.
The temporary ban was done to will allow the Council to touch base with Old Town merchants, stakeholders, among other groups before allowing the historic area to open cannabis stores.

Links to news sources are here:


There is little doubt that New Mexico has the real potential to be “a production juggernaut” and a magnet for tourists and cannabis users from Arizona and Texas. Arizona legalized recreational cannabis last year but Texas has not.

The Albuquerque City Council can take comfort that they enacted responsible and reasonable zoning restrictions on what will in all likely be a major industry in the state and city. Given the fact that the IDO can only be amended once a year, acting now was necessary.

The city Council needs to enact an ordinance to mandate requirements that need to be included for all recreational cannabis businesses that seek a business license to do business in the city that will prevent them from becoming magnets for crime and would include:

1. Security cameras and uniform security personnel.

2. Mandatory background checks and periodic drug testing of all employees as a condition of employment.

3. Storage of all product in secured areas reducing access after hours of operation, such as used by jewelry stores to prevent thefts.

4. Mandatory nuisance abatement agreements before the city issues a license to do business where the business owner agrees to take remedial measures in the event the business reaches a level of calls for service as a result of criminal activity.

Both the city and the industry need to think broadly about the future of New Mexico’s marijuana industry. The decisions made now as to zoning restrictions and requirements to do business before the state regulations are adopted will have unintended consequences if not careful.


A reader of this blog article offered the following observations that merit publication:

I’m retired from the security industry (guard service). In my years of operations and consulting I’ve developed a preference to avoid the use of uniformed personnel in bank lobbies, check-cashing services, liquor stores, and – now – cannabis establishments. It is rare to see a security guard who really looks and acts the part, especially where the duties are limited and boring in the extreme. Guns are not appropriate, either, except in very unusual circumstances. Police have more than enough trouble with guns, but a security guard with minimal training presents a real challenge. Guns should be prohibited from the establishment (as is presently the case with on-sale liquor businesses and others where management forbids them) though properly trained staff might appropriately carry firearms.

What I’d recommend is more reliance of actual physical and electronic security arrangements using separate lobbies, excellent cameras and recording devices in secured locations, a variety of intrusion detection devices, and high-end security structures for product storage. Communication between the establishment and a reliable central station and on to the police is critically needed. The police must have a protocol that assigns high priority to any alarm from a cannabis retailer. Beyond that, security and licensing procedures that are similar to that faced by on- and off-sale liquor establishments seems appropriate.

I don’t know how long the present increased level of cannabis interest and consumption will last. The rules we establish should be both stringent and flexible to account for potential future need, whether increased or diminished.



Following are the amendments to the Integrated Development Ordinance as numbered and that passed or failed on a majority or unanimous vote:


B5: Clarifies existing language in the IDO about how odors are to be mitigated and moves the responsibility of enforcement from the Environmental Health Department to the Planning Department. (Unanimous vote)
B6: Adds to the IDO the phrase “licensed premise”, and changes existing distances separations from 330 feet to 300 feet to be consistent with state law, and adds preschool to the definition of day care. (Unanimous vote)

B8 Adds a definition for on-site consumption. (Unanimous vote.)


B12: Adds a distance separation requirement between Cannabis Retail facilities of 600 feet (Davis sponsored, Passed 6 Yes, 3 No)

B14 Removes the distance separation requirement for Cannabis Cultivation and Cannabis Manufacturing from a residential zone district (Davis sponsored, passed 7 YES, 2 NO)

B15 Would allow Cannabis Cultivation and Cannabis Manufacturing to occur within 300 feet of a residential zone district, school, or child day care facility with a Conditional Use approval. (Davis sponsored, 7 YES, 2 No)


B18 Would allow Cannabis Manufacturing in more zones and adds a square foot limitation for Cannabis Manufacturing in Mixed-Use zones (Davis sponsored, 8 YES, 1 NO)
B21 Would create an exemption for most distance separation requirements for cannabis businesses operating under a Cannabis Microbusiness, as defined by the State of New Mexico. (Sena sponsor, 8 YES, 1 NO)

B19 Adds ‘grandfathering’ language to specify that existing medical-cannabis facilities will still be legal for the purposes of the IDO if they choose to pursue recreational cannabis in the future. Sponsored by Jones at the request of Mayor, passed on a 9-0 vote)


Follow are the amendments as numbered and that FAILED on a majority or unanimous vote.


B9 contained 3 separation requirements:

1. Allows cannabis manufacturing in more zones and adds a square foot limitation for Cannabis Manufacturing in Mixed-Use zones
2. Would create an exemption for most distance separation requirements for cannabis businesses operating under a Cannabis Microbusiness, as defined by the State of New Mexico.
3. Adds a distance separation requirement between Cannabis Retail facilities of 600 feetSPONSORED BY JONES AT MAYOR’S REQUEST, FAILED WITH 8 VOTING NO.

B10: Adds a distance separation requirement between Cannabis Retail and religious institutions of 300 feet. (Sponsored by Borrego, Failed on 3 yes, 6 No)

B11: Adds a distance separation requirement between Cannabis Cultivation and Cannabis Manufacturing to a religious institution of 300 feet. (Sponsored by Borrego, FAILED; 4 Yes , 5 NO)

B13 contained 3 separation requirements

1. Would have prohibited Cannabis Retail on lots abutting a Main Street corridor, within 300 feet of a residential zone district, group home, or religious institution. (Failed: 1 YES, 8 No)

2. Would have allow Cannabis Retail to occur within 300 feet of a lot containing a residential use in a mixed-use zone district with a Conditional Use Approval. (Failed: 1 YES, 8 No)

3. Would have prohibited on-site consumption on lots abutting a Main Street corridor. (Failed: 1 YES, 8 No)

B13 was sponsored by Jones at the Mayor’s request and failed on an 8 no vote.

B16 Would restrict sign type, location, and content for all three cannabis uses (Retail, Cultivation, and Manufacturing) Sponsored by Jones at the Mayors request, FAILED with 8 voting NO.


B17 dealt with hours of operations and failed on a 8 no votes:

1. Would have disallowed customer visits and deliveries between 10pm and 7am for Cannabis Retail sales.

2. Would have disallowed customer visits and deliveries between 10pm and 7am for Cannabis Cultivation and Cannabis Manufacturing if located within 300 feet of a residential zone.


B20 was sponsored by jones at the request of the Mayor but was withdrawn for consideration, It would exempt integrated cannabis microbusinesses or cannabis producer microbusinesses from limitations on customer and/or delivery hours.

Following is the city link to the Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO) Amendments for Cannabis-related Uses listing the amendments by amendment number, what was being proposed in the amendments and the sponsors.

Links to quoted news coverage are here:

Building A Soccer Stadium At ABQ Rail Yards Likely Violates “Railyards Master Development Plan and Site Development” Six Guiding Principles

On May 18, it was reported that Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller and the city are looking at the Albuquerque Rail Yards as one area the city is looking at for a new soccer stadium. According to the report, Keller believes a new stadium at the Rail Yards could transform Albuquerque and he had this to say:

“You know, the feasibility study is coming out very soon, so stay tuned in June, and they’re going to have several locations, and sort of a cost model outline, so we’re excited, but we’ll wait for the study and take it from there. … You know, for us, we want it to be a vibrant place that is both accessible to the community around and a reflection of that heritage and also an area that is a magnet for people to come from all over the state to visit, work or live or to shop.”

The Rail Yards Market recently reopened, but there’s also a proposal to build an immersive art exhibit at the site. The city has $140 million worth of projects in 2021 including a Rail Trail that will connect the Rail Yards to east downtown Albuquerque. The new path would let people walk or ride their bikes over train tracks. The $5 million project is still in the design phase.


On June 16, 2014, the Albuquerque City Council by a unanimous vote of 9 to 0 approved and adopted R-14-23 entitled “Railyards Master Development Plan and Site Development Plan For Subdivision To Provide The Appropriate Policy Framework And Regulations To Guide The Redevelopment Of The Railyard Site”. The Master Development Plan is 73 pages long and with tables, designs and photos it is 224 pages.

The Development plan was prepared by Samitaur Constructs. The “Railyards Master Development Plan and Site Development Plan” is highly detailed and takes great care to identify the historical nature of the Railyards, what affect it will have on the community and identifies what types of development should be considered. You can review the entire Railyards Master Development at this link:

On September 16, 2018 Mayor Tim Keller announced the city had severed its relationship between the city and Samitaur Constructs announcing the city had taken back management and control of the development. The city has upgraded one building, the blacksmith shop, where the Rail Yards Market Place takes place on weekends. Steps are also being taken to activating a second building to accommodate additional vendors and the city has submitted a contamination remediation plan to the State.


Leland Consulting Group is a Portland-based development consulting firm that was contracted to study the financial feasibility of redeveloping the Albuquerque Rail Yards. The Leland Consulting Group has determined that it will cost the city between $50 million and $80 million in infrastructure, environmental remediation and structural renovations to develop the property.

The city has completed an environmental study of the site and has submitted a voluntary remediation plan to the state. The city is moving forward with demolition of small non-historic structures for site improvements. The city has also submitted a state capital request for $15 million to support rail yard environmental remediation and site improvements.

When Mayor Keller says that a “feasibility study is coming out very soon, so stay tuned in June” what he is referring to is the private financial feasibility study.

The Leland report suggests 3 different levels of development of varying levels of density. The report notes redevelopment will occur over many years, making it impossible to predict the exact mix that would work. All the levels of redevelopment call for “adaptive reuse” of buildings on the property’s north side, which the report calls the Rail Yards’ “front door.” Proposed uses include Central New Mexico Community College’s film center, the existing Rail Yards Market, and new retail, restaurants and commercial tenants and residential homes.

The Leland draft report recommended 10,000 to 20,000 square feet of retail space in the Rail Yards over the next decade. According to the report, the focus should be on food and beverage tenants, vendors related to film or rail travel, existing area businesses looking to expand or “small, local vendors that build on the Rail Yards’ unique, historic and gritty character.”

The Leland development report suggests using large existing buildings near the Rail Yards’ center. The Boiler Shop and the Machine Shop alone has nearly 4 acres of enclosed floor space. There are facilities that would require renovation for concerts, festivals, special events, film productions and even team sporting events. Two scenarios suggest renovating and remodeling existing buildings to create 110,000 to 200,000 square feet of employment space. The Leland report suggests that is more space than likely needed over the next decade.

Housing is also recommended in the report. The report’s various scenarios include 65 to 160 mixed-income housing units near the Rail Yards’ southern end.


When Mayor Keller says that a “feasibility study is coming out very soon, so stay tuned in June” he is referring to any one of 3 separate development proposals to be considered. Those proposals are low density development, medium density development and a high-density development.

The Leland Report projects $50 million will be needed for the low-density development, $55 million preparation work for the medium density and $80 million for high density development. Leland is recommending that the city select the medium density development. The report does caution that the $55 million to $80 million estimates are strictly preliminary.

The medium density development would require $55 million for utilities, landscaping, cleaning up contamination and making improvements to the deteriorating structures on the property. It has been determined that the ground contamination cleanup is not as serious as was originally thought and will be less costly because the rail yards were once used for steam locomotive repair and not diesel or gas engine repair.

There is no commercial electrical grid service on the site which may require extensive investment or even a separate electrical generating facility. It has also been reported that there are options dealing with the removal asbestos and lead paint contamination that are available, such as not removing the lead paint but “encapsulating” it.
According to the financial analysis:

“As a conservative starting point, LCG recommends viewing these as costs [of $55 million to $80 million] that are likely to be borne by the City … These costs associated with ‘horizontal’ development (site preparation, transportation, utilities) will be necessary in order to set the stage for ‘vertical’ development (i.e., building improvements and new building construction, which are not shown).”

In other words, Leland is suggesting the taxpayer money be used for the $55 million to $80 million site preparation. In comparison, the ART Bus project was $130 million to build infrastructure and platforms up and down central.

The consultant’s estimates do not include the many other possible expenses, or hidden costs, associated with structural retrofits of two of the buildings “where evidence of past fire(s) were observed, which could affect the structure,” and the foundation retrofits and floor resurfacing in some of the buildings that are 100 years old. According to the report a more thorough “property and building conditions assessment” is required.


The 2014 adopted “City Council Rail Yards Master Plan” contains 6 guiding principles intended to serve as a framework to guide the redevelopment of the Rail Yards over many decades. Following are the 6 guiding principles quoted verbatim without editing:


The Rail Yards, once an economic pillar for the community, is envisioned to become a hub of economic activity again. The Master Plan provides a framework for renewed economic and business success for the Project Area and is sufficiently flexible to accommodate a variety of potential future economic uses and opportunities. The Plan also provides opportunities to generate quality, living-wage and high-wage jobs and programs that will link those jobs with community residents. The Master Plan recognizes that the success of the Project Area is directly related to the financial feasibility of the overall mix of uses that is ultimately developed. Implementation of the Master Plan should prioritize uses that are financially self-sustaining and, preferably, revenue-generating and minimize the City’s exposure to and obligation for direct costs and subsidies.

EDITOR’S COMMENT: Data should be presented as proof that a soccer stadium will produce “quality, living-wage and high-wage jobs and programs.”


Integrating housing into the Rail Yards redevelopment of the site is important for three reasons: 1. To ensure the availability of affordable housing in the community; 2. To minimize possible displacement of people as a result of redevelopment; and 3. To create a true mixed-use environment and a constant presence on the site, which will increase the overall vibrancy and safety of the site. The Master Plan supports construction of the required Workforce Housing and includes opportunities for additional affordable and market rate housing. The development of housing at the Rail Yards will be coordinated with the City’s ongoing efforts to rehabilitate existing housing in the surrounding neighborhoods.

EDITOR’S COMMENT: An analysis needs to be made as to what extent will the market for housing be affected next to a sports stadium.


The Master Plan complements all adopted plans for surrounding areas, including the Barelas, South Broadway and San Jose neighborhoods. The Plan supports current and planned economic activity in the Downtown area and encourages connections with existing attractions in the area—such as the Albuquerque Zoo and BioPark, Tingley Beach, Rio Grande State Park, the National Hispanic Cultural Center, the South Broadway Cultural Center, Old Town and its museums, Downtown Albuquerque and its amenities, the Alvarado Transportation Center, the Historic 4th Street Corridor, local sports venues, the Albuquerque Sunport, and others. The Plan reinforces the City’s transit goals and objectives, and supports pedestrian, bicycle, auto and public transportation to and from the site.

EDITOR’S COMMENT: It difficult to imagine how a sports stadium will be able to connect with existing attractions in the area. A professional soccer sports stadium would likely create more of a synergy next to other athletic facilities such as the UNM Pit basketball arena, the UNM Football Stadium, Isotopes Baseball Stadium and the Duke City BMX Velodrome.


The Master Plan encourages new development on the Rail Yards site that balances new economic and design approaches with protection of the integrity and history of the Rail Yards and the surrounding residential communities. The Plan complements the goals in other adopted plans that cover or affect the Rail Yards site.

EDITOR’S COMMENT: It is difficult to understand how a soccer stadium will ensure the “protection of the integrity and history of the Rail Yards.”


The Master Plan recognizes the significant value of the existing Rail Yards historic resources, i.e. buildings and structures, to a local, state and national audience. The fundamental approach to site development will be to maintain the “integrity” of the site as a whole, with individual structures being rehabilitated and adaptively re-used for modern and functional purposes, in consultation with the New Mexico Society of Historical Preservation Office (SHPO).

EDITOR’S COMMENT: The biggest hurdle for a soccer stadium at the rail yards will be how to “maintain the “integrity” of the site as a whole, with individual structures being rehabilitated and adaptively re-used for modern and functional purposes.” One way that a professional soccer stadium could protect the integrity and history of the Rail Yards would be with an architectural design that would fit into and complement the other rail yards structure designs such. An example would be a stadium that takes on the outside appearance of the engine “round house” which was torn down many years ago.


The Master Plan encourages opportunities for promoting the art, history and culture of the site, the community and the region. The Plan sets aside space for a museum that celebrates the history of transportation, particularly rail transportation. Commercial and residential tenants, local community members, and visitors from near and far will be attracted by heightened aesthetics, comfortable, quality amenities, and a unique cultural vibrancy.


New Mexico United has laid out its plans for a new stadium and they’re looking at downtown. The team is looking for a 10,000 to 15,000 seat stadium, costing between $50 million to $100 million. United CEO Peter Trevisani says he is looking at what worked in other cities with new fields like Colorado Springs. He says it’s a good example of how a stadium can revitalize a neighborhood. The findings of the city’s study are expected in late June or early July. It is more likely than not that the Rail Yards will wind up on the list for the New Stadium.


It’s very understandable that Mayor Keller and the city would get excited about the prospect of building a new soccer stadium at the Albuquerque Rail Yards to accommodate the United New Mexico soccer team. Keller’s desire to have a soccer stadium built at the Albuquerque Rail Yards may be nothing more than unrealistic dream of a legacy project he covets as a Mayor and as a former high school football quarter back reliving glory days on any sports field.

It is not a given that the adopted 2014 “Railyards Master Development Plan and Site Development Plan” nor the six adopted guiding principles will allow the building of a soccer stadium. The Master Plan for the railyards recognizes that the success of the project area is directly related to the financial feasibility of the overall mix of uses that is ultimately developed, integrating housing, and plans for surrounding areas, including the Barelas, South Broadway and San Jose neighborhoods. The Mater Plan for the railyards makes it clear that the protection of the integrity and history of the Rail Yards be protected.

When you review the six guiding principles for the railyards development, there is absolutely no mention of any kind of “sports” venue or stadium which is problematic and likely very intentional given the historic nature of the railroads. An attempt was made by former Mayor Jim Baca in to build a new baseball stadium in downtown to revitalize it, and that fizzled so Baca was stuck razing the old baseball stadium and building Isotopes Baseball stadium.

No one knows for certain how the enactment of the new City Planning Comprehensive plan will have on the Railyard Development. The building of a professional soccer stadium may just be another “gentrification” project that ultimately has a dramatic and negative affect on historical Barelas Neighborhood, the way the ART Project had on historical Central and Route 66.

For the last 50 years, City Hall and virtually all Albuquerque Mayors have been fascinated and enamored with trying to revitalize the Downtown Central area. All the Mayors wanted to bring back Downtown Central of its heyday of the 1950’s and 1960’s where it was the center of commercial, business and retail and entertainment activity.

First there was “urban renewal” of the 1970’s with the new convention center built, followed by the Festival Market Place, followed by the Convention Center expansion with building the Hyatte Regency and the adjoining office building, then the rejected “Performing Arts Center”, then the 4th Street Mall concept, then the attempt to build the new Isotopes’ Baseball stadium downtown, then the convention center and civic plaza remodeling, then the ART Bus project. Each time it was a Mayor involved trying to leave his lasting mark on the city with his own legacy project. You can review Central Downtown revitalization over the years at this link”

It was on September 4, 2018 that Mayor Tim Keller announced his downtown revitalization plan. Keller proclaimed development of the Albuquerque Rail Yards as his top priority for downtown revitalization. Keller proclaimed it a “potential” economic development engine. Keller said he wanted to reinvent the historic Albuquerque Rail Yards by finding a development partner to transform the area into “an amenity where thousands can gather year-round”. The city and Keller have never found a private enterprise developer.

What is ill advised is Mayor Tim Keller apparently thinks the Rail Yard redevelopment can all be done with local talent and local and state investment tax dollars. Such massive amounts of capital, usually in the billions of dollars, is needed to build large capital projects.

To be blunt, the truth is that the City Hall and the State do not have the financial ability to undertake a cleanup and a massive investment and make capital improvements in the billions of dollars to revitalize Downtown Albuquerque. Keller for that matter, like all other Mayor’s the city has had, is enamored with Downtown revitalization and the Railyards is in the Barelas neighborhood area.

The problem is Mayor Keller does not have an understanding nor the business and investment experience background and savvy in the private sector of what it’s going take to get it done.

Mayor Keller and the city need to seek out experience in the private sector who have done such projects like those in El Paso, Denver, Phoenix and Oklahoma and even Dallas, Texas and who have a proven record of success.

Otherwise, the Rail Yard Development will wind up being just another failed legacy project to feed the ego of a Mayor very much like the ART Bus project that destroyed the character of Route 66. All Mayor’s come and go sooner, but their mistakes live on with failed projects they leave behind.



A reader of this blog article offered the following observations that merit publication:

An urban planner, I am not. Have never claimed to be one. But, of course, I still have opinions. My concerns with a railyard soccer field are:

There are a fixed number of soccer events per year. Even if HS soccer teams (if there be any such) use the field for championship playoffs, the number is still low. The rest of the year, the site will be vacant.

A big-time-sports area already exists. As you point out, there are already baseball and basketball arenas on University. Football and other facilities are proximal to those key facilities. Adding a soccer field would help consolidate these activities, and would substantially increase the total number of events per year.

Parking for 10 to 15-thousand spectators would require substantial space and facilities. If games were held during the times when shoppers and tourists were planning to come to the area, the congestion and competition for space could become problematic.

Soccer is ascendant right now. I think it’s the most thrilling of team sports, but it certainly isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Interest could wane, just as interest in the other sports waxes and wanes over time. Putting all the teams in the same area would seem the best way to be able to absorb and adapt to changes in public participation.

And, finally, there’s the public purse. Who will be funding the stadium? I’m not aware of any substantial “investment” by a city into sports teams that pays off handsomely except for team owners.

Rail-Yard Development Tim Keller’s “Legacy Project” Could Become Another “ART Bus” Project Destroying Another Historic Area

City Files $12.5 Million Lawsuit Over ART Lighting; Keller’s “Bit Of A Lemon” Continues To Rot In City Sun Destroying Historic Route 66

On June 8, 2021, the City of Albuquerque filed a $12. 5 million lawsuit, $2.5 million for compensatory damaged and $10 million for punitive damages. The lawsuit was filed in the 2nd Judicial District Court. The basis of the lawsuit relates to light fixtures, weighing 25 pounds each, installed along the Central Ave ART Bus route, that are falling to the ground endangering the public safety. There are an amazing 1,047 Central Avenue streetlights from Louisiana to Coors. Installation of the lights were completed by December 2017.

The city named as Defendants the California-based Environmental Lighting for Architecture Inc., (ELA), the manufacture of the lights, and 6 other firms, including New Mexico based Bradbury Stamm Construction, the general contractor for ART, Dekker/Perich/Sabatini, the architectural subconsultant for the project and Dalkia Energy Solutions, Massachusetts firm hired to convert the city’s streetlights to LED lighting

According to the lawsuit allegations, it was in March when the problems with the lighting fixtures were discovered by a private company under contract with the city. The contractor found 7 missing light fixtures on Central Avenue with light fixtures having completely fallen off the light poles.

The civil complaint filed alleges at least 46 streetlights detached from the poles and had “either fallen to the ground or required removal because they were only being held in place by electrical wiring. ” The civil complaint alleges in part:

“The falling light fixtures create an immediate threat to the safety of pedestrians and drivers utilizing the roadways. ”

The civil complaint alleges that a report prepared for the city found that ill-fitting screws and other parts provided by the manufacturer “allowed the fixtures to move and wear out, causing the lights to work loose from the poles and falling.”

According to the lawsuit, in December, 2020, the city used ELA’s safety mechanism to secure about 1,700 streetlights, including those installed as part of the ART project. The city also directed a contractor to replace 45 failed light fixtures. The city wound up paying a total of $494,000 for the replacements and the retrofitting on new light fixtures that should have lasted decades.

City officials say they are unaware of any injuries associated with the falling lights. Municipal Development spokesman Johnny Chandler had this to say when the city found out about the lighting fixtures:

“We immediately started fixing the problem, whether that includes retrofitting or getting new fixtures. … We will retrofit the fixtures when acceptable, and completely change the fixtures if needed”.


The Albuquerque Journal contacted representatives of the named Defendants for comment.

Scott Jones, president of ELA, in a written statement issued Wednesday, June 16, Jones said:

“[The firm] has reached out to the city and offered assistance and hope that a swift and amicable solution can be found. … It should be noted that the lighting fixtures are not original ELA Lighting Company’s products, but rather ELA lighting fixtures that were modified by an outside source against ELA’s recommendations.”

Kendal Giles, the Chief Operations Officer for Dekker/Perich/Sabatini, said his firm did not belong in the suit as a named party because it had no part in the selection or installation of the streetlights and his firm’s role was limited to ART platforms.

Officials with Bradbury Stamm Construction, the general contractor, did not respond to inquiries.
Dalkia Energy Solutions, the Massachusetts firm hired to convert the city’s streetlights to LED lighting did not immediately respond to inquiries.

The link to the full Journal article with the quots is here:


The ART Bus Project was billed as a project that would transform Central Avenue into a rapid transit corridor with a nine-mile stretch of bus-only lanes and bus stations. The final price tag for the project came to $135 million when adding associated utility and road work. Mayor Berry called his cheesy 9-mile bus project “world class” project when he decided to go forward with the project.

Once construction on the project started, many businesses along central were force to close never to open again. By 2016, the ART Bus project generated opposition, at times very hostile, from Central Avenue businesses who said the project choked off traffic and restricted access to businesses. A federal lawsuit was also filed in an attempt to stop the project, but the court dismissed the case after a daylong hearing on a permanent injunction.

The city commenced ART bus service in November 2019 using 20 diesel-powered buses, but in 2020, the bus service was suspended for a period of time because of the Covid Pandemic.


When the ART Bus project was first promoted, a significant amount of public relations was used to get the public’s support of the project saying that electric buses would be used to cut down on noise and pollution and rejecting the use of diesel buses. The public relations campaign failed resulting in hostility for the project.

Electric buses were initially purchased but the city purchased seriously defective buses.
Among the biggest problems with the electric buses were:

The buses could not be charged because the charging system did not work properly.
The battery cages that housed the bus batteries are started to crack and separate.
Fully charged batteries on the buses were supposed to last for 275 miles, but the testing the city did revealed the charge was only good for 200 miles.

Axles on the buses leaked oil.

The buses did not go through the certification process required in order for the city to be reimbursed for the buses by the federal government.

A third-party certification officer would not certify the chargers that have been installed.
Restraint belts used to keep wheelchairs locked in place were in different locations in almost all the buses.


In 2018, the city rejected all of the electric buses delivered by manufacturer BYD Motors and demanded to return them. Mayor Keller with great bravado and a press conferencer ordered the filing of a breach of contract lawsuit against the bus manufacture. Keller said in part:

“We’re no longer going to be guinea pigs [for the bus manufacturer] anymore … Obviously, we very concerned about what we’ve been put through as a city … I think down the road, we’re interested in being fairly compensated for what we have been misled on these buses.”

The city settled the lawsuit with BYD that terminated the city’s obligation to buy $22 million worth of buses from BYD. Keller settled the case with a mutual dismissal of claims. Absolutely no damages were paid to the city by the bus manufacturer for the city being “guinea pigs” as Keller alleged even for the loss revenue to the city for the delay.


The problems with ART were not just with the electric buses and included the bus stop platforms and the overall design of the bus route.

There were problems with inconsistent heights on some of the bus stop platforms, which created problems for wheelchair access.

Two of the bus stations were not in the proper distance between the intersection and the actual platforms. One platform is so close to the intersection that a bus coming from the east side going west can’t make the approach.


Since starting service November 30, 2019, the ART buses have had accident after accident and upwards of 25 major accidents and upwards of 30 minor accidents signaling a poorly designed project down the very middle of central.

The ART Bus was temporarily suspended as a result of the corona virus pandemic. During the temporary closure of the bus line, the Keller Administration began spending in January, 2021 over $200,000 more to construct “pin curbs” which are concrete edging to form barriers to boundaries for the dedicated bus lanes to prevent vehicles from traveling into the dedicated lanes.

On Tuesday, May 25, 2021, the Keller Administration continued with efforts to try and make the disastrous and poorly designed ART Bus along central more user friendly, this time with red paint. City maintenance crews began to paint ART Bus lanes with a bright red. The red painting is in areas along Central Avenue to signal the areas where busses go in either direction in one lane so as to make it easier for other drivers to avoid driving head on into the buses. The central blocks in east downtown, west downtown and the area in front of UNM were painted.

The city’s Transit Department Director Danny Holcomb said the red lanes had to get federally approved before the work could begin and he said:

“This is the same funding we got for the entire ART project. … We had some money left over, and we wanted to do as many safety improvements as we can. … We’re moving the stop bars back a little bit on the intersection so if you’re on a lane next to a bus, you can actually see the bus next to you while you’re making your left turn or u-turn.”


On March 2, 2021, the City of Albuquerque released the biennial progress report for 2020. It’s a summary of progress across eight major goals set by the city council, compiled by the Indicators Progress Commission (IPC). According to the polling under Infrastructure, the city’s bus ridership per capita is less than 1% and is reported to be an extremely disappointing 0.20% for the integrated transportation system.

The city’s Transit Department provides fixed routes in the form of ABQ Ride and the rapid transit (ART) bus service and Para-Transit (SunVan) service for the mobility impaired population.

The fiscal year 2022 approved budget for the Transit Department Operating Fund is $49 million, an increase of $1.7 million or 3.5% above the Fiscal year original budget. The transit department employs 574 full time employees. In 2020, the ART bus line was reported to have a total of 814,295 boarding’s for the entire year, Rapid ride had 152,381 total boarding for the year and commuter total boarding were 98,000.

Pages 161 to 164, City of Albuquerque budget:

Historically, city bus ridership has plummeted dramatically.

According to one report, the 2020 bus boarding’s were down a whopping 43% over previous year or 3.9 million fewer boarding’s. Boarding’s were down by 61% since 2012 peak which is 7.9 million fewer boarding. While ridership plunged, the Transit Department’s budget increased by 28%

In the hopes of increasing bus ridership, the Keller Administration announced that all bus service in the city will be FREE OF CHARGE when the new budget cycle commences on July 1.


Tim Keller was elected New Mexico State Auditor in 2014 and began running for Mayor in 2016. As State Auditor, Keller he made a name for himself saying he fought “waste, fraud and abuse” and never missed an opportunity to call it out and to investigate garnering headlines. ART was the exception for Keller and he declined to look into the project for “waste, fraud and abuse” as State Auditor. The ART bus project was built in 2016–17. ART began limited operation in November, 2017 the same month Keller was elected, but was subsequently delayed by Keller for over two years due to problems with the stations and buses. After the original fleet of electric buses was replaced by Keller with diesel buses, the line began regular service on November 30, 2019, a full two years after he was elected Mayor.

In 2017, then New Mexico State Auditor Tim Keller and candidate for Mayor, took absolutely no position on the controversial ART Project. Forums were held in city council districts that were going to be affected by ART. Keller avoided attending any of the city’s public forums to listen to public input. Keller also failed to attend the federal court hearing on the action filed for injunctive relief.

As a candidate for Mayor, Keller showed absolutely no curiosity about the ART project and steered clear of making comments and taking a position if the project should have been stopped. This coming from a State Auditor who made a reputation as a white knight to combat “waste, fraud and abuse” of taxpayer money, which is exactly what describes the ART Bus project.

No doubt Keller was afraid to oppose the ART Bus Project from the get go because it would have likely alienated his progressive base of supporters who are “mass transit” and city bus service supporters.

On January 9, 2018, a little more than a month after being sworn into to office as Mayor, Tim Keller said in a news conference about the ART Bus project:

“The problems are much worse than I think anyone believed. … This project is a bit of a lemon”.

Keller’s comments and observations are some of the biggest understatements in the city’s history summarizing a city construction boondoggle costing $135,000,000.

In June 2021, Keller’s “bit of a lemon” has now become a rotting lemon in the 100 + degree Albuquerque sun.


In 2017, Democrat Mayor Keller was elected in a landslide run off in part by advocating major changes in policy and rejection of the former Republican Mayor’s policies. Instead, what the city got was a Democrat Mayor who adopted many of the policies and projects started by Republican Mayor Richard Berry, including the signature legacy project known as ART.

All of this could have been prevented. Mayor Keller has only himself to blame. Instead of abandoning the ART bus project, Keller made the deliberate decision to finish the ART Bus Project thinking he could make it work. Simply put, the ART Bus is a failure and has destroyed historical Rout 66.

Keller has now spent most of his 4-year term to first complete the ART Bus project and trying to make it work. Keller is now hoping for another 4 years to make the ART Bus project work and all we will get is a bunch of empty buses going up and down Central Avenue.

Berry’s Boondoggle is Keller’s Crisis Project that has now destroyed historic Route 66. Keller has only himself to blame for his failed leadership.

Too bad. It did not have to be this way and ART could have been prevented with a little leadership. All Tim Keller had to do is to follow his own policy he established as State Treasurer to “combat waste, fraud and abuse” on a $135 million project that has now destroyed so many business on Central Avenue as well as historic Rout 66.

A link listing blog article on the ART Bus project can be found here:

Dinelli Blog Articles On ART Bus Project Listed