The National Association of Industrial and Office Parks (NAIOP) is considered one of the most influential and largest business organizations in the city. The membership consists of the “who’s who” of the city’s commercial real estate developers, construction contractors, realtors and architects. The organization is large enough to employ a full-time executive director and holds luncheon meeting and events where upwards of 300, if not more, are always in attendance. The organization also has a political action committee that lobbies for its interests.
During his entire term as Mayor, Tim Keller has regularly spoken to NAIOP to report on city affairs. Mayor Tim Keller gave his very first State of the City address as Mayor before a NAIOP luncheon which raised more than a few eyebrows to the point Keller denied it was his State of the City Address despite the fact NAIOP advertised it as such. During all of his presentations before NAIOP, Mayor Keller has discussed ongoing city priorities, projects, development projects and economic development. Keller speaking before the group is understandable and he cannot be begrudged given the group’s membership who bid on city construction contracts with many of its membership considered the “movers and shakers” in the city.
On Tuesday, July 27, Mayor Tim Keller spoke before NAIOP with a smile on his face and a grin in his voice and gave his usual polished report on the happenings and what is going on at city hall. As is the case with all presentations made by Keller to the NAIOP group, it was a “closed door” affair and no one was supposed to record Mayor Keller’s comments. It turns out his comments were recorded. As is Keller’s style, he gave an optimistic narrative about the city and the overall economic outlook of the city and downplayed the negative. Keller essentially ignored the city’s crime wave as well as APD’s inability to come into compliance with the US Department of Justice Consent decree.
To quote the audio released, Keller told the NAIOP crowd:
“And so for us I think we are poised for tremendous growth in the future. And all we’ve got to do is work on those little things like public safety and education. Uh, but I think economic development-wise we are in good shape.”
GONZALES MEASURED FINANCE COMMITTEE REACTS TO COMMENTS
What Keller ostensibly ignored, or did not realize, was that Sam Vigil, one of the co-chairs of the “Save Our City” measured finance committee supporting Manny Gonzalez for Mayor was present and heard the Mayor’s comments. Sam Vigil is the widower of Jackie Vigil, the woman who was shot and killed in her driveway in the early morning hours as she was leaving for the gym. She is the mother of two New Mexico State Police Officers.
The Save Our City Measured Finance Committee was quick to issue a press release condemning Mayor Keller’s quoted remarks.
Sam Vigil had this to say in the press release:
“I was heartbroken and angered to hear straight from Tim Keller’s mouth his true feelings about how little public safety matters to him, especially since my wife could still be alive today if we had a Mayor who didn’t devalue public safety. How many more violent, preventable murders do we have to have for Tim Keller to finally take public safety seriously and not just pander to wealthy donors and hold smoke and mirror press conferences?”
Former New Mexico Public Regulation Commissioner Karen Montoya, who is also a co-chair of “Save Our City”, had this to say in the statement:
“With the exploding social crises and crimewave during Mayor Keller’s administration, it now makes sense that public safety is not Mayor Keller’s priority as he admitted to the business community in a closed-door session that education and public safety are just ‘those little things we need to work on. … Now Albuquerque knows the truth, Tim Keller says one thing on TV but shares his real feelings belittling public safety and education in Albuquerque behind closed doors.”
CRIME WAVE VERY REAL
During the last 3 years under Mayor Tim Keller’s leadership, things have only gotten worse in the city when it comes to murders and violent crime rates. In 2020, FBI statistics reveal that Albuquerque has the dubious distinction of having a crime rate about 194% higher than the national average.
Homicides in particular have skyrocketed during Mayor Tim Keller’s 3 years in office hitting historical highs. In 2018, during Mayor Keller’s first full year in office, there were 69 homicides. In 2019, during Mayor Keller’s second full year in office, there were 82 homicides. In 2020, there were 76 homicides in Albuquerque. As of July 27, 2021, APD lists 72 homicides in the city, 65 violent crime incidents and 10 shootings in July, another record broken. The link listing of murders is here:
EDITOR’S NOTE: Albuquerque had more homicides in 2019 with 82 homicides than in any other year in the city’s history. The previous high was 72, in 2017 under Mayor RJ Berry. Another high mark was in 1996, when the city had 70 homicides. As of July 27, APD reports 71 homicides.
On June 21, the annual “Kids Count” Data Book prepared by the Annie E. Casey Foundation was released containing the data from 2019 the most recent statistics available. The Casey foundation is a nonprofit based in Maryland focusing on improving the well-being and future of American children and their families. State rankings by the nonprofit are based on 16 indicators that measure and track the well-being of children and their families in the domains of economic well-being, education, health, and family and community.
The links to the Kids Count Data Book is here:
New Mexico’s national child well-being ranking went from 50th to 49th displacing Mississippi, and following Louisiana. New Mexico overall was worse than the U.S. average in most of the categories measured .
When it comes to education, New Mexico ranked 50th. 76% of New Mexico’s fourth graders are not proficient in reading. 79% of New Mexico’s eighth graders are not proficient in reading. 25% of New Mexico’s high school students do not graduate on time.
The Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) system is New Mexico’s largest school district, serving more than a fourth of the state’s students and nearly 84,000 students. Of the 84,000 APS students 16.6% are classified as “English Learners”, 17.2% are classified as “Students with Disabilities”, and 5.9% are in “gifted programs”. APS serves many students in need with nearly two-thirds qualifying for the federal school meals program.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
The comments and criticism of Sam Vigil and former Public Regulation Commissioner Karen Montoya no doubt will be written off by the Keller campaign as what you can expect coming from a group hostile to Keller and who are supporting Manny Gonzales for Mayor. Further, the Keller campaign will say that Vigil and Montoya should not be taken seriously. It does not mean what Vigil and Montoya said is wrong nor false.
After 10 years as an elected “progressive” Democrat, Mayor Tim Keller should have known better than to make such remarks, especially as a Mayor dealing with the highest crime rates in the city’s history under his watch. At best, Keller was trying to make light of the two most serious problems the city is facing. At worst, Keller was pandering to one of the most conservative business organizations in the city that opposes city government regulation when it comes to zoning, taxation and supports Republican candidates and issues such as right to work.
NAIOP is known to openly oppose city regulations, zoning restrictions, increases in taxes no matter how justified, oppose hourly wage increases, promote “right to work laws”, oppose mandatory sick leave policies for businesses, oppose unions, and oppose the city demanding union wages on city construction projects. NAIOP and its membership get very much involved in the city elections by sponsoring debates between candidates for Mayor and City Council and make large donations to candidate, usually Republican candidates.
Notwithstanding NAIOP disdain for the City’s code enforcement, regulations, and zoning restrictions, many NAIOP members are the first in line with their hands out wanting city hall construction contracts such as the $130 million ART Bus project. Watch how NAIOP endorses construction of Keller’s proposed soccer stadium and many members of NAIOP make bids to design and construct the soccer stadium if the public approves the bonds. NAIOP has always been more concerned about the overall financial success of their membership and keeping control or influence of city development as opposed what is good for the city believing “what is good for NAIOP is good for the city.”
Mayor Tim Keller did himself absolutely no favors with his progressive Democratic base when he appears before decisively Republican leaning organizations such as NAIOP especially as he seeks a second term. He opens himself up to being labeled a “Corporate Democrat” which is increasingly becoming apparent to many within the Democratic party. Keller forgets many of NAIOPS membership supported and contributed to his Republican opponents in the 2017 Mayors race. NAIOP in fact endorsed Keller’s Republican opponent Dan Lewis in the run off and made major contributions to Lewis. Manny Gonzales, although a registered Democrat, is considered a “Democrat In Name Only” (DINO) and the “de facto” Republican candidate for Mayor given his support of Der Führer Donald Trump.
NAIOP has never been very suttle with openly supporting and donating to Republican candidates for Mayor and City Council and being downright hostile to Democrats. In fact, 8 years ago, NAIOP sponsored a debate between Republican Incumbent Mayor Richard Berry, Republican and retired APD Sgt. Paul Heh and Democratic Candidate for Mayor Pete Dinelli. The debate moderator was Senior Albuquerque Journal Editor Ken Waltz and the debate was reported on by local news outlets.
Pete Dinelli was booed loudly by half of the attendees at the luncheon debate when he said he supported unions and said all Mayors must work with the 9 City Unions or a Mayor has little chance of getting things done. Dinelli pointed out that Mayor Berry was at an impasse with all the city union contracts over wages. Another NAIOP member acting like a real horse’s ass stood up and pretended he wanted to ask a question but instead ridiculed Dinelli and Heh calling them embarrassing, not offering much, and saying he would be voting and donating to Berry. But that’s politics as is this blog setting the record straight.
Mayor Tim Keller would be wise as he seeks his second term to avoid downplaying serious issues such as public safety and education in the hopes of securing support from Republicans when those votes and donations will likely go to Der Führer Donald Trump’s favorite Democratic Sheriff Manny Gonzales.