The race for Albuquerque Mayor is heating up big time, but not in debates nor before neighborhood associations but in litigation and courtrooms while Mayor Keller gives pep talks to UNM football players.
MANNY GONZALES FILES “PETITION FOR WRIT OF SUPERINTENDING CONTROL”
On September 1, Bernalillo County Sheriff and candidate for Mayor Manny Gonzales filed a “Petition For Writ of Superintending Control” with the New Mexico Supreme Court asking it to intervene in his case over the denial in public campaign financing of $661,000 by City Clerk Ethan Watson. Named as parties are City Clerk Ethan Watson, who refused to certify Gonzales on July 9 for public finance funding, and 1st Judicial District Judge Bryan Biedscheid, who ruled that Watson had denied Gonzales due process of law. Biedscheid remanded the case back to Watson for a hearing and to make specific findings. The petition asks the Supreme Court to order Watson to give Gonzales the public finance funding without any further delay or hearings.
When Judge Biedscheid remanded the case back to City Clerk Watson, he ruled that the city clerk still had the power to deny Gonzales the public financing on the grounds Gonzales broke the rules but ruled that Watson could only do so after Gonzales was given a chance to answer the claims. If Watson decided not to have a hearing Judge Biedscheid ordered Watson to release the public finance money to Gonzales.
The petition filed asks the Supreme Court to order District Court Judge Biedscheid to reverse Watson’s decision “for real this time” and order either District Judge Bryan Biedscheid or City Clerk Watson to certify Gonzales for the public financing. It asks the court to hear oral arguments in the case.
The petition for “writ of superintending control” alleges the Gonzalez repeated campaign allegations that City Clerk Watson is an appointee of incumbent Mayor Tim Keller, that his continued employment as city clerk is tied to Keller’s successful reelection and therefore Watson cannot be neutral when making consequential decisions about Gonzales’ campaign.
The petition alleges in part:
“A reversal of the Clerk’s decision does not by a long shot assure Sheriff Gonzales’s victory come November, but merely a fair race, in which the thumb of the incumbent-candidate’s government is only allowed to press moderately on the scale. ”
SHAM HEARING ALLEGED
On Wednesday, August 1, City Clerk Watson held a hearing at city hall in an attempt to satisfy Biedscheid’s order and to attempt to give Gonzales “due process” and allow Gonzales to refute the allegations of fraud in the gathering of qualifying $5 donations. Two ethics complaints filed by Keller’s election campaign against the Gonzales Campaign alleged that Gonzales campaign submitted fraudulent and forged material while attempting to qualify for public financing.
The Gonzales campaign has acknowledged some likely forgery, but have argued that more than enough legitimate nominating signatures and qualifying donations have been submitted. Despite the fact the City Clerk Watson certified that Gonzales did in fact submit the required number of qualifying donations, he declined to certify Gonzales for the public financing.
During the City Clerk’s hearing, Kevin Morrow, the city’s acting deputy city attorney went through the allegations against Manny Gonzales and stated:
“Your campaign admitted that many of the qualifying contributions receipts identified by the Holguin-2 complaint were signed by someone other than the voter. You, through counsel, admitted to a pattern of forgery and stated, ‘it does indeed appear that those QCs were forged.”
Attorney Daniel Gallegos, Gonzales’ attorney did not directly address the allegations of forgery or fraud. Instead, he repeatedly hammered home the allegation that Watson is biased and pointed out that regardless of what the campaign did or did not do, the clerk’s hearing was unfair because the city clerk was appointed by Mayor Tim Keller and Gallegos had this to say:
“The city clerk, Ethan Watson, is far from a fair, neutral or impartial decision maker in this case. … He has a stake in the outcome in this case. He was appointed by and answers to incumbent Tim Keller, Sheriff Gonzales’ opponent. And the clerk’s term in office coincides and terminates with the term of Mayor Keller. Bottom line, if the mayor loses this election, the city clerk is out of a job.”
In a separate matter, a city Inspector General’s Office investigation found discrepancies with documentation submitted by Gonzales. Based on those findings, the city’s Board of Ethics and Campaign Practices found Gonzales had violated the city’s Open and Ethical Elections Code and fined him $500. During the August 1 hearing, City Clerk Watson proceeded to rely on those finding as he considers his decision to deny public financing for a second time. Attorney Daniel Gallegos, one of Gonzales’ attorneys, challenged Watson’s use of the Board of Ethics ruling and fine, noting that Keller is also facing an ethics complaint.
Attorney Gallegos also argued that public financing challenge has handicapped the Mayor’s race to the point it may not even be a fair race regardless of the clerk’s decision in that Gonzales has had no way to bring any money into his campaign for nearly two months. Further, the Gonzales campaign is spending a fortune on legal expenses, when those limited funds could be paying for TV ads or mailers or other ways to help voters learn more about Gonzales’ platform.
Links to quoted news source materials are here:
CITY CLERK WATSON DENIES GONZALES PUBLIC FINANCE FOR SECOND TIME
On August 2, for a second time, Albuquerque City Clerk Ethan Watson denied the Manny Gonzales campaign access to public financing of $661,000. City Attorney Esteban Aguilar Jr. released the following statement:
“Today, the City Clerk performed his duty in refusing to turn over more than $650,000 in taxpayer dollars to the Gonzales campaign. Earlier this week, the District Court affirmed the essential role that the clerk plays in certifying candidates for public finance dollars, and the Clerk’s decision was made after two separate entities and an independent investigation found evidence that Gonzales violated the City’s election rules. Despite being given an additional hearing to address the violations and present evidence in his defense, Gonzales instead chose not to participate in the proceeding. It is unfortunate that Gonzales continues to lodge politically motivated attacks on public officials to undermine democratic processes.”
Gonzales’ legal team has already filed an appeal to overturn the decision.
Links to quoted news source materials are here:
PETITION FILED AGAINST EDDY ARAGON TO REMOVE FROM BALLOT
On September 1, a complaint was filed in 2nd Judicial District Court seeking to kick off Albuquerque mayoral candidate Eddy Aragon from the ballot The petition alleges that he improperly listed a commercial address as his home residence. The complaint was filed by Albuquerque city resident and registered voter Esther Rivera against Bernalillo County Clerk Linda Stover and Eddy Aragon.
According to the complaint filed, Aragon violated the law by listing a building in a commercially zoned area on both his voter registration and candidate forms for Mayor. The petition alleges the building is in an area zoned “NR-BP”, which stands for “nonresidential/business park”, which allows office and commercial uses only and not residential use. The petition alleges that under state law, county clerks are required to reject voter registration forms containing a commercial mailbox as the physical address The complaint asks the court to order Bernalillo County Clerk Linda Stover to disqualify Aragon and remove his name from the ballot. The petition was also sent to Bernalillo County Clerk Linda Stover asking her to disqualify Eddy Aragon as a candidate.
The link to the complaint is here:
Private Attorney Tom Grover, who filed the complaint on behalf of his client Esther Rivera had this to say:
“[My client’s] concerned that the integrity of the election had been tampered with. [Aragon’s office] is not a building that is zoned for residential occupancy. … It’s an office building. It’s in a business park. It’s primarily occupied by other contractors for the Air Force and the airport and it’s clearly not a residential building. So on that basis, he should be disqualified as a candidate. … Under those facts, it doesn’t satisfy the city’s requirements for what constitutes a residence.”
According to Aragon, residential is an allowable use in the building where he runs his radio station. Aragon said he has lived in his office since 2020 following a divorce, and that he is considered the property’s “watchman.” Eddy Aragon for his part called the petition a “political hit job” by his opponents saying:
“The person who’s filing the petition has a long history of hate toward me. [She has a] I HateEddyAragon.com [web site]. … There’s no validity to the [residency claims] … What they’re actually looking at here is an overlay. So their argument here is easily defeated. I look forward to seeing them in court. … There’s better ways to go about it. The place to go about it is, let’s do it in the debate. Let’s do it on the issues, let’s do it on the record.”
County Clerk Linda Stover for her part said:
“As of right now, we have no reason to disqualify him. … He’s registered and he lives within the city of Albuquerque, until a judge tells me otherwise. … I’m really not going to get into the weeds on that because, until a judge tells me to do something, [he] has qualified as a candidate.”
Links to quoted news source material are here:
ETHICALLY CHALLENGED AND “HIGH SCHOOL JOCK” MAYOR TIM KELLER
Mayor Tim Keller is a former State Auditor that claimed he fought “waste, fraud and abuse” yet was found to have violated the ethics campaign rules 4 years ago. One complaint filed against Tim Keller’s campaign 4 years ago involved the allegation that “cash donations” for political consulting were reported as “in-kind” donations. The Election Board of Ethics and Campaign Practices ruled that the cash contributions were in fact ethical violations. Ultimately, Keller was found guilty by a unanimous vote of the City Board of Ethics. Rules and Regulations and he was not penalized before or after the complaint was formally heard.
A second more serious complaint file in 2017 against the Keller campaign was that the Keller Campaign for Mayor committee was coordinating their campaign and expenditures with ABQ Forward Together. Neri Holguin, Keller’s 2021 campaign manager was the chairperson “ABQ Forward Together”, the progressive measured finance committee that was formed specifically to raise money to promote progressive Tim Keller for Mayor in 2017. “ABQ Forward Together” raised over $663,000 for Keller’s 2017 bid for Mayor as Keller qualified for public financing and given $340,000 for his 2017 campaign for Mayor.
As Mayor, Tim Keller he recently signed off on a highly questionable sale of city property to supporters of his re-election campaign. Keller requested the approve of the sale of the historic Rosenwald Building for $360,000 in a “private bid” to build condos. The sale of the building was negotiated by the Keller Administration and presented to the council for approval at the request of Mayor Tim Keller. In 2009, the city had purchased the historic 42,000-square-foot building for $1.7 million. The city sold the Rosenwald Building to someone who made a $50,000 donation to Mayor Keller’s charitable foundation and $15,000 in donations to the measured finance committee promoting Keller for a second term. The sale also includes a 14-year lease by the city of 1,100 square feet for an APD police substation.
On August 19, 2021, Mayor Tim Keller found time in the evening to stop by the UNM football stadium during the football team’s practice. He was dressed in a LOBO T-shirt wearing shorts and holding a football like a coach. Keller proceeded to give an inspirational, high-volume pep talk to the team as the UNM football coach stood by his side and as video was taken. He told the group of football players sitting on the ground and looking up at him how the community had their backs. Keller was was very supportive of the team, and he told the players that even if attendance at their games is sparse and the bleachers empty, football in the fall was the only game in town that everybody watched on TV. Keller told the players that by the end of the season, everyone will know most of their names. After he spoke, his experience as a former high school football quarter back kicked in and he successfully threw a pass taking great pleasure at the feat he accomplished. Keller made sure the video was posted on his FACEBOOK page and that it was posted on YOUTUBE with the link here:
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
The November 2 municipal election is now exactly 60 days away. Talk about one fine mess and its only going to get worse. Instead of healthy debate on issues between the candidates, the public sees court challenges and a Mayor reliving his high school glory days as the city’s violent crime and murder rates continues to sky rocket.
The race for Albuquerque Mayor between incumbent Progressive Democrat and ethically challenged Mayor Tim Keller, Der Führer Trump’s favorite Conservative Democrat Sheriff Manny Gonzales and Der Führer Republican radio shock jock Eddy Aragon continues to swirl around as it goes down the toilet bowl.
BURQUE’S 3 “PEP BOYS” OF TIMMY, MANNY AND EDDY
Eddy Aragon is a staunch supporter of Der Führer Trump. Aragon is as qualified to be Mayor of Albuquerque as was Der Führer Trump was to be President, which is not qualified at all. Aragon would be just as big of a disaster as the Trump crazy. Aragon with his talk show is on the same level as FOX News and the likes of Sean Hannity. Aragon enjoys badgering and taking issue with anyone who is Democrat or he considers progressive.
After Sheriff Manny Gonzales traveled to the White House last summer to appear with Der Führer and after working and appearing with former Republican Attorney General William Barr, Gonzales became “persona non gratis” within the Democratic Party to the point some within the party demanded he resign. He is now considered a Democrat In Name Only (DINO). Gonzales appearing on FOX News to oppose Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s public health orders also alienated many Democrats.
Over the last 4 years, Mayor Keller’s accomplishments have been less than stellar. The city’s high murder rate is rising even further. Violent crime has only gotten worse with the killing of 13-year-old by another 13-year-old boy in a school yard who took his dad’s gun to school and with APD officers now being shot 4 at a time. For 4 years, murders have hit an all-time record under Keller, with many still unsolved. But what the hell, we got a Mayor who wants the public to pay for and build a $60 million dollar soccer stadium so he can run around reliving his high school glory days and giving pep talks to college football players.
NEW MEXICO SUPREME COURT SHOULD ACT
When it comes to the denial of public finance, the best option for the voters is for the City, the City Clerk and the Gonzales campaign to seek an emergency hearing before the New Mexico Supreme Court and ask the Supreme Court to disqualify Judge Biedscheid and the City Clerk Ethan Watson from taking any further action on the case. The New Mexico Supreme Court should order the City Board Of Ethics And Campaign Practices to conduct a hearing within 5 days affording due process of law to Gonzales and allow the Ethics Board to rule on the one pending ethics case against Gonzales and also to decide if Gonzales should be certified for public finance or fined.
The city is facing any number of problems that are bringing it to its knees. Those problems include the coronavirus pandemic, business closures, high unemployment rates, exceptionally high violent crime and murder rates, continuing mismanagement of the Albuquerque Police Department, failed implementation of the Department of Justice reforms after a full six years and millions spent, declining revenues and gross receipts tax, increasing homeless numbers, lack of mental health programs and little to no economic development actually being done by the city.
With all 3 of the candidates for Mayor, what we will get is a continuation of mayor who makes promises and offers only eternal hope for better times that result in broken campaign promises. We will not be getting a mayor who actually knows what they are doing, who can make the hard decisions without an eye on the next election. With all 3, we will get a Mayor that will make decisions only to placate their base and please only those who voted for them.
Links to related blog articles are here:
Der Führer Trump Radio Shock Jock Eddy Aragon Formally Declares Running For Mayor; Let’s jail grandma to reduce the homeless! And Other Crazy; A Choice Between The Lesser Of 2 Evils And 1 Crazy Trumpster Is No Choice At All