KOB Channel 4 devoted a significant amount of time to report on what occurred during and after the live debate it sponsored on October 19 between Incumbent Mayor Tim Keller, Sheriff Manny Gonzales and radio Talk Show host Eddy Aragon.
During the debate, the candidate were allowed to ask questions of each other. The moderators were not told what the questions would be from the candidates. Sheriff Manny Gonzales asked his question of Mayor Tim Keller.
Following is the transcript of the exchange:
SHERIFF GONZALES: Mayor Keller, Where is your accountability? There are serious misconduct allegations at City Hall under your watch, allegations of your own domestic violence incident being covered up by high ranking city officials. Another allegation of a high ranking city official who was driving drunk and was involved driving a city vehicle and involved in a crash. And the third is also you having allegations of having an affair with a city subordinate. How can the public trust you to fight crime in ABQ when you can’t even fight crime at City Hall?
MAYOR KELLR: What a disgusting prepared question you just read. . . I don’t even know where to begin. . . I have never been involved in any of the incidents you mentioned and as my family will attest to have never, ever done things like had an affair. Look, if you’re going to just make your questions the gossip on Twitter and Facebook. I mean, I hear all sorts of stuff about everyone all the time, I don’t dignify it because I don’t believe it because there’s no evidence or truth behind any of it. And this is coming from a guy who has a litany of myths and mistruths that he says. .
There is literally nothing behind anything your saying. You’re just saying words you saw on social media. . There was something in there about a co-worker and you know that’s defamation and you should know that, Sheriff. You can have a debate. We can talk about policies but unless you have any shred of evidence of any kind then that is actually to be on you. Talk about accountability. Fraud in your own campaign. Literally. And now just blatantly defaming people for a political stunt so that you can raise money off of it which is what you just asked voters to do. It’s pathetic.
The link to the full Channel 4 debate is here:
KOB 4 FOLLOW UP REPORTING
On the Wednesday October 20 Channel 4 news cast, the station devoted a significant amount of air time to report on what they had found out that occurred during and after the debate.
According to the report, KOB 4 was aware of the rumors of an affair and a domestic call out to the Keller residence and received multiple tips on the allegations made by Gonzales. The 4 Investigation team went to search for records or documentation that police were called to the mayor’s house, and came up empty-handed. The tips never provided any documentation or proof.
As far as a coverup of a “DWI by a high ranking official” the Albuquerque Police Department told KOB it has not covered up a DWI.
In a statement released to KOB 4 after the debate, the Keller campaign said:
“We’re appalled by these tactics but not surprised that Manny is so desperate, with no record to run on, that all he has is internet conspiracy theories. We are pursuing legal options against these defamatory claims.”
The Gonzales’campaign manager Shannan Calland also said in a statement to the Albuquerque Journal:
“We have spoken to two high-ranking members of the Albuquerque Police Department with direct knowledge of the domestic incident stemming from the sexual harassment scandal and are awaiting IPRA responses based on that information (which we expect to be intentionally covered up until after election),” she wrote. The statement included the phrase in parentheses. IPRA refers to the state’s … [Inspection of Public Records Act].”
You can read the entire Journal article quoted here:
READING A PREPARED QUESTION
Channel 4 reporter and debate moderator Chris Ramirez went out of his way to point out how Sheriff Gonzales read his line of questioning of Mayor Keller from a piece of paper. Gonzales had ostensibly hidden the paper from the moderators and produced it when he asked his question of Keller. It was reported that it was against the debate rules to have a prepared line of questioning.
According to the KOB 4 news report:
Keller’s campaign manager notified KOB 4 staff that Gonzales met with a campaign staffer during a commercial break and took a pre-prepared note into the studio. If that is true, it would violate the rules candidates agreed to prior to the debate. When these allegations were made, KOB 4 management spoke with the debate moderators and staff, but none of our staff saw Mr. Gonzales take the note into the studio.
“VERBAL ALTERCATION” REPORTED
After the debate ended, KOB 4 reported Keller and Gonzales got into a “verbal altercation” inside the studio. Keller demanded Gonzales apologize to his wife for the remarks he made. Gonzales responded by saying he has no respect for the mayor. It was Ramirez who reported that Keller and Gonzales did not get physical with each other but were yelling. Ramirez also reported that no one else in the news station was accosted or hurt by either of the men.
In addition to denying the allegations, the Keller campaign said it is planning to take legal action.
KOAT TV TARGET 7 REPORT
On October 21, KOAT-TV Target 7 posted a report that a Target 7 public records request in June came back showing no evidence of a domestic violence incident involving Mayor Tim Keller.
Target 7 also reported it had obtained documents on the cae crash involving a city employee and a city-owned car. KOAT TV confirm a crash occurred, but never identified who was driving the city vehicle.
Target 7 reported it spoke with the person whose car was hit by the city employee. The woman, who didn’t want to go on camera, claims that after the crash, the city employee got out of the car, handed her his card and then left. The woman involved with the crash told Target 7:
“It was real simple … Real weird, no cop, it was real simple, real fast. … He said he worked for the mayor on the 11th floor. No police came or ambulance came. Nobody came. … ” the crash victim said to Target 7.
Channel 7 asked her if she thought the city employee was driving under the influence.
She said, “no I didn’t.”
The link to the KOAT TV Report is here:
LIKELY SOURCE OF RUMORS OF ACCIDENT COVERUP
During and after the live debate, Sheriff Manny Gonzales never identified the two “high-ranking members of the Albuquerque Police Department with direct knowledge of the domestic incident stemming from the sexual harassment scandal.” Sheriff Gonzales also failed to identify by name the “high ranking city official who was driving drunk and was involved driving a city vehicle and involved in a crash.”
Not withstanding, a car accident by “ high ranking city official” on September 14, was reported on by the on line news ABQReports.
On October 14, ABQReports posted a story written by retired APD Sergeant Dan Klein, who is now a private business owner and also writes articles for ABQReports. Klein is known to support and advise Sheriff Manny Gonzales and has been severely critical of Mayor Keller and his administration. Following are the relevant excerpts from the ABQ article:
ABQReport was notified by attorney, Thomas Grover, of a car accident that Albuquerque Chief Operations Officer, Lawrence Rael was involved in on September 14, 2021, while Rael was driving his city Tahoe. Grover had to tell us because APD has no record of this accident, or at least that is what the city is saying. That’s right, COO Lawrence Rael, who knows the rules and regulations for city employees never notified APD, as required, of his car accident involving an expensive piece of city property”
Thomas Grover issued the following statement to ABQReport:
“My office was alerted to this matter in September and an IPRA request was promptly filed. The day following the submission of the IPRA request, goons from Keller’s office went to the City’s fleet yards to shake employees down to find out who “leaked” this information to my office. I’d like to remind the Keller Administration that there’s a Whistleblower statute in this state (as well as a City Whistleblower ordinance) and while we know you don’t like to follow rules and laws that apply to you, others will enforce them. Also, the balance of the public records my office requested will be past due if they are not produced by close of business on Thursday, October 14, 2021.”
Editor’ Note: Private Attorney Grover is also a retired APD police officer who represents APD officers in personnel actions charging them with misconduct. Grover represented ex-Albuquerque Police Officer Jeremy Dear who was cleared of all criminal wrongdoing in the 2014 fatal shooting of 19-year-old Mary Hawkes that resulted in the city paying $5 million to settle the wrongful death action filed by the Hawkes family against the city.
The ABQ Reports article continues:
Mayoral spokesman Ava Montoya emailed ABQReport this statement about Rael’s crash:
“The City’s COO was involved in a minor traffic accident at a stop light on 5th Street. There was only minor damage and no injuries so Rael and the other driver exchanged contact information and insurance information. For minor accidents like this, APD recommends that drivers exchange information and address the situation through their insurance companies. Following City procedures, Rael went immediately to Risk Management to report the accident, where he was instructed to fill out a form, which he did. Risk Management then resolves these situations following normal protocols.”
The ABQReports article provides the following links to the city’s “accident information sheet” and the Risk Management Report on the Rael car accident:
The accident information sheet outlines the process that city employees are required to follow to follow when an accident occurs while driving a city vehile. The Risk Management Report provides the factual basis for the claim to be processed by the city.
The City of Albuquerque Risk Management form is required to be filled out by the drivers’ supervisor or their designee and is required to submitted to City Risk Management within 24 hours of the accident. According to the report, Rael crashed his assigned city owned vehicle on September 14, 2021, yet Risk Management didn’t sign it in until September 29, 2021. There is no explanation for the delay in the filing.
The ABQReport continues:
“More issues with this report include the fact that Rael is listed as the person filling out the form, not his supervisor or designee. Sources tell ABQReport that the damage was anything but “minor” as Rael writes in the report, and that Rael’s city vehicle was not drivable and had to be towed to the city yards. Furthermore, the other driver, Victoria Elosia, has no phone number as required by the Risk Management form. The license plate is also missing. A search of available databases doesn’t show anyone with the name Victoria Elosia (or Elosia Victoria) in the Albuquerque area.”
The link to the full ABQReport is here:
ABQREPORTS CALLS FOR RAEL’S RESIGNATION OR FIRING
SECOND ARTICLE PUBLISHED
ABQ Reports published a second article again written by Dan Klein on the Rael car accident demanding that Rael resign or be fired by Mayor Tim Keller for Rael’s violation of personnel rules and regulations. The most relevant portions of the second published article include:
The City of Albuquerque’s rules for employees involved in an accident:
“1. Any driver involved in a motor vehicle accident, while operating a vehicle on official city business, shall immediately call the police and the drivers’ supervisor or his department investigator to the scene.
“2. The driver shall not leave the scene until the police have completed their investigation. If the police do not investigate at the scene, the driver should make a report at the police station as directed by his supervisor.
“.., An APD officer had this to say, “A person doesn’t notify the cops when they don’t want the cops to know what they were doing at the time of the accident.” Here are some reasons why people in accidents don’t want to call the police:
· The driver believes they were at fault and don’t want to get a ticket.
· The driver doesn’t want their insurance company notified.
· The driver is driving on a suspension or revocation or has warrants.
· The driver may be impaired with drugs or alcohol.
· The driver has someone with him/her that they don’t want others to know about.
· The driver was texting or talking on their phone, and they don’t want their conversation exposed.
These are the only reasons that, in my 20 years of law enforcement experience, explain why a driver doesn’t want the cops called. I am not accusing COO Rael of any of these actions, only explaining what I have witnessed with other people who did not want police notified. Unless Rael makes a public statement explaining his decision to violate city rules, this will be a cloud over his head for the rest of his political career.
Because a police officer was not called to investigate Rael’s accident, we can only use his, and the other driver’s, statement to Risk Management to determine what happened. This points out glaring issues with Rael writing his own report and not having a police officer do it. Rael’s report is inaccurate at best and a lie at worse.”
The link to read the full ABQReport article is here:
Sources have confirmed that the Albuquerque Journal began taking a poll in the Mayor’s race the day of the KOB 4 debate. The poll was taken Tuesday to Thursday and was conducted by Research and Polling, the most respected and most reliable polling company in the state with Brian Sanderoff as the chief principal. The Albuquerque Journal has used Research and Polling for decades as its exclusive pollster. The result of the poll will be published on Sunday, October 24 and likely accompanied by an editorial on Gonzales performance at the debate.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
Both the ABQReports articles ask far more questions than they answer, contain hearsay and speculation, including asking did Lawrence Rael break the city’s personnel rules and regulations that he knows extensively about and that he has enforced against many city employees over his years of service with the city. That is not the big picture.
Connecting the dots, you can see the big picture. That picture is that it’s far more likely than not that Sheriff Manny Gonzales was relying on the September 14 car accident involving Chief Operations Officer Lawrence Rael, the city documents and the ABQReports articles written by one of his supporters as the basis of his libelous and false claim “of a high-ranking city official who was driving drunk and was involved driving a city vehicle and involved in a crash.” Sheriff Gonzales did not actually name the official during the debate. Not naming the official was likely intentional by Sheriff Gonzales knowing damn well that naming and accusing Rael would be grounds for a cause of action for libel or slander if not true.
Mayor Keller appointed Lawrence Rael Chief Operations Officer and he has served in that capacity for the last 4 years. He has served the city well. Mr. Rael is also a former Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) for the city for 12 years under former mayors. Mr. Rael is highly respected and is known for his professionalism, knowledge and understanding on how the city operates and “the nuts and bolts” of running the city and “keeping the trains running on time” as the old adage goes. COO Lawrence Rael knows more about the city and how it operates than Mayor Keller, CAO Sarita Nair and all of Keller’s department directors combined, but then again they do not know much anyway about running a city like Lawrence does.
PROGRESSIVE DICIPLENARY PROCESS VERSUS “AT WILL” EMPLOYMENT
As COO, Rael is an “at will employee” that works at the pleasure of the Mayor and can be fired without cause by the Mayor at any time and for no reason at all. As an at will employee, Rael does not have the same protections given to classified employees. Classified positions are jobs were you must be terminated for cause and even then you are entitled to the “progressive disciplinary” process and ultimately a right to appeal a termination to the personnel board. Progressive discipline for classified employees begins with verbal or written admonishments, suspension of pay, being place on administrative leave with or without pay, transfer, demotion or termination for cause.
Rael may have violated personnel rules and regulations in the delay in reporting the accident and that may be grounds to take disciplinary action against him by Mayor Keller, but that’s Keller’s decision and no one else’s. To say that Rael should be terminated is too extreme. The Mayor has many other options far more appropriate but only if he decides personnel action is warranted.
Any allegations of DWI or other criminal conduct is sure speculation, yet Sheriff Manny Gonzales went there with his false allegations. Sheriff Gonzales is the same candidate for Mayor that argued he was denied “due process of law” when his campaign was denied public finance by the city clerk, yet he makes salacious accusations and accusations of DWI assuming guilt without due process of law afforded to those he has accuses without any proof.
Sheriff Gonzales has failed to identify the 2 high-ranking members of the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) with direct knowledge of the domestic incident he is alleging involves the Keller family and an allege affair. As a law enforcement official, Sheriff Gonzales is held to a higher standard and knows better and damn well that he accused Keller of a crime and accused another of DWI with virtually no proof.
Sheriff Manny Gonzales has likely already lost his case to becoming the next Mayor of Albuquerque. This will likely be confirmed by the Journal poll to be published on October 23. Sheriff Gonzales has managed to damaged, if not destroy, his own personal reputation of honesty and integrity, what little he had left after his reliance on forgeries and fraudulent documents to try and secure $630,000 in public finance.
Sheriff Manny Gonzales should apologize to Mayor Tim Keller, the Keller family and withdraw from the race and perhaps even resign as Bernalillo County Sheriff.