ABQ Journal Congressional Poll: Democrat Vasquez Leads Republican Incumbent Herrell By 2% With 8% Undecided; Democrats Stansbury And Leger Vernandez Lead Opponents By Comfortable Margins

The 2022 congressional races are the first to be held with newly drawn geographical districts after the New Mexico legislature redistricted all 3 congressional districts this year  based on the United States census data.

On October 31, the Albuquerque Journal published its first and only poll results in the states 3 congressional races. The poll in the 2nd Congressional District between Republican Incumbent Yvette Herrell and Democrat Gabe Vasquez  no doubt came as a very big shock to the political establishment in both the Democrat and Republican party establishments.

The results of the poll in the 1st Congressional District between incumbent Democrat Melanie Stansbury and Republican Michelle Garcia Homes and in the 3rd Congressional District between incumbent Democrat Teresa Leger Fernandez and Republican Alexis Martinez Johnson reveals that both incumbent democrats have very comfortable margins and they will likely be re elected.


A Journal poll found that Democratic challenger Gabe Vasquez has a  2% lead over incumbent Republican Yvette Herrell. The polling gives Vasquez 47% of likely voters supporting him while 45% favor Herrell with  8% of voters are undecided. The 2nd Congressional District for decades has been dominated by very conservative southern New Mexico and has elected Republicans and was represented Republican Party State Chair Steve Pierce who while in congress was a member of the ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus.  After redistricting, the 2nd Congressional District now  includes parts of Albuquerque’s West Side and South Valley,   which are decisively more progressive, and with progressive  Las Cruces, the district now leans Democrat.

Notwithstanding the closeness of the poll, and the fact that it falls within the polls 4.8% margin of error,  Democrat Vasquez clearly has the momentum on his side against a Republican incumbent.  With a full 13 days until the election, Vasquez could easily score a major upset over Harrell.

According to the Journal poll Vasquez has opened up a large lead among Hispanics in the district. He has the support of 61% of Hispanics while Harrell has  29% of Hispanics who  say they will vote for her.  Harrell has the support of 60% of Anglos in the district.

The 2nd Congressional race has by far been the most expensive of the three House races. Herrell has raised over $4 million and Vasquez over $3.2 million.  Both Vasquez and Harrell have been hammering each other relentlessly airing television ads attacking the other and both claiming that each other is too extreme for the District.

The 2nd Congressional District does lean conservative which is the reason Harrell is saying Vasquez is an extreme progressive Democrat alleging he would such down the oil ang gas industry in New Mexico, thousands would lose their jobs  and that he would defund the police.  Vasquez has portrayed Harrell as an extreme right wing Republican who has denied the September 11 terrorist attack, refused to vote to certify Joe Biden as President and who has sponsored legislation to nationally criminalize all abortions.


GENDER: According to the Journal poll, Vasquez has the support of 46% of males who said they will vote while Harrell has 45%.  Vasquez has 48% of females who said they will vote while Harrell has 44%.

ETHNICITY: When it comes to ethnicity, Vasquez has the support of a whopping 61% of Hispanics which is more than double of Harrell’s  29%.  Harrell has the support of 60% of the Anglo vote while Vasquez has 34% of the Anglo vote.

POLITICAL PARTY: Both candidates have the overwhelming support of their own political parties. Democrat Vasquez has 86% support of Democrats while Republican Harrell has  10% support of Democrats. Republican  Harrell has 89% support of Republicans while Democrat Vasquez has 5% support of Republicans.  Independents support Republican Harrell with 46% to Democrat Vasquez with 31%.


1st Congressional Democrat US Representative Melanie Stansbury has a  48% to 42% lead over Republican candidate Michelle Garcia Holmes. The 6% gap between Stansbury and Garcia Holmes is much narrower than the most recent elections. Garcia Holmes lost the 2020 race to former Representative Deb Haaland by 16% points. In 2021, Deb Halland resigned from congress and  was appointed United State Interior Secretary by President Joe Biden.   Stansbury’s strongest support comes from Hispanics, who favor her 56% to 37%. She also has a wide lead among voters with a graduate degree  with 61% of those voters supporting  her.


GENDER: According to the Journal poll, Stansbury has the support of 45%  of males who said they will vote while Garcia Holmes has 48%.   Stansbury  has 51% of females who said they will vote while Garcia Holmes has 37%.

ETHNICITY: When it comes to ethnicity, Stansbury has the support of  56%  of Hispanics while Garcia Holmes  37% of Hispanics.  Garcia Holmes has the support of 46% of the Anglo vote while Stanbury has 45%  of the Anglo vote.

POLITICAL PARTY: Both candidates have the overwhelming support of their own political parties. Democrat Stansbury has 85% support of Democrats while Republican  Garcia Holmes   has 7% support of Democrats.   Republican Gracia Holmes has  87% support of Republicans while Democrat Stansbury  has 5% support of Republicans.  Independents support Republican Garcia Holmes with 42% compared to Democrat Stansbury with 39%.

The poll was conducted from October 20 to October 27. The poll is based on a scientific,  sample of 410  cast ballots in the 2018 an/or the 2020general election and who said they are likely to vote in the 2022 election. The poll sample also includes people who have been registered to vote since 2021 and who said they will be votinfg in the upcoming election.  All the interviews were done by live, professional interviewers, with multiple callbacks to those who did not initially answer the phone. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.8% points.


According to the Journal poll 2 st Congressional Democrat US Representative Teresa Leger Fernández has a commanding lead with  53% to 35% advantage over Republican candidate Alexis Martinez Johnson.  Although both candidates are Hispanic woman, it is Leger Fernández who has  shored up support from women, 61%, and Hispanics, 68%.


GENDER: According to the Journal poll,  Leger Fernández  has the support of 44% of males who said they will vote while  Martinez Johnson has 47%.  Leger Fernández has 61% of females who said they will vote while Martinez Johnson has 25%.

ETHNICITY: When it comes to ethnicity, Leger Fernández has the support of  68%  of Hispanics while  Martinez Johnson  24% of Hispanics.   Leger Fernández  has the support of 46% of the Anglo vote while  Martinez Johnson has 42%  of the Anglo vote.

POLITICAL PARTY: Both candidates have the overwhelming support of their own political parties. Democrat Leger Fernández   has 89% support of Democrats while Republican Martinez Johnson  has 2% support of Democrats.   Republican Martinez Johnson has  88% support of Republicans while Democrat Leger Fernández  has 6% support of Republicans.  Independents support Democrat Leger Fernández with 40% compared to   Republican Martinez Johnson with 31%.

The poll was conducted from October 20 to October 27. The poll is based on a scientific,  sample of 434  cast ballots in the 2018 an/or the 2020 general election and who said they are likely to vote in the 2022 election. The poll sample also includes people who have been registered to vote since 2021 and who said they will be votinfg in the upcoming election. All the interviews were done by live, professional interviewers, with multiple callbacks to those who did not initially answer the phone. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.7% points.

The link to the full, unedited Albuquerque Journal article which include graphs is here:



There is no doubt that 2nd Congressional District race between Democrat Gabe  Vasquez and Republican Incumbent Yvette Herrell has national implications. The control of the U.S. House will be determined by a handful of congressional seats around the country. As it stands, national polls have Republicans projected to win back the United States House.  The 2nd Congressional District just may turn out to be one of the brightest spots for Democrats in the nation come November 8.

Final ABQ Journal Poll: Gov. MLG 50%, Ronchetti 42%, Undecided 5%, Bedonie 3%; Ronchetti’s False Negative Ads Have Yet To Have Impact, Expect More; Hispanics And Woman Stick With Governor

The second and final long anticipated Albuquerque Journal  poll is in. It shows Democrat incumbent Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has a strong lead in the race and she is likely on her way to be elected to a second 4 year  term on November 8.  The Governors  support  amongst voters increase by 3% and her lead increased by 1% while Ronchetti’s support increased by 7% over the last Journal poll taken in August.  The Governor has maintained her core support of Hispanics and woman despite her opponent spending millions on some of the most negative and nasty false ads.

The final results of the Albuquerque Journal poll are:

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham – 50%

Republican TV weatherman Mark Ronchetti – 42%

Undecided – 5%

Libertarian Karen Bedonie – 3%

The link to the final Albuquerque Journal  poll article is here:


The poll was conducted from October 20 through October  27. The poll is based on a scientific, statewide sample of 1,254 voterswho cast ballots in the 2018 an/or the 2020general election and who said they are likely to vote in the 2022 election. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8% points.

The August Journal poll was essentially identical and those results were:

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham – 47%

Republican TV weatherman Mark Ronchetti – 40%

Undecided –  8%

Libertarian Karen Bedonie – 5%

The link to the August  Albuquerque Journal  poll article is here:



Among the political parties, Governor MLJ has 87% support of Democrats while Rochetti has support of 9% of Democrat. Among Republicans, Ronchetti has 88% support among Republicans and Gov. MLG has 5% support of Republicans. Amongst Independents, Gov. MLG has 42% support while Ronchetti has 37% support.

Among men, Gov. MLG has 46% support of men and Ronchetti has 46% support of men.  Among woman, Gov. MLG has 55% support and Ronchetti has 38% support.

Among Hispanics, Governor MLG has 62% support and Ronchetti has 30% support. Among Anglos, Governor MLG has 43% support while Ronchetti has 49% support.

As was the case with the August Journal poll, Gov.Lujan Grisham’s lead is due to her broad support among female voters and Hispanic voters.

According to the latest Journal poll, Hispanic women supported Lujan Grisham by an overwhelming margin with 65% saying  they planned to vote for Gov. MLG or had already done so,  and 29% said  they intended to support Ronchetti.

Ronchetti had strong support among Anglo men.  56% said the will be voting for  Ronchetti  and 35% said they were voting for  Lujan Grisham. White women were more narrowly split, but were slightly more likely to support Gov. MLG.

Educational levels were also found to have major differences.  The Journal poll found that  voters who graduated from college and those with graduate degrees said the were likely to vote for  Lujan Grisham than Ronchetti. Voters with some college experience and those with high school degrees, in contrast, were almost evenly split between Gov. MLG and Ronchetti.

The Journal poll found that 20% of independent voters polled  said they were still undecided which is  a much larger percentage than among Republicans and Democrats.

Voters in the Albuquerque metro area, the north central region and the Las Cruces/southwest New Mexico polled said they  were more likely to vote for Lujan Grisham while most voters surveyed in the conservative east side of the state said they will vote for  Ronchetti.

The part of the state where voters are  evenly divided between the two candidates was  the northwest corner, where the GOP stronghold of San Juan County is partially offset by Democratic-leaning McKinley and Cibola counties.


According to New Mexico Voter Registration Statistics from the New Mexico Secretary of State, as of January 31, 2022, there are a total of 1,342,690 registered voters in the state.  The breakdown of the registration numbers is as follows: Registered Democrats: 599,242, or 44.6 %,  Registered Republicans: 414,067 or  30.8 %, No Party or Independents:  301,598 or 22.5 %, Registered Libertarian:  13,644  or 1.0 % Other Registrations:  14,139 or 1.1 %



The 2022 Governor’s race will likely be the most expensive in state history. Lujan Grisham has reported raising more than $11.1 million for her reelection bid, while spending about $9.8 million of that amount. Ronchetti  has received more than $7.8 million in contributions, while spending roughly $5.3 million.

The New Mexico Governor’s race is considered as one of the most competitive of the 36 gubernatorial races nationwide.  Political  groups affiliated with national Democratic and Republican parties are  spending millions on  TV ads in New Mexico.  During the final 12 days until Election Day, outside groups are planning to spend more than $3 million on ads backing Lujan Grisham’s campaign and  outside groups are planning  on spending $1.4 million on Ronchetti’s behalf.


Governor Lujan Grisham is no doubt breathing a great sigh of relief with the latest Albuquerque Journal poll showing her leading by 8%   after the October 17-19  Trafalgar group poll gave Republican Mark  Ronchetti a 1%  lead in the race with 46.6%  of the vote compared to 45.5% for Governor  Michelle Lujan Grisham. The Trafalgar poll was the first and only  poll ever to show Ronchetti in the lead with nearly 3% margin of error.  The Telfalgar poll  was seriously defective with 58% of people who responded to the poll being  Anglo and only 31% were Hispanic.

Prior Trafalgar poll and as of October 11, there were 5 polls taken that showed Democrat Governor Lujan Grisham leading Republican Mark Ronchetti by as low of only 3% and as high as 16%. Averaging out all 5 of the previous polls reflected that Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham polling average is 48.8% compared to Ronchetti’s 39.2%. Ronchetti never once surpass 40% to 43% in any of the polling which is essentially the Republican base in New Mexico. Lujan Grisham  busted the magic 50% plus one in only 1 polls.

In New Mexico, Democrats have the clear advantage with 44.6 % of the registered vote to Republicans with 30.8% of the vote. When it comes to New Mexico politics and statewide races, the old saying is so very true that “Republicans win when Democrats stay home”.  Republicans tend to have higher voter participation percentages out of sure survival instinct. The significance of the independent voters also cannot be overstated in that they represent 22.5% of all registered voters in the state.


Ronchetti has severely attacked Gov. MLG  for high violent crime rates, her executive order allowing more than 700 inmates to be released early due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a $150,000 settlement with a former campaign spokesman.  The governor for her part have has defended her record by highlighting an improving state economy that has seen the state unemployment rate drop to 4.2% in September, the lowest in more than a decade but still among the highest in the nation.

During the last 3 weeks, Republican Mark Ronehetti has gone into “warp drive”  with vicious,  negative and even false campaign ads to attack Governor Lujan Grisham. The ads have become so pervasive with Ronchetti ads running two and three times, one right after the other. Given that Ronchetti is still running behind Gov. MLG  in the polls, he will probably ramp it up and  double down even further given who his campaign manager is.

Least anyone forgets, Jay McCleskey is Republican Mark Ronchetti’s campaign manager and political consultant. Jay McCleskey is the go-to guy for anyone who is Republican running for office willing to spend and do whatever it takes to win an election at any and all costs.  The only way McClesky knows how to win a race is to go negative and into the gutter.  Jay McCleskey is New Mexico’s version of Lee Atwater or Karl Rove, two of the most despicable right wing Republican bottom feeders and political consultants and strategists for the Republican Party.  McClesky is known for his negative slash-and-burn tactics to disparage and viciously malign Democrats at all levels and he has been very successful at it in New Mexico for the last 20 years making a very lucrative living.


Nine days are left before the November 8 election and in any statewide race, nine days can be an eternity in politics to get out the vote. Voters have also seen an extreme ramping up of negative campaign ads that are even worse than what has been going on, especially from Republican Mark Ronchetti.

Early voting has already begun and reports are that  upwards of 16% have already voted.  Early voting turn out is considered high which likely favors Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham.   If you have not already done so, please vote!

Justice Served In Heinous Murder Of 10 Year Old Victoria Martens Despite Botched Investigation By APD and DA  Torrez’s Media Seeking Ways; “Phantom” Killer Yet To Be Identified And Charged

On October 27, after a lengthy 13 day jury trial that resulted in the conviction of one or 3 defendants charged in the heinous murder of 10-year old Victoria Martens, Second Judicial District Judge Cindy Leos sentenced Fabian Gonzales, age 38, to 37½ years in prison in the 2016 strangulation murder and dismemberment of 10-year-old Victoria Martens.  Gonzales was found guilty of 1 count of child abuse resulting in death, 7  counts of tampering with evidence and 1 count of conspiracy for his role in  Victoria’s killing.  The murder is considered the most horrific child abuse case in Albuquerque history given the age of the child and how she was dismembered and her body burned in a bathtub.

Gonzales did not speak at his sentencing hearing and showed no emotion as Judge Leos pronounced his sentence. Under his sentence, Gonzales could be eligible for parole after serving half his sentence provided he serves his sentence without further incidents while in prison with good behavior. Gonzales has been in jail for 5 years while awaiting trial and will be given credit for the time served against his sentence.

Judge Leos said she agreed with prosecutors that Gonzales was directly responsible for Victoria’s death.  Before passing his sentence Judge Leos said this:

“If it were not for Mr. Gonzales, there is no question in my mind that Victoria Martens would still be alive. …  He was the conduit for her death, and clearly the jury agreed with that. … [Gonzales] was aware of Jessica Kelly’s propensity for violence, as well as her paranoia, on the date that Victoria was ultimately murdered. …  I do not believe that his responsibility in Victoria’s death was remote.”

Judge Leos noted that Gonzales left Victoria alone with Kelley the day of the girl’s death, even though he was aware that Kelley was using methamphetamine and feeling increasingly paranoid.

During the October 27 sentencing hearing,  the Bernalillo County District Attorney  prosecutors asked Judge Leos to classify the child abuse charge as a serious violent offense saying without Fabian, Victoria would still be alive today. The designation would have ensured that Gonzales would serve at least 85% of that sentence instead of 50%. Judge Cindy Leos also felt the state failed to meet its  burden of proof that Gonzales acted violently, pointing to the fact that Gonzales was not in the apartment at the time of the murder as was evidence by Gonzales’ cell phone records.


In addition to Fabian Gonzales, two others were charge in the killing. Those two were Jessica Kelly, 37, and Victoria’s mother Michelle Martens.

Jessica Kelley, 37, pleaded no contest in 2019 to 6 felony charges, including reckless child abuse resulting in death and other charges in Victoria’s death. She was sentenced in April to 50  years in prison. As part of Kelley’s plea deal in the case, she agreed to testify against her cousin Fabian Gonzales.


District Attorney Raul Torres negotiated a plea and disposition agreement with Michelle Martens, 41.  Michelle Martins plead guilty in 2018 to reckless child abuse resulting in death and she faces 12 to 15 years in prison. Her sentencing hearing is scheduled for November 10.

No one has actually been charged with the murder of 10 year old Victoria Martins.


During the trial of Fabian Gonzales, Jessica Kelley testified that on the day of Victoria Martin’s killing, she was left alone with the 10 year old child.  Kelley testified that she  was high on meth when a man she’s never met before walked in and killed the 10-year-old.

State prosecutors question Kelley about her actions on each day leading up to the day Victoria was murder. In the early morning hours of the day Victoria would later be killed, Kelley testified to being paranoid all day. On the day Victoria was killed, she claims Gonzales and Victoria’s mother, Michelle Martens, knew she was on meth when they left her alone with the 10-year-old.

Kelley testified for the first time of the unknown person who she claims killed Victoria. Kelley told state prosecutors that a man. well dressed,  she did not know walked uninvited into the apartment asking for “Favo” and then went into Victoria’s room, strangled the girl, and left.

Kelley testified

“[The man] said  ‘Fabian fucked up. He knows what he did, there’s a mess in there’ that me and Fabian have to clean up and if not, ‘it’s going to be our lives and my kid’s lives. ”

Kelley testified that after Victoria was killed, she walked into Victoria’s room and found the girl lying on her back, blue in the face and without a pulse. Kelley claims she waited for Gonzales to come home, then pulled her cousin aside to tell him what happened.

Kelley  told the jury:

“I don’t think he really believed me, because he was like, ‘For real cuz?! What the fuck!’ and I was like, ‘For real, what are we going to– we have to get rid of her body, like’ … and he said, ‘alright, we’ll take turns.”

At that point, Kelley claims Gonzales helped distract Michelle Martens from learning that Victoria was dead. She added that Michelle Martens never checked on her daughter before going to bed.

Kelley says that’s when Gonzales went into Victoria’s room and started dismembering the girl’s body.  She testified:

“He was cutting her in the middle of her chest. He was like, ‘we’ve gotta make it look like it’s not us!’ I was, ‘like what the?! Just get the fuck out of here, I’ll finish it.”

Kelley also admitted that after attempting to dispose of Victoria’s body, she planned on killing Gonzales and Martens with an iron because she was scared of going back to prison.

Gonzales for his part testified at his trial and he kept to his original story that Jessica Kelley acted alone. He testified  Kelley is the one who killed Victoria and tried to dispose of her body.

Court documents filed in the case  also revealed how Kelley told investigators she was high on meth, babysitting Victoria Martens when a man she didn’t know came into the apartment and killed the little girl. Kelley said she told her cousin, Fabian Gonzales, that Victoria was dead. Kelley told investigators she and Gonzales dismembered Victoria, then the pair put the little girl into a bathtub, set the child’s body on fire and tried to clean up the crime scene.

Court pleadings also show that the night of the killing, Kelley grabbed an iron and hit Victoria’s mother Michelle Martens in the forehead. Afterwards, Michelle Martens and Gonzales left the apartment, and  Kelley set Victoria on fire and then tried to run from police.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The postscript to this blog article contains a time line of events in the case.


It was on June 29, 2018 that Bernalillo County District Torrez announced that the most egregious charges against the defendant Michelle Martens, including murder and rape, were dismissed.  The plea agreement Torrez negotiated was to one count of child abuse, recklessly caused, resulting in the death of a child under 12.  The plea agreement guarantees a 12 to 15-year sentence.

Michelle Martins is to be sentence on November 10, 2022.   Because Martens  cooperated and turned state’s evidence and given her significantly reduced mental capacity, there is a real chance the court will sentence her to 12 years and not the full 15 years.

Raul Torrez and his prosecutors also agreed that Michelle Marten’s crime would  not be classified as a “serious violent offense”, meaning she could see her sentence cut in half for good behavior and serve as little as 6 years if she is sentenced to 12 years.  Martens  will also  get credit for the 2 years of time already served because she was  in jail pending trial, so it is possible that Martens could be out of prison in 4 years.


The initial APD police investigation and reports alleged that it was Jessica Kelley that stabbed 9-year-old Victoria Martens and that Fabian Gonzales strangled her while Michelle Martens watched the murder. Part of the pretrial publicity that inflamed matters was the accusations that Victoria Martens had been raped, sexually assaulted and that the child had a communicable disease, all accusations that were proven false by further forensic investigation, the DNA evidence and the autopsy of the child.

Mark Earnest, Jessica Kelley’s defense attorney, announced that experts determined that contrary to the findings in the initial autopsy report, there was no evidence that Victoria was raped the night she was killed.  Earnest said this:

“In totality … three experts [who have] … over 100 years [of experience] … determined that no sexual assault took place. Despite that, early on, the autopsy report in this case indicated that there was sexual assault.”

According to reports, the unidentified person’s partial DNA sample was left on the little girl’s body and the person  has been indicted as a “John Doe” in order to toll the statute of limitations until the person is found and arrested for prosecution. District Attorney Raul Torrez said an unidentified man was retaliating against Fabian Gonzales when he went to Martens’ apartment and killed Victoria Martens.

District Attorney Raul Torrez took considerable heat and experienced tremendous public outcry regarding the plea agreement he  negotiated with the defendant Michelle Martens.  According to Torrez, the physical evidence and forensic evidence established the Defendant Martens and her boyfriend Fabian Gonzales, who was also charged with the murder, were not even present at the time of the child’s murder.

DA Torrez said APD officers did not have the psychological profile at the time of the initial investigation was completed and APD detectives thought they could “trust what Martens was telling them” when she admitted to the crime of killing her own child.

The state’s own forensic psychiatrist said Michelle Martins did not realize she was also incriminating herself when she talked to police.  The forensic psychiatrist Michael Welner, who worked with the District Attorney’s Office, said a combination of Martens’ passive and naive personality, the way officers presented themselves as on her side and the context of her daughter’s recent death, led Michelle Martins to admit to a crime she did not commit and admitting to having witnessed the crime she never saw.

Dr. Welner was quoted as saying:

“In the course of questioning her about specifics and going over details, the officers in the questioning revealed certain details within the case that Michelle later incorporated into her story. … Incorporating them into her story gave the impression of some legitimacy of what she was saying.”


To complicate matters, Torrez announced in his June 29,  2018 press conference that a fourth yet unidentified defendant had been indicted as a “John Doe” for the child’s murder.


DA Raul Torres is quoted as saying during his June 29, 2018 press conference:

“With each new round of testing and each new piece of information, more and more doubt was cast on Michelle Martens’ direct involvement in the murder of her daughter Victoria … And we were forced to consider the possibility that Michelle Martens had falsely incriminated herself and [her boyfriend] Fabian Gonzales in this heinous act.”



Torrez announced that he removed the two original prosecutors from the case and assigned more experienced trial attorneys by saying:

“It was my sense that we needed to have a more experienced team involved and we need to have dedicated resources. … I’m not going to second guess at this point what information they had access to.”

With his words and actions, District Attorney Raul Torrez admitted he and his office at the very least made the classic mistake and engaged in a level of prosecutorial overzealousness by “over indicting” a case based on witness statements and confessions before all the physical and forensic evidence had been processed and reviewed by his office.

All to often, especially when DNA evidence is involved, witness’s statements are found to be false and contradicted by DNA evidence.

Many defendants have sat on death row based on false eyewitness testimony and even confessions only to be released years later because DNA proves they did not commit the crime. It was  on June, 2, 2016, the murder charges against Donovan Maez, 22 and Christopher Cruz were dismissed when eye witness testimony was proven to be false.


The decision to assign more experienced trial attorneys to the case and dedicate more resources was indeed very noble and absolutely necessary. The problem is that it took Torrez a full 18 months to come to that conclusion.  Torrez does not have to “second guess … what information they had access to” seeing as he admitted he knew within a few months after taking office there were real problems with the case, yet he publicly he acted like nothing was wrong until he had to come clean.


District Attorney Raul Torrez in his various media interviews about the Victor Martens case  shared extensive details of the case and his office’s  prosecution strategy on the pending criminal prosecution against Fabian Gonzales and Jessica Kelley. During a January 4, 2019 pretrial motion hearing, District Judge Charles Brown determined District Attorney Raúl Torrez had been “reckless” in December 10, 2018 statements he made to the media about defendant Jessica Kelley’s absence of cooperation before her no contest plea.

Confidential sources  said at the time  that Raul Torrez resisted being called as a witness at the January 4, 2019 hearing before Judge Brown.  His public information officer testifying instead. Further, confidential sources are said the defense counsel for Fabian Gonzalez intend to call Raul Torrez to the stand to testify regarding his public statements.

On January 4, 2018, District Judge Brown said that Torrez should not have issued a December 10, 2018 statement at all. Judge Brown admonished Raul Torrez for the statement by stating from the bench in open court:

“I don’t know if it was [intentionally done] to deprive the defendant of a fair trial, or if the goal was to shift the light away from the District Attorney’s Office or to move light to the Albuquerque Police Department … I find it to be woefully inaccurate in its ambiguity. It could be interpreted in many ways – all of them positive to the District Attorney’s office, some to the detriment of others. The District Attorney also has an obligation to protect the due process right of the defendant. … [The District Attorney] … represents the state, which is everyone including the defendant and the defendant’s families … The District Attorney’s obligation is to the system.”

Torrez sharing details and prosecution strategy in the case that were later reported upon by the media may have resulted in a “clear and present danger of prejudicing the proceeding” which would be an ethical violation of the code of professional conduct for lawyers. The New Mexico Code of Professional Responsibility has a very specific rule that governs attorneys conduct and pretrial publicity, Rule 16-306 Trial Publicity.

The extended media interviews that Torrez did in the case no doubt ingratiated Torrez with the news media and gave him the publicity he coveted,  but Torrez did not help his cause in seeking justice for 10-year-old Victoria Martens.  Another problem posed is that Torrez discussed with the media in his many interview’s conclusions based on the evidence that should be decided by a jury, not the prosecutor in the case.

District Court Judge Charles Brown could just as easily refer Raul Torrez to the New Mexico Disciplinary Board for violations of the Code of Professional Conduct relating to pretrial publicity. Raul Torrez needs to take to heart the words of Judge Brown when he said:

“[DA Torrez] … represents the state, which is everyone including the defendant and the defendant’s families … The District Attorney’s obligation is to the system”.

Judge Brown essentially told District Attorney Raul Torrez his obligation is not just to inform the media that results in generating intense media coverage. Judge Brown made it clear to Torrez that his ethical obligation is to the entire criminal justice system and not just to the media and his own political image and future.

Another obligation of any prosecutor is to have faith in the jury system and do the best you can to prove your case with the evidence you have in a court of law and if there is not enough evidence then the investigating agency needs to be held accountable.


Given the initial botched investigation and prosecution of the Victoria Matins murder case, it was luck that anyone was in fact brought to justice. Justice has been served with the 50 year sentence of Jessica Kelley and the  37½ sentence of Fabian Gonzales.

Very little justice can be said to have been served with the plea agreement negotiated by DA Raul Torrez wherein Michelle Martens plead to 1 count of child abuse, recklessly caused, resulting in the death of a child under 12 with  the plea agreement guaranteeing her a 12 to 15-year sentence for her involvement in the death of her own child.

Then there is the matter of the “phantom” defendant killer that has yet to be identified and found by APD.  APD has yet to announce if any progress has been made in identifying the phantom killer. Justice will not be fully served for 10-year old Victoria Martens until  her killer is  actually identified and  brought to justice, but its far more likely than not the killer will never be found.

Links to quoted news sources are here:










It was on August 24, 2016 that APD found the dismembered body of young Victoria wrapped in a blanket in a bathtub inside an apartment on Albuquerque’s west side.  The child’s mother Michelle Martin’s and  her then-boyfriend, Fabian Gonzales and his cousin, Jessica Kelley, were  all charged with  the child’s death. Much of what investigators believed happened the  night of the killing was based on what Michelle Martens told police in the days after her daughter was found dead.  Martens’ story changed several times, but the main the main thrust of her story remained the same and all three took part in drugging, raping, mutilating and ultimately killing Victoria.  It later was determined that  a combination of Martens’ passive and naive personality, the way APD officers presented themselves as being on her side and the context of her daughter’s recent death, all  led Michelle Martins to admit to a crime she did not commit and admitting to having witnessed the crime she never saw.

In September 2016, Michelle Martens, Jessica Kelly and Fabian Gonzales were indicted by then Bernalillo County District Attorny Kari Brandenburg on the charges of intentional abuse of a child resulting in death, aggravated criminal sexual penetration, murder and tampering with evidence.

In November 2016, Victoria Martens’ autopsy was released. The autopsy by the Office of the Medical Investigator found  that Victoria had a sexually transmitted disease.  The autopsy revealed that there are no drugs in Victoria’s system. Martens had told investigators that Victoria had been given meth the night she died.

On January 1,  2017 Bernalillo County District Attorney Raul Torrez was sworn into office for his first term and he took personal responsibility to review the case. Torrez expressed concerns over aspects of how the APD investigation and follow-up procedures were handled and consequently Torrez  formed a new team of investigators and prosecutors to take over the case.

In March,  2017  a  new  investigation began in the case and during the following months, investigators conduct hundreds of interviews. In May 2017, prosecutors also contacted a forensic psychiatrist to analyze statements Martens gave to police.

In June, 2017 forensic DNA testing revealed that a partial DNA sample found on Victoria’s back did not come from Fabian Gonzales. It was believed the sample was most likely from saliva, sweat or skin cells from another.

On June 29, 2018,  District Attorney Raul Torrez announced a plea agreement where Michelle Martens, Victoria’s mother, plead guilty to a lesser charge of reckless child abuse resulting in the death of a child under 12. Torrez also announced several charges against Fabian Gonzales were dismissed. Cellphone data provided proof that neither was home at the time of Victoria’s death. Torrez also revealed that the the DNA of another was  found on Victoria’s body and  investigators were now searching for a “mystery” fourth suspect. With the plea deal, Michelle Martens faces a possible sentence of 12-15 years, and with good time she could be out of jail within 6 to 7 years. She is scheduled to be sentenced November 10, 2022.

In September 2018, over the course of two weeks, twice District Court Judge Charlie Brown denied the state’s attempt to make a plea deal with Jessica Kelley on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence to support the plea.

January  4, 2019, District Attorney Raul Torrez  announced that the rape charge against Jessica Kelley were  dropped because expert forensic witnesses weren’t going to be able to support the idea that Victoria Martens was raped by Kelley.

On January 7, 2019, Bernalillo County District Attorney Raul Torrez reached a plea deal with Jessica Kelley just before her trial was set to begin wherein Kelley plead “no contest” to charges related to Victoria Marten’s death. As part of the plea deal, Kelley agreed to  testify in the case against Fabian Gonzales and in the case of State vs. John Doe, which is the case brought against the unidentified defendant by use of DNA.

On April 29, 2022, Judge Cindy Leos sentenced Kelley to 50 years in prison with 6 years suspended. Once Kelley is released from prison, she will be on probation for 5 years.

On August 1,  2022, after a 13 day trial  and testimony from 35 witnesses, a jury  found Fabian Gonzales  guilty of 1 count of child abuse resulting in death, 7  counts of tampering with evidence and 1 count of conspiracy.

On October 27, 2022, Fabian Gonzales was sentenced to 37½ years in prison for his involvement with the killing of 10 year old Victoria Martens.

KRQE News 13 Larry Barker Follow-up Investigation: APD Lieutenant paid $242,758 Reinstated By APD And Given $20,000 In Settlement; Ex-Prosecutor Asks “How Can You Withdraw A Complaint Of Commission Of A Crime?”; DA or AG Not Prevented From Acting, But Not Likely To Act Ignoring The Scandals

On October 25, KRQE News 13 reported a  Larry Barker follow-up investigation on the reinstatement of  APD Lieutenant Jim Edison. The story is as hard hitting as it gets and raises more than a few disturbing questions. Below is the full transcript of the news story followed by the link to review the new account:

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It is a well-documented case of high-level wrongdoing at the Albuquerque Police Department. While assigned to the Chief’s office, Lieutenant Jim Edison pocketed tens of thousands of dollars in illicit overtime. Over a 12-month period, the lieutenant was paid $242,758. That’s more than the police chief and even the mayor.

It began in 2020 after Lt. Edison was tapped to lead APD’s COVID-19 response. His duties included coordinating testing, contact tracing, compiling stats, and responding to virus-related emails and phone calls. Even though his assignment was a day shift desk job, Lt. Edison padded his pay with thousands of hours in time and a half call-out overtime. Homicide Detectives receive call-out O/T when they respond after hours to a crime scene. Lieutenant Edison claimed call-out overtime for after-hours emails and phone calls. He told a supervisor he was allowed two hours of call-out overtime for any phone call he received outside regular working hours.

For example, Saturday, January 16, 2021. Edison hit up taxpayers 12 hours of overtime for making phone calls and sending emails on his day off.

January 22, 2021. The lieutenant documented seven minutes of off-duty work and claimed eight hours of overtime.

Sunday, January 31, 2021. Edison accounted for 22 minutes of work and claimed ten and a half hours of overtime.

Edison put in for overtime hours practically every day for a full year, even Christmas. On December 25, 2020, Edison claimed eight hours O/T. And there must have been some kind of email emergency on New Year’s day 2021 because, instead of celebrating, the lieutenant said he was doing police work and claimed 11 hours of overtime.

Last year, APD launched a series of Internal Affairs investigations aimed at the lieutenant’s timecard practices. In a memo from an Internal Affairs Investigator, Edison was informed, “It is alleged you have committed fraud by being paid over 40k for the first two months of 2021.”

Internal Affairs informed Chief Harold Medina, “…a reasonable likelihood of a criminal prosecution exists against Lt. Edison.” Following extensive investigations, IA Investigators concluded Lt. Jim Edison had violated numerous APD Codes of Conduct, Rules, and Regulations.

Earlier this year, then Interim Superintendent For Police Reform, Eric Garcia, told KRQE News 13 that Edison’s violations were “very serious.”

“Lt. Edison decided to claim overtime when it wasn’t appropriate. Lt. Edison wasn’t truthful with his supervisor. … He was abusing the system,” Chief Medina said in a February interview.

Edison was fired from APD last November. Because any police officer who violates New Mexico police standards can have their Law Enforcement Certification revoked, APD is required to report Edison’s misconduct to New Mexico’s Law Enforcement Academy for investigation. “The relationship that exists between the citizens of the state of New Mexico and the licensed professionals who are charged with delivering public safety to them is critical. Public trust in those licensed professionals is paramount,” said Benjamin Baker, the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy Interim Director.

(New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy Letter to Chief Medina. Click the image to read full letter.)

APD’s leadership violated state law by failing to report Edison’s misconduct to the Law Enforcement Academy. “I’ve corresponded with the leadership at the City of Albuquerque Police Department, alerting them to this matter being brought to my attention … and the absence of a filed complaint from their office with the (Academy) Board,” said Benjamin Baker.

In late August, APD finally reported Jim Edison’s misconduct to the Law Enforcement Academy. His Police Officer Certification is under review by the Academy’s Board.

End of story? Not quite. You see, he’s back. In June, APD rehired Jim Edison. Today, he’s a police Lieutenant assigned to the Airport. And what about that documented timecard misconduct? The city wiped it clean like it never occurred.

Here’s what happened. Edison appealed his firing to the City Personnel Board. However, after he threatened to sue the city for civil rights violations, APD did an about-face and apparently decided Edison’s misconduct wasn’t so bad after all. City officials negotiated an out-of-court settlement behind closed doors. Jim Edison was reinstated retroactively to November with full back pay and benefits. And, just to make sure there are no hard feelings, the city handed Edison something extra, a bonus check for $20,000.

As part of the Settlement Agreement, Edison will be demoted and his misconduct discipline will be reduced from termination to a two-week suspension. Disciplinary actions arising from the timecard wrongdoing will be removed from his personnel record.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” says former police officer Tom Grover. Grover is an attorney specializing in police misconduct cases. “It’s a public record. I don’t think you can just make it disappear. I’ve never seen a disciplinary record be removed. They did the investigation. There were findings. There was a final decision to discipline. It just goes away?” Grover said.

(Click the image to read the Full and Final Settlement and Release of Claims made and entered into by and between Jim Edison and the City of Albuquerque.)

Jim Edison’s firing last year was based on violations of APD’s internal Codes of Conduct. Because Edison’s timecard activity may violate state statutes, APD referred the matter to the Attorney General for a criminal investigation. So will Jim Edison be charged with a crime? We may never know. As part of the Settlement Agreement, APD pledged not to refer allegations of Edison’s misconduct to outside law enforcement agencies. And if a referral has already been made, APD must retract the referral.

“I thought, how strange is this? How can you withdraw a complaint of commission of a crime,” says retired state prosecutor Steve Suttle. Suttle says, in his 30-year career, he’s never seen a provision like that. “Facts are facts. And if there are facts here, after investigation, that reveal acts of crimes, the D.A. or the A.G. is perfectly within their power to pursue those with the bringing of charges or an indictment,” Suttle said.



On July 1, it was reported that APD Lieutenant Jim Edison who was fired in November 2021 for overtime pay abuse had been reinstated by the city at the same rank pursuant to a settlement reach between Edison and the City. Edison had been with the department for 14 years. He was terminated after an Internal Affairs investigations found he had claimed more overtime hours than he had worked, that he lied to investigators and that he retaliated against the supervisor who initiated the investigation into his conduct. Edison appealed his termination by APD alleging he did nothing wrong and that he was entitled to the overtime claimed and paid.


Lieutenant Jim Edison’s alleged overtime pay abuse dates back to early 2020 during the first days of the pandemic. At the time, he was transferred to the Chief’s Office to head up APD’s COVID-19 response. Edison was responsible for coordinating testing, contact tracing, pandemic-related stats, emails and phone calls. Edison’s job in the Chief’s Office was primarily administrative desk work. When he was transferred to the Homeland Security Division, his new commander raised questions about the hours he was claiming.


According to a March 14, 2021, KRQE 13 Investigative Report, over the course of one year, Lieutenant Jim Edison was paid $242,758 which consisted of a base pay and overtime pay. To put this staggering amount into perspective, hourly based pay for APD Lieutenants in 2020 and 2021 was $40 an hour or $83,200 a year. In other words, Edison was paid $159,558 in overtime in addition to his $83,200 base pay resulting in $242,758 paid in the one year reviewed. Edison was paid $186,944 in 2020 and $173,672 in 2021. In 2020, more than $95,000 was paid in overtime.

Edison was paid upwards of 3 times his base pay all because of overtime which is paid at the rate of time and a half. KRQE reported that in order for Lieutenant Jim Edison to be paid $242,758 yearly figure in 2021, Edison “cheated” on his overtime pay claims every day for a full year. Even though Edison’s overtime pay claims violated APD personnel rules and regulations, APD’s top command staff in the chief’s office failed to oversee it and approved it without any questions.



The Internal Affairs investigation found that Lieutenant Jim Edison was frequently claiming 2 hours or more of overtime for any task he did outside of work hours. An example given is that he would send a master spreadsheet of COVID-19 numbers to his supervisor every morning around 3 a.m. and claim two hours of overtime when the actual time worked was routinely under half an hour. The Internal Affairs investigator concluded that “overall, Lt. Edison could have combined work or completed [his work] during his shift to cut down on overtime.”

The Internal Affairs investigation found that:

“the department failed to adequately re-address and supervise Lt. Edison’s behavior in January 2021 and February 2021, which allowed Lt. Edison to continue to violate the same and additional policy violations.”

Internal Affairs also found that Deputy Chief Michael Smathers failed to ensure Edison was correctly coding his overtime hours and failed to identify that what he was claiming was not within department policy. Smathers received an 8-hour suspension and a letter of reprimand.


Edison appealed his termination and reached a settlement agreement with the city in May. Edison’s private Attorney Tim White said Edison was reinstated and was assigned to the Aviation Department.

Edison threatened to file a lawsuit against the city for wrongful discharge and retaliation based on alleged violations of his civil rights and the New Mexico Whistleblower Protection Act.

The major terms of the settlement agreement negotiated between the city and APD Lieutenant Jim Edison include the following:

1.  The city agreed to withdraw its decision to terminate Edison and removed the discipline from his record.

2.  The city agreed not to refer allegations of criminal conduct to any outside law enforcement agency agree if a referral had already been made, APD must retract the referral.

3.  The city agreed to pay all of Edison’s his back pay since the date of his termination and agreed to pay Edison an additional $20,000. At the time of his termination Edison was paid $40 an hour or $83,200 a year. According to the city’s transparency portal, Edison is now making $43.20 per hour and has earned more than $50,000 so far this year which includes his back pay.

4.  Although Edison returned to the department as a lieutenant, he agreed to “self-demote” and undergo an audit of his previous pay records to determine whether he was overpaid. No later than November 18 Edison will “voluntarily and irrevocably demote to the rank of sergeant or to patrol officer” and he will not be eligible for any promotions.

5.  Instead of the 120-hour and 80-hour suspension he was initially handed, Edison agreed to serve a 96-hour suspension with 16 hours held in abeyance for six months as long as he isn’t subject to further discipline.

6.  It was agreed that the the city will conduct an independent audit of Edison’s pay records from February 2020 through May 21, 2021, and “determine whether his claims for overtime were consistent with the law.” If the audit determines Edison was overpaid “the city will first confer with employee for reimbursement and may thereafter pursue collection of overpaid amounts through appropriate judicial process.” If the audit finds that Edison was underpaid, he will be paid as required by the City and Police Union Collective Barging Agreement (CBA).

7.  The settlement perovides that Edison “retains all rights to deny audit findings and to oppose reimbursement for any reason.”

8.  Edison denies in the settlement he committed any misconduct, and the city denies all allegations he had raised against it.

At the time when the settlement was reported on, Chief Harold Medina said that Edison “wasn’t exactly breaking the law” when it came to his overtime claimed. Medina said Edison was taking advantage of the union collective bargaining contract which allows the management positions of Lieutenant to be part of the police union, which violates New Mexico statutory law that prohibits management to join unions.

The collective bargaining agreement between the city and the police union includes patrol officers, detectives, sergeants and lieutenants. The police union contract provides that when officers are called into work outside of regular hours, they are guaranteed to be paid a minimum of two hours at the rate of time and a half, no matter the actual time worked, which could be a matter of a few minutes.

The link to the quoted news source material is here:



An anonymous complaint to Albuquerque’s Civilian Police Oversight Agency (CPOA) launched an Internal Affairs investigation into Lieutenant Jim Edison’s overtime pay abuse. The CPOA investigator concluded Lieutenant Jim Edison violated rules, regulations and codes of conduct by cheating on his overtime. He was given a two-week suspension by APD Chief Harold Medina.

Despite APD’s investigation, Edison continued to misrepresent overtime on his timesheets which led to a second Internal Affairs investigation. Edison’s supervisor was Deputy Chief Mike Smathers. Even though Edison’s daily overtime clearly violated APD policy, Deputy Chief Smathers never questioned the overtime work claimed by Edison on his timesheet and routinely approved his time on the department’s payroll system.

The Internal Affairs Investigator concluded Deputy Chief Smathers violated multiple rules and regulations by failing to review Edison’s timesheets. Smathers received a one-day suspension for his conduct as a result of the civilian police oversight agency investigation.

In a second Internal Affairs probe, the Investigator concluded Smathers violated APD rules and policy a second time by failing to review Lt. Edison’s timesheets. According to internal affairs Detective Anastacio Zamora:

“There is no evidence Deputy Chief Smathers conducted any follow-up with anyone [except Lt. Edison] to ensure things were done correctly.”

Deputy Chief Smathers was given a written reprimand for his role in the Internal Affairs case. Albuquerque’s Superintendent for Police Reform, Sylvester Stanley, who retired after 8 months on the job, made the final decision to discipline Deputy Chief Smathers.

APD Police Chief Harold Medina bent over backwards to defend Deputy Chief Smathers saying the one-day suspension was appropriate. Medina had this to say:

“Up here on the fifth floor of the Police Department, the executive staff, we’re so busy that to go through the fine details of looking through somebody’s timesheets is not something that we’re going to be carving out time for. … Jim Edison deceived Deputy Chief Smathers and Deputy Chief Smathers took accountability for that and was disciplined.

The biggest thing that Deputy Chief Smathers did wrong is he had faith and belief in Jim Edison. Jim Edison betrayed that trust. And it’s very difficult for me to paint a negative brush on Deputy Chief Smathers for being a good leader, respecting his people, listening to his people and believing in his people.”



During the last 10 years, the Albuquerque Police Department has consistently gone over its overtime budget by millions. In fiscal year 2016, APD was funded for $9 million for over time but APD actually spent $13 million. A March 2017 city internal audit of APD’s overtime spending found police officers taking advantage of a system that allows them to accumulate excessive overtime at the expense of other city departments. A city internal audit report released in March 2017 revealed that the Albuquerque Police Department spent over $3.9 million over its $9 million “overtime” budget. For the last 3 years, APD has exceeded its overtime budget by as much as $4 million or more each year. In 2019, APD spent $11.5 million paying sworn police overtime when the budget was $9 million.


It is very difficult to accept that as part of the civil Settlement Agreement that the  Mayor Tim Keller Administration and APD would agree  not to refer allegations of criminal conduct to any outside law enforcement agency.  What is even more disgusting is that the Keller Administration and APD would agree if a referral has already been made, APD would retract the referral.  What also does not pass the smell test is that an additional $20,000 was added to the settlement, which was on top of payment of backpay.  The settlement ultimately stands for the proposition that APD sworn officers who engage in overtime pay fraud and who collect thousands in overtime pay are “above the law” and will not be prosecuted for their misconduct.

APD Police officers earning excessive overtime is nothing new. It has been going on for years and is very common knowledge. From a personnel management standpoint, when you have a select few that are taking home the lion’s share of overtime, it causes moral problems with the rest. Excessive overtime paid is a red flag for abuse of the system, mismanagement of police resources or the lack of personnel. The answer to end the historical APD overtime pay abuses once and for all has always been to initiate criminal prosecutions for fraud and  civil lawsuits for reimbursement of fraudulent overtime pay. That will never happen as long as Mayor Tim Keller and Chief Harold Medina have no problem with the conduct.

When Tim Keller was New Mexico State Auditor, he carefully crafted a public persona of a “white knight” government watch dog who combated what he called “waste, fraud and abuse”, so much so that he established a fraud division within the State Auditor’s Office.  After serving less than 2 years of a 4-year term as State Auditor, Keller announced for Mayor in 2017 and rode his public persona as a white knight to a landslide victory.  As State Auditor, Keller relished the publicity over his efforts to combat “waste fraud and abuse” in government and by government officials. As Mayor of Albuquerque, Tim Keller refuses to hold his own police department accountable for “waste, fraud and abuse” in police overtime.

The settlement has raised more than a few eyebrows within APD and city hall observers.  Rumors circulating at city hall are that APD Lieutenant Jim Edison has very damaging and very sensitive information on the conduct of APD Chief Harold Medina and Mayor Tim Keller that he has witnessed and has covered up.  The public will never know the truth of the rumors given the confidentiality provisions of the settlement.

Notwithstanding the settlement, the Bernalillo County District Attorney and the New Mexico Attorney General are not parties to the settlement. Neither the District Attorney nor the Attorney General are bound by the terms of the settlement and they are totally within their rights and authority to conduct a criminal investigation into the matter and even charge for overtime fraud if they wanted to.

A criminal investigation is not at all likely to happen anytime soon, if at all,  given the fact that Bernalillo County District Attorney Raul Torrez is now  running for Attorney General and Attorney General Hector Balderas is leaving office on January 1, 2023.  Besides, for the last 2 years during this whole sordid mess, both have chosen to ignore the APD overtime pay abuse scandals even after the City  and the New Mexico State Auditor has issued audits confirming what has happened and essentially delivering completed investigation to them both.


A Very Flawed Poll Giving Very Flawed Candidate Ronchetti A 1% Edge In Governor’s Race; False and Vicious Ads Of Ronchetti Campaign Hallmark Of His Campaign Manager

On October 25, news media outlets and social media and political bloggers made a big deal out of a poll on the race for the governor in New Mexico that gave Republican Mark Ronchetti a slight edge in the race. The poll was conducted by the Trafalgar group which is a political and corporate survey company. The poll was conducted October  17-19 with a margin of error of 2.9%.

Based on their survey, the poll gave Republican Mark  Ronchetti a 1%  lead in the race with 46.6%  of the vote compared to 45.5% for Governor  Michelle Lujan Grisham. The poll has a nearly 3% margin of error, effectively making the race too close to call. The poll is the first poll ever to show Ronchetti in the lead.

The poll reports 1,077 people who responded. Around 48% were Democrat, 36% were Republican, and 16% either had no affiliation or aligned with another party. What skews the poll is that 58% of people who responded to the poll were Anglo, and only 31% were Hispanic.

The link to the quoted news source is here:




As of October 11, there had been a total of 5 polls conducted by the news media in the 2022 race for New Mexico Governor. All 5 polls have Democrat Governor Lujan Grisham leading Republican Mark Ronchetti by as low of only 3% and as high as 16%. Averaging out all 5 of the previous polls reflected that Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham polling average is 48.8% compared to Ronchetti’s 39.2%. Ronchetti never once surpass 40% to 43% in any of the polling which is essentially the Republican base in New Mexico. Lujan Grisham  busted the magic 50% plus one in only 1 polls.


Mark Ronchetti can only be considered a very flawed candidate very much like Donald Trump  given the fact that he is an ultra  right wing TV personality with no government and management experience and given who is running his campaign.

If Republican Mark Ronchetti has in fact closed the gab in the polling, and is now leading, the likely reason is his never ending negative campaign ads often seen run 3 times consecutively on TV stations. One ad accuses the Governor of releasing a prisoner from prison early and then committing murder  and another featuring the grandparents of his murder victim urging her defeat. Ronchetti  ads have been  found to be misleading or false by at least 2 local  news outlets. Instead of aggressively refuting the ads at first with her own campaign ads, an unsuccessful attempt was made to have the ads removed.  The Lujan Grisham campaign is now running ads pointing out the falsehoods in the Ronchetti ads.

The Ronchetti vicious attack ads should not come as any surprise and were expected. Least anyone forgets, Jay McCleskey is Republican Mark Ronchetti’s campaign manager and political consultant. Simply put, Jay McCleskey is the go-to guy for anyone who is Republican running for office willing to spend and do whatever it takes to win an election at any and all costs.

“political hit piece” is the lowest form of negative campaigning used by all successful bottom feeder political consultants to smear the reputation of an opponent. It’s difficult to respond to a political hit piece, especially at the end of a contentious campaign such as the current Governor’s race  or if an opponent does not have the financial resources to respond to the lies and the liars who tell them.

In New Mexico, McCleskey has elevated the “political hit piece” to an art form. His tactics are often condemned by the public and those who are the target. The problem is that negative campaigning and smear tactics work and has worked for Jay McClesky over too many years and too many campaigns.

Jay McCleskey is New Mexico’s version of Lee Atwater or Karl Rove, two of the most despicable right wing Republican bottom feeders and political consultants and strategists for the Republican Party.  McClesky has even received praises for his work from Karl Rove.  McClesky is known for his negative slash-and-burn tactics to disparage and viciously malign Democrats at all levels and he has been very successful at it in New Mexico for the last 20 years making a very lucrative living.

McClesky managed the successful campaigns of Mayor Richard Berry and Governor Suzanna Martinez as well as numerous campaigns for local and state offices. McClesky is currently managing the campaign of Republican Paul Pacheco for Bernalillo County Sherriff.  Former Republican Governor Susana Martinez was vicious in going after members of her own party who disagreed with her and she did that with Jay Mc Clesky carrying out her orders.

It was reported that Southern New Mexico rancher Scott Chandler, a Republican, settled a defamation lawsuit he filed claiming political consultant Jay McCleskey and the former Republican Governor’s political action committee circulated untruthful mailers about him during the 2016 campaign. On December 15, 2021, the case was settled with McClesky’s insurance company agreeing to pay $375,000 to settle the defamation claims against McClesky.


Simply put, the Trafalgar poll accuracy is in serious doubt  because of those who were polled.  The poll was a straight horse race poll and did not go into great detail on the issues that are motivating voters. The poll was weighted with 57% of those polled as being Anglo, which is Ronchetti’s core supporters,  which is 10 points too high. The poll has Hispanic voters at 31% of the projected electorate which is way too low.  Hispanics along with woman voters are the core supporters of Governor Lujan Grisham.  Trafalgar is also Republican funded polling operation.

The only real takeaway from the Trafalgar poll is the race is tightening as Election Day gets closer, but this is expected and normal for New Mexico politics. Political news website Real Clear Politics averaged all the current polling data together. With the inclusion of the Trafalgar survey, the Real Clear Politics average of all the latest polls has Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham leading Ronchetti by 3.7%.  However, it also ranked the race as a toss-up which only confirms that the race  is not over yet.

Early voting has already begun and voter turn out is already high, which likely favors Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham. Reports are that as much of 12% of the projected vote has been cast.

The second and final poll for the Albuquerque Journal on the Governor’s  race will be published this Sunday. It is  the one singular poll that has the potential of ending the race all because of its decades old accuracy.


Mayor Tim Keller’s Shotgun “All the Above Approach” To Homeless Crisis: Millions For Services, Shelters, Housing, Zoning Amendments; “HOUSING FORWARD ABQ” Plan Based On False Presumptions

Since being sworn into office as Mayor on December 1, 2017, Tim Keller has made dealing with the city’s homeless a major priority. The homeless have reached crisis proportions with them becoming far more visible and aggressive by illegally camping in parks, on streets, in alleyways and in city open space,  whenever they want and declining city services. Keller has proclaimed an “all the above approach to deal with the homeless costing millions. This blog article explores exactly what Mayor Tim Keller is doing to deal with the homeless crisis to implement his “all the above approach” policy. It’s a policy that is nothing more than a shotgun approach to the homeless crisis  and it is failing.


Each year the “Point in Time” survey is conducted to determine how many people experience homelessness on a given night in Albuquerque, and to learn more about their specific needs. The PIT count is done in communities across the country. The New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness (NMCEH)  is contracted by the city to do the survey.

In August, the 2022 the Point In Time (PIT) homeless survey reported that the number total homeless in the city was 1,311 with 940 in emergency shelters, 197 unsheltered and 174 in transitional housing. Surprisingly, the survey found that there are 256 fewer homeless in 2022 than in 2021 which was 1,567.  In 2019, the PIT found 1,524 homeless.

In even numbered years, only sheltered homeless are surveyed for the PIT survey. In odd numbered years, both sheltered and unsheltered homeless are surveyed. The 2022 PIT report provides the odd number years of shelter and unsheltered homeless in Albuquerque for 8 years from 2009 to 2019 and including 2022.  During the last 12 years, PIT yearly surveys have counted between  1,300 to 2,000 homeless a year.  Those numbers are:  2011: 1,639, 2013: 1,171, 2015:1,287,  2017: 1,318, 2019: 1,524, 2021: 1,567 and 2022: 1,311.


The PIT survey statistics have never supported the city or charitable provider claims the city has upwards of 5,000 homeless. When the 2022 PIT Survey results were released showing a decline in the number of homeless, the City’s Family and Community Services Department went  out of its way to disparage the results by dismissing it as an “undercount” saying “We need to base our services and solutions on the situation today, not yesterday, or six months ago when the count was taken.” The department likely downplays the results to avoid cuts in its budget and to avoid scrutiny of how the millions of funding is being spent.

What cannot be refuted are the PIT survey statistics over the last 5 years are very consistent.  The survey statistics do not support the contention that the city’s homeless count is near the 5,000 claimed by the private providers who the city has service contracts.


On June 23, 2022 Mayor Tim Keller announced that the City of Albuquerque was adding $48 million to the FY23 budget to address housing and homelessness issues in Albuquerque. The City  also announced it was working on policy changes to create more housing and make housing more accessible. The key appropriations passed by City Council included in the $48 million are:

· $20.7 million for affordable and supportive housing
· $1.5 million for improvements to the Westside Emergency Housing Center
· $4 million to expand the Wellness Hotel Program
· $7 million for a youth shelter
· $6.8 million for medical respite and sobering centers
· $7 million for Gateway Phases I and II, and improvements to the Gibson Gateway Shelter facility
· $555,000 for services including mental health and food insecurity prevention

The link to the quoted source is here:


In fiscal year 2021 (July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021) the Family and Community Services Department and the Keller Administration spent upwards of $40 Million to benefit the homeless or near homeless. The 2021 enacted city budget (July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022 ) for Family and Community Services Department provides for affordable housing and community contracts totaling $22,531,752, emergency shelter contracts totaling $5,688,094, homeless support services contracts totaling $3,384,212, mental health contracts totaling $4,329,452, and substance abuse contracts for counseling contracts totaling $2,586,302.

The link to the 2021-2022 city approved budget is here:


Mayor Keller  has increased funding to the Family Community Services Department for assistance to the homeless with $35,145,851 million spent in fiscal year 2021 and $59,498,915 million being spent in fiscal 2022  with the city adopting a “housing first” policy.

Mayor Keller’s 2022-2023 approved budget significantly increases the Family and Community Services budget by $24,353,064 to assist the homeless or near homeless by going from $35,145,851 to $59,498,915.

The 2022-2023 enacted budget for the Department of Community Services is $72.4 million and the department is funded for 335 full time employees, an increase of 22 full time employees.  A breakdown of the amounts to help the homeless and those in need of housing assistance is as follows:

$42,598,361 total for affordable housing and community contracts with a major emphasis on permanent housing for chronically homeless. It is $24,353,064 more than last year.

$6,025,544 total for emergency shelter contracts (Budget page 102.), down $396,354 from last year.

$3,773,860 total for mental health contracts (Budget page105.), down $604,244 from last year.

$4,282,794 total for homeless support services, up $658,581 from last year.

$2,818,356 total substance abuse contracts for counseling (Budget page 106.), up by $288,680 from last year.

The link to the 2022-2023 budget it here:


The 2022-2023 adopted city contains $4 million in recurring funding and $2 million in one-time funding for supportive housing programs in the City’s Housing First model and $24 million in Emergency Rental Assistance from the federal government.


The amount the city is spending for services per year per homeless person who are receiving some sort of city services can be calculated for 2022-2023 budget year.

The 2022  Point in Time Report reflects that the number of emergency sheltered homeless is 940 with 174 in “transitional housing” for a total of 1,114.   Therefore, the city is spending a minimum of $15,171.05   per homeless person, per year through the charitable service providers calculated as follows:   $16,900,554 (total of service contracts for 2022-2023) DIVIDED BY 1,114 (940 Emergency Sheltered and 174 Transitional housing) = $15,171.05.

The $15,171.05 per person, per year is for services only by contracted providers and does not include the $4.5 million operation costs for the Westside 24/7 shelter nor the budgeted operating costs for the new Gateway Homeless Shelter when it is fully operational. 

 Further, the amount does not include the $42,598,361 allocated for affordable housing and permanent housing for the near homeless or chronically homeless with the actual number of those receiving city funding  unavailable.


During the past 5 years, Mayor Keller has established two 24/7 homeless shelters, including purchasing the Loveless Gibson Medical Center for $15 million to convert it into a homeless shelter.

The city is funding and operating 2 major shelters for the homeless, one fully operational with 450 beds and one that will be fully operational by Winter that will assist upwards 1,000 homeless and accommodate 330 a night. Ultimately, both shelters are big enough to be remodeled and provide far more sheltered housing.


It was on October 22, 2019 that Mayor Tim Keller announce that the Westside Emergency Housing Center (WEHC) would become a 24/7 homeless shelter. It is a “one-stop-shop” with service providers providing medical services, case management and job placement services. It costs about $4.5 million a year to operate the shelter with about $1 million of that $4.5 million invested in transporting people to and from the facility.


The Westside Emergency Housing Center has upwards of 450 beds to accommodate the homeless on any given night. The shelter offers shelter to men, women, and families experiencing homelessness in Albuquerque. While staying at the WEHC, the homeless have access to a computer lab, showers, medical examination rooms, and receive three meals a day. The WEHC is a 24/7 operation and has a staff of 80 to assist those who stay at the shelter.  The shelter does connect men and women to permeant housing and other resources.


Since being sworn in as Mayor on December 1, 2017, Mayor Tim Keller made it known that building a new city operated homeless shelter was his top priority. Keller deemed that a 24-hour, 7 day a week temporarily shelter for the homeless critical towards reducing the number of homeless in the city.

On April 6, 2021, Mayor Tim Keller held a press conference in front of the Gibson Medical Center, formerly the Lovelace Hospital, to officially announce the city had bought the massive 572,000 square-foot building that has a 201-bed capacity, for $15 million.  Keller announced that the massive facility would be transformed into a Gateway Center Homeless Shelter. On September 3, 2022 it was reported that the ABQ Gateway Center will likely to open some time this winter.  According to the 2022-2023 approved city budget,  $1,691,859 has been allocated for various vendors to operate Westside Emergency Shelter Center.

The city is planning to assist an estimated 300 more homeless residents and connect them to other services intended to help secure permanent housing. The new facility is intended to serve all populations of men, women, and families. Further, the city wants to provide a place anyone could go regardless of gender, religious affiliation, sobriety, addictions, psychotic condition or other factors.

The city facility is to have on-site case managers that would guide residents toward counseling, addiction treatment, housing vouchers and other available resources.  The goal is for the new homeless shelter to provide first responders an alternative destination for the people they encounter known as the “down-and-out” calls.

The city estimates 1,500 people could go through the drop-off each year. The “dropoff  for the down and outs” will initially have 4 beds.  It is primarily imagined as a funnel into other services.  While that likely will include other on-site services, city officials say it will also help move people to a range of other destinations, including different local shelters, or even the Bernalillo County-run CARE Campus, which offers detoxification and other programs.

Interior demolition and remodeling of the 572,000 square foot building has been going on for a number of months to prepare the facility for a homeless shelter.  The beds for 50 women as planned and for the first responder drop-off is to come online this winter. The city plans to launch other elements of the 24/7 shelter by next summer.

According to Keller, the city’s plan is to continue adding capacity, with ultimate plan to have a total of 250 emergency shelter beds, and 40 beds for medical sobering and 40 beds for medical respite beds for a total of 330 bed capacity.  Counting the other outside providers who lease space inside the building, city officials believe the property’s impact will be significant.

The link to quoted news source material is here:



The homeless has reached crisis proportions with the homeless having become far more visible and aggressive by  illegal camping  in parks, on streets, in alleyways and in city open space areas.   When it comes to the “homeless crimes” of illegal camping, criminal trespassing and loitering, Mayor Keller  acquiesced with the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) implementing  a “no arrest” policy. Orders for immediate removal their camps are not given to the homeless.  Instead homeless are given 72 hours to vacate illegal campsite locations essentially giving them permission to continue to violate the law for 72 hours.  

APD’s policy is that arrests are the very last resort to deal with the homeless and citations are to be issued. At one time, police arrest discretion of the homeless was taken away from APD officers and APD could not arrest until it was approved by the Family and Community Services Department and after it conducted outreach measures. This policy has since been rescinded.  APD is allowed to make arrests only when the circumstances warrant such as a violent felony endangering public safety.

For 5 years, Mayor Keller allowed Coronado Park to become a “de facto” city sanctioned homeless encampment allowing  it to become  a public nuisance.  Criminal activity spiked at the park over four years. The city park had an extensive history lawlessness including drug use, violence, murder, rape and mental health issues. City officials said it was costing the city $27,154 every two weeks or $54,308 a month to clean up the park only to allow the homeless encampment to return.

On July 25, Mayor Tim Keller, calling Coronado  Park “the most dangerous place in New Mexico” was forced to close down the park  because of violent crimes, including 4 murders,  and environmental ground contamination concerns without any plan for dealing with the 75 to 125 homeless that were displaced.   City officials said that upwards 120 people camp nightly at the park. It should never be forgotten by anyone that it was Keller who created “the most dangerous place in New Mexico”


It was on June 6, 2022 the City Council enacted an amendment to the Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO) to allow for city sanctioned “Safe Outdoor Spaces”“Safe Outdoor Spaces” are city sanctioned homeless encampments located in open space areas that will allow upwards of 50 homeless people to camp, require hand washing stations, toilets and showers, require a management plan, 6-foot fencing and provide for social services.

Under the adopted amendment, Safe Outdoor Spaces are allowed in some non-residential and mixed-use zones and must be at least 330 feet from zones with low-density residential development. The restrictions do not apply to campsites operated by religious institutions. Under the IDO amendments, Safe Outdoor Spaces are allowed for up to two years with a possible two-year extension.

On June 22, after tremendous public outcry and objections, two bills were introduced that would repeal safe outdoor spaces. One bill introduced would stop the city from accepting or approving Safe Outdoor Space applications and the other will eliminate “safe outdoor spaces” from the zoning code altogether.

On July 30, Dawn Legacy Point filed the very first application  for a ‘Safe Outdoor Space’ homeless encampment. The homeless encampment is intended to provide accommodations for upwards of 50 women who are homeless and who are “sex-trafficking victims”.  The homeless encampment  is  to be located on vacant land at 1250 Menaul Blvd, NE which  consists of two large parcels of property owned by the city with an assess value of $4,333,550.  The Family Community Service Department gave Dawn Legacy preferential treatment to Dawn Legacy and agree to help fund the project.  On August 8, the City Planning Department unilaterally and behind closed doors rushed to approve the Dawn Legacy Point application and did not give notice to adjoining and surrounding property owners. Seven appeals were filed and on October 10, a city Land Use Hearing Officer a his decision and REMANDED the Dawn Legacy Point application back to the city Planning Department for further review after  finding “substantial and meaningful violations of due process” of law to the appellants

On Friday, August 26, Mayor Tim Keller announced he vetoed the Albuquerque City Council legislation that placed a moratorium on “Safe Outdoor Spaces.”   Keller argued in his veto message that the city cannot afford to limit its options for addressing homelessness and said he understood how new policies sometimes take time to refine after testing.  Keller wrote in part in his veto message:

“We need every tool at our disposal to confront the unhoused crisis and we need to be willing to act courageously. … However, reasonable time, testing and piloting has not been allowed”.

Keller’s veto of the one-year moratorium on SOS encampments was upheld by the city council.

The link to the quoted news source article is here:


The repeal legislation was referred to the Environmental Planning Commission (EPC) for review and hearing and to make recommendations to the City Council.   On Thursday, September 15, the Environmental Planning Commission (EPC) voted to repeal “Safe Outdoor Spaces” from  the Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO) by  deleting  all references of Safe Outdoor Spaces effectively outlawing the conditional land use anywhere in the city.


On October 18, Mayor Tim Keller announced his “Housing Forward ABQ” plan. It is a new “multifaceted initiative” where Mayor Keller is hoping to add 5,000 new housing units across the city by 2025 above and beyond what private industry normally creates each year. As it stands now, the city issues private construction permits for 1,200 to 1,500 new housing units each year. According to Keller, the city is in a major housing crisis and studies show the city needs as many as 13,000 to 30,000 new housing units.

To add the 5,000 new housing units across the city by 2025, Keller  is proposing that the City of Albuquerque fund and be involved with the construction of new low income housing to deal with the homeless or near homeless.    The strategy includes “motel conversions” and  a zoning code “rebalance” to enhance density.  It includes allowing “casitas” which under the zoning code are formally known as “accessory dwelling” units.  Keller wants to allow “different forms of multi-unit housing types” on residential properties.   63% of the city’s housing  is single-family detached homes.

According to Keller, the city will also be pushing to convert commercial office space into to residential use. The Keller administration is proposing $5 million to offset developer costs with the aim of transitioning 10 properties and creating 1,000 new housing units.  The new plan also includes “motel conversations” which is the city purchasing and turning old and existing motels into housing.

Keller argues in part that his “Housing Forward ABQ”  plan will bolster the construction workforce and  address current renter concerns.  According to a news release, the Keller Administration intends to seek to change the law to protect tenants from “predatory practices such as excessive application fees, clarifying that deposits must be refundable and capping other fees, especially in complexes that accept vouchers.”

During his October 18 news conference announcing his “Housing Forward ABQ” Keller emphasized the importance of amending the city’s Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO).  Keller  had this to say:

“Right now our zoning code will never allow us to meet the housing demand in the city … If you want a place to advocate, if you want a place to change policy, if you want a place to argue, it’s all about the IDO.”

City Council President Isaac Benton has long advocated for ways to increase the housing stock, previously pushing to legalize casitas.  In 2016, the city council rejected his  amid  neighborhood association opposition. Benton had  this to say:

“We’ve had these arguments over the years with some of my most progressive neighborhoods that don’t even want to have a secondary dwelling unit be allowed in their backyard or back on the alley. … You know, we’ve got to change that discussion. We have to open up for our neighbors, of all walks of life, to be able to live and work here.”



“Motel conversions” includes affordable housing where the City’s Family & Community Services Department would acquire and renovate motels to develop low-income affordable housing options. The existing layout of the motels makes it cost-prohibitive to renovate them into living units with full sized kitchens. An Integrated Development Ordinance amendment will provide an exemption for affordable housing projects funded by the city, allowing kitchens to be small, without full-sized ovens and refrigerators. It will require city social services to regularly assist residents.  The homeless or the near homeless would be offered the housing.

One area of the city that has been targeted in particular by the Keller Administration for motel conversions is “Hotel Circle” in the North East Heights. Located in the area are a number of motels in the largest shopping area in SE and NE Albuquerque near I-40. The businesses in the area include Target, Office Depot, Best Buy, Home Store, PetCo and the Mattress Store  and restaurants such as  Sadies, the Owl Café, and Applebee’s  and other businesses. The city is already seeking to buy Sure Stay Hotel on Hotel Circle SE and has its eye on purchasing the abandoned and boarded up Ramada Inn for a motel conversion.


Mayor Tim Keller has taken full advantage of loopholes within the Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO) to cut out general public involvement and input to promote and implement his shotgun “all the above approach” to the city’s homeless crisis. He has done so with the help and assistance of his Family and Community Services Department and the Planning Department who carry out his political agenda over public objections, such was the case with the  Safe Outdoor Spaces and the application process for Dawn Legacy Point.

When Keller says “Right now our zoning code will never allow us to meet the housing demand in the city … If you want a place to advocate, if you want a place to change policy, if you want a place to argue, it’s all about the IDO”  what he really means and what he wants is to be able to do whatever he wants without public input or interference from anyone.

Keller has also taken full advantage of City Council’s ineptness, disarray and failed leadership to implement his “all the above approach”  and his shotgun policies.  That may be “good politics” in Keller’s mind, but it sucks for the general public.  Keller does not realize that his actions are the very type of politics that creates hostility and mistrust of politicians.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The postscript to this blog article provides details on how the public have been cut out of the review process.

The millions being spent each year by the city to deal with the homeless with the “housing first” policy should be more than sufficient to deal with city’s actual homeless numbers, yet Keller demands and wants more from the public.  He wants Safe Outdoor Spaces and his “Housing Forward Abq” plan despite both being ill advised.


Safe Outdoor Spaces encampments violates the city’s “housing first” policy by not providing a form of permanent housing and with reliance on temporary housing.   Safe Outdoor Spaces are not the answer to the homeless crisis. “Safe Outdoor Spaces” will be a disaster for the city as a whole. They will destroy neighborhoods, make the city a magnet for the homeless and destroy the city’s efforts to manage the homeless through housing.  Safe Outdoor Spaces represent a very temporary place to pitch a tent, relieve oneself, bathe and sleep at night with rules that will not likely be followed. The answer is to provide the support services, including food and permanent lodging, and mental health care needed to allow the homeless to turn their lives around, become productive self-sufficient citizens and no longer dependent on relatives or others


“Motel conversions” and  Keller’s “Housing Forward Abqplan to add 5,000 new housing units across the city by 2025 above and beyond what private industry normally creates each year makes the false presumption that the city’s need for 13,000 to 30,000 new housing units is somehow related to the homeless crisis.  It is not.  The housing shortage is related purely to economics and the development community’s inability to keep up with supply and demand and the public’s inability to purchase housing. There is also a shortage of rental properties.

Keller pushing to convert commercial office space into to residential is misplaced and presumes that commercial property owner’s would be amenable to replacing their more lucrative commercial property into residential property which is a complete reversal from what normally happens.  It is far more common for residential property owners to seek commercial zoning changes for their properties. The Keller administration is proposing $5 million to offset developer costs with the aim of transitioning 10 properties and creating 1,000 new housing units.

It should not come as any surprise to anyone that Mayor Tim Keller wants and is promoting “motel conversions”. He refused to take any position on IDO when he was running for Mayor the first time in 2017. Besides, Keller is known for his own self-promotion and ONE ABQ slogan. Zoning issues tend to be very boring and difficult to integrate into slogans, unless of course it’s your own program and calling it “Housing Forward Abq”.  Perhaps Keller should change his slogan “ONE ABQ” to “ONE ABQ, ONE KELLER DEVELOPMENT”.


Being homeless is not a crime. The city has a moral obligation to help the homeless, mentally ill and drug addicted. The city is meeting its moral obligation to the homeless  with the millions being spent each year for services, shelter and housing. The blunt truth is that  Mayor Tim Keller, the City Council and the city will never solve homelessness  and it’s not at all likely that the city will ever be free of the homeless. All that can and must be done is to manage the homeless crisis but there must be limitations.  Adopting an “all the above approach” is just plain foolish on a number of levels.

Spending millions on homeless services, shelters and housing and having no visible impact on homeless squatters who have no interest in city shelters, beds, motel vouchers and who want to live on the streets and camp in city parks, in alleys and trespass as they choose is at worse evidence of incompetent management  and at best wasting city  resources.  Keller and company need to do a better job dealing with the homeless and those who refuse services.  Mayor Keller needs to take a more measured approach which must include reliance on law enforcement and perhaps the courts, such as civil mental health commitment hearings, to get those who refuse services and to get them off the streets in order to get them the mental health care and drug rehabilitation they desperately need.

“Safe Outdoor Spaces” and “motel conversions” will be a disaster for the city as a whole. They will destroy neighborhoods and established business areas and make the city a magnet for the homeless.  Mayor Tim Keller has mishandled the homeless crisis, including the closing of Coronado Park, supporting Safe Outdoor Spaces and now motel conversions.  All 3 will be Mayor Keller’s symbols and legacy of failure as the city deals the city’s most vulnerable population, the homeless.  What Mayor Tim Keller is doing is cramming Safe Outdoor Spaces and motel conversions down the throats of the community to promote his own political agenda, something he must be held accountable for should he seek another term or higher office.




It was in 2015 that former Mayor Richard Berry during his second term started the rewrite process of the city’s comprehensive zoning code and comprehensive plan to rewrite the city’s entire zoning code. It was initially referred to as the  ABC-Z comprehensive plan and later renamed the Integrated Development Ordinance (ID0) once it was pasted.  In 2015, there were sixty (60) sector development plans which governed new development in specific neighborhoods. Forty (40) of the development plans had their own “distinct zoning guidelines” that were designed to protect many historical areas of the city.

The stated mission of the re write of the comprehensive plan was to bring “clarity and predictability” to the development regulations and to attract more “private sector investment”. The city’s web site on the plan rewrite claimed the key goals include “improve protection for the city’s established neighborhoods and respond to longstanding water and traffic challenges by promoting more sustainable development”. Economic development and job creation was argued as a benefit to rewriting the Comprehensive Plan.

Under the enacted Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO) the number of zones went from 250 to fewer than 20, which by any measure was dramatic. Using the words “promoting more sustainable development” means developers want to get their hands-on older neighborhoods and develop them as they see fit with little or no regulation at the best possible cost to make a profit. The IDO also granted wide range authority to the Planning Department to review and unilaterally  approve development applications without public input.


Former Mayor Richard Berry said the adoption of comprehensive plan was a much-needed rewrite of a patchwork of decades-old development guidelines that held the city back from development and improvement.  The enactment of the comprehensive plan was a major priority of Berry before he left office on December 1, 2017. The Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce and the construction and development community, including the National Association of Industrial and Office Parks (NAIOP), pulled all stops to get the plan adopted before the October 3, 2017 municipal election.  IDO was enacted with the support of Democrats and Republicans on the City Council despite opposition from the neighborhood interests and associations.

The rewrite was a rush job.  It took a mere 2 years to rewrite the entire zoning code  and it emerged as the Integrated Development Ordinance.  It was in late 2017, just a few weeks before the municipal election and the election of Mayor Tim Keller, that  the City Council  rushed to vote for the final adoption of the IDO comprehensive plan.  Outgoing City Councilor Republican Dan Lewis who lost the race for Mayor Tim Keller voted on the IDO refusing to allow the new council take up the IDO.

Critics of the Integrated Development Ordinance said it lacked public discussion and representation from a number of minority voices and minority communities.  They argued that the IDO should be adopted after the 2017 municipal election. There is no doubt that IDO will have a long-term impact on the cities older neighborhoods and favors developers. The intent from day one of the Integrated Development Ordinance was the “gutting” of long-standing sector development plans by the development community to repeal those sector development plans designed to protect neighborhoods and their character. The critics of the IDO argued that it made “gentrification” city policy giving developers free reign to do what they wanted to do without sufficient oversight.


The enacted Integrated Development Ordinance has provisions to allow the City Council to adopt major amendments every two years and make major changes to it. The IDO blatantly removes the public from the development review process, and it was the Planning Department’s clear intent to do so when it drafted the IDO.

On July 12, 2019, a guest editorial column was published by the Albuquerque Journal written by Dr. Joe L. Valles, President, Grande Heights Neighborhood Association. The column dealt with the city’s Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO). Portions of the guest column reveal just how bad the public has been shut out of the redevelopment process:

“There’s widespread disappointment and frustration with the Planning Department’s ongoing actions regarding the Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO). The IDO promise was “to ensure a high-quality built environment for nearby property owners and neighbors.” Without a vision for Albuquerque, however, unenforced and arbitrary rules in the IDO neither create new design nor ensure a high-quality built environment, and planners aren’t asking for it. 

The Planning Department also has a problem with strict adherence to state statute; if not de-facto violations of the law, then due-process breaches and potential violations of the Open Meetings Act ignore its spirit. The Development Review Board (DRB) was granted gratuitous discretionary power by the IDO to hold hearings and grant variances without the requisite conformity to strict standards. The Land-Use Hearing Officer (LUHO) warned planners about potential problems in courts.

Obviously, the City Council heard, because … [city] councilors unanimously passed R-19-150. This resolution sponsored by Councilor Trudy Jones allows the DRB to further circumvent strict state statute requirements. “To hold public hearings”‘ was changed to “hold meetings” and “variance” was replaced with “waiver.” These changes further diminish the process and discredit policy making. It’s policy change without public engagement favoring one sole stakeholder – the development community. If these are the kinds of “fixes” we’re going to get, then we’re stooping to a new low.

The IDO blatantly removes the public from the development review process, and it was the planners’ clear intent to do so. Telling are 2013-14 inter-office planning memos [which state]:

“Keep neighborhoods under control … Rebalancing Neighborhood Association input into the process … need to either remove from (the) process or give them a charge … growth no matter what … eliminating sector plans …”

The flaw is that against written promises, coupled with planners’ open advocacy on behalf of commercial development interests, they created an unbalanced domination by the one stakeholder. Rather than standing as honest brokers, planners continue in their staff reports and testimony to present the most favorable cases for certain developers or their agents with apparent imbedded undue influence within the city.

Although initially touted as a badly needed document to clean-up conflicting zoning regulations, planning staff …  identified over 500 “fixes” needed to amend the IDO. Astute neighborhood people have also identified numerous essential amendments.

It’s what happens to a document that’s constructed “in a fairly strict timeline in order to complete this monumental project during the remainder of the Mayor’s term and we need to get this RFP out by early June in order to accomplish that.”

Thus, in a special meeting, City Council passed the IDO on the eve of the mayoral election. The clear aim was to get Mayor (Richard) Berry to sign it before Mayor Keller took office. Six of 9 councilors, city planners and supporters of the IDO gave in to the development industry, wiped out publicly supported sector plans and left resident landowners hanging.

Property owners wanted to keep their sector plans – their sense of place. IDO form-based zones were created to set the forms of buildings and allow development to proceed more quickly without public hearings, something easier done in an urban environment like Downtown.

 The flaw? Without visionary planning you can’t reasonably attempt to create “downtown environments” citywide. After all, a key objective of this effort was “to develop zoning that protects neighborhoods while encouraging the revitalization of commercial areas.” Where are those neighborhood protections?”

You can review the guest editorial article at the below link: