On November 3, the Albuquerque Journal released its poll on the job performance of Mayor Tim Keller. The poll was conducted by its long-time polling firm Research & Polling which is considered the gold standard when it comes to political polls because of its accuracy. The poll was part of the highly comprehensive polling the Journal does and reports on every election year. The 2022 general election year poll covered all the major State and Federal elections and included polling on the top issues including abortion, crime, the economy, and education.
The Journal poll asked the singular question “Do you approve or disapprove of the way Tim Keller is handling his job as Mayor?”
The results of the poll were dramtic:
MIXED FEELINGS: 21%
WOULD NOT SAY: 5%
49% of Democrats polled APPROVE of Keller’s job performance
20% of Democrats polled DISAPPROVE of Keller’s job performance
25% of Democrats polled expressed MIXED FEELINGS
9% of Republicans polled APPROVE of Keller’s job performance
70% of Republicans polled DISAPPROVE of Keller’s job performance
14% of Republicans polled expressed MIXED FEELINGS
29% of Independents polled APPROVE of Keller’s job performance
48% of Independents polled DISAPPROVE of Keller’s job performance
20% of Independents polled expressed MIXED FEELINGS
The data breakdown of the poll was reported as follows:
32% of males approved of Keller’s job performance
44% of males disapproved of Keller’s job performance
19% of males had “mixed feeling” of Keller’s job performanc
34% of females approved of Keller’s job performance
37% of females disapproved of Keller’s job performance
22% of females had “mixed feeling” of Keller’s job performanc
39% of Hispanics polled APPROVE of Keller’s job performance
39% of Hispanics polled DISAPPROVE of Keller’s job performance
21% of Hispanics polled expressed MIXED FEELINGS
32% of Anglos polled APPROVE of Keller’s job performance
40% of Anglos polled DISAPPROVE of Keller’s job performance
21% of Anglos polled expressed MIXED FEELINGS
CHRONOLOGY OF KELLER’S DECLINING POPULARITY
It was just one year ago during his campaign for a second term that Keller registered a 50% approval rating in the Journal Poll. Previous Journal Polls found a majority in Albuquerque approved of Mayor Tim Keller during his first term, including 60% in 2020 and 61% in 2018.
In 2017 then New Mexico State Auditor Tim Keller was elected Mayor coming in first by beating all 7 of his opponents to get into a runoff. He went on to win in 2017 by a decisive landslide against City Councilor Dan Lewis who secured 37.8% with Keller winning with 62.2% of the vote.
Mayor Keller won his 2021 election to a second 4 year term with 56% of the final vote and beating Sheriff Manny Gonzales who secured 26% of the vote and Der Führer Trump Radio Shock Jock Eddy Aragon secured 18% of the vote.
MAYOR TIM KELLERS REACTION TO CRATERED POLL NUMBERS
Confidential sources within and without City hall confirmed that the poll results came as an absolute stunner to Mayor Tim Keller and to many within his Administration. So much so that Keller reached out to many of his political associates and advisors on how to respond to the Albuquerque Journal poll numbers. Mayor Keller’s public response was the results came as “no surprise” to him given the outcome of the city’s Citizen Satisfaction Survey released in August of this year.
The Citizen Perception Survey found that 52% of Albuquerque residents are concerned about the city’s direction. Keller told the Journal he, too, is frustrated with some of the city’s challenges and what he called the current “hard times.” Keller also proclaimed the city survey validated some of his major initiatives, including the forthcoming Gateway Center Homeless shelter and services center.
The postscript to this blog article contains detailed poll results of the Citizen Perception Survey in the 5 key areas of Direction City is Going, Personal Safety, City Services and Homelessness that likely had an impact on Keller’s popularity and his unfavorable rating.
Mayor Keller had this to say about the Journal poll:
“At the end of the day, mayors take the heat for all of America’s problems, so that’s just part of the job. … It shows our city needs continued help from every level of government.”
Keller, the eternal optimist, placed his own political spin on the results and noted that those who approve and those who reported mixed feelings together make up 54% of those polled. He noted that the 54% is nearly equal to his performance in last year’s election and that he sees opportunity to turn those on-the-fence respondents into believers. Keller told the Journal this:
“I think there is certainly plenty of runway left.”
FACTOR’S CITED FOR REASON OF DECLINE
Brian Sanderoff, the President of Research & Polling who did the poll, was interviewed by the Journal and was asked to give his opinion as to the reasons why Keller has had such a sharp decline in his popularity. Sanderoff said voter concern about crime and homelessness are likely the biggest factors in the latest poll results and he said this:
“There are many government agencies and branches of government that play a role in addressing crime; however, the mayor and the city police department are front and center with the public.”
FAILURE TO ADDRESS SPIKING VIOLENT CRIME
Over 5 years ago, in August, 2017, then New Mexico State Auditor Tim Keller, candidate for Albuquerque Mayor, had this to say about the city’s high crime rates:
“It’s unfortunate, but crime is absolutely out of control. It’s the mayor’s job to actually address crime in Albuquerque, and that’s what I want to do as the next mayor.”
In 2017 Tim Keller ran for Mayor on the platform of reducing the city’s high crime rates, implementing the Department of Justice (DOJ) consent decree and all the 270 mandated reforms, increasing the size of the Albuquerque Police Department (APD), returning to “community based policing”, no tax increase without a public vote even for public safety, address the homeless crisis by building a centralized shelter, stopping waste fraud and abuse, and a commitment to transparency and economic development.
During his full 5 years in office, Mayor Keller has initiated numerous crime-fighting initiatives. All were initiated before the pandemic hit the city hard in February of 2020. It was on March 11, 2020 when the Corona Virus was declared a world wide pandemic and the country began to shut down and people began to quarantine and businesses began to close.
It was in 2018 to 2019, during a 9 month period, in response to the continuing increase in violent crime rates, Mayor Keller scrambled to implement 4 major crime fighting programs to reduce violent crime. Those programs are:
- The Shield Unit
In February 2018 the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) created the “Shield Unit”. The Shield Unit assists APD Police Officers to prepare cases for trial and prosecution by the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s office. The unit originally consisted of 3 para legals. It was announced that it is was expanded to 12 under the 2019-2020 city budget that took effect July 1, 2019.
- Declaring Violent Crime “Public Health” issue
On April 8, 2019, Mayor Keller and APD announced efforts that will deal with “violent crime” in the context of it being a “public health issue” and dealing with crimes involving guns in an effort to bring down violent crime in Albuquerque. Mayor Keller and APD argue that gun violence is a “public health issue” because gun violence incidents have lasting adverse effects on children and others in the community that leads to further problems.
3.The “Violence Intervention Plan” (VIP program)
On November 22, 2019 Mayor Tim Keller announced what he called a “new initiative” to target violent offenders called “Violence Intervention Plan” (VIP). The VIP initiative was in response to the city’s recent murders resulting in the city tying the all-time record of homicides at 72 in one year. Mayor Keller proclaimed the VIP is a “partnership system” that includes law enforcement, prosecutors and social service and community provides to reduce violent crime. According to Keller vulnerable communities and law enforcement will be working together and building trust has proven results for public safety. Mayor Keller stated:
“… This is about trying to get these people not to shoot each other. …This is about understanding who they are and why they are engaged in violent crime. … And so, this actually in some ways, in that respect, this is the opposite of data. This is action. This is actually doing something with people. …”
- The Metro 15 Operation program.
On Tuesday, November 26, 2019 Mayor Tim Keller held a press conference to announce a 4th program within 9 months to deal with the city’s violent crime and murder rates. At the time of the press conference, the city’s homicide count was at 72, matching the city’s record in 2017.
Before 2017, the last time the City had the highest number of homicides in one year was in 1996 with 70 murders that year. Keller dubbed the new program “Metro 15 Operation” and is part of the Violence Intervention Program (VIP) program. According to Keller and then APD Chief Michael Geier the new program would target the top 15 most violent offenders in Albuquerque. It’s the city’s version of the FBI’s 10 most wanted list.
Links to news coverage are here:
Despite all of Keller’s programs to bring down violent crime, he has been a failure. During each year of Mayor Tim Keller’s years in office, the city’s murder rates rose, dropped only one year, and then rose to a historical high. Following is the breakdown of homicide by year:
2017: 72 homicides
2018: 69 homicides.
2019: 82 homicides
2020: 76 homicides
2021: 117 homicides (3 declared self defense reducing homicide number to 114)
2022: 115 homicides as of December 3, 2022.
The link to quoted source material is here:
Police shootings are not included in the number of homicides the city has. On November 30, it was reported that the city has had record 17 police shootings this year.
OVERALL CRIME IN CITY
Overall crime in Albuquerque also rose in 2021 for the first time since 2018. It marked the first increase in property crime since the city notched back-to-back 10% drops, pushing decreases in overall crime even as violence steadily rose over the past several years.
Travelers Worldwide is a voluntary organization that was set up in 1994 to report on places to work, live and visit. When it comes to Albuquerque, Travelers Worldwide put it this way:
In Albuquerque, crime rates are high across the board. According to the Albuquerque Police’s annual report on crime, there were 46,391 property crimes and 15,765 violent crimes recorded in 2021. These numbers place Albuquerque among America’s most dangerous cities. Tourists visiting Albuquerque are at increased risk of experiencing aggravated robbery, auto theft, and petty theft. The chances of becoming a victim of property crime in Albuquerque are 1 in 20, an alarmingly high statistic for tourists looking for a peaceful vacation. Simple assault, aggravated assault, auto theft, and larceny are just some of the most common criminal offenses in Albuquerque. Burglary and sex offense rates In Albuquerque are also higher than the national average.
KELLER’S FAILURE TO GROW APD TO LEVEL PROMISED
In 2017, Tim Keller campaigned to be elected mayor on the platform of increasing the size of the Albuquerque Police Department (APD), returning to community-based policing and promising to bring down skyrocketing crime rates. To that end, the Keller Administration began implementing an $88 million-dollar APD police expansion program increasing the number of sworn police officers from 898 positions filled to 1,200, or by 302 sworn police officers, over a four-year period. The massive investment was ordered by Mayor Tim Keller to full fill his 2017 campaign promise to increase the size of APD and return to community-based policing as a means to reduce the city’s high crime rates. Keller promised to increase the number of sworn police in the department to 1,200 by the end of his first term.
Fast-forward 5 years later. The Albuquerque Police Department (APD) is the largest city budget out of 27 departments. The fiscal year 2023 approved General Fund budget is $255.4 million, which represents an increase of 14.7% or $32.8 million above the fiscal year 2022 level. The approved General Fund civilian count is 665 and the sworn police count is 1,100 for a total of 1,765 full-time positions. Despite all the money thrown at APD by Keller over the past 5 years, APD is still seriously understaffed and the return to community policing is still elusive.
APD’s general fund budget of $255.4 provides funding for 1,100 full time sworn police officers, with the department fully funded for 1,100 sworn police for the past 3 years and not the 1,200 sworn police Keller promised 5 years ago. However, as of October 7, there is an anemic 857 sworn officers in APD. During the October 7, 2022 news conference, APD Chief Median reported that APD has 857 sworn officers and this is down from the 917 sworn police number reported on December 6, 2021 to the Federal Court overseeing the consent decree.
As of October 2022, APD has 514 civilian professional staff, 40 public safety aides, 73 911 operators, 23 dispatchers, 41 retired officers that have returned to the department with more than 50 retired officers on contract work for the department. The latest APD cadet class has 26 people in training to become police officers. The upcoming next cadet class is likely to see between 50 to 60 people.
KELLER’S ALL THE ABOVE APPROACH TO SOLVE THE HOMELESS CRISIS
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.
For five years, Mayor Tim Keller has made the city’s homeless crisis a major priority and now proclaims an “all-the-above approach.” It’s an approach that is costing millions and it is failing. Keller has done the following:
- Over two years, budgeted $33,854,536 for homeless emergency shelters, support, mental health and substance abuse programs and $60,790,321 for affordable housing programs for the low-income, near homeless.
- Established two 24/7 homeless shelters, including purchasing the Gibson Medical Center for $15 million to convert it into a homeless shelter.
- Established a “no arrest” policy for violations of the city’s camping, trespassing and vagrancy laws with an emphasis on citations.
- For five years, allowed Coronado Park to become a “de facto” city-sanctioned homeless encampment, which he was forced to close down because of drugs and violent crimes.
- Advocated and funded city-sanctioned safe outdoor space (SOS) homeless tent encampments. The Environmental Planning Commission is recommending the City Council repeal this land use.
As the homeless remained a persistent and pervasive challenge for Keller while city residents have expressed frustration and even anger with the city’s response to the issue.
In June, the city released its government-funded satisfaction poll. 70% of those surveyed felt the City is doing a poor job of addressing homelessness, 9% of residents gave City Government positive marks for addressing the homelessness issue and 20% gave the city mixed or neutral rating. The percentage of residents who give the City positive scores for addressing homelessness had risen from 13% in 2019 to 29% in 2020 but it has now fallen by 20% and is 9% currently. The link to the full survey is here:
KELLER DOUBLE DOWNS ON DEALING WITH HOMELESS
Since the citizen satisfaction survey Keller doubled down on his efforts to address the homeless crisis. He increased city funding to the Family and Community Services Department by over $24,353,064 going from $35,145,851 in the 2021 fiscal year to $59,498,915 in the 2022 fiscal year to provide services and housing to the homeless and he made controversial decisions intended to address the city’s homeless crisis. Those decisions included closing Coronado Park, the de facto city sanction homeless encampment Keller had encouraged and he had to close because crime, illicite drugs and contamination, advocating for city sanctioned tent encampments known as Safe Outdoor Spaces and advocating for “Motel Conversions” where the city will purchase existing motels and convert them into low-income housing.
Safe Outdoor Spaces are organized camp sites where upwards of 50 people who are homeless can legally sleep in tents or cars while accessing showers and other amenities with as many as 18 such campsites will be allowed. The City has already approved one Safe Outdoor Space for victims of “sex-trafficking victims” and other vulnerable populations to be located on vacant land at 1250 Menaul Blvd, NE . The approval is being appealed by at least 7 appellants.
The city is already on track to purchase the Sure Stay Hotel on hotel circle in the North East Heights for a motel conversion for low income housing by using Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funding of $3,059,662.12 in Community Development Block Grants, $2,443,724.00 from Public Facilities monies and $615,938.12 from Foreclosure Prevention for a total property purchase of $6,119,324.24.
COUNCIL TURNOVER RESULTS IN A MORE CONSERVATIVE BODY AND CLASHES WITH KELLER
The 2021 municipal elections resulted in a turnover of 4 city council seats out of 9 with two councilors deciding not to run again and two other Democrat incumbents losing to challengers. The City Council went from a 6 to 3 Democrat solid “progressive” majority to a 5 to 4 Democrat majority that is decidedly more conservative leaning. This change is in large part to the election of Westside conservative Democrat Louie Sanchez who defeated progressive Democrat Lan Sena and the election of right wing Republican Dan Lewis who defeated Democrat Cynthia Borrego.
Sena was appointed by Mayor Tim Keller after the death of City Councilor Ken Sanchez. Sena is a progressive Democrat activist who was a bad fit from the get go for the moderate to conservative working class District. Keller was more interested in appointing a political ideolog who had to be female than appointing a moderate to the council. Her loss was a clear loss for Keller as he lost a reliable ally and vote on the council.
Republican Dan Lewis defeating Cynthia Borrego came as no surprise. Lewis was a two term city councilor before and had significant support of the Republican party and his campaign manager was none other Jay McClusky, the right wing, slash and burn politcal operative who managed the campaigns of Mayor Richard Berry, Governor Susana Martinez and Mark Ronchetti’s US Senate race and Governors race. Lest anyone forget, 5 years ago, City Councilor Lewis ran and lost to Mayor Tim Keller in a landslide. Lewis is already saying he intends to run for Mayor again in 2025, especially if Keller seeks a third term. Borrego is considered a moderate and has now been elected to the New Mexico House of Representatives.
After the December 7 City Council runoff election, the 5 Democrats on the city council as of January 1, 2022 are:
District 1 Conservative Louie Sanchez (Elected on November 2 defeating Lan Sena.)
District 2 Progressive Isaac Benton
District 3 Moderate Klarissa Peña (Ran unopposed on November 2 .)
District 6 Progressive Pat Davis
District 7 Progressive Tammy Fiebelkorn
After the November 7 runoff election, the 4 Republicans on the new city council are:
District 5 Conservative Dan Lewis (Newly elected defeating Cynthia Borrego)
District 4 Conservative Brook Bassan
District 8 Conservative Trudy Jones
District 9 Conservative Renee Grout
Because of the 2021 municipal election and its move to the conservative right, it has taken to reevaluating progressive policies adopted by the previous city councils. That includes the city’s plastic bag ban repeal by the current council, attempting to reduce the Mayor’s emergency authority during a health crisis, and considering whether to replace the zero-fare bus pilot program.
2023 MUNICIPAL ELECTION
A total of 4 City Council seats will be on next year’s municipal ballot. Progressive Democrat Pat Davis, District 6, and Conservative Republican Trudy Jones, District 8, have made it official and announced that they will not seek another term on the Albuquerque City Council. District 2 now represented by Progressive Democrat Isaac Benton and District 4 now represented by Conservative Republican Brook Bassan are also on the ballot. Both Benton and Bassan are expected to have strong opposition is they do run. With upwards of 4 city councilor incumbents being replace, the balance of power on the city council may continue to shift for Keller and his influence diminished even further.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
Tim Keller has always been the eternal optimist with a smile on his face and a grin in his voice. A very good example of his optimism is when Keller noted that the 33% who approve of his job performance and the 21% who reported mixed feelings together make up 54% of those polled and saying the 54% is nearly equal to his 56% performance in last year’s election. Keller told the Journal this:
“I think there is certainly plenty of runway left.”
That’s a very good politcal spin, but it’s not how reality works, and if Keller believes what he is saying, he is not facing reality and lying to himself. Keller may be the eternal optimist, but realty tends to humble and to prevail over arrogance in politics. Keller will likely successfully takeoff again but it’s not at all likely he will soar to the heights he once flew in past elections. A 40% disapproval rating and a 33% approval rating by all measure is a deep hole to climb out of, but on many levels, it’s a hole he has dug for himself making promises he could not keep.
Then their is a real possibility that Keller’s number could plunge even further. Sooner the public demand results and ignore the optimism and public relations. Political observers are saying the odds are very high he will not be able to turn around his popularity so long as crime and the homeless continue to be his second term curses and as it stands both are only getting worse as each year passes during Keller’s tenure as Mayor.
Sources have confirmed that Keller is already signaling he will run for a third term as Mayor recognizing he has no other options when it comes to running for statewide offices. A run for Governor in 4 years, which was said to have been Keller’s initial plan, is not likely in that he would be facing far more popular candidates such as United States Senator Martin Heinrich, Secretary of Interior Debra Haaland, Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver or AG Hector Balderas, all 4 who have expressed an interest in running for Governor in 2026 to succeed Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham. Then there is the matter of Governor Lujan Grisham not at all too happy with Keller having to go to his aide when it comes to the city’s spiking crime and homeless.
Running for United State Senator is also not realistic for Keller with Senators Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Lujan being as young and as popular as they are. Heinrich must run for re election to the Senate in 2024, and if he is elected, and then runs for Governor in 2024 as has been suggested, he would appoint his successor to the Senate and there is no guarantee that Heinrich would appoint Tm Keller to replace him. Then you have the very ambitious Attorney General Raul Torrez who is close to Heinrich, given that Heinrich appeared in Torrez AG commercials, who has made it known he has national ambitions. Torrez is not above trashing his opponents as he did with Democrat Brian Colon in the primary and Republican Jeremy Gay in the general to become Attorney General and running against Keller for Senate in a statewide campaign and smearing him with his failure as Mayor would be all too easy.
One option Mayor Tim Keller does have is to try to secure a cabinet appointment in a President Joe Biden second term, but that is only if there is a second Biden term, and that’s a very big if. And even bigger if is Tim Keller being able to secure a third term as Mayor.
CITIZEN PERCEPTION SURVEY
Each year, the City of Albuquerque commissions a survey to assess residents’ satisfaction with various City services and issues relating to crime, homelessness, and public safety. The study is required by City ordinance. On September 6, the City has released the City of Albuquerque Citizen Perception Survey dated August 2022. The link to the full survey is here:
There are five major categories covered by the survey that likely had a impact on the perception of Mayor Keller’s job performance:
Direction City is Going
An edited summary of results in these 4 categories of the survey are as follows:
CITIZEN SURVEY RESULTS ON “DIRECTION CITY IS GOING”
The survey results revealed that over half those surveyed, 52%, say they are concerned about the city’s overall direction. This compares to 43% who say they are hopeful. In the December 2020 survey, 50% said they were hopeful. The percentage of residents who say they are hopeful about the direction of the City has fallen from 50% in December of 2020 to 43% in 2022. Although 43% of residents say they are either somewhat hopeful with 34% or very hopeful with 9% about the direction of the City, just over 52% say they are either somewhat concerned at 30% or very concerned at 22%. Anglo residents with 58% are more apt than Hispanics with 44% to rate the quality of life in Albuquerque as being either good or excellent. The percentage of residents who rate the quality of life in Albuquerque as being either good or excellent has fallen from 54% in 2018 to 48% in 2022.
It is not surprising that many residents are concerned about the direction of the City given the challenges currently being faced across the nation. The survey noted that residents across the nation have concerns about where the country is heading as a whole. An example is the website RealClear Politics calculates the average of different polls conducted among voters and adults across the nation and currently shows that an average of 74% believe the country is currently off on the wrong track, while an average of just 18% feel the country is heading in the right direction.
The survey results on citizens perception on the direction the city is going should is a major red flag of failure for Mayor Keller and the City Council. A very disturbing trend revealed by the survey is that residents show less satisfaction with current quality of life in the city and there is growing concern about Albuquerque’s future. Although 50% of those surveyed believe Albuquerque is doing “about the same” as other cities dealing with problems and carrying out its responsibilities, the survey generally shows worsening perceptions of life in the city.
CITIZEN SURVEY RESULTS ON “PERSONAL SAFETY”
“Crime and feelings of personal safety are important components to perceived quality of life. Overall, 81% of Albuquerque residents say they feel in their neighborhood during the day. (Very Safe at 51% + somewhat at 30% = 81%)
However, the 81% drops to 57% felling safe at night. (Very safe at 24% + somewhat safe at 33% = 57%.) In other words, there is a day and night different of 24%.
The gap has narrowed from 2020, when 68% reported feeling safe in their neighborhoods at night and only 24% said they felt unsafe.”
One of the most disturbing statistics from the Citizen’s Survey is that only 57% of those surveyed felt safe at night in their own homes. It likely that 57% is on the very low side. At the core of citizens do not feel safe in their homes at night is the City’s high violent crime and homicide rates.
An Albuquerque Journal poll found that 82% of the public feel that crime is very serious, 14% said crime is somewhat serious for a staggering total of 96%. Albuquerque has seen a major spike in violent crime and the rates are some of the highest in the country.
In the last 3 years, Albuquerque has had a breaking number of homicides each year. In 2021 the city had 117 homicides. As of August 30, APD reports that there have been 88 homicides, with the city well on it way to breaking the 2021 all time record.
CITIZEN SURVEY RESULTS ON “CITY SERVICES”
“The percentage of residents who feel Albuquerque City Government is responsive to community needs has dropped from 48% observed in 2020, which was an all-time high dating back to 2011, to 32% a 17% drop. Specifically, 32% agree Albuquerque City Government is responsive to community needs, 38% have a neutral opinion, 28% disagree that City Government is responsive.
These results are similar to those observed in previous studies dating back to 2011 with the exception of the 2020 study which saw a big spike in positive reviews. The 2020 results may have been an anomaly given that so much attention was being given to the COVID-19 pandemic and associated shutdowns coupled with the fact that the majority of residents give City Government high marks for the City’s response to COVID.
Residents were asked to rate how well Albuquerque City Government is handling specific issues using a five-point scale where five is excellent and one is very poor.
47% give City Government positive marks with a score of 4 or 5 when it comes to maintaining city parks and open space areas.
34% give positive ratings supporting renewable and clean energy programs.
34% give positive ratings for maintaining roads and streets
32% give positive ratings for supporting the local economy”
It’s very clear from the survey that dissatisfaction with city response to community needs has increased dramatically. The percentage of residents who feel Albuquerque City Government is responsive to community needs has dropped from 48% observed in 2020, which was an all-time high dating back to 31% found in 2011, a 17% decline.
This is very difficult to accept, let alone understand, given that Mayor Tim Keller has submitted, and the City Council has approved in 2 consecutive years the 2 largest city budgets in its history, one for $1.1 Billion in 2021 and the other for $1.4 billion in 2022.
On May 17, 2021, the Albuquerque City Council voted unanimously to approve the 2021-2022 city budget of $1.2 billion, $711.5 million of which is the General Fund. The General Fund covers basic city services such as police protection, fire and rescue protection, the bus system, street maintenance, weekly solid waste pickup, all city park maintenance, city equipment, animal control, environmental health services, the legal department, risk management, and payroll and human resources
On May 16, 2022, the Albuquerque City Council approved the 2022-2023 city budget. The overall budget approved by the city council was for $1.4 Billion with $841.8 representing the general fund spending with an increase of $127 million, or 17.8%, over the 2021-2022 c budget of $1.2 Billion.
The link to city approved budgets is here:
SURVEY RESULTS ON THE “HOMELESS”
“The issue of homelessness continues to be a major challenge in Albuquerque as it is in many other cities. 70% feel the City is doing a poor job of addressing homelessness and a mere 9% of residents give City Government positive marks for addressing the homelessness issue. 20% give a mixed or neutral rating.
The percentage of residents who give the City positive scores for addressing homelessness had risen from 13% in 2019 to 29% in 2020 but it has now fallen by 20% and is 9% currently. Although there has been a lot of attention focused on homelessness in the news, few of Albuquerque residents say they are aware the city is the Gateway Center. The shelter will be a 24/7 shelter providing to women experiencing homelessness during the first phase of its operation.”
The Citizens Survey of 70% feeling the city is failing in its response to the homeless is likely inaccurate and the public attitude has only gotten worse. A recent Journal poll found that 77% of the general public believes the homeless crisis is very serious and 16% feel it is somewhat serious with a staggering combined total of 93%.
What is clear from the Citizen Perception Survey is that Albuquerque residents are dissatisfied with the Keller Administration’s response to the homelessness crisis despite the city’s huge financial commitment to dealing with the homeless. The survey confirms that residents feel Mayor Tim Keller and his administration are failing to deal with the homeless crisis.
70% of citizens survey respondents rate the city poorly for its performance in dealing with the homeless crisis. This includes 41% who gave city hall the lowest possible rating. Meanwhile, only 9% gave the city’s homelessness response a favorable review. In other words, 7 times more people rate the city poorly on the issue than offer a positive assessment. This is a dramatic change from 2020 when only 36% gave the city poor marks for how it was tackling homelessness, including just 22% who offered the worst rating, while 29% provided a positive assessment. There has been a dramatic 20% drop in how people feel the city is dealing with homeless from 29% in 2020 to 9% in 2022.
The 9% approval rating in the citizens survey on the homeless issue should be very alarming to Mayor Tim Keller and his administration. Since day one from becoming Mayor on December 1, 2018, Mayor Keller has made dealing with the homeless a major cornerstone of his administration so much so that he advocated the construction of a 24-7 homeless shelter. This ultimately resulted in the purchase of the massive 560,000 square foot Gibson Medical Center, formerly the Lovelace Hospital, for $15 million. The facility is being renovated and it is anticipated to open in the winter of 2022 as a 24/7 shelter.
The Keller Administration has adopted a housing first policy when it comes to dealing with the homeless crisis which also includes funding provided to at least 10 service providers. This past fiscal year 2021 ending June 10, 2021, the Family and Community Services Department and the Keller Administration have spent upwards of $40 Million to benefit the homeless or near homeless.
The 2021 adopted city budget for Family and Community Services Department provides for mental health contracts totaling $4,329,452, and substance abuse contracts for counseling contracts totaling $2,586,302 and emergency shelter contracts totaling $5,688,094, affordable housing and community contracts totaling $22,531,752, homeless support services contracts. 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 links to the adopted 2021-2022 and 2022-23 approved budgets are here:
“ALBUQUERQUE POLICE DEPARTMENT”
“Residents were asked to rate how strongly they either agree or disagree with several statements relating to the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) using a 5-point scale where 5 is strongly agree and 1 is strongly disagree. [The results of the survey were]:
53% of residents agree APD is respectful in its treatment of citizens as indicated by a score of 4 or 5. This is up from 48% two years ago. That is down from 49% in 2019 and the lowest number for any survey going back to at least 2011. 20% strongly agreed compared to 15% who disagree, with a score of 1 or 2.
29% have neutral or mixed feelings about APD with a score of 3. 47% of residents agree APD reflects the values of the City’s residents, with 18% disagreeing and 30% have a neutral opinion of APD and 27% disagree.”
According to the citizen’ survey, 38% of residents agree APD is doing a good job of addressing public safety issues and making quick responses to emergencies, while 30% have a neutral opinion and 27% disagree.
A plurality, or 41%, of those surveyed said the ongoing U.S. Department of Justice-mandated reform effort within APD has had no impact, while 24% say it has been positive and 14% say it has been negative. There is no getting around it, even with the recent news that APD has improved in compliance levels with all of the reforms, APD still has a major image problem.
Over the last 7 years, the DOJ reforms have place great emphasis on implementing constitutional policing practices, increased training and crisis intervention and implemented community policing councils and a Citizens Police Oversight agency. Despite all the efforts made, an astonishing 41% of those feel the reforms have had no impact on APD.
The 38% of residents agreeing that APD is doing a good job with response times to emergencies is very low and should come as no surprise. There have been news investigative reports on APD’s response times for Priority 1 calls. Priority 1 calls include shootings, stabbings, armed robberies, sexual and aggravated assaults, domestic violence with weapons involved and home invasions. According to the data, the time it takes officers to get to a crime scene stayed relatively consistent between January 2018 to May 2021 and was roughly between 9 and 12 minutes. In 2020, it was reported that there was a 93% increase in APD response time over a 9-year period. In 2018, clearing a scene ranged from an hour to an hour and 12 minutes. Fast forward to 2021 and APD was averaging more than 2 hours to write reports, gather evidence and interview witnesses, a full hour longer than three years ago.