This blog article reveals the lengths Mayor Tim Keller, all 9 Albuquerque City Councilors and city hall employees have gone to stifle critics or simply ignore what is said about their actions, votes and policies. Blocking of emails is occurring at city hall when citizens express their feelings on hot-button issues or disagree politically or personally with an elected official. It’s an affront to democracy by suppressing free speech and the press. As elected officials, they want to pick or exclude who they want to hear from on issues and policies and who they want to get email from.
PETE DINELLI NEWS AND COMMENTARY POLITICAL BLOG
www.PeteDinelli.com is a News and Commentary political blog that began publishing on October 27, 2016. Over the last 6 years 1,662 blog articles written by Pete Dinelli have been published. According to the blog’s tabulator maintained by a paid administrator, the blog articles average between 75,000 to 80,000 total views and reads a year. The blog itself is a hobby in retirement. There is no advertising, it does not generate income and is written as a community service. Dinelli Blog articles are first published separately at www.PeteDinelli.com and then posted separately on FACEBOOK. Blog article titles and links to them are emailed to others.
The goal is to make blog articles informative and insightful based on research and to propose solutions to problems identified. Past blog articles have been on topics such as the Department Of Justice Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA), federal court hearings on the CASA, the criminal justice system, the minimum wage, mandatory sick leave, public finance campaigns, economic development, abortion rights, gun control, the unhoused, economic development, municipal and state elections, the New Mexico State legislature and city, state and national news and politics. The articles contain links to research materials and news articles followed by “Commentary and Analysis” where solutions are proposed. Every effort is made to avoid politcal gossip.
Dinelli blog articles reporting on the Department Of Justice Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA), the federal court status conference hearings and the Federal Monitor’s reports have been emailed to the Federal Court and the parties to the lawsuit. The court has docketed the blog articles in the court record as public comment and as such they are part of the case public record . The articles have been emailed with the titles of the article and links to them to the APD Command Staff, City Attorney, the Mayor and City Councilors and were never returned as undelivered. A link to a blog article listing blog articles is here:
Ever since publication began, the blog article titles and links have been emailed to elected city, county and state officials and appointed officials with the hope that they would read the articles. The News and Commentary section is offered to state a position, stimulate discussion and debate and offer solutions. I submit guest opinion columns to the Albuquerque Journal and the online news agency “The New Mexico Sun” on a regular basis which have been published by those news outlets.
TWO RECENT PUBLISHED BLOG ARTICLES RESULTING IN BLOCKING
On Wednesday, March 22, the following blog article with its link was published:
“City Pays Obscene Millions Of Overtime To Select Few First Responders Despite Repeated Scandals Of Paying 2 and 3 Times Base Pay; $34,380 Bonus And Longevity Pay To 19 Year Cop Veterans; An In Depth Review Of The 4 Year History Of Overtime Abuse Allowed By Hapless Mayor Tim Keller And City Council”
The March 22 blog article title and link was emailed to Mayor Tim Keller, the City Councilors, Department Directors, including APD and the Fire Department and support staff and all 9 Albuquerque City Councilors and their support staff. None of the emails were returned as undeliverable nor blocked. The blog article likely hit a major nerve because individual salaries and names were given of Department heads and city employees, all of which is public record and found on a city web page listing the top 250 wage earners at city hall.
On Thursday, March 23, the following blog article was published:
“APD Chief Harold Medina Embellishes City’s “Slight” Decline In Crime Rates Claiming APD Fighting “Perception Of Crime”; Reality Is ABQ Has Become Violent City; “Figures Don’t Lie, But Liars Figure” And Programs Fail”
Within 15 minutes of sending the March 23 email with the blog article title and link, 108 emails ostensibly sent by the City of Albuquerque Information Technology (IT) Department were received by Pete Dinelli on his private AOL email account. Each email received stated:
“Sorry, we were unable to deliver your message to the following address.<ADDRESS OF RECIPIENT [containing name of city employee]>: … < ADDRESS OF RECIPIENT>: Recipient address rejected: BLOCK-SENDER”
The postscript to this blog article lists the individual email addresses from which returns were sent stating “Recipient address rejected: BLOCK-SENDER”
SYSTEMIC CITY-WIDE BLOCKS
Other emails were sent to determine the extent to which Dinelli emails have been blocked by city employees. It has been determined that at least 251 city employees have had their email addresses block Dinelli emails and each again contained the following:
“Sorry, we were unable to deliver your message to the following address. <ADDRESS OF RECIPIENT [containing name of city employee]>: … < ADDRESS OF RECIPIENT>: Recipient address rejected: BLOCK-SENDER”
The 251 emails are from the Mayor’s Office, the City Council, the Internal Audit Department, the Albuquerque Police Department, the Fire and Rescue Department, the Family and Community Services Department and the Planning Department. APD staff that have blocked include the APD Chief, the Deputy Chiefs, Area Commanders and Captains. The Chief and Deputy Chiefs of the Fire and Rescue Department have also blocked. The Internal Audit Department has also blocked.
Telephone contact has been made with various city hall employees listed below in the postscript. Those contacted have advised that they were unaware that their emails are blocking Dinelli emails.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
Dinelli emails were sent with the intent to comment upon and to make part of the record opinions on the activities of the mayor, all the city councilors, department and the official business of the city. It is protected free speech.
Because of the swift rejection and notification from 251 city hall employees, one immediately received right after another, it is clear the emails sent were rejected all at once by the City’s Information Technology (IT) Department. What is also abundantly clear is that there has been a city-wide blocking that is systemic. Telephone contact was made with city hall sources and they confirmed that they were unaware, not told and had not asked that Dinelli emails be blocked.
It is painfully obvious that a direct order was given by someone within the Keller Administration to block all Pete Dinelli emails sent to the mayor, all 9 city councilors and their appointees, support staff and departments. An order to block was likely given because of recent blog articles that have been critical of Mayor Tim Keller, his administration and the City Council, none of whom want to hear from any critic.
BLOCKING VIOLATES FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS
The Dinelli blog is clearly marked “NEWS AND COMMENTARY” and as such it is no different than any other on-line news outlet. City Councilor Pat Davis owns 3 such news outlets, yet he has blocked Dinelli emails distributing the Dinelli news and commentary articles. The Albuquerque Journal and all 3 local TV news agencies would under no circumstances tolerate such blockage of their reporters and would consider it an affront of first amendment rights and the right of “free speech” and “freedom of the press”.
It’s likely the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has a position on government blocking of emails seeing that it has already opined that elected officials cannot block on social media posts of critics, something Mayor Keller is known to have done on his FACEBOOK page. The ACLU has said that public officials can block on social media comments NOT protected by the First Amendment, such as remarks that make a true and immediate threat to another person, incite others to imminently violate the law, or contain obscene language as outlined by the U.S. Supreme Court. However, comments that criticize the elected official or government agency on a particular subject are allowed and cannot be deleted or blocked. It is more likely than not that Federal Courts would rule that government officials cannot block emails from private citizens or the press that are protected free speech and sent in the regular course of business.
Court Rules Public Officials Can’t Block Critics on Facebook
LIKELY REASONS FOR BLOCKING
Recent Dinelli blog articles over the last few months have included articles that have opposed Mayor Tim Keller’s initiatives, individual City Councilors sponsored legislation, actions and votes, APD Chief Harold Medina and APD Spokesperson Gilbert Gallegos, Mayor Tim Keller’s “Housing Forward ABQ Plan” and city hall salaries and overtime pay abuses. Articles have been published opposing Safe Outdoor Spaces for the unhoused and proposed zoning changes to allow casitas and two-family home additions in all areas of the City.
I assisted privately pro bono with the writing of the Santa Barbara Martineztown Neighborhood Association appeal of the Dawn Legacy application for a Safe Outdoor Space on Menaul with the appeal successful and granted by the hearing officer. It was referred to the City Council who will have the final say.
I have attended 3 city sponsored events on Keller’s “Housing Forward ABQ Plan” and have questioned city staff voicing objections and concerns. I also took Mayor Keller to task over violating the state anti-donation clause and spending $260,000 to buy artificial turf for a private football team and installing the turf in a Rio Rancho facility.
CENSORSHIP AND VIOLATION OF FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS
The blocking of Dinelli emails is so very wrong on too many levels and those levels include the following:
- It is considered censorship and a flagrant attempt to stifle free speech and to suppress critics.
- It deprives constituents and the public the right to contact their duly elected city officials and public safety officials.
- The mass blocking of any E-Mail that involves city business constitutes abuse of City Information Technology (IT) System paid for by taxpayers.
- E-mail accounts are not the elected official’s property nor the individual employee’s property and they do not have the right of censorship by blocking a person’s emails because they do not want them or do not care to read them.
- There is no right of expectation of privacy when it comes to city email accounts. The email addresses are a matter of public record that the public are entitled to access and send communications.
- Any citizen who is blocked by APD and Albuquerque Fire and Rescue can be placed into jeopardy unable to make contact by email to report and document incidents.
NOT THE FIRST TIME
This is not the first time and attempt has been made to stifle free speech by the city officials and departments.
I have had sharp email exchanges with my own city Councilor and 2 others where we have disagreed on an issue and it resulted in all 3 demanding I stop emailing them and they attempted to block me. I have also sent emails to the city attorney asking for information on pending litigation and never received a response and now have been block by the city attorney.
Every citizen has the right to contact their elected officials and government officials by email and freely complain and voice their opinions, no matter how negative or unfair the elected or government officials feels it is. To block any email sent with the intent that it be received as official business to find out information or express an opinion is politcal retaliation at its core and it needs to stop immediately.
In the not-too-distant past, the on-line news agency ABQ Raw was forced to publicly voice objections over being denied information they were entitled to and it did so at a City Council meeting.
There are 4 major questions that need answering:
- How many other emails of private citizens or for that matter of the press or reporters have been blocked by Mayor Keller, the City Council, city employees and Departments?
- How many city employees actually requested Dinelli emails be blocked or know that emails are being block without their knowledge or consent?
- Did the city IT and at the direction of someone within the Keller Administration solicit or compile a list of city hall employees who received Dinelli emails with the intent to block them?
- Who ordered that Dinelli emails be blocked?
These 4 questions cannot be asked by Pete Dinelli if emails are blocked without explanation. Perhaps someone else or the media who have not been blocked can ask these very questions.
Telephone contact has been made with various city hall employees listed below in this postscript and they have advised that they were unaware that their emails are blocking Dinelli emails.
EMAIL ADDRESES OF STAFF WITHIN THE MAYOR’S OFFICE WHOSE EMAIL ADDRESS HAVE BLOCKED DINELLI EMAILS
MayorKellerIQ@cabq.gov (Mayor Tim Keller)
firstname.lastname@example.org (Mayor Tim Keller)
email@example.com (Chief Administrative Officer Lawrence Rael)
firstname.lastname@example.org (Sanjay Bhakta, City Chief Financial Officer)
email@example.com (Aaron Nieto, Mayor’s Constituent Services Aide)
firstname.lastname@example.org (Victor Valdez, Superintendent of Police Reform)
email@example.com (Robert M. White, Associate Chief Administrative Officer)
firstname.lastname@example.org (Laura Keefe, Albuquerque City Attorney)
email@example.com (Carol Pierce, Director of Family Community Services)
firstname.lastname@example.org (Lisa Huval, Deputy Director of Family Community Services)
email@example.com (Alan Varela, Planning Department Director)
firstname.lastname@example.org (Alan Armijo, Mayors Office of Constituent Services)
email@example.com (Damon Martinez, APD Policy Analyst)
firstname.lastname@example.org (Harold Medina, APD Police Chief)
email@example.com (Gilbert Gallegos, APD Spokesman)
EMAILS ADDRESES OF CITY COUNCILORS AND STAFF WHOSE EMAIL ADDRESS HAVE BLOCKED DINELLI EMAILS
firstname.lastname@example.org (City Councilor Tammy Fiebelcorn)
email@example.com (City Councilor Issac Benton)
firstname.lastname@example.org (City Councilor Dan Lewis)
email@example.com (City Councilor Renee Grout)
firstname.lastname@example.org (City Councilor Louis Sanchez)
email@example.com (City Councilor Pat Davis)
firstname.lastname@example.org (City Councilor Trudy Jones)
email@example.com (City Councilor Klarissa Pena)
firstname.lastname@example.org (City Councilor Brook Basaan)
email@example.com (City Councilor Tammy Fiebelcorn’s Administrative Assistant)
EMAIL ADDRESSES OF CITY INTERNAL AUDIT DEPARTMENT STAFF WHOSE EMAIL ADDRESS HAVE BLOCKED DINELLI EMAILS
EMAIL ADDRESSES OF APD COMMAND STAFF WHOSE EMAIL ADDRESS HAVE BLOCKED DINELLI EMAILS
EMAIL ADDRESSES OF FIRE AND RESCUE CHIEF COMMAND STAFF WHOSE EMAIL ADDRESS HAVE BLOCKED DINELLI EMAILS
EMAIL ADDRESSES OF FAMILY AND COMMUNITY SERVICE DEPARTMENT STAFF WHOSE EMAIL ADDRESSES HAVE BLOCKED DINELLI EMAILS
EMAIL ADDRESES OF PLANNING DEPARTMENT STAFF WHOSE EMAIL ADDRESS HAVE BLOCKED DINELLI EMAILS
EMAIL ADDRESES OF CITY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT STAFF WHOSE EMAIL ADDRESS HAVE BLOCKED DINELLI EMAILS
OTHER EMAIL ADDRESSES OF CITY HALL EMPLOYEES WHOSE EMAIL ADDRESS BLOCK DINELLII EMAILS
Following are the email addresses of city employees who have blocked emails from Pete Dinelli and include employees who work for APD, the Planning Department, the Family and Community Services Department, the City Council and Mayor Keller. The email addresses of city employees who attended by ZOOM federal court hearings on the CASA and who provided their email addresses to the court are also listed. The emails addresses were obtained by reviewing city department personnel listings or received in sperate emails: