Dinelli ABQ Journal Guest Column: Defund APD, BCSO For One Police Authority

THE FOLLOWING GUEST COLUMN WAS PUBLISHED BY THE ABQ JOURNAL ON SEPT. 28:

Defund APD, BCSO for one Police Authority
BY PETE DINELLI / FORMER PROSECUTOR, ALBUQUERQUE CITY COUNCILOR AND CHIEF PUBLIC SAFETY OFFICER

Monday, September 28th, 2020 at 12:05am

In the wake of the killing of African American George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck to subdue him, a Black Lives Matter Movement is sweeping cities across the country called defund the police. The movement is not what it sounds like.

Defund the police defined in simple terms means taking funding away from police forces to invest or reallocate funding into social programs, housing, education and economic development and job growth to address the real causes of crime. The city and the county have essentially combined geographically. Both the Albuquerque Police Department and the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office have way too much overlap, with taxpayers in the city paying for essentially two law enforcement agencies.

Disbanding entire police departments has happened before in U.S. cities. In 2012, with crime rampant in Camden, New Jersey, the city disbanded its entire police department and replaced it with a new force that covered Camden County.

Abolishing the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) and the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) is long overdue – both should be defunded with functions consolidated. APD employs 980 full-time sworn police and has total staffing upward of 1,400, with an annual budget of $207,877,000. BCSO employs 300 sworn deputies and 121 civilian staff for a total of 421 with an annual budget of $57,539,000.

There is precedent. The New Mexico Legislature created the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority, taking assets from the city and county and creating a governing authority. Both APD and BCSO can be defunded by the Legislature with the creation of Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Police Authority (ABBCO Police Authority).

The New Mexico Legislature can enact enabling legislation that would include a constitutional amendment abolishing the office of sheriff for class “A” counties, those with populations exceeding 500,000, and mandating the creation of ABQ-County law enforcement authority. A permanent dedicated funding source consisting of a combination of gross receipts tax and property tax taken from municipal and county existing taxing authority would be transferred or authorized by the Legislature to the authority.

If the Legislature won’t consolidate APD and BCSO, the Bernalillo County Commission and the City Council need to with the negotiation of a memorandum of understanding or a consolidation contract. Such an action is ripe for implementation because of, and would take advantage of, the defund-the-police movement.

The city and county law enforcement budgets would be combined, with deductions in budgets for duplication of services. Assets, personnel, office space, area commands, emergency operations dispatching and academy training would be combined with a negotiated MOU. Savings from consolidating APD and BCSO budgets would be identified, and those funds reallocated to social programs, housing, education and job creation programs.

Personnel policies, rules, regulations, standard operating procedure and internal affairs function would be developed for the authority. Most importantly, uniform police standard operating procedures and constitutional policing training and practices would be implemented, such as mandatory use of lapel cameras and de-escalations tactics.

A police authority would be created with a civilian governing board of five members: the mayor, City Council president, Bernalillo County Commission chairperson, Bernalillo County manager and the chief or presiding judge of the Second Judicial District Court, all who would serve no more than two four-year staggered terms.

A Police Authority commissioner would be appointed by the civilian governing board. ABBCO commissioner would be a contracted position who could only be terminated for cause as defined in the contract with compensation established by the governing board. The commissioner would have the identical or combined authority as the APD chief and Bernalillo County sheriff to run and operate the authority.

Consolidation of both law enforcement authorities is long overdue. Both law enforcement agencies can and should be combined and streamlined into one Albuquerque and Bernalillo County regional law enforcement authority or an ABBCO Police Authority.

The link to the guest column is here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/1501257/defund-apd-bcso-for-one-police-authority.html

A Chief Medina Is Keller’s “Unicorn”; Medina’s Reactive Decision-Making Results In Death; Chief Geier: “I Did Not Want To Retire”, Says Keller And Nair Micro Managed APD; Mayor Mike Geier?

On Saturday September 26, the Albuquerque Journal published one of the most damaging investigative reports it has printed against a public official in some time. It was damaging starting with the front page, bold headline blaring “CHECKERED PAST” with subhead line “Interim APD chief Harold Medina tied to three fatal police shooting; cites lack of reforms at the time” all the way to the very last sentence of the article. The Journal added another related story for extra measure with the headlines “Interim Chief seeks post permanently. As “ a street cop” Medina says he is fit for top job.”

The next day, September 27, the Albuquerque Journal published yet another front-page article, this time reporting on Former APD Chief Geier and the circumstances surrounding Mayor Tim Keller’s forcing Geier to retire and Interim Chief Medina’s efforts to replace Geier. The Journal front page, bold headline blared “Ousted chief, Mayor’s Office trade accusations”

The links to all three Albuquerque Journal reports are here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/1500613/checkered-history-casts-shadow-on-medina-as-interim-chief.html

https://www.abqjournal.com/1500647/interim-apd-chief-wants-permanent-job.html

https://www.abqjournal.com/1501123/city-former-top-cop-take-gloves-off.html

This blog article is a deep dive into the 3 articles with additional media coverage with Commentary and Analysis.

MEDINA’S REACTIVE DECISION-MAKING PROCESS AND FAILED LEADERSHIP RESULTS IN DEATH

The first Journal story reported on 3 police officer involved shootings that were tide directly to Harold Medina. The report also addresses Medina’s involvement with the June 15 Onate protest where one person was shot.

All 4 cases reveal Medina’s actions, his failure to act and supervise, his reactive decision-making process resulting in disastrous outcomes, even death, and reflecting failed leadership. A short summation of each of the 3 shootings are:

1. THE 2004 SHOOTING OF DOMINIC MONTOYA: Harold Medina has the tragic distinction of shooting and killing a 14-year-old Cibola High School student in 2004 when he was an APD field officer. At the time of the shooting, Harold Medina was 30 years old and was a seven-and-a-half-year veteran of APD. According to news accounts, 14-year-old boy Dominic Montoya went to Taylor Ranch Baptist Church looking for prayer. Montoya was reported as saying he was possessed by demons and went to church for help. Some one noticed the teenager was concealing a weapon and APD was called. It turned out it was a BB gun and when APD showed up, the 14-year-old was fatally shot by police after pointing the BB gun at the officers. It was the APD Officer Harold Medina who fired 3 shots at the 14-year-old, Cibola High School Student with two hitting the juvenile in the abdomen. It was reported that the BB gun was indistinguishable from a real gun and Medina said he was in fear for his life.

https://apnews.com/41e13a7f6393b3ea5b92ccfadae5ccd6

2. THE FEBRUARY 8, 2009 SHOOTING OF ANDREW LOPEZ: On February 8, 2009, the shooting of 19-year-old Andrew Lopez by APD officer Justin Montgomery occured. Harold Medina was “off-duty” supervisor when Lopez was killed. The reasons why Medina was off duty have not been disclosed. Medina’s assigned APD’s officers he was supposed to supervise attempted to pull over Lopez when Lopez stopped the vehicle, exited, and ran pursued by Montgomery who shot at Lopez three times with one shot causing a non-lethal bullet wound. Lopez fell to the ground and lay motionless on his back. Lopez was unarmed. The officer fired the fourth and final shot into Lopez’s chest, piercing his lung and heart and causing his death. The officer said Lopez had a gun. The truth is Lopez had no gun and none was found at the scene.

In a bench trial in state court, the judge found that the officers’ testimony about the threat they perceived from Lopez was not credible. The judge concluded that the shooting was unreasonable. The judge further found that the training provided to APD officers on use of deadly force “is not reasonable and is designed to result in the unreasonable use of deadly force.” The judge found the City principally responsible for Lopez’s death and awarded his estate approximately $4.25 million.

3. THE JANUARY 13, 201O SHOOTING OF KENNETH ELLIS: On January 13, 2010, Kenneth Ellis, III, a 25-year-old veteran who was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and was shot and killed by APD police officers. The officers suspected Ellis of vehicle theft and pulled him over in a parking lot. Ellis exited the vehicle holding a gun pointed to his head. Ellis continued to hold the gun to his head as he made several phone calls and the officers attempted to negotiate with him. After several minutes, an officer shot Ellis one time in the neck and killed him.

A 12-page transcribed interview taken on January 13, 2010 of then APD Lieutenant Harold Medina reveals his involvement in the shooting and killing of Ken Ellis. Lt. Harold Medina admits that he was at the scene, that he authorized the use of deadly force on Kenneth Ellis and he did not attempt to deescalate the confrontation. APD Lieutenant Harold Medina became “involved” by being armed with a rifle and “covering” Ellis. In his interview Medina states he was prepared to use deadly force himself. A judge in a state civil suit granted summary judgment in favor of the plaintiffs, finding that the shooting of Ellis violated the Fourth Amendment. A jury later returned a verdict finding the City and the officer who shot him liable for Ellis’ death and awarding more than $10 million in damages.

A link to an August 9 blog article entitled “APD Chief Medina Says In 2010 Interview He Authorized Use Of Deadly Force In Shooting Of Mentally ILL Ken Ellis” is here:

https://www.petedinelli.com/2020/09/21/apd-chief-medina-says-in-2010-interview-he-authorized-use-of-deadly-force-in-shooting-of-mentally-ill-ken-ellis-interview-reveals-medina-is-part-of-the-problem-apd-spokesman-gallegos-issues-fal/

Former APD Chief Geier was on the critical incident review board at the time of the Kenneth Ellis shooting. Geier said he remembered Medina being told he should have de-escalated the situation or pulled some of the officers back. According to Geier:

“They did a good job of securing that area but he sat there with his rifle out, no commands, no direction. … By today’s standards that would be pretty severe leadership failure to de-escalate. You would have been demoted for something like that, if not worse.”

MEDINA’S INVOLVEMENT WITH THE ONATE PROTEST

First Deputy Chief Medina was heavily involved in overseeing the department’s response to local protests against racial injustice and police brutality. Medina has been severely criticized over the June 15 demonstration for the removal of the Oñate statue where a counter protester shot and seriously injured a protester. APD’s handling of the protest was heavily criticized by Albuquerque City Councilors Pat Davis ad Isaac Benton who called for a public accounting of why the officers didn’t intervene sooner. Second Judicial District Attorney Raul Torrez blasted APD for its mishandling of the shooting investigation.

Text messages show that before the shooting Medina and others in the command staff were warned that the heavily-armed New Mexico Civil Guard was there. Medina was asked if there was a plan to de-escalate. The Journal reported that shortly before 6:30 p.m., an APD spokesman, sent a text to 1st Deputy Chief Medina, Chief Geier and another deputy chief, warning that the militia group had shown up. The text sent said:

“This will turn out really bad if those jokers assault the protesters. … Even the intimidation is troubling. Any ideas about de-escalating and getting them to back down?”

Medina replied by texting:

“We are planning … [to] stay neutral”.

Medina ordered that if a crime was committed and the protest became violent, only then would APD move in and make arrests. The peaceful protest did escalate into violence. A man armed with a handgun got into a confrontation with demonstrators and shot and seriously injured a protester.

Medina later said in an interview he had been told from other police chiefs in the country that having officers in riot gear at the protests could escalate tensions and cause the crowd to turn on them.

The exhibit that the Onate statue was part of a commissioned art piece in front of the Albuquerque Museum that cost $800,000 in taxpayer money. Mayor Keller was aware that the Museum Board of Director’s 2 weeks earlier had decided to take the statue down. Keller has never said why he did not order the statue to be taken down before the protest.

During a September 23 interview with radio personality Bob Clark on his morning show, Mayor Keller defended the Onate Protest TACT plan saying it was no different than over 40 other past protests tactical plans that were very successful, which is simply not true. The Onate protest TACT plan was tailored to fit the Onate protest in front of the Albuquerque Museum. The TACT plan states that APD was to “stand down” when it came to the statue while APD waited in the Albuquerque Museum until dispatched to quell a violent protest if in fact one erupted. It was First Deputy Harold Medina that characterized the destruction of the statue as mere “property damage”. The day after the protest, APD was severely criticized and scrutinized over the decision not to send officers into the fray much sooner and failure to infiltrate the crowd.

KELLER’S SEARCH FOR HIS “UNICORN” CHIEF

On September 23, Mayor Tim Keller was interviewed by radio personality Bob Clark on his morning show. Clark asked Keller about the appointment of Harold Medina as Interim Chief. Keller said Medina was the best person for the job, he was part of the original team that former Chief Geier assembled that brought stability to APD 3 years ago and he believed Medina understood APD. Keller noted that Medina when he was with APD worked in field services and after he left APD and retired, Medina went on to be Chief at Laguna Pueblo.

Clark asked about finding a new chief pointing out the DOJ reforms, the city crime problem and the fact that the next Mayors race is next year. Keller’s response was that the finding of a new chief will be “interesting” because of the time line. Keller said he hoped that there would be a lot of applicants who may be Chief elsewhere and who will want to leave their community because of what is happening nationally. Keller even suggested he hopes that there are those who want to retire and come to Albuquerque. Keller did make it clear that he was comfortable with Medina as long as he needs him.

Bob Clark challenge Keller noting when Keller was first elected that Keller brought back as Chief and Deputy Chiefs personnel who had retired with APD and did not hire people from “outside” who could give “fresh eyes’ to the department. Keller’s response was that “our town is unique when it comes to crime and being under a consent decree”. Keller made light of the problem and said “you want a unicorn” who knows crime, knows the community, and who is committed the DOJ reforms. Keller said finding a magical unicorn was not possible and it will hard to find such a person to do the job. Until then, Keller said he had confidence in Medina as the national search continues.

Interim Chief Medina has now said he intends to apply to be appointed permanent APD Chief. Medina added that in the event he does not get the job, he is young enough to find a Chief’s job elsewhere. Medina has applied for a Chief’s job in Colorado but he did not get it.

A link to the entire 16 minute Bob Clark interview is here:

https://post.futurimedia.com/kkobam/playlist/albuquerque-mayor-tim-keller-5373.html?smc=6

GEIER SAYS HE DID NOT WANT TO RETIRE, MAYOR EXERTS POLITICAL INFLUENCE OVER APD MANAGEMENT DECISIONS

On September 23, when Mayor Tim Keller was interviewed on the Bob Clark Morning show on KKOB he was questioned in no uncertain terms if the “11th floor”, a common reference to the location of the Mayor’s office, is managing the police department. Keller categorically denied the accusation and made a “political pivot” saying it was disrespectful to APD and to law enforcement to question who were making the decisions. Keller went so far as calling the accusations “myth” spread out over the internet. During a previous city council meeting, CAO Sarita Nair, when responding to a similar question from a city councilor, denounced the accusation of micro managing as “internet rumor mongering.”

Link to Bob Clark interview is here:

https://post.futurimedia.com/kkobam/playlist/albuquerque-mayor-tim-keller-5373.html?smc=6

A PARK BENCH TALK LEADING TO A “FORCED RETIREMENT”

On September 4, then APD Chief Michael Geier told the Mayor’s Office he wanted to reassign First Deputy Chief Harold Medina because Medina was insubordinate and failed to carry out a project aimed at reducing gun violence in Albuquerque by the end of the year. Geier is quoted as saying:

“I told her I really need to switch him; he’s failed in this endeavor; this is a primary goal. … If you’re a deputy chief and you work against something, you might as well be the criminal on the street.”

Geier said he was told by CAO Sarita Nair he could not do that without Mayor Keller’s approval. Three days later, on Labor Day, Geier says he was summoned to a Northeast Heights park for a meeting with Keller. Geier said when he arrived, he sat on a park bench with Mayor Keller who “ had a hat on and sunglasses; he was very much incognito”. Keller asked Geier if he had thought about retiring. Geier said:

“I knew what’s coming, and I said, ‘No I’m not quite ready. I’ve got a few more things’ ‘Well,’ he [Keller] goes, ‘crime is out of control, and that’s on you.’ ”

After his meeting with Mayor Keller, Geier met with CAO Nair and Keller the next day at City Hall. Both of them told Geier he had to retire and that First Deputy Chief Harold Medina would be appointed Interim Chief.

A link to a September 14 related blog article entitled “Geier’s Walk In The Park Ends With His Retirement” is here:

https://www.petedinelli.com/2020/09/14/gieirs-walk-in-the-park-ends-with-his-retirement-ask-me-no-questions-you-internet-rumor-monger-pollster-explains-kellers-6/

At the news conference announcing Geier’s retirement, Keller said the decision for Geier to retire was a “mutual decision” after lengthy discussions. However, Keller said there were many “small distractions” and “big issues facing the city”. Keller said he saw the need “for increased progress and for a faster rate of change” at APD.

During the press conference announcing his retirement, Geier said he was retiring to spend more time with his two young grandchildren, whom he and his wife are raising, and to hand over the reins to someone who is younger and has more energy. According to the Journal report, Chief Geier left the news conference early because he “couldn’t stomach” sticking around for the end. Geier told the Journal it was true that he missed spending time with his family but he insisted he asked if he could stay through the end of the year instead of being forced out immediately. Mayor Keller told him no and Medina took over as acting chief.

POLITICAL MICROMANAGING OF A POLICE DEPARMENT

Former APD Chief Geier sharply criticized Mayor Keller and his administration for constant micromanagement of APD. According to Geier, he could not even hold his own press conferences and was told what to say at the ones he was present to participate. Geier said the news press conferences were “dog and pony show”. Geier alleged that the Mayor’s Office set APD’s priorities and dictated staffing structures.

As an example of micro management by the Keller Administration, Geier said he was given a “matrix” that listed projects that needed to be carried out and specific deadlines. Geier said he wasn’t allowed to call his own briefings without including the mayor and was handed talking points from the administration.

One particular and very insulting moment for Geier was when he was told not to speak to the media until after Mayor Keller arrived. It was the time when bones were found buried in a West Side dirt lot that was being made into a park. Initially, it appeared to be a huge development in the notorious West Mesa serial killer case that Geier himself had worked on the investigation years ago after the burial site was found in 2009. The bones turned out to be ancient and not connected to the serial killings.
Geier said:

“The chief should be able to say, ‘We’re going to do the press conference [and] you don’t even have to be there, Mr. Mayor, unless you want to see what’s out there. … I don’t want to get out in front of the cameras, but if someone knows something about it, that’s the person you want out there. … [In the case of the West Side serial killings] … I don’t think anyone knows it better than me. … I’m not a cop anymore; I’m just a politician’s aide is the way I [will] describe it.”

SHARP EXCHANGE OF ACCUSATIONS

The Keller Administration responded to Geier’s accusations by saying that Geier should be taking responsibility for what happened under his watch. Mayor Keller’s Chief of Staff Mike Puelle said in a statement:

“It’s sad to see [Geier] take the low road on the way out. … [a lot of people] put in a lot of hours propping up Geier … Unfortunately, he was an absentee Chief much of 2020, rarely at important incidents like officer-involved shootings, critical COVID actions, protests, staff meetings, or press conferences. … Albuquerque needs the Chief to be able to put in the 80 hours a week this job takes, on scene, on camera and side-by-side with our officers who work so hard in the field. … The job just wasn’t getting done. Crime is still too high, reforms hit snags and HR [Human Resources] squabbles were a distraction. … As a courtesy to Geier and out of respect for his service in law enforcement, he was given the opportunity to retire.”

Former Chief Geier became very indignant to the charge that he was an absentee chief and said he was forced to retire for the wrong reasons. Geier said he put in long hours, was often the last person to leave the office, ate lunch at his desk almost every day and took work home to spend hours on work at night.
Chief Geier put his work ethic this way:

“As chief, I had to delegate many duties to my deputy chiefs in their areas of responsibility because my job was so demanding at times. … I even attended meetings, events and such after work hours and on weekends, so it’s pretty ludicrous to even suggest I was an absentee chief. … Ask my family how much time I spent trying to keep up with the never-ending demands of my job as chief. I never took a sick day and did not take a vacation in 2020. … I don’t have … closure; I just feel a little bit that this was unfair. … I could have been given more time, and I feel like it really was for the wrong reasons that this happened.”

A link to a September 17 related blog article entitled “Who Is In Charge At APD? Answer: CAO Sarita Nair” is here:

https://www.petedinelli.com/2020/08/17/who-is-in-charge-at-apd-answer-cao-sarita-nair-politics-is-no-way-to-run-apd/

MEDINA UNDERMINES GEIER’S GUN VIOLENCE PLAN

As gun violence continued to increase, many plans were formulated to address it. In 2019, in response to the continuing increase in violent crime rates, Mayor Keller scrambled to implement 4 major crime fighting programs to reduce violent crime: the Shield Unit, Declaring Violent Crime “Public Health” issue, the “Violence Intervention Plan” (VIP program) and the Metro 15 Operation program. Based upon the statistics, the Keller programs have had very little effect on reducing violent crime. Geier told the Journal that he and a commander created a violence reduction plan that included scheduling regular meetings and brainstorming sessions for officers to talk with their supervisors about patterns in fatal shootings and shootings with injury in their area commands and come up with plans to address it.

Graphs provided by Geier to the Journal showed that between January 1 and Tuesday, September 22, there was a 16% increase in shooting murders from 37 to 43. The goal was 31 or fewer. Shootings with injury increased 27% citywide, from 152 to 193, and 5 of the 6 area commands saw more or as many shootings with injury as this time the year before. The Valley Area Command, which encompasses Downtown, was the only one to see a decrease; shootings dropped 38% from 34 to 21, which is below the goal. However, Geier speculates, that could be because bars and activities that typically draw crowds and violence have been shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Geier told the Journal that Medina never embraced the gun violence plan and that Medina went so far as to not instruct his officers to follow it through. Geier said the program was delayed in launching by six weeks, and those under Medina’s command had to undergo remedial training on the project again because they still didn’t understand it. Medina told Geier it was too confusing.

Geier wrote in a memo to Medina dated August 31:

“We had a number of discussions over the next several months and it appeared that you made little effort to bring your people on board. … On May 19, 2020, I had to issue Special Order 20-40 in an effort to make up for lost time in our efforts to reduce gun violence. Rather than reductions, APD saw significant increases for over 4 months in this regard.”

In his memo to Medina, Geier wrote the startling comment that he felt like it’s “almost as if you made an effort to make this program fail … [and your] behavior has “bordered on insubordination.” Geier wrote Medina that he intended to move him from the field services bureau. “I plan on discussing this with [CAO] Sarita [Nair] at our weekly update meeting this coming Friday, September 4th. I expect you to handle your new position as a professional so as to renew my faith and trust in you.” Geier made the very serious mistake of giving Medina a heads up that he would be talking to Nair because what Medina did was run right away to Nair.

Geier said he left the memo on Medina’s desk and didn’t see him again until after he was told to retire. “He probably just threw it away,” Geier said. Medina for his part said he never saw the memo. Given subsequent events, it’s highly likely Medina threw it away by giving the memo to CAO Sarita Nair.

When the Journal reporter asked if Geier’s gun violence plan will continue now that Geier has left, Keller’s Chief of Staff Puelle said:

“This is the kind of finger pointing and petty refusal to take responsibility for the department that we want out of the way. We are now optimistic that APD will now be able to ramp up our gun violence reduction efforts.”

THE GHOST WRITER “TWEET”

Geier described instances in which the mayor’s communications staff, and his own spokesman, attributed statements to him that he didn’t make. The most egregious example was a TWEET about Jacob Blake, the African American who was shot 7 times in the back by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in August.

On August 25, the following tweet about the Blake shooting was sent out on the APD Twitter Account attributed to APD Chief Michael Geier:

“The senseless shooting of Jacob Blake once again shows why our community and communities across the nation are seeking justice and change. On Behalf of APD, I offer my sympathy to Jacob Blake’s family and his children who witnessed this disturbing act. I sincerely hope he makes a full recovery.”

Hours after the tweet, Chief Geier sent an email to his officers saying that tweet wasn’t from him. In the email to his officers, Geier said:

“Earlier today a statement was posted attributed to me that I had not prepared or approved. This was an error and will be addressed. With respect to the officer involved shooting in Wisconsin, I have faith in the justice system that the facts of the incident will ultimately be revealed and comments by me about that incident without all the facts would be premature and inappropriate.

I would hope that this is not similar to the incident like we saw in Minneapolis since that had a negative impact on the reputations of all officers across our nation. I was not even aware of this incident in Kenosha until after this statement was posted. I would never have prejudged or jumped to conclusions without having more information. I apologize for any misunderstanding and want to assure everyone that these were not my words.”

It turns out it was APD Spokesperson Gilbert Gallegos who sent out the TWEET and Gallegos issued the following statement:

“Understanding that our own community in Albuquerque has concerns about the use of force by police, I recommended a statement from Chief Geier to acknowledge the incident in Wisconsin and demonstrate our hardworking officers’ commitment to our ongoing reform efforts. The statement was posted on social media before chief had an opportunity to review it. When we realized the oversight, the post was removed.”

A Link to related news coverage is here:

https://www.koat.com/article/apd-officers-angry-over-tweet-about-wisconsin-shooting-on-apds-twitter/33799630

According to Geier, the original TWEET that he did not write and sent out caused a firestorm and Geier had this to say:

“[Union President Shaun] Willoughby was already wanting to do a no-confidence vote [on me], the APD wife group was ready to hang me, and there was a law enforcement group with 55,000 members that had my picture on it saying it’s not enough that I have bad shootings in my own town, I have to criticize some others.”

The link to a September 8 related blog article entitled “An Unauthorized Tweet Reported Across The City Reflects APD Chief Michael Geier Not In Charge of APD” is here:

https://www.petedinelli.com/2020/08/26/an-unauthorized-tweet-reported-across-the-city-reflects-apd-chief-michael-geier-not-in-charge-of-apd/

MEDINA’S DENIAL OF RUMOR MILL INVOLVEMENT

In November, 2019, Chief Geier felt compelled to email all APD officers refuting rumors that he planned to retire in December. The email, with the subject line “rumor control,” said that he knows of at least 12 people in the department who perpetuated this rumor and that it was detrimental to the organization and him.
Throughout the year, Geier said, the rumors escalated, and it was said he had COVID, and then, Alzheimer’s disease. According to Geier:

“Two to three weeks before Labor Day, Medina started saying, ‘They’re going to fire you, put me in as interim chief, and do a nationwide search. … So about three to four times, he tells me that. …They didn’t fire me, but they forced me out.”

For his part, Medina said he did not spread any rumors and says he told others to stop. He also said the department continues to be rife with rumors, but he’s willing to send a message from the top that he’s not going to tolerate that kind of behavior.

According to Medina:

“I think that’s where a good strong, 24/7, engaged chief is important for the city, for any police department. … I have the personality that there is a little bit of fear that the chief is going to do something if something comes up.”

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

All 3 Albuquerque front page stories cut all the way to the bone discrediting Mayor Tim Keller and CAO Sarita Nair. Geier makes Keller and Nair look like fools and it’s likely the public will believe Geier over Keller and Nair. It is highly likely Keller’s trade mark smile on his face and grin in his voice will be gone for at least a few days after reading the articles and Geier’s article in particular.

On September 23, Mayor Tim Keller was interviewed on the Bob Clark Morning show on KKOB. Keller was questioned in no uncertain terms if the “11th floor”, a common reference to the location of the Mayor’s office, is managing the police department. Keller categorically denied the accusation and said it was disrespectful to APD and to law enforcement to question who were making the decisions and he called such accusations “myth” spread out over the internet.

During a previous city council meeting, CAO Sarita Nair, when responding to a similar question from a city councilor, denounced the accusation of micro managing as “internet rumor mongering.”

A CRISIS OF HIS OWN MAKING

Mayor Tim Keller is now looking like a fool, wringing his hands, unable to deal with yet another APD crisis. This time it’s a crisis of Keller’s own making. Keller has forced his first, handpicked appointed APD Chief to retire in order to appoint an insubordinate Harold Medina with a nefarious past who was hell bent on orchestrating Geier’s removal and taking his job as Chief. Keller better watch his back, because if Medina betrayed a Police Chief he will have no problem betraying a politician.

Confidential sources have said that then Rio Rancho Chief of Police Michael Geier met with candidate for Mayor Tim Keller back in late 2016 before Keller announced for Mayor in January, 2017 and before Geier retired as Chief of the Rio Rancho Police Department on February 18, 2017. The very same sources have said that it was during the 2017 election Keller made the commitment in private to appoint Geier Interim chief to keep him for a while and to see how he performed before he was made permanent. Keller supposedly also gave Geier a full four-year commitment and to keep Geier during Keller’s first entire term. Keller went so far as to tell people that Geier was going nowhere until the end of his first term.

It is no secret at city hall that Chief Administrative Officer Sarita Nair is very much involved with the day to day management of APD and that Interim Chief Harold Medina have developed a strong working relationship with CAO Nair. That relationship has now been fully exposed for the world to see. According to city hall sources Interim Chief Harold Medina will do whatever he is told to do by CAO Nair and Mayor Tim Keller. Confidential APD command staff also reported that Deputy Chief Harold Medina made it known to them that he intended to be the next Chief of APD sooner rather than latter even if took orchestrating Chief Geier’s departure relying upon CAO Sarita Nair’s support.

When asked if the mayor’s office was aware of Medina’s past, Keller’s Chief of Staff Mike Puelle wrote in a statement:

“Acting Chief Medina has been very open about these lessons learned and how he applies them to the ongoing reform efforts at the department.” If this is true, why the hell did Mayor Keller himself go forward with making Harold Medina Interim Chief unless Keller was never told of Medina’s past and Keller needed a quick scape goat to blame for the city’s high crime rates which turned out to be Geier. After all, Keller told Geier on a park bench “crime is out of control, and that’s on you.”

A TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE “WHITE KNIGHT”

When then State Auditor Tim Keller was running for Mayor in 2017, he was swept into office riding on a wave of popularity he orchestrated as State Auditor for a mere one year and six months of his 4 year term in office combating “waste, fraud and abuse” in government and promising “transparency”. Keller no doubt crafted his “white night” image as NM State Auditor with the help of his longtime political consultant Alan Packman who Keller paid literally thousands for “consulting services” while Keller was still New Mexico State Auditor. Packman is now working for the city’s 311 call center and paid over $80,000 a year.

A link to a related blog article dated August 9, 2018 entitled “Keller and Packman Together Again” is here:

https://www.petedinelli.com/2018/08/09/keller-and-packman-together-again/

During his successful 2017 campaign for Mayor, Keller promised sweeping changes with APD. Keller promised a national search for a new APD Chief and a return to Community based policing and increasing the size of APD. He proclaimed he was uniquely qualified to be Mayor because of his background. In 2017, Democrat Tim Keller was elected Mayor in a runoff with a 62.2% vote against Republican Dan Lewis who garnered 37.8% of the vote.

Keller looks great on paper, he is young, charismatic, has a beautiful young family and he is likeable. More importantly to an ever-increasing Democrat city, Keller is a “progressive democrat.” Truth was and still is, Tim Keller is too good to be true. When running for Mayor, Keller had zero knowledge of the extent of how serious the problems that were found by the Department of Justice and the “culture of aggression.” Keller was not interested in learning about the APD “culture of aggression” in that he did not bother to attend any one of the many Federal court hearings on the APD reforms when he was running for Mayor. Keller has no background nor practical experience in law enforcement and now his inexperience is showing, as is the inexperience of the political operatives he has surrounded himself with in his office.

During Mayor Tim Keller’s first 8 months in office, Keller did not make the dramatic management changes he promised. Keller appointed APD retired past management of the department and past practices. The appointed Chief and Deputy Chiefs were not outsiders at all but have been with APD for a number of years and are eligible for retirement whenever they want.

HIGH APPROVAL RATING

A recent poll found that Mayor Keller has a 60% approval rating after almost a full 3 years of his 4 year term and his approval rating makes him the automatic front runner as he seeks a second term. Mayor Keller’s approval rating may be high now, but that may be short lived. The poll was taken before Keller forced APD Chief Geier out and the cautionary statements made by the pollster that crime is still lurking as the biggest issue facing the city. The City’s homicide rate is now at 57 and likely to break the all-time record of 82 for a second year in a row under Keller’s term. There has been negligible change in the violent crime rates.

It was a very high voter turnout of progressive democrats that swept Keller into office. The progressives want and demand strong police oversight and the DOJ reforms. Both Geier and Medina are part of the very “culture of aggression” created and that brought the DOJ to Albuquerque. The progressive and Sanders supporters are purists and its speculative at this point if they will be happy with Keller appointing Medina. If it’s actually enough for the progressives to find another candidate for Mayor, only time will tell.

ROOT CAUSES OF CULTURE OF AGRESSION

It was APD’s past management practices that resulted in the “culture of aggression” found by the Department of Justice that lead to the federal consent decree. The DOJ reviewed at least 18 police officer involved shootings and made findings that APD had a pattern of excessive use of force and deadly force. The litany of cases includes 4 Cases where $21.7 Million was paid for APD’s excessive use of force and deadly force. $64 Million has been paid out in taxpayer money for 42 police officer shootings in 8 years. A link to a related blog is here:

https://www.petedinelli.com/2019/06/18/four-cases-21-7-million-paid-for-apds-excessive-use-of-force-and-deadly-force-64-million-for-42-police-officer-shootings-in-10-years-apd-evolves-with-casa-reforms-training-and-incre/

APD leadership and management is now crumbling around Mayor Tim Keller who is failing to keep his campaign promises of reducing high crime rates, returning to community-based policing, increasing the size of APD and implementing the DOJ reforms. Keller, after close to 3 years in office and making it know he is running for another term, says himself that he is not satisfied with the high crime rates and the DOJ reforms have stalled. The abrupt departure of Chief Geier no doubt will have an impact on implementing the DOJ mandated reforms as will the appointment of Harold Medina as Interim Chief.

ANOTHER SHAM NATIONAL SEARCH

Mayor Keller is now faced with the very difficult task of finding and hiring a new APD Chief 13 months before the November 2021 election for Mayor. That may not happen because whoever is appointed by Keller likely will know they will be out of a job if Keller is not elected to another 4-year term.

Interim Chief Harold Medina has already said he will apply to be permanent Chief when the national search starts. If this sounds at all familiar, it is. This is the exact same sham strategy Keller used to make Michael Geier permanent Chief. Soon after being appointed Interim Chief, then Interim Chief Geier made it know he was applying to be permanent chief. After the so-called national search, Keller waived his magic wand and “presto chango”, Keller appointed Geier as permanent APD Chief saying that it turned out that the most qualified person to be Chief was already here and it was Interim Chief Geier.

MEDINA PART OF THE PROBLEM

Interim Chief Harold Medina is part of the very problem that brought the Department of Justice (DOJ) here in the first place. Any one in APD command staff who may have assisted, contributed or who did not stop the “culture of aggression” found by the Department of Justice and who have resisted the reform process has no business being APD Chief or Deputy Chief for that matter Interim Chief. Harold Medina was and still is part of the problem and culture of aggression within APD. It is not at all likely, despite whatever public comments he makes, that Interim APD Chief Medina will ever get behind the Federal mandated reforms which should disqualify him from being the interim APD Chief and for that matter the new permanent Chief.

APD needs a clean sweep in management and philosophy to remove anyone who assisted, contributed or who did not stop the culture of aggression found by the Department of Justice and who have resisted the reform process during the last 3 years of the consent decree, including Harold Medina. Keller is now running our of time and it is very doubtful Medina will be able to deliver.

One thing is for certain, Interim Chief Harold Medina is not the magical “unicorn APD chief” that Keller is looking for nor what APD and the City needs right now. For that reason, Mayor Tim Keller needs to bite the bullet, thank Medina for his years of service and replace Medina immediately as Interim Chief. If not, Mayor Tim Keller needs to wait until after the 2021 Mayor’s election which is a mere 13 months away.

CONCLUSION

Perhaps the time has come for voters to also change who is Mayor because Keller’s job performance of selecting competent and effective Police Chiefs and APD management is just not cutting it. Who knows, Former APD Chief Michael Geier just may be approached by the Republican party to run for Mayor in 2021 against Democrats Mayor Tim Keller and Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales. If that happens, the City will have a repeat of the 2009 Mayor’s race between Mayor Chavez, Richard Romero and RJ Berry.

One thing for certain, given all the media attention involving Geier’s forced retirement and the Journal front page coverage, with a scathing editorial anticipated, it is highly likely this will not be the last time the public hears from former APD Chief Michael Geier. It is more likely than not Geier will want his pound of flesh out of the rear ends of Keller, Nair and Medina especially when crime increases and Chief Harold Medina leads a department in the reactionary manner he is known for that has resulted in at least two deaths.

Mayor Keller On Bob Clark Morning Show Expresses Confidence In Interim Chief Harold Medina; The DOJ Investigation Of APD’s Culture Of Aggression, APD’s Killing Of Mentally ILL Ken Ellis, The Harold Medina Interview

On Wednesday, September 23, Mayor Tim Keller was interviewed on the Bob Clark Morning show on KKOB. Not at all surprising, Clark asked the hard questions. During the entire interview Keller gave classic “political pivot” answers and he also expressed confidence in Interim Chief Harold Medina as the person needed until a new Chief is found.

A link to the entire 16 minute Bob Clark interview is here:

https://post.futurimedia.com/kkobam/playlist/albuquerque-mayor-tim-keller-5373.html?smc=6

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE BOB CLARK MORNING SHOW INTERVIEW WITH KELLER

Bob Clark began the interview with discussing the departure of APD Chief Geier and the reasons for that departure. Keller thanked Geier for his service and went so far as to say Geier saved the Department. Notwithstanding, after talking with Geier, Keller made the decision that it was a “transitional moment”. According to Keller, he felt that APD was not making sufficient progress with respect to bringing down high crime rates, the implementation of the Department of Justice (DOJ) reforms had stalled and Chief Geier’s “personal situation” required more time than he had to do the job.

A related blog article on Chief Geier’s departure is here:

https://www.petedinelli.com/2020/09/10/mayor-keller-abruptly-terminates-apd-chief-geier-appoints-first-deputy-chief-harold-medina-interim-chief-keller-should-replace-all-deputies-freshman-city-councilor-brook-bassan-shows-entire-city-co/

Bob Clark also asked about the appointment of Harold Medina as Interim Chief. Keller said Medina was the best person for the job, he was part of the original team Geier assembled that brought stability to APD and he understood APD. Keller noted that Medina when he was with APD worked in field services and after he left APD and retired, Medina went on to be Chief at Laguna Pueblo.

Clark asked about finding a new chief pointing out the DOJ reforms, the city crime problem and the fact that the next Mayors race is next year. Keller’s response was that the finding of a new chief will be “interesting” because of the time line, but he hoped that there would be a lot of applicants who may be Chief elsewhere and who want to leave their community because of what is happening nationally or perhaps that there are those who want to retire and come to Albuquerque. Keller did make it clear that he was comfortable with Medina as long as he needs him.

Bob Clark challenge Keller noting when Keller was first elected that Keller brought back as Chief and Deputy Chiefs personnel who had retired with APD and did not hire people from “outside” who could give “fresh eyes’ to the department. Keller’s response was that “our town is unique when it comes to crime and being under a consent decree”. Keller said “you want a unicorn” who knows crime and knows the community, but that is not realistic.

Keller was questioned in no uncertain terms if the “11th floor”, a common reference to where the Mayor’s office is, is managing the police department. Keller categorically denied the accusation and said it was disrespectful to APD and to law enforcement to question who were making the decisions and he called such accusations “myth” spread out over the internet. During a previous city council meeting, CAO Sarita Nair, when responding to a similar question from a city councilor, denounced the accusation of micro managing as “internet rumor mongering.”

When questioned on what he and APD did during the June 15 Onate statue protest, where one person was shot, and if CAO Sarita Nair or Keller were micro managing the department during the protest, Keller said it was “factually not true”. Keller said that they were in city council session during the Onate protest sounding as if he was at the city council meeting when he was not. The one at the city council meeting was CAO Sarita Nair, not Keller. Bob Clark did not ask if Keller was in contact with APD during the protest and confidential sources have confirmed Keller was on the phone with APD during the protest.

Keller defended the Onate Protest TACT plan saying it was no different than over 40 other past protests tactical plans that were very successful. That is simply not true. The Onate protest TACT plan was tailored to fit the Onate protest in front of the Albuquerque Museum. The TACT plan states that APD was to “stand down” when it came to the statue while APD waited in the Albuquerque Museum until dispatched to quell a violent protest if in fact one erupted. The day after the protest, APD was severely criticized and scrutinized over the decision not to send officers into the fray much sooner and failure to infiltrate the crowd.

During a June 22 press conference, then Deputy Chief Medina said after watching similar events unfold all across the country, APD has been mindful of the way officers respond to such protests knowing it will affect the department’s relationship with the community. Medina responded this way:

“The Albuquerque Police Department recognizes that our past approach to use of force caused the community to distrust and fear the police. … Throughout this time of dealing with protests we have been cautious to hold the use of force to a minimum and use only for significant property damage or when life is threatened. We simply will not allow simple property crime damage to be the tipping point of when we decide to use force on a crowd that has a lot of individuals who are still peacefully demonstrating their constitutional rights.”

The exhibit that the Onate statue was part of was a commissioned art piece that cost $800,000i taxpayer money and the destruction and teardown cannot be “simple property damage” in Medina’s words. Futher, Keller was aware that the Museum Board of Director’s 2 weeks earlier had decided to take the statue down, but Bob Clark did not ask Keller why he did not order a take down before the protest.

A link to a related blog article is here:

https://www.petedinelli.com/2020/06/23/apd-damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-dont-keller-davis-and-benton-political-consultant-involved-with-june-15-onate-statue-protest-da-torrez-grooms-his-onate-beard-for-pr/

Clark confronted Keller over a number of TWEETS where he condemned other police department over the killing of African Americans. Clark noted that Keller never TWEETED over the shooting and murder of two police in California. Keller said you should not judge anyone based on TWIITER posts and that his administration is doing so much more for APD and the city.

Bob Clark confronted Mayor Keller with the police union poll released in July that found that 62% of sworn police officers did not feel they were being supported by then Police Chief Michael Geier, 96% of sworn police did not feel supported by the City Council and 83% of sworn police did not feel supported by Mayor Tim Keller. When asked by Clark what Keller thought about the union opinion poll, Keller played it down as much as he possibly could by saying the Police Union poll always says the same thing about Mayors, which is definitely false.

The poll has been done only for the past 5 years, not the 10 years as Keller said. The recent poll was the very first-time police officers have ever been asked a question if they felt supported by the Mayor, the Chief and the City Council. Keller pointed out to Bob Clark that he has given APD sworn officers significant raises thereby implying they should be satisfied with his performance. When Keller ran for Mayor, the police union endorsed him in no uncertain terms, and within a few months of taking office, the Keller Administration agreed to a two year contract with the police union giving significant raises and increasing longevity pay bonuses.

A link to a related article on the union poll is here:

https://www.petedinelli.com/2020/07/24/apd-union-releases-annual-push-poll-survey-mayor-tim-keller-has-been-had-by-police-union/

Mayor Tim Keller has not announced if he intends to submit the appointment of Medina as Interim Chief to the City Council for their approval as he did with APD Chief Geier before he was made permanent after a national search.

THE DOJ INVESTGATION FINDINGS

On April 10, 2014, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), Civil Rights Division, submitted a scathing 46-page investigation report on an 18-month civil rights investigation of the Albuquerque Police Department (APD). The investigation was conducted jointly by the DOJ’s Washington Office Civil Rights Division and the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of New Mexico.

The link to the DOJ investigation 46 page report is here:

https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/crt/legacy/2014/04/10/apd_findings_4-10-14.pdf

The DOJ reviewed all fatal shootings by officers between 2009 and 2012, and found that officers were not justified under federal law in using deadly force in the majority of those incidents. The DOJ found APD failed to use deescalating tactics when encountering the mentally ill. The DOJ found APD police officers too often used deadly force in an unconstitutional manner in their use of firearms. Officers used deadly force against people who posed a minimal threat, including individuals who posed a threat only to themselves or who were unarmed. Officers also used deadly force in situations where the conduct of the officers heightened the danger and contributed to the need to use force. The investigation found APD’s policies, training, and supervision were insufficient to ensure that officers encountering people with mental illness or in distress do so in a manner that respected their rights and in a manner that was safe for all involved. A significant number of the use of force cases reviewed by the DOJ involved persons suffering from acute mental illness and who were having a mental health crisis.

One of the use of deadly force cases reviewed by the DOJ was the shooting of 25 year old Kenneth Ellis. The killing of Kenneth Ellis became notorious to the public when a jury returned a verdict finding the City and the officer who shot and killed Ken Ellis was liable for Ellis’ death and awarded more than $10 million in damages. The State District Court granted summary judgement base upon a video of the shooting. Sources report that the video revealed that at no time did Ken Ellis ever lower his gun from his head, he did not threaten police in any manner and that he was a danger only to himself at the time.

THE DOJ REPORT ON THE KENNETH ELLIS SHOOTING

The following is contained in the April 10, 2014 DOJ investigation report on the Kenneth Ellis shooting:

In January 2010, an officer shot and killed Kenneth Ellis, III, a 25-year-old veteran who was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Officers suspected Ellis of vehicle theft and pulled him over in a parking lot. Ellis exited the vehicle holding a gun pointed to his head. Ellis continued to hold the gun to his head as he made several phone calls and the officers attempted to negotiate with him. After several minutes, an officer shot Ellis one time in the neck and killed him. While it is true that Ellis was holding a gun and thus presented a clear threat of harm, there was never any indication from Ellis’ words or actions that he intended to use the gun on anyone but himself. During his encounter with police, he held the gun to his own head and did not point at police or threaten them with harm. It was thus unreasonable for the officer to have used deadly force on Ellis. In addition, when officers are dealing with suicidal subjects, their failure to try to de-escalate the situation is a relevant factor in evaluating the reasonableness of any force they might use. Allen, 119 F.3d at 841-44. In February 2013, a judge in a state civil suit granted summary judgment in favor of the plaintiffs, finding that the shooting violated the Fourth Amendment. A jury later returned a verdict finding the City and the officer who shot him liable for Ellis’ death and awarding more than $10 million in damages. (page 14)

The officer who shot and killed Kenneth Ellis was not a member of the SWAT unit, but commanding officers within and over SWAT were present when Ellis was shot. The department’s reports on the shooting make it clear that the SWAT commanding officers failed to exert control over the scene, such as by making a plan for handling the crisis, determining where officers should be positioned, or deciding what roles each officer would fulfill, though our consultants would have expected them to take on these roles and establish control and lines of authority. The lack of scene control contributed to a chaotic environment and allowed the shooting officer to act on his own accord when he shot and killed Ellis. See Allen, 119 F.3d at 841-44 (noting that the failure to follow protocols can be a ground for liability for the use of deadly force). (Page 15).”

The DOJ investigation report states that “a judge in a state civil suit granted summary judgment in favor of the plaintiffs, finding that the shooting violated the Fourth Amendment. A jury later returned a verdict finding the City and the officer who shot him liable for Ellis’ death and awarding more than $10 million in damages.” What is not disclosed in the DOJ report is the most important evidence that formed the basis of the court ruling and the $10 million jury verdict which is the video of the shooting. According to a person who was involved with the civil law suit and who has actually seen the video, the video of the shooting reflects that at no time did Ken Ellis ever lower the gun from his head and aim it or threaten the police officers which seriously contradicts what Medina said in his statement.

HAROLD MEDINA ADMITS IN INTERVIEW HE AUTHORIZED DEADLY FORCE AGAINST ELLIS

A confidential source provided a copy of a 12-page transcribed interview taken on January 13, 2010 of then APD Lieutenant Harold Medina regarding his involvement in the officer involved shooting (OIS) and killing of Ken Ellis. When you read the DOJ investigation report relating to the Ken Ellis shooting, there are a serious number of discrepancies in Medina’s statement that are very problematic for him and totally contradicts him and what he said to the homicide detective.

The interview at the time was conducted by Homicide Detective Kevin Morant. Then APD Lieutenant Harold Medina was at the scene of the shooting, and became “involved” with the attempted apprehension of the Kenneth Ellis. The APD Case number is AP 10 – 0041334.

Following is the transcribed interview of the Lt. Harold Medina taken on January 13, 2010 by then Homicide Detective Kevin Morant:

DETECTIVE MORANT: This is Detective Kevin Morant with the Albuquerque Homicide Unit. Today’s date [is] January 13th, 2010. The time is 1221 hours We are present at the intersection of Constitution and Westerfield. This is in reference to case number AP 10-0004134. This is an interview with — can you state your name for the record, please?

HAROLD MEDINA: Lieutenant Harold Medina.

…[ Personal information, date of birth redacted.]

DETECTIVE MORANT: … And what substation do you work out of?

HAROLD MEDINA: CIB … Property Crimes

DETECTIVE MORANT: So your out of the main [downtown headquarters]?

HAROLD MEDINA: Yes.

DETECTIVE MORANT: … All right. Just kind of start from the beginning, what you heard, what you observed, what you did, what you saw, … the whole spiel.

HAROLD MEDINA: “Early today, when the incident started, I was around 4ht street and I-40. I was headed to the northeast due to a joint tac plan between the impact teams, Southeast, Northeast and Foothills, where we were pursuing leads on property crime offenders. Also involved were my burglary unit and members of my auto theft unit and members of my burglary unit.

I was on my way up here when I heard the call come out. I was getting on the freeway … when I heard officers say that they needed backup reference a subject who was armed with a gun and holding the gun to his head … .

[At] this time they advised they needed a unit with a rifle. I did have a rifle with me, so I proceeded running code eastbound on I-40. … when I was getting off on Eubank, I heard 701, Lieutenant [officer named redacted] from the tactical section, advise they were monitoring the situation. And at this time I advised that it would probably be best if they went ahead and started units rolling our way, due to the fact that we did have a subject armed with a gun and that there was a situation that would probably best if we had tactical en route to immediately.

As I was going almost on scene, I asked where they needed me with the rifle. I don’t know if they ever answered, but at that information was coming out that they were at the 7-Eleven. As I pulled up, I saw the subject up against the east wall on the south end, holding a handgun to his head. I did notice that several officers were covering him. I did come up with my rifle because most of the officers were in the close proximity to the male subject with their hand guns. … I took up a position of cover behind the cream-colored Ford Taurus that’s parked just in front of my slick top unit.

I was back there with [officer named redacted] and I was trying to – me and [name redacted] were trying to ask Detective [named redacted] to see how we could get him back a little bit from the subject. But he didn’t have any cover to be able to get back … and give some space to the individual because he had just – – it was too dangerous to try and move him back.

So I moved forward to the rear end of the pickup truck. I was covering the subject from the back of the truck. … I was covering the subject from the rear of the truck. … I tried to get better cover, so I went down to the ground. I tried to take a – – get a good position of cover from there, but it still left me too exposed.

So when I was too exposed, I came back up, and as I was coming back up, I saw that the individual had taken the gun away from his head for a brief second. And at that point I would have utilized deadly force, but I was in a position of moving. By the time I came up, the subject was — had already put the gun back to his head.

And the reason I say I would have used deadly force is because, when the gun came down, there was officers all around and at that point, when the gun came away from his head, he easily was covering somebody at that point with all the officers around.

I realized that a lot of the officers were in that close proximity and if that happened again, that deadly force would be justified. … I started to move towards the front of the truck and told [officer name redacted] that if the gun came away from the subject’s head again and that in any – and it veered towards any of the officers, that we needed to use deadly force.

At that time, I heard a single gunshot. The subject fell to the ground. Initially, at first, we thought the subject had taken his own life. Then as we were clearing the subject, I walked up to the subject, covering him, and I got blood on my boots, when I was trying to just scoot the gun away from him. But I was trying to scoot it carefully because I could see that the hammer was cocked and the gun was loaded, so I was trying to make sure that we didn’t have an accidental discharge as we were getting it away from his body.

As soon as we got it away from his body an unknown officer came up and said, “Hey, one of us may have fired a round.” And at that point somebody showed me a .45 shell casing next to a truck in front of the Fina on the rear passenger tire.

I asked an officer to secure and remain with that until the scene was secure and we started dividing, trying to get witnesses secured and securing the scene. And as soon as acting- Commander [named redacted] arrived on the scene, he assumed the role of incident commander due to the fact that I had involvement, and at that point it was turned over to everybody else.

There was a dialogue between the subject and officers were trying to talk with him. But I – from where I was, I couldn’t see exactly what they were talking about.

No [I could not hear what they were saying]. It was, I mean, a lot of people yelling back and forth. Like I said, I was trying to move into position. And I heard officers tell him several time, you know, “Put down the gun. We can talk about this. Put the gun down. We can talk about this.” And the subject was refusing to obey the officers’ commands.

Like I stated, like probably about less than ten seconds before the shot was fired, the gun did come away from his head, which was a potential deadly threat to the officers on the scene.

… [The .45 casing found] … was on the other side of a truck that’s in front of the Fina and it was laying right next to the tire.

He had a handgun. It appeared to be a single action of some sort, or he had cocked it. I could just – I could see that the hammer was cocked back. Black handgun with a wooden gripe.

[I am pretty sure that the .45 casing did not come from his gun because] It’s too far. … There’s no way it could have been ejected and landed where it landed.

… Yeah [as to being asked if any of the officers had fired] … And at one point, they told me that it was possible [named redacted] had fired. And then he was with a buddy officer already. And then he was secured in the vehicle. I secured my firearm, my rifle in the back seat of my car until criminalistics took it.”

No [there is nothing else I can think of.]

DETECTIVE MORANT: … So at least on one occasion you saw the guy take the gun away from his head, kind of scan over where the officers were and then you gave the command that if he did that again, deadly force was authorized?

HAROLD MEDINA: I gave it to [officer name redacted]. I didn’t want to yell the information out. … And if the guy was potentially contemplating – thinking suicide by cop, I didn’t want to give him the out and let him know hey, just pull the gun away and then kind of veer in the direction of the officers, and then we’re forced to shoot him. So that’s why I came to up [officer name redacted] and I told him, “Look, [officer named redacted] if he takes the gun away from his head and it’s going in the direction of an officer, deadly force would be authorized.

DETECTIVE MORANT: … So you just told this to [officer name redacted]? … You didn’t say that over the air?

HAROLD MEDINA: No, I didn’t say that over the air. Because I didn’t want the guy to hear it and then all of a sudden have an out as to well, this is how I could kill myself.

DETECTIVE MORANT: Okay. So he was actually close enough to to the officers where he could hear their radios, their radio broadcasts? … Because you said that he — you said earlier that the officers were in proximity to him.

HAROLD MEDINA: Yeah. They were on the other side of the truck. So probably about 20, 25 feet. I don’t know if people’s radio were on or not. … I wasn’t paying attention to the radio. I was trying to focus on what we had going on there.

DETECTIVE MORANT: … when you went up to the body, to secure the gun and to look at this guy, did you happen to see where he had been shot?

HAROLD MEDINA: No. When he got hit, I saw when he got hit and it appeared he may have gotten hit in the head. … And it seemed like that’s where the blood initially sprung from. That’s what it appeared like.

DETECTIVE MORANT: … Anything else that you can think of?

HAROLD MEDINA: No, nothing else.

DETECTIVE MORANT: … This concludes the interview. The time is 12:31.

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

As reported by this blog on September 21, the Keller Administration and in particular the APD Spokesman, is denying on behalf of Harold Medina that he was in charge of the Kenneth Ellis Officer Involve shooting scene as the incident was evolving. The link to the blog article is here:

https://www.petedinelli.com/2020/09/21/apd-chief-medina-says-in-2010-interview-he-authorized-use-of-deadly-force-in-shooting-of-mentally-ill-ken-ellis-interview-reveals-medina-is-part-of-the-problem-apd-spokesman-gallegos-issues-fal/?fbclid=IwAR2Wh2Q85Jm2r5V18JmbGob-g-LHhaNcHJCqlGzHGt_grsyP7mAtNZnTrBM

The January 13, 2010 interview of Harold Medina occurred within hours and at the scene of the shooting on the day of the killing of Ken Ellis. The time of the interview substantially increases the accuracy of Medina’s recollection of what happened that tragic day for Ken Ellis.

Medina inserted himself into the Ken Ellis encounter by APD. At the beginning of the interview, Medina makes it clear he worked at the downtown headquarters, he left the station and was heading to a “tact” plan involving his “burglary unit and members of [his] auto theft unit and members of [his] burglary unit.” and his impact teams he supervised. However, he was not part of the personnel assigned to implement the “tact” plan but it was the units he supervised that were implementing the “tact” plan. When Medina heard the call over the police radio scanner, he was not being dispatched to the call. Medina took it upon himself to go to the scene and to provide a rifle and his assistance.

As a Lieutenant, his role should have been observation and command, not giving orders as he did to subordinates. Lieutenant Harold Medina on his way to the scene called out the SWAT unit when he communicated with the SWAT Lieutenant over the radio and asked that SWAT be sent to the scene. Medina did not wait for SWAT to arrive. Instead, he escalated the incident by participating and acting essentially as a sniper when he took a position on the ground armed with his rifle.

Harold Medina establishes in his interview that he took charge of the scene upon his arrival as the ranking office by giving commands to officers. Once Medina arrived on the scene, he became the highest-ranking officer and under APD standard operating procedure he had the authority to assume control and give orders which he did. Towards the end of the interview, Median says “I asked an officer to secure and remain with that until the scene was secure and we started dividing, trying to get witnesses secured and securing the scene.” This statement alone establishes that Medina assumed the role of being in charge of the scene.

Medina also had the authority to authorize the use of deadly force to the sworn officers’ present, which he admitted he did to at least one officer. According to Medina, tensions were high at the scene and he says he did not want to broadcast information or orders over the radio to those under his command. What is clear is that Lieutenant Harold Medina himself was willing and able to use deadly force by use of his rifle, taking a position on the ground and “covering the subject” in order to fire his rifle when he felt it was necessary. Medina authorized at least one officer to use deadly force. Medina also makes it clear he was prepared to use deadly force himself on Ken Ellis.

ORDERS GIVEN, NOT GIVEN, AND A FAILURE OF LEADERSHIP

The most critical fact is that it was Medina who authorized the use of deadly force by the officers who were under his command resulting in the killing of Ken Ellis. Medina did not order the use of de-escalation tactics. Medina did not order that his officers stand down. Medina did not order the officers to take safe cover. Medina did not order that the officers back up and secure the area. Medina did not order the use of anything less than deadly force. Medina did not order those under his command interacting with Ken Ellis to wait for a crisis unit to arrive at the scene or the SWAT unit he had requested.
After Ken Ellis was shot dead, police officers at the scene approached Lieutenant Medina to tell him that they thought a specifically identified officer had fired the shot that killed Ellis. Further Medina noted the location of the shell. Both facts in part show that Medina believed he was the officer in charge of the scene.

As soon as the Acting Area Commander for the NE Heights Area Command arrived on the scene, and Ken Ellis was already dead, Medina quickly relinquished the scene to the arriving Area Commander which Medina was required to do under standard operating procedures. The Acting Area commander assumed Medina’s role of incident commander. Medina in his own words gave the excuse that he “had involvement” with the shooting and “at that point it was turned over to everybody else.” The actions by Medina at the scene of the shooting before the Acting Area Commander arrived was a failure of leadership.

Medina’s was clearly the highest-ranking officer at the scene once he arrived and he was giving commands, which escalated the situation. His actions of deploying his rifle and “covering the subject” crossed the line making him into a player, or participant, while at the same time he was a supervisor.

Turning over command to another after the killing does not absolve Medina for his conduct and he needs to be held responsible for his actions or failure to act. Turning command over to another after the killing of Ken Ellis does not mean he can avoid being held responsible for the orders he gave, or did not give, that resulted in the shooting death of Ken Ellis.

MEDINA PART OF THE PROBLEM

Interim Chief Harold Medina is part of the very problem that brought the Department of Justice (DOJ) here in the first place. It was the past APD management practices that resulted in the “culture of aggression” found by the Department of Justice that lead to the federal consent decree after 18 police officer involved shootings and the findings of excessive use of force and deadly force by APD. The litany of cases includes 4 Cases where $21.7 Million was paid for APD’s excessive use of force and deadly force and $64 Million for 42 police officer shootings in 10 years. A link to a related blog is here:

https://www.petedinelli.com/2019/06/18/four-cases-21-7-million-paid-for-apds-excessive-use-of-force-and-deadly-force-64-million-for-42-police-officer-shootings-in-10-years-apd-evolves-with-casa-reforms-training-and-incre/

Any one in APD command staff who may have assisted, contributed or who did not stop the “culture of aggression” found by the Department of Justice and who have resisted the reform process has no business being APD Chief or Deputy for that matter. Interim Chief Harold Medina was and still is part of the problem with APD. It is not at all likely, despite whatever public comments he makes, that Interim APD Chief Medina will ever get behind the Federal mandated reforms which should disqualify him from being the interim APD Chief and for that matter the new permanent Chief. Mayor Tim Keller needs to thank Interim Chief Harold Medina for his years of service and find another to be Interim Chief while a national search is done that is not another sham for public relations.

$56 Million Sought For City Road Projects; City To Tap General Fund To Pay $4 million Shortfall In Lodger’s Tax Revenues Used For “Tourism Sports Facilities”

On September 6, it was reported that Mayor Tim Keller was seeking and secured city council approval of $56 million in funding for transportation projects by issuance and sale of municipal bonds. The issuance sale of municipal bonds is the standard approach to funding such projects. No increases in taxes will result from the funding. According to City Officials, getting the money immediately from a bond sale securing low interest debt will allow certain road projects to move forward faster than if the city waited for dollars to accumulate.

Mayor Keller had this to say:

“We’ve got decades-old traffic and infrastructure problems, and they won’t pay to fix themselves. … But help is on the way, and we’re getting it done without raising taxes.”
The list of projects could change. The city council will approve the specific projects before the end of the year.

https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/mayor-keller-proposes-56-investment-to-improve-roads-in-albuquerque/5849316/?cat=500

According to Municipal Affairs Spokesperson Johnny Chandler, the $56 million in funding for the transportation projects will come from the issue and sale of bonds secured by the ¼ cent Transportation Tax revenue, which voters approved for the third time at the ballot box last fall. The ordinance if passed by the City Council will allow the Department of Municipal Development (DMD) to bond $56 million for roadway specific infrastructure projects. Later in the year, the City Council will vote to approve the specific list of projects the Keller Administration is proposing for use of the funds.

According to the city news release:

“The initial list of proposed roadway infrastructure projects includes increasing road safety on East and West Central, Marquette, Rio Grande, San Pedro, Alameda, Wyoming and other major roads; adding lanes to Paseo Del Norte west of Calle Norteña; adding streetlights to major arterials; and upgrading ADA access throughout the City. This investment will also help jump start our COVID economy by bringing construction jobs and additional gross receipts tax revenue.”

City voters first passed the ¼ cent transportation tax in 1999 and renewed it in 2009. Unlike previous versions of the tax, voters in 2019 approved the tax without a 10-year expiration date which created a new opportunity to borrow against future revenues by issuing 15-year bonds. According to Albuquerque Chief Operating Officer Lawrence Rael, the tax is part of the gross receipts tax that brings in about $38 million to $40 million annually, but only about $19 million is dedicated to road improvements. The rest goes to public transit, trails and bikeways. Under the current bond proposal, the city will use about $4.5 million of the annual tax revenue to pay the debt for 15 years.

https://www.kob.com/kobtvimages/repository/cs/files/RELEASE%20-%20Citywide%20Transportation%20Investment.pdf

PROJECTS TO BE FUNDED

The city intends to fund $56 million in construction projects under the newly conceived financing proposal meant to accelerate key roadwork and stimulate the pandemic-battered economy. Those projects include:

1. Begin widening the western end of Paseo del Norte and to improve sidewalks and other infrastructure in the Wells Park neighborhood.

2. The Wells Park area would get $4 million for “complete streets” work, such as lighting, sidewalks and bicycle lanes.

3. A new grade-level railroad crossing on Marquette, helping link Albuquerque Convention Center users and others in the city center to developments east of the tracks.

4. Construction of an interior roadway at Los Altos Park, upgrading San Pedro near Alameda, and adding streetlights on the West Mesa and elsewhere in the city.

5. A $12 million dollar expansion of Paseo del Norte on the West Side to widen the road from two to four lanes between Kimmick and Rainbow. The city has already accumulated $5 million for the project with help from the New Mexico legislators. The $12 million of new money means the two-phase project is about 75% funded. The city has already hired a consultant and begun the design process.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1492852/city-planning-56m-in-road-improvements.html

TAPPING GENERAL FUND $4 MILLION TO PAY FOR SHORTFALL IN LODGER’S TAX REVENUES USED FOR “SPORTS FACILITIES”

Last year on September 6, 2019, Mayor Tim Keller submitted a $29 million infrastructure bond tax package to the Albuquerque City Council to be financed by the City’s Lodger’s Tax. The Keller Administration labeled the lodger tax bond package as a “Sports – Tourism Lodger Tax ” because it was to be used for a number of projects around the city labeled as “sports tourism opportunities.” The tax is paid by those staying at hotels and vacation rentals in the city.

Originally, the Keller Administration said all the projects would be funded through savings achieved by refinancing existing lodgers’ tax bonds. The Keller Administration then backtracked and said the city would issue $29 million in new bonds and use the lodger’s tax. The final lodger tax bond funding enacted by the Albuquerque City Council was increased from $29 million to $31 and includes $4.8 million in surplus funding for the projects. The additional funds come from the sale of vehicles and other city property.

On October 7, 2019 the City Council approved a $30.5 million “Sports -Tourism” lodger tax package on a unanimous vote to upgrade and build sports facilities throughout the city. Revenue generated by the lodgers tax will be used to pay off the $30.5 million bond debt.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1375946/city-council-approves-new-lodgers-tax-bonds.html

Following are the projects that were listed to be funded by the lodger tax revenues:

• $10 million to improve Los Altos Park, including new softball fields, a BMX pump track and concession improvements. Los Altos Park is the busiest park in the city and the Keller Administration argues that improvements will help attract tournaments.

• $3.5 million for a soccer complex at an unidentified site with locker rooms that could host tournaments. According to the Keller Administration, the multi-use soccer facility would be available for use by Albuquerque Public Schools, the New Mexico Activities Association championships and other tournaments, and would serve as a practice field for New Mexico United.

• $3.5 million for the Jennifer Riordan Spark Kindness Complex (a West Side baseball venue formerly known as the Albuquerque Regional Sports Complex).

• $4.5 million to upgrade the Albuquerque Convention Center, including adding outdoor message boards, and potentially having the Kiva Auditorium host a larger range of events. The city council increased the amount by $1.5 million. There have been recent reports that the convention center roof is leaking, but no money is being set aside for roof repair.

• $2.5 million to buy property for balloon landing sites.

• $2.5 million to replace the city’s 16-year-old indoor track currently used by the University of New Mexico and for track and field competitions.

• $2 million for a “multiuse trail” linking East Downtown to Downtown.

• $1 million for the forthcoming Route 66 Visitors Center at Central and 136th Street. The visitors center will be for both tourists and locals and plans include a museum, taproom and large event space for social and event gatherings.

• $1 million for Isotopes Park upgrades, such as netting and field improvements. The Isotopes Park upgrades include nets to protect young children and families during games and field improvements to provide for an easier transition from baseball to other uses including concerts. The professional soccer team United New Mexico currently uses Isotopes Park for their professional games.

• $500,000 for a “Northwest Mesa gateway.”

BACKLASH RECALLED

Keller’s “Sports – Tourism Lodger Tax ” drew severe backlash from Albuquerque’s Hotel Industry and it questioned the tourism value of several of the included projects. The industry representative said the projects were unlikely to boost visitation and, therefore, offer a return on the investment of lodger’s tax dollars.

At the time, Charlie Gray, the executive director of the Greater Albuquerque Hotel & Lodging Association (GAHLA), said the 120-member hotel association were only told of the $30 million lodger tax proposal when Mayor Tim Keller issued a news release about it to the public.

Members of the city’s Lodgers Tax Advisory Board (LTBA) said they knew absolutely nothing about the lodger’s tax plan until Mayor Tim Keller announced it on Sept. 7 in a press release. Board members complained they learned about it through media reports and were not requested to provide input. The proposal went to the City Council’s Finance and Government Operations Committee two days after the Keller announcement and the final City Council vote occurred on Oct. 7.

A link to a related blog article is here:

https://www.petedinelli.com/2019/10/15/sneaky-sports-tourism-lodger-tax-raid-is-invitation-to-litigate-and-investigate-by-lodger-industry-and-nm-state-auditor/

LODGERS TAX CAN ONLY BE USED FOR ADVERTISING, PUBLICIZING AND PROMOTING” TOURISM

A year ago, when Mayor Tim Keller announced the series of planned “sports tourism” projects around the city, the Keller Administration said they were relying on the sustained success of the local hospitality industry to pay for them.

When you examine all the projects that were to be finance by the “Sports Tourism Lodger” tax bonds, it is no doubt the projects are for the building of facilities and infrastructure. The glaring problem is the plain language of the lodger tax ordinance. It provides that at least one half of revenue generated from the lodger’s tax must be used “for the purpose of advertising, publicizing and promoting tourist-related attractions, facilities and events.”

The operable words in the city ordinance are “advertising, publicizing and promoting”. The debt of $31.5 million generated by the bonds will be paid by tax revenues that should be first applied to advertising, publicizing and promoting tourist-related attractions, facilities and events. Only after that is done can the funding be used to build, upgrade or make improvements to infrastructure and acquire or build facilities related to tourism.

It is a really big stretch to say that most of the projects are “tourist” and “tourism promotion” when they are obviously for general public use and not for tourism or promotion of tourism. To be perfectly blunt, 7 of the 10 projects are not tourism related and are used overwhelming by the general public and not the tourist industry nor by the hotel or lodger tax industry. It is a real stretch of the imagination to say the projects will attract tourism.

LODGER’S TAX REVENUE SHORTFALL

The city’s general fund, which is used for basic essential services such as police protection, fire and rescue and street maintenance is supported primarily by gross receipts tax revenues. The pandemic has had a major impact on the city’s hospitality industry to the point that the Lodger’s Tax revenues have plummeted.

The city finished the 2020 fiscal year on June 30 with $13.4 million in lodgers tax and hospitality fee revenue which is nearly $4 million less than it received in 2019. The Keller administration is budgeting for an even steeper decline this year, forecasting total revenue of $8.5 million. Because of a significant shortfall in the lodger tax revenues, the Keller administration is now turning to the general fund to pay the almost $8 million in debt service owed this year on the bonds.

Keller’s Chief Financial Officer Sanjay Bhakta called the lodgers tax debt payment one of the “unavoidable” general fund costs the city will incur this year given the pandemic’s impact on the economy. Bhakta had this to say:

“If that sector comes up and the revenues are higher than expected, we may not need the $3.5 million, but that’s what we’re budgeting right now.”

Bhakta added that the unforeseen events of this year do not necessarily change the value of last year’s bond sale and said:

“At that time, it made sense that we had that money, and I believe eventually it will work out. … Once the industry comes back, they will be able to reap the reward of that investment”.

In addition to buying new bonds, the city refinanced older bonds at lower interest rates to help cut the debt service costs. The city owes upwards of $7.8 million in lodgers tax debt service for fiscal year 2020-2021 which began July 1. Last year, the debt service was $7.7 million last year.

The Keller Administration reported that year to year increases gave way to year to year declines. Because of the pandemic, revenue crashed in March, coming in 61% less than March of 2019, a trend that continued through the spring and likely continue through the end of 2020.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1496056/city-may-tap-general-fund-to-pay-lodgers-tax-debt.html

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

Both city and state revenues are plummeting. Both the city and state are facing deficits mainly because of the impact of the corona virus is having on the economy. The $56 million dollars sought for city road project can only be considered a small “life line” to the city’s overall economy and in particular the construction industry. Nonetheless, the road projects are definitely needed.

However, Keller’s labeling the $31.5 million lodgers’ tax as a “sports tourism” tax was downright sneaky. Without any financial analysis or actual proof to back him up, Mayor Keller and his administration simply argue that the projects will attract conventions or other sports-related tourism and events to Albuquerque. Now the taxpayer is stuck with at least a $4.5 million debt service that must come out of the general fund.

ABQ Journal Poll Finds Pandemic #1 Concern of Voters, Crime #6 Concern; Handling of Pandemic Gives Governor And Mayor High Marks For Now

On Sunday, September 13, the Albuquerque Journal published the results of a statewide poll asking voters their top concerns that are facing New Mexico families. The poll also asked about voter’s approval or disapproval of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s job performance with a subsample for voter’s approval or disapproval Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller’s job. This blog article is an in-depth analysis of the 3 poll results and the effects the pandemic has had the on the approval ratings of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller.

As usual, the Albuquerque Journal poll was conducted by Research & Polling Inc., New Mexico’s largest full-service market research and public opinion research company. Founded in 1986, the company today serves a wide variety of prominent national and New Mexico clients. A link to the web page is here: https://www.rpinc.com/ When it comes to polling in New Mexico political races, Research and Polling has a decades history of accurate predictions and is considered the “gold standard” of polling in New Mexico politics.

The Albuquerque Journal poll was conducted from August 26 through September 2. It was based on a statewide sample of 457 likely general election voters who voted in either the 2016 and 2018 general elections, or both. The voter sample has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.6 percentage points. A subsample poll was conducted for the approval rating of Mayor Tim Keller with a margin of error of 5.3%.

CRIME ALL THE TIME BEFORE, NOW PANDEMIC ALL THE TIME

During the last two years, New Mexico has posted the nation’s first or second-highest violent crime rates in the country and some of the highest property crime rates in the country driven by high violent and property crime rates in Albuquerque. FBI statistics reveal that Albuquerque has the dubious distinction of having a crime rate about 194% higher than the national average. Albuquerque is one of the 7 cities involved with Operation Legend, a federal program targeting violent criminals for arrest and prosecution. All 7 cities have violent crime rates significantly higher and above the national average. A link to a related blog articles is here:

https://www.petedinelli.com/2019/11/04/nm-and-abq-still-violent-gov-mlg-creates-fugitive-apprehension-unit-crime-rates-will-be-defining-issue-in-2021-mayors-race/

HEALTH SAFETY CONCERNS REPLACES CRIME AS #1 CONCERN IN VOTER’S MINDS

For the past 8 years, crime has dominated as the number one issue voters have been identified as being problematic. The Journal poll reflects there has been a dramatic change ostensibly since February when the pandemic hit the nation and state hard. Voters now list health and safety related to COVID-19 as their number one concern with 40% of all those polled state wide. Concerns about crime has dropping like a rock to 6th place in voters mind to an anemic 4%. Below are the results of the poll:

40% percent of voters listed health and safety related to COVID-19 as the biggest concern
23% of voters cited economic uncertainty as their biggest concern
13% of voters cited loss of jobs and unemployment as their biggest concern
12% of cited education and back-to-school challenges as their biggest concern
7% of voters cited return to “usual activities” before COVID-19
4% of voters mentioned crime as their biggest concern
3% of listed travel restrictions as their biggest concern
2% of voters listed the direction of the country and future of America, leadership of the country and the election .

According to the Journal poll report:

“Democrats were more likely than Republicans to identify COVID-19 health and safety concerns as their family’s biggest issue. In the survey, 49% of Democrats listed it as the top concern, while just 30% of Republicans and 31% of independents did. …
All told, voters’ responses fell into about 50 categories. After travel concerns, the concerns most listed were the direction of the country and future of America, leadership of the country and the election. Each were listed by 2% of voters. Less-common answers included inability to access health care, taxes and food insecurity. Four people – fewer than 1% – mentioned the governor and Democrats in office as their family’s biggest concern. …
The percentages add up to more than 100 because some respondents identified more than one issue. About 9% said “nothing in particular.”

The link to the full Albuquerque Journal story with graphs reflecting the poll results and methodology is here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/1495902/voters-list-virus-impacts-as-biggest-concern-ndash-by-far.html

GOVERNOR’S APPROVAL RATING

According to the Albuquerque Journal poll, Governor Michell Lujan Grisham has a 59% approval rating, a 33% disapproval rating with 8% of those polled expressed mixed feelings about the Governor or saying they did not know. The link to the Albuquerque Journal full report with pie charts and graphs is here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/1495900/most-nm-voters-give-governor-good-marks.html

According to the Journal report:

“[Governor Lujan Grishams] aggressive response to the COVID-19 outbreak – including a face covering mandate and broad travel quarantine order – has been met with approval by most New Mexico voters, though it’s also generated criticism [and resistance] …

Among Democrats, 86% said they approved of the governor’s job performance. In contrast, only 23% of Republicans surveyed said they approved of the job the governor is doing.”

Among voters who cited the coronavirus pandemic and related health concerns as the biggest issue facing their families [a separate question was asked and in] the Journal Poll, 74% said they approved of Lujan Grisham’s job performance as governor while just 20% said they disapproved [her handling of the pandemic] .”

METHODOLOGY AND TIMING OF KELLER POLL

The Journal Poll asked one question when it came to Mayor Tim Keller:

“Do you approve or disapprove of the way Tim Keller is handling his job as the mayor of Albuquerque.”

The poll was conducted from August 26 through September 2. The poll was based on a scientific sample of 342 likely general election voters in Albuquerque who also voted in either the 2016 or 2018 general elections or both. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.3 percentage points, though it is higher for subsamples.

The Albuquerque Journal poll was also taken prior to Mayor Keller announcing the retirement of APD Chief Michael Geier on September 10, and with Keller citing the City’s rising crime, implementation of the Department of Justice reforms stalling out, and various internal affairs investigations involving APD.

The link to the Albuquerque Journal report on the poll is here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/1495901/mayor-keller-maintains-his-high-approval-rating.html

MAYOR KELLER’S APPROVAL RATING

In 2017, Democrat Tim Keller was elected Mayor in a runoff with a 62.2% vote against Republican Dan Lewis at 37.8%. Mayor Keller made it known election night in November that he intends to run for a second 4-year term in 2021. On Sunday, September 13, the Albuquerque Journal reported that its poll revealed that Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller has a 60% approval rating close to 3 years into his term. Such an approval makes Keller the automatic front runner as he seeks a second term.

However, cautionary statements were made by the pollster. In the Journal report on the poll taken, Pollster Brian Sanderoff, the President of Research and Polling, said it “is unknown whether Keller’s approval dropped at any point in the past two years and then climbed back up.” According to Sanderoff, it appears that the public perception of Keller improved during the COVID-19 pandemic and said that may be partly because the virus has temporarily supplanted crime as voters’ top concern. The poll was clear that the public’s focus has clearly shifted from crime to COVID-19 for now, but Sanderoff said Keller’s legacy is still tied to the city’s response to crime and he put it this way:

“Crime is still lurking as the biggest issue facing the city, and whether people ultimately will continue to approve of the mayor’s performance will ultimately be determined by how he’s perceived as handling crime.”

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

It is truly amazing that voters concern over the corona virus has now eclipsed crime as the number one concern given the City and States crime statistics. It is fascinating to reflect on what the effects the pandemic is having on New Mexico’s most visible elected officials, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller.

GOVERNOR MITCHELL LUJAN GRISHAM

Governor Lujan Grisham has been in office less than two years of her 4 year term. It has been a remarkable roller coaster for her and the people of New Mexico. On January 1, 2019 when she was sworn into office, the state was on the rebound from the 10-year great recession. The Governor had one of the most productive 60 day legislative sessions in recent memory with the enactment of the largest budget in state history. As the year progressed, the New Mexico’s economy continued to improve with record revenues and surplus achieved as a result of an oil and gas production boom.

2020 also began with real promise of increased revenues. In 2020, the state was hit with two gut punches: the CORONA Virus and the oil industry went bust with revenues plummeting. State revenues were slashed with a vengeance to the point that the Governor was forced to call a special session to adjust and cut the 2020-2021 budget enacted.

Notwithstanding the impact the corona virus has had on the state, the voters it turns out elected the right person at the right time to be Governor with her background and experience during a pandemic. Her handling of the pandemic crisis and the states response under her leadership has likely saved many lives.

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has been appointed to be on Joe Biden’s transition team, and if he is elected President it is likely she may not be here come January 1, 2021. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham could be offered a cabinet position. Lujan Grisham has said her main focus is New Mexico. However, according to the New York Times, should Biden win the election, Lujan Grisham has expressed interest in becoming Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. She served as the Secretary of the State Health Department under former Governor Bill Richardson.

https://www.krqe.com/news/latest-news/gov-lujan-grisham-shows-interest-in-possible-cabinet-seat-under-biden/

MAYOR TIM KELLER

Ever since Mayor Tim Keller assumed office on December 1, 2017, he has taken political showmanship to all new levels. Keller is known for his photo ops and press conferences, attending protest rallies to speak at, attending marches, attending heavy metal concerts to introduce the band, running in track meets and participating in exhibition football games as the quarterback and enjoying reliving his high school glory days, and posting pictures, press conferences and “fluff” videos on his FACEBOOK page all to the delight of his hard core supporters who heap praises on him.

Keller increased his public relations activities once the corona virus hit hard in February. Keller held daily news conferences as if competing with the Governor’s daily press conferences. He also took his public relations to another level and holds telephone “town halls meetings”. The “town hall” meetings are especially effective and consist of calling upwards of 13,000 people at one time on city compiled call lists likely prepared by the city’s 911 call center.

Keller’s 60% approval rating close to 3 years into his term makes him the automatic front runner as he seeks a second term. However, the cautionary statements made by the pollster that crime is still lurking as the biggest issue facing the city is compelling. In other words, Keller’s public relations actions have paid off for him for now, but that may be short lived.

At this point, the pandemic crisis has become a clear distraction from the city’s high crime rates. It is only a matter of time that crime will once again pushes aside all other concerns, especially if a vaccine is found for the Corona Virus. Today what is on people’s minds is the health threat from the pandemic, tomorrow it will be their concern for their safety living in a very violent city.

CONCLUSION

A Chinese curse is “May you live in interesting times.” 2021 will be an interesting year. It may be a year that there are seismic changes in our leaders from the highest office in the land of President, to the State with the departure of our Governor to the possible election of a new Mayor of Albuquerque. The are indeed interesting times in the political world of New Mexico politics.

GOP Senate Liars Club: A Power Grab That Will Last Generations And Destroy A Democracy

Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell within hours after the death of Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg on September 19, vowed that President Donald Trump’s as-yet unnamed nominee to replace her will receive a full vote on the Senate floor “this year,” but he has been careful not to say exactly when that will happen. Democrats are accusing “Moscow Mitch” of blatant hypocrisy after McConnell refused to consider President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, a full eight months before the 2016 election.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer took to the Senate floor Monday to remind McConnell of his own words hours after the February 2016 death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia when McConnell said: “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”

https://apnews.com/bb9932748b199f793cb2ccbefa713a5f

Moscow Mitch was not the only Republican to resist and oppose President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, a full eight months before the 2016 election. Following are comments made by the GOP Senate Liar’s Club 4 years ago:

In 2016, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas): “It has been 80 years since a Supreme Court vacancy was nominated and confirmed in an election year. There is a long tradition that you don’t do this in an election year.”

In 2016, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.): “I don’t think we should be moving on a nominee in the last year of this president’s term – I would say that if it was a Republican president.”

In 2016, Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.): “The very balance of our nation’s highest court is in serious jeopardy. As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I will do everything in my power to encourage the president and Senate leadership not to start this process until we hear from the American people.”

In 2016, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa): “A lifetime appointment that could dramatically impact individual freedoms and change the direction of the court for at least a generation is too important to get bogged down in politics. The American people shouldn’t be denied a voice.”

In 2016, Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.): “The campaign is already under way. It is essential to the institution of the Senate and to the very health of our republic to not launch our nation into a partisan, divisive confirmation battle during the very same time the American people are casting their ballots to elect our next president.”

In 2016, Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.): “In this election year, the American people will have an opportunity to have their say in the future direction of our country. For this reason, I believe the vacancy left open by Justice Antonin Scalia should not be filled until there is a new president.”

In 2016, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.): “The Senate should not confirm a new Supreme Court justice until we have a new president.”

2016, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Col.): “I think we’re too close to the election. The president who is elected in November should be the one who makes this decision.”

In 2016, Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio): “I believe the best thing for the country is to trust the American people to weigh in on who should make a lifetime appointment that could reshape the Supreme Court for generations. This wouldn’t be unusual. It is common practice for the Senate to stop acting on lifetime appointments during the last year of a presidential term, and it’s been nearly 80 years since any president was permitted to immediately fill a vacancy that arose in a presidential election year.”

In 2016, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.): “I strongly agree that the American people should decide the future direction of the Supreme Court by their votes for president and the majority party in the U.S. Senate.”

BIGGEST LIAR OF THEM ALL

Then there is the biggest lair and hypocrite of them all, Republican Senator Lindsay Graham when he said in 2018:

“If an opening comes in the last year of President Trump’s term, and the primary process has started, we’ll wait to the next election.”

On September 21, Senator Lindsey Graham, the chair of the Judiciary Committee, said that Republicans have the votes to confirm a nominee to fill Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Supreme Court seat before the election:

“We got the votes to confirm Justice Ginsburg’s replacement before the election. We are going to move forward in the committee. We’re going to report the nomination out of the committee to the floor of the United States Senate so we can vote before the election. That’s the constitutional process. … The nominee is going to be supported by every Republican in the Judiciary Committee. “We’ve got the votes to confirm the justice on the floor of the Senate before the election and that’s what’s coming.”

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/graham-says-we-got-the-votes-to-confirm-scotus-nominee-before-election/

FOUR REPUBLCIAN VOTES NEEDED

Republicans hold slime 53-47 majority in the Senate and can confirm a justice by a simple majority. At least four Republicans would have break with the party to prevent a vote from coming to the floor because in case of a tie, Republican Vice President Mike Pence would vote.

Republican Main Senator Susan Collins said the day after Ginsburg’s death, said she does not support a vote before the election and said:

“Given the proximity of the presidential election, however, I do not believe that the Senate should vote on the nominee prior to the election,” In fairness to the American people, who will either be re-electing the President or selecting a new one, the decision on a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court should be made by the President who is elected on November 3rd.”

Republican Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski said on Friday, September 18, before Ginsburg’s death was announced:

“I would not vote to confirm a Supreme Court nominee. We are 50-some days away from an election.”

Murkowski followed up on Sunday, September 20 with a statement that she is opposed to voting and said:

“For weeks, I have stated that I would not support taking up a potential Supreme Court vacancy this close to the election. Sadly, what was then a hypothetical is now our reality, but my position has not changed. I did not support taking up a nomination eight months before the 2016 election to fill the vacancy created by the passing of Justice Scalia. We are now even closer to the 2020 election — less than two months out — and I believe the same standard must apply.”

On Tuesday, September 22, Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney said he supports voting to fill the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat on the Supreme Court. Romney issued the following statement saying he would support moving forward.

“If the nominee reaches the Senate floor, I intend to vote based upon their qualifications.”

Romney’s announcement all but ensures President Trump has the backing needed to push the nomination over any Democratic objections.

TRUMP’S CHOICE

Trump said he intends to announce his choice to replace the late Justice Ginsburg on Saturday, September 26. Trump met with conservative Judge Federal Amy Coney Barrett who he appointed to the bench. On Monday, September 2, Trump told reporters he would interview other candidates and said he might meet with Judge when he travels to Florida. Without winning Florida, its likely Trump will lose the election. Both Amy Coney Barrett and Barbara Lagoa are considered reliable conservatives who would be likely to set aside Roe v. Wade and rule the Affordable Care Act as unconstitutional.

Trump expressed a preference for holding a vote on the nominee before the election and told reporters at the White House on Monday, September 21, before leaving for events in Ohio:

“I’d much rather have a vote before the election because there’s a lot of work to be done, and I’d much rather have it. … And we have plenty of time to do it.

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

Virtually ever single Republican Senator who successfully succeeded in blocking and preventing any vote to consider President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Judge Merrick Garland in the 2016 election year has now reversed themselves. All of them are falling all over themselves proclaiming it is their “duty to fill the vacancy” as soon as possible and before the November election and even before the President is sworn in on January 8.

No doubt the Republican Senate wants to make sure they create a super majority of conservatives on the 9 member Supreme Court to make sure it can rule that the 2020 election was rigged if Trump is not reelected to allow him to stay in power and to set aside the affordable care act when a case is presented in October. With a far-right conservative Supreme Court its likely Rowe v. Wade will be reversed abolishing a woman’s “right to choose”, any hope of setting aside and reversing Citizens United allowing billions to be spent in dark, corporate money to influence elections is gone and the Republican party, the minority party, will dominate the national agenda for generations.

This is nothing a power grab, pure, plain and simple. The only way to stop it is to vote straight Democrat and remove Trump and the entire GOP Liars Club from office.