A “Kinder and Gentler” Approach To Breaking Up High School Parties; Involve APS Security

Just a few days after the murder of a Sandia High teenager at a homecoming party, Albuquerque City Councilors Trudy Jones, Ken Sanchez and Brad Winter announced a proposal to renew and finance APD’s “party patrol” program that existed in the early 2000’s but was discontinued in 2007. The 3 city councilors proposed allocating $150,000 to provide funding and to renew the party patrol program. There have been at least 20 shootings related to parties in Albuquerque this year.


On October 21, on a 7-2 vote, the Albuquerque City Council voted to give the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) $280,000 in general fund funding for what they labeled as the “Party Intervention Team” (PIT) insisting the Party Patrol (PP) was not being brought back. Voting YES for the measure were Democrat City Counselors Pat Davis, Ken Sanchez, Diane Gibson and Republicans Brad Winter, Trudy Jones and Don Harris. Voting NO were Democrat City Councilors Isaac Benton and Klarissa Peña saying that APD did not fully outline the program’s details The “new program” is meant to combat underage drinking, drug use and high school party violence.

The city councilors who supported the measured assured citizens that the program would not traumatize and criminalize youth. City Councilors who voted for the measured stressed that PIT was not the same as the “party patrol” APD operated in the early 2000’s.

According to the language of the PIT funding bill, the city “is committed to identifying youthful offenders who need assistance and rehabilitative efforts that will reduce the likelihood of recidivism, rather than triggering a cycle of involvement in the criminal justice system or creating a school-to-prison pipeline.”

The goal of the “PIT” initiative is to end underage party goers and underage drinking and refer them to a rehabilitative program. An APD spokesman indicated that the threat of a citation may be the leverage the city uses to get young people into a diversion program. An amendment to the bill that the counsel past directs APD to consult with APS, youth advocates and community partners to develop PIT program.

Councilor Diane Gibson called the PIT program “a kinder, gentler version of what we think of when we think of ‘party patrol’ .

Mayor Keller’s Chief Administrative Office Sarita Nair said:

“We remember the days the APD officers would line up the kids and hand out the minor-in-possession citations. That is not something we want to do. … We remember when those citations were then referred to Albuquerque Public Schools and those kids had trouble participating in sports. That is not something we want to do.”

Mayor Keller for his part said after the Council vote his administration does not want to repeat past mistakes and said:

“Our Party Intervention Team will break up unlawful parties to keep kids safe from violence and hold parents and homeowners accountable for contributing to dangerous incidents … We worked with the City Council and the community to fix issues from past approaches.”

Speakers attending the City Council meeting requested the council to defer the vote until they were given feedback directly from young people. Omar Torres, age 26, who attended the meeting said:

“If we want to have something that’s going to affect young people, we should have young people having some input into what’s going on – that’s just like a basic one-plus-one for me.”




City Councilor Brad Winter is credited for starting the Party Patrol in 2001. At the time, Winter was an assistant principal at La Cueva High School. As a City Councilor, he went to APD when he heard there was a lot of underage drinking happening around the city.

The original APD “Party Patrol” used federal and city council appropriations to pay 12 police officers overtime every Friday and Saturday night to check out calls about loud parties. The dozen officers were broken up into two teams, one for the East Side and one for the West Side. When a person called 911 and complained about a loud party, APD would dispatch the Party Patrol and APD would go straight to the party to see if there was underage drinking. APD would issue the kids “minor in possession of alcohol” citations and arrested the homeowner for giving alcohol to minors.

APD went so far as to advertise the Party Patrol and bought billboards, took out radio commercials and used a “hearse” to advertise that the Party Patrol was going to be out. In its advertising APD used the phrase “Party Meet Poopers” and showed a police officer or an APD badge with the words Party Patrol on it.

The party patrol became very controversial. Critics of the party patrol program objected to the early practice of citing all underage kids at a party, regardless of whether they were drinking or in possession of alcohol. APD eventually stopped the practice. In 2007, a civil rights lawsuit was filed and a federal judge ruled that party patrol officers who entered a home without a search warrant had violated the owner’s constitutional rights.

At the height the program, the Party Patrol was giving out about 2,000 citations a year. The Party Patrol busted up hundreds of parties, wrote thousands of citations and the affect was teenagers were scared to go out drinking. Eventually, the APD party patrol was stopped in part because of the federal lawsuit and in part a victim of its own success. Program funding stopped and there were not enough officers to assign to it.



If only Albuquerque was the same as it was from 2001 to 2007 when the Party Patrol first existed and violent crime was down and one of APD’s biggest worries was underage drinking at high school homecoming and graduation parties. Albuquerque’s biggest worry in 2019 and going into 2020 is drugs, gangs and gun violence. A ‘kinder and gentler version” of the Party Patrol and calling it the Party Intervention Team (PIT) is not going to cut it. You also have to wonder what is Mayor Keller’s definition of “unlawful parties” in a private residence?

The City Council and Mayor Keller are kidding themselves if they believe that the problem is alcohol use by high school teenagers. Its drugs. Bringing back a very watered-down version of the “Party Patrol” from nearly 20 years ago and calling it the Party Intervention Team (PIT) sounds good but is not going to accomplish much in the long run with a $280,000 allocation to APD. This is one APD tactical plan that should not require a special allocation from the City Council, but one that should be easily absorbed by APD’s $710 million dollar a year budget with a Mayor’s Executive Order.

In recent months before civic groups such as the National Association of Industrial and Office Parks (NAIOP), the Economic Forum and the Albuquerque Bar Association, Mayor Tim Keller has produced charts, graphs and statistics showing that violent crime is indeed in all parts of the City and not confined to any particular area of the City. One chart used is a series of red dots showing crime sites and reflects the city literally bathed in red dots throughout.

Crime may be down according to FBI some statistics, but the crime rates have gotten so out of control that even after progress of reducing our crime statistics they are still extremely high. Albuquerque still has some of the highest crime rates for murder and violent crimes in the country. Yet the city council believes a “PIT” program is going to protect our kids from getting killed at parties.

The Keller Administration and Chief Michael Geier have said they would not revive the party patrol, which had mixed results and resulted in civil rights violations. Chief’s Geier’s reluctance is noteworthy because 19 years ago he was the APD Captain in charge of the party patrol, and although he defended its work at the time, he does understand how it operated and more importantly its weaknesses.

The Albuquerque Public School System (APS) has its own police force employing many retirees and former law enforcement officials assigned to the individual schools. You would think APS security would know the students and have insightful information about high school parties. If there is a high school party problem involving alcohol use, APS could initiate its own Party Patrol Program during homecomings and graduation season.

APD staffs police officers to the schools. The Albuquerque Public School System and APS Security along with APD assigned to the schools could implement a “Party Intervention Team” to deal with high school homecoming parties, graduation parties and other high school related parties involving the individual schools.

For a related blog article click on the below link:


US Attorney General Barr Flies Into City To Save Us From Ourselves; Snubs NM Governor, Mayor Keller And Others

On November 11, 2019, United States Attorney General William Barr flew into little old Albuquerque all the way from Washington, DC to bless us all with his presence just to do us all big favor and hold a very short press conference to announce he was saving us from ourselves. The news conference was held in the main conference room on the 4th floor of the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) main offices. The conference room is literally separated by a door to a hallway to APD Chief Michael Geier and his Deputy Chief offices, yet they were not extended invitations to attend the press conference.



The purpose of the afternoon press conference was to announce the conclusion of a three-month fugitive apprehension operation. AG Barr also pledged continuing efforts to attack violent crime in Albuquerque.

Barr labeled the joint law enforcement initiative as “Operation Triple Beam”. It was a 90-day campaign that ended Oct. 31. According to Barr, Operation Triple Beam” was seen as “preparing the field for these efforts that will be coming in the weeks ahead”. The Department of Justice (DOJ) is targeting Albuquerque and other cities with the highest crime rates around the country by taking action against felony fugitives. Operation Triple Beam began in 2011. It has already been executed in the cities of Salinas, California, Wichita, Kansas, Roanoke, Virginia, Montgomery, Alabama and Houston, Texas.

According to news reports, Barr was blunt when he said:

“I don’t think it’s a secret to anyone here that New Mexico and Albuquerque specifically are experiencing a violent crime crisis. … Unlike many cities in the United States that have seen violent crime rates fall, the violent crime rates in Albuquerque remain stubbornly high. … In the months ahead, the federal government is going to be stepping up our efforts to work closely with our state and local partners to ratchet up the attacks on violent crime.” Saying violent crime is down in many cities and states throughout the U.S, Barr blamed New Mexico criminal laws as weak and saying people suspected of violent crimes often walk out of jail right after they’re arrested.

U.S. Marshals Service Director Donald Washington said for his part the goal of “Operation Triple Beam” in Albuquerque was:

“to target gang-related fugitives fueling the violent crime. The objective was to take the worst of the worst off the streets of your city. … At the end of the operation, we worked collaboratively with our federal, state and local partners to identify high priority targets as we focused on the worst of the worst.”


According to the United States Attorney’ Office for New Mexico, “Operation Triple Beam” resulted in 327 people being arrested on state, local or federal warrants, including 59 absconders from probation and parole, 10 people wanted on homicide warrants, 20 people wanted for weapons offenses, 13 for sex crimes, 50 for assault and 91 on narcotics charges. It was not made clear on what charges 84 were arrested.

A few months ago, the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office conducted six patrol saturation operations in the Southeast Heights as part of the effort. By all reports it was a success. The operations drew severe criticism from some in the community at the time. The BCSO operation was conducted at the direction of Sheriff Manny Gonzales and were not conducted in coordination with the Albuquerque Police Department.


When discussing what drives violent crime in Albuquerque and New Mexico, Barr said:

“[New Mexico has] very weak law enforcement systems. Statewide, judges have ordered the pretrial detention of more than 2,000 people charged with felony crimes during the past two years. … Without bail reform, those dangerous defendants could have quickly returned to the streets by buying a money bond.” Apparently, AG Barr was attacking the bail bond reform enacted 3 years ago by New Mexico voters.”


On November 8, 2016, the “New Mexico Denial of Bail Measure” was approved by New Mexico voters by a landslide vote.
The Constitutional Amendment amended the New Mexico Constitution to change the conditions under which a defendant can be denied bail and not released from custody pending trial. The Constitutional Amendment was designed to retain the right to pretrial release for “non-dangerous” defendants.

Before passage of the amendment, a defendant’ s bail and release from jail pending trial on charges could be denied:
1. Only for a defendant charged with a capital felony, or
2. A defendant has two or more felony convictions or
3. A defendant is accused of a felony involving the use of a deadly weapon if the defendant has a felony conviction in New Mexico.

The adopted amendment changed these requirements, allowing bail to be denied to a defendant who has been charged with a felony only if the prosecutor can prove to a judge that the defendant poses “a threat to the public.”

The adopted amendment also provides that a defendant who is not a danger to the community or a flight risk cannot be denied bail solely because of the defendant’s financial inability to post a money or property bond.

The final vote was 87.23%, with 616,887 voting YES and 12.77%, with 90,293 voting NO.


The 2016 bail bond reform is now under serious attack. Many, including Bernalillo County District Attorney Raul Torrez, make the argument that the bond reform went to far and that it is too difficult for prosecutors to prove that a defendant poses “a threat to the public” resulting in the court’s having no option but to release defendants until pending trial.


AG Barr apparently thinks Trump’s US Department of Justice are the only ones capable of apprehending fugitives and that New Mexico law enforcement and elected officials do not know what they are dealing with, something that shows his ignorance.

On October 30, 2019, in part because of the success of the New Mexico State Police surge in Albuquerque in May, which resulted in 738 arrests for felony or misdemeanor warrants, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham ordered the creation of the “Fugitive Apprehension Unit” to apprehend hundreds of criminal defendant’s across New Mexico who have not shown up for court hearings or wanted on bench warrants.

The Fugitive Apprehension Unit will consist of State Police officers and state Corrections Department staffers. The unit will work with local law enforcement officials around New Mexico to track down and arrest people charged with committing violent crimes. According to the New Mexico Administrative Office of the District Attorneys, there are more than 1,600 outstanding bench warrants for people charged with violent crimes.

Governor Lujan Grisham created the Fugitive Apprehension Unit by executive order. The unit will be made up of 7 State Police officers and 7 Corrections Department staffers. Everyone team member must have a clean background with no significant disciplinary actions. Team members will be selected from different parts of the state in an effort to avoid affecting day-to-day operations. The unit will be required to make monthly reports to the Governor’s Office documenting its arrests. The executive order also instructs other executive branch state agencies to cooperate with the special law enforcement unit by providing requested information and assistance.

In announcing the “Fugitive Apprehension Unit”, Governor Lujan Grisham had this to say:

“Our justice system is undermined when people accused of serious criminal offenses evade prosecution. We need to explore every avenue for increasing public safety in New Mexico; we need to be smart on crime while being tough on crime. By deploying these resources in a targeted fashion and continuing to work hand in hand with local jurisdictions, the state can make meaningful strides toward reducing crime in our communities and ensuring high-profile violent individuals are brought into the judicial process.”


During his press conference, Barr was surrounded in a packed conference room by dozens of states, federal and local law enforcement officials, including BCSO Sherriff Manny Gonzales who also spoke. Conspicuously absent were District Attorney Raul Torrez, APD Chief Michael Geier and his Deputy Chiefs, Mayor Tim Keller, the Chief of the New Mexico State Police Tim Johnson and Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham.

It turns out that DA Torrez, Mayor Keller, Chief Geier, the NM State Police Chief and the Governor were not even given the courtesy of an invitation to the press conference. What is surprising is the location of the press conference being held at the APD main office headquarters building at 5th and Marquette where BCSO offices are also located. The United States Department of Justice and the offices of the United States Attorney for New Mexico have “Class A Office” space in Downtown Albuquerque at the Hyatt Regency Office Tower with some of the most secure offices in the city, yet Barr decided to have his press conference at a jointly owned city-county facility free of charge.

It is not at all likely that AG Barr does not know who Mayor Tim Keller is nor Chief Michael Geier are seeing as APD and the Department of Justice are engaged in a 5 yearlong effort to reform APD after a federal investigation found in 2014 a “culture of aggression” and that APD engaged a practice of “deadly force” and “excessive force” against citizens. Both Barr and U.S. Attorney John Anderson for the District of New Mexico said they had seen progress with the DOJ reforms and are pleased with the efforts of the mayor and the chief in the reforms, a message he should have said to both face to face

According to a Channel 7 Report, the head of the U.S. Marshals in New Mexico said Mayor Tim Keller was not invited. KOAT did try to interview the Mayor Tim Keller about not being invited, but Keller surprisingly declined to talk about it on camera. Instead, the Mayor’s office issued a statement that said in part, “Fighting crime is a top priority and the mandate from local residents is for community policing and long-term partnerships.” The statement should have announced the city was also sending Barr a bill, like he did Trump recently, for use of the APD’s Chief’s conference room and make it clear to Barr the next time he comes to visit Albuquerque for a photo op press conference to disparage the city and state, he can use his own DOJ office space an conference room.


Before United States Attorney General William Barr flies again into Albuquerque for a photo op, it is strongly recommended that United States Attorney for New Mexico John Anderson brief him and try to educate him on manners and on the people Anderson has to work with on critical law enforcement issues and what is being done. Otherwise, Barr will continue to embarrass Anderson and the Department of Justice with his sure arrogance coming to New Mexico proclaiming how he is saving us from ourselves.

The “Great ART Enabler” Mayor Keller Announces ART Service To Begin On November 30; Whistle Blower Lawsuit Filed; Proposed Alternative To ART

On November 8, 2019, Mayor Tim Keller announced that after over 2 years of delay, including a lawsuit over the first 21 buses, the Albuquerque Rapid Transit project will begin operations on Saturday, Nov. 30. Keller deemed it “one of the first positive announcements we’ve gotten about this project.” It was in mid-November, 2017, that former Republican Mayor “Boondoggle Berry” dedicated ART project with a photo op, yet only one bus had been delivered at that time just for Berry’s “photo op” victory lap.

The new ART Buses will run on a nine mile stretch of Central Avenue between Unser Blvd on the West Side to Louisiana and Central traveling on dedicated lanes in the middle of central where bus stop platforms have been constructed. No left turns are allowed on the 9-mile route. The ART bus route will replace the existing Rapid Ride “Red” and “Green” lines and will run supposedly every 10 minutes. Keller announce rides will be free through Jan. 1, and $1 per adult thereafter.



On November 3, 2019, a report was released New Mexico Public Interest Research Group (NMPIRG) Education Fund, Environment New Mexico and the Frontier Group outlining the lessons learned from the Albuquerque Rapid Transit (ART) bus project. You can review the report at this link:


According to the NMPIRG report, many of the projects problems were mechanical malfunctions specific to the 60-foot electric bus manufactured by Build Your Dreams (BYD) by special order from the city. According to numerous news reports, the reported problems found by the City with the BYD buses delivered were:

1.The center and rear brakes had zero air pressure, yet the 60-foot-long articulated buses were able to move, meaning that the center and rear axle brakes were not working and the buses were relying on their front brakes alone.
2.Rear doors would open during bus operation without any action by the driver.
3.The buses had air conditioning outages
4.Bolts flying off doors.
5.The electric buses delivered were supposed to operate for 275 miles, but city officials found the buses could not go more than 177 miles before they needed recharging.
6.The lack of undercarriage protection.
7. Buses that wouldn’t stop when emergency doors were utilized.
8. Cracking on bus exteriors.
9. Mirrors not set up correctly.
10. Wiring problems and electrical system problems.
11. The handicap electric chair lock becoming unsecured when the driver turns on the air conditioner.
12. The bus batteries heat up so much that they can’t take a charge.
13. The batteries or not properly stored or cooled on the buses posing a fire hazard.
14.Wheelchair ramps that deploy when weight is on them
14. Doors that open while the bus is in motion.
15. Exposed high-voltage wires.
17. Failure to construct extra charging stations promised.

The 15 buses that were manufactured and delivered by BYD were picked up by BYD after the city made a demand of the company to take back the buses due to the significant number of safety and battery-life issues. One of the BYD buses returned actually broke down on the road back to California.

December 7, 2018 Mayor Keller held a press conference announcing cancellation of its contract with BYD. Keller announced Albuquerque was taking legal action against the California based company for breach of contract and “unfair trade practices” which would have allowed the city to recover “treble damages” and attorneys fee if the city prevailed.

The cost to the city for the electric buses was to have been nearly $22 million for 20 buses, but only 15 buses were ever delivered and then returned. The city paid nothing for the buses. The city demanded BYD to pick up and accept the return of the 60-foot electric buses. The lawsuit was settled in May, 2019 with both parties agreeing to a “dismissal with prejudice” terminating both parties’ obligations. Albuquerque was not required to pay anything for the buses, and BYD agreed not countersue for breach of contract.

According to the NMPIRG report, the 9-mile ART route itself posed significate challenges for electric buses. The Central Avenue route has a 1,000-foot change in elevation, which for an electric bus can reduce battery life per charge. Notwithstanding the problems with the BYD buses and the bus route itself, Mayor Tim Keller announced in August that the city would receive a $2.7 million federal grant to purchase five new 40-foot electric city buses from a different company.

According to Environment New Mexico Director John Ammondson:

“This is a demanding route because of elevation and temperature … We found that Albuquerque should incorporate on-route charging stations like some other cities do, as opposed to charging overnight in a depot. … Like with any new technology, there are growing pains. … The city could have thrown in the towel and said electric buses won’t work in Albuquerque, but it’s clear that they still can. This shows the city understands electric buses are the future. The rest of New Mexico should jump on this as quickly as possible.”


The NMPIRG report studied successes and setbacks of electric bus programs in Seneca, South Carolina; Chicago, Illinois; King County, Washington; Twin Rivers, California; and Massachusetts. What was found is that cities and school districts paid more up front for electric buses than traditional diesel buses. The report found that the average electric transit bus costs $750,000, compared with $500,000 for a diesel transit bus. An electric school bus costs $230,000, and a diesel school bus has a price tag of $110,000.

According to the NMPIRG report, the cities and school districts saved money by switching to electric buses because of reduced maintenance and the stability of electricity costs compared to fossil fuel. Electric busses have the benefit of reducing harmful emissions damaging the environment. According to the American Public Transportation Association, diesel powers half of America’s 70,000 public transit buses and 95% of the nation’s school buses. Diesel exhaust chemicals fuel the depletion of the ozone.

The report recommends cities implement a pilot program of electric buses to test for problems, then take advantage of federal funding and commit to a specific timeline for replacing old vehicles with electric transit.


On November 1, it was widely reported by the media that former Albuquerque Traffic Engineer John Kolessar filed a “whistleblower” lawsuit claiming he was fired for raising concerns about the Albuquerque Rapid Transit (ART) project. The lawsuit, filed in the Second Judicial District Court in Albuquerque names the city of Albuquerque and two of Kolessar’s then-supervisors inside the Department of Municipal Development.

Kolessar alleges in his lawsuit the city failed to follow traffic safety rules and ordinances. Kolessar also alleges that he was labeled a “problem employee” when he “pushed back” against city decisions that violated national standards for traffic signs and lighting. According to the lawsuit, the former Traffic Engineer was fired in November 2017 “for using his work vehicle for personal errands and other minor personnel infractions” alleging the firing was retaliation for his “complaints about the City’s disregard for traffic safety and other matters of public concern.”

City spokeswoman Jessie Damazyn issued a very short statement regarding the whistleblower lawsuit saying:

“This is active litigation, but it is the City’s position that Mr. Kolessar was terminated with cause.”

According to the civil lawsuit filed, Kolessar worked with the city for 9 years and repeatedly complained to superiors about the city’s failure to follow safety rules and ordinances when it came to the Albuquerque Rapid Transit (ART) project. The allegations included violating the safety rules and ordinance outlined in the Federal Highway Administration’s Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). The lawsuite alleges in part:

“On numerous occasions, including in the context of ART, Mr. Kolessar’s supervisors directed him to disregard MUTCD safety requirements, especially related to the placement and use of traffic signals and signs, … The City often bypassed the MUTCD for political and budgetary reasons.”

According to the lawsuit Kolessar “submitted an extensive list of concerns” about ART, contending that it included unwarranted traffic signals, had “dangerous and inconvenient U-turn configurations,” and the “elimination of safe parking and created traffic conditions that would harm local businesses.”

Among the concerns alleged in Kolessar’s lawsuit include unprotected crosswalks, signals going up at intersections without engineering studies and disregarding a recommendation to replace 16 Downtown signals with four-way stop signs. The civil lawsuit alleges that in response to one Kolessar’s email outlining his concerns in the department, a supervisor wrote:

“You have a habit of citing reduction in accidents, personal injury, property damage liability or increases in traffic flow to support your self-serving generalizations.”

The Kolessar lawsuit alleges he faced retaliation, including a work schedule change. According to the suit, an outside investigator hired by the city put a GPS tracker on Kolessar’s official vehicle, found “a small number of minor detours” during work hours “but no serious misconduct.”

Kolessar is seeking double back pay and associated benefits, reinstatement, attorney’s fees, interest and undisclosed punitive damages.



Former Mayor Richard Berry, former Chief Operations Officer Michael Riordan and former Transit Director Bruce Rizzeri have never been held accountable for their actions with the disastrous ART Bus Project even after the June 6, 2018, Albuquerque Inspector General (IG) report was released. Given the nature of the allegations contained in the whistle blower complaint, the depositions of Berry, Reardon and Rizzieri would be in order to find out what, if anything, their involvement was with the termination of the whistle blower. Just maybe, just maybe, all 3 will eventually be held accountable for the $135 million boondoggle and the cramming the Bus Art project down the throats of taxpayers without a public vote.


On June 6, 2018, a 73-page Office of Inspector General (IG) report on the ART Bus project was released to the public. The entire Inspector General report on the ART Bus project can be read here:


The report found that former Mayor Berry’s Chief Operations Officer Michael Riordan allegedly “threatened” to terminate the city’s $22.9 million contract with the manufacturer of the special-order ART buses. Michael Riordan was said to have demanded a new bus be delivered in time for Berry to ride and have a photo op before he left office so he could say ART was up and running.

According to the Inspector General report, then Chief Operations Officer Michael Riordan “was adamant about having a bus transported to the City before the end of the Mayor Berry administration.” An Albuquerque transit employee told the Inspector General that “core processes on manufacturing buses was altered to ensure delivery of the first bus by the deadline.” The IG report described two city employees interviewed who recounted a “tense” and “unusual” phone call between then-city Chief Operating Officer Michael Riordan and top executives from the manufacturer. According to the Inspector General’s report the first bus delivered in August 2017, was assembled by the manufacturer using a “frame intended for buses being built for [another city’s transit authority].”

Frames intended for the Albuquerque’s buses had not yet been shipped nor received by the manufacturer. The Inspector General found that the bus manufacturer used “parts and pieces” intended for another city’s buses for the first ART bus delivered.

The city employee further reported that the first bus was moved to whatever assembly station was available to ensure it was assembled in time in order to get it shipped to Albuquerque before Mayor Berry left office.

The last 4 sentences of the 72-page Inspector General’s findings and report relating fraudulent activity is worth quoting:

“The inspection was proactive in nature and not due to any allegations that were made. While this inspection didn’t identify instances of fraud, it is important to note that it doesn’t mean fraud did not occur. The inspection did identify several problems that offer opportunities to improve and could be vulnerabilities for fraudulent behavior. City leaders should consider the problems identified and recommendations made to develop a more efficient and stronger procurement process that will help prevent and deter fraud, while also ensuring more quality and confidence in the products and services that the taxpayer funds. This is essential to protecting the public’s trust.”

Mayor Tim Keller and his administration never even bothered to forward the Inspector General’s report to a criminal investigating agency. When Keller was asked if he felt his predecessor should be criminally investigated for ART and be held accountable, he avoided answering the question



On February 8, 2018, ABQ Reports reported that there has been a free-fall of bus ridership in Albuquerque since 2012 and it continued in 2017 as boardings fell by 10.6 percent from the previous year. According to the report, since 2012, when bus ridership peaked, yearly boardings have fallen by nearly 3.26 million, or an astonishing 25 percent. According to the Federal Transit Administration, bus boardings in Albuquerque totaled 9.7 million in 2017, down from 10.9 million in 2016, and from 11.8 million in 2015.

According to the ABQ Reports:

“Nationally, public transportation ridership was down by 3.1 percent for the first nine months of 2017 compared to the previous year, according to the American Public Transportation Association. Through the first nine months of 2017, there were 7.6 billion boardings, or unlinked passenger trips. That compares to 7.8 billion boardings through the first nine months of 2016.”


On March 5, 2019, the city’s ABQ RIDE Ridership Statistics by Route for Fiscal Year 2018 (July 2017 through June 2018) were released by the Keller Administration. You can read the report here:


The city report published by ABQ RIDE bus service shows a decreasing number of riders boarding buses in total and a decrease in ridership on some of the city’s bus system’s most popular routes. According to the statistics compiled by ABQ Ride for Rapid Ride buses, ridership fell from 1.91 million total riders on all Rapid Ride routes in FY 2017, to 1.65 million total riders on all Rapid Ride routes in FY 2018.

On the popular Route 66 bus across Central Avenue, the total number of riders fell from 2.26 million total riders in FY 2017, to 2.06 million total riders in FY 2017. Comparing the data between FY 2016 and FY 2018, the ridership decline is especially noticeable. In FY 2016 (July 2015-June 2016), ABQ Ride counted 11.20 million riders on all Rapid Ride and regular routes.

In FY 2018 (July 2017-June 2018) ABQ Ride counted 9.47 million riders on all Rapid Ride and regular routes.

Referring to the comparison between Fiscal Year 2018 and Fiscal Year 2017 data, Rick DeReyes, spokesman for ABQ Ride had this to say about the report:

“We had the Rapid Ride routes overall decrease about 15 percent ridership over the previous year, we had the Route 66 decrease in ridership about 9 percent. … We’re looking at decreases all over the country in ridership in most major cities. … Especially in the southwestern cities like Denver and Phoenix, comparable cities, but we’re talking about El Paso, Lubbock, Tucson, some of those cities as well.”

Reyes added that the city thinks low gas prices and ART construction on Central were in part to blame but said there are other factors. ABQ RIDE still thinks ART itself will get more people riding the bus once the service launches.

“Once we get a chance to get people to realize how much more timely that system will be, we’re hoping that people will be attracted to that” said DeReyes.

According to a news report, the city has started the process of reviewing the entire bus route system to see what can be changed to increase ridership. The problem with ART is that it is a specialized bus route that cannot be moved, changed or altered in any way because of the platforms built in the middle of Central.



When Tim Keller was New Mexico State Auditor and just after one year in office as State Auditor, he started his campaign for Mayor saying he had stopped “waste, fraud and abuse” in government spending as State Auditor. He made a “white night” reputation going after government corruption and wasteful spending by government officials.

In 2016 and 2017, there were numerous public hearings for ART and even a Federal lawsuit to stop ART. State Auditor and candidate for Mayor Keller did not attend a single public hearing on ART nor a single federal court hearing. Tim Keller took absolutely no positions on ART as a candidate for Mayor. During his year and a half quest to become Mayor of Albuquerque, Tim Keller never called upon his Republican predecessor to stop the ART Bus project, nor to cancel the bus contract nor did he ever condemn it as destroying historical Route 66.

The ART project was clearly a case of “waste, fraud and abuse,” but as State Auditor, Keller did nothing to try and stop ART. Keller ran for Mayor on a platform of change, but once elected, he chose the “status quo” to continue with the project started by his Republican predecessor. From day one of being Mayor, Keller has said that too much has been spent on the project and it would be too costly to reverse the project.

Keller has now spent half of his term to clean up a mess that he could have easily ordered a stop to and cutting our losses. No doubt Keller is clinging to hope that the ART bus project will succeed so he can take credit for it now that he has announced he is running for a second term.

What a waste of opportunity and a destruction of historical Route 66 when Mayor Keller could have cut the city’s loses on day one of his term and cancelled the project. Soon after being elected, many met with him and encouraged him to order the project be stop. Keller was also warned that it would be upwards of 2 years or half of his term to clean up the mess, which has now happened. Instead, Mayor Keller chose the avenue of least resistance.


The solution into get rid of the dedicated bus lanes and return Central to the two-lane traffic it was in both directions and restore the 350 lost parking spaces on Central.

The white “elephant canopies” should be removed and the platforms stripped barren. An alternative use for the platforms that blends into the neighborhood architecture needs to be found. Such alternative use could be large sculptures to commemorate route 66, neon signage reminiscent of the 1950s and Route 66’s heyday or even planters for trees and nighttime lighting.

The $50,000 BURQUE sculpture could be place on one of the platforms as a permanent fixture. Designed sculptures could carry the theme of the platform’s locations, such as the Nob Hill platform, the UNM platform across the street from the Frontier Restaurant and the Old Town area platform.

The funding could have easily come from the Capitola Improvements Program with general obligation bonds placed on the November 5 ballot for voter approval, where $127 million in bonds were approved. Funding could also come from the “Art In Public Places” fund mandated for development.

Work on rededicating the bus platforms for other usage would not take as much time nor as much construction and no tearing up central the way ART did.


The $135 million ART Bus project was built on the philosophy “if we build it, people will use it”. Mayor Keller, the City Council and City voters and residents should know within a year if the such a philosophy has any merit.

Until then, Keller should use the time and make effort to develop a “back up” plan should bus ridership continue to drop and the ART Project is the failure so many believe it is. Keller’s re election bid may well depend on it.

For related blog articles see:

Dinelli Blog Articles On ART Bus Project Listed

Mayor Keller Seeks Second Term; EMail Reveals “Mayor Keller’s Local PAC” Soliciting Contributions For 2019 City Council Candidate; “Connecting the Dots” On Keller’s Measured Finance Committee Cash Contributions

This blog article is an in-depth analysis of “connecting the dots” revealing the face of Mayor Tim Keller, naming his promoters and his reliance on high dollar contributions from measured finance committees to get elected and to promote causes he supports and the 2019 candidates for City Council he endorsed. It also reveals “Mayor Keller’s local PAC” soliciting funds for a City Councilor candidate.


Under the City of Albuquerque’s campaign finance laws, a Measure Finance Committee is a political action committee (PAC), persons or group that supports or opposes a candidate or ballot measure in City of Albuquerque elections. Measure Finance Committees are required to register with the City Clerk within five (5) days once they have raised or spent more than $250 towards their purpose specific purpose.

All Measure Finance Committees must register with the Albuquerque City Clerk, regardless of the group’s registration as a political action committee (PAC) with another governmental entity, county, state or federal. Measure finance committees must also file financial “Campaign Finance Reports” reporting monetary contributions, loans, in kind donations and expenditures.

Under existing law, it is illegal for any candidate for office or their campaign committee to coordinate their campaign efforts with any measured finance committee.


According to the Albuquerque City Clerk’s web page, a total of 10 measured finance committee have been formed and were registered for the November 5, 2019 municipal election. Those measured finance committees are:

A Better ABQ
ABQ Democracy Dollars, Common Cause NM, New Mexico Working Families, Ole Education Fund
ABQ Fire Pac
ABQ United for District 2
ABQ Votes
ABQ Working Families Party
Democratic Party of New Mexico
Progressive ABQ
Public Safety First
Sierra Club 2019 Albuquerque MFC

All the measured finance committee campaign finance reports for the 2019 municipal election can be found here:



“New Mexico Politics With Joe Monahan” provided November 5 election coverage both on the blog and on the radio the day before the election and days after the election day. On November 6, Joe Monahan published an excellent summary and analysis of the November 5 results on his blog. The November 6 blog included an analysis of the failed Proposition 2 Democracy Dollars and reported on the enactment of Proposition 1 increasing public financing.


Following is an excerpt from Mr. Monahan’s November 6 election coverage blog article:


Democracy dollars was a dud with the ABQ electorate, falling to defeat 51 to 49 percent. Sure, it was close but not really. Carla Sonntag, president of the NM Business Coalition, told our KANW audience her group tallied at least a stunning $500,0000 in outside progressive support for the initiative in in kind and cash donations. In that context, it wasn’t close.

The proposal would have given each eligible citizen a $25 voucher to contribute to the publicly financed candidate mayoral or council candidates of their choice. It was a gambit to level the playing field with privately financed candidates. But political consultant Sisto Abeyta said on our air that the message was hard to communicate and understand.

Progressives, mainly financed with out of state money, also managed to get a voter initiative for a sick leave ordinance on the city ballot in 2017. It too was narrowly defeated.

On the other hand the proposition to update the city’s public financing system by awarding more money to publicly financed council and mayor candidates did pass muster with the voters, winning 58 to 42.



On November 7, Joe Monahan reported that Mayor Tim Keller announced that he is running for a second term:

“You can say you heard it hear first.” So declared ABQ Mayor Tim Keller on our KANW-FM Election Night broadcast as he announced he will seek a second four year term in 2021. Already? Well, that’s how it works these days. Keller is now only two years into the first term that he was elected to in 2017 but wants to send an early signal to potential foes that he is all in for another.

The youthful mayor, who turns 42 this month, is coming off an election win in which voters approved his proposed $14 million homeless shelter.

Unlike past mayors he waded deeply into the city council elections this year, endorsing Councilor Pat Davis who won big, Councilor Ike Benton who will go to a run-off with Zack Quintero and Ane Romero who has a December 10 run-off with Republican Brook Bassan.”



Mayor Tim Keller released a video endorsing incumbent Democratic Albuquerque City Councilors Isaac (Ike) Benton, District 2, and Pat Davis, District 6, for another term to the Albuquerque City Council. Keller also endorsed newcomer Ane C. Romero in the District 4 City Council race. The endorsements raised more than a few political eyebrows, especially among the young progressive Democratic candidates running against Benton and Davis. One Democrat candidate expressed privately they felt “absolutely betrayed” by Keller in that he supported Keller for Mayor.

In the video endorsement, Mayor Keller proclaims that Benton and Davis have been tremendous City Councilors and are in the best positions to move Albuquerque forward and stating:

“With the right leadership we truly can come together to be the best city we can be.”

You can view the full video here:



A confidential source has provided an email from former State Representative Stephanie Maez to Emerge NM, an organization that recruits and trains democratic woman to run for office. Emerge does not endorse candidates or contribute to candidates financially. Maez should have known this, but she felt it appropriate to ask for contributions from her “Emerge Family” on behalf of Democrat Ane Romero. The email states in full as follows:

“Hello Emerge Family!
I’m running Mayor Keller’s local PAC supporting our fellow Emerge sister, Ane’ Romero for City of Albuquerque council district 4.
As you all know, campaigning is tough work and it takes many hands and resources to win elections and stay in office. A Better Albuquerque has been created to help one of our own see her way to the Council.
Please show your continued support of this amazing individual by making a contribution (there is no amount too small) to our PAC. See here website here (sic): www.abetterabq.com
Let me know if you have questions!
All the very best,
Stephanie Maez
(505) 410-0251”

Based on the email “A Better Albuquerque” is the Mayor’s PAC and has registered with the city clerk’s office as a measured finance committee and has filed campaign finance reports with the city clerk. According to the campaign finance reports filed for “A Better Albuquerque”, all of the reports were filed by Stephanie Maez.

Another measured finance committee known as “Progressive ABQ” is registered with the city clerk’s office and has filed campaign finance reports with the city clerk. According to the campaign finance reports for “Progressive ABQ,” all were filed by Stephanie Maez.

You can review the Measured Finance Committee campaign finance reports for “Progressive ABQ” here:




The Friday before the November 5 election, a mailer was sent out attacking City Council District 2 candidate Zack Quintero who was one of 5 candidates running against long serving City Councilor Isaac Benton. Hispanic Progressive Democrat Zack Quintero, 28, is a recent UNM Law School graduate and economist, and was born and raised in New Mexico.

The flyer proclaimed “ZACK QUINTERO DIDN’T INVENT CHRISTMAS ENCHALADAS” an obvious reference to his Hispanic heritage. The mailer had a color photo that was “photo shopped” with the head of a smiling Zack Quintero superimposed on the body of another man of color standing in a kitchen with the person dressed in a short sleeve shirt crossing their arms to reveal an extensive number of tattoos on both arms. Zack Quintero has no tattoos.

Candidate Zack Quintero quickly denounce the mailer as racist, as did one of his opponents Robert Blanquera Nelson and others. All three news stations and the Albuquerque Journal covered the controversy. Mayor Tim Keller for his part remained silent, did not comment on the flyer, did not withdraw his endorsement of Isaac Benton. What is even more troubling is the media never interviewed Keller about the controversy and Mayor Keller has not disclosed publicly or denied he has connections to Stephanie Maez, A Better Albuquerque nor to “Progressive Alb”.

“Progressive Abq” publicly supports District 2 incumbent City Councilor Isaac Benton. Benton for his part said he did not know about the disparaging mailer and said the group is not affiliated with his campaign.

Political observers were saying that there was a poll showing Mr. Quintero gaining on Benton in the race and there was major concern by Benton supporters that he would not get the 50% + 1 of the votes to avoid a runoff. Benton’s worst fears of not winning outright to avoid a runoff came true. The results of the November District 2 City Council race were that Incumbent Isaac Benton came in first with 4,836 votes (42.04%) and Zack Quintero came in second with 2,337 votes (20.66%). A runoff election between the two is schedule for December 10.

Former New Mexico State Rep. Stephanie Maez was found to be associated with the content of the mailer and mailing out the inflammatory mailer. Maez said in a Channel 7 interview that the mailer had nothing to do with race and pivoted to deflect criticism by saying:

“As a matter of fact, I find it offensive that they are even alleging [racism] … . As a Hispanic woman, native New Mexican, I’ve spent my whole like championing issues that impact our communities our Hispanic communities for him to say that I find it offensive.”


It is very difficult to believe Maez was offended by the accusation of racism when she is Hispanic, was the one responsible for mailing it out and the intent of the mailer was to clearly ridicule a young Hispanic opponent of Benton.


Confidential sources have disclosed that at least 2 people were contacted by a woman who was likely, but not confirmed with confidence, to be Stephanie Maez, who said she was raising money for the “the Mayor’s PAC” to support council candidates. One declined to give money. The other was willing to give, but did not, when no assurance would be given by the caller that the donation would not go to benefit incumbent City Councilor Isaac Benton.

According to one confidential source, Alan Packman, Keller’s longtime political consultant who now works for the city, during city office hours, attempted to distance Mayor Tim Keller from the inflammatory mailer that attacked city council candidate Zack Quintero. Packman texted to the confidential source “Want to make sure you know that mayor had nothing to do with that mailer”. The text response to Packman was that there was reason to believe that it was not true, to which Packman gave no reply.


Proposition 1 was approved by city voters with 46,468 voting YES and 38,863 voting NO. Proposition 1 ostensibly deals with updating the city’s public finance ordinance by increasing the amount given to candidates for Mayor. The biggest change to the public finance law under Proposition 1 is to dramatically increase the amount of city general fund and taxpayer money that will be given to mayoral candidates. In the 2017 Mayors race, the amount of public finance was $380,000 and with enactment of Proposition 1, the amount will be increased from $1.00 to $1.75 per voter, which will be $665,000 in public finance.

Proposition 1 also clarifies and tightens up the definitions around what constitutes an in-kind donation. In the 2017 mayoral election, many irregularities occurred with “in kind” donations that resulted in ethics complaints against Mayor candidate Tim Keller where cash donations were called “in kind” donations.

Keller’s longtime political consultant Alan Packman argued that “cash donations” to the 2017 Keller campaign were “in kind donations”. The City’s Election Ethics Board rejected outright that “cash donations” were “in-kind donations” and admonished the Keller Campaign with no penalty. After the election, Keller hired Packman to work for the city at the 311-call center, even though Packman has no prior experience working in government service call centers and his previous work experience was being a “political consultant” managing campaigns. Packman is paid upwards of $80,000 a year and reports directly to Mayor Tim Keller.

On November 7, Mayor Keller boldly proclaimed:

“With Proposition One, we are finally updating the Open and Ethical Code with new rules to close loopholes, improve public financing, and increase transparency in the City elections.”


Proposition 2 was rejected by city voters with 39,232 (49%) voting YES and 41,249 (51%) voting NO. Approval of Proposition 2 would have set up Democracy Dollars, a program to provide eligible Albuquerque residents, not just registered voters and would have included non-citizens, with a $25 taxpayer-funded coupon to give to an eligible candidate of their choosing in a city election. The funds would have been added to those provided by the city’s current public finance system should a candidate qualify.

“Democracy Dollars” sent out a slick and impressive mailer to 49,158 registered voter family household encouraging Albuquerque voters to vote YES on Proposition 2. According to a Campaign Finance Report, the cost of the mailer with postage was $20,286.48.

The flyer that “Democracy Dollars” sent out has the official city color photo of Mayor Tim Keller quoting him as follows:

“At the heart of every democracy, everyone should have a stake in their elections. That connection is what Democracy Dollars is all about.”

The political flyer contained the following disclaimer:


Common Cause New Mexico, NM Working Families and OLE are progressive organizations known to be supporters of the Mayor, with at least two having made contributions to the measured finance committee “Democracy Dollars”. It is unknown and has not been reported by the media or disclosed if “Democracy Dollars” measured finance committee knew Keller was running for a second term or if Mayor Tim Keller disclosed to Democracy Dollars or the PAC he was running for another term.


Tim Keller was the only candidate in 2017 election that qualified for public finance. The Keller campaign collected the needed 3,000 qualifying cash donations of $5 to the City of Albuquerque from registered voters over a six-week period. Once qualified, the Keller for Mayor campaign was given a total of $506,254 in public financing, which included financing for the first election and separate financing for the runoff. As a condition to receiving public financing from the City, Tim Keller agreed in writing to a spending cap not to exceed the amount given and agree not to raise and spend any more cash to finance his campaign.

Notwithstanding being a public finance candidate, Keller supporters realized that more would be needed to elect Keller and supporters formed three (3) measured finance committees that either raised money directly to spend on his behalf or indirectly spent money and supported Keller’s candidacy for Mayor financially. No other candidate for Mayor in 2017 had a measured finance committee raising or spending on their behalf.

ABQ Forward Together was a measured finance committee that was formed specifically to raise money to promote Tim Keller for Mayor in 2017. The measured finance committee raised over $663,000 for Keller. ABQ Forward Together was chaired by longtime political consultant Nerie Olguin a former campaign consultant for Mr. Keller when he ran successfully for New Mexico State Senate. $67,000 was raised and spent by the Firefighters political action committee known as ABQFIREPAC for Tim Keller. $122,000 was raised and spent by ABQ Working Families on Tim Keller’s behalf.

$1,358,254 was spent on Tim Keller’s successful campaign for Mayor. ($506,254 public finance money + $663,000 ABQ Forward + $67,000 ABQFIREPAC + $122,000 ABQ Working Families = $1,358,254.)

There was no other candidate for Mayor in 2017 that had measured finance committees that raised and spent money on their behalf. Republican City Councilor Dan Lewis, who made it into the runoff with Tim Keller, raised more than $847,000 combined in cash and in-kind contributions for the October election and the November Mayoral runoff election.
Democrat Brian Colón raised and spent nearly $824,000 for his unsuccessful mayoral run and came in third. Republican Wayne Johnson privately raised and spent approximately $250,000. Republican Ricardo Chavez finance his own campaign by contributing and loaning his campaign $1 million dollars, but when he dropped out of the race, all of the money was repaid to him after he spent approximately $200,000. The remaining three (3) candidates for Mayor raised and spent less than $50,000 combined after failing to qualify for public financing.



A measured finance committee was formed to promote “Democracy Dollars”. According to finance reports filed with the Albuquerque City Clerk, the measured finance committee entitled “ABQ Democracy Dollars, Common Cause New Mexico, New Mexico Working Families Party, Ole Education Fund” was registered. The “Democracy Dollars” measured finance committee filed ten 2019 Campaign Finance Reports.

On October 21, 2019, the Democracy Dollars measured finance committee filed its 8th Campaign Finance Report covering the reporting period of October 12, 2019 to October 18, 2019. You can review the report here:


The Financial Activity Summary of the October 21, 2019 report reflects that $80,000 in cash was contributed by the New Mexico Working Families Party. In the 2017 Mayor’ race, ABQ Working Families raised $122,000 and spent it on Mayor Tim Keller’s behalf to get Tim Keller elected Mayor.

The Working Families Party is a “progressive grassroots political party building a multiracial movement of working people”. Former Albuquerque City Councilor and former State Senator Eric Griego is its executive director. Griego was the sponsor of the original City’s Public Finance ballot initiative passed in 2005 by voters by 69%.

Eric Griego, rather than advocating dramatic changes to the existing City’s public finance law he sponsored and make it easier to qualify for public finance, Grieg advocated for a whole new “pool of money” in the form of “Democracy Dollars” to supplement public finance qualifying candidates. For more on Eric Griego see “Father Eric Griego Defends His Public Finance Child” at this link:


The 8th Democracy for Dollars Campaign Finance Report reported a total of $39,745 in “in -kind” donations. There are 10 in-kind donations including in kind donations of $4,244, $3,709, 3,250, $2,248. A one in-kind donation of $20,912 is listed as having been made by a Colorado corporation advocating campaign finance reform with the purpose of the donation to make phone calls to registered voters.

On November 4, 2019, the Democracy Dollars measured finance committee filed its 10th Campaign Finance Report covering the reporting period of October 26, 2019 to November 1, 2019. You can review the report here:


The Financial Activity Summary of the November 4, 2019 report reflects that at total of $45,084.00 in cash contributions were made, with Common Cause donating $42,000 in cash on October 26 and Ole Education fund donating $3,084.00 on November 1, 2019.

The 10th Democracy for Dollars Campaign Finance Report reported a total of $54,665 in “in -kind” donations which included $33,350 from Ole Education Fund made on November 1 for “FIELD CANVASS, RADIO ADVERTISING FROM MICHELSON CREATIVE COMMUNICATIONS”, $3,250 from New Mexico Working Families Party made on November 1 for STAFF TIME AND STAFF MANAGEMENT and two in-kind donations of $3,180 and $4,178 made by Stand Up America of New York, New York.


During the November 5 KANW-FM Election Night coverage with Joe Monahan, Mayor Tim Keller boldly proclaimed “You can say you heard it here first” as he announced he will seek a second four-year term as mayor in 2021. It is more than likely than not Mayor Tim Keller and his political consultants will use the same formula that won him the 2017 election in his 2021 bid to get reelected: namely seek $665,000 public finance first, proclaim he is once again “walking the talk” and then turn around and get considerable financial help from progressive measured finance committees to promote his candidacy for another term.


Proposition One “Public Finance Update” and Proposition 2 “Democracy Dollars” represented a failure at real reform to the City’s public finance laws. Both propositions can be considered a very noble and idealist attempt to campaign finance reform in one form or another to deal with Citizens United, the United States Supreme Court ruling allowing unlimited amount of campaign fund raising and spending.

Notwithstanding the nobility of the attempts, they were very feeble attempts at best. The reality is both propositions represented nothing more than a “money grab” by candidates and incumbents like Tim Keller and the propositions favors incumbents that already have a campaign organization in place.

Proposition 1 does not represent campaign finance reform but only increased the amount of public finance to candidates by going from $380,000 to $665,000 in public fiancé for candidates for mayor. As proved by the 2017 Mayors race, $665,000 will still not be enough to compete with private finance campaigns that can raise and spend as much as they want, unless you rely on measured finance committees to promote your campaign which defeats the purpose and intent of public financing of campaigns.

You can read a related blog article here:


The “Democracy Dollars” system was touted a “voucher” system to allow the city to donate $25-dollar redeemable vouchers to all “qualified” city residents who are less fortunate to make money donations on their own. The argument was that the less financially fortunate would be able to participate and make a political campaign donation to candidates of their choosing like those who can afford to make donations on their own. This is a warped interpretation of democracy. It equates political donations as the only meaningful way to participate in the election political process.

Democracy Dollars received one single $82,000 cash donation and 10 in-kind donations including in kind donations of $4,244, $3,709, 3,250, $2,248. A whopping one in-kind donation of $20,912 is listed as having been made by a Colorado corporation advocating campaign finance reform with the purpose of the donation to make phone call to registered voters.

It is very difficult to ignore the absolute hypocrisy of the supporters and promoters of Democracy Dollars when they engage in the very conduct they condemn and supposedly deplore in the form of making “big money donations” to political campaigns and turn around and make single $80,000 and $40,000 cash donations, raise thousands for a measure finance committee to support a candidate or initiative and make $20,000 in-kind donations.


The single biggest threat to the fairness of Albuquerque’s municipal elections is the influence of the “measured finance committees” that can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money to promote candidates of their choosing, attack candidates they oppose or promote or oppose propositions on the ballot.

Every effort should be made to make Albuquerque’s public financing laws for municipal elections to legally provide for a “dollar for dollar” match to privately raised funds by candidates, thereby providing a real level playing field.

The influence of big money in elections allowed by the US Supreme Court decision in Citizens United is destroying our democracy. Many highly qualified candidates for office all too often do not bother to run because of the inability or difficulty raising the necessary money to run. Political campaign fundraising and big money influence are warping our election process.

Money spent becomes equated with the final vote. Money drives the message, affects voter turnout and ultimately the outcome of an election. Albuquerque municipal elections need campaign finance reform and enforcement, not a money grab by those running for office which is what Propositions 1 and 2 represent.

Albuquerque municipal elections need campaign finance reform and enforcement, something the City Council and the Mayors have been reluctant to do for at least the past 10 years.

Mayor Keller said “With [the passage of] Proposition One, we are finally updating the Open and Ethical Code with new rules to close loopholes, improve public financing, and increase transparency in the City elections.” Keller used many of those same loopholes himself to get elected Mayor in 2017, especially when it came to his use of “cash donations” as “in-kind donations” and measured finance committees.


Albuquerque’s public finance laws are way too difficult to qualify for public financing by candidates for Mayor. In the 2013 and the 2017 Mayoral elections, only 2 candidates out of 19 candidates for Mayor qualified for public financing.

Only time will tell if Mayor Tim Keller will actually do more than give enactment of Proposition 1 lip service and say he is “walking the talk” now that he has made it know he is running for a second term.

Only Time will tell if Mayor Tim Keller or the City Council will attempt to reign in measured finance committees who Keller relied on so heavily to get himself elected and to elect candidates and causes he supports.

Following are links to related blog articles:






On November 13, the Albuquerque Journal published a story entitled “PAC claims Keller connection in fundraising email”. You can read the article here:


In the Journal article, Keller Mayor spokeswoman Jessie Damazyn said “The Mayor was certainly publicly supportive of these candidates and worked on their behalf, but any suggestion that these were his organizations is incorrect.” There was no denial that Keller has every talked to Maez and discussed his support and the PACS. Of course Mayor Keller and Maez are denying that Keller was directly involved with the PAC. Now that Keller has made it known he is running for reelection, which he announced Nov 5 election night on the radio, Maez and Keller know there are very serious repercussions with a candidate or their campaigns coordinating efforts with measured finance committees.

Keller has an extensive history of PACS raising thousands in campaign donations on his behalf and he is an expert on how the game is played. ABQ Forward Together was a measured finance committee that was formed specifically to raise money to promote Tim Keller for Mayor in 2017. The measured finance committee raised over $663,000 for Keller. ABQ Forward Together was chaired by longtime political consultant Nerie Olguin a former campaign consultant for Mr. Keller when he ran successfully for New Mexico State Senate. $67,000 was raised and spent by the Firefighters political action committee known as ABQFIREPAC for Tim Keller. $122,000 was raised and spent by ABQ Working Families on Tim Keller’s behalf. $1,358,254 was spent on Tim Keller’s successful campaign for Mayor. ($506,254 public finance money + $663,000 ABQ Forward + $67,000 ABQFIREPAC + $122,000 ABQ Working Families = $1,358,254.)

Veterans Day, 2019

On this 2019 Veterans Day, I am compelled to pay tribute to members of my family who have given so much and sacrificed so much to protect our freedoms and to protect this great country of ours. All these family members were born and lived in New Mexico, two were born in Chacon, New Mexico and the rest raised and educated in Albuquerque.

One gave the ultimate sacrifice during time of war.

My father Paul Dinelli and my Uncle Pete Dinelli, for whom I was named after, both served in the US Army during World War II when the United States went to war with Italy, Germany and Japan. The United State was at war with Italy during World War II. My father and uncle were first generation born Americans and the sons of Italian immigrants who settled in Albuquerque in the year 1900 to live the American dream. My Uncle Pete Dinelli was killed in action when he stepped on a land mine. My father Paul Dinelli was a disabled American Veteran when he returned to Albuquerque after World War II.

My uncles Fred Fresques and Alex Fresques, my mother’s two brothers, also saw extensive combat in World War II. My Uncle Alex Freques served in England and was in the Air Force. My uncle Fred Freques saw extensive action in the US Army infantry to the point that he refused to talk about what he saw to anyone. After the war, my Uncle Fred returned to Albuquerque and raised his family in Barelas. Over many years, my Uncle Fred was active in the Barelas Community Center and was a trainer for the “Golden Gloves” competition teaching young adults the sport of boxing.

My father in law, George W. Case, who passed away a few years ago at the age 93, served in the United States Navy during World War II and saw action while serving on a destroyer. My father in law George Case was so proud of his service that he wore a World War II Veterans cap every day the last few years of his life. After the war, my father in law George Case returned to Albuquerque was married to my mother in law Laurel Del Castillo for 50 years, raised a family of 4 girls. George eventually owed a liquor store for a few years and then went on to build, own and operate the Old Town Car wash and was in the car wash industry for a number of years.

My nephew Dante Dinelli, was born and raised in Albuquerque and joined the service a few years after graduating from Cibola High School. Dante served 20 + years in the US Navy, retired as a Chief Petty Officer and to this day still works in a civilian capacity for the Navy.

My two nephews, Matthew Barnes and Brandon Barnes, the sons of my younger sister, Pauline were born and raised in Albuquerque and went to Bosque Prep. Both Mathew is a Major and Brandon is a Captain in the United States Marine Corps and both are climbing the promotion ladder in the Marine Corps. My nephew Captain Brandon Barnes is a graduate of the US Naval Academy. My nephew Captain Matthew Barnes graduated from UNM with honors and served a tour in Afghanistan.

To all the wonderful and courageous men and women who have served and continue to serve our country to protect and secure the promise of freedom and the ideals upon which the United States was founded upon, and to those who made the ultimate sacrifice, I thank you for your service to our Country.

Your service and sacrifices will never be forgotten. God bless you all and God Bless this great country of ours!

Glossing Over Or Ignoring APD’s “Counter Casa Effect” Does Not Make Problem Go Away

On November 1, 2019, Federal Court Appointed Monitor James Ginger filed with the Federal Court his 10th compliance audit report of the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) reforms mandated under the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA). The audit report covers February 2019 through July 2019. The report is 287 pages long and follows the same format as all the previous 9 reports. It is a detailed audit of every paragraph of the consent decree.

On November 8, 2019, the Albuquerque Journal did a very lengthy front-page story entitled “APD hits important milestone in DOJ reforms”. The Journal article glosses over or practically ignores the “Counter CASA effect” the monitor has been dealing with APD since September 2018. The link to the Journal article is here:


The Albuquerque Journal article was published the day after my own blog article with the link to that article provided below.


It was on September 10, 2018, at a status telephone conference call held with US District Court Judge Robert Brack who at the time was presiding over the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) reforms that Federal Monitor Dr. James Ginger first told the federal judge that a group of “high-ranking APD officers” within the department were trying to thwart reform efforts.

The Federal Monitor revealed that the group of “high-ranking APD officers” were APD sergeants and lieutenants. Because sergeants and lieutenants are part of the police bargaining unit they remained in their positions and could not be removed by the Chief. APD Chief Michael Geier also reported last year to Judge Brack that he had noticed some “old-school resistance” to reforms mandated by the CASA. At the time, Chief Geier reported he replaced a number of commanders with others who agree with police reforms. However, Chief Geier reported he could not replace the sergeants nor lieutenants who were resisting the reforms because of the union contract.

Federal Monitor Ginger referred to the group as the “Counter-CASA effect”.


On Tuesday, August 20, 2019, a day long status conference was convened by Federal Judge James Browning to listen to Federal Court Appointed Monitor James Ginger’s third “Outcome and Measures And Analysis Report” on the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA). Judge James Browning took over the case from Judge Robert Brack who retired and went on Senior Status. It had been more than a year since the last public status conference was held.

At the August 20, 2019 hearing, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the city of Albuquerque, APD , the police union and the many stakeholders in the effort testified. Overall, the consensus throughout the all-day hearing was that APD has improved dramatically. All seem to agree that there is a lot more left to be done with the police reforms. All of the participants said they are committed to seeing the reform through.

During the August 20, 2019 hearing, District Court Judge Browning asked APOA Union President Shawn Willoughby what he and the union rank and file felt about the CASA. Willoughby’s responses were a quick condemnation of the CASA when he said “we hate it”, “we’re frustrated”, the reforms and mandates are “a hard pill to swallow”, that “all change is hard”.

According to Willoughby, police officers are afraid to do their jobs for fear of being investigated, fired or disciplined. In the same breath, Willoughby went on to brag about how his union, unlike other police unions in city’s with consent decrees, actually worked and cooperated with the city and the DOJ.


After well over a year since the “Counter Casa” effect was first reported on September 10, 2018 to the federal court, the November 1, 2019 10th Federal Monitors report confirms once again that police union membership continues to undermine the reform process. The police union and its leadership have said in open court that the mandated reforms under the consent decree are interfering with rank and file officer’s ability to perform their job duties.

According to the Federal Monitors 10th report:

“Sergeants and lieutenants, at times, go to extreme lengths to excuse officer behaviors that clearly violate established and trained APD policy, using excuses, deflective verbiage, de minimis comments and unsupported assertions to avoid calling out subordinates’ failures to adhere to established policies and expected practice. Supervisors (sergeants) and mid-level managers (lieutenants) routinely ignore serious violations, fail to note minor infractions, and instead, consider a given case “complete”.

Under “Counter CASA Effects” in his 10th report the Federal Monitor reports:

“Some members of APD continue to resist actively APD’s reform efforts, including using deliberate counter-CASA processes. For example:
• Sergeants assessed during this reporting period were “0 for 5” in some routine aspects of CASA-required field inspections;
• Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) disciplinary timelines, appear at times to be manipulated by supervisory, management and command levels at the area commands, letting known violations lie dormant until timelines for discipline cannot be met;”


The APD Union was not a named party to the original civil rights complaint for excessive use of force and deadly force filed against the city by the Department of Justice (DOJ). Soon after the DOJ initiated the federal lawsuit against APD and the City, the APOA police union intervened to become a party to the federal lawsuit in order to advocate for union interests in city policy and changes to the “use of force” and “deadly force policies.”

The Police Union, despite public comments of cooperation and comments made to the court, have never fully supported the agreed to reforms. The Police Union contributed significantly to the delay in writing the new use of force and deadly force policies.

The union leadership has always been at the negotiating table. For a full year, the police union was involved with the drafting of the “use of force” and “deadly use of force” policy. The union contributed to the one-year delay in writing the policies objecting to many provisions of the policies. The police union repeatedly objected to the language of the use of force policy asserting the policy was unreasonable. This was evidenced by the monitors claim that submitted use of force policies were missing key components and the monitor saw 50-plus changes needing to be made to satisfy union objections.

The union leadership has attended and has sat at counsel table during all court hearings and the Federal Monitor presentations on his reports. During all the Court proceeding where the federal monitor has made his presentation to the federal court, the APOA union has made its opposition and objections known to the federal court regarding the “use of force” and “deadly force” policies as being too restrictive with rank and file. The union has repeatedly claimed rank and file cannot do their jobs even with training on the policies. The major contribution the police union has provided to the reform process is interference, obstruction and delay of the reforms.

The City Attorney’s Office and the Department of Justice need to file a “Motion For Removal” of the police union as a party to the lawsuit. This would allow an evidentiary hearing where the Federal Monitor could testify as to his findings and identify the management, sergeants and lieutenants who “go to extreme lengths to excuse officer behaviors that clearly violate established and trained APD policy, using excuses, deflective verbiage, de minimis comments and unsupported assertions to avoid calling out subordinates’ failures to adhere to established policies and expected practice. Supervisors (sergeants) and mid-level managers (lieutenants) routinely ignore serious violations, fail to note minor infractions, and instead, consider a given case “complete”.” Testimony could then taken from APD Sergeants and Lieutenants to determine to what extent there has been interference with implementation of the reforms.

What is very problematic is that no one knows for certain to what extent the union is influencing the actions of the sergeants and lieutenants to resist the implementation of the CASA reforms that the union opposes. During the August 20, 2019 hearing Union President Willoughby made it clear the union membership “hates” the CASA, feels the reforms are “a hard pill to swallow” and that they believe “all change is hard”. Willoughby went so far as to say the rank and file are afraid to do their jobs for fear of being fired when he knows they can only be fired for cause and guaranteed personnel rights and procedures.

The very last thing APD management needs is for sergeants and lieutenants to passively but deliberately oppose the reforms by acting as union operatives as opposed to management, which ostensibly is still happening based on the 10th Federal Monitors Report filed on November 1, 2019.


There is a definite “chain of command” when it comes to APD. All Commanders, Deputy Chiefs and the Chief are “at will” positions that serve at the pleasure of the Administration, either the Mayor or Chief. APD has a clear line of authority that separates management from rank and file sworn police officers that must be preserved and honored.

Police sergeants and lieutenants by virtue of their titles, responsibilities, management and supervisory authority over sworn police officers are part of the “chain of command” management team of the police department. Including APD police sergeants and lieutenants who are part of management in the union bargaining unit creates a clear conflict within management and sends mixed messages to rank and file sworn police officers.

APD police sergeants and lieutenants are on the front line to enforce personnel rules and regulations, standard operating procedures, approve and review work performed and assist in implementing DOJ reforms and standard operating procedures policies. This point was repeatedly made by the Federal Monitor when he said “until the sergeants are in harness and pulling in the same direction as the chief, things won’t get done as quickly”. Others said the same thing during the August 20, 2019 hearing. In other words, without the 100% support of the sergeants and lieutenants to the CASA and mandated reforms, there will be little or no progress made with “operational compliance” and reaching a 95% compliance rate will take years.

All APD police sergeants and lieutenants are clearly part of police management and chain of command and should not be a part of the union. The police union refuses to acknowledge or agree to removal of the sergeants and lieutenants from the bargaining unit knowing it will eliminate the unions ability to influence them in management and it will reduce the size of the dues paying union membership.

Sergeants and lieutenants need to be made at will employees and removed from the union bargaining unit in order to get a real buy in to management’s goals of police reform and the CASA. APD Police sergeants and lieutenants cannot serve two masters of Administration Management and Union priorities that are in conflict when it comes to the CASA reforms.

During the next round of union contract negotiations, the city should demand that the management positions of APD sergeant and lieutenant be removed from the APOA Union bargaining unit. Further, the Keller Administration should seek to have the APOA Union removed as a party to the federal lawsuit, the consent decree and CASA negotiations.

Otherwise, the city will continue to deal with the APD Union version of the “Counter-CASA Effect” and it will take far more years to get APD in compliance with all of the reforms.

Below is the link to a related blog article on Federal Monitors 10th report:

10th Federal Monitor’s Compliance Report: “Counter Casa Effect” Alive and Well Within APD; Move To Dismiss Union From Case; Remove Sergeants and Lieutenants From Police Union