City Council Enacts “Status Quo” Redistricting Map; Council Rejects Davis/Fiebelkorn Gerrymandering Efforts To Affect Minority Influence In Their Own Districts

Every 10 years, the City Charter requires that the Council appoint a committee composed of an equal number of representatives from each of the 9 Council District to review and make recommendations regarding redistricting the 9 Council Districts based on information from the Federal Census. The committee is called the City Council Redistricting Committee. The Committee was made up of 18 members, one voting member and one alternate member from each of the 9 City Council Districts.

The Committee was tasked with using the population data from the official 2020 U.S. Census along with any other pertinent information to make a report recommending changes in the Council District boundaries that the Committee decides are necessary based on constitutional principles governing voting rights, population, compactness and other related factors.

Research & Polling, the most reliable and accurate polling company in New Mexico and for decades has helped with congressional and legislative redistricting, was hired as consultants and provided the committee with 5 initial Concept Maps, titled Map A through E. In addition, the City and Research & Polling contracted with DistrictR, an online mapping tool that allows the public to submit their own maps.  4 additional maps were  submitted by citizens, including a map proposed by Democrat City Councilors Pat Davis and Tammy Fiebelkorn.

On June 29th the Redistricting Committee met for the final time. The committee decided not to settle on a single map but rated and ranked each of the 8 maps. After rating each map, the committee voted to send all 8 maps to the City Council for their consideration and final selection. The Committee rated each of the 8 maps on a 5-point scale, ranging from 0 to 4.

On June 29 the Redistricting Committee voted to rate and ranked the maps as follows:

1.Concept Map A scored the highest with a total rating of 24 and an average rating of 2.7.
2. Citizen Map 2 scored the second highest with a total rating of 19 and an average rating of 2.1.
3. Concept Map D scored the third highest with a total rating of 16 and an average rating of 1.8.
4. Citizen Map 1 scored fourth highest with a total rating of 13 and an average rating of 1.4
5. Citizen Map 5 scored fifth highest with a total rating of 12 and an average rating of 1.3
6. Citizen Map 3 scored sixth highest with a total rating of 9 and an average rating of 1.0
7. Concept E map and Citizens Map 4 tied for seventh highest place each with a total rating of 7 and an average rating of 0.8

https://documents.cabq.gov/council/2022%20Redistricting%20Report.pdf

COUNCIL VOTES TO ADOPT CONCEPT MAP A

On Monday September 19, the Albuquerque City Council voted 6-3 to approve Concept Map A that resets all 9 City Council Districts without making any major changes to existing council district borders.   Redistricting experts referred to it as “minimal change” map.  Only 5.8% of the city’s population are moved into new city council districts.  It was Democrat Westside City Councilor Klarissa Peña, District 3, and Republican NE Heights City Councilor Brook Bassan, District 4, who co-sponsored the Concept Map A, the minimal change map.

Democrats City Councilors Pat Davis, Isaac Benton and Tammy Fiebelkorn voted against the map.   Each of the 3 supported at least one different option they contended would have amplified minority voices. All 3 councilors disparaged the adopted council map as the “status quo” option.  City Councilor Pat Davis in particular had this to say:

“If we’re going to keep doing the same thing, we’re going to get the same results. …  If it’s frustrating to all of us that not much seems to change up here, I think part of it is it’s easy to keep the same districts because we [as councilors] just got elected and we know those neighborhoods, but they don’t challenge us to think in new ways or build new coalitions.”

Davis submitted an amendment intended to better empower the city’s International District, but it failed on a 3-6 vote with only Davis, Benton and Fiebelkorn voting in support.

City Councilor Tammy Fiebelkorn for her part failed to secure support for an alternative map and amendments to Concept Map that would have created 4 Hispanic-majority districts, one more than the map the council ultimately approved. Fiebelkorn did so without support of the only 2 Hispanic City Councilors on the 9-member Council, city council, Klarisa Peña and Louie Sanchez.

City Councilor Peña made it clear with her support of Concept A map that it was the best map option. Peña said the other maps considered would actually harm marginalized communities.  She acknowledges that the approved Concept Map A would not create 4 Hispanic “majority” districts like Fiebelkorn was advocating, but she defended it by saying that Hispanics are still the largest share of the population in 5 out of the 9 City Council districts. Peña put it this way:

“I just want to make sure [that] when we’re having these conversations about representations for minorities, we [acknowledge minorities do] have representation [now].”

Three of the 9 city council districts will not change under the adopted redistricting map. Those districts are District 3 represented by Democrat Klarisa Peña, District 4 represented by Republican Brook Bassan and District 9 represented by Republican Renee Grout.

The link to quoted news source material is here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/2533691/council-opts-for-minimal-change.html

APPROVED CONCEPT MAP A

Concept Map A scored the highest with the city council redistricting committee with a total rating of 24 and an average rating of 2.7. The objective of this map was a minimal change map to account for population changes and minimize voter confusion. No incumbents are displaced nor paired against each other.

The approved Map A addresses the disproportionate population growth the city has seen west of the Rio Grande. To compensate for the change in population, it extends Downtown-based District 2 across the river. Under the new boundaries, District 2, currently represented by Benton, absorbs some neighborhoods west of the river between Central and Interstate 40.

The approved map “shrinks” the geographic size of District 5.

The city’s northwestern-most district, represented by Republican Dan Lewis, currently has about 16% more people than ideal for balancing purposes. Some neighborhoods are taken out the north side of Montano and moved to District 1 which is represented by Democrat Louie Sanchez.

The Northeast Heights-based District 8, represented by Trudy Jones, adds some terrain from Fiebelkorn’s District 7 by expanding south to Comanche between Wyoming and Eubank.

City Councilor Pat Davis’ District 6 will absorb parts of what is now District 2, including the area east of Interstate 25 between Lomas and Gibson.

The overall boundary changed to the City Council Districts can summarized as follows:

The city council districts are identical to current districts with respect to Districts 3 (Peña), District 4 (Bassan) and District 9 (Grout).

District 5 (Lewis) lost population and the boundary with District 1 (Sanchez) moves north to the bluff south of the Petroglyph Estates.

District 2 (Benton) crosses the river between Central and I-40 to Coors taking the West Mesa and Pat Hurley neighborhoods from District 1 (Louie Sanchez).

District 6 (Davis) moves west into District 2, (Benton) from Buena Vista to I-25 between Gibson and Lomas. District 6 (Davis) also takes the University West area (including Carrie Tingley Hospital) from District 2 (Benton).

District 7 (Fiebelkorn) moves south into District 2 (Benton) from I-40 to Lomas between I-25 and Carlisle not including the University West area.

District 8 (Trudy Jones) moves into District 7 (Tammy Fiebelkorn) from Montgomery to Comanche between Wyoming and Eubank.

 COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

The City Council was under no legal obligation to adopt any one of the 8 maps and could have conceivably rejected all 8 maps and start from scratch and ignore the work of the City Council 2022 Redistricting Committe and their rankings. The Albuquerque City Council is commended for doing the right thing in adopting Concept Map A, despite the gerrymandering efforts of Democrat City Councilors Pat Davis, Isaac Benton and Tammy Fiebelkorn.  It is easy to see how the redistricting of all 9 City Council Districts could have affected the balance of power on the City Council with one or more Districts becoming a swing District. With that point in mind, Concept Map A was the one concept map that maintains the status quo.

All 3 councilors argued that they wanted to “amplify minority voices” and create districts that gave “marginalized communities”, especially Hispanics, more representation on the City Council.   This coming from 3 white progressive Democrats without any assistance or the votes from the 2 Hispanic City Councilors. The truth is that Pat Davis, Isaac Benton and Tammy Fiebelkorn were attempting to gerrymander their own selfish best interests by reducing the numbers of minorities in their districts or marginalized voters in their own districts thereby by making their districts more to their liking

SINISTER INTENT OF CONCEPT MAP 4 WAS TO REDUCE MINORITY INFLUENCE

What must not be forgotten is that Citizen Map 4, which came in last with the rankings by the re-districting committee, was originally the citizens map prepared and submitted by City Councilors Pat Davis and Tammy Fiebelkorn.  The Davis/Fiebelkorn concept map was the most radical map of all the 8 maps under consideration. All the other 7 maps made adjustments that were very minor in comparison and essentially tweaked” the existing districts, respecting the existing borders and neighborhoods and communities.

The Davis/Fiebelkorn District 6 and District 7 maps reflected in their proposed Concept Map 4 represented a dramatic departure changing borders. The concept map essentially gutted both Districts and carved them up to the benefit of Democrat Tammy Fiebelkorn to give advantage to Fiebelkorn for reelection.

Under the Davis/Fiebelkorn concept Map 4, District 7 would have kept part of its existing Northeast Heights area, but then would have sweep west of District 6 and take up the Nob Hill area and the Mesa del Sol development area. Both the International District and the Nob Hill areas are considered progressive and are currently in City Council District 6 represented by Pat Davis.

he Nob Hill area along Central under the concept map would have  been  shifted to District 7 and be represented by City Councilor Fiebelkor and would have jettison south to include the Mesa Del Sol development.  The International District  in the Southeast Heights would remain in the newly aligned District 6 but the State Fairgrounds area and the Uptown area including Coronado Shopping Center and Winrock would have been shifted from District 7 to District 6.

Simply put, the Davis/Fiebelkorn Citizen redistricting Map 4 was an abomination. It is a prime example of gerrymandering at its very worse designed to protect newly elected incumbent Tammy Fiebelkorn while the departing City Councilor Pat Davis thumbed his nose at his own City Council District 6.

City Councilor Fiebelkorn said of the Davis/ Fiebelkorn concept map submitted would have given the International District’s “large, culturally significant population” a more united voice on the council, yet she does not represent them. She said she thinks International District residents may have more in common with residents just north of Lomas than with the current district that includes Nob Hill, which she called a “completely different demographic” one ostensibly more to her liking because it is considered the most progressive area of the city.

Tammy Fiebelkorn was being a hypocrite and opportunistic to say after a mere 5 months in office at the time:

“One of the baselines of redistricting is that we find ways to make marginalized communities have a voice. … I want … what would be the best to make sure everybody is represented in a fair and equitable way. … we [must] find ways to make marginalized communities have a voice. … [and give] large, culturally significant populations [a more united voice on the council].”

Fiebelkorn was not talking about her own district when she says she wanted to help the marginalized have a voice. She was referring to the International District, a minority area she did not want to be included in her own new district. Fiebelkorn does not currently represent the Nob Hill area, yet she was advocating just that by cutting it out and placing it in District 7 and cutting out an area viewed as more conservative and ignoring those she currently is supposed to be representing. Simply put, Fiebelkorn wanted to “raid” District 6 and absorb the highly progressive Nob Hill area, knowing full well it will increase her own reelection chances.

City Councilor Pat Davis was nothing but the hypocrite he has always been when he said at the time his map was originally offered:

“I think we should have some different voices on the City Council. … If you look at it now, the entire east side of the city is represented by white folks, and I think that shows the current districting is leaving some people out of the process.”

THE WHITE PRIVILEGE THREE

Isaac Benton, Pat Davis, and Tammy Fiebelkorn do not want to admit it, but they are those very “white folks” that Davis complained about.  All 3 pretend to know what “marginalized communities” as they essentially stick their noses into minority issues pretending they want to protect minorities when all 3 are essentially “white privilege”.  They did so without so much as asking the two Hispanics on the city council for help and support.

It is not at all difficult to figure out what so called progressive Democrats Isaac Benton, Pat Davis and Tammy Fiebelkorn were up to with their own maps and amendments to Concept Map A that was adopted.  What they really wanted to do is to reduce the influence of minorities, especially Hispanics, in their own City Council Districts to reflect their own “white privilege” backgrounds and to increase their own reelection chances.

The City Council saw right through the efforts of Isaac Benton, Pat Davis and Tammy Fiebelkorn and they did the right thing and voted to approve Concept Map A without their amendments that maintains the status quo.

The link to a related blog article is here:

Two “White Folk” City Councilors Pat Davis And Tammy Fiebelkorn Seek To Gut Council Districts 6 and 7 With Proposed Redistricting Map To Help The “Marginalized”; What’s Needed Are Two Additional City Council Districts, Not “Political Movida”; June 8 Redistricting Committee Meeting

EPC Votes To Recommend Striking “Safe Outdoor Spaces” From Integrated Development Ordinance;   A Political Battle Of Epic Proportions Of  Elected Officials Telling  Public “We Know What’s Best For You”;   A “Few Tools” Not Needed

On Thursday, September 15, the City Council nominated, and Mayor appointed Environmental Planning Commission (EPC) voted to Eliminate “Safe Outdoor Spaces” from the Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO).  The vote was 4 to 3 to delete all references of Safe Outdoor Spaces in the IDO effectively outlawing the conditional land use anywhere in the city. Two of the 9 commissioners were not present for the hearing.  It was on June 22 that legislation was introduced by city Councilor Brook Bassan at city council to repeal and to eliminate Safe Outdoor Spaces amendment to the IDO.   The repeal legislation was referred to the Environmental Planning Commission (EPC) for review and hearing and to make recommendations to the City Council.

EPC HEARING PRESENTATION AND TESTIMONY

The hearing began with a very detailed analysis of the legislation presented by a representative  of City Councilor Brook Basaan who is the sponsor of the legislation calling for elimination of Safe Outdoor Spaces from the IDO.  The presentation went through numerous provisions of the IDO and identified how Safe Outdoor Spaces violated the IDO provisions and the spirit and intent of the IDO.

During the course of the September 15 hearing, and after the presentation of Councilor Basan’s city council legislative analysis, the public was allowed to speak, with each speaker given a mere 2 minutes. The overwhelming majority of the testimony given by   members of the general public was in opposition to Safe Outdoor Spaces. Representatives from neighborhood associations, including the Santa Barbara Martineztown  Neighborhood Association,  Wells Park Neighborhood Association and the Greater Albuquerque Business Alliance, a coalition of downtown businesses, testified in opposition to Safe Outdoor Spaces.   The main arguments made by those opposed to Safe Outdoor Spaces include the following:

  1. The City Council amendment for Safe Outdoor Space is not well planned out.  Safe Outdoor Spaces will not be safe despite security plans and will be magnets for crime.
  2. Safe Outdoor Spaces in the form of “tent encampments for the homeless” constitute temporary housing that has been found to be the least effective means with dealing with the homeless. Many city’s that once embraced city sanctioned homeless encampment such as tent encampments are abandoning them in favor of more permanent housing.
  3. Safe Outdoor Spaces will be detrimental to the neighborhoods and surrounding business and interfere with the peaceful use and enjoyment of property, both private and public property, and will reduce property values and interfere with redevelopment efforts.
  4. The Safe Outdoor Spaces provisions are not in conformity and contradict the numerous provisions of the Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO), including relating to “higher and best use” of property and the intent and goal of the IDO to have reasonable, responsible redevelopment provisions that do not hinder development.
  5. Annual updates and amendments to the IDO, such as is the case with Safe Outdoor Spaces, are enacted without public support or input. The Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO) annual amendment process undertaken by the City Council is seriously flawed and is defective and does not allow for community input for major types of amendments affecting communities, such as Safe Outdoor Spaces.   There is no complete review of data coming from the Planning Department to the EPC for IDO Amendments.  Substantive amendments to the IDO are not being fully investigated and vetted by the Planning Department for recommendations to EPC as was the case with Safe Outdoor Spaces.
  6. Safe Outdoor Spaces violates the city’s “Housing First” policy jeopardizing millions of dollars in federal funding by offering temporary housing and tent encampments to the homeless.  In the 2021 fiscal year, the city spent $40 million and in the 2022 fiscal year will be   spending $60 million to assist the homeless and much of the federal funding will be placed in jeopardy because of Safe Outdoor Spaces.
  7. Safe Outdoor Spaces are nuisances and are in violation of city ordinances dealing with nuisance abatement on real property, especially property owned by the city. The following city ordinances were cited to the EPC:

The City’s nuisance abatement ordinance defines nuisance as:

“Any parcel of real property, commercial or residential, … on which
… illegal activities occur, or which is used to commit, conduct, promote, facilitate, or aide the commission of … any [felony or misdemeanor, including illicit drugs and prostitution]”

The city’s nuisance abatement ordinance prohibits “public nuisances” as follows:

“It shall be unlawful for any owner, manager, tenant, lessee, occupant, or other person having any legal or equitable interest or right of possession in real property … or other personal property to intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or negligently commit, conduct , promote, facilitate, permit, fail to prevent, or otherwise let happen, any public nuisance in, on or using any property in which they hold any legal or equitable interest or right of possession.”

See City’s Nuisance Abatement Ordinance, Section   11-1-1-10 Public Nuisances Prohibited. 

The City of Albuquerque’s Uniform Housing Code also defines “nuisance” as:

“(1) Any nuisance known at common law …

(2) Any attractive nuisance which may prove detrimental to children whether in a building, on the premises of a building, or upon an unoccupied lot. …

(3) Whatever is dangerous to human life or is detrimental to health, as determined by the health officer.

(6) Inadequate or unsanitary sewage or plumbing facilities.

(7) Any violation of the housing standards set forth in this code.”

City of Albuquerque and  14-3-1-4 ROA 1994 of Housing Code, Definitions for public nuisance.

CITY ATTEMPTS TO DISCREDIT PRIVATE CITIZENS

After the public spoke, the planning department representatives proceeded to attempt to discredit the arguments made by the public who testified.  It became obvious to those who had testified that the city representative were advocating the Keller Administration policy supporting Safe Outdoor Spaces.

City representatives took issue and challenged Pete Dinelli and his request to be recognized as being a qualified expert in nuisance abatement laws. Dinelli has been a licensed private attorney for 43 years, 28 in government service, who offered his expert legal opinion on the city’s nuisance abatement laws, which he enforced for a full 8 years on behalf of the city as Director of the Safe City Strike Force. The absurd argument was made by an assistant city attorney that the EPC cannot qualify anyone to be an expert who testify before them under oath, yet expert testimony and presentations are given before the EPC on a regular basis and EPC hearings are often “quasi-judicial”. Dinelli gave his expert legal opinion that Safe Outdoor Spaces constitute a public nuisance under the City Nuisance Abetment Ordinance, and he read into the record the above provisions of city ordinances.

City representatives were not at all suttle with their opposition to the proposed legislation to eliminate Safe Outdoor Spaces from the IDO and advocated that the EPC commission recommend a “do not pass” of the legislation to the City Council. City planning officials went so far as to offer “alternative findings” prepared in advance and ask for a delay so the EPC could consider alternatives that ostensible the Keller Administration wanted.  The EPC decided to go forward with a vote anyway and voted 4-3, with 2 commissioners being absent.

At the conclusion of the September 15 EPC hearing, the committee adopted upwards of 4 pages of very detail findings in support of their ruling to recommend the elimination of Safe Outdoor Spaces from the Integrated Development Ordinance. Those finding outlined and extensive number of provisions of the IDO that Safe Outdoor Spaces violate. The EPC recommendation will now be referred to the City Council Land Use and Zoning Committee for further hearings and ultimately the legislation will be presented for a vote to the full City Council.  It is the City Council that has the ultimate and final authority over land use issues.

MAYOR KELLER VETOS MORITORIUM OF SAFE OUTDOOR SPACES

On Monday, August 15, the City Council passed the moratorium on a 6 to 3 vote that barred the City Planning Department from accepting or approving any pending applications for “Safe Outdoor Spaces”. Before passing the moratorium, the City Council amended the bill to ensure that the moratorium stopped the City Planning Department from approving any “pending” applications and to add language stopping the city from authorizing any “Safe Outdoor Space” on city property.  Under the legislation, a complete moratorium was to be in effect until August 1, 2023, unless the City Council enacts a separate bill removing them totally from the zoning code.

The vote was bipartisan. Voting YES for the moratorium where Republicans Brook Bassam Renee Grout, Trudy Jones, and Dan Lewis who were joined by Democrats Klarissa Peña and Louie Sanchez. Voting “NO” on the moratorium were Democrats Isaac Benton, Pat Davis and Tammy Fiebelcorn.

On Friday, August 26, in a late afternoon and what amounts to a “sneaky announcement” to ensure little media attention, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller announced he vetoed the Albuquerque City Council legislation that placed a moratorium on “Safe Outdoor Spaces.”

Keller argued in his veto message that the city cannot afford to limit its options for addressing homelessness and said he understood how new policies sometimes take time to refine after testing.  Keller wrote in part in his veto message:

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

The link to the quoted news source article is here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/2527750/new-keller-veto-aims-to-save-safe-outdoor-spaces.html

COUNCIL FAILS TO OVERRIDE VETO

On September 7, the Albuquerque City Council voted “NO” to override Democrat Mayor Tim Keller’s veto of a one-year moratorium on the application process for “Safe Outdoor Spaces”.   In order to override the veto, 6 YES votes were needed.  The 4 who voted NO to override were Republican Trudy Jones who joined Democrats Isaac Benton, Pat Davis and Tammy Fiebelcorn.  The 5 who voted YES to override the veto. Were Republicans Brook Bassam, Renee Grout, and Dan Lewis who were joined by Democrats Klarissa Peña and Louie Sanchez.

During the September 8 city council meeting, discussion about the veto went on for more than an hour. The city council heard from more than 15 people who signed up to comment, and from several councilors who spoke both for and against Safe Outdoor Spaces.

What is interesting to note is that City Councilor Trudy Jones for more than a few days ignored or would not respond to calls and questions from her constituents who wanted to voice their support for the veto and who wanted to know how she intended to vote. During the September 8 City Council debate on the veto, Jones remained stoically silent and then when the time came to vote, she voted NO without any explanation for her reversal.

Councilor Jones in an interview after the vote was asked why she changed her vote and she had this to say:

“It’s the right thing to do. … Sometimes, along the line, you have to stick your neck out and do what’s right, not what is politically expected.”

The links to quoted news sources are here

https://www.abqjournal.com/category/news/abq-news

https://www.kob.com/new-mexico/albuquerque-city-council-fails-to-override-veto-of-safe-outdoor-spaces/

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

What is clear from the EPC vote is that what is now occurring within the city is a prolonged political battle to prohibit Safe Outdoor Spaces from being allowed throughout the city, a battle that is being lost by the public. This is not just an issue of “not in my back yard” syndrome, but one of hostility against elected officials, especially Mayor Tim Keller, who are mishandling the city’s homeless crisis despite millions and millions being spent each year to help the homeless with little or no progress being made by Keller and with the homeless crisis becoming even worse.

It is an epic political battle being waged between the city’s elected officials and the general public. On one side of the battle are elected the city’s elected officials of Democrat Mayor Tim Keller and Democrats City Councilors Isaac Benton, Pat Davis and Tammy Fiebelcorn and Republican Trudy Jones and City Departments who feel they know best for the city and public.  All 5 are hell bent on creating “Safe Outdoor Spaces” and cramming them down the public and their constituents’ throats ignoring city ordinances and the city’s housing first policy and without public input and contrary to public opinion.

On the other side of the issue is the general voting public who by all accounts are extremely hostile and who are opposed to temporary homeless tent encampments known as “Safe Outdoor Spaces.”  Notwithstanding the objections of property owners and voters, Keller and the 4 city councilors believe they know best and intend to go forward with Safe Outdoor Spaces.

CITY COUNCILOR JONES LOSES CREDIBILITY WITH CONSTITUENTS

On September 7 when Republican City Councilor Trudy Jones voted not to override Mayor Tim Keller’s veto it was a “flip flop” of epic proportions, and she was downright sneaky in the way she did it by not taking calls from constituents the days leading up to the vote.  During city council discussion, the normally vocal Jones on all thing related to the Integrated Development Ordinance sat stoically and then she voted. Only after she voted no to override Keller did she speak to the media and then gave a very lame excuse for her changed vote when she said:

“It’s the right thing to do. … Sometimes, along the line, you have to stick your neck out and do what’s right, not what is politically expected.”

The links to quoted news sources are here

https://www.abqjournal.com/category/news/abq-news

With her reversal of her position on the Safe Outdoor Space moratorium, Republican City Councilor lost a significant amount of her credibility and public trust with her constituents that she had built up over 20 years of service on the council because of her failure to represent her constituent’s best interests and demands. Rumors are swirling that she cut a deal with Keller, but no one knows for certain, and she has not said.

What is truly amazing is that Jones is a former and successful realtor and in all likely knows the detrimental effect Safe Outdoor Spaces will have on real estate values.  This is the same Republican city councilor who sponsored legislation to stop the homeless from pan handling and who also lives in a gated community where tent encampments will not be tolerated.   The problem is, Trudy Jones will likely have the opportunity to once again go against her own constituent’s demands and refuse to eliminate Safe Outdoor Spaces from the IDO when the new legislation is presented.

A FEW TOOLS NOT NEEDED

Repeatedly, Mayor Tim Keller and his administration have said that Safe Outdoor Spaces are a “tool in the tool box” that is needed in his “all above approach” to deal with the homeless. That is simply false, and tools such as Safe Outdoor Spaces need to be thrown out of the toolbox when it comes to the homeless crisis. The only “real tools” here are our government and elected officials who are promoting an unsustainable policy of Safe Outdoor Spaces.  They ostensibly do not know that government sanctioned encampments are being abandoned by major cities and have been found to be a very bad substitute for permanent housing and services which have the most impact on reducing the homeless crisis.

Cities such as Honolulu, Salt Lake City and Seattle, have abandoned their support of government sanctioned encampment such as Safe Outdoor Spaces and have begun implementing ordinances to remove all encampments to move toward a transitional housing or campus model, programs that have been found to bring physical and fiscal safety to communities while reducing crime.  Some 65 cities across the United States have implemented ordinances to remove all encampments.

https://newmexicosun.com/stories/626700965-there-s-a-better-way-to-serve-the-homeless-sanctioned-encampments-aren-t-it

Mayor Tim Keller created a nuisance with city property when he allowed and condoned the use of Coronado Park as a de facto city sanction homeless encampment. Coronado Park had an extensive history of criminal activity including 4 murders, violent crimes and drug trafficking. Keller himself was forced to announce the closure of Coranado Park on June 27 as a result of the extensive criminal activity and the contamination of the grounds of the park that made it a threat to public safety and use.  Safe Outdoor Spaces will in essence become “miniature” Coronado Parks.

The millions being spent each year by the city to deal with the homeless with the “housing first” policy and new Gibson Gateway Homeless Shelter and the Westside Homeless Shelter should be more than enough to deal with housing the homeless, yet Mayor Keller and the 4 City Councilors demand and want more from the public in the form of Safe Outdoor Spaces.  Then there is that matter that Safe Outdoor Space encampments violating the city’s and Keller’s own “housing first” policy by not providing a form of permanent housing and with reliance on tents as temporary housing.

Safe Outdoor Spaces are not the answer to the homeless crisis. “Safe Outdoor Spaces” will be a disaster for the city as a whole. They will destroy neighborhoods, make the city a magnet for the homeless and destroy the city’s efforts to manage the homeless through housing. The homeless crisis will not be solved by the city, but it can and must be managed. Safe Outdoor Spaces represent a very temporary place to pitch a tent, relieve oneself, bathe and sleep at night with rules that will not likely be followed.

The answer is to the homeless crisis is to provide the homeless the support services, including food and permanent lodging, and mental health care needed to allow the homeless to turn their lives around and perhaps become productive self-sufficient citizens.

Given the City Council’s vote on the Safe Outdoor Space moratorium, it is more likely than not that the city council will vote down and NOT to support the EPC recommendation to eliminate all references to Safe Outdoor Spaces. The legislation eliminating from the IDO Safe Outdoor Spaces will likely pass on a 5 to 4 vote and Mayor Tim Keller is expected to veto the legislation.  The council will need 6 votes to override the mayor’s veto. Unless City Councilor Trudy Jones comes to her senses or  has some sort of divine epiphany and changes her mind once again and votes to override Keller’s veto, the override will fail on a 5 to 4 vote and Safe Outdoor Spaces will become law.  This is the type of conduct that results in general public distrust of city government.

Voters and residents are urged to contact and voice their opinion and tell all city councilors to vote YES and support the EPC recommendation to eliminate all references to Safe Outdoor Spaces, or SOSs, in the Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO).   Their phone numbers and email address are:

CITY COUNCIL PHONE: (505) 768-3100

CITY COUNCIL EMAILS

lesanchez@cabq.gov
louiesanchez@allstate.com
bmaceachen@cabq.gov,
ibenton@cabq.gov,
namolina@cabq.gov,
kpena@cabq.gov,
rmhernandez@cabq.gov,
bbassan@cabq.gov,
danlewis@cabq.gov,
galvarez@cabq.gov,
patdavis@cabq.gov,
seanforan@cabq.gov,
tfiebelkorn@cabq.gov,
lrummler@cabq.gov,
trudyjones@cabq.gov,
azizachavez@cabq.gov,
rgrout@cabq.gov,
rrmiller@cabq.gov,
LEWISABQ@GMAIL.COM,
nancymontano@cabq.gov,
cortega@cabq.gov
cmelendrez@cabq.gov

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham Leads Mark Ronchetti In 3 Recent Polls; Abortion, Crime, Economy Are Top 3 Issues; Follow The Money

Within the last 3 weeks, 3 separate public opinion polls in Governor’s race and on issues the voting public are concerned about were taken and released by the Albuquerque Journal, KOB “4 Investigates” and KRQE 13 been taken and release.  This blog article is an in-depth comparison of all 3 polls as well as the issues on voter’s minds as they decide how to cast their vote with analysis and commentary

KRQE NEWS 13 EMERSON POLL

On September 15, KRQE NEWS 13 published the latest of 3 polls in the New Mexico Governor’s race.  The KRQE commissioned  Emerson College Polling on the New Mexico Governor’s race as well as issues facing the state. The results of the poll in the Governor’s race is as follows:

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham   48%

Republican Mark Ronchetti:  43%

Undecided: 5.2%

FAVORABILITY RATINGS

The favorability of both candidates was polled. 52% viewed Lujan Grisham favorably compared to 46% who viewed her unfavorably. Meanwhile, 51% percent viewed Ronchetti favorably compared to 41% who viewed him unfavorably. Both candidates at 52% for Lujan Grisham and Ronchetti at 51% are well liked and essentially tied in favorability.

Although Lujan Grisham’s unfavorable rating at 46% is higher by 5% over Ronchetti’s 41%, this must be tempered with the fact that she has been in office for the last 4 years dealing with a health crisis that required difficult and at time’s controversial decisions that Ronchetti has capitalized on with very negative ads.  Ronchetti’s 41% unfavorables can be considered surprisingly higher than what is normal in that for the last 4 years he has been essentially a TV weatherman personality with no expierence to be held accountable for his mistakes and he has also run and lost for US Senator.

The candidate’s favorability ratings broke along party lines.  Just over 90% of people who said they voted for Donald Trump in 2020 found Ronchetti “favorable”.  Just under 90% of those who say they voted for Biden in 2020 found Lujan Grisham favorable.

Lujan Grisham found slightly more favor among urban voters, while Ronchetti found more support among rural voters. Suburban voters were fairly split between the two candidates.

A gender divide was found between the candidates.  Female voters consistently support Lujan Grisham, while the male vote is split between the candidates.   Nearly 50% of females polled say they will vote for Lujan Grisham while just over 40% of females say they’d vote for Ronchetti.  Meanwhile, 46.8% of males say they’d vote for Ronchetti and another 46.8% say they’d vote for Lujan Grisham.

Lujan Grisham has the advantage when it comes to name identification amongst voters who are undecided.  Only 6% of undecided voters have no opinion of Lujan Grisham or have never heard of her while 30% of undecided voters have never heard of, or have no opinion of Mark Ronchetti. This is very significant in that the 5.2% undecides in the poll will likely decide the race with Lujan Grisham polling at 48% or just 2% plus one vote short of a win.

ISSUES POLLED

The KRQE Emerson poll asked voters about the issues utmost on their minds leading up to the election.   When asked in the Emerson poll what issue is most important for voting this November, 35% of those polled said the economy is the key issue.   According to the poll, abortion, crime, housing, education, healthcare, COVID-19, and immigration were also issues listed, but none of those topics came close to the issue of jobs, inflation, and taxes.

While voters from across the political spectrum voice concern over the economy, nearly half of registered Republicans polled said the economy is the key issue in determining their vote. A little under a quarter of Democrats said the economy is their key focus while 38.4% of Independents and other voters said the economy is their key issue.

ABORTION

The Emerson KRQE 13 Emerson poll found that fter the economy, abortion access is a top issue for voters.  15.1% said it’s the key issue that will determine their vote this November. Poll numbers revealed that 23.1% of Democrats say it’s the most important issue for deciding their vote. Only 6.4% of Republicans say it’s the most important issue. 11.6% of independent voters or voters from other parties say it’s the top issue.

For some voters, the recent overturning of Roe v. Wade is likely to spur on voting. About 50% of those polled say the decision will make it more likely that they’ll vote in the 2022 election. But about 45% of people say it’s not affecting how likely they are to vote.

It is not just female voters that say the overturning of Roe v. Wade makes them more likely to vote. Nearly 49% of males polled say the Supreme Court decision has made it somewhat more likely or much more likely that they’ll vote this year. A little over 50% of females polled say it’s made them at least somewhat more likely to vote.  50% of Democratic voters said healthcare and abortion access are the two top issues.

Democrat Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham is “”, in 2021, she signed the repeal of the state’s 1969 criminal abortion law and  signed an executive order pledging $10 million for a new abortion clinic citing an influx of abortion patients from Texas and other states.

Candidate Mark Ronchetti has said that he’s “pro-life” and has promised to “seek a middle ground with our legislature that ends the practice of late-term and partial-birth abortion.”  Ronchetti says politicians should not be deciding the issue and is now calling for a public referendum vote to permit abortion up to 15 weeks and in cases involving rape, incest, and when a mother’s life is at risk. Calling for a referendum on a what was a consitutional right is even worse than politicians deciding the issue.

EDITOR’S COMMENT:  No one should have the right, and that includes voters, to decide on a woman’s right to choose and to make decisions on her health care.

OTHER ISSUE IDENTIFIED IN EMERSON POLL

11.6% in the polled said healthcare is their top issue.  The Emerson poll revealed healthcare is a priority for minority voters more often than white voters. A little over 16% of Hispanic and Latino voters said healthcare is their top issue, over a quarter of Black and African American voters said their top focus is healthcare. Only about 9% of white voters said healthcare is their top priority. Healthcare showed a party divide. A little over 18% of Democrats say healthcare is their top priority, while less than 3% of Republicans say it’s their top focus.

11% in the poll said crime is their top issue.

2.1% in the Emerson poll said say COVID-19 is the most important issue in determining their vote. For urban voters, it’s slightly higher, but still only 3.2% of those living in cities say COVID-19 is their top issue.

OPINIONS ON BIDEN AND TRUMP

In the 2020 Presidential election, Democrat Joe Biden won New Mexico by about 10 points.  The KRQE-Emerson College poll shows that New Mexico’s likely voters are now split on Biden with just  over 47% polled say they approve of the job Biden is doing and about 47% say they disapprove.

Biden’s approval rating is lower among American Indian and Native American voters. The majority of those voters in New Mexico disapprove of the job Biden is doing, the poll shows.

The KRQE News 13 Emerson poll asked voters whether or not the recent news about the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s search of Mar-a-Lago has impacted their views of former President Donald Trump, if he runs for office in 2024. Those polled were essentially evenly split between those who said the FBI search has made them more likely to support Trump, those who said the FBI search has made them less likely to support Trump, and those who said the FBI search has made no difference.

ABOUT THE EMERSON POLL

Emerson College Polling conducted the poll of 1,000 people from September 8-11, 2022. The data comes from people across the state. The results are intended to represent voter turnout, so input from voters in Albuquerque is proportional to the share of New Mexico voters who are likely to turn out in Albuquerque. Results were collected through several methods. Emerson College Polling used phone calls, emails, text messaging, and an online panel. The poll has a plus-or-minus ratio of 3%, and demographic comparisons have a higher ratio due to the sample size.

The 2 links to the unedited, quoted KRQE news stories are here:

https://www.krqe.com/news/politics-government/krqe-emerson-poll-lujan-grisham-leads-ronchetti-by-5-in-governors-race/

https://www.krqe.com/news/politics-government/krqe-emerson-poll-what-issues-are-most-important-to-new-mexican-voters/

KOB “4 INVESTIGATES” SURVEY USA

On September 14, KOB Channel 4 published a “4 Investigates” Poll” on the New Mexico Governor’s race it commissioned with Survey USA.  The results of the poll in the Governor’s race revealed that Democrat Governor Michell Lujan Grisham has now busted out a double-digit lead over Republican Mark Ronchetti.  The results of the poll reported are:

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham: 48%

Republican Mark Ronchetti: 36%

Libertarian Karen Bedonie: 5%

Undecided: 11%

The link to the KOB 4 report is here:

https://www.kob.com/news/top-news/4-investigates-poll-mlg-has-12-point-advantage-over-ronchetti/

POLL ANALYSIS

Following is the poll’s narrative analysis:

PARTY AFFILIATION

Governor Luajn Grisham has the backing of 88% of Democrats.

Lujan Grisham leads by an 83-point margin among both Democrats and liberals, and by 82 points among Biden voters.

Ronchetti has the backing of 76% Republicans.  Ronchetti leads among Republicans  by 67 points, among those who voted for Donald Trump in 2020 with 66%, and among conservatives by 38 points.

GENDER

Lujan Grisham is up by 18 points support among women with 51%.

Ronchetti has 33% support among women.

Lujan Grisham has 45% support among men.

Ronchetti has 39% support among men.

AGE

Lujan Grisham  leads by 20 points among voters under age 50, but by 7 points among those 50+.

ETHNICITY

White voters back Ronchetti by an 8-point margin.

Latinos prefer Lujan Grisham by 33 points at 59%.

INCOME LEVELS

Lujan Grisham leads in lower and middle-income households.

Lujan Grisham and Ronchetti are effectively tied in upper-income households, with Ronchetti nominally ahead.

THE ISSUES

On issues, the Governor leads by 67 points among the 23% who say the environment is among the most important issues to them, by 50 points among the 7% focused on housing, by 46 points among the 29% who will be focused on abortion when casting their ballots, by 44 points among the 34% focused on healthcare, and by 10 percentage points among the 23% focused on education.

On the issues, Ronchetti leads by 43 points among the 1 in 3 voters who say immigration and border security are among the issues most likely to influence their votes this November, by 5 points among those who list inflation and the economy as a top issue (59% of the electorate).

Ronchetti and Lujan Grisham are effectively tied among the 58% of voters who say crime and public safety is a top issue.

CRIME

Crime is considered the Governors vulnerability, with Ronchetti making it the cornerstone of his campaign, yet she managed to outpoll Ronchetti on the issue:

Governor MLG:  44%

Ronchettis: 41%

ABORTION

Abortion and a woman’s right to choose is considered the defining issue in the race for Governor and the poll results confirm that:

68% support the Governor on the issue.

22% support Ronchetti.

ABOUT THE POLL

SurveyUSA interviewed a representative cross-section of 840 New Mexico adults online 09/08/22 through 09/12/22.  Of the adults, 665 were registered to vote. Of the registered voters, 558 were identified by SurveyUSA as being likely to vote in the November 2022 general election and were asked poll questions.  The pool of adult survey respondents was weighted to US Census targets for gender, age, race, education, and home ownership.  The poll has a relatively high margin of error of 5.7 percent.

The link to review further the poll results and analysis is here:

SurveyUSA Election Poll #26477

ALBUQUERQUE JOURNAL POLL

On Sunday, August 28, the Albuquerque Journal released its first poll in the 2022 Governor’s race between Democrat Incumbent Michell Lujan Grisham and Republican TV weatherman Mark Ronchetti.  The poll was conducted by Research and Polling which for decades has done all political polling for the Journal and with polling firm considered the gold standard in New Mexico political polling because of its consistent accuracy.

RESULTS OF JOURNAL POLL

The poll asked the question “If the election for Governor were held today, who would you vote for? “ The poll results reported were:

Democrat Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham: 47%

Republican Mark Ronchetti: 40%

Libertarian Karen Bedoni: 5%

UNDECIDED: 8%

JOURNAL POLL ON ISSUES FACING STATE

On August 29, the Albuquerque Journal released its poll on the issue of abortion which  is considered the defining issue in the governor’s race.

The poll asked the question “WHICH COMES CLOSEST TO YOUR VIEW ON ABORTION” The results were as follows:

It should always be legal:  35%

It should be legal with some limitations: 22%

It should be illegal except for rape, incest, or to save the mother’s life: 25%

It should always be illegal: 12%

Don’t know: 2%

None of these/won’t say: 4%

POLITCAL PARTY BREAKDOWN

The poll results were broken down according to party affiliation. The responses to the poll question by party affiliation were as follows:

It should always be legal:

Democrats: 55%

Republicans: 8%

Other: 35%

It should be legal with some limitations:

Democrats: 24%

Republicans: 18%

Other: 26%

It should be illegal except for rape, incest, or to save the mother’s life:

Democrats: 11%

Republicans: 41%

Other: 28%

It should always be illegal:

Democrats: 5%

Republicans: 24%

Other: 8%

POLL ON 5 ISSUES FACING STATE

On August 31 the Journal reported the results of it poll on the various issues voters felt were serious in the state. In the poll, respondents were read a list of five issues facing New Mexico and asked to state if they felt each one was a “very serious problem, somewhat serious problem, minor problem, or no problem at all.” The specific issues asked about in the poll were Crime, Homelessness, Quality of Education, the Strength of the State’s Economy, and Covid 19.

The poll question and the results for each of the 5 issues asked about are as follows:

“How serious are these issues facing New Mexico?”

  1. CRIME

Very Serious: 82% Somewhat Serious:  14% Minor:  3% No Problem:  0 Don’t Know/Would Not Say: 1%

DINELLI COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

It should come as absolutely no surprise to anyone that Crime was listed as “Very Serious” problem with a whopping 82%. Concern about crime cut across party lines, geographic regions and age.  Albuquerque and the State has seen a major spike in violent crime and the rates are some of the highest in the country. In the last 3 years, Albuquerque has had a breaking number of homicides each year.  In 2021 the city had 117 homicides.  As of August 30, APD reports that there have been 88 homicides, with the city well on it way to breaking the 2021 all time record.

apd-homicide-list-for-web-site-as-of-02sep2022.pdf (cabq.gov)

  1. HOMELESSNESS

Very Serious: 77% Somewhat Serious: 16% Minor: 4%   No Problem: 1%   Don’t Know/Would Not Say: 2%

DINELLI COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

When it comes to the issue of Homelessness, it should come as no surprise that 77% feel that it is a very serious problem, once again with Albuquerque being the driving force behind the increase for concern.  Likely voters in the Albuquerque metropolitan area were far more likely than people in eastern or southwestern New Mexico to call homelessness a very serious problem. According to the Journal report, the 77% is a sharp increase from four years ago when 54% of likely voters described homelessness as a very serious problem.  Simply put, the homeless numbers have increased as has their visibility with the government struggling to come to a solution on how to deal with the crisis. Mayor Tim Keller’s recent closure of Coronado Park as well as his failure to manage the homeless crisis has become a major source of controversy.

  1. QUALITY OF EDUCATION

Very Serious:  61% Somewhat Serious: 24% Minor: 9% No Problem: 4% Don’t Know/Would Not Say: 3

DINELLI COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

The 61% “very concern” for education is based in sobering reality and understanding of the state’s education system, but there is major reason for optimism for improvement.

On January 19, 2022, the New Mexico Voices for Children released the 2021 Kids Count Data Book. New Mexico’s rankings in the nation for education was 50th.  The state ranked 29th in the number of young children not enrolled in school, 49th in the nation for 8th grade math proficiency and 50th in the nation for 4th grade reading proficiency and 25% of New Mexican high schoolers do not graduate on time.  The links to the Kids Count Data Book is here:

https://www.nmvoices.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/KidsCount-DataBook2021-FINAL.pdf

https://www.nmvoices.org/archives/16481

On Friday, July 20, 2018, Santa Fe District Court Judge Sarah Singleton ruled in the case of Yazzie v. State of New Mexico and Governor Suzanna Martinez that the state of New Mexico was violating the constitutional rights of at-risk students by failing to provide them with a sufficient education. In response to the court ruling, the New Mexico legislature increased public education funding to the highest levels in state history.  During the last 3 years, the New Mexico legislature dramatically increased  public education funding, created the Early Childhood Department (CYFD), issued mandates to Children, Youth and Families and Public Education departments, and gave raises to educators.

The 2022 New Mexico Legislature approved an $8.48 billion state budget, the largest budget in state history. The budget bill boosts state spending by $1 billion, nearly 14%, over current budget levels. The enacted budget includes significant increases in spending in areas that should have a direct impact on major areas identified by the New Mexico Kids Count Data Book. Annual spending on K-12 grade public education was increased by $425 million to $3.87 billion, a 12% boost.

A trio of bills to fund programs to help Native American students succeed in school past was enacted by the 2022 legislature. The house bills provided more than $70 million to tribal entities to help offer culturally relevant lesson plans and access to virtual and after-school programs for those students. The budget contains salary increases of 7% for school districts and state government staff across the state. A minimum hourly wage of $15 for public employees and higher base salaries for teachers is provided. The enacted budget extends free college tuition to most New Mexico residents pursuing two- and four-year degrees. $75 million is allocated to the “opportunity scholarship” program, providing free tuition and fees for New Mexico residents.

On the November 8 general election ballot is also a Constitutional Amendment that if passed will increase funding by the millions from the state’s permanent school fund with more funding to go towards extra funding in the millions for K-12 education. Outlined below is a report on a separate poll question on the Constitutional Amendment.

  1. STRENGTH OF THE STATE’S ECONOMY

Very Serious:  52% Somewhat Serious: 30%   Minor: 9%   No Problem: 3%

Don’t Know/Would Not Say: 5%

DINELLI COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

The 52% “Very Serious” and 30% “Somewhat Concern” poll numbers   for the state’s economy must be tempered with reality. Things are not at all as bad as the poll suggests.

On August 16, during a meeting of the influential New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee held in Chama, New Mexico, legislators were told the state will have a staggering projected $2.5 billion in “new” money during the 2023 budget year that starts on July 1, 2023.  The total revenue is forecast is to rise from $9.2 billion in the fiscal year that just ended to nearly $10.9 billion for 2023.   The projections were reported by the LFC executive economists. The LFC economists reported that the $2.5 money, which represents the difference between current spending levels and projected new revenue, is in addition to a projected budget surplus of nearly $3.8 billion for the current fiscal year and with upwards of $2.6 billion to go into the state’s early childhood trust fund. According to the economic projections reported, the revenue flow is showing no signs of slowing down.  It is inflation related consumer spending, strong wage growth and increased oil production that is spiking the state’s revenue flows to historic heights.

On August 19, 2022, the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions (DWS) released an Economic Update on the state’s unemployment rates. The Department of Workforce Solutions (DWS) reported that New Mexico’s unemployment dropped to the lowest it has been since September 2008.  The DWS reported that the unemployment rate for the state in July stood at 4.5%, a drop from 4.9% in June of this year and a year-over-year decrease from 7% from July 2021.  This is the second month in a row the unemployment rate has come in below 5% this year.  Despite the reduction in unemployment rates, the state is struggling with a low workforce participation rate which is the measurement of working-aged adults that are participating in the labor force and who are looking for a job.  According to the Department of Workforce solutions (DWS), there is a need for more workers across all industries.  The DWS says it has been focusing on the issue by setting up programs funded largely by federal dollars and creating a template for outreach to non-working New Mexicans.

https://www.petedinelli.com/2022/08/23/drop-in-new-mexicos-unemployment-rate-to-4-5-vacancies-and-need-for-workers-abound-state-well-on-its-way-to-recovering-to-pre-pandemic-work-levels-republicans-forget-7-8-unemployment/exicans.

  1. COVID 19

Very Serious: 25% Somewhat Serious: 35% Minor: 25% No Problem: 14% Don’t Know/Would Not Say: 1%

DINELLI COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

The 25% “Very Serious” % “Somewhat Serious” concern over Covid 19 is a clear indication that the state, much like the rest of the country, is now pulling out of the effects of the pandemic and is in an indicator that things are indeed getting back to normal and proof of the effectiveness of the vaccines. The 25% “very serious” concern is in sharp contrast to two years ago when the pandemic resulted in closure of businesses, schools and public functions and mask mandates when there were no vaccines.

Notwithstanding the decline of Covid 19 as being a “very serious” concern to voters, the poll broke along party lines on COVID-19.  According to the Journal report:

“Supporters of Governor Lujan Grisham, who issued public health care orders and restricted in-person activity at businesses and schools during early parts of the pandemic, were much more likely than supporters of other candidates to describe COVID-19 as a very serious problem at 29% or somewhat serious problem at 42%.  … Lujan Grisham’s supporters appeared to give her credit for being tough on COVID and addressing it.  Just 21% of Ronchetti supporters described COVID-19 as a very serious problem, and 27% described it as a somewhat serious concern.”

JOURNAL POLL REPORT ON CAUSES OF CRIME

On September 1 the Albuquerque Journal reported the results of its poll on voters’ opinions on what they believe are the leading causes of crime. Those polled on the “causes of crime” were allowed up to 3 responses and the poll compiled the top 9 answers.

CAUSES OF CRIME

The Journal poll questioned voters on their beliefs as to the causes of high crime rates.  The poll question and the results reported are as follows:

“What do you believe is the leading cause of New Mexico’s high crime rate?”

DRUGS: 31%

POVERTY: 15%

RELEASING DEFENDANTS AHEAD OF TRIAL: 15%

LIGHT SENTENCES OF JUDGES: 14%

HOMELESSNESS: 13%

WEAK/BROKEN CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM:12%

POOR ECONOMY: 8%

UNEMPLOYMENT: 8%

NOT ENOUGH POLICE OFFICERS: 8%

 Brian Sanderoff, the president of Research & Polling Inc., whose company did the poll, had this to say to the Journal about the poll results:  

“Seven out of the 10 most frequently mentioned issues among likely voters deal with societal issues, challenges that we face regarding drug abuse, poverty, economy, homelessness, mental illness. … And three of the 10 are dealing more with criminal justice issues.”

Sanderoff said that the causes for crime by those polls broke along party lines. Republican voters were more likely to mention problems in the criminal justice system while Democrats were more likely to mention societal issues.  Sanderoff said this:

“When you look at the same thing by candidate …  Michelle Lujan Grisham supporters are nearly twice as likely to mention poverty than Ronchetti supporters.”

GUN CONTROL

On Sunday, September 4, the Journal published poll results on two-gun control proposals.  Both proposals received overwhelming bi partisan support from those polled.  The poll questions and results were as follows:

Do you support or oppose legislation in New Mexico to raise the age from 18 to 21 to purchase an AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle?

Support: 72%

Oppose:  21%

It depends: 4%

Don’t know/won’t say: 2%

DINELLI COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

New Mexico lawmakers in recent years have passed laws expanding background check requirements for firearm purchases and allowing guns to be seized from individuals deemed to pose a threat to themselves or others. But with the state’s firearm violence rate still high, many voters want lawmakers to enact additional gun control measures.

While Democratic voters were significantly more likely to support the gun control measures, a majority of Republican voters surveyed also expressed support for both proposals. A total of 61% of GOP voters surveyed support making it a crime to fail to store guns safely around children, while 53% of Republicans said they support raising the minimum age to purchase AR-15-style rifles.

Brian Sanderoff, the president of Albuquerque-based Research & Polling Inc., had this to say:

“We’re seeing that even conservative voters, at least a small majority of them support raising the minimum age to purchase certain firearms.”

It is difficult to gage what effect, if any, the passage of “gun safety” measures as the poll questions suggest, will have on reducing gun violence and mass shootings.  More realistic proposals that will likely reduce gun violence would be proposals such as banning the manufacturing, sale or distribution of AR-15 style semi-automatic rifles and, in the state, gun registration, banning large capacity gun magazines and types of ammunition and mandatory background checks and perhaps repealing the state’s open carry provision in its constitution.

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMEMT FOR K-12 FUNDING

On September 3, the Albuquerque Journal published the poll results on the constitutional amendment that will to tap more heavily into New Mexico’s permanent school fund is drawing broad voter support ahead of the Nov. 8 election.

The poll question asked was:

Do you support or oppose the proposed constitutional amendment that would distribute more money from New Mexico’s Land Grant Permanent School Fund to be used for early childhood education, teacher compensation, and K-12 education programs?

The poll results were as follows:

Support:  69%

Oppose: 15%

It depends: 8%

Don’t know/won’t say: 8%

Although the constitutional amendment has strong bi-partisan support, Democrats support the measure by 23% more than Republicans, while Republican opposition is upwards of 4 times of Democrats.

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

New Mexico’s permanent fund for education funding is one of the largest of such funds in the United States. The fund grows with a combination of investment income and royalty revenue from oil and gas production on state lands. The proposed amendment if it passes will boost the annual distribution for the permanent school fund to 6.25%.

According to Legislative Finance Committee economists, the state receives 5% out of the permeant fund each year to spend on public schools and other beneficiaries. The fund will be providing $1.3 billion the current 2022-2023 fiscal year. Bottom of Form

State economists say the proposed amendment will generate upwards of $230 million a year in new revenue with 60% of the funds to be dedicated to early childhood education and 40% for K-12 education.

Even if the amendment does not pass the annual funding for early childhood programs has been increase dramatically by the legislature going from $179 million to $579 million over a 10-year period.

Supporters say the investment would be worth it, making more money available for programs that can interrupt the cycle of poverty, and improve the education and well-being of New Mexico’s children.

Opponents of the increased withdrawals say it would eventually leave the state with smaller annual distributions because pulling more out of the fund now will slow its growth.

ABOUT THE JOURNAL POLL

“The Journal Poll was based on a scientific, statewide sample of 518 voters who cast ballots in the 2018 and/or 2020 general election and who said they are likely to vote in the upcoming election. The poll was conducted from Aug. 19 through Aug. 25. All interviews were conducted by live, professional interviewers, with multiple callbacks to households that did not initially answer the phone. Both cellphone numbers (79%) and landlines (21%) of proven general election voters were used. The voter sample has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points.”

FOLLOW THE MONEY

On September 12, the candidates for Governor filed their latest campaign finance reports. It covered a two-month period.

GOVERNOR MICHELL LUJAN GRISHAM

The Governor reported an opening balance of $2,749,077.80.

Total Monetary Contributions the reporting period was $2,590,990.40.

Total Expenditures the Reporting Period was $2,376,845.55.

The closing balance for the  Reporting Period was $2,963,222.65.

Total In-Kind Contributions the Reporting Period was $12,225.00.

The Governor reported raising nearly $2.6 million, bringing her total fundraising for her reelection campaign to slightly more than $10 million which is more than the $9.7 million raised when first running for governor in 2018. Currently, Lujan Grisham has roughly $3 million in her campaign account with less than two months until Election Day.

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s campaign finance report can be viewed here:

https://login.cfis.sos.state.nm.us//Files/ReportsOutput//103/d7180219-a9c4-4b5c-bf47-b846e82a0df3.pdf

MARK RONCHETTI

Mark Ronchetti reported and opening balance of $1,415,075.12

Total Monetary Contributions the Reporting Period were $2,402,094.31

Total Expenditures the Reporting Period were $1,404,539.04 d.

The Closing Balance was $2,412,630.39

Total In-Kind Contributions this Reporting Period was $10,996.52

Ronchetti reported raising $2.4 million during the same reporting period. He spent roughly $1.4 million on TV ads and other expenses, leaving upwards $2.4 million in his campaign war chest.

Republican Mark Ronchetti’s finance report can be viewed here:

https://login.cfis.sos.state.nm.us//Files/ReportsOutput//103/dda701b4-b57f-4837-9a4a-837037175310.pdf

VOTER REGISTRATION

No matter the polls, it is the final vote that counts. Governor Lujan Grisham has the upper hand when it comes to voter registration.

Democrats have a decisive 13.8% advantage over Republicans in the state. As the saying goes, “Republicans win in New Mexico when Democrats stay home on election day.”

According to New Mexico Voter Registration Statistics from the New Mexico Secretary of State, as of January 31, 2022, there are a total of 1,342,690 registered voters in the state.  The breakdown of the registration numbers is as follows:

Registered Democrats: 599,242, or 44.6 %,

Registered Republicans: 414,067 or  30.8 %,

No Party or Independents:  301,598 or 22.5 %

Registered Libertarian:  13,644  or 1.0 %

Other Registrations:  14,139 or 1.1 %

https://api.realfile.rtsclients.com/PublicFiles/ee3072ab0d43456cb15a51f7d82c77a2/f7ecf5cb-2653-4b16-b2a5-6fd42cdcb6f0/Statewide_01-31-2022.pdf

 COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

Averaging out all 3 of the polls reflects that Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham polling average is 47.66% compared to  Ronchetti’s  39.66% Ronchetti has yet  to surpass 43%  in any of the public polling which is essentially the Republican base in New Mexcio. Lujan Grisham has yet to bust the 50% plus one to clinch a victory, but she is off by 2% to 3%.

There is less than two months left before the November 2 general election, but in politics that can be an eternity, and anything can happen.  Notwithstanding, Governor Lujan Grisham has led in the polls throughout the race and she has busted out a two-digit lead over Ronchetti in one poll.

Debates still remain, anything can happen including missteps by the candidates and both candidates have hefty amounts of campaign cash that make it certain that the race is far from over.

Mayor Tim Keller Has Increased “Unclassified Positions” By 45%; Adds 266 Full Time Unclassified Jobs; 250 Top Paid City Hall Employees Paid Between $119,356.16 to  $211,144.75 A Year;  Dubious Credentials Of New Superintendent Of Police Reform

On September 10,  the Alburquerque  Journal published on its front page, below the fold,  an investigative entitled “City government’s unclassified workforce grows under Keller” and written by staff reporter Jessica Dyer.

According to the Journal column, when Keller was sworn into office on December 1, 2017, the city had a budget of $957 million and 5,956 funded full-time positions.  The  current 2022-2023 year’s budget is $1.4 billion and the Journal reported there are now  6,911 jobs in city government, though upwards of 20% remain unfilled.

The link to the full, unedited Albuquerque Journal report is here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/2531378/city-governments-unclassified-workforce-grows-under-keller.html

CLASSIFIED VERSUS UNCLASSIFIED

There are 5,947 City Hall employees that are “classified employees” who are covered by the city’s personnel rules and regulations. Classified employees have vested rights including retirement benefits, sick leave and annual leave benefits and can only be terminated for cause. Disciplinary actions such as suspensions, demotions and terminations can be appealed by classified employees to the City Personnel Board. The City of Albuquerque pays an average of $17.61 an hour to City Hall employees or $36,628.80 a year depending on the positions held and required education level and training levels. (40-hour work week X 52 weeks in a year = 2,080 hours worked in a year X $17.61 paid hourly = $36,628.80)

https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Employer=City_of_Albuquerque/Hourly_Rate

https://www.cabq.gov/humanresources/city-employment-opportunities

There are 589  full time “unclassified” positions at City Hall, who are “at-will” employees who can be terminated “without cause” and who work at the pleasure of the Mayor or the City Council. “Unclassified employees” or exempt employees do not have the same vested rights classified employees have. They have no appeal rights to the City Personnel Board for disciplinary action so when they are fired, they are in fact terminated with little or no recourse.

All City Hall Department Directors are “unclassified employees” and serve at the pleasure of the Mayor and can be terminated without cause. City Department Directors as at will employees are paid yearly salaries but their salaries are broken down in hourly rates for payroll purposes.  The average pay for Department Directors under Keller has been $116,000 to $125,000 a year depending on experience and background. The 27 Department Directors are not paid time and a half when they work in excess of a 40-hour work week.

DRAMATIC GROWTH OF UNCLASSIFIED WORKFORCE UNDER KELLER

The September 10 Albuquerque Journal reported that out of the 6,911 funded full-time employees, 589 of those full-time positions are “unclassified” employees, who are not covered by the personnel rules and regulations and who can be terminated without cause, who serve at the pleasure of the mayor or at discretion of the city’s chief administrative officer.  In otherwards, there are 6,322 full time city employees who are classified and 589 who are unclassified. (6,322 classified + 589 unclassified = 6,911 total full time postions.)

According to the Journal, 266 unclassified positions, or 45%, of the added full-time unclassified jobs are positions added since Mayor Tim Keller took office December 1, 2017.   According to information provided by the city Human Resources Department, many of the unclassified potions are classified as “performance and innovation managers, chief impact officer and civic engagement coordinators”.  Many other of the unclassified positions are  the traditional positions like APD Chief, Fire Chief, City Attorney, City Clerk and the other Department Directors.

According to the Journal analysis, Keller has had a 45% increase in unclassified positions since taking office on December 1, 2017, with the 18% of unclassified workers in jobs created during the 8 years under Keller’s predecessor Richard Berry.

Pay varies across the new unclassified jobs created, with the lowest compensated at the Parks and Recreation as techs, who make about $31,000 annually.  However, the Journal September 10 article zeroed in on positions that have been created and filled by Keller paying in excess of $100,000 a year.  A total of 55 of the 266 new unclassified positions created by Keller earn at least $100,000 per year.

NEWLY APPOINTED POSTIONS

It was on June 1 that Mayor Keller announced the appointments of 3 new executive staff.  Those individuals are:

Bob White, Associate Chief Administrative Officer (ACAO)

White, 74, is being paid $170,000 a year. White retired as City Attorney in 2010, has not worked for the city in any capacity for 12 years.  At the time of his retirement in 2010, White was paid $145,000 a year.  Sources have confirmed that White was asked to resign in 2009 as City Attorney by Mayor Richard Berry so he could be replaced by Republican political operative Rob Perry as city attorney who later became Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) under Mayor Berry.

 Katarina Sandoval, Chief Operations Officer (COO)

Katrina Sandoval was the Deputy Secretary of Finance and Operations and Academic Engagement and Student Success at the New Mexico Public Education Department. It is believed Keller is paying Sandoval upwards of $150,000 a year.

Annie Manriquez, Deputy Chief of Staff

She replaced Justine Freeman who transferred to a newly created position as the city’s “chief impact officer” and is paid  $131,000 per year.

NEW SUPERINTENDENT OF POLICE REFORM HIRED

On March 9, 2021, Mayor Tim Keller announced the creations of the new position of “Superintendent of Police Reform” and Deputy Chief Administrative Officer to oversee the implementation of the Department of Justice (DOJ) reforms of APD.  According to the job description, the Superintendent salary is $155,001.60 to $185,016.00 and oversees all APD academy operations including cadet training and education as well as Department of Justice (DOJ) reform efforts, internal affairs and has the final say on police disciplinary matters.

One paragraph of the job description for the position of Superintendent of Police Reform is worth noting:

“Recognizing what the Department of Justice has described as the inherent need for internal affairs to exercise independence and have some separation from institutional politics and pressures, the Superintendent will also directly oversee all internal affairs matters related to the Police Department. Exercising the delegated authority of the CAO, the Superintendent will have the final say on police disciplinary matters. The Superintendent will ensure consistency and fairness in the application of disciplinary policies and compliance with CASA requirements related to discipline. The Superintendent will also develop policies and practices to ensure that the Police Department has a wide range of tools to foster culture change, in addition to discipline.”

After a so-called national search, the first Superintendent of Police Reform Keller appointed was Sylvester Stanley who retired at the end of December of 2021, a mere 8 months after his appointment.  According to the listing of the 250 top paid city hall employees, Stanley was paid $123,219.28 for his 8 months of city employment.

After Stanley departed, Keller quickly announced that a “national search” would be conducted.  Almost a full 4 months went by, and on Monday, April 25, Mayor Tim Keller announced in a press release that he had nominated La Tesha Watson, Ph.D., as the new Superintendent of Police Reform to be confirmed by the Albuquerque City Council. Dr. LaTesha Watson has 25 years of policing experience most recently served as the director of the Office of Public Safety Accountability for Sacramento having served in that position since April, 2020. Prior to that she was the chief of the Henderson Police Department in Nevada for 16 months

Mayor Keller had this to say about the appointment:

“We’ve put a lot of work into considering what reform means for our community, and how we reach important goals that allow our department to do the best job of protecting and serving the people of Albuquerque. … This means putting leaders in place who understand that there’s a balance, and who will work to break down roadblocks.”

Reaction to the Watson appointment was very positive among the Amici Parties in the Federal Lawsuit involved with the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA).

Dr. Watson’s nomination was very short lived.  On May 3, one week after the Dr. LaTesha Watson appointment was announced, the Keller Administration issued a press release announcing it was not moving forward with her appointment. In the press release announcing her nomination withdrawal, the Keller Administration said in part:

“After the final round of in-person discussions with Dr. LaTesha Watson, the [Keller] administration has chosen to not to proceed with her nomination to the position of Superintendent of Reform for the Albuquerque Police Department. Watson recently concluded a site visit and a series of meetings with City and Department Executive Staff as part of her nomination for confirmation.

Watson brought alternative ideas and views about the path forward on reform, but the candidate and the administration identified key differences in our approach to the role and for continued progress in Albuquerque.

During the visit to Albuquerque, Watson put forward a proposal for restructuring the role in a manner that ultimately did not align with the position that the city is hiring for, as outlined in the job description created last year to meet the specific needs of APD. The administration determined that her alternative approach could in fact hold back recent progress made in the Department of Justice consent decree. … ”

The Superintendent of Reform was created last year by the City to bring individual accountability and leadership to reform, create differential use of force and discipline processes from APD chain of command, and add overall governance to the reform process. The position is also designed to enable the Chief of Police to better focus on crime fighting.”

YET ANOTHER NEW SUPERINTENDENT OF POLICE REFORM HIRED

On August 31, 2022, after passage of another 4 months without s Superintendant of Police Reform, Mayor Keller announced the appointment of retired Republican Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court Judge Victor Valdez to serve as the city’s new Superintendent of Police Reform. Prior to becoming a Metro Judge, Valdez was a Deputy City Attorney under then City Attorney Bob White and prior to that he practiced law for 15 years, specializing in civil rights.

The appointment of Judge Valdez raised more than a few eyebrows amongst the Amici Parties and observers of the Federal Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA). Mayor Keller’s had promised to conduct a national search but that promise appears to have disappeared in thin air after the disastrous mishandling of the Watson appointment.

Judge Valdez was a respected Metro Judge.  However, Valdez has absolutely no experience in the implementation of federal police reforms anywhere, he has never overseen police internal affairs in any police department, he has never been responsible for police disciplinary matters, functions and processes and he has never dealt with APD academy operations, cadet training and education, all of which are required under the job description for Superintendent of Police Reform.

Simply put, Judge Victor Valdez credentials for the position of Superintendent of Police Reform are dubious at best and its liklly he is not a good fit for the job.  He is essentially an unknown to those involved with the Court Approved Settlement Agreement process.  During the last 7 years of the Court Approved Settlement Agreement, Judge Valdez has never attended a single federal court hearing on the CASA. His actual knowledge of the CASA in all likelihood is negligible at best and he has 7 years of catching up to do when it comes to the 261 mandated reforms

The rational for Judge Valdez’ appointment as Superintendent of Police Reform is an absolute mystery to many, other than being a political appointment because of his prior work as an Assistant City Attorney working under then City Attorney Bob White who is now Associate Chief Administrative Officer.

COMMUNICATIONS AND MARKETING

Mayor Tim Keller is known for his never ending, almost daily press conferences. Keller has taken photo ops to an all-new level by 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 and videos on his FACEBOOK page.

Mayor Keller has also implemented a public relations and marketing campaign to rebrand the city image with his “One ABQ” slogan. Keller has come up with a strained logo that rearranges the city’s name to reflect the slang name for the city as “BURQUE” in red. Slick videos to present the city in a positive image have been produced which can be viewed here https://onealbuquerque.com/

Given his penchant for public relations, it should come as no surprise that the number of unclassified city employees in communications or marketing has more than doubled under Keller during his 5 years in office.  12 new positions in communications or marketing have been created since Keller took office. That is in addition to 8 in communications and marketing-related roles that predated Keller with a total of 20 positions in communications or marketing.

OTHER POSTIONS CREATED

Many of the new unclassified employees are in high-ranking administrative positions.  The city created 2 new Associate Chief Administrative Officers, 3 new Associate Directors and 16 new Deputy Directors, though 2 deputies are for the newly created Albuquerque Community Safety Department, with all being paid upwards of $100,000.

Albuquerque Fire and Rescue (AFR) Deputy Chiefs and the Fire Chief are “at will” employees and they are all paid $100,000 or more. Further, all 311 call center employees, which number around 45  are “at will” employees, but thier salaries are about $40,000 a year.

APD GETS LION’S SHARE

It is APD that has been given the lion’s share of the newly created positions under Keller.  There are 117 people in unclassified positions at APD added since Keller became Mayor.   20 positions, mostly investigators have been added to APD’s Internal Affairs with 17 new APD police service aide positions added.  Chief Harold Medina has also hired 3 new APD Deputy Chiefs, when historically there have only been 3, and added 3 new Commanders and 8 new Deputy Commanders.

The Albuquerque Police Department (APD) is the largest city budget out of 27 departments. The fiscal year 2023 approved General Fund budget is $255.4 million, which represents an increase of 14.7% or $32.8 million above the fiscal year 2022 level. The approved General Fund civilian count is 665 and sworn count is 1,100 for a total of 1,765 full-time positions.

APD’s general fund budget of $255.4 provides funding for 1,100 full time sworn police officers, with the department fully funded for 1,100 sworn police for the past 3 years. However, there are currently 875 sworn officers in APD. The APD budget provides funding for 1,100 in order to accommodate growth. During APD’s budget review hearing, APD Chief Medina acknowledged that the department will likely not meet that staffing level and the personnel funds will help cover other operating costs.

The APD’s budget was increased to accommodate for an immediate 8% in police pay and another 5% in police pay to begin in July because of the new police union contract. The APD budget provides for a net total increase of $1.2 million in overtime pay to accommodate the police union contract hourly rate increase that went into effect on January 1, 2022.

NEW LEVEL OF BUREACRACY AND PAY LEVELS CREATED

During the last 4 years, the APD high command that works directly out of the Chief’s Office went from 3 to 10 full time sworn staff. Those positions are Chief, Superintendent Of Police Reform, Deputy Superintendent of Police Reform, 6 Deputy Chiefs, 1 Chief of Staff. Although APD abolished the ranking of Major that existed 4 years ago, which there were only 4, it has created the new position of “Deputy Commanders” which there are 16. The 16 “Deputy Commander” positions create a whole new level of bureaucracy and management between Commanders and Lieutenants that is highly questionable as to duties and responsibilities other than “assisting” commanders, perhaps as the commander’s drivers and escorts around town.

The hourly pay rate for APD Lieutenants is $40.00 an hour or $83,200 yearly. Commanders and Deputy Commanders are paid upwards of $93,000 a year in base salary and with overtime they can easily earn well over $100,000 a year and as much as $120,000 as evidenced by those listed in the top 250 wage earners for the city. Therefore, with the creation of 16 Assistant Commanders, a least $1.6 million in line-item salary has been added to the APD bureaucracy.

COMPARING 2017 APD STAFFING LEVELSTO 2021 REVEALS NEW LEVEL OF BUEROCRACY OF “DEPUTY COMMANDERS” CREATED

During the December 16, 2021, court hearing before Federal Judge James Browning on the Federal Monitor’s 14th Compliance Report for the Court Approved Settlement Agreement, APD reported on the “rebuilding” of APD during the past 4 years by comparing APD staffing levels on December 7, 2017, to the December 6, 2021, staffing levels. Following are the statistics provided to the court:

DECEMBER 7, 2017 APD STAFFING LEVELS

Full Sworn Officer Count: 836

1 APD Chief

1 Assistant Chief

1 Deputy Chief

3 Majors

13 Commanders

33 Lieutenant

105 Sergeants

680 Patrol Officers

Note that the APD high command that worked directly out of the Chief’s Office consisted of 6 sworn APD staff: APD Chief, Assistant Chief, Deputy Chief and 3 Majors.

DECEMBER 6, 2021 STAFFING LEVELS

Full Sworn Officer Count: 917

1 APD Chief,

1 Superintendent of Police Reform,

1 Deputy Superintendent of Police Reform,

6 Deputy Chiefs (3 new Deputy potions created and added)

1 Chief of Staff

12 Commanders,

14 Deputy Commanders

44 Lieutenants

113 Sergeants,

731 Patrol Officers

2 Sworn CSA’s

Note that the that the APD high command that worked directly out of the Chief’s Office went from 6 to 10 employees and consists of Chief, Superintendent of Police Reform, Deputy Superintendent of Police Reform, 6 Deputy Chiefs and one Chief of Staff.  There are now 12 Commanders and 14 Deputy Commanders.   There are now a total of 36 command staff employees who are all unclassified, at will employees and can be terminated without cause.

The positions of 44 Lieutenants, 113 Sergeants and 731 Patrol Officers, for a total of 888, are all classified employees, can only be terminated for cause and can be members of the police union.

ALBUQUERQUE COMMUNITY SAFETY DEPARTMENT

The ACS currently accounts for 43 of the unclassified employees in jobs created under Keller’s administration.

It was in fiscal year 2021, the Keller Administration created the Albuquerque Community Safety Department (ACS) with an initial budget of $2.5 million. The ACS dispatches trained and unarmed professionals to respond to 9-1-1 calls that do not require a police or paramedic response.  ACS responds to hundreds of calls per month, easing the burden on police and paramedics and improving outcomes on behavioral health calls. It is the ACS that that are responding to homeless encampments.

The ACS consists of social workers and mental health care workers to deal with those suffering from a mental health crisis or drug addiction crisis and they are dispatched in lieu of sworn police or fire emergency medical paramedics.

The fiscal year 2022 budget for ACS was $7.7 million and the fiscal year 2023 proposed budget doubles the amount to $15.5 million to continue the service of responding to calls for service and perform outreach for inebriation, homelessness, addiction, and other issues that do not require police or EMT response.

The Fiscal Year 2023 proposed budget was for $15 million to provide funding to add 74 new positions to make it a 24/7 round-the-clock operation across the city. However, at the Keller Administration’s request during the budget hearing, the council voted to fund the new jobs for only part of next year under the assumption they would not all be filled as of July 1.

LIST OF 250 TOP CITY HALL WAGE EARNERS

At the end of each calendar year, City Hall releases the top 250 wage earners. The list of 250 top city hall wages earners is what is paid for the full calendar year of January 1, to December 31 of any given year. The City of Albuquerque updated the list for the year 2021.

According to the list of the top 250 city hall wage earners, they were paid between $119,356.16 to $211,144.75. The City of Albuquerque has 26 separate departments.  21 of the 26 Departments have assigned to them employees listed in the top 250 wage earners.

The list of 250 top wage earners includes both classified and unclassified positions with 146 listed positions assigned to APD and 48 assigned to the Fire Department for a total of 194 positions out of the 250.  The remaining 56 positions earning between $119,356.16 to $211,144.75 are scattered throughout 19 other departments. 16 are assigned to City Support, 9 to Municipal Development, 5 to Finance Admin Services, 4 to the Chief Administrative Office, 3 to City Legal, 3 to Cultural Services, 2 to each to Human Resources, Technology and Innovation and Parks and Recreation and 1 each to the Planning Department, Environmental Health, Office of the City Clerk, Family Community Services, Mayor’s Office, Animal Welfare, Senior Affairs, Solid Waste, Aviation and Council Services.

The top upper commands of the APD and Fire Departments and Chief Offices and Deputies are unclassified, with a balance of upwards of 40 employees of the 250 top paid positions being “unclassified”, at will positions, with those employees assigned to other departments.

The link to the top 250 wage earners listing names, titles and salaries paid can be found here:

https://publicreports.cabq.gov/ibmcognos/bi/?perspective=classicviewer&pathRef=.public_folders%2FTransparency%2FTop%20Earners%20of%20the%20City%20of%20Albuquerque%20List&id=i5AAD1EA752BA417099BA819E482F6642&objRef=i5AAD1EA752BA417099BA819E482F6642&action=run&format=HTML&cmPropStr=%7B%22id%22%3A%22i5AAD1EA752BA417099BA819E482F6642%22%2C%22type%22%3A%22report%22%2C%22defaultName%22%3A%22Top%20Earners%20of%20the%20City%20of%20Albuquerque%20List%22%2C%22permissions%22%3A%5B%22execute%22%2C%22traverse%22%5D%7D

DEFENSE AND REACTIONS TO INCREASE IN UNCLASSFIED POSITIONS 

Chief Administrative Officer Lawrence Rael defended the increase in the number of unclassified positions as necessary.  Rael noted that many of the new positions are tied to the U.S. Department of Justice mandated reform as well as the creation of the newly created Albuquerque Community Safety Department. Rael attributed the mushrooming communications workforce in part to the broader media landscape “including digital and social platforms that government didn’t use 10 years ago” as well as the administration’s overall strategy.

Rael said the number of new unclassified jobs reflects the size of municipal government operations and he said in a statement:

“The changing needs of a growing city require more out of city government. … [The size of the city operation] requires high-level talent to manage its many departments and work effectively. … Albuquerque has grown, and government leadership needs to grow with it.  …  We prioritize being responsive and transparent to both the media and the public. …  That can’t happen without people in place to carry out those functions.”

Two city councilors questioned the need for some of the unclassified employee growth under Keller with on asserting that it was political to promote Keller’s ambitions.

Democrat Councilor Pat Davis said the police department positions are hard to argue against because APD remains subject to the Federal Court Approved Settlement agreement and the mandated reform.   However, Davis did say he has concerns since Keller’s early days in office about the number of “unclassified marketing and communications personnel” in the mayoral administration’s reporting chain, even if their jobs are funded by individual department budgets. Davis had this to say:

“I think there’s just a general sense that these [unclassified] positions more serve the agenda of the mayor than the day-to-day work of the city and you generally see them in places like marketing and not out in the street engaging directly with [the general public].”

Davis said the city clearly needs more workers in that the city vacancy rate as of this summer was about 20%.  There is a shortage of city employees in areas of bus drivers and 911 call operators.

Republican Councilor Dan Lewis called the unclassified employee expansion under Keller outrageous” and at a scale he did not see under the Republican Mayor Berry administration when Lewis was a city councilor before for the full 8 years Berry was in offce. Lewis specifically challenged the necessity of added upper-management and communications personnel and said:

“We don’t need more managers. … We need people to get things done to produce results.”

https://www.abqjournal.com/2531378/city-governments-unclassified-workforce-grows-under-keller.html

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

It’s very difficult to accept the dramatic increase in the sure number of city hall unclassified employees earning in excess of $100,000 a year.  Many of the positions are Mayor Keller’s appointed cronies and department heads.  Many of those hired are dedicated to city marketing, promotions and communications who are in essence promoting all things good about Tim Keller and in the best light possible.

With that said, City Councilors Pat Davis and Dan Lewis reflect a level of hypocrisy with their criticism of Keller.

Davis has been on the city council for the full 5 years Keller has been in office and has voted for all 5 city budgets Keller has submitted to the council and not once has he ever offered a single amendment to cut any city hall positions or to cut salaries.

Dan Lewis calling the unclassified employee expansion under Keller outrageous” is true, but so is Lewis’ hypocrisy in going along and voting for a full 8 years along party lines with former Republican Mayor Richard Berry’s budget priorities, including the disastrous ART Bus project without so much of a single objection.

Both Davis and Lewis voted for Keller’s 2022-2023 $1.4 Billion dollar budget without sponsoring a single amendment to cut any city hall positions or to cut salaries, and for them to complain now is indeed laughable and politcal opportunism.

 

KOB 4/Survey USA Poll: Gov MLG: 48%, Ronchetti 36%; Journal Poll: Gov. MLG 47%,  Ronchetti 40%; Both Have Hefty Amounts Of Campaign Cash

On September 14, KOB Channel 4 published a “4 Investigates Poll” on the New Mexico Governor’s race it commissioned with Survey USA.  The results of the poll in the Governor’s race revealed that Democrat Governor Michell Lujan Grisham has now busted out a double-digit lead over Republican Mark Ronchetti.  The results of the poll reported are:

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham: 48%

Republican Mark Ronchetti: 36%

Libertarian Karen Bedonie: 5%

Undecided: 11%

The link to the KOB 4 report is here:

https://www.kob.com/news/top-news/4-investigates-poll-mlg-has-12-point-advantage-over-ronchetti/

POLL ANALYSIS

Following is the poll’s narrative analysis:

PARTY AFFILIATION

Governor Luajn Grisham has the backing of 88% of Democrats.

Lujan Grisham leads by an 83-point margin among both Democrats and liberals, and by 82 points among Biden voters.

Ronchetti has the backing of 76% Republicans.  Ronchetti leads among Republicans  by 67 points, among those who voted for Donald Trump in 2020 with 66%, and among conservatives by 38 points.

GENDER

Lujan Grisham is up by 18 points support among women with 51%.

Ronchetti has 33% support among women.

Lujan Grisham has 45% support among men.

Ronchetti has 39% support among men.

AGE

Lujan Grisham  leads by 20 points among voters under age 50, but by 7 points among those 50+.

ETHNICITY

White voters back Ronchetti by an 8-point margin.

Latinos prefer Lujan Grisham by 33 points at 59%.

INCOME LEVELS

Lujan Grisham leads in lower and middle-income households.

Lujan Grisham and Ronchetti are effectively tied in upper-income households, with Ronchetti nominally ahead.

THE ISSUES

On issues, the Governor leads by 67 points among the 23% who say the environment is among the most important issues to them, by 50 points among the 7% focused on housing, by 46 points among the 29% who will be focused on abortion when casting their ballots, by 44 points among the 34% focused on healthcare, and by 10 percentage points among the 23% focused on education.

On the issues, Ronchetti leads by 43 points among the 1 in 3 voters who say immigration and border security are among the issues most likely to influence their votes this November, by 5 points among those who list inflation and the economy as a top issue (59% of the electorate).

Ronchetti and Lujan Grisham are effectively tied among the 58% of voters who say crime and public safety is a top issue.

CRIME

Crime is considered the Governors vulnerability, with Ronchetti making it the cornerstone of his campaign, yet she managed to outpoll Ronchetti on the issue:

Governor MLG:  44%

Ronchettis: 41%

ABORTION

Abortion and a woman’s right to choose is considered the defining issue in the race for Governor and the poll results confirm that:

68% support the Governor on the issue.

22% support Ronchetti.

ABOUT THE POLL

SurveyUSA interviewed a representative cross-section of 840 New Mexico adults online 09/08/22 through 09/12/22.  Of the adults, 665 were registered to vote. Of the registered voters, 558 were identified by SurveyUSA as being likely to vote in the November 2022 general election and were asked poll questions.  The pool of adult survey respondents was weighted to US Census targets for gender, age, race, education, and home ownership.  The poll has a relatively high margin of error of 5.7 percent.

The link to review further the poll results and analysis is here:

SurveyUSA Election Poll #26477

ABQ JOURNAL POLL

On Sunday, August 28, the Albuquerque Journal released it first poll in the 2022 Governor’s race between Democrat Incumbent Michell Lujan Grisham and Republican TV weatherman Mark Ronchetti.  The poll was conducted by Research and Polling which for decades has done all political polling for the Journal and with polling firm considered the gold standard in New Mexico political polling because of its consistent accuracy.

RESULTS OF JOURNAL POLL

The poll asked the question “If the election for Governor were held today, who would you vote for? “ The poll results reported were:

Democrat Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham: 47%

Republican Mark Ronchetti: 40%

Libertarian Karen Bedoni: 5%

UNDECIDED: 8%

Abortion is considered the defining issue in the governor’s race. On August 29, the Albuquerque Journal released it poll on the issue.

  The poll asked the question “WHICH COMES CLOSEST TO YOUR VIEW ON ABORTION” The results were as follows:

It should always be legal:  35%

It should be legal with some limitations: 22%

It should be illegal except for rape, incest, or to save the mother’s life: 25%

It should always be illegal: 12%

Don’t know: 2%

None of these/won’t say: 4%

POLITCAL PARTY BREAKDOWN

The poll results were broken down according to party affiliation. The responses to the poll question by party affiliation were as follows:

It should always be legal:

Democrats: 55%

Republicans: 8%

Other: 35%

It should be legal with some limitations:

Democrats: 24%

Republicans: 18%

Other: 26%

It should be illegal except for rape, incest, or to save the mother’s life:

Democrats: 11%

Republicans: 41%

Other: 28%

It should always be illegal:

Democrats: 5%

Republicans: 24%

Other: 8%

ABOUT THE JOURNAL POLL

“The Journal Poll was based on a scientific, statewide sample of 518 voters who cast ballots in the 2018 and/or 2020 general election and who said they are likely to vote in the upcoming election. The poll was conducted from Aug. 19 through Aug. 25. All interviews were conducted by live, professional interviewers, with multiple callbacks to households that did not initially answer the phone. Both cellphone numbers (79%) and landlines (21%) of proven general election voters were used. The voter sample has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points.”

FOLLOW THE MONEY

On September 12, the candidates for Governor filed their latest campaign finance reports. It covered a two-month period.

GOVERNOR MICHELL LUJAN GRISHAM

The Governor reported an opening balance of $2,749,077.80

Total Monetary Contributions the reporting period was $2,590,990.40 c.

Total Expenditures the Reporting Period was $2,376,845.55

The closing balance for the  Reporting Period was $2,963,222.65

Total In-Kind Contributions the Reporting Period was $12,225.00

The Governor reported raising nearly $2.6 million, bringing her total fundraising for her reelection campaign to slightly more than $10 million which is more than the $9.7 million raised when first running for governor in 2018. Currently, Lujan Grisham has roughly $3 million in her campaign account with less than two months until Election Day.

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s campaign finance report can be viewed here:

https://login.cfis.sos.state.nm.us//Files/ReportsOutput//103/d7180219-a9c4-4b5c-bf47-b846e82a0df3.pdf

MARK RONCHETTI

Mark Ronchetti reported and opening balance of $1,415,075.12

Total Monetary Contributions the Reporting Period were $2,402,094.31

Total Expenditures the Reporting Period were $1,404,539.04 d.

The Closing Balance was $2,412,630.39

Total In-Kind Contributions this Reporting Period was $10,996.52

Ronchetti reported raising $2.4 million during the same reporting period. He spent roughly $1.4 million on TV ads and other expenses, leaving upwards $2.4 million in his campaign war chest.

Republican Mark Ronchetti’s finance report can be viewed here:

https://login.cfis.sos.state.nm.us//Files/ReportsOutput//103/dda701b4-b57f-4837-9a4a-837037175310.pdf

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

There is less than two months left before the November 2 general election, but in politics that can be an eternity, and anything can happen.  Notwithstanding, Governor Lujan Grisham has led in the polls throughout the race and she has now busted out a two-digit lead over Ronchetti.  Debates still remain, anything can happen including missteps by the candidates and both candidates have hefty amounts of campaign cash that make it certain that the race is far from over.

Chief Justice John Roberts Defends Legitimacy of US Supreme Court; Confidence In Supreme Court At Historic Low; Court Dockets Cases That Will Interfere With Elections To Disenfranchise Voters To Benefit Republicans

On September 10, Chief Justice John Roberts defended the authority of the Supreme Court to interpret the Constitution, saying its role should not be called into question just because people disagree with its decisions. When asked to reflect on the last year at the court in his first public appearance since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Roberts said he was concerned that lately some critics of the court’s controversial decisions have questioned the legitimacy of the court, which he said was a mistake.

Chief Justice John Roberts was quoted as saying:

“The court has always decided controversial cases and decisions always have been subject to intense criticism and that is entirely appropriate.  … If the court doesn’t retain its legitimate function of interpreting the constitution, I’m not sure who would take up that mantle.  You don’t want the political branches telling you what the law is, and you don’t want public opinion to be the guide about what the appropriate decision is.”

Roberts also said it was “gut wrenching” to drive into the Supreme Court that was surrounded by barricades every day. The barriers were installed in May when protests erupted outside the court and outside the homes of some Supreme Court justices after there was an unprecedented leak of a draft opinion indicating the justices were planning to overturn Roe v. Wade, which provided women constitutional protections for abortion for nearly 50 years.

The link to quoted source material is here:

https://apnews.com/article/abortion-us-supreme-court-denver-public-opinion-john-roberts-6921c22df48b105cdff5fabdc6c459bb

https://theweek.com/supreme-court/1014626/us-confidence-in-supreme-court-plummets-to-record-low-gallup-finds

CONFIDENCE IN U.S. SUPREME COURT SINKS TO HISTORIC LOW

On June 23, a Gallup poll reported that confidence in the Unites States Supreme court has dropped sharply over the past year and reached a new low in Gallup’s nearly 50-year trend. Twenty-five percent of U.S. adults say they have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in the U.S. Supreme Court, down from 36% a year ago, and five percentage points lower than the previous low recorded in 2014.

The prior low in Supreme Court confidence was 30% in 2014, which was also the year when confidence in major U.S. institutions in general hit a low point, averaging 31%.

Public confidence in the Supreme Court has been lower over the past 16 years than it was before. Between 1973 and 2006, an average of 47% of U.S. adults were confident in the court. During this 33-year period, no fewer than four in 10 Americans expressed high confidence in the court in any survey, apart from a 39% reading in October 1991 taken during the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings. Since 2006, confidence has averaged 35% and has not exceeded 40% in any survey.

“Confidence in the Supreme Court is down by double digits among both Democrats (30% to 13%) and independents (40% to 25%), but it is essentially unchanged among Republicans (37% to 39%).

The Democratic figure is the lowest Supreme Court confidence rating Gallup has measured for any party group historically, eight points lower than the 21% figure among Democrats in 2019. Independents’ 25% confidence rating is the lowest registered for that group historically, with the prior low being 28% in 2015.

 Republican confidence has been lower in the past than now, with the 26% measured in 2010 still the lowest for GOP supporters to date. That low point occurred after Barack Obama picked a liberal justice, Sonia Sotomayor, in 2009 and nominated another, Elena Kagan, in 2010 before the poll was conducted.

 While Republicans’ confidence hasn’t changed much in the past year, it has come down significantly from 53% in 2020. That measure was taken during Donald Trump’s reelection year — after he had two of his nominees confirmed to the Supreme Court, but before a third Trump justice was confirmed days prior to his being defeated for reelection in November.”

The link to the Gallup poll results is here:

https://news.gallup.com/poll/394103/confidence-supreme-court-sinks-historic-low.aspx

SUPREME COURT DOCKETS REPUBLICAN POLITICAL AGENDA

On June 6, it was reported that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments in a North Carolina redistricting challenge that could have profound implications for how states manage presidential and congressional elections. The appeal from North Carolina Republican lawmakers could significantly weaken the ability of state courts nationwide to review laws for federal elections at a time when the Supreme Court has become increasingly partisan.

The case of Moore v. Harper involves and appeal where the North Carolina Supreme Court undid an extreme partisan gerrymander of the state’s congressional map that would have given Republicans a large advantage in races for House seats. Several Republican state legislators asked the Supreme Court to restore the biased map for this spring’s primary elections. Their emergency filings claimed that the North Carolina state supreme court didn’t have the power to even review the legislatively drawn congressional map, despite the fact that the map violated several guarantees in the state’s constitution, because, in their view, neither state courts nor state constitutions should have a say in how federal elections are run. Republicans are challenging not only whether the North Carolina court got its decision right but also whether state courts have any role to play in reviewing laws passed by legislatures that deal with federal elections.

Links to quoted and related sources

https://www.supremecourt.gov/search.aspx?filename=/docket/docketfiles/html/public/21-1271.html

https://portside.org/2022-07-14/case-could-blow-american-election-law?utm_medium=email&utm_source=portside-snapshot

Republicans control a majority of state legislatures and there is a coordinated effort to disenfranchise voters by not allowing for “mail in” balloting and requiring in person voting on election day. Americans are losing faith in elections after years of hearing false claims of widespread fraud from former President Der Führer Donald Trump and his allies. After the 2020 presidential elections and Der Führer Trump’s unfounded allegations of voter fraud, Republican control legislatures rushed to change their election laws asserting election law reforms were needed to protect the vote from widespread fraud when there is no fraud.

At the center of the dispute is a clause in the Constitution that delegates responsibility for federal election rules to the “legislature” of each state subject to oversight by Congress. Republicans are saying the plain meaning of the constitution is that state legislatures, and only state legislatures, have the power to set those rules. Such a reading of the clause would cut governors, election officials and state courts out of the rulemaking process giving all power over federal elections to the legislatures who could simply invalidate an election saying it was fraudulent.

At least 4 of the conservative justices have already signaled varying levels of interest in the idea of giving legislatures more power, embracing “the independent state legislature doctrine”. Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh said that the North Carolina lawsuit presented an “important” question and that “both sides” had “advanced serious arguments.” Kavanaugh and Chief Justice John Roberts have long been viewed as near the ideological center of the court but given how they voted to overturn “Roe v. Wade”, they could easily change their minds and Kavanaugh has shown he is not above lying saying he is impartial and has not made a decision as he did with Roe v. Wade.

Michael Kang, a law professor and elections expert at Northwestern University had this to say:

“We’re in a different era now that we really opened the door to – however you want to think about it – manipulating or changing the election law in ways that seem designed to advantage one side. … “

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2022/06/30/supreme-court-takes-appeal-could-affect-2024-election-rules/7660635001/

VOTING RIGHTS NOT THE ONLY THING SUPREME COURT WANTS TO DETROY

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is a “strict constructionist” in interpreting the United States Constitution. Strict constitutional constructionist stands for the proposition that that a constitutional right does not exist if it is not specifically provided for in the constitution and such rights are reserved for the states to decide. Such rights include same sex marriage, access to birth control, the right to privacy and perhaps even inter racial marriage.

Justice Thomas writes that the Supreme Court should reconsider rights like birth control and same sex marriage in future decisions. Thomas agreed that the Roe v. Wade reversal ruling itself does not apply to other cases saying “the court’s abortion cases are unique” because they involve protecting a life and justices only considered this one set of circumstances, rather than rights granted through “substantive due process” as a whole.

However, Justice Thomas wrote in his concurring opinion:

“In future cases, we should follow the text of the Constitution, which sets forth certain substantive rights that cannot be taken away, and adds, beyond that, a right to due process when life, liberty, or property is to be taken away. … Substantive due process conflicts with that textual command and has harmed our country in many ways. Accordingly, we should eliminate it from our jurisprudence at the earliest opportunity.”

Justice Thomas specifically said the court “should consider” reversing other precedents and he wrote:

“In future cases, we should reconsider all of this court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell. … After overruling these demonstrably erroneous decisions, the question would remain whether other constitutional provisions guarantee the myriad rights that our substantive due process cases have generated.”

Thomas argued that using the due process clause to uphold these rights is a “legal fiction” that’s “particularly dangerous” and believes the court should issue a ruling saying the court cannot grant civil rights using that legal argument.

With his dissent, Justice Clarence Thomas invites a reversal of many constitutional rights not found in the constitution, including gay marriage. The United States Constitution also does not contain any provision that marriage is a constitutional right. Thomas is married to a white woman and the question is if he will also want to reverse the case of Loving v. Virginia where the United Sates Supreme Court case struck down state laws banning interracial marriage in the United States.

The plaintiffs in the case were Richard and Mildred Loving, a white man and Black woman whose marriage was deemed illegal according to Virginia state law. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that “anti-miscegenation” statutes were unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment. The decision is often cited as a watershed moment in the dismantling of “Jim Crow” race laws.

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

It is clear that Chief Justice John Roberts is totally out of touch as to what is going on in the country or he is simply lying to himself how much his court has now become so politized to the point it has become a threat to our very democracy in order to favor a Republican political agenda.

Thomas Jefferson himself warned of “strict constructionist” like Clarence Thomas in interpreting the United States Constitution. Thomas Jefferson warned us not to regard the United States Constitution as sacred writ too sacred to be touched but a document that must “keep pace with the times”. On July 12, 1816, Jefferson wrote:

“Some men look at constitutions with sanctimonious reverence, and deem them like the ark of the covenant, too sacred to be touched. They ascribe to the men of the preceding age a wisdom more than human and suppose what they did to be beyond amendment.

I knew that age well; I belonged to it, and labored with it. It deserved well of its country. It was very like the present, but without the experience of the present; and forty years of experience in government is worth a century of book-reading; and this they would say themselves, were they to rise from the dead.

I am certainly not an advocate for frequent and untried changes in laws and constitutions. I think moderate imperfections had better be borne with; because, when once known, we accommodate ourselves to them, and find practical means of correcting their ill effects.

But I know also, that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.

https://www.governing.com/context/americas-constitution-in-2021-what-would-thomas-jefferson-do#:~:text=Thomas%20Jefferson%20warned%20us%20not,too%20sacred%20to%20be%20touched.

The United States Supreme Court since its very inception has been viewed with a unique “sense of awe” and respect because it consistently interpreted the United States Constitution as a “living, evolving document” meaning one that evolved and ensured and protected civil rights and remedies to conform with changing times, changing norms, changing viewpoints.

Thomas Jefferson said it best:

“Laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times.”

Without such constitutional evolution, slavery would still exist in the United States, woman would not be allowed to vote, discrimination based on a person’s gender, race, color or religion would be allowed, interracial marriage would be illegal, and the doctrine of “sperate but equal” and Jim Crow laws would still be the law of the land.

The United States Supreme Court’s legitimacy has always depended upon the public perceiving the court and its decisions as being based on the rule of law, prior precedent known as “stare decisis” and not partisan politics. So much so that labels such as “liberal”“progressive”“moderate” and “conservative” are used in referring to Supreme Court Justices’ philosophies instead of party affiliations. Supreme Court Justice’s and federal judge’s party affiliations are never identified or reported by the media and it’s a charade.

THE POLITICAL REPUBLICAN TRUMP COURT

The very nature of the process of selecting a Supreme Court Justices is as partisan as it gets. The overlap between “judicial ideology” and the “political ideology” and party affiliation of those who select supreme court justices is undeniable to the point that they have come to be one and the same. The President nominating and the Senate having a confirmation process leads to the selection of Supreme Court Justices whose ideological approach to interpreting the law is identical with the views shared by the political party in power in the White House and the US Senate.

Ryan C. Williams, assistant professor of law at Boston College Law School, put it in perspective in a column written for MSNBC when he wrote:

“The polarized nature of our politics has contributed to a court that is closely divided on numerous hot-button political issues — such as abortion, gun rights, campaign finance regulation and affirmative action. In the 1980s and 1990s, the partisan nature of these divisions was mitigated to some extent by justices whose views did not match the ideology associated with the political party of the president who appointed them, such as David Souter and Byron White. But since the 2010 retirement of [the very liberal] John Paul Stevens, appointed by President Gerald Ford, all of the Justices appointed by Republican presidents have been recognizably more conservative than the justices appointed by Democrats.

The court’s perceived partisan orientation has been further exacerbated by the gamesmanship and spectacle surrounding confirmations. The court’s three most recent appointees — Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Barrett — have each taken office amidst controversy. Gorsuch’s appointment was made possible by the Republican-controlled Senate’s decision to deny a hearing or vote to Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s nominee to fill the vacancy created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, resulting in a 14-month vacancy on the court. Kavanaugh’s confirmation was placed in jeopardy by accusations of sexual assault that he denied, leading to a highly contentious and much-publicized confirmation hearing. Barrett’s confirmation was rapidly pushed through the Senate shortly before the 2020 election by the same Republican Senate leaders who had earlier used the pending presidential election as an excuse not to vote on Garland.

The willingness of Republican politicians to play hardball with the confirmation process and the resulting shift in the balance of power on the court has left raw feelings on the left and led to increasing calls for retaliatory measures — including court-packing. The nominees were not themselves the architects of these strategies. But nor were they mere passive bystanders. Their willingness to accept and press forward with their nominations involved at least a degree of cooperation with the sharply partisan methods through which their appointments were secured.”

https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/supreme-court-justices-say-institution-must-be-nonpartisan-they-make-ncna1279280

Part of the greatness of the Supreme Court has always been that the public has had a tremendous respect for the Supreme Court because it has been viewed by and large as “fair and impartial” and “a political” not subservient to any political party nor religious philosophy. With the reversal of Roe v. Wade and the reversal of a well settled constitutional right for women, the United State Supreme Court has lost its legitimacy and credibility with the American people.

As the saying goes, elections have consequences. The 2022 midterm elections are shaping up to be one of the most consequential elections in our history where the Supreme Court is on the ballot as well as the control of congress, not to mention our basic right to vote in an election.

A story has been told and retold about another founding father Benjamin Franklin. Franklin was walking out of Independence Hall after the Constitutional Convention in 1787, when someone shouted out, “Doctor, what have we got? A republic or a monarchy?” To which Franklin supposedly responded, “A republic, if you can keep it.”