APD Staffing Levels: 970 Sworn Police; 300 More Needed

The Mayor of Albuquerque, the Chief Administrative Office (CAO) for the City and the Chief of Police are the top 3 management personnel that oversees the Albuquerque Police Department (APD). The Mayor appoints the CAO and the APD Chief. There are 5 appointed Deputy Police Chiefs.

APD has an approved general fund budget for fiscal year 2019-2020 of $188.9 million dollars, which represents an increase of 10.7% or $18.3 million above last year’s budget. According to the approved budget, APD has 1,560 approved full-time positions with 1,040 sworn police budgeted positions and 520 budgeted civilian positions. You can review the entire APD approved budget here:

http://documents.cabq.gov/budget/fy-19-approved-budget.pdf (Page 209)

The Albuquerque Police Department (APD ) has five major bureaus:

1. The Field Services Bureau
2. Investigative Bureau
3. The Compliance Bureau
4. The Administrative support Bureau
5. The Support Services Bureau

Each bureau has a Deputy Chief appointed by the APD Chief of Police

APD divides the city into six geographical areas called “area commands.” Each area command is managed by an APD Commander (formerly called Captains) and staffed with between 82 and 119 officers, depending on size of the area command and level of calls for service. All officers are dispatched through the police communications operators by calling (505) 242-cops for non-emergency calls or 911 in an emergency.

APD also has 3 divisions that are separate from the other divisions and they are:

1. The Bike Patrol
2. Operations Review
3. Others

https://www.cabq.gov/police/contact-the-police/area-commands

UPDATED STAFFING REPORT

On August 1, 2019, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) issued what it entitled “Staffing Snapshot” providing a report on the number of sworn police officers APD now has and where they have been assigned. According to the report, APD as of August 1, 2019 a total of 972 sworn officers with 400 officers on the street patrolling 6 area commands and neighborhoods. The snapshot does not account for time delays from Human Resources and Payroll that have effective dates into the future.

https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/apd-staffing-numbers-how-many-officers-are-in-your-neighborhood-/5449523/?cat=500

Following is the complete breakdown of sworn police assignments:

FIELD SERVICES BUREAU — TOTAL STAFFING: 600

The field service bureau’s primary function is to provide uniformed police officers throughout the city and at the six police substations and area commands. Officers assigned to field services handle calls for service and patrol the area commands in 3 separate shifts. These are the sworn police in uniform that are on the front line of law enforcement dealing with hundreds of thousands of calls for service a year. This is where the “rubber hits the road” when it comes to keeping neighborhoods safe and community-based policing.

The number of sworn officers assigned to each area command is somewhat fluid and based on the number of calls for service in the area command. Area commands with higher crime rates have always had far more officers assigned than those that have lower crime rates.

One Deputy Police Chief is appointed to oversee and manage the Field Services Bureau.

Following is a breakdown of sworn police assigned to each one of the area commands:

SOUTHWEST AREA COMMAND

The Southwest Area Command is bordered by Interstate 40 the north, the Rio Grande to the east, the South Valley to the south, and Albuquerque city limits to the west. Following is the staffing reported:

58 Patrol Officers, 1 Commander, 3 Lieutenants, 7 Sergeants

VALLEY AREA COMMAND

The Valley Area Command is bordered by the Albuquerque city limits to the north and south, Interstate 25 to the east, and the Rio Grande, Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, and the North Valley to the west. This Area Command has an extensive history of having the second highest crime rates in the City. Following is the staffing reported:

67 Patrol Officers , 1 Commander, 3 Lieutenants, 6 Sergeants, 2 School Resource Officers

SOUTHEAST AREA COMMAND

The Southeast Area Command is bordered by Interstate 40 to the north, Eubank Boulevard to the east, Kirtland Air Force Base and Albuquerque city limits to the south, and Interstate 25 to the west. This Area Command has an extensive history of having the highest crime rates in the city. Following is the staffing reported:

89 Patrol Officers, 4 Lieutenants, 9 Sergeants, 2 School Resource Officers

NORTHEAST AREA COMMAND

The Northeast Area Command is bordered by Albuquerque city limits to the north, Eubank Boulevard to the east, Interstate 40 to the south, and Interstate 25 to the west. This Area Command has a more recent history of increasing crime rates in the city, especially residential break-ins and robberies. Following is the staffing reported:

78 Patrol Officers, 1 Commander, 3 Lieutenants, 8 Sergeants, 2 School Resource Officers

FOOTHILLS AREA COMMAND

The Foothills Area Command is bordered by San Antonio NE to the north, the Sandia Foothills to the east, Kirtland Air Force Base to the south, and Eubank Boulevard to the west. This Command Area has some of the lowest crime rates in the City. Following is the staffing reported:

57 Patrol Officers, 1 Commander, 2 Lieutenants, 8 Sergeants, 3 School Resource Officers

Northwest Area Command

The Northwest Area Command is bordered by Albuquerque city limits to the west and north, the west bank of the Rio Grande to the east, and Interstate 40 to the south. This Command Area has some of the lowest crime rates in the City. Following is the staffing reported:

59 Patrol Officers, 1 Commander, 3 Lieutenants, 7 Sergeants, 1 School Resource Officers

INVESTIGATIVE BUREAU – TOTAL STAFFING: 173

The Investigative Bureau consists of Criminal Investigations Division, the Special Investigations Division, Scientific Evidence Division and the Real Time Crime Center. This bureau deals primarily with the completion of felony investigations and prepares the cases, including evidence gathering and processing scientific evidence such as DNA, blood and fingerprints, for submission to prosecuting agencies, primarily the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office. Units in the bureau include homicide and auto theft. Following is the staffing reported:

142 Detectives, 1 Deputy Chief, 3 Commanders, 6 Lieutenants, 10 Sergeants

COMPLIANCE BUREAU – TOTAL STAFFING: 61

The Compliance Bureaus consists of the Internal Affairs Professional Standards Division, Policy and Procedure Division, Accountability and Oversight Division, Internal Affairs Force Division and the Behavioral Health and Crisis Intervention Section. One of the major concentrations of this bureau is the ongoing cooperation with the Department of Justice (DOJ) consent decree (CASA) and its implementation of its terms and conditions. Internal Affairs deals with investigation police misconduct cases. Crisis Intervention deals with the crisis intervention teams who deal with the mentally ill. Policy and Procedures deals with the review and writing of standard operating procedures.

Following is the staffing reported:

40 Detectives, 1 Deputy Chief, 3 Commanders, 1 Deputy Commander, 6 Lieutenants, 10 Sergeants

SUPPORT SERVICES BUREAU – TOTAL STAFFING: 116

The Support Services Bureau is comprised by the Homeland Security and Special Events Division, the Metro Traffic Division, the Records Division, the APD Police Academy, and the Public Safety Districts such as the Downtown Public Safety Division. Following is the staffing reported:

68 Officers, 1 Deputy Chief, 2 Commanders, 8 Lieutenants, 20 Sergeants, 6 Cadets/Pre-hires

ADMINISTRATIVE SUPPORT BUREAU – TOTAL STAFFING: 43

This bureau provides clerical, secretarial, administrative, budgetary preparation and grant application support to the entire APD Department. Following is the staffing reported:

34 Officers, 1 Deputy Chief, 1 Commander, 2 Lieutenants, 4 Sergeants

SPECIAL OPERATIONS AND TACTICAL UNIT – TOTAL STAFFING: 30

This unit consists of the Special Weapons and Tactics Unit (SWAT). SWAT is trained to deal with situations of unusual danger, especially when requiring aggressive tactics or enhanced firepower, as in rescuing hostages, thwarting terrorist attacks or assassinations, and subduing heavily armed suspects. Following is the staffing reported:

24 Officers, 1 Commander, 2 Lieutenants, 3 Sergeants

BIKE PATROL- TOTAL STAFFING: 16

The bike patrol is what the name implies: Uniformed police ride on bikes an patrol the areas assigned to show a police presence such as in the Downtown Central Area, the City Plaza and Nob Hill. A total of 16 officers are assigned to the Bike Patrol.

OPERATIONS REVIEW

Police operations is generally defined as standard operating procedures, review of job duties, responsibilities, and activities that law enforcement agents complete in the field. 7 Officers, 4 Lieutenants and 5 Sergeants are reported as staffing Operations Review.

OTHER SWORN POLICE: TOTAL STAFFING 51

There are 41 APD recruits, laterals and sergeants assigned to on-the-job training.

10 sworn APD are assigned to etro Court officers to provide security to the Metropolitan Court and Mayor’s security detail that provides protection to the Mayor and security to the Mayor’s Office.

CALLS FOR SERVICE ARE OVERWHELMING

According to the 2019-2020 approved budget, in the last fiscal year APD responded to the following:

The number of calls for service was 580,238
Average response time for Priority 1 calls (immediate threat to life) was 12:26 minutes
The number of felony arrests was 9,592
The number of misdemeanor arrests was 18,442
The number of DWI arrests was 1,403
The number of domestic violence arrests was 2,356

You can review the performance measures of APD on page 211 of the budget here:

http://documents.cabq.gov/budget/fy-19-approved-budget.pdf

GROWING APD

Since Mayor Tim Keller has taken office on December 1, 2017, APD has added 116 sworn police officers to the force. APD’s goal is to spend $88 million dollars starting last year in the 2018-2019 fiscal year, over a four-year period, with 32 million dollars of recurring expenditures, to hire 322 sworn officers and expand APD from 878 sworn police officers to 1,200 officers.

The massive investment is being done in order to full fill Mayor Tim Keller’s 2017 campaign promise to increase the size of APD and return to community-based policing as a means to reduce the city’s high crime rates. Last year’s 2018-2019 fiscal year budget provided for increasing APD funding from 1,000 sworn police to 1,040. This year’s 2019-2020 fiscal year budget has funding for 1,040 sworn police.

The APD recruiting plan to grow the size of the department included the city increasing police officer hourly pay and increasing longevity incentive pay. In 2018, the Keller Administration and the APD Union negotiated and agreed to a 2-year contract. The approved contract provides that the pay rate for officers with zero to 4 years of experience went from $28 to $29 an hour.

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

At first blush, the fact that APD now has 972 sworn police is very good news. What is very problematic is that only 600 of those officers are assigned to the field services and the six area commands that are dispatched and handling calls for service on a 24-hour basis. Uniformed police officers in the field services is where the “rubber hits the road. ” The sure volume of calls for service they deal on a daily basis is overwhelming.

As noted above, last year APD sworn responded to 580,238 calls for service, made 9, 592 felony arrest, made 18,442 misdemeanor arrests, made 1,403 DWI arrests and made 2,256 domestic violence arrests. The overwhelming majority of the responses and arrests were made by APD field service officers when APD had 116 fewer sworn police.

In order to have effective community policing, far more sworn police need to be in their cars and in the neighborhoods. At least 800 sworn police need to be in field services, 200 more than the 600 now assigned. A bike patrol does show police presence, but they are limited in what they can do to respond to a major call outs miles away. Having 16 officers on bikes patrolling streets and not in cars is questionable at a time there is such a shortage of field service officers.

The staffing of the investigative bureau at 173 sworn police is also very problematic. This bureau needs to be increased to at least 210 sworn police. The is the Bureau that has the Criminal Investigations Division, the Special Investigations Division and the Scientific Evidence Division. Part of the problem is once again the sure volume of felony cases such as murder, rape, violent crimes that need to be investigated. The cities felony crime rates are at unacceptable levels. Confidential sources say the Scientific Evidence Division is particularly overwhelmed with the processing of DNA evidence taking months, such as the backlog in rape kits, that can mean the difference between a conviction and a dismissal of serious felony cases.

Mayor Tim Keller has said he wants to recruit another 300 sworn police to reach his goal of 1,200 and to keep up with yearly retirements. Recruiting a younger, new generation of sworn police officers and growing the size of the police department at this point will be difficult for any number of reasons. Those reasons include:

1. APD’s poor and negative national reputation.
2. Albuquerque’s high violent crime rates are not conducive to attracting people who want to begin a long-term career in law enforcement in Albuquerque.
3. The increased dangers of being a police officer in a violent city such as Albuquerque.
4. The DOJ oversight requirements.
5. Many recruited lateral hires may also be looking to retire sooner rather than later, coming to the City to increase their high three salary to retire with a more lucrative pension and collect the longevity pay bonuses, and
6. From a personnel management standpoint, it is highly likely that many APD police officers who are eligible for retirement now have decided to stay on and continue for a few more years with APD because of the significant increases in hourly pay and longevity pay and increasing their retirement benefits but still plan on retiring in three years once they get their high 3 years of pay.

APD consistently has thousands of applicants that apply to the police academy every year. The overwhelming number of police academy applicants fail to get into the academy for any number of reasons including failing to meet minimum education and entry qualifications, unable to pass criminal background checks, unable to make it through psychological background analysis, failing the polygraph tests, lying on the on the applications or failing a credit check. Once in the police academy, many cadets are unable to meet minimum physical requirements or unable to handle the training and academic requirements to graduate from the academy and drop out.

Mayor Tim Keller and APD Chief Michael Geier and the APD command staff need to realize that APD must recruit a new generation of younger, committed police officers to start their law enforcement careers with the city who are fully trained in constitutional policing practices. Otherwise all that has been accomplished with the DOJ consent decree may have been for nothing and APD will revert back to old habits and destructive law enforcement practices costing taxpayers millions in settling civil rights and wrongful death lawsuits.

City’s Failure To Act On Nuisance Properties Inexcusable; Mayor Keller Reneges On Reinstating Safe City Strike Force With “ADAPT”

On July 23, 2019 and July 30, 2019, Chanel 4 News did stories on abandoned, neglected and nuisance properties. Both Channel 4 reports were at worst inaccurate or at best misleading when it was reported that nuisance property “owners are given 12 months to fix a substandard property before it can be declared a public nuisance and condemned” and the city cannot do that much until then. That is simply not true. I know because I was a Deputy City Attorney and the Director of the Safe City Strike Force for 8 years. The Strike Force as a team took immediate legal action and code enforcement against hundreds of nuisance properties a year.

On July 29, 2019, Channel 13 did another of the many stories it has done over the last 15 years on the same hoarder who has his yards filled with, trash, litter and debris which he feels are collectible and including old beat up vehicles. Pigs lived in the house at one point. At least 15 years ago, as a Director of the Safe City Strike Force, I initiated a nuisance abatement action against the individual. After a court hearing where testimony from neighbors was presented, the city secured court orders that mandated the clean up of the property.

This article is an in depth commentary on all 3 news stories and the city ordinances, state law and case law primarily because of how inaccurate the reports were. There appears to be no apparent desire of Channel 4 or 13 to confront the city with the truth on its failure to act. Because of the inaccuracies contained in all 3 TV news stories, the Postscript to this article contains the State Statutes and the City Nuisance Abatement Law and the Rules of Civil Procedure.

July 23, 2019 CHANNEL 4 NEWS REPORT BY JOY WANG

Following is the transcript of the Channel 4 TV news report followed by the link to the report:

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- “A home on Supernova Street in northwest Albuquerque has been a problem for neighbors for months.
In December, it [was] riddled with bullet holes. Since then, neighbors report the problems continuing.
Tired of the problems, neighbors banded together to make sure something was done about the property.
“We’re not going to let this happen in our neighborhood,” Janice said. “I’ve lived here 12 years, never had an issue until this happened and it was a nightmare.”
Janice said it took about 150 calls to the city and five of her neighbors moving away before anyone showed up to board it.
“Police showed up,” Janice said. “There was code enforcement here. They actually arrested a couple people that were in the home for outstanding warrants.”
City officials said their hands were tied, too.
Code enforcement sent violation notices, cleaned up debris, boarded up the home and notified the owner.
In Albuquerque, owners are given 12 months to fix a substandard property before it can be declared a public nuisance and condemned.
“A California management company has taken over and says that you guys should see some updates, some progress soon,” Janice said.”

Below is the link to the report:

https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/neighbors-band-together-to-fight-back-against-problem-property/5432916/?cat=500&fbclid=IwAR2-8-VtDK96abnr0PTjQ3wRjQ9lxCbcWbZEVLjbCU2mOd1nOn5QW-qoInY

ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY

The Channel 4 report says “City officials said their hands were tied … [and] In Albuquerque, owners are given 12 months to fix a substandard property before it can be declared a public nuisance and condemned”. This is not true nor what the law provides. The most effective approach to address blighted, nuisance and crime riddled properties is to initiate civil complaints in District Court, which can be done immediately. The city attorney can secure temporary restraining orders, preliminary and permanent injunctions by showing immediate and irreparable harm and a danger to the public. It is injunction relief and is not a “condemnation action” nor a taking.

Under existing ordinances, civil and criminal action can be taken against property owners and the properties that have become a nuisance and a danger to public safety. Under existing city ordinances, property owners can be cited for code violations for not maintaining their properties up to city codes. Additionally, Albuquerque has one of the strongest Nuisance Abatement Ordinances and New Mexico has some of the strongest state statutes in the country on nuisance abatement with court rulings defining nuisance. The law allows the City Attorney’s Office to take aggressive code enforcement action against slumlord’s blighted properties, both residential and commercial, that have become nuisances and magnets of crime resulting in calls for service to APD. Such calls are a drain on police resources. You can read the city ordinances and state statues in the postscript below.

Under the city nuisance abatement laws, a magnet for crime property is one that has an extensive history of calls for service to the Albuquerque Police Department (APD). They are properties where crime occurs that would allow a District Court to declare the property a nuisance. The described bullet holes, the shooting up a neighborhood and 150 calls for service to APD qualifies to make a property a nuisance. The City Attorney’s office should have sought court orders to compel property owners to bring their properties into compliance with city ordinances, codes and state laws.

July 30, 2019 CHANNEL 4 NEWS INVESTIGATES REPORT BY NATHAN O’NEAL

Following is the short transcript of the Channel 4 TV news report followed by the link to the report:

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- “In New Mexico’s largest city, abandoned properties pose a complex problem – becoming havens for crime, drug use and fires started by squatters.
In August, the Albuquerque City Council will consider proposals to demolish four abandoned properties. Those properties include: 247 Espanola St. NE, 8400 Chico St. NE, 600 Dallas St. NE and 2401 Quincy NE, according to a city planning official.
The abandoned properties problem is widespread throughout the Duke City.
4 Investigates obtained data for all the Albuquerque properties eligible to be condemned. The City of Albuquerque has identified more than 260 properties that have been deemed “unsafe” for at least a year.
Albuquerque City code inspectors frequently visit one long-abandoned home near Chico and Wyoming.
“You see a lot of illegal dumping here, trash… people dump furniture, shopping carts, syringes,” said inspector Christopher Romero. “We don’t want children here obviously. We don’t want anyone here because we don’t’ want anyone getting hurt.”
Albuquerque’s interim planning director, Brennon Williams, said demolition is the city’s last resort after giving the property owner at least one full year to clean up their act.
“It’s a waste to spend money on maintaining a property that nobody’s going to take responsibility for,” Williams said.
When asked how to hold property owners accountable, Williams replied:
“The most direct method – which is allowed under state statute and under ordinance – is to put a lien against the property for that, the costs that are incurred and then arguably the lien – based on tax payer dollars – can be foreclosed on.”
Abandoned properties are also contributing to a recent surge in house fires across the city. With 874 structure fires last year, Albuquerque has seen a 21 percent increase over the last five years.
The city often cleans up and clears out blighted homes when property owners are either not responsive or can’t be located.
In the past, the city would deploy the Safe City Strike Force to deal with the problem properties. However, Mayor Tim Keller has now launched a new program – called ADAPT – which relies on new data to target the worst 100 properties.
“The data collection and the analysis that goes into the current program is much more strategic. It was a little subjective in the past and the city was criticized for that,” said Williams, adding: “This approach is much more purposeful than it was in year’s past.”
However, change doesn’t happen overnight. It often takes months if not years to deal with “substandard” properties – which can be a nightmare for neighbors.”

Below is the link to the report:

https://www.kob.com/new-mexico-news/4-investigates-the-dump-next-door-hundreds-of-abandoned-properties-in-albuquerque/5441560/?fbclid=IwAR14dhSgoN1xtL1585M19jOnnBkgcy3aXUgEuq2gcAOzLOl92T73_ME4iuQ#.XUEbQ7fbeWg.facebook

ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY

The statistics provided in the 4 Investigates Report are accurate to a degree when it says “The City of Albuquerque has identified more than 260 properties that have been deemed “unsafe” for at least a year [eligible to be condemned.] … Abandoned properties are also contributing to a recent surge in house fires across the city. With 874 structure fires last year, Albuquerque has seen a 21 percent increase over the last five years.”

Notwithstanding the news report, the actual number of “unsafe” and substandard properties is in all likely approaching 4,000 or more. During the last 9 years, the city under the previous Mayor and under current Mayor Tim Keller has essentially completely dismantled the Safe City Strike Force and city code enforcement. Nuisance abatement actions essentially ceased to exist and inspections and code enforcement actions were not a priority.

In 2004 the city enacted the Vacant Building Maintenance Act which requires property owners to register their vacant buildings, repair them and keep them maintained. Channel 4 failed to do any investigation or report on how many residences are now on that list and what the city is doing to enforce it.

In the July 30, 2019 interview Albuquerque’s Interim Planning Director Brennon Williams said demolition is the city’s last resort after giving the property owner ”at least one full year to clean up their act.” When Williams was asked how to hold property owners accountable, Williams replied:

“The most direct method – which is allowed under state statute and under ordinance – is to put a lien against the property for that, the costs that are incurred and then arguably the lien – based on tax payer dollars – can be foreclosed on.”

Williams also said: “The data collection and the analysis that goes into the current program is much more strategic. It was a little subjective in the past … .” NO, NO, NO, it was not subjective in that nuisance properties were determined based upon the number of calls for service to APD as well as the extent of code violations found, which is about as objective as you can get. Enforcement actions were not done on a whim. Williams was also not asked about the Vacant Building Maintenance Act which his department is required to enforce.

Contrary to what Williams said, the most direct and immediate method under state statute and under city ordinance is found within the New Mexico Rules of Civil Procedure, cited below in the postscript, which allows the city and private parties to institute civil complaints in District Court. Such court actions can be done immediately and there is no one year waiting period. It is not a foreclosure action and the city does not take title to the property. The State Nuisance abatement statute specifically provides for injunctions. The City can secure temporary restraining orders, preliminary and permanent injunctions by showing immediate and irreparable harm and a danger to the public. Such actions force the property owners, and even slum lords to take responsibility for their properties.

It is painfully obvious that Mayor Keller’s interim planning director Brennon William has little knowledge of what the law is with respect to nuisance abatement which includes state law and violations of city codes and ordinances. It is strongly recommended that Williams confer with the City Attorney’s Office and confront it with its failure to give him assistance.

Mayor Tim Keller’s new “Addressing Dilapidated and Abandoned Property Team” (ADAPT) program supposedly relies on new data to target the worst 100 properties is nothing more than extensively watered-down version of the Safe City Strike Force. Confidential sources within City Hall have said that Mayor Tim Keller felt the Safe City Strike Force had too much of an “aggressive sounding title”, he and others did not like it as fitting into his “ONE ABQ” slogan and the city wanted to soften the approach to nuisance abatement. Confidential sources have also said Mayor Keller’s previous Planning Director made it known to the housing code inspectors he felt housing code inspections and posting residential homes as “substandard” was not a priority. The former Planning Director was reluctant or refused to allow inspectors to file misdemeanor charges as was done in the past.

ADAPT is essentially a “passive aggressive” approach by the Planning Department which will not work, or have little success, when dealing with meth labs, crack houses and magnets for crime with legal action by the city attorney’s office being the most effective approach to crime and slumlords. What Keller fails to understand is that for residential property owners who feel the sting of crime in their neighborhoods and living next door to magnets for crime, a slogan of One ABQ is meaningless when their own quality of life is affected, not to mention a reduction in property values. But then again when it comes to Mayor Tim Keller, images and press conference appear to be all that is important to him. On more than one occasion he has appeared on TV news casts to take credit for “teardowns” done by the city.

In the 2019-2020 approved City budget, a mere $711,000 is allocated for Mayor Keller’s “Addressing Dilapidated and Abandoned Property Team” (ADAP) Program. Mayor Keller with his new “ADAPT” program is essentially failing to follow through on his funding of the Safe City Strike Force contained in the 2018-2019 fiscal budget. In his first budget ever submitted, Mayor Tim Keller made a firm commitment to reinstate the Safe City Strike Force when he requested $3.9 million for the city’s Code Enforcement Department and the Safe City Strike Force in the adopted 2018-2019 budget. $1.5 million in additional public safety spending was added by the city council. The Safe City Strike Force and the Planning Department received a funding bump of $425,000 for the 2018-2019 fiscal year. $125,000 was allocated to hire two additional code enforcement specialists. $300,000 was allocated to secure or demolish neglected structures.

JULY 29, 2019 CHANNEL 13 NEWS REPORT BY JEANNIE NGUYEN

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – For more than two decades, an Albuquerque man has been known to his neighbors as the city’s worst hoarder. He’s been the focus of a number of Larry Barker investigations. Now, the city has stepped in with a lot of manpower to try to finally put an end to the problem.
“John is compulsive. He can’t control himself. When his dad died, I think about 1995, he went out of control,” says James Mondloch.
For Mondloch, seeing the city clean up his neighbor’s yard has been a long time coming. For the past 20 years, the city says they’ve been trying to reason with John Gallegos, the man who owns the house near Louisiana and Copper.
“There had been constant complaints about the storage of litter, debris, trash. The collecting of anything and everything,” says Interim Planning Director Brennon Williams.
The collection of things also includes animals. Larry Barker investigations have shown pigs actually lived in the house at one point.
“He did seem like he wanted to fix things. He talked like he wanted to fix things, but when it actually came time to doing it, there was never any action,” Williams says.
About three years ago, the city was granted a permanent injunction on the property to clean it up. In the past, the city would hire contractors to throw things out into dumpsters. However, this was different.
“It’s estimated that we may need six or eight, maybe more, of these garbage trucks to haul off all the trash and debris that’s just in the backyard alone,” says Williams.
After giving Gallegos a ten-day notice with no response, about 30 different city employees showed up Monday to clean. At one point, Gallegos even tried to plead to code enforcement officials to not tow his car. It didn’t work.
Even though Monday’s cleanup is something Mondloch has been wanting for a long time, he hopes it’s enough to change Gallegos for the better. Gallegos refused to comment.
“John, mend your ways otherwise you’re going to be homeless,” Mondloch says.
All of the clean-up the city is doing is going to cost Gallegos a lot in the end. The city will be putting a lien on the house for all the costs from this job. They estimate it’ll be at least $10,000.
After the city finishes cleaning up the house, they will have an inspector monitor the area once a week to make sure Gallegos follows the rules. If he doesn’t, they’ll be back to clean it up again.

https://www.krqe.com/news/albuquerque-metro/city-steps-in-to-clean-pig-house-owned-by-infamous-albuquerque-hoarder/?fbclid=IwAR1V9-71fHj9EKt1VTI09E7Av4oaeKWyOsD4JOL1GZARap1-Otdr_SQudSw

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

Channel 13 ostensibly thinks that this one property owner is the only person in the city that has a problem with accumulating junk and debris. Some of the most tragic and heart-breaking cases that the Safe City Strike Force dealt with involved “hoarders”. Hoarding is not classified as a mental illness but rather is a pattern of behavior that is characterized by excessive acquisition and an inability or unwillingness to discard large quantities of objects or animals that cover the entire living areas or exterior of a home or property. Being an “eccentric” or different is a good description of a hoarder.

The Strike Force dealt with a number of cases of hoarders.

The saddest case the Safe City Strike Force City dealt with was an elderly woman who was housing over 60 cats in her 1,400 square foot, three bedroom home. The home was not fit to be lived in as a result of contamination by the animals. Dead cats who she could not part with were found in her kitchen freezer. The main bathroom was found to be storage space for stacks of used feminine napkins stacked floor to ceiling used to urinate in while the main bath tub was used as a cat litter box and the tub was a quarter full of feces. The City removed the cats, cleaned up the property and placed a $40,000 lien on the home for the cleanup of the contamination. The house had to be completely gutted to the studs throughout and sanitized and remodeled and placed on the market for sale.

Another hoarder had accumulated an extensive number of items in his front and backyards to the extent that the area had become rat infested and the City was forced a cleanup op the area. Still another hoarded accumulated papers, magazine and printed material floor to ceiling to the point you literally had to crawl through pathways in the house to get around.

When this Channel 13 report says “For the past 20 years, the city says they’ve been trying to reason with John Gallegos, …” it is a totally understatement of the problem. The Safe City Strike Force dealt with Mr. Gallegos and forced him into court and secured court orders. The Safe City Strike Force was the first time ever that he was forced to do something. What is pathetic is that a stipulated settlement agreement has been signed in the original case where Mr. Gallegos agreed to maintain the property or face sanctions if he did not, but apparently the City Attorneys Office is reluctant to go to court and seek contempt of court sanctions.

The Channel 13 report says that about three years ago, the city was granted a permanent injunction on the property to clean it up. The City Attorney’s Office apparently does not understand the Rules of Civil Procedure and what they could do to seek Contempt of Court Orders. One sanction the court can impose is jail time for violations of court orders and the permanent injunction. The city attorneys office has 33 attorneys, and sources say only one attorney is assigned to do nuisance abatement, when the Safe City Strike Force had as least 5 at any given time along with para legals and support staff.

What was not reported by Channel 13 is that Mr. Gallegos owned acres of vacant land in another county and used it to store and accumulate discarded items and vehicles, many vehicles 20 or more years old. Mr. Gallegos testified in court that he had over 70 old cars that he was storing and represented that they were operable, insured and registered. He testified he would move many of the vehicles between his home and mother’s home in the North East Heights.

SAFE CITY STRIKE FORCE SUCCESS

From 2002 to 2009, the Safe City Strike Force was formed to combat blighted commercial and residential properties.

Thirty (30) to forty-five (40) representatives from the Albuquerque Police Department, the Albuquerque Fire Department, the Fire Marshal’s Office, the Planning Department Code residential and commercial code inspectors, Family Community Services and the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office participated and comprised the strike force.

Seventy (70) to one hundred fifty (150) properties a week, both residential and commercial properties would be reviewed by the Safe City Strike Force.

The Albuquerque City Council would be given weekly updates on the progress made in their districts on the nuisance properties identified by the Strike Force. The Safe City Strike Force routinely prepared condemnation resolutions for enactment by the Albuquerque City Council to tear down substandard buildings, including commercial buildings.

Over 8 years, the Safe City Strike Force took civil enforcement action against some 6,500 properties, both commercial and residential.

The success of the Safe City Strike Force is clear and unmistakable and can be summarized in part as follows:

TEAR-DOWNS AND BOARD UPS

The Safe City Strike Force was responsible for the tear down of an entire residential block of homes located at 5th Street and Summer in the Wells Park neighborhood area located north of downtown Albuquerque. There were a total of 21 abandoned and vacant, boarded up properties that could not be repaired, owned by one elderly woman who agreed allowed a tear down of the structures by the City.

A voluntary tear down of an entire strip mall was negotiated by the Strike Force. The strip mall had been boarded up for years, beyond repair, located near the former Octopus Car Wash on Menaul Street and Eubank. The strip mall was constantly being broken into, with fires being set by the homeless, and at one time a dead body was found at the location.

Two long vacant and vandalized restaurants, the Purple Plum and a Furr’s cafeteria, both on far North-East heights Montgomery, were torn down by the Safe City Strike Force.

One year, Albuquerque experienced a large spike in meth labs where almost 90 meth labs were found and identified and where the Safe City Strike Force was asked for assistance with contamination clean up.

CENTRAL MOTELS

The Safe City Strike Force required commercial property and motel owners to make repairs and they were required to reduce calls for service and address security on their properties.

The Safe City Strike Force took code enforcement action against 48 of the 150 motels along central and forced compliance with building codes and mandated repairs to the properties. The Central motels that were demolished were not designated historical and were beyond repair as a result of years of neglect and failure to maintain and make improvements.

Central motels that had historical significance to Route 66 were purchased by the City for renovation and redevelopment.

The Central motels that the Safe City Strike Force took action against include the Gaslight (demolished), The Zia Motel (demolished), The Royal Inn (demolished), Route 66 (demolished), the Aztec Motel (demolished), the Hacienda, Cibola Court, Super-8 (renovated by owner), the Travel Inn (renovated by owner), Nob Hill Motel (renovated by owner), the Premier Motel (renovated by owner) the De Anza (purchased by City for historical significance), the No Name, the Canyon Road (demolished), Hill Top Lodge, American Inn (demolished), the El Vado (purchased by City for historical significance), the Interstate Inn (demolished).

The Safe City Strike Force was responsible for the demolition of at least seven (7) blighted motels that were beyond repair. When people were displaced by enforcement actions taken by the Safe City Strike Force, the City’s Family and Community Services Department would provide vouchers to the displaced and assist in locating temporary housing for them.

VIOLENT BARS

The Safe City Strike Force took action against violent bars on Central that were magnets for crime. Many Central bars have hundreds of calls for service a year placing a drain on law enforcement resources.

A few of the bars located on or near Central that were closed or torn down by the Safe City Strike Force include the Blue Spruce Bar, Rusty’s Cork and Bottle, the Last Chance Bar and Grill and Club 7. The Safe City Strike Force closed Club 7 and the owner was convicted of commercial code violations.

The city attorney’s office in conjunction with the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s office brought criminal charges against and convicted the Club 7 downtown Central Avenue bar owner that hosted a “rave” that allowed under age participants to mingle with adults and where a young girl was killed.

CONVENIENCE STORES

The Safe City Strike Force took enforcement action against a number of convenience stores on Central that had substantial calls for service to APD. In 2005, The Safe City Strike Force identified convenience stores that had an unacceptable number of “calls for service” which resulted in the convenience stores being considered a public nuisance by the Albuquerque Police Department (APD). Outdoor phones at the convenience stores used for illicit drug transactions were identified.

APD felt the convenience stores were relying upon APD to provide security at taxpayer’s expense rather than hiring their own private security company. In 2005, the Strike Force negotiate a stipulated settlement agreement with three major convenience store corporate owners of seventeen (17) convenience stores throughout Albuquerque and they agreed to pay for private security patrols.

FLEA MARKETS

The Safe City Strike Force was responsible for the closure of Louie’s Flea Market and the Star Flea Market, two Westside flea markets both on Old Coors Road South of Central. The flea markets brought down property values. Both flea markets had been around for decades and caused extreme traffic congestion on weekends they operated causing problems for the established or developing residential areas. Both flea markets were found by the Albuquerque Police Department to be locations where stolen property was being sold and both had an excessive number of calls for service.

In 2010, the previous administration began to dismantle and reduce funding for the Safe City Strike Force. At the beginning of 2018, the Safe City Strike Force had one employee, its director, and the Safe City Strike Force existed in name only.

CONCLUSION

The City of Albuquerque and the State of New Mexico have some of the strongest nuisance abatement laws in the county. A summary of those laws are provided in the postscript below. Crime rates can be brought down with civil nuisance abatement actions that protect the public health, safety and welfare of the public.

It is very disappointing that Mayor Tim Keller reneged on his decision to reinstate the Safe City Strike Force when the decision was made to replace the Safe City Strike Force with his own ADAPT program. The Strike Force was a proven and effective program and was recognized as a best practice nationally.

Mayor Keller’s ADAPT program sends the wrong message that he wants city residents and property owners to be content and ADAPT to the fact the city really does not want to do anything about nuisance, substandard and abandoned properties. Too bad.

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POSTSCRIPT ON THE LAW OF NUISANCE

NEW MEXICO STATUTES ON NUISANCE ABATEMENT

New Mexico statute defines a “public nuisance” as consisting “of knowingly creating, performing or maintaining anything affecting any number of citizens without lawful authority which is either:

“A. Injurious to public health, safety and welfare; or
B. Interferes with the exercise and enjoyment of public rights, including the right to use public property.
Whoever commits a public nuisance for which the act or penalty is not otherwise prescribed by law is guilty of a petty misdemeanor.”
(30-8-1, NMSA 1978, Public Nuisance defined).

The New Mexico legislature has also empowered municipalities very broad authority to define a nuisance, abate the nuisance and impose penalties and initiate civil causes of action.
State statute provides that “A municipality may by ordinance … define a nuisance, abate a nuisance and impose penalties upon a person who creates or allows a nuisance to exist. …”

(3-18-17 Nuisances and Offenses; Regulation or prohibition)

State statute also grants municipalities with broad powers and provides that:

“A municipality may:
A. sue or be sued; ….
F. protect generally the property of its municipality and it inhabitants;
G. preserve peace and order within the municipality; …”

(3-18-1 General Powers (of Municipality)”

Note that the creating, performing or maintaining a public nuisance is a crime under state law, which would be prosecuted in a magistrate court or metropolitan court. Under New Mexico law, a petty misdemeanor is the very least serious crime for which a person can be sentenced to time in jail. The sentence for a petty misdemeanor in New Mexico can never be more than six months in jail or a fine up to $500, is usually up to 30 days in jail and a $100 fine or both, depending on the offense and the penalties can also be suspended by the court.

Notwithstanding being a criminal charge, actions to abate a nuisance are civil actions that must be filed in state district court. New Mexico statutory law provides that any action for the abatement of a public nuisance shall be governed by the general rules of Civil Procedure.

(30-8-8, NMSA 1978 Abatement of a public nuisance.)

Under New Mexico law, “a civil action to abate a public nuisance may be brought, by verified complaint by any public officer or private citizen, in state district court of the county where the public nuisance exists, against any person, corporation or association of persons who shall create, perform or maintain a public nuisance.”

(30-8-8, B, NMSA 1978, Abatement of a public nuisance, emphasis added)

When a plaintiff prevails and proves that a nuisance exists and a judgment is given against a defendant in an action to abate a public nuisance, the district court can order the defendant responsible for the nuisance to pay all court costs and attorney fees for the plaintiff’s attorney.

(30-8-8, C, NMSA 1978, Abatement of a public nuisance, emphasis added)

The huge significance is that both public officials as well as private citizens can bring an action for nuisance abatement.

Another major distinction is the burden of proof between a criminal charge and a civil cause of action. A criminal charge requires the state to prove a defendant is guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt”. A civil case requires proof by “preponderance of the evidence” by a plaintiff.

In general, with few exceptions, only law enforcement or state prosecutors can bring petty misdemeanor charges for public nuisance. However, any private citizen or public official, such as a District Attorney or City Attorney, or any lay person with money for the court filing fee, can initiate a civil nuisance abatement action for injunctive relief and if they prevail can be awarded attorney’s fees and costs.

ALBUQUERQUE CITY ORDINANCES DEFINING NUISANCE

In 1994, exercising the authority granted to it by the state, the City of Albuquerque enacted its nuisance abatement ordinance and then amended it 2006 to add offenses under the state criminal code and city housing and construction codes.

The City of Albuquerque ordinance defines a nuisance property as “any parcel of real property, commercial or residential, on which …illegal activities occurs, or which is used to commit conduct, promote, facilitate, or aide the commission of … any … [crimes or housing code violations].” (See 11-1-1-3, city ordinance defining Public Nuisance)

The nuisance abatement ordinance lists misdemeanor and felony statutes and housing and commercial codes.

Albuquerque’s Nuisance Abatement Ordinance states:

“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 11-1-1-10, Public Nuisance Prohibited)

The City’s Uniform Housing Code defines a nuisance in part as “Any nuisance known at common law …” or “whatever is dangerous to human life or is detrimental to health, as determined by the health officer” or “any violation of the housing standards” required by the building and housing codes. (See 14-3-1-4, ROA 1994, Housing Code defining Nuisance).

In 2004 the city enacted the Vacant Building Maintenance Act which requires property owners to register their vacant buildings, repair them and keep them maintained. Albuquerque’s housing and commercial codes define substandard structures and there are provisions that allow inspections and civil code enforcement actions.

Under existing city ordinances, property owners can be cited for code violations for not maintaining their properties in compliance with city codes.

Under the nuisance abatement ordinance, aggressive code enforcement action against blighted properties, both residential and commercial, can be taken where it is found that that the properties have become a nuisance and magnets of crime resulting in calls for service to the Albuquerque Police Department.

The city’s nuisance abatement ordinance defines nuisance as:

“Any parcel of real property, commercial or residential, … on which
any of the following illegal activities occurs, or which is used to commit
conduct, promote, facilitate, or aide the commission of … any of
the following activities: …

At this point, the ordinance lists crimes in the state’s criminal code as well as the city’s building and construction codes.

(City of Albuquerque Nuisance Abatement Ordinance, Section 11-1-1-1, Section 11-1-1-3 of ordinance defining “Public Nuisance”)

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.”
(11-1-1-10 PUBLIC NUISANCES PROHIBITED, City of Albuquerque.)

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. This includes any abandoned wells, shafts, basements or excavations; abandoned refrigerators; or any structurally unsound fences or structures; or any lumber, trash, fences or debris which may prove a hazard for inquisitive minors.
(3) Whatever is dangerous to human life or is detrimental to health, as determined by the health officer.
(4) Overcrowding a room with occupants.
(5) Insufficient ventilation or illumination.
(6) Inadequate or unsanitary sewage or plumbing facilities
(7) Any violation of the housing standards set forth in this code.”
(14-3-1-4 ROA 1994 of Housing Code, Definitions)

NEW MEXICO CASE LAW ON DEFINING A NUISANCE

The New Mexico Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals has issued opinions and rulings on what constitutes a nuisance.
Under New Mexico court case law nuisances are classified as nuisances per se and nuisances in fact.

“A nuisance per se is generally defined as an act, occupation, or structure which is a nuisance at all times and under any circumstances, regardless of location or surroundings … [A] nuisance in fact is commonly defined as an act, occupation, or structure not a nuisance per se, but one which may become a nuisance by reason of circumstances, location, or surroundings.” (Koeber v. Apex-Albug Phoenix Express, 72 N.M. 4; 380 P.2d 14; 1963, New Mexico Supreme Court).

Further, it is well settled that a court may enjoin a threatened or anticipated nuisance, public or private, where it clearly appears that a nuisance will necessarily result from the contemplated act or thing which it is sought to enjoin. (Koeber v. Apex-Albug Phoenix Express, 72 N.M. 4; 380 P.2d 14; 1963, New Mexico Supreme Court).

A public nuisance must affect a considerable number of people or an entire community or neighborhood. (Environmental Improvement Div. v. Bloomfield Irrigation Dist., 108 N.M. 691, 778 P2d 438, New Mexico Court of Appeals 1989).

A common law “public nuisance” which is similar to the public nuisance statute, is the unreasonable interference with the right common to the general public, belonging to all members of the general public. It is not necessary that the entire community be affected by a public nuisance. If the nuisance will interfere with those coming in contact with the exercise of a public right or if the nuisance otherwise affects interests of the community at large. (State, ex rel, Village of Los Ranchos de Albuquerque v. City of Albuquerque, 889 P.2d 185, 119 NM 150.)

A public nuisance is a wrong that arises by virtue of unreasonable interference with the rights common to the general public. The Public nuisance statute applies to anything affecting “any number of citizens” meaning a considerable number of people or an entire community or neighborhood. (NMSA 1978, 30-8-1 and State, ex rel, Village of Los Ranchos de Albuquerque v. City of Albuquerque, 889 P.2d 185, 119 NM 150.

Public nuisance is one which adversely affects public health, welfare, or safety. A public nuisance affects the rights of citizens as part of the public and must affect a considerable number of people or an entire community or neighborhood. A continuing nuisance is one which occurs so often that it can fairly be said to be continuing although it is not constant and unceasing. (Padilla v. Lawrence, 101 NM 556, cert. denied 683 P.2d 1341, 101 NM 419.

The fact that acts constituting a public nuisance are punishable criminally does not deprive a court of its power to enjoin a public nuisance where there is ample proof of irreparable injury to public health, welfare, or safety. (Town of Clayton v. Mayfield. 82 NM 596, (involved operation of a junk yard that was unfenced and contained old cars). See also, State, ex rel, Marron v. Compere, 103 P.2d 273, 44 NM 414.

For related blog articles see:

Strike Force Cleaned Up Central and Made City Safe

City And State Nuisance Abatement Law Enforcement

Revisiting A War Zone: A History Lesson

Gun Control Proposals After Two More Mass Shootings; NM Governor Calls For Summit; Now The “Sounds of Silence”

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) defined a “mass murderer” as someone who “kills four or more people in a single incident, typically in a single location” and not including the killer who takes their own life. The federal government has never defined “mass shooting” as a separate category. There is no federal crime definition of the term. Although there is no official or number as the threshold that distinguishes a mass shooting from other violent crimes involving a firearm, the common approach by the media and law enforcement is to adopt the FBI’s criteria for a mass murderer setting casualty threshold of 4 fatalities by firearm, excluding the offender or offenders.

https://www.rand.org/research/gun-policy/analysis/essays/mass-shootings.html

TWO MASS SHOOTINGS WITHIN 24 HOURS

On Saturday, August 3, 2019, at least 20 people were shot and kill, 2 later died of their injuries, and 26 were seriously injured at an El Paso, Texas Walmart when a man armed with a military style assault rifle went into the packed store and opened fired. The 21-year-old man was arrested without incident and identified as Patrick Crusius from a suburb near Dallas, Texas. He was taken into custody without incident and is considered as a white nationalist.

It is believed by law enforcement that the gunman planned and carefully selected the Walmart store because it was filled with Hispanic families and and shoppers from Mexico. Authorities reported that they found a “manifesto” purportedly written by Patrick Crusius, perhaps even in the hours before the shooting attack. His social media activity showed support and sympathy for Trump’s white nationalist agenda. According to one report, the shooter allegedly professed his white nationalist ideology and his belief that Texas is under a “Hispanic invasion” and advocating building Trump’s border wall.

On Sunday, August 4, 2019, within hours after the El Paso shooting in the early morning hours a shooter in body armor wearing a mask and carrying extra magazines opened fired in a popular nightlife area of Dayton, Ohio. Nine were killed killing and dozens injured in the attack before the shooter was slain by police. Police patrolling the area responded in less than a minute to the shooting, which unfolded Sunday morning around 1 a.m. on the streets of downtown Dayton’s Oregon District. The suspect was identified as 24-year-old Connor Betts, of Bellbrook, Ohio. Betts used an assault-style rifle, a .223 caliber weapon with high capacity magazines and wore body armor during the shooting. Multiple law enforcement officials told CBS News there is not a hate crime nexus yet in the Dayton shooting. However, the shooter reportedly kept lists in high school of people he wanted to kill and girls he wanted to rape. Speculation and unsubstantiated rumors on social media is that Betts was enraged that his sister was dating a black man and that is why he killed her along with the others who were black.

https://www.cbsnews.com/live-news/dayton-ohio-shooting-suspect-connor-betts-9-killed-mass-shooting-today-2019-08-04-live-updates/

Sunday’s shooting in Dayton is the 22nd mass killing of 2019 in the U.S., according to the AP/USA Today/Northeastern University mass murder database that tracks homicides where four or more people were killed, not including the offender. The 20 mass killings in the U.S. in 2019 that preceded this weekend claimed 96 lives. For a time line of the most recent mass shootings in the United States see:

https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2019-08-03/united-states-mass-shootings

TRUMP’S CALL FOR STRENGTHENING GUN LAWS, AGAIN

On Monday, August 5, 2019, President Trump condemned the weekend shootings in Texas and Ohio as “barbaric” attacks and crimes “against all humanity” as he called for bipartisan cooperation to strengthen the nation’s gun laws.

Trump said he has directed the FBI to examine steps to identify and address domestic terrorism and said he wants legislation providing “strong background checks” for gun users, but he provided no details.

Trump pointed to a mental illness problem in the United States, calling the shooters “really very seriously mentally ill” and said the problem has been going on “for years and years [and] we have to get it stopped.”

If this sounds familiar from Trump, it’s because it is and Trump reneged on his promises before after meeting with the National Rifle Association (NRA).

https://www.abqjournal.com/1349664/trump-says-he-wants-stronger-gun-checks-but-reneged-in-past.html

On February 21, 2018, President Donald Trump met in the White House with over 40 people including the teenage survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting that killed 17 as well as the parents of those children killed in other school shootings. Demands were made that politics needs to be set aside and solutions found to stop the scourge of gun violence in the United States.

One suggested solution was to raise the minimum age required to purchase rifles to age 21, including assault weapons such as the AR-15, arguing that if you cannot buy a beer at 18, you should not be able to buy an assault weapon at 18. Another suggestion was to strengthen background checks to keep guns from the violent and the mentally ill.

President Trump told the group his administration would be looking very strongly at the suggestions made including allowing concealed weapons in schools to be carried by trained teachers who would volunteer. The very next day after his meeting with the group, Trump said he stood by his recommendation that teachers should be armed and even given bonuses to carry guns.

After the Trump meeting at the White House with the victims and parents, the NRA met with Trump and came out in opposition to the 21 age provisions and any other gun control provisions again arguing the problem is not with guns but the criminals who are using the guns and law abiding citizens’ rights under the second amendment should never be infringed upon. Trump did an about face and has done absolutely nothing.

GOVERNOR LUJAN GRISHAM CALLS FOR SUMMIT

During the 2019 legislative session, two gun control bills passed and were signed into law by Governor Mitchell Lujan Grisham. Those measures were background checks on all gun sales and a law prohibiting the possession of guns by convicted domestic abusers. The background check law was strenuously opposed by Republican lawmakers and most New Mexico sheriffs to the point that they initiated a lawsuit to have the courts set it aside. Some elected County Sherriff’s went so far as to say they would not enforce the laws prompting the Attorney General to issue a stern warning that they were required to enforce the law.

On August 6, 2019 Democratic Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, announced that she will invite top state law enforcement officials and legislative leaders from both political parties to take part in a summit on domestic terrorism in Santa Fe. The summit will include a closed-door briefing from FBI officials and could lead to new state policies and legislation. The Governor suggested that gun-related legislation may be drafted in advance of next year’s 30-day session.

In a statement announcing the summit, Lujan Grisham had this to say:

“It is too easy for dangerous, violent and mentally ill individuals to obtain an instrument of mass death in this country, and hateful rhetoric can directly lead to destructive and heinous acts. … In New Mexico, we will be on the front foot, and I look forward to this discussion.”

Discussions of gun-related legislation in New Mexico have been taking place before the El Paso and Detroit mass shootings. A coalition of New Mexico sheriffs is working with state Rep. Daymon Ely, D-Corrales, on the possibility of compromise “red flag” legislation. Legislation sponsored by Ely that would have allowed courts to order the temporary taking of guns from someone deemed an immediate threat passed the House of Representatives during this year’s 60-day session. But the proposal commonly referred to as a “red flag law,” failed to make it through the Senate before the 2019 legislative session ended. Opponents of the red flag bill say it failed to include adequate legal safeguards to protect the rights of gun owners.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1350004/lujan-grisham-to-convene-nm-domestic-terrorism-summit.html

HISTORY OF MASS SHOOTINGS IN THE UNITED STATES

The on line publication Mother Jones has compiled a database of mass shooting from 1982 to the present. The data base is broken down by location, date, summary of the facts, the number of fatalities, and the number of injured.

The Mother Jones data base list 114 mass shooting that have occurred from August 20, 1982 to the August 4, 2019 Dayton, Ohio shooting of 9 killed and 27 injured. You can review the entire Mother Jones data base here:

https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/12/mass-shootings-mother-jones-full-data/

From 1995 to June 13, 2019 the United States has had 97 mass shootings. 11 of the largest mass shootings in American history have now taken place in the United States in just the last few years.

The mass shooting with semiautomatic guns in the include: Orlando, Florida (49 killed, 50 injured), Blacksburg, Va. (32 killed), San Ysidro, Cal (21 killed), San Bernardino, (14 killed), Edmond Oklahoma (14 killed), Fort Hood (13 killed), Binghamton, NY (13 killed) Washington, DC (12 killed), Aurora, Colorado (12 killed), Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, Conn (21 children and 6 adult staff members killed) Las Vegas, Nevada with at least 59 dead and at least 515 wounded, the Parkland/Stoneridge High School shooting that resulted in 17 children’s deaths and now El Paso, Texas, 22 killed and Detroit Michigan, 9 killed.

A list of the worst mass shootings in the United States in the last 4 years has been compiled by the Los Angeles Times. You can read the facts and details of each one of the mass shootings at the below Los Angeles Time story link:

https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2019-08-03/united-states-mass-shootings

HISTORY OF CONGRESS TAKING ACTION ON GUN CONTROL

History shows that there was a time congress would take action on gun control to curb crime and gun violence.

In 1934, responding to the rise of organized crime and the MAFIA, Congress enacted the National Firearms Act which heavily taxed machine guns, among other things.

In 1968, after the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy, the Gun Control Act was passed that grew the list of those people who could not purchase guns expanding it to more convicted felons and mentally ill people.

In 1986, with the rise of gang and drug violence on city streets, Congress enacted the Law Enforcement Officers Protection Act, which outlawed armor-piercing bullets.

In 1994, after the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan and a spike of workplace shootings, Congress passed “The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act” that implemented a waiting period for handguns and a national instant background check.

James Brady was the White House Press secretary who was shot in the head and almost died during the attempted assassination of President Reagan by John Hinckley, Jr. who was found mentally ill and institutionalized for a number of years.

The 1994 Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act temporarily banned assault weapons.

There has been no major gun control legislation since 1995, which is about the same time the National Rifle Association (NRA) became very politically active in congressional races.

In 1990, the NRA created a foundation to “raise millions of dollars to fund gun safety and educational projects of benefit to the general public” which has translated into the NRA getting involved with congressional elections by donating millions to candidates running for office and who oppose any form of gun control.

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

After so many mass killings, it is difficult to refute that something needs to be done about semi-automatic and automatic guns such as the AR-15, assault style weapons or the type used in all the mass shootings and that are the weapons of choice for mass murderers. It’s clear the NRA controlled congress, especially the Republican Senate, does not want, nor is it willing to take, any action on gun control. Republican US Senate Majority Leader “Massacre” Mitch Mc Connell of Kentucky refuses to allow bi-partisan legislation enacted in the US House of Representatives advance to the Senate floor for a vote of any kind.

There are many legislative proposals, albeit too controversial for many running for office and who hold office to stomach, that should be considered at Governor Mitchell Lujan Grisham’s summit. On the federal level, there are many more.

In New Mexico, our legislature should consider:

1. Repeal the New Mexico Constitutional provision that allows the “open carry” of firearms. This would require a public vote and no doubt generate heated discussion given New Mexico’s high percentage of gun ownership for hunting, sport or hobby.
2. Prohibit in New Mexico the sale of “ghost guns” parts. Ghost guns are guns that are manufactured and sold in parts without any serial numbers to be assembled by the purchaser and that can be sold to anyone.
3. Requiring in New Mexico the mandatory purchase of “liability insurance” with each gun sold as is required for all operable vehicles bought and driven in New Mexico.
4. Enact a gun violence restraining order and extreme risk protection process to temporarily prohibit an individual deemed by a judge to pose a danger to self or others, from purchasing or possessing firearms or ammunition and allow law local law enforcement to remove any firearms or ammunition already in the individual’s possession.
5. Restrict and penalize firearm possession by or transfer to a person subject to a domestic violence protection order or a person, including dating partners, convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor.
6. Mandate the school systems and higher education institutions “harden” their facilities with more security doors, security windows, and security measures and alarm systems and security cameras tied directly to law enforcement 911 emergency operations centers.

On a federal level, congress needs to consider:

1. Implementation of background checks on the sale of all guns.
2. Close the “Charleston loophole” or “delayed denial” where federally licensed dealers can sell guns if three business days pass without FBI clearance.
3. Call for the update and enhancement of the federal National Instant Criminal Background Check system (NCIS).
4. Institute mandatory extended waiting periods for all gun purchases.
5. Implement mandatory handgun licensing, permitting, training, and registration requirements.
6. Ban future manufacture and sale of all assault weapons and regulate existing assault weapons under the National Firearms Act of 1934, and initiate a federal gun buyback program.
7. Impose limits on high capacity magazines.
8. Prohibit firearm sale or transfer to and receipt or possession by an individual who has: (1) been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor hate crime, or (2) received from any court an enhanced hate crime misdemeanor sentence.
9. Institute mandatory child access prevention safe storage requirements and prohibit the sales of handguns with “hair triggers”.
10. Provide more resources and treatment for people with mental illness.
11. Enhance accountability of federally licensed firearms dealers.
12. Implement micro stamped code on each bullet that links it to a specific gun.
13. Produce ‘x-mart guns’ with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) or biometric recognition (fingerprint) capability.
14. Limit gun purchases to one gun per month to reduce trafficking and straw purchases.
15. Prohibit open carry of firearms.
16. Digitize Alcohol, Tobacco and Fire (ATF) gun records.
17. Require licensing for ammunition dealer.

CLOSING COMMENTARY: THE SOUNDS OF SILENCE

After the El Paso and Detroit mass shootings, we will now go through the three-week news cycle of outrage, mourning and demands for gun control action. We will endure the news accounts of the funerals and eulogies given of the dead. We will hear the interviews of the survivors and witnesses of the shooting, with some interviews done in hospitals of those recovering from their gunshot wounds. We will hear the newscasters warn “the images you are about to see may be too graphic, so you may want to turn away” from your TV set.

We will hear how survivors who were shot will have to endure a life time of pain, suffering and physical infirmity from their wounds. We will hear from the psychologists and psychiatrists about post-traumatic stress disorder that the survivors will need to be treated for with counselling given on how to cope with death and loss of their loved ones. We will hear the news accounts of the heroes and first responder’s reactions during the shooting and of those who lost their lives and of the lives they saved. We will hear of the background and life of the troubled shooter and the mental illness he endured and what a broken person he was.

We will hear how easy it was for the killers to get the guns. We will hear about the killer’s FACEBOOK posts or YouTube videos that gave hints about what they were about to do.

We will hear once again how the shootings can only be described as an act of “pure evil”. We will hear the El PASO killer’s manifesto of hate and racism read aloud. We will hear about the killer’s arraignment, the charges he is facing with the likelihood he will be sentenced to death or spend the rest of his life in prison or in a mental institution. We will hear from the prosecutors that this is the very type of crime that the death penalty is deserved to be imposed. We will hear corrections official declare that the defendant has been placed on a suicide watch or that he has attempted suicide.

We will hear calls for congress to enact responsible gun control laws and restrictions such as extensive background checks, outlaw gun shows, prohibit the manufacture and sale of the the AR-15, prohibit the sale of firearms to anyone 18 or younger and outlaw the manufacture of high capacity clips. We will hear from those trying to look “presidential” take advantage of the tragedy and making all sorts of promises to end gun violence by enacting gun control.

We will hear the National Rifle Association (NRA) orchestrate opposition to any and all kind of gun control and campaign against anyone who advocates for gun control. We will hear again the mantra “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” We will hear again if you take away guns from the law abiding, only the criminals will have guns. We will hear about the influence the NRA has over elected officials and hear about the millions of campaign contributions given to those running for office, both on a national and local level.

We will hear congressional leaders say this is “no time to talk about gun control” and that we need to have that discussion later and then condemn those who do try and talk about gun control as “politicizing” the tragedy saying they have no respect for the dead and injured. We will hear the names of the elected US Senators and US Representatives who have accepted millions in campaign donations over years and claim how the contributions do not affect their votes.

We will hear again, and again and again gun owners and gun advocates say the only way their guns will ever be taken away from them is when their gun is “pried from their cold dead hands”, even the high capacity magazine rifles designed only to kill people or used by the military to inflict as much death as possible.

We will hear the President’s words when he travels to El Paso console family members, go to the cite of the shootings and take a tour, visit the wounded but hear no condemnation from him of the NRA. We will hear Donald Trump say that his inflammatory and racist speeches at his campaign rallies have nothing to do with the mass killings and hear him proclaim “I am the least racist person in the world” in interviews and campaign rallies

We will hear the reduced news coverage as we move on to yet another crisis created by a Presidential tweet attacking critics and people of color. We will hear in a few weeks or months of another mass shooting in the United States. We will hear the “Sound of Silence” again with nothing done to prevent further mass shooting tragedies and hear once again the failure of congress to enact reasonable gun control measures.

We will hear the gun advocates and the NRA to continue to bow and pray to the “neon gun gods” they have made.

There are many components to America’s mass shooting epidemic. We need more mental health treatment facilities, more parental involvement, better educational systems, early childhood intervention to prevent child abuse and to identify and get help and counseling to emotionally and violent children and more to secure our schools.

Unless congress does something to enact reasonable and responsible gun control, all we will hear is the sounds of silence of political rhetoric followed by the scenes and screams of terror and death from yet another mass shooting in a few more months.

We also need a President who is not a racist, and who does not stoke and inflame racism and who encourages violence and white supremacy with his attacks on minorities and people of color.

Racist Trump Encourages White Supremist Domestic Terrorism And Violence; 91% of Republicans Say Trump Is Not Racist; Grand Old Party (GOP) Now Racist Party of America (RPA).

On Saturday, August 3, 2019, at least 20 people were shot and kill and 26 were seriously injured at an El Paso, Texas Walmart when a man armed with a military style assault rifle went into the packed store and opened fired. The 21-year-old man was arrested without incident and identified as Patrick Crusius from a suburb near Dallas, Texas. He was taken into custody without incident.

It is believed by law enforcement that the gunman planned and carefully selected the Walmart store because it was filled with Hispanic families and and shoppers from Mexico. Authorities reported that they found “manifesto” purportedly written by Patrick Crusius, perhaps even in the hours before the shooting attack. His social media activity showed support and sympathy for Trump’s white nationalist agenda. According to one report, the shooter allegedly professed his white nationalist ideology and his belief that Texas is under a “Hispanic invasion” and advocating building Trump’s border wall.

Pages of the manifesto reportedly include anti-immigrant rhetoric going into depth on why he is “against race mixing,” supports the idea to “send them back” and offering a prediction of “genocide.” According to two officials, the manifesto includes remarks attacking immigrants and is sympathetic to a man charged with killing 51 people earlier this year at Christ Church in New Zealand.

Within hours after the El Paso shooting, in the early Sunday morning hours of August 4, 2019, a shooter in body armor wearing a mask and carrying extra magazines opened fire early Sunday in a popular nightlife area of Dayton, Ohio, killing 9 and injuring dozens before being slain by police. Police patrolling the area responded in less than a minute to the shooting, which unfolded Sunday morning around 1 a.m. on the streets of downtown Dayton’s Oregon District. The suspect was identified as 24-year-old Connor Betts, of Bellbrook, Ohio. Betts did not have a record with police. Betts used an assault-style rifle, a .223 caliber weapon with high capacity magazines and wore body armor during the shooting. Law enforcement officials confirmed the suspect’s sister, Megan Betts, 22, was among the nine victims. Multiple law enforcement officials told CBS News there is not a hate crime nexus yet in the Dayton shooting.

https://www.cbsnews.com/live-news/dayton-ohio-shooting-suspect-connor-betts-9-killed-mass-shooting-today-2019-08-04-live-updates/

The El Paso killing is the 2nd mass shootings in two weeks reportedly attributed to white supremacists. Santino William Legan killed three including a 6-year-old attending the Garlic Festival in Gilroy, California, and wounding 12 others. That shooting and the shooting in El Paso were the latest in a growing string of attempted and carried-out mass shootings attributed to overt pro-white racism that has soared since Trump was elected.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/08/03/active-shooter-cielo-vista-mall-area-el-paso-police-say/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.d5a87ad7b8ad

https://newsone.com/3883517/el-paso-shooter-patrick-crusius/

Sunday’s shooting in Dayton is the 22nd mass killing of 2019 in the U.S., according to the AP/USA Today/Northeastern University mass murder database that tracks homicides where four or more people were killed — not including the offender. The 20 mass killings in the U.S. in 2019 that preceded this weekend claimed 96 lives. For a time line of the most recent mass shootings in the United States see:

https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2019-08-03/united-states-mass-shootings

TRUMP’S RESPONSE TO EL PASO AND DETROIT SHOOTINGS

President Donald Trump denounced the shooting in El Paso by saying:

“Today’s shooting in ElPaso, Texas, was not only tragic, it was an act of cowardice. I know that I stand with everyone in this Country to condemn today’s hateful act. There are no reasons or excuses that will ever justify killing innocent people. ”

https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/03/politics/trump-texas-mass-shooting/index.html

On Monday, August 5, 2019, Trump condemned the weekend shootings in Texas and Ohio as “barbaric” attacks and crimes “against all humanity” as he called for bipartisan cooperation to strengthen the nation’s gun laws. Trump said:

“In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy. … These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hate has no place in America”

President Trump has in the past downplayed the threat of the rise of white supremist terrorism. In August 2017, after a 20-year-old white man drove his car into a crowd at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing one anti-racist protester and injuring 19 others, President Trump said that there was “blame on both sides” regarding the deadly violence that was instigated by white supremacists. Earlier this year, Trump said that he did not believe white nationalism was on the rise following two deadly attacks on mosques in New Zealand.

Trump said he has directed the FBI to examine steps to identify and address domestic terrorism and said he wants legislation providing “strong background checks” for gun users, but he provided no details. Trump has reneged on previous promises after mass shootings, especially after the Las Vegas mass shooting.

Trump pointed to a mental illness problem in the United States, calling the shooters “really very seriously mentally ill” and said the problem has been going on “for years and years [and] we have to get it stopped.”

https://www.abqjournal.com/1349664/trump-says-he-wants-stronger-gun-checks-but-reneged-in-past.html

DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES REACT TO SHOOTINGS

After the El Paso mass shooting, a number of Presidential candidates weighed in on the cause of the shootings linking them to Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric.

New Jersey Senator Cory Booker said:

“There is complicity in the president’s hatred that undermines the goodness and the decency of Americans regardless of what party. … To say nothing in a time of rising hatred, it’s not enough to say that ‘I’m not a hate monger myself.’ If you are not actively working against hate, calling it out, you are complicit in what is going on.”

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg said:

“[Trump] helped stoke many of these feelings in this country to begin with. … At best, he’s condoning and encouraging white nationalism. ”

Senator Kamala Harris of California blamed Trump’s use of language:

“We have a president of the United States who has chosen to use his words in a way that have been about selling hate and division among us.”

Senator Bernie Sanders opened a town hall meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada with a moment of silence and by calling for universal background checks for firearms purchases and more restrictions on assault weapons and said:

“Assault weapons are designed for one reason. They are military weapons. And I don’t have to explain that to the people in Las Vegas who experienced the worst gun tragedy in the history of this country”

https://www.abqjournal.com/1349131/2020-dems-back-gun-limits-after-el-paso-mass-shooting.html

NOT THE FIRST TIME TRUMP’S SUPPORTERS ACT OUT

The El Paso mass murder is not the first time that one of Trump’s supporters has acted out and has sought to do harm against those who disagree with Trump.

It was less than 10 months ago that the New York Times reported that on October 26, 2018 Federal authorities made an arrest in connection with the nationwide bombing campaign against outspoken Democratic critics of President Trump. At least 14 pipe bombs were sent to Democratic outspoken critics of President Trump and people who he has vilified at his political rallies and people he vilified on TWITTER.

Pipe bombs were sent to the home addresses of:
Former President Barack Obama
Former Vice President Joe Biden
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
Former United States Attorney General Eric Holder
Former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) John O. Brennan
California Congresswoman Maxine Waters
Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Billionaire philanthropist George Soros
Actor Robert Di Nero
A pipe bomb was also delivered to the offices of CNN in Midtown Manhattan, New York City.

On Friday, October 26, 2018 Federal authorities made an arrest in connection with the nationwide bombing campaign against outspoken Democratic critics of President Trump. The suspect was identified as Cesar Sayoc Jr., 56, of Aventura, Florida. Sayoc is a registered Republican, he has a lengthy criminal history in Florida dating back to 1991. Sayoc’s criminal record includes felony theft, drug and fraud charges, as well as being arrested and accused of threatening to use a bomb.

During his arrest, Sayvoc’s white van was also seized as evidence. The van’s windows were plastered with a thick collage of pro-Trump stickers. Photos of the van showed that one of the stickers depicted President Trump standing in front of flames and the American flag. Another was of Hillary Clinton’s face in the crosshairs of a rifle scope. A third said: “CNN SUCKS.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/26/nyregion/cnn-cory-booker-pipe-bombs-sent.html

On Thursday, October 25, 2018, the very a day after CNN and Democrats were the targets of the pipe bombs, Trump in a TWEET blamed the media for much of the “anger” in society by saying:

“A very big part of the anger we see today in our society is caused by the purposely false and inaccurate reporting of the Mainstream Media that I refer to as Fake News. It has gotten so bad and hateful that it is beyond description. Mainstream Media must clean up its act, FAST!”

https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/25/politics/trump-blames-media-for-anger-after-attacks/index.html

Another example of Trump supporter acting out occurred after Trump went after Representative Ilhan Omar (D-Minn) in particularly viciousness manner during his July 17, 2019 North Carolina “Make America Great Campaign Re Election Rally by saying:

“[She] smeared U.S. service members in ‘Black Hawk Down.’ She slandered the brave Americans trying to keep peace in Somalia.” As Trump continued to criticize Representative Ilhan Omarof, the crowd began to shout, “Send Her Back” an obvious rewrite of the “Lock Her Up” slogan Trump used against Hillary Clinton.

On July 19, 2109 a New York man was taken into custody after having been arrested and charged with threatening to assault and murder Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. According to the US Attorney’s Office for the Western District of New York, Patrick W. Carlineo, Jr., 55, of Addison, New York, threatened to kill Omar because of her Muslim faith, according to a criminal complaint and accompanying affidavit. A call was placed to Omar’s Washington, DC, office on March 21, an FBI agent stated in the affidavit. During the call, an individual, who identified himself as Pat Carlineo, said to a staff member: “Do you work for the Muslim Brotherhood? Why are you working for her, she’s a (expletive) terrorist? I’ll put a bullet in her (expletive) skull.”

https://www.cnn.com/2019/04/06/politics/ilhan-omar-new-york-threat/index.html

RISE OF WHITE SUPREMACIST DOMESTIC TERRORISM VIOLENCE

FBI Director Christopher Wray has previously said that white supremacy poses a significant and “pervasive” threat to the United States. On July 23, 2019, FBI Director Christopher Wray testifying before the US Senate Judiciary Committee that the FBI has made about 100 domestic terrorism-related arrests since October, 2018 and said the majority were tied to white supremacy. Wray told the congressional committee:

“I will say that a majority of the domestic terrorism cases that we’ve investigated are motivated by some version of what you might call white supremacist violence, but it does include other things as well. ”

The FBI Director testified that the FBI is “aggressively” investigating domestic terrorism and hate crimes and said that the bureau is focused on investigating the violence, not the ideology motivating the attacks. Wray distinguished between “homegrown violent extremism” defined as people in United States who are inspired by global jihadists, and “domestic extremism,” which is broader and includes include racially motivated extremists, anarchists and others.

The FBI Director testified that the number of domestic terrorism arrests are on par with the amount international terrorism cases and he said:

“In terms of number of arrests, we have through the third quarter of this fiscal year had about give or take 100 arrests on the international terrorism side, which includes the homegrown violent extremism … We’ve also had just about the same number — again, don’t quote me to the exact digit — on the domestic terrorism side. …

“We take domestic terrorism or hate crime — regardless of ideology — extremely seriously, I can assure you, and we are aggressively pursuing it using both counterterrorism resources and criminal investigative resources and partnering closely with our state and local partners.”

“Our focus is on the violence. … We the FBI don’t investigate the ideology, no matter how repugnant. We investigate violence. And any extremist ideology, when it turns to violence, we’re all over it.”

https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/454338-fbis-wray-says-majority-of-domestic-terrorism-arrests-this-year

POLL SAYS MAJORITY FEEL TRUMP IS A RACIST, BUT NOT REPUBLICANS

On July 30, 2019, President Trump boldly proclaimed:

“I’m the least racist person there is anywhere in the world!”

A majority of the American people disagree with his assertion that his is not a racist. According to a new national Quinnipiac poll, conducted July 25 to 28 and released July 30, 2019 a majority of 51% of those polled believe President Donald Trump is racist compared to 45% who say he is not a racist, a six point spread.

The Quinnipiac poll is far more revealing when it identified a huge divide in 3 areas: 1. gender, 2. white people and people of color and 3. party affiliation on whether Trump is racist. The results of the poll are:

GENDER:

Men polled said 55% to 41% that Trump is NOT a racist.
Women polled said 59% to 36% Trump IS a racist.

WHITE VS PEOPLE OF COLOR

46% of white people said Trump is racist, while 50% said he is not a racist.
80% of black people said Trump is racist, while 11% said he is not a racist.
55% of Latino people said Trump is racist, while 44% said he is not a racist.

PARTY AFFILIATION:

What is striking is the extreme split along partisan lines.

A whopping 91% of Republicans said Trump is not racist, while just 8% of Republicans polled said he is a racist.

Meanwhile, 86% of Democrats said Trump is racist and 9% polled said he’s not a racist.

You can review the Quinnipiac poll results here:

https://poll.qu.edu/national/release-detail?ReleaseID=3636

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

President Donald Trump is a racist pure, plain and simple. The Republicans in Congress refuse to admit it in the hopes of clinging to power. Republicans elected to congress have an extensive history of not condemning the President’s obviously racists tweets and actions.

There is no doubt that President Trump promotes hostility, mistrust and violence towards the press as well as his critics with his words and conduct at his rallies. Trump promoted violence, hostility and mistrust when he first ran for President and he is doing it again at his reelection political campaign rallies. What is disturbing is he has added one more dangerous ingredient to his speeches: overt racism.

Trump repeatedly uses harsh rhetoric targeting journalists and political opponents during campaign rallies creating and inflaming an extremely tense and divisive political environment of hostility, mistrust and violence. Trump refuses to take any responsibility for promoting hostility and mistrust, and at times violence, in this county and against his critics and American citizens.

RACISM CENTER PIECE OF TRUMP’S RE ELECTION BID; GOP NOW RPA

In the 2020 Presidential election racism and white supremacy is center piece of Donald Trump’s attempt to divide the country in order to get elected President a second term by the electoral college and not the popular vote. Trump is contributing to the racist divide in this country and is constantly stoking violence and hate against Americans and others of color. Trump relishes in stoking racial divide. This country is too good, has come way too far, with respect to civil rights, to elect a racist president again.

What is genuinely surprising is that after Trump’s racist remarks and his extensive history of racism, only 51% of voters polled believe he is a racist. A short history of Trump’s racist comments and action over the years can be found in the below blog article links. What is so damn disgusting is the party of Lincoln, the Grand Old Party (GOP) has become the RPA party (Racist Party of America) when 91% of Republicans polled say Trump is not racist.

Trump has an extensive history of promoting violence at his campaign rally’s. A history of Trump inciting violence and encouraging violence against those who disagree with him can also be found in the articles at the below links.

Each time a mass shooting has occurred in the United States during President’s Trump watch he has downplayed and rejected that his inflammatory racial rhetoric has had anything do with the shootings. Each time a mass shooting has occurred, Trump and the Republicans in congress refuse to take any meaning full steps to advocating responsible gun control legislation.

As each day passes, it is very doubtful that Trump can or will be removed by impeachment. Even if the US House of Representatives were to enact Articles of Impeachment, the United States Senate controlled by the Republicans will never vote to convict and remove him with the 61 necessary votes. President Trump needs to be removed from office by the voters in 2020. With all the mass shootings, there is a chance that voters in those states that flipped from Democrat to Republican and who voted for Trump in 2016 will recognize the mistake they made voting for a racist who incites violence against Americans who disagree with him.

With as much time left until the November 2020 election, Trump will be appealing to this country’s darker side of racism and white supremacy to get elected to a second 4-year term. Trump has already has already vilified Hispanics, Muslims, African Americans, immigrants seeking asylum and elected minority members of congress. It’s just a matter of time before Trump singles out yet another minority to vilify.

TRUMP’S DISGRACEFUL LEGACY

Trump’s legacy as President of the United State will be his is disgraceful public exhibition of racism and hate that he relishes to show off for all the world to see. Trump enjoys showing his racism to his most fervent defenders who no doubt have no problem with it and worshiping Der Feuer.

The Republican Party is now the party of Trump. An astonishing 91% of Republicans polled say Trump is not racist. No Republican is challenging him for the Republican nomination. The Grand Old Party (GOP) has now become the RPA: The Racist Party of America (RPA).

Trump, Racism And Violence He Promotes Is Disease Country Suffering From Needing Intervention

Our “Racist In Chief”

“Mass Transit Experts” City Councilors Issac Benton and Diane Gibson Are An Embarrassment To The City And Their Constituents

According to a report, ridership on New Mexico’s commuter rail line as well as the Albuquerque bus system continued to erode last year, dropping 3%, according to the latest figures. The main bus systems in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe saw declining ridership in the last fiscal year.

The municipal bus systems in Albuquerque and Santa Fe each reported a 5% drop in riders in the 2019 fiscal year, which ended in June. Las Cruces reported a 3% decline.

In Albuquerque, construction along Central Avenue of the disastrous ART Bus project contributed to the decline in bus ridership. Albuquerque has completed the building of the canopy designed bus rapid transit line platforms along the 9 mile route of Route 66 in the middle of central along with the dedicated bus lanes .

The ART Bus route has gone virtually unused for well over 2 years after its dedication because the city is still waiting on delivery of the “new” buses. City Bus drivers are being trained with the delivery of one bus, while the city tries to educate the public on the proper traffic restrictions along central. Mayor Tim Keller expects full service to begin in the winter.

You can review the full article here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/1348325/falling-ridership-hits-transit-agencies-in-new-mexico.html

THE BENTON-GIBSON EXPERTISE ON MASS TRANSIT

Albuquerque City Councilor Diane Gibson is chairwoman of the agency that operates the Rail Runner. Her brilliance was on full display when she said people who live in New Mexico and the West are already inclined to drive their owns cars, and low gas prices provide extra encouragement saying:

“Our mindset is to buy a car, have our own personal space in a car, and that’s pretty much how we live our lives. … Once we get out of the habit of taking the Rail Runner or the bus to work or school, it’s more difficult to go back and change our habits.”

The brilliance of Albuquerque City Councilor Isaac Benton was also on full display in the news report when he said he expects transit ridership in New Mexico to recover in the long run, especially as more young people opt to use ride-booking services rather than get their own driver’s license. Benton also said low gas prices, are “without question” a factor in the short-term ridership trends and added:

“Transit has been a tough sell in New Mexico because we’re a fairly low-density state with a lot of highways … but with regard to the generational change, I am optimistic for the future.”

DIANE GIBSON

City Councilor Diane Gibson represents District 7, Albuquerque’s mid-heights including uptown and parts of the near northeast heights. Gibson was first elected to the Albuquerque City Council in 2013 and was again elected to the Council in 2017 for a second 4-year term. Councilor Gibson was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. Gibson moved to New Mexico in 1975 and retired from Sandia National Laboratory in 2008 where she began her career as a prototype machinist. The eleven years before retiring Councilor Gibson worked as an Environment, Safety, Security and Health coordinator dealing with workplace safety issues. You can read more about Diane Gibson here:

https://www.cabq.gov/council/find-your-councilor/district-7

ISSAC BENTON

Isaac (Ike) Benton is the District 2 Albuquerque City Councilor. City Council District 2 is the city-center district encompassing downtown, old town, parts of the University of New Mexico and the entire valley east of the river. He was elected to the City Council in October 2005. Councilor Benton came to Albuquerque in 1976 as a VISTA volunteer at UNM’s Design and Planning Assistance Center. Benton is a licensed New Mexico architect and building contractor. Between 1991 and 2009, he operated his own architecture practice with a focus on libraries, senior and community centers, schools, and housing, always using sustainable design and public participation in the design process. Benton is now retired and avowed urbanist. Benton’s city council district includes a large area of downtown Central and the North Valley which leans left and is heavily Hispanic.

You can read more about Isaac Benton here:

https://www.cabq.gov/council/find-your-councilor/district-2

Benton ran unopposed in 2015 and is seeking another term on the City Council. Democrat (D) Isaac Benton has 5 opponents: Steve Baca (D), Joseph Griego (D), Robert Raymond Blanquera Nelson (Unknown), Zack Quintero, (D) and Connie Vigil, an Independent.

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

When you review the credentials or job experience of Isaac Benton and Diane Gibson, you get a clear understanding of how little they actually know about mass transportation, which is negligible at best. Gibson especially has a zero understanding of statewide mass transportation issues, let alone a city bus system, yet she is the chairwoman of the agency that operates the Rail Runner. Go figure.

City Councilors Benton and Gibson voted repeatedly for the disastrous ART Bus project that has destroyed the character of Route 66. Both refused to advocate to put the ART Bus project on the ballot for public approval. Benton and Gibson voted to spend federal grant money that had yet to be appropriated by congress.

The ART Bus project has been a total disaster resulting the destruction of the character of Route 66. ART has had a negative impact on Central resulting in several businesses going out of business. Many central businesses and Nob Hill businesses no longer exist because of the ART Bus Project.

Gibson did not attend a single public meeting that was sponsored by the former Republican administration to listen to constituent’s complaints on the project. Gibson instead voted repeatedly for and supported Mayor Berry’s ART Bus project and funding. Gibson said to a neighborhood association meeting she “was tired of carrying the Mayor’s water” on the project, yet she refused to advocate to put ART on the ballot for public approval, saying it was the Mayor’s project.

Isaac Benton is given credit for attending one public meeting that was sponsored by the former Republican administration to listen to constituent’s complaints on the ART Bus project. The problem is he got into a very public and very nasty confrontation and shouting match with a constituent where Benton defended the ART Bus project. Benton had to be separated, but only after photo’s and video were taken.

Both Benton and Gibson voted to use $13 million dollars in revenue bonds to pay for the ART Bus project. The revenue bonds were not voted upon by the public. The Albuquerque City Council that Gibson and Benton were part of also borrowed over $63 million dollars over a two-year period to build pickle ball courts, baseball fields and the ART bus project down central by bypassing the voters. The $65 million dollars was borrowed with the Albuquerque City Councilors voting to use revenue bonds as the financing mechanism to pay for big capital projects.

The only true benefit to City Councilors Benton and Gibson commenting on New Mexico and Albuquerque mass transportation issues and the agency that operates the Rail Runner is that their full ignorance was on display for all voters to see. With any real luck, at least Benton will be off the city council come the November election.

You can read more blog articles on ART at the below link:

Dinelli Blog Articles On ART Bus Project Listed

Mayor: “Keep Your Friends Close, And ABQ Developer Enemies Closer.”

The business “families” of the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce, the Albuquerque Economic Forum and the National Association of Industrial and Office Parks (NAIOP) have been around Albuquerque for many decades. All 3 are the very old guard of the Business Community. Many consider their membership the “movers and shakers” of the City of Albuquerque, especially their own membership.

Recently in speeches before the Albuquerque Economic Forum and the New Mexico chapter of NAIOP, Mayor Tim Keller spoke about current and future developments in the City. Keller told the Economic Forum:

“People tell me ‘I really don’t see a lot of new construction projects in Albuquerque.’ … I’ve got to tell you, I’m not really sure that’s true.”

According to one news report, Keller originally told both groups upcoming development projects total $500 million, but his office later revised the figure to $930 million. Construction projects include:

1. The Sawmill Market;
2. A forthcoming food hall just north of Old Town;
3. The Rail Yards development;
4. The mixed-use Nuevo Atrisco project at Central and Unser NW;
5. The planned hospital expansions by Presbyterian and the University of New Mexico.

According to Mayor Keller, his administration is working with other government agencies and the business community to help push developments forward by saying:

“[Developers] come to us and say, ‘We have this planning challenge’ or ‘We have this funding gap of like $500,000;’ this is where we’re [the city is] saying ‘We’re just going to say yes.’ We’re not going to let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

Keller asked the monthly luncheon of the Economic Forum audience to support the upcoming city Capital Improvements Project (CIP) bond package on the November 2019 ballot and assist with donations for housing vouchers for the homeless. Best of luck to Mayor Keller getting any help from either the Economic Forum or NAIOP on either request, which is unlikely given their past positions opposing city policies.

You can review Mayor Keller’s full Economic Forum presentation here: https://www.facebook.com/MayorKeller/videos/843763522676976/UzpfSTEwNTQ4MTY4OTY6MTAyMTc1MTU2NDAwOTY5NDI/

Lynne Anderson, president of NAIOP New Mexico, when asked for specific examples of how the city has advanced projects, said “it’s impossible to summarize developers” overall experience with the Keller administration. Anderson gave as her reason the varying scopes of projects and their individual characteristics and challenges.

Anderson said she “has heard both positive and negative feedback from constituents” . Anderson did say the Keller Administration is showing a willingness to move projects along giving a reminder the development communities relationship with the previous Republican Administration by saying:

“Bottom line is we all need to work together to make the city work, and there is a recognition of that – and [it happened with and] was in the previous administration.”

https://www.abqjournal.com/1346189/mayor-touts-developments-totalling-930-million-to-business-community.html

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

To quote Michael Corleone in the classic movie The Godfather, Part II (1974): “Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer”. The meaning of this quote is not merely that you should know your enemies well, but you do not want your enemies to know that you are enemies.

Mayor Keller should consider the Economic Forum, National Association of Industrial and Office Parks (NAIOP) and the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce as the 3 major Republican business organizations, related families so to speak, in the City that are adversarial to the City that Keller heads. It is hoped Mayor Tim Keller is following the principal of “Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer” when he makes his presentations to the 3 major businesses organizations. What is far more likely is that by inviting Mayor Tim Keller to speak, NAIOP and the Albuquerque Economic Forum are the ones that are keeping their enemy closer, and the Mayor needs to understand it in no uncertain terms.

It is curious that Lynne Anderson, president of NAIOP New Mexico, referred to her dues paying membership as “constituents”. Her remark says a lot more about the development organization than meets the eye seeing as Anderson’s business group are constituents of the Mayor far more than of hers.

What is noticeable is Mayor Tim Keller is sounding and looking more and more like his Republican predecessor by talking to these groups on a regular basis himself. Keller gave his very first State of the City address as Mayor last year to NAIOP, which is something his predecessor would do often. When NAIOP advertised it as the State of the City Address, Keller quickly back tracked disclaiming it was a State of City address. Keller never demanded a retraction from NAIOP nor did he give a State of the City Address in 2018 that was reported on by the media the way his NAIOP speech was reported. Keller also allows his high-ranking officials such as the City’s CAO Sarita Nair or Planning Director David Campbell, when he was first appointed, to talk to them and give insight to what is going in City Government.

If Mayor Tim Keller thinks he will get all 3 business organizations to support his policies and win them over somehow with his smile and talking to them, being friendly, accommodating and asking for their help and support, Keller is sadly mistaken. One of his Democrat predecessors did the exact same thing of cozying up to them and he had a very rude awakening at election time when all three groups supported the Republican who defeated the incumbent Democrat Mayor who trusted them to a degree.

All three organizations or their membership supported and contributed to Keller’s Republican opponents in the 2017 Mayors race, with NAIOP in fact endorsing Keller’s Republican opponents and making major contributions. It is likely not one of these 3 business organizations or their membership will ever get behind Mayor Keller’s policies and priorities nor an election bid for another term, especially if a Republican run against him, which is likely.

The Albuquerque Economic Forum, the New Mexico Chapter of NAIOP and the Greater Albquerquerqu Chamber of Commerce are the very old guard of the Republican Business Community. All 3 groups are very much part of the problem and not the solution. All 3 business organizations oppose any and all city regulations, zoning restrictions, increases in taxes no matter how justified, oppose hourly wage increases, they promote “right to work laws”, oppose mandatory sick leave policies for businesses, oppose unions, and oppose the city demanding that they pay union wages on city construction projects.

Notwithstanding NAIOP’s disdain for the City’s code enforcement, regulations, and zoning restrictions, the membership in NAIOP are always the first in line with their hands out wanting city hall construction contracts such as the $130 million ART Bus project. All 3 organizations are more concerned about the overall financial success of their memberships and keeping control or influence of development within the city’s development as opposed what is good for the city.

Case in point of trying to exert influence over city hall was when the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce and the construction and development community, including (NAIOP), pulled all stops to get the City’s ABC-Z comprehensive plan, now known as the Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO), adopted before the October 3, 2017 municipal election. The rewrite of the comprehensive plan took a mere two years. The rewrite started in 2015 by order of the former Republican Mayor who was a contractor and a member of NAIOP.

In 2017, there were sixty (60) sector development plans which governed new development in specific neighborhoods. Forty (40) of the development plans had their own “distinct zoning guidelines” that were designed to protect many historical areas of the city, such as Barelas, Old Town and Martineztown. Under the enacted Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO) the number of zones went from 250 to fewer than 20, which by any measure was dramatic.

During his campaign for Mayor, Tim Keller took no position on the zoning overhaul nor the repeal of so many sector development plans. IDO will have a long-term impact on the cities older neighborhoods and favors developers.

The intent from day one of IDO was the “gutting” of long-standing sector development plans by the development community. The ABC-Z project rewrite was nothing more than making “gentrification” an official city policy especially with IDO blatantly removing the public from the development review process.

Another case in point of trying to exert influence over city hall occurred recently when the Albuquerque City Council enacted R-19-150 that made changes to the IDO that allows the City’s Development Review Board to further circumvent strict state statute requirements. It is a policy change that eliminates public engagement and favors the development community. Mayor Tim Keller remained silent regarding passage R-19-150 and presumably has signed it into law in that no veto has been announced or reported.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with any Mayor being pro business, working and cooperating with the businesses organization when you can and the promoting economic development. In fact it is very much a part of the job of being Mayor. However, just working and cooperating with any business organization is a far cry from promoting just “pro business” policies, being anti tax, supporting right to work, opposing unions, opposing increases in the minimum wage, opposing mandatory sick leave and reducing the size of government and being just a political puppet of the 3 business organizations who pull your strings like in the Godfather and the former Republican Mayor.

It would be wise for Mayor Keller to “Keep his friends close, and his ABQ development enemies closer”. Keller is wasting his time if he thinks the development community will support him or his policies, especially when it comes to his progressive Democratic core values of taxes, opposition to right to work, support of unions, increases in the minimum wage, and mandatory sick leave, and helping the homeless, unless of course Keller has change his mind on anyone of his progressive policies.

In the meantime, from a political standpoint, it is recommended Mayor Tim Keller not go to any vintage Italian Restaurant with bathroom toilets having elevated political water tanks to hide things behind. KAPISH?

For related blog articles see:

A Rush To Adopt Gentrification As City Policy Before An Election

“Downtown Revitalization”: Deja Vu All Over Again!

Keller, Benton, Davis and Jones Carry On With Berry Bad Legacy Of Supporting Development Community Over Neighborhoods And Support of ART