City And DOJ File Joint Motion To Dismiss 25% Of Consent Decree Already Suspended; “In House” Monitoring Team Over APD Reforms Appointed; City Should Seek Full Dismissal Of Case

On October 28, 2023, it was reported that the he Department of Justice (DOJ) has agreed to terminate large portions of its settlement agreement that lays out reforms within the Albuquerque Police Department due to APD having been in full compliance with those sections for at least 2 years.

The  joint motion filed by  the Department of Justice and the City of  Albuquerque has as its goal  to have parts of the Federal Court Approve Settlement completely removed from oversight by the Federal Monitor. This comes after the city cites sustained operation compliance with the federal agreement made with the Albuquerque Police Department. U.S. District Judge James Browning approved for the motion-filed parts to have no monitoring in 2022. After achieving an over 90% compliance, Independent Federal Monitor James Ginger agreed to a significant pay deduction for monitoring APD. Once the agreed order sought by the joint motion is approved, upwards of 25%  of the Court Approved Settlement Agreement would be completed.

In the announcement U.S. Attorney Alexander Uballez said it was “a second major milestone” for the department’s reform efforts so far this year with the federal judge overseeing the case having already suspended the monitoring of those sections in 2022. Uballez said this:

“This move to partial termination is yet more evidence of the City of Albuquerque’s dogged pursuit of progress … Much remains to be done, and the challenges facing us as a community are ever-evolving. While we continue to work together to confront those challenges, we applaud the steady and unrelenting drive towards the type of policing that the people of Albuquerque deserve.”

On November 8, 2023, the Federal Monitor Court filed his 18th report that covers the time period of February 1, 2023 through July 1, 2023.  The monitor found APD is only ONE percentage point from full compliance with the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) in “Operational Compliance”, one of 3 compliance areas.  Under the terms and conditions of the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA), once APD achieves a 95% compliance rate in all the 3 identified compliance levels and maintains it for 2 consecutive years, the case can be dismissed. Originally, APD was to have come into compliance within 4 years and the case was to be dismissed in 2018.

The 18th Federal monitors states compliance levels are as follows:

  • Primary Compliance 100%
  • Secondary Compliance 99%
  • Operational Compliance 94% (95% is needed to be achieved and sustained for 2 years)

The 3 compliance levels are explained as follows:


Primary compliance is the “policy” part of compliance. To attain primary compliance, APD must have in place operational policies and procedures designed to guide officers, supervisors and managers in the performance of the tasks outlined in the CASA. As a matter of course, the policies must be reflective of the requirements of the CASA; must comply with national standards for effective policing policy; and must demonstrate trainable and evaluable policy components.


Secondary compliance is attained by implementing supervisory, managerial and executive practices designed to and be effective in implementing the policy as written, e.g., sergeants routinely enforce the policies among field personnel and are held accountable by managerial and executive levels of the department for doing so. By definition, there should be operational artifacts such as reports, disciplinary records, remands to retraining, follow-up, and even revisions to policies if necessary, indicating that the policies developed in the first stage of compliance are known to, followed by, and important to supervisory and managerial levels of the department.


Operational compliance is attained at the point that the adherence to policies is apparent in the day-to-day operation of the agency e.g., line personnel are routinely held accountable for compliance, not by the monitoring staff, but by their sergeants, and sergeants are routinely held accountable for compliance by their lieutenants and command staff. In other words, the APD “owns” and enforces its policies.

Operational Compliance is considered the most difficult to implement and achieve. The 15th and 16th  reports released in 2022 saw significant gains in Operational Compliance but the 17th  has brought APD  the closest it has ever been to full compliance with 92% reported and with 95% needed to be achieved and sustained for 2 years in all 3 compliance levels.


The terminations agreed to between the DOJ and the city include  the Multi-Agency Task Force, which investigates police shootings; policies and training for specialized tactical and investigative units; and the public’s knowledge of how to file complaints, among other portions of the CASA.

If the joint motion filed by DOJ and city of Albuquerque is approved by U.S. District Judge James Browning who is overseeing the case the monitoring and oversight of those sections will fall squarely  to APD.


APD Chief Harold Medina had this to say about the agreement:

“The fact is we have now been in compliance with these sections for years, and I’m glad to see them finally taken out of the consent decree. … It shouldn’t take years to acknowledge we are in compliance with the rest of the agreement. We are committed to reform and we have shown we can self-monitor.”

Mayor Tim Keller had this to say:

“This should put to rest concerns about APD’s ability to self-monitor and continue the reform process past federal oversight. … APD is proving the department is ready to institutionalize constitutional policing and ongoing reform on its own. Going forward, we need to push past the piecemeal approval process and focus on the future beyond the CASA.”

Paul Killebrew, Deputy Chief over the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division cautioned that even if  APD  reaches  full compliance with all paragraphs of the CASA and all 3 of the compliance levels, APD will still  have to sustain that compliance for full  two years delaying the dismissal. Killebrew estimated that could happen by 2026, which would be 12 years into the department’s reform effort.

The links to quoted news sources are here:


It was on July 27, 2022, the Albuquerque Police Department and the U.S. Department of Justice announce  agreed to suspend several paragraphs of the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA.) According to APD, the agreement “essentially removes about a quarter of oversight requirements.” The city reached an agreement with the DOJ to suspend the monitoring of upwards of 25% of the paragraphs in the CASA. Those paragraphs have all been in operational compliance for more than 5 years.  Under the stipulated agreement between the City and the DOJ, the city is now self-monitor 62 paragraphs of the CASA.  APD and DOJ representatives solidified the partial oversight requirement suspension during a virtual hearing on July 26. The changes went into effect on August 1 of this year.

Under the stipulated agreement between the City and the DOJ, the city will now self-monitor 62 paragraphs of the CASA. According to a news release, APD said the following areas have maintained operation compliance:

  • Establishing and participating in the Multi-Agency Task Force, which investigates shootings and other critical incidents by law enforcement
    • Developing policies, training and ways to track deployments for specialized units, including the SWAT team, canine unit and bomb squad, and specialized investigative units
    • Providing behavioral health training for cadets, officers and telecommunicators
    • Revising the field training program for new officers
    • Publishing information on how people can make complaints to the Civilian Police Oversight Agency
    • Developing recruitment plans, an objective system for hiring practices and fair practice for promotions
    • Offering officer assistance and support, especially for mental health


On November 16 , 2023, it was  a full 9 years that has expired since the city entered into the CASA with the DOJ. It was originally agreed that implementation of all the settlement terms would be completed within 4 years, but because of previous delay and obstruction tactics found by the Federal Monitor by APD management and the police officers’ union as well as APD backsliding in implementing the reforms, it has taken another  5 years to get the job done. Now after almost 9 full years, the federal oversight and the CASA have produced results.

Reforms achieved under the CASA can be identified and are as follows:

  1. New “use of force” and “use of deadly force” policies have been written, implemented and all APD sworn have received training on the policies.
  2. All sworn police officers have received crisis management intervention training.
  3. APD has created a “Use of Force Review Board” that oversees all internal affairs investigations of use of force and deadly force.
  4. The Internal Affairs Unit has been divided into two sections, one dealing with general complaints and the other dealing with use of force incidents.
  5. Sweeping changes ranging from APD’s SWAT team protocols, to banning choke-holds, to auditing the use of every Taser carried by officers and re-writing and implementation of new use of force and deadly force policies have been completed.
  6. “Constitutional policing” practices and methods, and mandatory crisis intervention techniques an de-escalation tactics with the mentally ill have been implemented at the APD police academy with all sworn police also receiving the training.
  7. APD has adopted a new system to hold officers and supervisors accountable for all use of force incidents with personnel procedures implemented detailing how use of force cases are investigated.
  8. APD has revised and updated its policies on the mandatory use of lapel cameras by all sworn police officers.
  9. The Repeat Offenders Project, known as ROP, has been abolished.
  10. Civilian Police Oversight Agency has been created, funded, fully staffed and a director was hired.
  11. The Community Policing Counsels (CPCs) have been created in all area commands.
  12. The Mental Health Advisory Committee has been implemented.
  13. The External Force Investigation Team (EFIT) was created and is training the Internal Affairs Force Division on how to investigate use-of-force cases, making sure they meet deadlines and follow procedures.
  14. Millions have been spent each year on new programs and training of new cadets and police officers on constitutional policing practices.
  15. APD officers are routinely found using less force than they were before and well documented use of force investigations are now being produced in a timely manner.
  16. APD has assumed the self-monitoring of at least 25% of the CASA reforms and is likely capable of assuming more.
  17. The APD Compliance Bureau has been fully operational and staffed with many positions created dealing directly with all the reform efforts and all the duties and responsibilities that come with self-assessment.
  18. APD has attained a 100% Primary Compliance rate, a 99% Secondary Compliance rate and a 92% Operational Compliance rate.


On November 17,  Mayor Tim Keller announce he has hired a 3 member monitoring team that will oversee the APD Police Reforms and continue to do so once the city reaches full compliance in the Court Approved Settlement Agreement. The three hires announced are:

  • Former Metropolitan Court Judge Sharon Walton, who served for almost two decades, will be the monitor of police training;
  • Former Metro Judge Victor Valdez, who was previously superintendent of police reform, will serve as monitor of discipline and misconduct; and
  • Retired Las Vegas, Nevada, police undersheriff Christopher Darcy will be monitor of Use of Force.

It was also announced Eric Garcia, who had served as Deputy Chief of Police and Interim Superintendent of Police reform, will now permanently fill the position of Superintendent of Police reform.

The 3 will be contract employees and the total of the 3 contracts will be $288,000 with the contracts to run  provided the contracts for through June 30,  2024 and subject to possible renewal.

Christopher Darcy will be paid $98,000 for “training and consulting services for de-escalation of officer-involved shootings.” Former Metro Judges Victor  Valdez and Sharon Walton will be paid $95,000 each for “development of policies and procedures.”  According to Mayor Tim Keller, the team’s contracts for the team, which he and his administration chose, are “narrowly tailored” to avoid conflicts of interest.

Keller said he chose two the former Metro Court judges due to their decades of experience in local criminal justice and a use of force expert in Darcy for “an external perspective.” Garcia, as a sworn officer in the role of superintendent, will be responsible for training, policy and discipline.

The 3 member monitoring team does not replace nor work in conjunction with the federal monitoring team, headed by Independent Monitor James Ginger, which is overseeing the city’s reform effort in its Court-Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) with the DOJ. Mayor Tim Keller said this about the newly appointed monitoring team:

“One of the reasons why we got into the CASA in the first place was because the department was not doing internal reform and monitoring. And so in a way, it’s like preventing a CASA down the road. … And so had we had this set up, I think everyone agrees, we would have never needed the CASA in the first place. So for us, this is really for the future, at least decades, hopefully, of our Albuquerque police department so that we can learn from our mistakes and hold ourselves accountable.”

Daniel Williams, policing policy analyst with the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico, said the CASA had brought about “real advancements toward constitutional policing.” Williams added this:

“But the lived experience of many in our community shows that the much-needed work of reform is far from over. …We welcome any meaningful steps the city and APD are taking toward long-term, sustained reform and hope that this internal monitoring will provide objective, rigorous oversight that our community can rely on.”

The monitoring team’s appointment comes as the city anticipates an end to the CASA after reaching 94% operational compliance in Ginger’s latest report, which was released this month. Once 95% operational compliance is reached, a threshold set from the beginning, the city will then be required to sustain compliance for two years to end the CASA.

The city and Albuquerque Police Department have made sizable progress in checking off CASA requirements since late 2021, after a period of backsliding and turmoil, and more recently are self-monitoring many of the requirements.

May0r Keller said the monitoring team’s duties and responsibilities are modeled after the Federal Court Appointed monitoring team that has overseen the reform process over the last 9 years. Keller said that in appointing the monitor team, “we decided to own it for ourselves, our way,” but noted it couldn’t have happened without the CASA.

“This now sets us up going forward to not have the consent decree, and to not have a monitor, and to still demonstrate a commitment to real reform.”

Links to the quoted news source is here:


Given the extent of the compliance levels, the work of the Federal Monitor can be said to be winding down and coming to an end.  The city should seek to negotiate a stipulated dismissal of the case with the Department of Justice (DOJ) sooner rather than later.  Should the DOJ refuse, the City Attorney should move to immediately to dismiss the case under the termination and suspension provisions of the CASA by filing a Motion to Dismiss the case and force the issue with an evidentiary hearing and let the assigned federal judge decide the issue of dismissal.

Links to related blog articles are here:

APD Projected To Be In Full Compliance With DOJ Consent Decree By Year’s End; Compliance Reached In 215 Of 238 CASA Terms And Reforms; Over 9 Years ABQ Has Become More Violent City Resulting  In More Officer Involved Shootings; Negotiate Dismissal Of CASA By Year’s End

City Proclaims “End in Sight” For Court Approve Settlement Agreement; City And DOJ Agree To Suspend Monitoring 25% Of Settlement; Sergeants and Lieutenants Remain Weak Leak In CASA Enforcement

New Mexico United  Soccer Team Scores Two Big Wins With 7-2 City Council Vote And 8 to 1 EPC Vote For Approval Of 30 Year Lease Of City Owned Land at Balloon Fiesta Park To Build $30 Million Privately Funded Multi-Use Stadium; Construction Expected To Begin Within 90 Days; More Terms Needed In Approved  Lease To Protect Public 

On Monday, November 20, the Albuquerque City Council voted 7-2 in favor of a 30 year lease of city own land at Balloon Fiesta Park to build a $30 Million privately funded multi-use stadium for New Mexico United Soccer Team. Voting YES were Democrat City Councilors Pat Davis, Isaac Benton, Tammy Feibelkorn, Klarisa Pena, Louis Sanchez and Republican City Councilors Dan Lewis and Trudy Jones.  Voting NO were Republican City Councilors Renée Grout and Brooke Bassan.

The 30 year lease was negotiated by the Mayor Tim  Keller Administration.  The lease was introduced to the city council on Monday, Oct. 2, 2023 and on October 16, the lease was to be voted upon by the Albuquerque City Council.  The Council deferred the vote for a full month because it was “uncomfortable” with the one-week rush job by Mayor Tim Keller to get it approved. The Council considered deferring the vote until after the new City Council is sworn in on January 1 with 3 new councilors, but opted to defer the vote one month until a ruling by the Environmental Planning Commission (EPC).

On Thursday, November 16, the Albuquerque Environmental Planning Commission (EPC) held  a hearing regarding making zoning changes to the master plan and site plan so that City Council could approve, deny or defer the lease and it voted to approve the zone changes on  8 to 1 vote. The EPC  considered the environmental impacts of the stadium to surrounding area taking into account such factors as lighting, noise, traffic and parking and found that the stadium would not have a detrimental impact.

The city of Albuquerque intends to lease a mere 7  of 365 acres of Balloon Fiesta Park to New Mexico United. Early renderings of the facility considered by the City Council and the EPC are of  a 185,000 square foot facility that could house up to 11,000 people, which is slightly smaller than Isotopes Park where the team currently plays. New Mexico United is expected to host 17 games a year, but not during the Balloon Fiesta. City leaders say the stadium would be used for other events as well.

Upwards of 100 people sign up to speak at the November 20 city council meeting, mostly those in favor of the lease and building the Stadium with many attendees being soccer players dress in their United uniforms. Although some neighbors to the park came out to support the stadium, others said they were concerned about light and noise pollution from the construction and building, They expressed frustration  with a lack of communication about the proposed project.


Carlos Tenorio II, the president of the Curse, an official support group of New Mexico United,  spoke in favor of the lease and said this:

“It would mean a lot to the team, but it would mean a lot to the community. Look at it more as a communal ground. Isotopes Park is a great example, it’s a family friendly entertainment, a good time at the ballpark. You’ll see the same at the New Mexico United match.”

Sean Sheehan, the owner of Sheehan Winery, also spoke in favor of the lease and said this:

“I think that New Mexico United is going to allow us to move forward as a state and city. It’s a collaboration between soccer and local businesses and I think that the more that we can bring those two things together, the more we can be more successful as a community.”


Notwithstanding all the support expressed, there were those that did express major concern if not outright opposition to the stadium.

Some hot air balloon pilots spoke to the media in opposition to the stadium.  Scott Appelman, president & CEO of Rainbow Ryders, Albuquerque’s largest balloon ride operator during the Balloon Fiesta suspects adding a stadium into the mix will only bring new problems. Appelman said this:

“I am highly skeptical, exceptionally concerned and protective of the future of Balloon Fiesta. … I think you need to pump the brakes and get the details out.I’m really concerned with how fast all of this is coming about. I just don’t understand the wisdom. I don’t trust how this is all coming about in the last six months. You’re taking 7 acres out of an area, that has about 16 parking spots, and it will decrease the number of parking spots by several hundred. … I don’t feel, until there is a firm plan and understanding of what exactly is going on, that this should be approved. … I haven’t seen where any real agreements have been made with like, what is Balloon Fiesta Park gonna get? …  I personally believe that this will be one more nail in the coffin for what Fiesta looks like, compared to what it used to look like.” 

The Keller Administration made it clear the proposed stadium will be located behind a set of power lines that already restrict balloon traffic, and there are plans to add more parking.

Barbara Bloomingfield, who spoke to the council during the meeting, spoke against the stadium and said this:

“A no vote is not a vote against United, but simply a vote against a poorly drafted lease and it’s terms. … The city, if it’s determined to enter into this action, can rethink and redo this deal and return with something that does not have the effect of this lease.”


Mayor Tim Keller after the voted said in a statement:

“Scoring a pro soccer stadium in Albuquerque is a big win for families. … We listened to voters, worked together, and now the ultimate goal is one step closer to being realized.”

United owner and President Peter Trevisani said this in a statement after the vote:

“We are excited that the Council has approved a lease that allows New Mexico United to move forward with the construction of a privately funded stadium that will be for all New Mexicans. … We still have a lot of work to do, and are honored to represent our incredible state. Somos Unidos.”

New Mexico United Chief Business Officer Ron Patel had this to say:

“… [The lease is]  a step in the right direction. We truly believe it is a win-win for the city of Albuquerque, for its residents, and for New Mexico United. We want to be very sensitive to the people who live around Balloon Fiesta Park, knowing that any kind of facility is going to affect the people that live around there. … While this is a privately funded project, it’s not being paid for by the taxpayers. It’s being paid for by private owners. We do look at this as a community asset. This should belong to the community even though the community doesn’t have to pay for it.”

Links to quoted news sources are here:


The New Mexico United lease approved by the city council  was negotiated by the Keller Administration.  It is a take it or leave it approval without negotiation of terms the City Council may want.  Now that the lease has been approved by the City Council, construction for the new stadium can begin within 90 days.

The lease term will be for an initial period of 30 years with the option to renew and extensions for two 15-year terms which means the lease could be for a full 60 years. Ron Patel, chief business officer at New Mexico United, said the team plans to build an 8,000- to 10,000-seat stadium.

The lease agreement contains the following terms and conditions:

  • Seven acres of land, which is currently for parking at the park, will be leased by United New Mexico for $35,000 a year with a 2% rent increase each year.
  • United will pay the city 10% of revenue from parking fees it charges.
  • United New Mexico must initially invest at least $30 million of private funds to design and build the stadium.
  • The city is obligated under the lease to build certain features that remain open to the public during Balloon Fiesta, including shade areas and public restrooms.
  • United will not be allowed to host games during the annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
  • The planned stadium will not interfere with ballooning in the area.
  • The city will be able to use the stadium 10 days a year for free.
  • United would retain all other revenues generated from the stadium, and from naming rights, sponsorships, advertising, tickets, merchandise, games and other events, while taking on all costs to operate the stadium and parking at all times. United would pay its own utility costs. The city would get its own box or cabana or a specialized seating area.
  • At the end of the lease, New Mexico United is obligated to sell the stadium for $1 to the city of Albuquerque, unless the lease is extended by mutual agreement.

Last month, a spokesperson for New Mexico United said details about the design, size or cost are yet to be determined. The city will not be involved with the stadium design.  The approved lease outlines construction to begin  around the end of September 2024. The ultimate goal is to have the stadium ready by kickoff for their 2026 season.  New Mexico United owner Peter Trevisani said this:

“We have done some renderings, we needed to see what a site could look like to make sure it fit in with everyone’s plans: our plans, the city’s plans, Balloon Fiesta’s plans. It’s something that actually was symbiotic with the neighborhoods so putting it in a place that kept light to a minimum, reduced noise, kept it as low level as possible. … Our season generally starts off in March, and our goal is in March of 2026 to have our first game be at this facility.”


Voters and the citizens of Albuquerque can take some comfort with the fact that the lease was approved on a 7 to 2 bi-partisan vote.  In approving the lease on a 7 to 2 vote, the council set aside the hostility the conservative majority has towards Mayor Tim Keller and his attempted rush job to have the council approve the lease within one week of its introduction.

It was Mayor Tim Keller who called a press conference on Friday, September 29, to announce that the City of Albuquerque was going  to enter into the lease and he wanted the City council to approve it within days.  The blunt truth is that the press conference was so typical of Keller’s publicity seeking ways.  It came as a surprise to United New Mexico, the Albuquerque City Council and the Balloon Fiesta Board of Directors for the reason that Keller made the announcement all by his lonesome self, even clean shaven and wearing a suit and tie for a change, in order to take full credit for the lease.

After Keller’s  photo, solo press conference, City Councilor Pat Davis was interviewed by video conference call, soccer team owner Peter Trevisani was tracked down by one station for an interview and the Balloon Fiesta public relations spokesperson  was relegated to issuing a statement. Keller also made it a point to say at his press conference  “it’s mostly out of my hands” to peremptorily lay any and all blame on the City Counsel when United soccer fans become enraged if the lease was not approved all the while Keller took  credit for the lease.

The problem is that we have a mayor who always feels he has to be the absolute center of attention. Keller has a very bad habit of jumping the gun on projects he considers are his legacy projects that will benefit him politically. He refuses to confer with stakeholders to build a consensus to get things done, especially with the city council who he has alienated repeatedly.

Least anyone forget, it was Mayor Tim Keller who made a major mistake when he tried to get a soccer stadium built when he first asked voters to approve $60 million in bonds to pay for downtown stadium. It was embarrassingly rejected by voters with a landslide vote. United Soccer Team owners for their part spent $1 Million on an ad campaign promoting the bonds. Soccer team owners learned their lesson with the election loss and came with an alternative plan for private financing and listened intently rather than trying to shove a plan for a  taxpayer funded stadium down  people’s throats.


The Albuquerque City Council approving the  lease was  absolutely crucial for the continued existence of the New Mexico United Soccer team in Albuquerque. The USL Championship, the league in which United competes, has mandated that its franchises have permanent soccer-only stadium arrangements in place by 2026. Franchises unable to secure stadium deals will likely be relocated or forced to fold, as USLC member San Diego Loyal did at the end of the 2023 season. The soccer team currently plays home matches at Isotopes Park under a sub-lease arrangement. That agreement runs through next season but will not serve as a long-term solution.

The proposed lease is a classic public/private partnership that is often used and that can be a big win-win proposition and go along ways to build a facility the city actually needs that will enhance the city’s quality of life. The best example that already exists of such a facility is the Isotopes Park, a city owned facility rented to a professional sports team.

Notwithstanding the City Council approval, there a few concerns that still need to be addressed in the lease by the Keller Administration because the lease was  presented to the city council as a take it or leave it proposition.  Those concerns that can be addressed with and addendum to the lease include the following:

United will retain all revenues generated from use of the stadium for other types of events without clarification what those events would include, which presumably will include using it as an entertainment venue for concerts and entertainment events. There is no mention of securing city approval of other type of events or of other uses nor the stadium being allowed be “sub leased” to other tenants requiring city approval to generate income with the city sharing in the income from other events.

Although Mayor Keller claims the City will not fund the stadium’s construction, the City website states that “the State has provided capital to the City of Albuquerque for infrastructure improvements that will provide needed upgrades at Balloon Fiesta Park.”  The stadium is not an upgrade to the park and the question that needs to be answered is can the funding be diverted to an unrelated construction project or facility lease should contain specific provisions that the Soccer Team will assume any and all costs for future improvements or remodeling to the facility without any city funding.

The lease should make it clear that in any event New Mexico United Soccer becomes dissatisfied with the location and seeks to move on to another community or state, it cannot simply sublease the stadium usage to another team or franchise for the remaining lease term and the original 30 year lease between the city and United becomes null and void with stadium ownership reverting to the city in full.

With any luck, Mayor Tim Keller will get motivated and ask for the additional terms so that way he can call another press conference and take all the credit.

ABQ Environmental Planning Commission Approves NM United’s Soccer Team Plan For Privately Funded Multi-Use Stadium at Balloon Fiesta Park; On November 20 City Council Will Vote To Approve 30 Year Lease Of City  Land;  Current Council Should Defer To New Council Or Seek Further Terms And Vote YES To Approve

On Thursday, November 16, the Albuquerque Environmental Planning Commission (EPC) approved the proposal for a privately funded multi-use stadium at Balloon Fiesta Park which is City owned land. The vote was 8 to 1 for approval.  The EPC is required to consider the environmental impacts to surrounding areas of such major construction projects and must take in  such factors as lighting, noise, traffic and parking.

On November 20,  the Albuquerque City Council is scheduled to vote on the lease agreement at its regularly scheduled meeting which will be held at City Hall council chambers beginning  at 5 p.m. The Council orginally scheduled final approval of the lease last month but decided to defer the to deliberate futher and allow the EPC to take action and make its recommendations.

United officials said the EPC  vote was a step toward gaining final Albuquerque City Council approval for the stadium project. Councilors last month deferred a decision in order to get questions answered and “feel more comfortable” with the proposed lease agreement. United Director of Communications David Wiese-Carl said this:

“Hopefully the EPC review answers some of those questions. … We feel like this was a big, big step. …

Wiese-Carl also said meetings with neighborhood residents and Balloon Fiesta officials will continue if the project is approved and said this once the leas is approved:

“That’s when the fun part begins in terms of designing the stadium and making it something everyone can be proud of. … Even if the City Council passes the proposal, our work with the neighborhoods and community members is not done. It’s just getting started.”

United Owner/President/CEO Peter Trevisani for his part  said the club has been meeting with neighbors, Balloon Fiesta and city officials to build consensus on the project and minimize potential environmental and neighborhood issues. He said the EPC’s vote is a reflection of those meetings. Trevisani said this in a statement:

“The Commission’s recognition of that hard work is an indication that this project truly serves all of New Mexico.”

The link to quoted news source material  is here:


The Unites New Mexico lease was negotiated by the Keller Administration It’s a take it or leave it approval without negotiation of terms the City Council may want.  If the lease is approved by the City Council, construction for the new stadium can  begin within 90 days.

The lease term will be for an initial period of 30 years with the option to renew and extensions for two 15-year terms which means the lease could be for a full 60 years.

The lease agreement contains the following terms and conditions:

  • Seven acres of land, which is currently for parking at the park, will be leased by United New Mexico for $35,000 a year with a 2% rent increase each year.
  • United will pay the city 10% of revenue from parking fees it charges.
  • United New Mexico must initially invest at least $30 million of private funds to design and build the stadium.
  • The city is obligated under the lease to build certain features that remain open to the public during Balloon Fiesta, including shade areas and public restrooms.
  • United will not be allowed to host games during the annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
  • The planned stadium  will not interfere with ballooning in the area.
  • The city will be able to use the stadium 10 days a year for free.
  • United would retain all other revenues generated from the stadium, and from naming rights, sponsorships, advertising, tickets, merchandise, games and other events, while taking on all costs to operate the stadium and parking at all times. United would pay its own utility costs. The city would get its own box or cabana or a specialized seating area.
  • At the end of the lease, New Mexico United is obligated to sell the stadium for $1 to the city of Albuquerque, unless the lease is extended by mutual agreement.

Last month, a spokesperson for New Mexico United said details about the design, size or cost are yet to be determined. The city will not be involved with the stadium design.

At the September 29  press conference announcing the lease, Mayor Tim Keller said this:

“We’re using state money, federal money, and existing money that we had to do the utilities, the earthwork, the electrical work that it takes to put in the stadium. … We mostly had to do that anyway because we want to do those improvements at the Balloon Fiesta that have to do with Vendors Row. … Now it’s real. And, now, it’s also mostly out of my hands. …

This is going to be a private stadium, and so what we have allowed for in the lease agreement is roughly ten days where the city can use it for city events. … We have also built into this lease agreement, by request, that it be used and available for soccer championships.  … [The lease] also means bathrooms. …We might actually have permanent bathrooms at Balloon Fiesta Park.”

On October 2, in an interview with the Albuquerque Journal, Trevisani said United has not finalized plans for a potential Balloon Fiesta Park stadium, including its initial size and even whether the playing surface would be grass or artificial turf.  Trevisani said this:

“I think the City Council has been great along the way. … I’m not a politician, but I truly believe they want to make Albuquerque the best version of itself possible. This is not a red-blue issue — it’s not even a red-green issue. This is about building a stadium with private funding that makes the city better. I think it’s a win-win.”

On other issues in an Albuquerque Journal interview relating to the stadiumTrevisani said this:


“We want to have high school games. There are things in (the lease agreement) that call for that, things that benefit United and things that benefit the city and Balloon Fiesta Park, including us not playing games during Balloon Fiesta and hosting high school games at the stadium.”


“Working with Balloon Fiesta has been amazing. We’ve found that working together can be collaborative. They’re lacking things like bathrooms and water hookups, which this will address. … We want the stadium to help the area develop in a way that’s respectful to the neighbors and businesses who are there now.”’


“My heart says grass, my wallet says turf. Everyone likes playing on grass, but there’s a balance to consider because we want to have women’s games and high school games and you can’t play on grass every day. There’s also the expense of watering to consider. We’ll probably make that decision as late in the process as possible.”


“We have to bring forward a women’s team. Exactly what level that will be initially, we’ll see. But I know in my heart of hearts we will have a women’s team with New Mexico on its jerseys. We can’t have that now because of space and scheduling at Isotopes Park. A new stadium makes it possible.”

The link to the quoted news source is here:


The Albuquerque City Council approving the lease is absolutely crucial for the continued existence of the New Mexico United Soccer team in Albuquerque.  The soccer team currently plays home matches at Isotopes Park under a sub-lease arrangement. That agreement runs through next season but will not serve as a long-term solution.

The USL Championship, the league in which United competes, has mandated that its franchises have permanent soccer-only stadium arrangements in place by 2026. Franchises unable to secure stadium deals will likely be relocated or forced to fold, as USLC member San Diego Loyal did at the end of the 2023 season.

The proposed lease is a classic public/private partnership that is often used and that can be a big win-win proposition and go along ways to build a facility the city actually needs that will enhance the city’s quality of life. The best example that already exists of such a facility is the Isotopes Park, a city owned facility rented to a professional sports team.

Ultimately, the City Council should approve the lease, but the question raised is should it be the current city council with 3 outgoing city councilors or the new council that will be sworn in on January 1 with 3 new  city councilors?  The regular 2023 municipal election to elect City Councilors for City Council Districts 2, 4, 6, and 8 was  held on November 7, 2023. A runoff is now scheduled for December 12 between Progressive Democrat Nichole Rogers  and Progressive Democrat Jeff Hoehn is scheduled for December 12. Three new city councilors will assume office on January 1, 2024. The current city council could once again defer the final vote on the lease until the new council is sworn in. Deferral until the new city council is sworn in would allow time to negotiate more additions and the needed changes to the lease.  It is the new City Council that will have to deal with any problems associated with the lease, so it would be reasonable to let the new City Council vote on it.

The reason for further deferral is that there a few concerns that still need to be addressed in the lease by the City Council:

The lease is being presented to the city council as a take it or leave it proposition without allowing negotiation of additional terms the council may want under the lease as written.  United will retain all revenues generated from use of the stadium for other types of events without clarification what those events would include, which presumably will include using it as an entertainment venue for concerts and entertainment events. There is no mention of securing city approval of other type of events or of other uses nor the stadium being allowed be “sub leased” to other tenants requiring city approval to generate income with the city sharing in the income from other events.

Although Mayor Keller claims the City will not fund the stadium’s construction, the City website states that “the State has provided capital to the City of Albuquerque for infrastructure improvements that will provide needed upgrades at Balloon Fiesta Park.”  The stadium is not an upgrade to the park and the question that needs to be answered is can the funding be diverted to an unrelated construction project or facility? The lease should also contain specific provisions that the Soccer Team will assume any and all costs for future improvements or remodeling to the facility without any city funding.

The Keller Administration has yet to explain why Balloon Fiesta Park for the new Soccer Stadium. There are other city owned lands that could just as easily be used for the new soccer stadium. Good examples include the decommissioned south runway at the Sunport or an underutilized golf course.

Links to related blog articles are here:

On October 16 Lame Duck City Council Scheduled To Vote To Approve 30 To 60 Year Lease Of 7 Acres of Balloon Fiesta Park To New Mexico United Soccer Team To Build Privately Funded $30 Million Soccer Stadium; Concerns That Should Be Addressed By Council Before Approval


Mayor Keller Seeks City Council Approval Of 30 To 60 Year Lease Of 7 Acres of Balloon Fiesta Park To New Mexico United Soccer Team To Build Privately Funded $30 Million Soccer Stadium; Keller’s Rush Job For City Council Approval By A Lame Duck City Council; It’s Always About Keller’s Legacy Projects     


Guest Column By Isaac and Sharon Eastvold: “Politics, Stormwater and Money”; District 7 City Councilor Tammy Fiebelkorn Promotes Her Own Personal Agenda To Determent Of Constituents And Needs To Become One Term City Councilor In 2025

Isaac and Sharon Eastvold are long time community activists and the founders or Fair Heights Neighborhood Association which they help found on October 11, 1993.  Both have been residents of City Council District 7 since its inception and residents of City Council District 5 which became District 7 because of redistricting. They have also been members of the Neighborhood Stormwater Drainage Management Team since May 31,  2021.  Isaac and Sharon Eastvold were the founding members of the Friends of the Albuquerque Petroglyphs (FOTAP) which was instrumental in securing city council and community support for the establishment of the Petroglyph National Monument on June 27, 1990.  Isaac and Sharon Eastvold submitted the following guest column for publication on

EDITOR’S DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed in this guest column by Isaac and Sharon Eastvold  are those of the Eastvolds  and do not necessarily reflect those of the blog. The Eastvolds have  not paid for and has not been paid any compensation to publish their  guest column and they  have  given their consent to publish on as a public service announcement especially to the residents and voters of District 7 to enlighten them on what is going on in District 7.

 Many people dont know that the older neighborhoods in the northeast heights were built out without the storm drains people are used to seeing along curbs. Instead, the City directed stormwater flows to be carried by gravity on streets which eventually lead to very large stormwater main drains buried under arterials. Because of the toxic, chemical and biological contents, these stormwaters needed to be taken out of the human environment and treated elsewhere. Until recently, the City website referred to these stormwaters as sewerage.” This essay will serve as an alarm to alert older neighborhoods of how their outdated stormwater needs may be manipulated to their detriment.

 As a case in point, here is a sad template of how this manipulation can occur. Historically, the neighborhoods on both sides of San Pedro north of Lomas, the much larger Mark Twain neighborhood on the east and Fair Heights on the west (name later changed to Mile Hi) used Summer to convey their stormwater to main drains: the 4-foot diameter San Pedro drain, and the 8-foot diameter San Mateo drain.

 Mark Twains stormwater, which originates at Louisiana, drains through their neighborhood streets to join with Summer and flows westward to its junction with San Pedro. Past City planning had mistakenly allowed the stormwater to flow across San Pedro, causing hydroplaning and the inevitable vehicle accidents. Then it entered Fair Heights on Summer, exacerbating existing stormwater flows in that neighborhood which had not been analyzed by the City.

 In 2007, leaders in Fair Heights asked the City for help. Their hydrology specialists did careful calculations of the stormwater flows coming from Louisiana through Mark Twain to San Pedro. Then they used those calculations to engineer a stormwater drain which would splice Mark Twains stormwater where it belonged, into the San Pedro 4-foot main drain. This intercepted the large amount of stormwater coming from Louisiana and fixed the original Mark Twain neighborhood problem which dated back to the 1950s. The cost to the City for the project was only $44,000.00.

This was a perfect example of how these older on-street drainage systems” can be fixed economically with good work using the same common sense approach that was used to fix Mark Twain. We think you will agree, after reading the sad chronicle of complications below, and ballooning of costs, that really the best solution at this time, would be the original approach.


SPOILER ALERT: now things begin to get really complicated.

Instead of using this common sense approach, City Councilors Gibson and Fiebelcorn, together with their policy analysts turned our problem over to the City on-call engineering firm Bohannan Houston, Inc. (BHI)

First, Council Special Projects Manager, Diane Dolan, added another contractor we had never heard of, GroundWorkStudio, in an initial $40,000 subcontract through BHI. Many of our residents are elderly or retired and are not used to following complicated issues on line. GroundWorkStudio has become the on-line publishing arm of BHI. BHI recently published some of their arguments for this project on the GroundWorkStudio website; six pages when printed. This was added to an already large volume on the Green Stormwater Infrastructure” (GSI) project.

Factual evidence, and even petitions submitted by residents have been stubbornly ignored or summarily dismissed. It seems we can not get Councilor Fiebelcorn into a rational dialog. She does not return phone calls from leaders working on the stormwater issue.

Second, as another complication, Councilors Gibson, Fiebelcorn, and Ms. Dolan, decided to splice Mile Hi neighborhood into a $1.5 Million GO bond. This was left over from the City and AMAFCAs (Albuquerque Metropolitan Flood Control Authority) failure to inflict a huge stormwater drainage pit into the beautiful Twin Parks, west of San Mateo. Volunteers in that area, particularly the McDuffy and Pueblo Alto neighborhoods, took three actions to counter the City and AMAFCA to save their park:

1) they formed the Friends of Twin Parks,”

2) identified engineering expertise as well as,

3) legal council.

With all this organized opposition, the City pulled back their assault on Twin Parks, leaving $1.5 million unspent.

Third, Ms. Dolan insisted that stormwater from Mile Hi neighborhood was somehow contributing to Pueblo Alto neighborhoods flooding, which it definitely is not. Mile Hi stormwater is collected from our on-street drainage system in 8 storm drains at Madeira and El Encanto, just east of San Mateo. From there it flows under the San Mateo noise wall and is spliced into the 8-foot diameter San Mateo main drain. Also, there is a raised median on San Mateo which prevents surface flows from crossing to Pueblo Alto.

On May 31, 2021, because of the Citys persistent failure to clean out the eight drain intake, our first “monsoon” rain of only one inch of rain, backed up against the San Mateo Noise/Art Wall and then surged underneath into the northbound lane of San Mateo causing one vehicle to hydroplane. To her credit, Policy Analyst for Councilor Gibson, Abby Styles, summoned the Streets and Stormdrain Division of the City Metropolitan Development Department MDD. They came out and unplugged the drains.

During the next two one-inch monsoon rains in July and September of 2021, also of one-inch, the Mile Hi on-street drainage system worked fine. Despite the obvious intervention of City Staff in fixing the May 31st problem, Ms. Dolan and GroundWorkStudio continue to make false statements alleging that the hydroplaning was due to an overflow of the 8-foot San Mateo Main Drain.

 It should be noted that our series of thee one-inch rains in 2021 constituted a relatively mild monsoon season. Since that time, nothing comparable has occurred, mainly because we have entered a new phase of New Mexico climate called climate change. Central New Mexico, including all the Albuquerque metropolitan area, has been classified by meteorological science as having entered drought or severe drought conditions. Although it is very difficult to predict monsoons, as well as non-soons,” it would be a safe bet to predict continuation of these trends. Obviously, this throws Councilor Fiebelkorns hugely expensive GSI project into serious question.


FIRST, it consists of a series of 9-foot wide pits, of varying lengths, on the sides of neighborhood streets, which many residents would call detention ponds, or mosquito breeding pits. Besides interfering with repairs to water, sewer and fiber optic lines, these pits may remain dry during this new weather paradigm.

SECOND, the GSI swales and bump outs consume a significant part of the standard 32-foot right-of-way for all neighborhood streets. When matched with required residential on-street parking, which also needs 9 feet, this only leaves, a usable street width of 14 feet. Imagine first responders, delivery trucks, home healthcare, Meals on Wheels or normal cars trying to pass in such a restricted right-of-way! This constriction of the right-of-way also endangers bicyclists, dog walkers, handicapped individuals and other pedestrians forced to use the streets for walking due to many driveway cuts on the sidewalks.


We must apologize for yet another layer of complication that, unfortunately, continues to be used by the City. AMAFCA had done a study of northeast heights stormwater flows from the southeast at Gibson and Moon, northwest across the Heights to San Mateo. They prognosticated that the drainage system would be over capacity making the main drains inadequate. These conclusions were challenged by engineering expertise within the Pueblo Alto neighborhood.

A report was submitted to the City’s MDD. They never responded. AMAFCA had never done actual measurements to test this northeast heights drainage system during monsoon events that might be similar to their projections. Also, for AMAFCAs conclusions to be correct, a series of successive, overlapping monsoon storms would need to closely follow each other, like a parade of trained ponies, from the southeast to the northwest across the northeast Heights. This extremely rare event could only be predicted for a 1,000 or even a 5,000 year series of storm events. Computer modeling for such highly unusual cumulative storm events would be unreliable and therefore useless for planning.

 Finally, long-term residents adjoining San Pedro and San Mateo have never, according to our knowledge, reported observing overflow of the main drains. Our Mile Hi on-street drainage system has been working for over 50 years and, like Mark Twain, needed some fixing.


The City has come up with a hugely expensive, two-part plan that unnecessarily creates more new impacts. Our Mile Hi neighborhood has been arbitrarily classified as a pilot project” to test this GSI scheme.

 PART ONE: another mind-blowing part of the proposed GSI pilot project for Mile Hi is a shortening, or complete elimination, of a quiet residential street, La Veta NE, between Summer and El Encanto. The original plan to destroy Twin Parks seems to have been reincarnated in this “pilot project.”  Now, it would be to construct a very large detention pit excavated into La Veta NE. They  euphemistically call this a pocket park.” It seems this plan is replete with euphemisms to mask whats really going on.

The addition of this detention pit on La Veta has been justified by the City because the AMAFCA study warns against adding any additional stormwater to the main drains. We have seen above how unsubstantiated that claim is.

PART TWO: The costs are ballooning. The first street in Mile Hi to be targeted for funding by the Citys on-call engineering firm, BHI, was Cardenas. They wanted $1.7 million from Federal, State and City sources, for a street that rarely, if ever, sees stormwater over the curb. It was glaringly obvious that our neighborhood, street by street, was intended to become a money sponge.

Special Project Manager, Diane Dolan, sent out grant applications to FEMA and the State Legislature for stormwater funds. FEMA denied the application especially since they were so involved with legitimate disaster relief in Northern NM for floods and fire. The State House Finance Committee denied a Capitol Outlay Request from Representative Christine Trujillo for $1.7 million, giving her instead, a token $100,000. Like FEMA, they also had far more important Statewide needs to address.

Rep. Trujillo has since retired. She told us she had received over 30 messages in support of her $1.7 Million Capital Outlay request, mostly from west of San Mateo. Among those were some that inclined toward personal smears. After submitting a public records request, we were denied copies of these messages. However, we have found this campaign turning toward personal attacks in other documents, including a defamatory statement in the public records of the City Council.

 Around Halloween, we received a creepy visitor. An unfamiliar woman entered our front porch, and without knocking or ringing the doorbell, left an unsigned, unstamped letter in our mailbox. The letter presumably was to request a copy of our most recent informational flyer. In leaving our porch, the woman peered in through our living room window and stared briefly at us. The address on her letter was from the Pueblo Alto neighborhood area.

Our work has been on behalf of the Mile Hi area and has never presumed to speak for any other neighborhoods, including Pueblo Alto or McDuffy. Their stormwater needs are different, and in some parts, more severe than ours. Putting Mile Hi together with Pueblo Alto in the $1.5 Million GO bond and alleging that our stormwater contributed to their problems was a clever way of opening the door to creating a false impression that we might become in conflict with those neighborhoods. We are not.

We did 9 highly targeted public record requests (IPRAs) in order to find out what was really going on. These could have been answered in short responses within statutory time limits. Instead, we were deluged with over 10,000 pieces of information over a period of about three months, thereby violating the State Inspection of Public Records Act mandatory timelines . The requests tried to discover if the City had analyzed any alternatives for the few areas that needed fine tuning in the Mile Hi on-street drainage system. They had not done anything worthy of the name. BHIs one standard alternative was permeable pavement which is notoriously expensive both in purchase and maintenance.

We also issued our first Action Alert, including some of the above information, and got it distributed to every resident and business within our boundaries.

Since that time, the Mile Hi Neighborhood board has kept their newsletters muted or completely silent on the stormwater issue. Not surprisingly, petitions we circulated to residents living on streets directly affected showed they did not know what was going on, had not been informed, and were alarmed. Everyone supported a full Environmental Analysis with viable alternatives, in an honest review similar to the Federal NEPA process.

Even with these petitions in hand from her own constituents, Councilor Tammy Fiebelkorn did not change course. It seems as if she may have decided to make this one of her legacy projects. Failing to secure Federal or State monies, she has turned to other options. Plowing ahead, Councilor Fiebelkorn set up a special tour to the so called pocket park” on La Veta. Those attending were mainly from Bernalillo County and City Parks and Recreation.

Another tedious round of record requests, at a minimum, would be necessary to uncover where Councilor Fiebelkorn and Special Project Manager Diane Dolan are planning to take all this. It is well beyond the time and patience of any neighbor.


Residents in Albuquerque are used to voting on municipal bonds. These are like motherhood and apple pie, and are almost always approved by a majority of voters. Very few voters ever have the patience and time to open the cupboard to see what is inside. Unlike earlier attempts to secure Federal and State funds, which were examined by Congressional and State Legislative committees, these funds simply take the Mayor’s approval together with the Council. City leaders like Ms. Fiebelkorn and Ms. Dolan know that this is a politically safe place to get money, whether justified or not.

This year’s bonds included an unusually large amount for Stormwater/Sewer: $14,310,000.00. Of that, we are informed $2 million will be available this year for Councilor Fiebelkorn to begin her GSI scheme. The on-call consultants BHI and GroundWorkStudio are already working with the Planning Department to prepare a design for the first 30% of the entire project. There will be a public meeting this fall to invite comments and discussion, although there has been no environmental analysis or consideration of viable alternatives. When announced, mark your calendars and please attend!


All voters and residents of District 7 need to pay special attention to how City Councilor Tammy Feibelkorn has treated Isaac and Sharon Eastvold. Having known the couple 38 years, I can say without reservation they truly understand the needs and concerns of District 7.  They have done far more for our community than Fiebelkorn will ever hope to accomplish.

During the two years she has been an Albuquerque City Councilor, Tammy Fiebelkorn has exhibited a pattern of downright hostility towards constituents who oppose or who disagrees with her votes on policy and legislation.  Although known for attending the District 7 Neighborhood Coalition meetings to give updates on what is happening in her district, she repeatedly takes issue with those who disagree with her at the meetings and who ask her to reconsider positions.  She simply refuses to change her mind and then  goes out of her way to offend.  She has told the officers of the District 7 Neighborhood Coalition, which boasts membership of 10 neighborhood associations, that the coalition is not reflective of District 7 needs and concerns.

What is the most troubling is that City Councilor Tammy Fiebelkorn, in addition to what she is promoting for District 7’s storm drainage system as describe by the Easvold’s, she promotes her own personal agenda with little or no concern and many times no  input for what her constituents really want.

There are 5  major examples of City Councilor Tammy Fiebelkcorn promoting her own personal agenda over the objections of many of her constituents and with little or no input from them:

  1. Progressive Democrat Fiebelkorn teamed up with Progressive District 6 City Councilor Pat Davis  to sponsor a City Council Redistricting map that would have gutted both her own District 7 and Davis’s District 6. The redistricting map carved out a large portion of District 7 that was clearly more  conservative in order to add the more progressive Nob Hill area in District 6 to Fiebelkorn’s District 7 in order to enhance her own re election chances. It was classic gerrymandering but the City Council rejected the redistricting.


  1. Fiebelcorn is a staunch supporter of Safe Outdoor Spaces which are city sponsored managed homeless encampments with 40 designated spaces for tents that allows for upwards of 50 people, require hand washing stations, toilets and showers, require a management plan, 6 foot fencing and social services offered.  She voted for the changes to the city zoning laws that now allow Safe Outdoor Spaces in all 9 City Council Districts. Fiebelkorn  sponsored legislation that failed that would have empowered the City Planning Department to unilaterally approve all Safe Outdoor Space Applications and totally eliminate the public’s right to challenge and appeal the applications and eliminated City Council intervention.


  1. Fiebelkorn supported and voted for major amendments to the city’s zoning laws that would have allowed the development of both “casitas” and “duplexes” in all existing residential developments and areas of town as permissive uses eliminating historic appeal rights of adjoining property owners in order to double or triple the city’s density. All the amendments to the city zoning laws Fiebelcorn voted for favored developers at the expense of homeowners and especially historical areas of the city.


  1. Fiebelkorn sponsored the “Residential Protection Ordinance” which was voted down by the city council. The ordinance was nothing more than an attempt at rent control which has been rejected by the New Mexico legislature and which Fiebelcorn unsuccessfully promoted.


  1. Fiebelkorn sponsored the “Residential Rental Permit Ordinance” which was voted down by the city council. The resolution was an attempt to limit and place caps on ownership of short term rentals and enact regulations of  the “bed and breakfast” rental  industry in the city.

It is more likely than not that Tammy Fiebelkcorn will be seeking a second term to the Albuquerque  City Council in 2025. Informed sources are now saying that dissatisfaction with her has become so great by many of  her District 7 constituents that they are actively seeking a candidate to run against her.

Let’s hope a strong candidate is found. Tammy Fiebelkcorn needs to become a one term city councilor.


City’s Office Of Inspector General Finds Mayor Tim Keller’s Pandemic Book “City at the Crossroads: The Pandemic, Protests, and Public Service” A Waste Of  $97,000 Of Taxpayer Dollars; Book Epitome Of Keller’s Self Centered, Self-Absorbed Governing Style Where Public Relations Declared Public Service

On October 30, the Albuquerque Office of the Inspector General (OIG) released a scathing 27 page report that found the Mayor Tim Keller Administration had misused taxpayer money to the tune of more than $97,000 to write, edit, print and publish 598 copies of a book entitled  “City at the Crossroads: The Pandemic, Protests, and Public Service in Albuquerque”.   The book became controversial when released as critics charged that it was nothing more than political propaganda paid for by taxpayers  to promote Mayor Tim Keller and his administration. The book includes a chapter dedicated to Keller called “the Metal Mayor”,  several dozen photos of Keller, and an introduction written by Mayor Keller and a foreword written by his wife Elizabeth J. Kistin Keller as first lady of the city.

You can read the entire 27 page OIG report at this link:

The book is  230 pages long and is listed on AMAZON for $19.99 with Joline Gutierrez Krueger identified as the author and a 2.5 star rating out of 5 stars with the following content description:

“As COVID-19 jammed Albuquerque’s famous Route 66, businesses adapted or closed; as case numbers rose, public health needs changed and tensions flared. Add to the long haul of COVID-19 a summer of political unrest, the murder of George Floyd, and protests about historic statues and memorials, and 2020 was one for the books. City at the Crossroads helps preserve the history of pandemic year one in Albuquerque, as journalist Joline Gutierrez Krueger reports on how the city’s government and citizens came together to weather change.”

The Office of inspector General went to far as to label the book “a waste” of taxpayer funds and said this:

“The OIG considered whether it is reasonable to believe, that in the event of another pandemic, someone would seek out and read a book of anecdotal stories as a guide of how to navigate such a crisis. …  Obligating the taxpayer’s monies to fund a book that promoted the administrative achievements during the pandemic and where a calculated value may never be known appears to be a waste.”

The OIG report relies on and quotes and interviews with someone who worked closely on the project. They reportedly told OIG  inspectors:

The Mayor wanted to document the unprecedented time as City leaders were scrambling to adapt to the pandemic. The idea was to chronicle this event in case another pandemic happens again. People can go back and look at it as a resource, what was useful, and what wasn’t.”

The report did not find enough evidence supporting claims the city violated its purchasing ordinance or the state’s anti-donation clause producing the book.  However, the OIG report suggested evidence of possible favoritism and conflict of interest.

Although a total of 598 copies of the 230 page book were published, as of June 9, almost 500 remained unsold, with some stored in the office of a contractor associated with the book, a few held at city libraries and others still available for purchase at a museum shop. Taking into account the total project costs, the price per book purchased totaled $141.17 each.

Just 91 copies, priced at $19.99 per book on Amazon, were sold directly to consumers. Ten books were sold to the museum for $10 each and at a loss in that the OIG calculated that each book cost $10.25 to print.  According to the OIG report anyone who asked for a copy was given one for free.

Mayor Tim Keller’s name is largely absent from the OIG report, with just 3 mentions of the mayor. The OIG report focused primarily on the costs associated with the project, a lack of documentation of how contractors were chosen and errors in official documentation.

The contractor was identified only as “Employee 1” or E1, in the OIG  report. But in 2022, the Albquerquerqu Journal reported that it was Amanda Sutton who was contracted by the city to work as a project manager for the book and later began working for the city in a permanent capacity. According to her LinkedIn, she started as a “Special Projects Manager” for the city of Albuquerque in July 2022.

Presuming “Employee 1” or “E1” is Amanda Sutton, she was paid $44,190, or $90 per hour, for work on the book, and $5,760 from other projects with the city. “E1” described the writing process as “chaotic,” adding that it was sometimes “unclear on who was directing.”

Besides the misuse of funds, the OIG report found that One Albuquerque Fund’s  in printing and publishing the books was overstated in the memorandum of understanding between the nonprofit and the city. The One Albuquerque Fund is a city endowment fund set up by Keller himself who solicited donations from the private sector to pay for city projects above what is already paid for by the city.


The Albuquerque Journal took special interest in the story and suffered an embarrassment when it was revealed that the book was written by none other than longtime Albuquerque Journal columnist Joline Gutierrez Krueger.  It turns out Gutierrez Krueger was paid $44,700, or $60 per hour, by the city of Albuquerque to write the book without her informing the Journal editors nor getting the papers permission. Gutierrez Krueger contracted with the city while still employed by the Albuquerque Journal which was a violation of the papers policy that prohibits moonlighting for government entities to avoid conflicts of interest. The Journal issued the following statement:

“Gutierrez Krueger contracted with the city while still employed by the Journal, a violation of company policy that prohibits moonlighting for government entities to avoid conflicts of interest.”

But for the fact that Gutierrez Krueger was about to retire, her authorship of the book could have likely been used as grounds for termination by the paper.

Former Journal Editor Karen Moses wrote in a column that the 2018 freelance policy prohibits writing for “any organization or person related to a political party, candidate, or government agency.” Gutierrez Krueger said she was already planning to retire at the time and knew the book would be published after her departure from the Journal. It is more likely than not it was planned that the book would be published after she retired. She said there was a “clear  red line” between her Journal column and the work on the book, which she said was completed on her own time, and she was not in contact with the Mayor’s Office besides interviews.

Gutierrez Krueger said she didn’t think there was a conflict of interest during her time at the Albuquerque Journal. She said she was honored to be selected as the author and bring to light the work public officials took to “keep the city afloat” during the pandemic. Gutierrez Krueger said  she wasn’t interviewed by the OIG, and said the original call for an investigation came from people with “political agendas” which is a not so  suttle reference to Conservative Republican City Councilor Dan Lewis who made a big stink about the book when it first came out and who ran and lost to Keller in a landslide in 2013.

Gutierrez Krueger was is very critical of the OIG report and said she  stands behind the book saying the book was not about Tim Keller. She says it’s instead about people who struggled, like store owners and nurses, during the pandemic.  Gutierrez Krueger said this:

“The OIG report does a disservice to those people. … I think that’s what makes me the saddest, is these are stories, I think, and these are people that should be known by their community. And with this negativity, I worry that, you know, people are going to get the wrong idea of what the book was.  … I never worked directly with the mayor on any of this. He was never… I never, like, sat down with him to discuss what he was envisioning. …  I had to interview him, obviously, for the book because you can’t write a story about the city and not write about the mayor. That’s as far as it went for me. The joy of writing it, for me, was writing these stories. …  I think one of the reasons the book struggled is people made criticisms of the book without reading it.”

Links to quoted and relied upon news sources are here:


Keller Administration officials said the book was not intended to promote the Keller  administration, but to promote “the voices of Albuquerque.” Arts and Culture Director Shelle Sanchez said the department stands by the book, the author and the effort behind it.  Sanchez in a statement about the report said this:

“The Department of Arts & Culture stands behind and supports this book project, the author, and the exceptional effort that went into the book’s creation. Books like this one are important and lasting resources. Arts & Culture regularly publishes or co-publishes books centered on arts, culture, and exceptional times in our city’s history, and we will continue to do so. We strongly object to the Office of Inspector General equating “misuse or waste” with “profit,” as it is inaccurate and misleading.

The OIG does not provide clear or objective evidence to substantiate the allegation of misuse or waste of public funds. The OIG has demonstrated biased behavior, overreach of authority, and failure to adhere to established auditing protocols, raising serious concerns about their impartiality. A recent change to the OIG ordinance has created a structural lack of independence, violates national standards, and has further politicized the office.“

The link to the quoted and relied upon news source is here:


It was a year ago that Conservative Republican City Councilor Dan  Lewis publicly asked for an investigation into the book to identify if the purchase violated city purchasing rules and regulations and had any public purpose. When the book was released, Lewis said there was evidence of misuse that warranted asking the OIG to investigate.

Lewis issued the following statement about the OIG report:

“The Office of the Inspector General substantiated serious allegations that the Mayor misused and wasted public funds. Among other findings of misuse and waste, the report specifies the City spent more than $97,000 to create a book and sold only 91 copies to the public. The administration does not appear to take the findings seriously when they dismiss this damaging report as “sharing their short book report.”  Unfortunately, the Mayor ignored and ridiculed the investigation. The Inspector General should forward findings to the appropriate law enforcement partner such as the FBI and U.S. Attorneys office.”

The link to the quoted and relied upon news source is here:

Lewis disputed  that his call for an investigation was politically motivated and said it is routine for councilors to refer potential issues to the OIG. Lewis cited the department response characterizing part of the OIG report as a “short book review” as evidence the administration was “mocking” the office.  Lewis said this:

“Maybe this administration would take it seriously [if the FBI or AG investigated]. … I’m just doing my job. … I’m not running for anything.”


The Republican City Councilor Dan Lewis  is not the only critic who  noticed how frequently the Mayor Tim Keller  is mentioned in the book. Paul Gessing with  the conservative taxpayer watch dog group Rio Grande Foundation said this:

“I saw a chapter, ‘The Metal Mayor” said Gessing as he flipped  through the book and he said  “There’s the mayor. Yeah. I mean, we’re less than halfway through the book, and he’s already in there about ten or so times… It is a way to promote the mayor. And that’s where we really have a big problem with it.”

The links to all cited and quoted materials and news sources are here:


It is downright laughable that Conservative Republican City Councilor Dan Lewis says with a straight face I’m just doing my job. … I’m not running for anything.”  It’s laughable because Lewis, within days after being elected in 2021 to return to the city council, said privately to supporters he is running for Mayor again in 2025. He wants a repeat of his 2013 race against Keller who is likely running for a third term.

Although the Office of Inspector General raised and answered the legitimate question if taxpayer funds were spent appropriately and found it to be a waste of taxpayer money, the OIG still did not find anything illegal ignoring the extent Keller benefited from it personally as politcal promotion. The OIG  went only so far as to make made recommendations to the city on how to tighten up its controls on the city’s purchasing ordinance.

The city’s personnel rules and regulations make it clear that City property may not be used for personal gain nor profit.  If a full-time city employee, not an elected official such as Keller, had used city resources for personal usage or gain, it would have been a violation of the city’s personnel rules and regulations and it would be grounds for termination.  But Keller is the elected Mayor and he is not governed by the city’s personnel rules and regulations like all the other 6,000 city employees and so he gets away with it.

The blunt reality is nothing further is going to happen with the OIG report and no one will be held accountable.   The Keller Administration arrogantly responded that the OIG report “findings were inaccurate, misleading, oversimplification of this investigation”  and further said “We stand behind the book, and we know the IG doesn’t like the book.”


When Mayor Tim Keller assumed office on December 1, 2017, he instantly began to take photo ops and press conferences to an all-new level by attending protest rallies to speak at, attending marches, attending heavy metal concerts to introduce the band, running in track meets and suiting up as the quarterback to participate in exhibition football games and enjoying reliving his high school glory days, and posting pictures and videos on his FACEBOOK page. He even posts his press conferences on FACEBOOK.

Then in 2021, the pandemic hit the city and hit it hard.  The pandemic turned out to be just another opportunity for Keller to promote himself. During the pandemic, Keller  held weekly press conferences promoting what the city was doing akin to what Governor Lujan Grisham did with the state.  Keller also held “town hall” meetings by phone calling thousands using the 311 frequent citizens contact list orchestrated by his long time pollical consultant  who Keller hired to work for the city 311 citizen contact center paying him $80,000 a year and who reported directly to Keller. Keller  secured funding from the city council to hand out $50,000 in grant checks to small businesses and did so by use of a “drive up service” to give out the checks personally as the TV cameras were rolling.

Ostensibly, Keller was the only elected official interviewed with his own chapter in the book and there is little mention of the Albuquerque City Council.  So much for Keller’s ONE ALBUQUERQUE slogan.  The book “City at the Crossroads: The Pandemic, Protests, and Public Service in Albuquerque” is  Keller promoting what he did during the pandemic proclaiming it to be leadership. Absent from the book is any substantive discussion of the vital role of the Albuquerque City Council and it expanding the emergency powers of the Mayor and allocating funding to the various departments to deal with the crisis’s and allocating funding for grants to help the business community.

In 2017 when then State Auditor Tim Keller was running for Mayor, he was swept into office riding on a wave of popularity he orchestrated as State Auditor for a mere 1 year and six months of his 4-year term in office. He proclaimed he combated “waste, fraud and abuse” in government and promising transparency”. He took advantage whenever he could to call out government officials wasting taxpayer funds.

Now that he is Mayor, Tim Keller has had no problem with “waste, fraud and abuse” within his own office as long as it has his name on it,  promotes his career and his accomplishments.  “City at the Crossroads: The Pandemic, Protests, and Public Service in Albuquerque” is nothing more than a book that chronicles Mayor Tim Keller’s self-centered, self-absorbed governing style during the pandemic where public relations was proclaimed public service.


ABQ City Council District 6 Runoff Scheduled December 12; Early Voting starts November 21; Nichole Rogers “Failing Forward” Candidacy; Endorsements By Other Candidates Announced; Voter Turn Out Will Be Biggest Challenge For Two Candidates

The Bernalillo County Clerk’s Office has announced that the City Council District 6 runoff race is scheduled for December 12. Early voting starts Tuesday, November 21, and runs until Saturday, Dec. 9, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at five early voting convenience centers. The voting sites will be closed for the Thanksgiving weekend. On December 12, voters can head to one of 10 Election Day voting convenience centers from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Locations available at

District 6 largely covers Southeast Albuquerque and includes Nob Hill, the International District and areas around the University of New Mexico and includes the Meas Del Sol Area. District 6  is currently represented by the current City Council President and Progressive Democrat City Councilor Pat Davis who did not  seek a third term.

The two top vote getters in the November 7 election between 4 candidates who qualified for the ballot and who will be in the runoff are Nichole Rogers and Jeff Hoehn. Twenty-three percent of District 6 voters headed to the polls on or before Nov. 7, slightly above the overall average, while the city wide vote on November 7 was 19%.  The results of the November 7 election were:

Progressive Democrat Nichole Rogers: 40.14% (Total Vote 2,947, Absentee Vote: 373, Early Vote: 1,023, Election Day Vote: 1,551)

Progressive Democrat Jeff Hoehn: 32.42% (Total Vote 2,380,  Absentee: 378, Early Vote: 986 , Election Day Vote: 1,016)

Progressive Democrat Kristin Greene 17.94%  (Total Vote 1,317, Absentee: 181, Early Vote: 479,  Election Day Vote 647)

Progressive Democrat Abel Otero 9.51% (Total Vote 698,  Absentee:  124 ,  Early Vote:  217,  Election Day Vote 357)


Following are the candidates profiles in alphabetical order:


Progressive Democrat Jeff Hoehn has a Master of Public Administration from the University of New Mexico, he is married to Charlotte Itoh and the couple have one child. He has lived in the district 21 years. He is the executive director of Cuidando Los Niños, a shelter and school for homeless children.  He has identified crime and homelessness as his top concerns for District 6.

Hoehn’s approach to the homeless would differ significantly from Mayor Keller’s large shelters at the Gateway Center and Westside Emergency Housing Center. To combat homelessness and the housing crisis in the city, he would fund smaller, population-specific shelters that are attractive and safe for those who want help. He agrees that the Albuquerque Community Safety Department should be a proactive force that is on the streets every day, all day actively encountering individuals who are homeless so that they accept help or choose to relocate.

Hoehn advocates short-term mobile APD command units in high crime areas. He advocates for a dedicated team of police officers that can embed with the community, build trust and make the area unfriendly to criminal activity.   His crime proposals lean heavily on police and policing technology to get that done. Hoehn told the League of Woman Voters this:

“I advocate instituting short-term APD mobile command units in high crime areas. …  We must be strategic so that officers can spend their time preventing and addressing crime. Technology such as speed cameras has a role to play also.”


Progressive Democrat Nichole Rogers is a certified Emergency Medical Technician (Basic) and has an  Associate of Arts and Sciences in Integrated studies from Central NM Community College (2012). She lists her occupation as a business consultant and financial adviser, She has  2 children, aged 15 and 6 years old and had lived in District 6 for six years.

Progressive Democrat Nichole Rogers identifies herself as a Black and Hispanic single mother and survivor of abuse. She has worked for the Mayor Tim Keller Administration as a policy advocate and community organizer.  Progressive Democrat Nichole Rogers cited poverty as her top priority if she is elected seeing it as an underlying cause of crime and homelessness. Rogers says too many families do not have what they need to survive much less thrive. Rogers says short-term solutions include getting the Gateway Homeless shelter  open and functioning and the long-term solution is addressing poverty.  She vows to work to implement a Universal Income pilot that will provide families with the financial boost they need. To combat homelessness and the housing crisis in the city, Rogers wants to increase the number of shelter beds as a short-term solution and from there increase “wrap-around services” to get the unhoused in permanent supportive services that will help them stay housed.


The District 6 runoff election is expected to be very contentious with the exchange of charges and dueling press conferences and perhaps one or two debates between the candidates.


What is clear is that Mayor Tim Keller was involved with the campaign of Nichole Rogers from the get go and that it is likely to extend to the runoff.  Sources have confirmed that Mayor Keller workers contacted candidate Jeff Hoehn even before he announced.  They told Hoehn in no uncertain terms that he could not win and not to run and that he would not be receiving the support of Mayor Tim Keller. Sources have also confirmed that the paid political consultant for Kristin Greene contacted Hoehn and insisted that he not  run because he is not a minority and he could not win. Hoehn decided to run after he was convinced to do so by neighborhood progressive activists.

Rogers worked for the Mayor Tim Keller Administration as a policy advocate and community organizer.  Confidential sources confirmed that Rogers received significant help in collecting nominating petitions signatures and qualifying donations from at least 2 city hall employees who work directly for Mayor Tim Keller. Sources have also confirmed Democrat Progressive County Commissioner Adriann Barboa help collect nominating petitions and qualifying donations for Rogers using voter registration lists.  Both Barboa and Rogers are kindred spirits and have much in common. Rogers also has gone so far as to tell Progressive Democrats privately in the District that she is Mayor Keller’s candidate to replace Progressive Democrat Pat Davis who is a Keller ally.


Although Rogers came in first with 40.14% to Jeff Hoehn’s 32.42%, virtually 5 days before the election Nichole  Rogers candidacy and credibility was severely overshadowed and rocked  by news reports of impropriety. The reports were that Welstand Foundation, the nonprofit Rodgers founded and manages, was not in good standing with the New Mexico Secretary of State until recently, that she failed to file required legal documents with the NM Attorney General for charitable organization Welstand Foundation, failed mandatory declarations of income with the Internal Revenue Service which resulted in her nonprofit losing its federal 501 C 3 status as a charitable organization. It was also revealed that she still did fundraising for the none profit she formed after it lost 501 C 3 status and that she did not make full disclosure of what was raised and what it was expended on.

When the news reports first broke, Rogers admitted that she mishandled her charitable non-profit, which benefited from both private contributions and COVID relief money.  In classic last minute politcal spin to salvage her campaign, Rogers said her conduct was not disqualifying.  Rogers said this:

“I am a person who has had successes and has had failures. But I really believe in failing forward. When you know better, you do better and I’m someone who can teach folks to watch out for these pitfalls.” 

“Failing forward?”  How about just not failing by following the law?  Up and until the allegations were made, Rodgers had momentum and the allegations no doubt had an impact on her final numbers, but early voting and absentee voting had already occurred with the news reports made 5 days before the election.

It is very difficult to understand how a candidate for Albuquerque City Council can hold herself out as a business consultant and financial advisor given her failures to file in a timely manner mandatory documents with the IRS, the New Mexico Attorney General, and the Secretary of State for a charitable organization she created.

The most troubling question that needs to be answered by Nichole Rogers is exactly how much was she able to raise for her foundation since its creation in 2019 and where did the money go and what was it used for?  No one knows, except Nichol Rogers.   Forms are required annually of every 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Those forms are essentially a nonprofit’s income and expense report, allowing oversight of what revenue and donations were brought in, and how and where the money was spent. Not only does it provide financial oversight, but it ensures that a nonprofit’s spending is in accordance with its mission.

The IRS sends compliance letters, so pleading ignorance of the filing requirements is not a valid excuse. The IRS will not revoke a 501(c)(3) organization’s tax-exempt status unless the nonprofit has been out of compliance on filing of the forms  for three consecutive years. This is what finally happened with the Welstand Foundation. Its tax-exempt nonprofit status was revoked on May 15, 2022. It was  also listed as “Not In Good Standing” by the NM Secretary of State website as of October 20, 2023, but that has now changed.

A simple search on the NM Attorney General’s charity registry reveals no 990s have been filed with the office.  Nichole Rogers posted on the social page in mid-October 2023 that  she had closed the Foundation in 2020.  That statement appears to false because in a more recent post on she stated she closed the nonprofit down in 2021.

It is clear that the Welstand Foundation continued to seek donations after after it was supposedly closed and did in fact bring in unreported revenue. Not only has the trust of private donors been violated, the public’s trust has been violated. The City of Albuquerque gave the Welstand Foundation at least $15,000, which has also never been fully accounted for by Rogers.

Other questions that Nichole Rogers needs to answer before the runoff election include:

Will Nichole Rogers seek more city funding to benefit Welstand Foundation or does she intend to step down from its management or dissolve the corporation if she is elected?

Will Nichole Rogers continue with fundraising efforts for Welstand Foundation if she is elected and to what extent?

Will Nichole Rogers engage in lobbying efforts on behalf of Welstand Foundation before the New Mexico legislature as a registered lobbyist if she is elected and to what extent will she lobby on behalf of the city?

In the interest of full disclosure and transparency as a candidate for city council, Nichole Rogers should release her personal income tax returns as well as those of Welstand Foundation so that a comparison can be made and her sources of income can be disclosed as to what extent she has personally benefited from her fund raising activities for the corporation.

Expect far more on Nichole Rogers background to come out during the run off as she is further vetted by the media.


Progressive Democrat Abel Otero who dropped out of the race but who nonetheless garnered 9.51% of the vote immediately endorsed Nichole Rogers. What was surprising is that Nichole Rogers distanced herself from the endorsement saying she did not ask for it even though she knew outgoing City Councilor Pat Davis had endorsed Abel Otero early on.

Progressive Democrat Kristin Greene who came in third and who garnered 17.94% of the vote, has endorsed Progressive Democrat Jeff Hoehn. Greene endorsed Hoehn in glowing terms saying Hoehn is the best candidate to represent the District.

Current District 6 City Councilor Pat Davis has yet to make any endorsement.  


The blunt reality is that the biggest challenge for both candidates will be voter turnout. District 6 voters can expect a campaign of political flyer mailings and personal door to door canvassing and social media posts.  Despite all the campaign activity, it is doubtful that the election turn out will be any higher than 20% and likely will be in the neighborhood of 12%. So is the discouraging reality of municipal runoff  elections.

If you live in District 6, please vote. Too much is at stake for District 6.

The links to related Dinelli blog articles are here:

District 6 City Councilor Candidate Nichole Roger’s Holds Herself Out As Business And Financial Consultant;  Failed To Timely File Required Legal Documents For Her Charitable Nonprofit; Failed To Make Full Accounting As To Where Funds Raised Has Gone; Rogers Should Release Tax Returns; Will  Rogers Seek City Funding For Her Non-Profit If Elected City Councilor And Lobby New Mexico Legislature For It?


Update On November 7, 2023 ABQ City Council Races; One Candidate Drops Out After Exposed For Falsehoods; Voter Fraud Alleged In District 4 With One Registration; Candidates Identify Biggest Issues And Solutions Facing Districts; Mayor Tim Keller Operatives Helping 3 Council Candidates To Insure His Influence Over City Council For His Politcal Agenda As He Plans To Run For Third Term In 2025