An Albuquerque Mother’s Day Tribute, 2019

Rose Fresques Dinelli was born on August 30, 1921 in Chacon, New Mexico. She passed away on September 6, 1997 at the age of 76 after a five-year battle with breast cancer. Rose Fresques Dinelli left a legacy of love, family, character, compassion for others, and true courage in the face of adversity, struggles and even death.

My mother Rose came from a family of 7 raised in Chacon, New Mexico with 4 sisters and 3 brothers. They were dirt poor with my grandfather being a “carpenter” and a field laborer when needed. When the depression hit, she remembered that her family would say “What depression, we’re already poor! During World War II, she saw her older brothers Fred and Mac Fresques go off to war and they both saw action. She told me that during the war, she took off to California and worked on an airplane assembly line to help build US war planes. She worked as a “riveter” on the planed assembly line and she said she would laugh when people called her “Rosie the Riveter”.

“Harvey Girl’s” were trained at the Alvarado with dormitory facilities provided to young woman in need of work. A very young Rose Fresques Dinelli in her mid-twenties lived in the dormitory and was trained to be a Harvey Girl. Many years later, she would meet Paul Dinelli at the Alvarado Hotel. Again, many years later Rose would again become a waitress at other restaurants after Paul became seriously ill and she initially supported the family of five on the minimum wage. Paul and Rose were married for 27 years before Paul passed and she never remarried. Rose Dinelli was a waitress for some 30+ years before she passed away in 1997 at age 76. Rose Dinelli passed away in the very same Mossman-Gladden home she had purchased with her husband Paul around 1962.

Rose Fresques Dinelli supported a family of 6 and was able to kept us together when my dad became 100% disabled from a WWII service-connected disability when I was around 12. For a number of years, she had to work “split shits” from 11:00 am to 2 pm to work lunches and then working from 5:00 pm to 12:00 pm to work dinner hours. My mother returned to work as a waitress working for minimum wage and tips to support her family. She loved being a waitress for over 34 years. My mother loved people and the restaurant industry! She was one of the most independent, hardworking, determined people I have ever known. Sure, there was love, but just as important there was immeasurable respect for someone who sacrificed so much for her family. I have no doubt she lived the meaning of “woman’s liberation” many years before the term was ever coined. She was part of “America’s Greatest Generation” who lived through the Great Depression and World War II.

Mom worked at some of the best places in Albuquerque, including the Four Hills Country Club, the Sundowner, Diamond Jim’s Restaurant, the 4 Seasons Crystal Room and Maria Teressa restaurant she helped open and the closed after working there for so many years. She often told me the restaurant business was one of the few places to work where you would always see people at their very best behavior and their worst behavior in the manner of a few hours. She also said that a measure of a person is reflected on how they treat people who work for them.

It was not until many, many, years later when I was an adult and after she had passed that I came to really appreciate how many young woman’s lives she had touched and influenced over the years. Many would approach me and tell me what she had done for them. One woman in particular has opened a very well-known restaurant in Albuquerque with her husband and has told me of many memories she had of “Rose”. What I found is that there were many times young, struggling woman would turn to her for guidance and help who were struggling to make a living, needing help handling a crisis in their personal lives and struggles.

I remember Winrock Shopping Center growing up as a kid. My family lived on San Pedro north of Menaul in a red brick Mossman Gladden home across from Quigley Park. My mother worked as a waitress at Diamond Jim’s Restaurant at Winrock until the day it was closed.

A branch of First National Bank was in the North area outside the mall with a Safeway Grocery store and a Value House Jewelry Store. Many years later, when I was an adult and running for Mayor in 1989, I ran into a teller who retired from the bank and who was working at a retail store. She asked me in an affectionate tone of voice if I was the son of the “ones” lady.

I looked at the woman very puzzled. I did not understand until the she told me she knew my mother Rose. They had become friends when she was a bank teller at First National Bank and she said my mom would deposit her tips daily from her job as a waitress at Diamond Jim’s when she worked “split shifts”, the lunch and dinner shifts. All of her tips were always in one-dollar bills. Bank tellers who did not know my mother by name would call her the “ones” lady.

My mother instilled in me the importance of getting an education, honesty, integrity, hard work, the true meaning of family and the meaning of character and courage in the face of adversity and doing what is right in life. I talk to my mother every day and thank her for what she did for our family and for me over the years.

The white peones flower was my mother’s favorite flower of all time. The peones has the sweet smell of a rose when it blooms only once a year. My mother had a very large group of peones “bulbs” in her back yard she cater to for years at the very house where we grew up. In late October, 1997 after she passed, I remember one very rainy, muddy and cold night going to her home and digging up the cluster of bulbs and then taking the ball of dirt and transplanting the bulbs in the front of our home. I had serious doubt the plants would live. To our delight, my mother’s flowers survived the winter transplant, grew and on Mother’s Day, May 12, 1998, the white peones were in full bloom as they have done each year around Mothers Day!

HAPPY MOTHERS DAY ONE AND ALL! GIVE YOUR MOMS A BIG HUG AND A KISS!

When At First You Do Not Succeed, Try, Try Again, Especially When You Have A Leaky Roof!

On Monday May 6, 2019, the Albuquerque Public School (APS) Board voted unanimously to seek voter approval on the November 5, 2019 election ballot of a mill levy and bonds for school maintenance, education and music equipment, technology and school security. The mill levy if passed will generate $190 million over six years and $100 million in general obligation bonds will be issued over four years for capital projects and needs.

In February, voters rejected 3 separate, much larger initiatives, including the renewal of an expiring mill levy for maintenance and upgrades aging facilities. In February voters overwhelmingly struck down APS’ two mill levy questions and bond issue in a mail-in election. Those ballot initiatives would have brought in $900 million over six years in part through a tax increase. APS would have raised its tax rate from 10.45 to about 12.45, a 19% rate increase that would have result in a 4.7% uptick on residents’ total property tax bills.

$190 million is a far cry from $900 million and with no new taxes! Unlike the February failed mail in ballot initiative, there will be no property tax increase. What APS will be asking for is to re-establish the mill levy for school maintenance, repairs, education and music equipment, technology and school security with the existing mill levy set to expire later this year. Without replacing that mill levy, there will be no funding to repair the 142 facilities APS operates.

APS is projecting that a total of $302 million in election revenue, including state matching money, will be generated if voters approve the single measure. According to APS officials, $114 million in “capital improvement revenue” will be generated and go toward maintenance and operations and include a projected $13.5 million for school security and $85.5 million for design and construction of school facilities. Capital improvement revenue is separate from the APS operational budget and cannot go toward operational issues such as teacher or staff salaries.

The APS Board also voted to re prioritize funding voters approved previously and redirect money to higher priority projects that can be completed right away instead of going toward planned projects that won’t have enough money to be finished due to the failed February election. The APS Board identified 12 projects as priority construction projects, including work on bus depots in the district and new classrooms for Career Enrichment Center and Early College Academy and Navajo Elementary School.

Scott Elder, the APS Chief Operations Officer for all APS facilities was blunt about what will happen if the new initiative fails at the polls:

“The loss of maintenance, technology and equipment is a pretty significant and tremendous burden … If [voters] do not continue to impose this mill, we do not have the money to maintain our facilities.”

https://www.abqjournal.com/1312110/aps-to-go-before-voters-again-in-november.html

APS IN A NUTSHELL

Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) is New Mexico’s largest school district and among the top 40 largest school districts in the nation APS operates 142 schools consisting of 4 K-8 schools, 88 elementary schools (K through 8th grade), 27 middle schools (6-8th grade), 21 high schools (9th to 12th grade) and 2 alternative schools. The average age of an APS school is 50 years old, with many needing serious repairs, new roofs, plumbing and upgrades along with enhance security measures. APS employs 14,000 total employees consisting of 12,000 full time employees, 6,063 teachers and librarians and 1,800 teacher aides.

APS serves more than a fourth of the state’s students, nearly 84,000 students. The ethnicity of the APS 84,000 students is:
65.8% Hispanic
22.9% Caucasian/White
5.5% American Indian
3.2% African American
2.3% Asian American
0.2% are “other”

Of the 84,000 APS students 16.6% are classified as “English Learners”, 17.2% are classified as “Students with Disabilities”, and 5.9% are in gifted programs. There are 29 APS authorized charter schools with 7,100 students attending the charter schools. The school district serves 29,000 breakfast per school day and 41,000 lunches per school day.

CITY GENERAL OBLIGATION BONDS ALSO ON NOVEMBER 5, 2019 BALLOT

The Albuquerque City Council is placing $127 million in general obligation bonds on the November 5, 2019 ballot for voter approval.

Over $53 million is being proposed to be put into community facilities that includes:

• $13 million toward the historic Rail Yards property through 2029.
• $11 million for various projects at the Albuquerque Museum over the next decade.
• $7 million to a new APD southeast substation at Kathryn and San Mateo.
• $7 million for a year-round homeless facility.
• $5.5 million for the International District Library.
• $5 million in funding for Family & Community Services Section 8 Affordable Housing.
• $2.8 million for Community, Health, Social Services Centers.
• $2.5 million for a new exit off I-25 to Balloon Fiesta Park.

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

In February when voters overwhelmingly rejected Albuquerque Public Schools’ two mill levy and one proposed bond questions, they not only rejected funding for the district’s future capital improvement master plan but the critical and necessary funding of $190 million to repair and maintenance of the 142 aging APS schools. The APS school system went into a major tail spin and it does not have much of a choice to try again to get voter approval for school maintenance and security. Voters in November will in essence be asked to decide between building a homeless shelter, a community library, fund museum projects, make road repairs and clean up the Albuquerque Rail Yards versus providing funding to maintain and repair aging and deteriorating APS public schools.

APS desperately needs the funding for maintenance and repairs of aging school facilities. APS needs the tax funding for maintenance and repairs just as much as the city needs general obligation bond funding for capital improvement projects. It is not a sure bet that voters will go along with both on the same ballot. The November 5, 2019 ballot will be a “consolidated” ballot and will have city, sate and APS issues on the ballot and it will not be a “mail in ballot” as was the February, 2019 APS ballot initiatives.

Mayor Tim Keller, the City Council, the APS School Board and APS administration need to confer with each other and come up with a winning strategy to ensure all measures are successful in the November 5, 2019 election.

New Mexico Ranks #1 In Child Hunger; Hunger Not Only Problem Facing Our Kids

Feeding America is the largest hunger-relief organization in the United States. It has a network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs scattered throughout the United States. Altogether, the network of organization provides meals to more than 46 million people each year.

Every year, Feeding American conducts a survey known as the “Map the Meal Gap 2019” annual report to identify the extent of at risk of childhood hunger and “food insecurity.” Food insecurity is defined as “inability of individuals or families to know where a portion of their food will come from at any given time.”

According to the just-released 2019 report from Feeding America, 24.1% of children and young teenagers age 18 and younger in New Mexico, or one of every four children, are at risk of childhood hunger and food insecurity making New Mexico’s rank dead last in the country. In 2018 “Map the Meal Gap” also ranked New Mexico as dead last, and in the 2017, the state ranked 49th.

Arkansas is this year’s 49th place holder with 23.6% of children at risk for childhood hunger followed by Louisiana ranked 48th with 23% and Mississippi at 47th with 22.9%. According to the “Map the Meal Gap” report, the states with the fewest percentage of kids who are at risk of food hunger are North Dakota, ranked first with 9.8% of kids, followed by Massachusetts at 11.7%, New Hampshire with 12.3% and Minnesota with 12.6%.

What is striking is how pervasive hunger in New Mexico really is. The Map the Meal Gap reported that 324,000 people of all ages or 15.8% in the State of New Mexico are at risk of hunger. The report ranked the worst five counties in New Mexico with the highest percentage of child hunger and they are: McKinley County with 33.5%, Luna County with 33.4%; Cibola and Catron Counties each with 30.4%; and Sierra County 27.8%.

According to Roadrunner Food Bank spokeswoman, Sonya Warwick, the actual cause of the problem are many factors and she said:

“In some instances, that food insecurity results from adults in a family having unreliable seasonal jobs, or hourly workers suddenly finding that their hours were reduced, people who are unemployed or underemployed, those facing homelessness, domestic violence or health issues. … [Many people fall into the gray area] “where they’re still very poor, but make just over what might qualify them for federal food assistance programs.”

The biggest single factor causing New Mexico’s child hunger and “food insecurity” is the number of children who live in poverty. New Mexico is near the top of this list also. A spokeswoman for New Mexico Voices for Children, said 27% of kids in our state live in poverty, ranking us 49th on this list, tied with Mississippi, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Only Louisiana fares worse, ranked in 50th place with 28% of kids living in poverty.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1310364/new-mexico-again-leads-nation-in-child-hunger.html

HUNGER AND POVERTY NOT THE ONLY CRISIS

For the first time in five years, New Mexico has fallen to last among states when it comes to the economic, educational and medical well-being of its children, according to a nonprofit that tracks the status of U.S. kids. According to the 2018 Kids Count Data Book, 30% of New Mexico’s children were living in poverty in 2016, compared to 19% nationwide that year, the earliest figures available. In educational measures, the report says 75% of the state’s fourth-graders were not proficient in reading in 2017, compared to 65% nationally, and 80% of eighth-graders were not performing up to par in math in 2017, compared to 67% across the U.S. The most troubling in the 2018 Kids Count Data Book is New Mexico’s steep drop in ranking for health care measures which previously was a bright spot for the state.

http://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/education/report-new-mexico-ranks-last-in-child-well-being/article_0f6865fc-d34a-5050-9f74-21680e98a2a5.html

In New Mexico, 71.6% of the state’s public-school students come from low-income families, and 14.4% are English-language learners. Further, 14.8 percent of students have disabilities, and 10.6 percent are Native American. Proficiency rates for Native American students in the past 3 years, was at 17.6% and their math proficiency was at 10.4%.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1200069/questions-surround-ruling-on-nm-education-funding.html

2019 LEGISLATURE TACKLES THE PROBLEM

During the 2019 New Mexico Legislative session, the legislature approved an education budget of $3.2 Billion, 16% over last year’s budget, out of the total budget of $7 Billion. Included in the budget is a $500 million in additional funding for K-12 education and increases in teacher pay.

The massive infusion of funding to public education is the result of the District Court ruling that ruled the state of New Mexico is violating the constitutional rights of at-risk students by failing to provide them with a sufficient education. The District Court found that many New Mexico students are not receiving the basic education in reading, writing and math they should be receiving in our public-school system.

Early childhood programs will be given a major increase in funding. Under the enacted 2019-2020 budget, every public-school district will be allocated significantly more funding. Teachers have not had any raises to speak of for the last 8 years. Teachers and school administrators will be given 6% pay raises with more money to hire teachers.

A new “Early Childhood Department” was created starting in January 2020. This was a major priority of the Governor Lujan Grisham. The new department will focus state resources on children from birth to 5 years of age. A major goal of the new department, coupled with other investments, will be more New Mexico children growing up to secure gainful employment as adults who don’t require government services.

ALBUQUERQUE PUBLIC SCHOOLS

APS has an approved 2018-2018 approved budget of $1.38 Billion. Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) is New Mexico’s largest school district, serving more than a fourth of the state’s students and nearly 84,000 students.

The ethnicity of the APS 84,000 students is:

65.8% Hispanic
22.9% Caucasian/White
5.5% American Indian
3.2% African American
2.3% Asian American
0.2% are “other”

Of the 84,000 APS students 16.6% are classified as “English Learners”, 17.2% are classified as “Students with Disabilities”, and 5.9% are in gifted programs. There are 29 APS authorized charter schools with 7,100 students attending the charter schools.

APS is among the top 40 largest school districts in the nation and the largest in New Mexico. APS operates 142 schools consisting of 4 K-8 schools, 88 elementary schools (K through 8th grade), 27 middle schools (6-8 th grade), 21 high schools (9th to 12th grade) and 2 alternative schools.

APS serves many students in need with nearly two-thirds qualifying for the federal school meals program. The school district serves 29,000 breakfast per school day and 41,000 lunches per school day.

PROTECTING CHILDREN

Albuquerque and New Mexico during the last 4 to 8 years has been stunned, shocked and haunted with the news of the tragic and brutal killing of children by their own parents. Eight years ago, the former Republican Governor was elected in part because of publicity she garnered as an elected District Attorney prosecuting the “Baby Brianna” child abuse case. Lest anyone forget, baby Brianna Lopez was the 5-month old who was brutally raped and beat to death in 2002 by her own mother. Since 2001, in New Mexico, no less than 24 children, ranging from ages of 5 weeks old to 3, 4, 5 months old to 3, 4, 5, and 11 years old, have been killed as a result of child physical and sexual abuse.

(Re: August 31, 2016 Albuquerque Journal Editorial Guest column by Allen Sanchez.)

Media reports all too often have included reports where those children had fallen through the cracks of law enforcement and the New Mexico’s Children, Youth and Families Department. The New Mexico legislature allocated an additional $36.5 million for the chronically understaffed Children, Youth and Families Department. Under the enacted budget, 102 new social workers are to be hired by the agency’s child’s Protective Services Division.

COMMENTARY ANALYSIS

The rankings and financial numbers are depressing and staggering:

** New Mexico ranks 50th for at risk of childhood in hunger and “food insecurity.”

** New Mexico is last among states when it comes to the economic, educational and medical well-being of children.

** 27% of New Mexico kids live in poverty, ranking New Mexico 49th on this list.

** 75% of the state’s fourth-graders were not proficient in reading in 2017, compared to 65% nationally, and 80% of eighth-graders were not performing up to par in math in 2017, compared to 67% across the U.S.

** In 2019, the New Mexico legislature approves an education budget of $3.2 Billion out of a $7 billion budget, increasing the education budget by 16% over last year’s budget.

**The 2019 New Mexico legislature approved $36.5 million for the chronically understaffed Children, Youth and Families Department

** APS approve a 2018-2018 budget of $1.38 Billion.

When it is all said and done, and the money spent and long gone, there is no guarantee that New Mexico rankings will get any better when it comes to children living in poverty.
Notwithstanding, Albuquerque and New Mexico, and all of its leaders, have a moral obligation to do something to address poverty, children living in poverty and to protect our most venerable population, its children.

Our children’s lives, their future and our future depend upon it.

Jesus said: “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
— Matthew 19:13-14

Ninth APD Federal Monitor’s Report Filed; Negotiate Dismissal of CASA

On May 1, 2019, Federal Court Appointed Monitor James Ginger filed his ninth “Compliance Levels of the Albuquerque Police Department and the City of Albuquerque With Requirements of the Court-Approved Settlement Agreement” (CASA) report with the Federal Court. The report is 286 pages long and follows the same format as all the previous 8 reports: a detailed audit of every paragraph of the consent decree.

(Case 1:14-cv-01025-JB-SMV, Document 444 Filed 05/01/19 Page 1 to 286, Monitor’s Ninth Report, Compliance Levels of the Albuquerque Police Department and the City of Albuquerque with Requirements of the Court-Approved Settlement Agreement No. CIV 14-1025-JB-SMV).

http://documents.cabq.gov/police/reports/department-of-justice/ninth-albuquerque-police-department-progress-report-march-2019.pdf

This article highlights major points of the report. It is not intended to be exhaustive. This report covers the compliance efforts of APD during the audit period of August, 2018 through January, 2019.

INTRODUCTION SUMMARY

According to the monitor, a new strategy has been developed by APD, one which the monitoring team believes will significantly aid efforts to implement the spirit of the CASA and specific requirements. According to the report APD Chief Michael Geier and his command staff “have identified and replicated several state-of-the art policing strategies that are designed to transition APD to an agency that has true partnerships with the citizens it serves.”

The Federal monitors reports executive summary proclaims:

“For the second reporting period in a row, the compliance efforts … observed during this reporting period differ substantively from those … observed earlier in the monitoring process. … [T] he current APD executive staff continue to be fully committed to CASA compliance processes. Most of the new command and oversight [personnel] also appear to be fully committed to moving APD forward in its compliance efforts. [The monitor’s team] found extremely attentive audiences for … compliance process advice, and in most cases, APD has moved forward adroitly as it implements responses to that advice.”

The ninth report “is the second full monitor’s report that reflects the progress made at APD since the advent of a new management” and command staff at APD. The monitor noted the new management of APD “continues to exhibit a strong grasp of the key issues confronting them as they work toward compliance with the CASA.”

“… [T] he current leadership continues to demonstrate a grasp of the key issues involved in the compliance process and they are building effective problem-solving mechanisms designed to effectuate meaningful change at APD.”

During the 9th reporting period, “APD has adopted the long-term approach to reform [that the monitoring team has] recommended from the early stages of this process. … [T]his is a critical change in approach. The new executive and management [team] at APD have been highly responsive to monitoring team feedback.”

APD’s management “have made palpable progress. More importantly, they have constructed critical foundations for the change that still remains to be accomplished.”

APD IMPLEMENTS STATE-OF-THE ART COMMUNITY POLICING

APD has implemented 4 new initiatives proven effective in other police departments as being highly successful.
The 4 initiatives are:

1.EPIC –ETHICAL POLICING IS COURAGEOUS: A peer-based program designed to empower individual officers [with] the strategies and tools to step in and intervene in improper police behaviors in order to prevent problems before they occur. EPIC train[s] officers in how to defuse situations before they become critical issues in how officers interact with and treat the public.

2. LAW ENFORCEMENT ASSISTED DIVERSION (LEAD) programs are designed to end the revolving door of arrest-try-incarcerate-repeat generated by most law enforcement programs designed to deal with drug abuse or prostitution. The program allows law enforcement officers to redirect low-level offenders engaged in drug or prostitution activity to community-based services, thus preventing negative outcomes of being processed by official criminal justice system components for first offenses.

3. CIT-ECHO—An Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes: A collaborative model of medical education and care management that empowers clinicians to provide better care to more people. ECHO dramatically increases access to specialty training and knowledge by front-line law enforcement personnel with the knowledge and support they need to manage difficult interactions.

4. PROBLEM RESPONSE TEAMS—Dedicated community-policing trained officers assigned to community outreach and problem-solving modalities that involve working directly with local residents and business owners to identify problems, issues, needs and solutions related to articulated community problems.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND STEPS TAKEN TO MOVE PROCESS FORWARD

According to the 9th Federal Monitors Report, “APD continues moving toward becoming a data driven organization that uses data and facts to assess issues, identify potential solutions, and effect meaningful change.”

APD has now taken the following direct actions to move their compliance processes with the CASA forward:

“• Building a more rigorous development and assessment practice at the Training Academy related to curriculum development, delivery and assessment;

• Fielding an effective unit designed to reduce the long-standing backlog of use of force incidents;

• Researching and adapting implementation strategies informed by the experiences in other police agencies working through similar reform processes;

• Developing competencies within the Compliance Bureau in a manner that should drastically improve compliance-related performance, including a new “Performance Metrics Unit” that serves as APD’s internal audit unit, performing work similar to the monitoring process;

• Continuing work for restructuring the documentation of training processes, including improved training plans and revised internal responsibilities and processes;

• Continuing staffing and development of a well-organized and staffed self-audit function (the Performance Metrics Unit);

• Continuing movement toward community-based, problem-oriented policing practices designed to address community concerns and priorities;

• Provision of training designed to change the culture and climate at APD; and

• Reorganizing and staffing the Internal Affairs processes in a manner designed to improve the quality of internal investigations.”

PERSISTANT PROBLEM AREAS IDENTIFIED

The 9th Monitors Report identified 3 persistent problem areas carried over from the previous administration, all of which present clear obstacles to effective compliance.

The obstacles include:

“1. Resolving issues relating to identification, assessment and action on events constituting alleged policy or rule violations by sworn personnel within the 90-day limit established by union contract;

2. The use of “Additional Concerns Memos” to dispose of policy violation issues, as opposed to actual findings and corrective action; and

3. A continuation of what … [is] … labeled the “Counter-CASA Effect” at APD.”

OPERATIONAL COMPLIANCE LEVELS

For the purposes of the APD monitoring process, “compliance” consists of three parts: primary, secondary, and operational.

The 3 compliance levels are described as follows:

1. PRIMARY COMPLIANCE: 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.

2. SECONDARY COMPLIANCE: Secondary compliance is attained by implementing supervisory, managerial and executive practices designed to (and 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 (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.

3. OPERATIONAL COMPLIANCE: 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.

During the audit period of August 1, 2018 to January 14, 2019 the report found APD was 99.6% in primary compliance, 79% in secondary compliance and 63% in operational compliance. This is up slightly from the previous report when the department was in 75.4% secondary compliance and 59.2% in operational compliance. Primary compliance remained the same between the two periods.

OBSTACLES TO COMPLIANCE

“While on-site during the reporting period, a meeting was held with members of the monitoring team, APD command staff, the City, the US Attorney and DOJ to discuss two specific issues we see as key illustrations of obstacles to compliance:

1) Additional Concern Memos (ACMs) being improperly used to address policy and misconduct that should be elevated to Internal Affairs, and

2) Incorrect interpretations of when a timeline begins for the completion of an investigation. Failing to properly remediate performance deficiencies and tepid responses to policy violations will impede seriously reform efforts.”

According to the monitors report “policy violations that should be reported to Internal Affairs are instead often being handled in area commands or within Additional Concern Memos (ACM). ACMs have been found to contain information that clearly required Internal Affairs referrals, but as important, is the fact that ACMs are a poor mechanism to track aggregated data that can be used for performance plans and as data for the EIRS. To its credit, APD has acknowledged this practice is creating issues for the agency and committed to ending the use of ACMs entirely.”

ROLE OF POLICE OVERSIGHT BOARD

According to the monitors report “There have been indications that the Police Oversight Board’s (POB) role in the oversight process and the reform process of the CASA is not being taken seriously enough by the City.”

“The POB consists of 9 members, all of whom are needed to keep current with its challenging workload and tasks of the Board and its sub-committees. Three POB vacancies occurred in 2018, (March 2018; June 2018; and September 2018). None of these vacancies had been filled by the end of this IMR period (January 31, 2019).”

“The monitoring team has learned that … three candidates have been selected to fill these vacancies and were to be presented to City Council for approval at its February 2019 meeting. Without reflecting on the qualifications of the candidates or their desire and commitment to serve, we have learned that the selection process was seriously wanting.”

“No formal interview of the candidates took place before selection. There was no input from the POB or CPOA as to the background and qualifications of the three candidates, or for any applicants for that matter. It appears that they were selected solely from the information provided on their November 2017 website applications, pending an appropriate background check.”

“Another related issue was the reappointment of the Executive Director [Ed Harness] to a second term. His first term expired in October 2018. In anticipation of the end of his contract … the POB voted to renew the Executive Director’s contract in May of 2018. Notwithstanding that the CASA gives the authority to select the Executive Director to the POB (“the agency”), City Council twice delayed voting on approval of the reappointment. The Executive Director was finally approved in early December 2018; however, at the expiration of this IMR period he was still working without a contract.”

CONCLUSION SUMMARY

According to the monitors 9th report “[At the close of] the reporting period, APD is in a strong position to move forward successfully; however [there are] potential obstacles to finishing compliance efforts in a timely manner.”

The Monitors report identified APD’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to the remaining tasks facing APD as it moves forward in implementing the CASA.

STRENGTHS IDENTIFIED

The federal monitor identified two major strengths:

1.“APD executive staff, i.e., the chief of police and deputy chiefs of police and most in the command levels of APD are committed, knowledgeable, change-oriented individuals, and are beginning to look “outside” the agency for models, processes, product and solutions to the issues confronting the agency as it moves forward with compliance efforts.”

2.“The current city administration has committed to the requisite funding levels that were obvious from the outset of the project in 2015. Acquisition of additional officers, and funding for needed information and management systems are being met at a level that is necessary for moving forward with many CASA-related processes.”

WEAKNESSES IDENTIFIED

Despite the strengths noted, the report found that APD is still confronted with several weaknesses that have and will continue to retard the reform progress.

The weaknesses include:

“▪ A lack of vision among some of the command ranks;
▪ A lack of full commitment to reform at command through sergeant levels;
▪ A paucity of technical skills in command ranks;
▪ A lack of integration of compliance efforts;
▪ Overt resistance from some in command, mid-management, and supervisory levels;
▪ A paucity of technical skills among key elements of the reform effort, including:

— A lack of experience and core knowledge regarding organizational development and planned change;

— A lack of familiarity with the application of automated information systems to the specific problem sets confronted by the agency; and

–A lack of a sophisticated understanding of and experience with quantitative and qualitative program evaluation.”

According to the report, the weaknesses listed are the same weaknesses noted since the inception of the monitoring project, and are reflective of the lack of an outside focus by APD during the past administration.”

OPPORTUNITIES IDENTIFIED

The Federal Monitor reported several opportunities for APD to move forward effectively and they include:

“▪ Enhanced funding levels from new administration;
▪ Enhanced support from new administration;
▪ Newly earned trust from community;
▪ The continued Court mandate for “change;”
▪ Acceptance of “outside hires” at management and technical levels; and
▪ Existence of “experienced” organizations that have preceded APD in the reform effort (Los Angeles, Seattle, New Orleans, Cleveland etc.).”

THREATS IDENTIFIED

The Federal Monitor identified formidable threats to APD’s success as follows:

“▪ The Counter-CASA effects … discussed in detail over the past five reports;
▪ Technological, managerial, and supervisory skill deficits; and
▪ The shelf-life of existing opportunities (discretionary funding for reform efforts) may soon dry up, as the City is required to focus on other, equally important issues.”

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

In November, 2014, the CASA was entered into between the City of Albuquerque, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD), the DOJ and approved by a federal judge.

The CASA provides for termination of the agreement as follows:

“The City will endeavor to reach full and effective compliance with this Agreement within four years of its Effective Date. The Parties agree to jointly ask the Court to terminate this Agreement after this date, provided that the City has been in full and effective compliance with this Agreement for two years. “Full and Effective Compliance” shall be defined to require sustained compliance with all material requirements of this Agreement or sustained and continuing improvement in constitutional policing, as demonstrated pursuant to the Agreement’s outcome measures.” (Page 103 of CASA)

https://www.cabq.gov/mental-health-response-advisory-committee/documents/court-approved-settlement-agreement-final.pdf

After review of the DOJ investigation report, the CASA mandates, and the reforms implemented, a conclusion that can be reached is the spirit and intent of the CASA has been attained and it should be terminated sooner rather than later. However in the 9th report, the Federal Monitor failed to indicate in any manner how much more time and how much money will be needed to complete the reform process under the CASA.

In November, 2019, it will be a full 5 years has expired since the city entered into the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) with the Department of Justice (DOJ). For nearly 3 years, the previous Republican City Administration and the former Republican APD command staff did whatever it could to undermine and undercut the implementation of the DOJ mandated reforms. During the last 18 months, there has been a dramatic turnaround with the implementation and progress with the reforms.

From all appearances, and from review of all the Federal Monitor’s last 9 reports, the City and APD have completed the following mandated reforms under the Court Approved Settlement Agreement:

1. After a full year of negotiations, the new “use of force” and “use of deadly force” policies have been written, implemented. All APD sworn have received training on the policies.

2. All sworn have received at least 40 hours 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 chokeholds, to auditing the use of every Taser carried by officers and re writing and implementation in new use of force and deadly force policies have been completed.

6. “Constitutional policing” practices and methods as well as mandatory crisis intervention techniques and de-escalation tactics with the mentally ill have now been implemented at the APD Police Academy with all sworn also having received 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. Police Oversight Board has been created, funded, fully staffed and a director has hired been hired and his contract renewed.

11. The Community Policing Counsels have been created in all area command and the counsels meet monthly.

12. The Mental Health Advisory Committee has been implemented.

13. The CASA identified that APD was severely understaffed. The city intends to spend $88 million dollars, over a four-year period, with 32 million dollars of recurring expenditures, to hire 322 sworn officers and expand APD from 878 sworn police officers to 1,200 officers. APD is projecting that it will have 980 officers by July, 2019 by growing the ranks with both new cadets, lateral hires from other departments, and returning to work APD retirees.

14. The November of 2018 monitors report found APD achieved 99.6% compliance rate with primary tasks, 75.4% secondary compliance and 59.5% operational compliance with APD making significant progress in compliance. In May, 2019, APD achieved a 100% compliance with primary tasks, 79% secondary compliance and 61% operational compliance.

INTENT AND PURPOSE OF CASA HAS BEEN ACHIEVED

The CASA was negotiated to be fully implemented over a four-year period which is still achievable given the amount of progress APD has made. Under the CASA, once APD achieves a 95% compliance rate in all 3 compliance areas, the case can be dismissed. According to the Use of Force Report for the years 2017 and 2018, APD’s “use of force” and “deadly force” is down, which was the primary objective of the CASA reforms. Based on the statics for the 3 compliance areas reported, it would appear that within a year APD and the city should achieve a 95% compliance in the three compliance areas that will allow for a dismissal.

The biggest complaint of all the DOJ consent decrees in the country is that implementation and enforcement “go on and on” for years costing millions in taxpayer dollars and resources to a city that could be better used for essential services. The consent decree in Los Angeles has been going on now for about 16 years.

The delay in full implementation of all the reforms within the 4 years is inexcusable and the result of the previous incompetence of the prior APD command staff and administration. Further, the Federal Court and the Department of Justice contributed to the delay in implementing the reforms by refusing to be aggressive and take action against APD management that engaged in “delay, do little and deflect” tactics as decried by the monitor. The Federal Monitor also did little to assist APD with implementation of the reform’s other that “audit and monitor progress” conveniently proclaiming it was not his job to help APD, that his job was to collect data and information, audit and to report to the court on compliance and to collect his $4.5 million in fees.

All other federal consent decrees of city police departments involve in one form or another the finding of “racial profiling” and the use of excessive force or deadly force against targeted groups or minorities. Consent decrees involving “racial profiling” and racism are far more difficult and complicated to enforce because you cannot “teach” racial equality, eliminate racism in people and it is difficult to identify that a person is a racist when you recruit someone to be a police officer.

The 2013-2014 DOJ investigation of APD “use of force cases” and a finding of a “culture of aggression” within APD dealt with police officers’ interactions and responses to suspects that were mentally ill and that were having psychotic episodes. APD Police Officers were found to have escalated encounters with the mentally ill, even calling SWAT out to deal with the conflicts, such as the 2014 killing of mentally ill and homeless camper James Boyd in the Sandia Foot hills.

The 2014 DOJ investigation found that APD policies, training, and supervision were insufficient to ensure that officers encountering people with mental illness or in distress do so in a manner that respected their rights and in a manner that was safe for all involved. Crisis intervention and dealing with the mentally ill is “teachable” and “trainable.” APD has now trained its police officers to deal with the mentally ill and constitutional policing practices continue to be emphasized at the APD Academy.

APD is making significant progress in becoming fully staffed and returning to “community policing.” The City has also created the Police Oversight Board to deal with citizens’ complaints, the Community Policing Counsels and the Mental Health Advisory Committee.

With the continued implementation of the DOJ reforms, especially those reforms involving the mentally ill, the spirit and intent of the CASA has been realized. A 95% to 100% compliance with all the CASA primary, secondary and operational compliance goals should be achievable no more than 12 months, if not sooner, from now.

The roll of the Federal Monitor should now be reduced as well as the continued costs of the monitoring team reduced. APD and the City should commence negotiations immediately with the Department of Justice for a stipulated “Order of Compliance” from the Federal Court with a dismissal of any and all causes of action the DOJ may have against the city and APD within a year.

Otherwise, taxpayers and the city of Albuquerque will be sucked into “year after year” of expenses and costs associated with a consent decree whose primary objective has been achieved, with the Federal Monitor demanding another $4 million to audit progress on goals that have been essentially achieved

ALB City Councilors Isaac Benton and Pat Davis Both Need To Voted Out Of Office And Thanked For Their Service

You always know when its an election year when politicians call a press conference to announce new initiative’s and funding for their constituents. What is pathetic is when those same politicians think that their constituents are so damn stupid or naïve not to realize their actions are to make amends for past positions and votes. Albuquerque City Councilors Pat Davis and Isaac Benton are two such politicians running to be elected again to the Albuquerque City Council.

On May 3, 2019, Albuquerque City Councilors Isaac Benton and Pat Davis, joined by Klarissa Peña and Ken Sanchez, held a press conference to announce their proposal to invest up to $1.5 million in specific Central corridor “public safety” initiatives and marketing measures for the Nob Hill area affected by the ART Bus project. Included is $500,000 in one-time funding for grants to nonprofit business associations and merchant groups along the Nob Hill area central corridor.

Many Nob Hill business owners and area residents have experienced frustration, fear and anger struggling to recover from the 18 months of ART construction. Many business owners and residents in Nob Hill along the Central Corridor where the ART Bus project was constructed have complained about repeated vandalism in the area and numerous break-ins resulting in the businesses having to spend money on expensive repairs and security measures.

MUNICIPAL ELECTION PROCESS HAS BEGUN

The 2019 municipal election process is already underway with the City of Albuquerque’s Municipal election to be held on Tuesday, November 5, 2019. Debates are being held by neighborhood associations.

All the candidates running for City Council in Districts 2 and 7 are seeking public financing. Only one month is given to candidates running for city council to collect $5.00 qualifying donations to the city in order to secure public financing. $1 per registered voter in a City Council District is given to candidate who qualify and they must agree to the amount as being the “cap” they can spend on their campaign. Two months are given to secure qualifying nominating signatures to be placed on the ballot.

In District 2, the City Council District represented by Ike Benton, the qualifying period is May 1, 2019, to May 31, 2019 to collect the $5.00 donations to secure public financing. Each candidate running for the District 2 City council seat must collect 433 qualifying donations from registered voters. The 433 qualifying donations is based upon the percentage of voters in the last election and $43,174 will be given to the candidates who secure the 433 donations.

In District 6, the City Council District represented by Pat Davis, the qualifying period is also May 1, 2019, to May 31, 2019 to collect the $5.00 donations to secure public financing. However, each candidate running for the District 6 City council seat must collect 323 qualifying donations from registered voters. The 323 qualifying donations is based upon the percentage of voters in the last election and $31,979 will be given to candidates who secure the 323 donations.

The Qualifying period is May 1, 2019, to June 28, 2019 to collect qualifying nominating signatures from registered voters in the City Council Districts and each candidate must secure 500 signatures

There is no doubt that collecting $5.00 qualifying donations is extremely difficult with only one month to collect, and collecting nominating signatures is a lot easier and a candidate given 2 months to collect the signatures.

For the first time, the City Clerk has set up a “donation portal” and process to make the $5.00 qualifying donations on line. It is called the “Clean Campaign Portal” and is a website created a joint project between the City Clerk’s office and the Department of Technology and Innovation.

https://www.cabq.gov/@@csesearch?q=Clean+Campaign+Portal+

IKE BENTON

Isaac (Ike) Benton is the District 2 City Councilor and was first elected to the council in 2005. Benton is a retired architect and avowed urbanist. Benton’s city council district includes a large area of downtown Central and the North Valley which leans left and is heavily Hispanic. Benton ran unopposed in 2015. Democrat (D) Isaac Benton has 5 opponents: Steve Baca (D), Joseph Griego (D), Robert Raymond Blanquera Nelson (Unknown), Zack Quintero, (D) and Connie Vigil, Republican.

PAT DAVIS

City Councilor Pat Davis was elected to the Albuquerque City Council on October 6, 2015 to represent District 6. District 6 encompasses the International District, Mesa Del Sol, Nob Hill, Southeast Heights, and the University of New Mexico. Last year, Davis ran for US Congress in the First Congressional District but withdrew from the race when he polled at 3% and could not raise the money to run a viable campaign. Before Davis withdrew form the congressional race, Davis had no problem accusing then then Democrat front runner of being a “racist” which was a lie and he endorsed the eventual Democratic nominee who went on to become elected to congress. Democrat (D) Pat Davis has only one opponent: Gina Naomi Dennis (D).

ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY

There is little doubt among city hall observers that both City Councilors Pat Davis and Isaac (Ike) Benton will secure the necessary qualifying $5.00 donations as well as nominating signatures and be on the ballot. Both have done it before and they do have the advantage of incumbency. Davis and Benton are two politicians who are so much alike as to be almost indistinguishable when it comes to their voting records and voting against the best interests of their own constituents.

Both Davis and Benton proclaim to be “progressive democrats”, however their City Council voting records say otherwise. During the past four years, Albuquerque has suffered from record breaking high crime rates and the ART bus project without either Benton nor Davis even trying doing much to improve things, at least not until now when they want to be elected again.

There are at least 8 egregious specific votes Isaac Benton’s and Pat Davis’s that reveal the true voting record as going against core Democratic principles:

1.Councilors Benton and Davis voted repeatedly for and the disastrous ART Bus project that has destroyed the character of Route 66. Both refused to advocate to put the ART Bus project on the ballot for public approval. Benton and Davis voted to spend federal grant money that had yet to be appropriated by congress. The ART Bus project has been a total disaster resulting the destruction of the character of Route 66. ART has a negative impact on Central resulting in several businesses going out of business. Many central businesses and Nob Hill businesses, no longer exist because of the ART Bus Project.

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

https://www.abqjournal.com/919263/revenue-bonds-find-favor-in-abq.html

3. The Albuquerque City Council plays a crucial oversight role of the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) including controlling its budget. Benton and Davis did nothing when it comes to Albuquerque Police Department (APD) reforms and has never challenged the previous Administration and the former APD command staff in any meaningful way demanding compliance with the Department of Justice (DOJ) consent decree reforms. Each time the Federal Court appointed Monitor presented his critical reports of APD to the City Council, Benton and Davis remained silent. Both declined to demand accountability from the Mayor and hold the APD command staff responsible for dragging their feet on the reforms. Both Benton and Davis failed to attend any one of the federal court hearings on the consent decree.

4. Both Benton and Davis voted for the city ordinance amendments requiring equal pay for woman but failed to demand more. The amendments to the equal pay for woman ordinance sounded good and look good on paper but accomplished very little. The truth is that the equal pay for woman ordinance only applies to city contracts and those who do business with the city. The ordinance is voluntary and gives preferential treatment on city contracts to those who voluntarily comply. The equal pay for woman ordinance should apply to all businesses licensed to do business in Albuquerque, it should be mandatory for all businesses and enforced by city planning that issues business licenses and could be made so by the city council.

5. When he served on a task force to overhaul Albuquerque’s public fiancé laws, Pat Davis declined to advocate meaningful changes to our public finance laws making it easier for candidates to qualify for public finance. The only change both Davis and Benton agreed to was increasing the amount of money candidates get and not the process of collecting the donations to qualify and not expanding the time to collect qualifying donations. The lack of changes to the public finance laws favors incumbents like Davis and Benton.

6. Davis advocated for enactment of the Healthy Workforce ordinance by voters which would have mandate the pay of sick leave by employers and was always there for a photo op with those organizations who pushed to get it on the ballot. However, both Benton and Davis never demanded the City Attorney’s office enforce the existing Albuquerque minimum wage ordinance, even when workers were forced to sue their employers. Davis and Benton claim to be in favor of increasing the minimum wage, but they have never demanded the Mayor nor the City Attorney to enforce the current city ordinance enacted by voters with a 2 to 1 margin.

7. On July 2, 2018 Democrat Mayor Tim Keller vetoed the $2.6 million economic development package that would help Topgolf to construct a $39 million entertainment complex at the site of the former Beach Waterpark. Benton and Davis went along with the City Council voting 8-1 to give the incentives after a 9-0 veto override Keller’s veto of a resolution expressing the city councils support. A few weeks later, Both Benton and Davis again voted to override Democrat Mayor Keller’s veto of the funding. Rather than give the new Democrat Mayor the benefit of the doubt, Benton and Davis voted to overturn the veto, but never once voted to overturn a veto of the previous Republican Mayor.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1192145/keller-vetoes-topgolf-economic-development-package.html

8. The most egregious votes by Benton and Davis was that they voted for the final adoption of the ABC-Z comprehensive plan which will have long term impact on our neighborhoods and favors developers. The enactment of the comprehensive plan was a major priority of Republican Mayor Berry and the development community pushed hard for its enactment before Berry left office. The ABC-Z project rewrite was nothing more than making “gentrification” an official city policy and the “gutting” of long-standing sector development plans by the development community to repeal those sector development plans designed to protect neighborhoods and their character. Benton, a retired architect knew better but refused to intervene on behalf of neighborhood interests.

The only reason Benton and Davis are supporting investing up to $1.5 million in specific Central corridor for “public safety” initiatives and marketing measures for the Nob Hill area affected by the ART Bus project is that they are hoping their constituents will “forgive and forget” their past support of the ART Bus project that has destroyed the Nob Hill Central area. If their constituents “forgive and forget” they deserve the representation they get and cease any complaints of two city counselors ignoring what they want who promote their own personal agendas.

What is disappointing is that Pat Davis has only one opponent after so many in the Nob Hill business area complained about him not listening to them and voting repeatedly against the area’s best interests. At one time, an effort was undertaken to initiate a recall against Davis, but nothing ever materialized.

What people should be sick of are Democrats acting and talking like Republicans especially after they get elected to positions like City Council and arguing that they are being “nonpartisan”. Both City Councilors Isaac Benton and Pat Davis will say that they have done a great job as City Councilors by acting “non-partisan” and they needed to cooperate with Republicans to get things done, even though Democrats now hold a majority of 6-3 on the City Council and even though the Mayor is a Democrat.

There is a significant difference between cooperating and working with other elected officials from the opposite party and then being hypocritical and going against your own basic political philosophy of what you believe to be true and then turning around and acting and voting against that what you claim to believe in. What would be disappointing is if Davis and Benton are elected again saying they are Progressives Democrats when in fact they vote like conservative Republicans.

Any of those running against Davis and Benton who fail to secure the necessary $5.00 donations for public financing should continue their efforts to get on the ballot. Hope springs eternal that both Benton and Davis will have strong opposition from solid Democrats so their constituents can thank Benton and Davis for their service and they can move off the City Council.

Nob Hill Business Owners Forced To “Grovel” Before City Councilors Isaac Benton, Pat Davis, Ken Sanchez For Police Protection; Mayor Tim Keller Caters To Downtown

On May 3, 2019, a group of business owners and activists gathered in west Downtown and joined Albuquerque City Councilors Isaac Benton, Pat Davis, Klarissa Peña and Ken Sanchez for a press conference. The press conference falls under the category of “We are from the Government, we feel your pain, even though we are the ones that screwed you in the first place.”

The press conference was for the 4 City Councilors to announce their proposal to invest up to $1.5 million in specific Central corridor for “public safety” initiatives and marketing measures for fiscal year 2020. Included is $500,000 in one-time funding for grants to nonprofit business associations and merchant groups along the central corridor.

Many business owners along the Central Corridor where the ART Bus project was constructed have complained about repeated vandalism in the area, break-ins resulting in the businesses having to spend money on expensive repairs and even security measures. Jean Bernstein, the owner of the Flying Star Café, which opened in Nob Hill 32 years ago, appeared before the City Council a few weeks ago and during public comments said:

“We’ve weathered many economic cycles but never have I seen the district and the corridor in sadder shape than it is now.”

Erin Wade, the owner of Modern General and The Feel Good eateries along Central, place blame on the ART Bus project when she said:

“The traffic patterns have been so drastically altered on Central … there is an entire lane devoted to buses only that don’t run, that don’t exist. It has changed the rhythm of the street such that [criminals] can [now] hide more.”

Many other Nob Hill business owners have expressed mounting frustration, fear and anger struggling to recover from the 18 months of Albuquerque Rapid Transit (ART) construction.

The business owners in Nob Hill have asked for 12 bike officers and six dedicated motorized police units every night in the Nob Hill business district. This may sound familiar because that is what happened in downtown central, but on a much larger scale. The proposed $1.5 million investment supposedly will help lure customers back to the area because many businesses had to close during the disastrous ART Bus project down central.

Nob Hill business owners had originally requested $4 million a year arguing that would have been the amount that would have been spent without ART.

The Keller administration is in litigation with Build Your Dreams (BYD), the original manufacture of the electric buses that were to be used for ART. The city was forced to order buses from another manufacturer and the Keller administration announced it will be over a year before delivery,

https://www.abqjournal.com/1310197/abq-councilors-propose-police-marketing-money-for-central-avenue.html

City Councilor Pat Davis for his part said with great bravado during the press conference:

“Our business owners got together and asked the city to come up with a plan to prioritize safety and a way to invite customers back to Central.”

Davis said the city did not track how many businesses closed during ART construction but it has issued about 240 business licenses along the corridor since the work ended last spring. According to Davis, the proposed $1.5 million investment would help lure customers back to the area to patronize them.

City Councilor Isaac Benton proclaimed:

“I think with this plan we’re going to have faces that we know. … The business people and the community folks in the area are going to see an officer they get to know, and that’s the epitome of community policing.”

The $1.1 Billion Dollar budget submitted by the Keller Administration will have to be amended to include the funding for Nob Hill. The City Council intends to do “markup” to the proposed budget and vote on the final version on May 20 and it will be effective July 1, 2019.

DOWNTOWN IS MAYOR KELLER’S PRIORITY

Mayor Tim Keller was nowhere to be found during the councilors press conference which is not at all surprising. It is likely Mayor Keller was not even invited to attend by the 4 city councilors seeing as the Mayor has the propensity not to invite city councilors to his own press conferences.

Instead of attending the press conference, Keller issue a written statement that said the Albuquerque Police Department is focused on community policing measures and saying:

“As we hire 100 new officers per year, we’re making the critical commercial and residential corridor along Central Avenue safer and more vibrant. Route 66 is open for business”.

In September, 2018, Mayor Tim Keller announced a new “Downtown Public Safety District” for Central Downtown that assigns up to 12 police officers specifically to the area and applying other city resources, such as a Family and Community Services Department social worker. The Downtown Public Safety District” created by Keller was in response to a petition drive by Downtown businesses and residents demanding such a substation. The substation for the Downtown Public Safety District is located at the Alvarado Transportation Center at First and Central SW. The substation gives a permanent police presence in Downtown Albuquerque.

The congregation of the homeless in the Central Downtown area have been a chronic problem especially around the Alvarado Transportation Center. Consequently, a Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) was assigned to the district to address homelessness and behavioral health needs.

Several other city departments a well as community organizations providing services to the homeless and mentally ill contribute resources to the district. The other city departments that provide services to Central Downtown area include:

1. Albuquerque Fire Rescue (AFR) has increased its presence near Central Avenue during high-volume call times and by driving a loop around the district after each call for service.

2. The Transit and Municipal Development departments contribute security personnel to the district in coordination with APD patrol plans.

3. The Family and Community Services Department is contributing a social worker to coordinate service providers and implement Project ECHO to train mental health workers in the district.

4. The Municipal Development and Solid Waste departments have expanded the use of street cleaning machines throughout Downtown, including alleyways, and add collection routes for Downtown businesses to address overflow of trash from Saturday nights.

5. Solid Waste is using its “Block by Block” program to wash sidewalks and its Clean City Graffiti crew to eradicate graffiti as soon as possible.

7. The Family and Community Services Department is working with Heading Home’s ABQ Street Connect program to help people with significant behavioral health disability and who are experiencing homelessness.

8. The Family and Community Services is also working with HopeWorks and outreach partners including APD’s COAST team, APD’s Crisis Intervention Team and ACT teams to do mental health outreach and are working with the New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness to help service providers for homeless people.

$34 MILLION BUDGET WINDFALL

On April 1, 2019 when the Keller Administration submitted its proposed 2019-20120 budget, it announced that the city would have an extra $34.3 million in revenues as a result of an accounting policy shift.

Supposedly, the $34.3 million is a “one-time, lifetime” boost in revenues that the city cannot apply toward recurring costs.

$29 million of the $34.3 million will be applied to numerous “one-time investments” the Keller Administration feels are important.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1299497/abq-budget-could-surpass-1-billion-for-the-first-time.html

COMMENTARY ANALYSIS

It’s a very sad commentary when business owners in Nob Hill have to “grovel” and beg for $1.5 million dollars out of a budget of $1.1 Billion dollars before the very city council that has done so much to destroy Route 66 in the Nob Hill area with the disastrous ART Bus project.

Pat Davis, Issac Benton and Ken Sanchez voted repeatedly for and supported ART Bus project and funding. Davis refused to advocate to put ART on the ballot for public approval, telling his constituents at a forum that there was nothing he could do and it was the Mayor Berry’s project. Davis voted to spend federal grant money that had yet to be appropriated by congress. Klarissa Pena’s conduct cannot be faulted in that she did at one point advocate placing the ART Bus project on the ballot for voter approval.

The ART Bus project has been a total disaster resulting the destruction of the character of Route 66 and having a negative impact and resulting in several businesses going out of business. Pat Davis claims the city did not track how many businesses closed during ART construction, which is simply not true given the fact that the city was offering loans to help struggling businesses during ART construction. When the ART Bus project started, a coalition of 250 businesses along central joined forces to stop construction to no avail, and even filed suit in federal court. The city proclaims it has issued about 240 business licenses along the corridor since the work ended last spring, yet all the empty store fronts contradict that claim.

What is very disappointing is that Mayor Tim Keller has created a “Downtown Public Safety District” along with a substation to give a permanent police presence in Downtown Albuquerque, yet ignores the pleas and concerns of the Nob Hill Business District which arguably was making a much bigger comeback than Downtown Central before ART. The Nob Hill Business District needs a permanent Public Safety District just as much as Downtown Central needs one.

Mayor Tim Keller with the stoke of the pen could divert $5 million of the extra $34.3 million in revenues to build a new permanent substation in Nob Hill. He could also order APD to staff it with the additional police officers he is hiring. No one would need to “grovel” before the feet of the very city councilors that supported the ART Bus project that destroyed so many businesses along central.