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

On July 26, Federal District Judge James Browning, who is overseeing the Court Approved Settlement Agreement and the implementations of the police reforms, held an all-day status conference for the formal presentation of the 15th Federal Monitor’s report and to hear from all the parties to provide input on the report and the reforms.

Upwards of 100 people attended the hearing by ZOOM conference. The hearing was a dramatic reversal from previous hearings that have contained acrimony between the parties.

Participants and presenters from the City, officials of the Albuquerque Police Department, the Department of Justice and Amici Stakeholders all expressed optimism during the hearing which was in sharp contrast to previous hearings. It was the first time that some participants expressed the belief that there is an end in sight to the 8-year pending case.

Paul Killebrew, Deputy Chief of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division had this to say:

“What I will say, from our observations of the DOJ team, is that we see that there are champions of reform within the Albuquerque Police Department. I believe that now there are more folks than there have been in the past … We also see that those champions of reform are growing and developing the next generation of leaders at APD. So, those are all promising developments. … But it’s fragile. We need to make sure that these trends continue.”

FEDERAL MONITOR JAMES GINGER

During the July 26 status conference hearing, Federal Monitor James Ginger repeated much of the findings he made in his 15th Federal Monitors report. Ginger confirmed that much progress had been made and said that the “policy product” achieved was a major accomplishment. He told the court that that training had become an “organizational accomplishment” and that there was 100% in policy compliance.

The Federal Monitor’s 15th report was a dramatic reversal from the past 3 monitor’s reports. At the end of the reporting period, APD’s compliance levels are:

100% Primary Compliance
99% Secondary Compliance
70% Operational Compliance

These are the highest compliance level numbers since the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) was entered into in 2014. The 15th Federal Monitors report is also a dramatic reversal from the past 3 monitor reports that were highly critical of the Keller Administration and the Albuquerque Police Department.

In the Federal Monitors IMR-14 report filed on November 12, 2021, the Federal Monitor reported the 3 compliance levels were as follows:

Primary Compliance: 100 %; (No change from before)
Secondary Compliance: 82 %; (No change from before)
Operational Compliance: 62 % (An increase 3% points from before)

When APD achieves a 95% compliance rate in the 3 identified compliance levels and maintains compliance for 2 consecutive years, the case can be dismissed.

Operational Compliance is the hardest compliance level to achieve. 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.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The link to a related blog article entitled “Federal Monitor Files 15th Report On APD Reform Compliance; Dramatic Progress Made; Sergeant and Lieutenants Still “Weakest Link” On Holding Officers Accountable; No Superintendent Of Police Reform; Chief Medina Says Wants To Achieve 100% Compliance In Two Years” is here:

https://www.petedinelli.com/2022/05/18/federal-monitor-files-15th-report-on-apd-reform-compliance-dramatic-progress-made-sergeant-and-lieutenants-still-weakest-link-on-holding-officers-accountable-no-superint/

Ginger noted that APD needs to continue to focus on Sergeants, Lieutenants and Commanders to ensure compliance that if they fail, they need to be “identified, removed or disciplined.” He said that a critical component still missing or could be improved is “vigilance in discipline”. What Ginger said was needed is “relentless, gentle pressure” on supervisors for sustained compliance. Ginger noted that once APD achieves the 95% compliance in the 3 compliance levels, the two years of subsequent compliance will be the most difficult time for the department.

In at least 4 prior Independent Monitor’s Reports, Federal Monitor James Ginger has been scathing in his assessment of APD going so far as to criticizing the quality of use-of-force investigations by APD and what he called a “counter CASA” attitude among APD Lieutenants and Sergeants where they intentionally resist the reforms.

In the 15th report, Ginger scaled down the criticism but none the less identified lieutenants and sergeants as the weakest link in the reform process. Ginger said this:

“A significant number of CASA paragraphs were addressed by new training at APD during this reporting period. The training tempo has increased significantly, and the quality of training also increased markedly.”

The weak points of APD’s compliance efforts remain the same as they were in IMR-14: supervisors and mid-level command personnel continue to be the weak link when it comes to holding officers accountable for their in-field behavior. Until that issue is resolved, further increases in APD’s compliance levels will be difficult to attain.”

Federal Monitor James Ginger was severely criticized by the City and APD when he issued his 14th Report that what highly critical of APD, so much so that the City and APD expressed the opinion that he should be replaced. During the July hearing on the 15th report, Judge Browning pointedly ask the DOJ, the City and APD officials if they were now satisfied with Ginger’s performance, and both said yes. DOJ Attorney Paul Killebrew for his part said that Ginger was performing well and that he has given “good advice” especially on the need for close supervision.

EFIT TEAM MAJOR TOPIC OF DISCUSSION

During the July 26 status conference, the External Force Investigation Team (EFIT) was a major topic of discussion. It was revealed that in December 2020 APD Internal Affairs Force Division unilaterally stopped investigating new use of force cases by APD officers. The work stoppage created a backlog of 667 cases where, even if an officer was found to have violated policy, discipline was not possible.

Things became so bad that the Department of Justice placed the city on notice that it was seriously considering filing a Motion for Contempt of Court to seek sanctions against the City for intentional noncompliance with the CASA. Other stakeholders in the case became enraged over the backlog that they demanded that the Federal Court intervene and order a Special Master be appointed to take over APD.

It was on Friday, December 4,2020 during an all-day status conference hearing on the 12th Compliance Audit Report of the APD reforms mandated, it was revealed publicly for the first time that the City and the DOJ were negotiating a “stipulated order” for court approval that would create and External Force Investigations Team (EFIT).

During the hearing, Paul Killebrew, special counsel for the DOJ’s civil rights division, said that after the 12th Federal Monitor’s report was released on November 2, the DOJ and the City realized that something had to be done. If not agreed to by the city, the DOJ would have to take very aggressive action. Killebrew told Judge Browning:

“The city agreed the problems were serious and needed to be addressed … that’s significant. If we had gone to the city and the city disagreed with our picture of reality, and had they not been willing to address the problem we identified, I think we would be in a different posture … We might have needed to seek enforcement action over the city’s objections.”

On February 26, 2021, the City of Albuquerque and the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) entered into a Stipulated Agreement filed with the United States District Court to stay a contempt of court proceeding against the city for willful violations of the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA). The Stipulated Order established the External Force Investigation Team (EFIT).

The EFIT is on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is required to respond to all police use of force call outs within 1 hour of notification. All Use of Force (“UOF”) investigations undertaken by the EFIT must be completed within 60 days with an additional 30-day supervisory review period for a total of 90 days from start to finish. Pursuant to the Federal Court Order, EFIT must conduct joint investigations with APD Internal Affairs Force Division (“IAFD”) of all Level 2 and Level 3 Use of Incidents. This includes all Tactical Deployments where there is APD police Use of Force is utilized. EFIT must also assist APD with training concerning its Use of Force policies.

During the July 26 hearing, the Associate Federal Monitor Toms revealed that no new cases have been added to the backlog and all cases have been completed within the required deadlines. A pilot project has been initiated to lower force review and use of force complaints.

It was announced that EFIT has assumed responsibility to investigating all 667 cases in the backlog. Of 20 cases that have been investigated so far, all were found to be within policy, according to EFIT’s administrator.

Jared Hager with the Force Investigations said the EFIT team is above the staffing levels as was originally agreed to and it is staffed with 28 investigators and not 25. Hager said the backlog of 667 has a “dragging effect” on compliance levels for use of force investigations. It was also reported that “force deployments” by APD have been reduced and TAZER deployment levels have been improved.

During the July 26 hearing, Judge Browning asked if the EFIT team should be made permanent. EFIT has a two-year contract and concerns were raised for what happens after the contract is completed. DOJ attorneys, city administration, the monitoring team and interested community groups essentially agreed that EFIT was having a beneficial effect on APD. Notwithstanding, they stressed that EFIT is supposed to be a temporary solution.

DOJ Attorney Paul Killebrew did say making EFIT permanent and using out of state experts may be too costly. However, he did say if the city decided to keep it, the DOJ would want to talk about it.

SEARCH FOR SUPERINTENDENT OF POLICE REFORM CONTINUES

During the July 26 hearing, numerous speakers, including the amici groups and Judge Browning raised questions about the position of “Superintendent of Police Reform”. Judge Browning asked the question if the position was really needed in that the position is not required by the CASA.

It was on March 9, 2021 that Mayor Tim Keller announced the creation of the newly created position who would be in charge of the police academy, internal affairs including discipline and use of force review. Keller also announced the appointment Sylvester Stanley as the “Superintendent of Police Reform”. Stanley retired on December 1, a mere 9 months after his appointment with APD Deputy Chief Eric Garcia was appointed “interim” Superintendent of Police Reform”.

On Monday, April 25, Mayor Tim Keller announced that he had nominated La Tesha Watson, Ph.D., as the new Superintendent of Police Reform. Dr. LaTesha Watson has 25 years of policing experience who most recently served as the director of the Office of Public Safety Accountability for Sacramento having served in that position since April, 2020. Prior to that she was the chief of the Henderson Police Department in Nevada for 16 months.

On May 3, one week after the Dr. LaTesha Watson appointment was announced, the City issued a press release announcing it was not moving forward with her nomination of for the position and that the hiring process will continue. The reasons given by the City for not going forward with the Watson hire were not clearly delineated by the city leading to much speculation. In a press release, the city said that after a series of in person meetings it was discovered she “brought alternative ideas and views about the path forward on reform, but the candidate and the administration identified key differences in our approach to the role and for continued progress in Albuquerque”.

Attorney Peter Cubra who represents the McClendon Amici group expressed dismay over the city’s reluctance and reasons for not hiring Watson and said by all accounts she was indeed a perfect choice.

Under a line of questioning by Judge Browning, City Attorney Lauren Keefe declined to state why Watson was not hired. She did say Watson was never on the payroll and Mayor Kelller’s reasons for not going forward with the appointment was a personnel matter that was confidential.

Judge Browning did ask “interim” Superintendent of Police Reform Eric Garcia if he has applied to be made permanent to which Garcia replied yes saying he wanted to complete the work he has started on the reforms.

In response to questions during a July 28 news conference, Chief Administrative Officer Lawrence Rael said the city is evaluating the structure of the job and could be changing its function to “provide more long-term sustainability.”

What complicates matters is that for almost a full 6 months, Mayor Tim Keller has not appointed a Superintendent of Police Reform raising questions if the potion is needed or ever was needed.

CITY OFFICIALS SAY “END IN SIGHT” TO CASA

On May 11, when Federal Court Appointed Independent Monitor James Ginger filed his 15th Report, APD Police Chief Medina was quick to react and say it was “great news” and to take credit for the latest improvements in APD’s compliance. Medina said APD’s goal is for the department to be in full compliance with the Court Approved Settlement Agreement in 2 years. Medina said this about the 2-year goal:

“We may not meet that goal, and we could get criticized later that we didn’t meet our goal. But we’re going to set the goal … . We’re going to believe in ourselves and we’re going to try our best. If, 2 years from now, we recognize we need one more period, well, you know what, it’s a whole lot better than anybody else has done.”

The links to quoted news sources are here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/2498594/apd-sees-significant-gains-in-reform-effort.html

https://www.kob.com/new-mexico/new-doj-report-shows-progress-for-apd/

During the July 26 Status Conference report, the DOJ attorneys and Independent Federal Monitor Janes Ginger agreed that the two-year goal set by Chief Medina was possible. However, Ginger cautioned that, after the city gets into full compliance, it has to maintain the compliance standing in all 3 compliance levels for 2 years. Ginger said this:

I hate to throw water on the parade. [Once compliance levels ar achieved]. that, in my experience, has been when things are the toughest … I know APD has put a great deal of effort into this process, they’ve hired a great deal of external talent, which is has made a big difference in this process. But that gentle pressure relentlessly applied is what will carry them over the finish line. And I want everybody to be cognizant of that.”

OTHER HEARING HIGHLIGHTS

Other highlights of the July 26 hearing include the following:

1. Judge Browning asked the City and the DOJ attorneys and others if they were satisfied with the job performance of Dr. James Ginger and his team and all said that they had no objections.

2. Judge Browning asked State Representative and private Attorney Moe Maestas who represents an Amici Group of concerned citizens, raised the issue that it is still very problematic that the management of APD Sergeant and Lieutenants are allowed to be part of the police union and they cannot serve the two masters of union priorities and management priorities. Judge Browning asked if anything really could be done, to which Maestas responded that the legislature enacted a very broad collective bargainin act for public employees and said that it’s an issue between the city and the union. What Maestas failed to point out is that the state statute is clear that management is prohibited from joining government employee unions and that the City’s collective bargaining agreement that allows sergeants and levitants to join the police union likely violates the stat collective bargaining statute.

3. APD Chief Harold Median Medina told Judge Browning there has been a beneficial effect on recruiting and retaining officers since Mayor Keller announced a portion of the CASA would be self-monitored. According to an APD, the department has experienced 23% fewer officer retirements, resignations and terminations so far this year than it had at this time in 2021. Medina said there are now 885 officers on the force.

EDITOR’s NOTE: APD is fully funded for 1,100 sworn police. Four years ago, Mayor Tim Keller announced the goal of 1,200 sworn and for a full 4 years, APD has failed to attain even 1,000 sworn police and 1,200 sworn police has been very elusive even with substantial increases in pay.

4. During a July 27 press conference, APD Chief Medina said that following Mayor Keller’s State of the City, the department started seeing an increase in lateral applicants to the police force almost immediately. Medina said this:

“We know that a lot of these changes do help us with our recruiting efforts…and we’re hoping that we could use this positive momentum to continue to move the department forward.”

5. Medina proclaimed APD has a 97% homicide clearance rate thus far for 2022.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Medina’s claim of 97% clearance rate is highly misleading and represents the murder investigations done for a 6-month period and only involves those murder cases actively being investigated by APD during that time period. The FBI’s method of calculating clearance rate is blunt math dividing the number of crimes that were cleared, no matter which year the crime occurred, by the number of new crimes in the calendar year. Using the FBI method of calculating murder clearance rates, clearing 34 cases out of 184 total cases for 2021 and 2022 is actually an 18.2 % clearance rate, not the 97% Medina is claiming.

6. Medina told Judge Browning that the department is experimenting with changes on the handling investigations into the lowest levels of force. A pilot program in two area commands has taken such investigations out of the hands of field supervisors and assigned trained investigators thereby given relief to other sworn personnel.

7. According to Medina, APD realized that a third of all investigations involve officers not turning on their lapel cameras or downloading videos. As a result APD secured new equipment with technology that automatically starts downloading when an officer is at a city facility.

8. Assistant United State Attorney Elizabeth Martinez reported that the Civilian Police Oversight Board is in a rebuilding process. The turmoil within the Civilian Police Oversight Board and the 6 resignations from the board were noted prompting Judge Browning to ask “Is there really anything to be encouraging about the Citizens Police Oversight Agency?” It was pointed out that the agency has no real authority over APD and that it is powerless over APD and acts in an advisory capacity. However, it was felt there was a definite need for the agency as well as the Community Policing Councils.

The link to quoted news source material is here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/2519826/officials-say-end-in-sight-for-apd-reform-effort.html

AGREEMENT TO SUSPEND 25% OF CASA MONITOTING

In a July 27 news release, the Albuquerque Police announced that the city and the U.S. Department of Justice have 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 suspension of oversight requirements will affect several different areas of the department. 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. APD and DOJ representatives solidified the partial oversight requirement suspension during a virtual hearing on July 26. The changes will go 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

Mayor Tim Keller had this to say in a press release about the agreement:

“This is a major milestone that reflects our decision last year to take control of a Department of Justice reform process that was backsliding. … After years of officers buried under bureaucracy and weighed down by low morale; we refused to give up on reform or cede control of local police work to federal control. Now, we continue to be committed to real reform, but at a much faster pace; rejecting ideas that are patently bad for crime fighting and we are standing up for truth in the process.”

APD Chief Harold Medina for his part had this to say about the agreement in a press release:

“We pointed out in court today that APD’s progress is here to stay. … We demonstrated that we are committed to the changes made in several key areas, and we no longer need federal oversight. We are making similar progress throughout the department, and we will shift resources to meet the remaining challenges we face.”

At a news conference on July 27, Chief Administrative Officer Lawrence Rael said this:

“There is an end in sight to this reform. … We are now beginning to see that the morale in this department is starting to lift. … That the work that the department has done from every level of the department – from the chief’s office to the rank-and-file officer in the field – that the reform is taking place and taking hold. That’s really important. It’s good for Albuquerque and our community. But it’s especially important for this department to continue to move forward.”

Links to quoted news source materials are here:

https://www.krqe.com/news/albuquerque-metro/apd-will-soon-have-less-federal-oversight/

https://www.abqjournal.com/2519826/officials-say-end-in-sight-for-apd-reform-effort.html

https://papernewslive.com/apd-doj-agree-to-back-off-some-federal-police-reforms/135256/

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

After over 7 years of implementing the mandating DOJ reforms, and millions spent on training, APD appears to have finally turned the corner on implementing the 271 mandated reforms. APD is commended for attaining a 100% Primary Compliance rate and a 99% Secondary Compliance.

Notwithstanding, APD is still struggling mightily with Operational Compliance at 70% compliance. Operational compliance is the single most important compliance level, and the most difficult to achieve, of all 3 and it is where the “rubber hits the road” with respect to the reforms.

Operational compliance is attained at the point that the adherence to policies is apparent in the day-to-day operation of the agency. It is achieved when line personnel are routinely held accountable for compliance 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.

The problem is that the Federal Monitor has repeatedly found that APD sergeants and lieutenants are resisting the reforms and he did so in the 15th report but with a water down assessment. Amici parties also declined to be highly critical of the police union and declined to be critical as they had done in the past.

This was the case even though a controversy arose and APD actions were again thrust into the limelight when SWAT was dispatched to take into custody a fugitive held up in a home and they discharge a “flash” grenade. The house caught on fire and a 14-year-old boy hiding in the home died of smoke inhalation. Medina has now requested an investigation by the Attorney General on the conduct of those in charge which would include Sergeants and Lieutenants.

REMOVE SERGEANTS AND LIEUTENANTS FROM POLICE UNION

The Federal Monitor has found repeatedly it is APD sergeants and lieutenants who are resisting management’s implementation of the DOJ reforms. Sergeants and lieutenants are where the rubber hits the road when it comes implementation of the 271 reforms.

It is difficult to understand why Federal Court Appointed Monitor James Ginger essentially downplayed and did not come out and say that the Counter CASA effect is still alive and well within APD. What is also difficult to understand is Ginger’s reluctance to tell the court that APD’s sergeants and lieutenants need to be removed from the police union. His dismisses such recommendations as “not my job” yet he complains and knows full well of the obstruction tactics of the union which are not expected to go away after 7 full years.

Sergeants and lieutenants need to be made at will employees and removed from the collective bargaining unit in order to get a real buy in to management’s goals of police reform and the CASA. APD Police sergeants and lieutenants cannot serve two masters of “Administration Management” and “Union Priorities” that are in conflict when it comes to the CASA reforms. Sergeants and lieutenants are management and need to be removed from the union in order to allow APD management to take appropriate measures to ensure the reforms are accomplished or hold those sergeants and lieutenants who continue to resist the reforms accountable.

APD Chief Medina’s goal for the department to be in full compliance with the Court Approved Settlement Agreement in 2 years is commendable. However, based on 8 years of obstructionist tactics by the APD Police Union and APD’s Sergeants and Lieutenants who are union members, going from 70% to 100% in Operational Compliance is easier said than done given how long APD was stuck at mediocre compliance levels for 8 years.

The city and APD need to remember what Ginger said:

“… supervisors and mid-level command personnel continue to be the weak link when it comes to holding officers accountable for their in-field behavior. Until that issue is resolved, further increases in APD’s compliance levels will be difficult to attain.”

Rudolfo Carrillo Guest Column: “The Podium Mayor Standing Between Babylon and Burque”

On July 29, it was reported that the City of Albuquerque and Mayor Tim Keller teamed up with Sony Pictures Television and the cast and crew of “Breaking Bad,” including lead actors Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul, to unveil two larger-than-life bronze statues of the fictional characters Walter White and Jesse Pinkman. These two characters are now ingrained in international “pop culture” since the show began airing in January 2008. The series was filmed and based in Albuquerque during its entire run, eventually becoming an international cultural juggernaut. The statues were designed by Trevor Grove and were donated by Sony Pictures Television and series creator Vince Gilligan to celebrate its impact on Albuquerque. The cost of the bronze statue was not disclosed.

Links to related news coverage:

https://www.kob.com/news/us-and-world-news/breaking-bad-statues-shine-light-on-actors-albuquerque/

https://www.abqjournal.com/2520581/breaking-the-mold-ex-city-unveils-walter-white-jesse-pinkman-stat.html

Writer and commentator Rudolfo Carrillo, who was news editor at the Weekly Alibi where he used the pen name “August March” to write about Albuquerque culture, history and politics, submitted the following guest column on the dedication of the two bronze statues for publication in www.PeteDinelli.com:

DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed in this guest column written by Rudolfo Carrillo are those of Mr. Carrillo and do not necessarily reflect those of the www.petedinelli.com blog. Mr. Carillo has not been paid any compensation to publish the guest column and has given his consent to publish on www.PeteDinelli.com. The postscript to this blog article contains more on Mr. Carrillo.

THE PODIUM MAYOR STANDING BETWEEN BABYLON AND BURQUE

“I guarantee that somewhere west of the Inland Empire, in the toney, Pacific Ocean-facing backyard of some television executive, people are gathered for a party and laughing great guffaws as they choke down a selection of very expensive cheeses and meats. They are laughing about how one of their colleagues sent the city of Albuquerque a statue of two fictional meth dealers as a symbol of their appreciation for allowing the city to be colonized and then reimagined as a dirty, dangerous and utterly ridiculous place where science teachers deal drugs and air traffic controllers kill scores. A city where the only brown people in the picture are either service workers, scheming cops or even-filthier-than-otherwise-depicted criminals.

Despite all this, there was hizzoner himself, Timothy Keller, getting with the good vibes when the city and Sony Pictures Television unveiled two larger-than-life bronze statues of actors who were featured in a television show about drug dealing in the Duke City. Keller told gathered citizens and Hollywood colonizers/leeches alike that watching said television show was “like watching ourselves on the screen.”

Link to “’Breaking’ the mold”, City unveils Walter White, Jesse Pinkman statues” by Ivan Leonard, in The Albuquerque Journal, Friday, July 29, 2022:

https://www.abqjournal.com/2520581/breaking-the-mold-ex-city-unveils-walter-white-jesse-pinkman-stat.html

Really, Mayor Tim? Really?

Let’s take a closer look at what those words mean, what this awful and utterly untrue depiction of Albuquerque has really done to the culture of this nuclear outpost on the northern tip of the Great Chihuahuan Desert.

To begin with, let’s take another look at Keller’s propensity for being purely performative in the face of critically out of control civil issues.

Keller told participants in this latest iteration of the spectacle that:

“We also want to remind folks that the film industry is huge here in New Mexico as “Breaking Bad’ by itself did $200 million in revenue and that does not even include “Better Call Saul.” Every shoot, every day, 200 jobs, that’s over 15 years, someone else can do the math on that and, so look, we remind people that while the stories might be fictional and still powerful, the jobs are very real, every single day.”

So the television show in question “did $200 million in revenue,” Tim? Let’s take into account that a hearty chunk of that money went to pay the salaries of those two bronzed actors. Bryan Cranston made $225,000 per episode. Cranston’s noble assistant, portrayed by Aaron Paul, made at least $155,000 per episode. Mr. Paul is worth a cool $35 million as you read this. And these two are outsiders with no real connection to Albuquerque. Sure, they’ve thrown the town a few peanuts over the years, but their giving equals nothing when compared to their earning power, salaries and accumulated wealth.

Link to “Here’s How Much Aaron Paul And Bryan Cranston Earn For ‘Breaking Bad’”, by Kirsten Acuna in The State Journal-Register, August 30, 2013:

https://www.sj-r.com/story/business/2013/08/30/here-s-how-much-aaron/36455941007/

Besides the television personalities involved, the corporation and board of directors behind the show were making about $1.5 billion per year at the height of the show’s production. That huge heap of dollar bills was certainly able to help sustain the luxurious lifestyles of at least a couple dozen Sony executives, producers and hangers-on, one assumes (see introduction).

Link to “Sony Pictures talks TV successes ‘Breaking Bad,’ ‘Better Call Saul’”, by Daniel Miller in The Los Angeles Times, November 21, 2013:

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment/envelope/cotown/la-et-ct-sony-pictures-television-breaking-bad-20131120-story.html]

As far as the 200 jobs hizzoner went on about, look at it this way: most of those jobs were low-level production jobs that did not pay a living wage. According to comparably.com, the following is true: “The salaries of Film and Television Crews in the US range from $17,360 to $35,780, with a median salary of $21,490. The middle 60% of Film Crews makes $21,490, with the top 80% making $35,780.” I don’t know about you, but I’ve found it damn hard to live on that kinda money.

Link to related article:

https://www.comparably.com/salaries/salaries-for-film-crew

Here’s another way to view the significance of those 200 jobs: City of Albuquerque Family and Community Services Director Carol Pierce estimates that there are currently about 120 people residing in Coronado Park. So, that’s a net gain of 80 jobs. What a great reason to raise statues to the imaginary criminal element of this town!

Link to “Keller announces the closure of Coronado Park”, by Gino Gutierrez at ksfr.org on July 26. 2022:

https://www.ksfr.org/government/2022-07-26/keller-announces-the-closure-of-coronado-park]

That’s right. While the citizens of this town continue to wrangle with an intractable, utterly huge homelessness crisis, that the mayor has no real plans to solve other than disbanding the only safe place where these 120 already displaced reside, where damaged people have been able to find shelter and community, he’ll jump at practically any opportunity to try to sell the illusions he has about Albuquerque to the rest of its unwitting citizens. It’s called being a podium Mayor.

The fact that many in this town choose to play along with Keller’s oblivious, privileged position on such events also has to do with the fact that many of us have given our lives over to television land. The world depicted on “Breaking Bad” is not the real world. It not the real Albuquerque. But, to those who have surrendered to the spectacle, it will suffice, and they will believe it to be true enough.

Our citizenry should be ashamed at this flagrant display of subservience to television land, white privilege and the turning of our collective backs on the poor and homeless while accepting bronze idols from those who made their millions on the backs of our inadequately paid workers. They’re not from here, those haughty Hollywood types, but they’ll take whatever we give them while returning to us a few ugly yet fascinating illusions at the rate of a few pennies on the dollar.

In that last sentence resides the difference between Babylon and Burque, both places at the end of the civilized world where somewhere in between stands Burque Podium Mayor Tim Keller.

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POSTSCRIPT

Rudolfo Carrillo is a native New Mexican and was the news and music editor at Weekly Alibi from August 2015 until March 2020, where he used the pen name “August March” to write about Albuquerque culture, history and politics. He is a graduate of the University of New Mexico’s Fine Arts program. As well as being an award-winning writer, Carrillo is a painter and sculptor. His recent work was recently on exhibit at Six O Six Gallery at 606 Broadway Blvd. SW. Carrillo’s award-winning writing and analysis have been featured at international academic conferences and in notable literary journals as well as local media outlets like the Albuquerque Journal. In late-February he presented work written for this site at the 43rd convocation of the Southwest Popular/American Culture Association.

New Mexico Sun Guest Column “APD’s Stated 97% Clearance Rate For Homicides In 2022 Is Misleading”’; Actual Clearance Rate Is 18.7%

On July 22, the online news agency the New Mexico Sun published the guest column “APD’s stated 97% clearance rate for homicides in 2022 is misleading. Below is the guest column followed by the link:

HEADLINE: APD’s stated 97% clearance rate for homicides in 2022 is misleading.

By Pete Dinelli

“On May 19 and July 19, APD officials proclaimed they had a 97% homicide clearance rate for 2022 with 47 suspects arrested, charged or identified in 40 recent and past homicide cases. The 97% figure is very misleading.

What the 97% figure actually represents are the murder investigations done for a 5-month period and only involves those murder cases actively being investigated by APD during that time period. It does not involve all pending murders investigation that are in suspension and that must be investigated and that are classified as still pending or unsolved.

The 47 arrests actually represent only 20% of the 184 homicides that occurred between January 1, 2020 and May 21, 2022. The 97% percentage simply does not track with the clearance rates delineated in APD performance budget measures nor with the manner and method used by the FBI .

According to the 2020, 2021 and 2021 APD approved city budget, following are APD’s homicide clearance rates for the years 2016 to 2021:

2016: 80%
2017: 70%.
2018: 47%.
2019: 57%
2020: 53%.
2021: 37% (reported as estimated actual)

On January 20, 2022, it was reported that APD was investigating 115 homicides from last year and of that number, only about 30% had been closed, which was an all-time record low for APD.

The APD annual clearance rate since 2017 has been between 53% and 57%, and actually dropped to 37% in 2021. On April 19, APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said the clearance rate of 97% included cases forwarded to the district attorney for possible charges. Of the 47 suspects arrested, charged or identified as of May 19, 23 were suspected in 2022 homicides and 24 in previous year homicides. 17 were from 2021, two from 2020 and five from 2019. Four suspects are dead and 3 are fugitives.

During each year of Mayor Tim Keller’s years in office, the city’s murder rates rose, dropped one year, and then rose to a historical high. Following is the breakdown of homicide by year:

2017: 72 homicides
2018: 69 homicides.
2019: 82 homicides
2020: 76 homicides
2021: 117 homicides (Per capita murder rate of 20.8 per 100,000.)
2022: 67 homicides as of July 19 (By this time in 2020, there were 65.)

According to APD records reviewed, APD has made an arrest, filed charges or otherwise cleared 34 of the 2022 homicide cases. According to APD, the unit has also cleared 19 cases from previous years in 2022. Thus far in 2022, there have been 69 homicides and last year there were 117 homicides for a grand total of 186.

Each year since 1995, the FBI releases annually its Crime In The United States Report. The Marshall Project describes the FBI’s method of calculating clearance rate as “blunt math…dividing the number of crimes that were cleared, no matter which year the crime occurred, by the number of new crimes in the calendar year.” By including clearance of old and new cases, a department’s rate in any particular year could exceed 100%. This leaves the statistics open to “statistical noise,” but ultimately can be useful for examining trends over the a longer term.

Using the FBI method of calculating murder clearance rates, clearing 34 cases out of 184 total cases for 2021 and 2022 is actually an 18.2 % clearance rate, not the 97% APD is claiming. The 18.5% is calculated as follows: 117 total homicides for 2021 + 69 homicides thus far in 2022 = 186 homicides DIVIDED into 34 cases claimed cleared by APD = 18.2% clearance rate for the time period of January 1, 2021 to July 19, 2022.

APD and its homicide unit needs to be recognized and commended for doing their jobs and doubling the number of the cases it is solving. However, APD loses credibility with the public when the command staff skews the numbers proclaiming a 97% clearance rate. This is not how the FBI calculates murder clearance rates and it’s not how APD reports them in performance measures. It is this type of sneaky and misleading conduct that results in APD losing credibility with the public.

City residents can only take limited comfort with APD being able to increase solving the number of homicide cases. City residents should not be lulled into a sense of safety simply because APD proclaims it has a 97% clearance rate when in fact it is actually upwards of 40%. The blunt truth is the solving of murder cases does not and will not make the city any safer.”

The link to the New Mexico Sun article is here:

https://newmexicosun.com/stories/629158219-apd-s-stated-97-clearance-rate-for-homicides-in-2022-is-misleading
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POSTSCRIPT

ABOUT THE NEW MEXICO SUN

The New Mexico Sun is part of the Sun Publishing group which is a nonprofit. The New Mexico Sun “mission statement” states in part:

“The New Mexico Sun was established to bring fresh light to issues that matter most to New Mexicans. It will cover the people, events, and wonders of our state. … The New Mexico Sun is non-partisan and fact-based, and we don’t maintain paywalls that lead to uneven information sharing. We don’t publish quotes from anonymous sources that lead to skepticism about our intentions, and we don’t bother our readers with annoying ads about products and services from non-locals that they will never buy. … Many New Mexico media outlets minimize or justify problematic issues based on the individuals involved or the power of their positions. Often reporters fail to ask hard questions, avoid making public officials uncomfortable, and then include only one side of a story. This approach doesn’t provide everything readers need to fully understand what is happening, why it matters, and how it will impact them or their families.”

The home page link to the New Mexico Sun is here:
https://newmexicosun.com/

Trump Is Not Above The Law; Indict, Try And Convict Trump For Inciting Riot, Obstructing An Official Proceeding, Conspiracy To Defraud The United States, Seditious Conspiracy and Obstruction Of Justice; Examining The Evidence And Charges

On July 21, the 8th publicly televised hearing of the US Congressional investigating the January 6 capitol riot was held. The committee is not expected to issue it final report for a few more months. The biggest question that hovers over the committee is whether or not it will refer the entire matter to the US Department of Justice to indict Donald Trump and others for sedition.

WHAT THE EVIDENCE REFLECTS

The facts amassed by the House select committee are damning and reflect a President so desperate to hold onto power to the point that he and his staunches supporters did everything they could do to stop the peaceful transition of power by promoting the great lie that the election was rigged to the point of orchestrating a violent and deadly attack on congress. The evidence presented and revealed during the 8 hearings are overwhelming with many elected Republicans, such as Senator Josh Hawlings and Representatives Jim Jordon, becoming active participates.

Following are the undisputed facts that can be gleaned for the 8 hearings:

Trump could have harbored no doubt that he lost the election and lost it resoundingly. This fact was driven home to him repeatedly by Attorney General William Bar, senior Justice Department officials, White House lawyers and his own campaign team who made it clear to him he lost the election and there was no evidence to support his contention that there was widespread election fraud. In fact, 50 out of 51 lawsuits were dismissed by the federal courts finding there was no election fraud.

Trump repeatedly pressured state officials to support his scheme to overturn the election. The best examples was when he made the call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” the necessary number of votes to win the state and his pressure on Arizona House Speaker Russell “Rusty” Bowers to support a slate of phony electors.

Trump’s TWEET to come to Washington on January 6, 2021 where he said “Be there, will be wild”, was the desperate culmination of his frustrated attempts to forestall the vote counting by other means.

Trump secretly plotted to urge his supporters to march on the Capitol January 6 and it was no ad-libbed invitation but a premeditated, closely held plan to assault the capitol and stop congress from voting to certify the election of Joe Biden.

It was made clear from testimony from Trumps own appointed officials across the administration, including White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, that violence was feared as erupting on January 6. White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson said it best when Mark Meadows warned “Things might get real, real bad on January 6!”

Trump wanted to join the mob on January 6 in marching on the Capitol, perhaps even lead the charge into the capitol, and that this was his plan all along. Trump’s own White House Council believed this would be “legally a terrible idea for us” and that Trump became was enraged when he was prevented by the Secret Service from going to the capitol but instead returned him to the White House.

Trump was fully aware that some of the supporters he urged to go to the Capitol and “fight like hell” were heavily armed.

When rioters breached the Capitol, Trump was watching the event unfold on TV in the White House and the he was content not do anything to stop the rioters. Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told White House Counsel Pat Cipollone “He doesn’t want to do anything, Pat.” Claims made by Trump’s lawyers during his second impeachment that he “like the rest of the country, was horrified at the violence” were simply a lie.

Trump was totally unfazed by the chants to “hang Mike Pence” and in fact said he thought Pence deserved that fate for resisting his pressure not to certify the electoral college vote.

It was a lie when Trump impeachment lawyer Michael van der Veen said the evidence presented showed that “at no point was the president informed the vice president was in any danger”. Trump was told but he did not care if Pence was in danger of physical harm. The evidence was clear how close Pence got to being harmed with his own security detail so concerned for their lives they started making calls to their families to say goodbye.

STEVE BANNON DISCLOSES DECLARING VICTORY IN DEAFEAT WAS TRUMPS PLAN ALL ALONG

Towards the end of the July 21 congressional hearing, the committee presented evidence of what Trump’s plan was all along if he lost the election, which was to declare victory and engage in the big lie that he won the election.

On July 12, the online news agency Mother Jones reported that on the evening of October 31, 2020, Steve Bannon told a group of associates that President Donald Trump had a plan to declare victory on election night, even if he was losing. Bannon explained Trump knew that the slow counting of Democratic-leaning mail-in ballots meant the returns would show early leads for him in the battleground states. It’s commonly referred to as the “red mirage” where early votes first show the Republican winning only to lose after absentee votes are counted.

According to audio of the meeting obtained by Mother Jones, Steve Bannon while laughing, told the group of business executive that Trump’s “strategy” was to use the “red mirage” to assert that he had won the election while claiming that the inevitable shifts in vote totals toward Joe Biden must be the result of fraud. Bannon is heard as saying:

“What Trump’s gonna do is just declare victory. Right? He’s gonna declare victory. But that doesn’t mean he’s a winner. … He’s just gonna say he’s a winner. … He’s gonna declare victory. But that doesn’t mean he’s a winner. … As it sits here today … at 10 or 11 o’clock Trump’s [when Trump is leading, he’s] gonna walk in the Oval, tweet out, ‘I’m the winner. Game over. Suck on that.'”

On July 22, Steve Banon was convicted of 2 counts of Contempt of Congress by a jury of 9 men 3 women. Each count carries a minimum of 30 days and a maximum of one year in jail, as well as a fine. The jury returned a verdict after deliberating for less than three hours. Bannon is expected to be sentenced on October 21.

https://www.cnn.com/2022/07/22/politics/steve-bannon-contempt-of-congress-january-6-verdict/index.html

NOT THE ONLY TIME

Trump’s plan to falsely declare victory while tens of millions of votes were still being counted was public knowledge even before the election. The online news agency Axios reported on the scheme at the time. Steve Bannon, one of Trump’s closest advisors, himself discussed the idea on election day November on his War Room podcast.

Weeks earlier, Bannon had interviewed a former Trump administration official who outlined how Trump would use allegations of fraud to dispute an electoral defeat and would seek to have Congress declare him the winner. The congressional committee investigating January 6 detailed how Rudy Giuliani convinced Trump to go ahead with a victory declaration after 2 a.m. on November 4, over the objections of campaign staff. “Frankly, we did win this election.” Trump insisted in news conference.

The link to quoted news source material is here:

https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2022/07/leaked-audio-steve-bannon-trump-2020-election-declare-victory/

CHARGES THAT TRUMP COULD FACE

The criminal statutes that Trump violated include 18 U.S.C. Section 1512(c), which applies to anyone who “corruptly … obstructs, influences, or impedes any official proceeding, or attempts to do so.” Section 18 U.S.C. Section 371 also would apply which prohibits conspiracy “to defraud the United States”. Such defrauding includes efforts to obstruct “the lawful functions” of any department of Government.

AT LEAST 5 FEDERAL CHARGES

There are at least 5 federal charges Trump can and should be prosecuted for and those charges are:

1. Obstructing an official proceeding of the United States Congress and the certification of the election.

2. Incitement of a riot by encouraging the crowed to march on the capitol.

3. Conspiracy to defraud the United States

4. Seditious conspiracy

5. Obstruction of justice

STATE OF MIND

The biggest hurdle federal prosecutors will have to deal with in criminally charging Trump is proving his “state of mind”. Trump’s defense will no doubt be that what he said to the crowd on January 6 was protected “free speech”. Courts have routinely set this bar very high in the context of political speech because the First Amendment broadly protects speech of that type.

It is well settled case law that only incitement to “imminent unlawful action” is sufficient. It must be shown that the speaker had to know that the crowd would immediately break the law. A political statement by the President of the United States will be viewed as protected by the First Amendment, most likely by the current United States Supreme Court, but even they cannot ignore concrete evidence, action and admissions revealing state of mind.

In order to convict Trump of criminal charges, federal prosecutors will be required to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that Trump had the “corrupt” state of mind. That burden of proof applies to the charges of inciting a riot and obstructing an official proceeding of the United States Congress.

The most damaging testimony of Hutchinson that eviscerates any defense of free speech is when Trump said he didn’t “fucking” care that they had weapons. Trump proclaimed “They’re not here to hurt me”. Trump was repeatedly warned that there could be violence, he knew the crowd was armed. Trump went so far as to order the metal detectors removed from the area so that his supporters could listen to his speech without being disarmed first by the secret service.

Hutchinson’s testimony was a firsthand account of the events as they unfolded and reveals for the first time Trump’s state of mind that would be admissible in court against Trump on the charge of inciting a riot. Hutchinson testified repeatedly that she was present during conversations Trump had with Trumps Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and others and she took notes.

Hutchinson testified that Trump clearly announced his disregard for potential violence by his supporters, and she heard firsthand from people who described the president’s anger at being told he could not lead his followers on their march to the Capitol where the presidential vote was to be certified.

Hutchinson’s testimony was clear that Trump wanted to go to the capitol that day after his speech where he inflamed the crowd to march on the capitol and became angry and said “I’m the fucking president” when told by secret service he could not go because it was too dangerous. Simply put, this testimony was the “smoking gun” needed to prove that the person speaking meant to incite imminent violence.

What is clear is that Trump knew the crowd was armed, he ordered that metal detectors not be used to keep his supporters out that he had summoned and were there to hear him speak. Trump was warned repeatedly of the potential violence. Once the crowd was assembled, Trump inflamed them to march to the capital to stop the congress from certifying the election. The angry mob Trump inflamed did his bidding and stormed and vandalized the United States Capitol. What is even more clear is that Trump wanted to go to the capitol himself to lead the charge invading the capitol building.

CONSPIRACY TO DEFRAUD THE UNITED STATES

In a March 2 filing, the committee said it was likely that Trump and others conspired to defraud the United States, which criminalizes any effort by two or more people to interfere with governmental functions “by deceit, craft or trickery.”

In addition to Trump’s efforts to pressure Pence, the committee cited his attempts to convince state election officials, the public and members of Congress that the 2020 election was stolen, even though several of his allies told him there was no evidence of fraud.

According to video testimony shown on Tuesday, June 28 by the committee from Kayleigh McEnany, Trump’s White House press secretary at the time, Trump was so enraged by then-Attorney General Bill Barr’s interview with the Associated Press saying there was no evidence of election fraud that Trump threw his lunch at the wall, breaking a porcelain dish and leaving ketchup dripping down the wall.

SEDITIOUS CONSPIRACY

Prosecutors already have charged more than a dozen members of the far-right Proud Boys and Oath Keepers groups who were at the January 6 riot with seditious conspiracy, a rarely used statute that makes it illegal to overthrow the U.S. government by force. To prove seditious conspiracy, prosecutors would need to show Trump conspired with others to use force. Cassidy Hutchinson is consistent with that theory when she testified about others organizing the riot with Trumps approval and his knowledge on the day of the riot that the mob was indeed armed.

OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE

At the end of Hutchinson’s testimony, Representative Liz Cheney, a Republican, presented possible evidence of witness tampering and obstruction of justice. Cheney showed messages to unidentified witnesses advising them that an unidentified person would be watching their testimony closely and expecting loyalty.

If the committee has evidence that the people who sent the messages had a “tacit understanding” with Trump, prosecutors could use it to show there was a conspiracy to tamper with witnesses said Daniel Medwed, a law professor at Northeastern University in Boston. Medwed had this to say:

“They were setting the table for witness tampering and likely have other witnesses coming in to nail that down.”

https://www.reuters.com/

No matter what the law says or what the facts reveal, the Department of Justice attorneys must prove all the elements of a crime against Trump beyond a reasonable doubt before a jury. There is no doubt if Trump is indicted, he will defend what he has said and did in public as protected free speech. Applying the elements of the crimes to the conduct of a president who would argue that he was acting in the exercise of his official duties will no doubt raise complicated questions of constitutional law that will require court rulings.

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE CHARGING TRUMP IF HE RUNS AGAIN

“On Sunday, July 17, it was widely reported that that former President Donald Trump has made up his mind about running again and that he may announce a 2024 run for president as soon as September in the hopes of shielding himself from criminal prosecution. On July 19, Lisa Monaco, the Justice Department’s second-ranking official, rejected the idea that Trump becoming a formal candidate would deter DOJ from investigating him. In response to that very question, Monaco stated bluntly:

“We’re going to continue to do our job, to follow the facts wherever they go, no matter where they lead, no matter to what level … We’re going to continue to investigate what was fundamentally an attack on our democracy.”

And on Wednesday July 20, Attorney General Garland himself reiterated at a news conference, responding to a question about the prospects of charging Trump, that “no person” is above the law. Garland echoed Monaco’s sentiment and said this:

“We have to hold accountable every person who is criminally responsible for trying to overturn a legitimate election, and we must do it in a way filled with integrity and professionalism.”

NBC LESTER HOLT QUESTIONS AG MERRICK GARLAND

On July 26, in a remarkable one-on-one interview of Attorney General Merrick Garland, NBC News anchor Lester Holt asked the question if prosecuting former President Donald Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 Capitol attack might “tear the country apart”.

Holt said to Garland during their interview:

“You said in no uncertain terms the other day that no one is above the law. That said, the indictment of a former president, or perhaps candidate for president, would arguably tear the country apart. Is that your concern as you make your decision down the road here, do you have to think about things like that?”

Attorney General Garland responded:

“Look, we pursue justice without fear or favor. We intend to hold everyone, anyone who was criminally responsible for the events surrounding Jan. 6, for any attempt to interfere with the lawful transfer of power from one administration to another, accountable. That’s what we do.”

Garland added the Justice Department will not pay “any attention” to “other issues” aside from its mission to pursue justice.

Holt then asked:

“So, if Donald Trump were to become a candidate for president again, that would not change your schedule or how you move forward or don’t move forward?”

Garland responded:

“I’ll say again that we will hold accountable anyone who is criminally responsible for attempting to interfere with the transfer, legitimate, lawful transfer of power, from one administration to the next.”

https://www.mediaite.com/tv/lester-holt-questions-merrick-garland-as-he-raises-prospect-of-prosecuting-trump-would-arguably-tear-the-country-apart/

OTHERS HAVE BEEN INDICTED

“Adding to Trump’s concerns that the DOJ will charge him even as a declared candidate are the 2018 indictments of two congressional candidates just a few months before that year’s midterm elections. Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., was charged with various crimes connected to allegations that he had engaged in insider stock trading. Weeks later, DOJ announced a host of criminal charges against Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif. connected to his use of campaign contributions to fund a lavish lifestyle, which included trips to Italy, Hawaii and London. Both were locked in re-election battles in a year Democrats were expected to (and did) pick up House seats and win back control of the House.

Hunter initially took a page from Trump’s playbook by describing his charges as “politically motivated” and claiming to have been unfairly targeted by the “new Department of Justice” and “the Democrats’ arm of law enforcement.” Despite the protestations of their innocence and their assertions to fight charges they called meritless, Collins and Hunter later pleaded guilty and resigned from Congress. Duncan was sentenced to 11 months in prison and Collins to 26 months.

Trump can announce that he’s running whenever he wants to but as recent history tells us, DOJ would not be prevented from prosecuting him for any potential crimes, even if primary elections or a general election are approaching.”

The links to quoted news sources is here:

https://www.msnbc.com/opinion/msnbc-opinion/merrick-garland-s-memo-doesn-t-mean-trump-clear-n1297412

https://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/maddowblog/merrick-garland-memo-election-trump-rcna39026

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/07/15/prosecute-trump-garland-case/

CONCLUSION

Any and all doubts that Donald Trump is a fascist who was hell bent on overthrowing the United State Government should be laid to rest by the evidence and testimony presented during the 8 days congressional public hearings by Trump’s own appointed staff, Trump former officials and loyalist.

The evidence established that Trump and his associates conspired for weeks, planned and orchestrated an armed mob dominated by white extremists such as the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers to violently disrupt and stop the peaceful transfer of power and to stop the government function of certifying the election.

There is little doubt that the testimony presented by loyal members of Trump’s own administration revealed a man so desperate to hold onto power that he attempted to interfere with the peaceful transition of power and to overthrow the United States democracy. It could and will happen again if Donald Trump runs for President in 2024, unless of course he is indicted, tried and convicted for the crimes he committed with his failed attempt to overthrow our democracy.

Some say indicting and prosecuting Trump will further divide an already divided country and he will declare that his prosecution is political persecution. Still others say if convicted, Trump will declare that he is a political prisoner and martyr and his conviction would be deemed illegitimate by his supporters. If acquitted, Trump will be emboldened and empowered to proclaim he is the rightful President, even if he loses again.

Simply put, Trump must be prosecuted in that not even a President nor former President is above the law. The failure to prosecute Trump will be more damaging to the nation than turning a blind eye to his effort to subvert democracy and prevent the peaceful transfer of power.

New Mexico Sun Article: Contact Mayor Keller And Ask For Moratorium On Safe Outdoor Space Applications

On July 26, the online news agency the New Mexico Sun published the guest column “Mayor Tim Keller should suspend the permitting process for ‘safe outdoor spaces’ until the City Council has time to act”. Below is the guest column followed by the link:

By Pete Dinelli

“On July 19, the New Mexico Sun broke the story that applications for “safe outdoor spaces” have been filed with the city Planning Department and that private funding is being sought for at least 6 encampments. An application for safe outdoor space zoning will lock into the existing zoning laws when the zoning application is completed. In the interim between when the Integrated Development Ordinance amendment goes into effect and when the provision is repealed, the application can be processed and approved by the city.

If Mayor Tim Keller is truly committed to “revisiting” his policies on the homeless, then he can issue an executive order suspending or placing a “moratorium” on the application process for “safe outdoor spaces”. He has the authority to give such an order to the Planning and Zoning Department.

The moratorium should be in place until the City Council has that opportunity to vote one way or the other on August 15 to repeal the legislation authorizing Safe Outdoor Spaces and enact rules and regulations on managing safe outdoor spaces if there is a failure to repeal. Mayor Keller has until July 28 when the amendments to Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO) will become law.

On June 6, the City Council enacted an amendment to the Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO) to allow for city sanctioned “safe outdoor spaces. “Safe outdoor spaces” are city sanctioned homeless encampments located in open space areas that will allow upwards of 50 homeless people to camp, require hand washing stations, toilets and showers, require a management plan, 6 foot fencing and provide for social services.

The application for a safe outdoor space “permissive use” or “conditional use” is the first step in the process. A Zoning Hearing Examiner must review and decide if the special safe outdoor space use will be allowed. Public notice must be given to surrounding property owners and the general public. A notice of zone change must be posted on the property and adjoining landowners and neighborhood must be given the opportunity to attend and be heard.

On June 22, after tremendous public outcry and objections, two bills were introduced that would repeal safe outdoor spaces. One bill introduced would stop the city from accepting or approving safe outdoor space applications and the other will eliminate “safe outdoor spaces” from the zoning code altogether. During the June 22 meeting the council did not act on the two bills and failed to enact the legislation that was to provide for rules and regulations promulgated by the Keller Administration for “safe outdoor spaces”.

June 22 was the last meeting of the City Council before it went on “summer break” until August 1 with the next city council meeting scheduled for August 15. The city council’s failure to take action on either the bills stopping the application process or repealing the land use resolution resulted in “safe outdoor spaces” becoming a permissible land use on July 28 and people can apply for the land use.

On July 6, after intense public outcry and objections over “safe outdoor spaces” Mayor Tim Keller announced that his administration is “revisiting” its policies on how it addresses homeless encampments. Keller wants to initiate major changes by the end of July on how to deal legally with homeless encampments.

The city has adopted what is called a “housing first” policy to deal with the homeless crisis. The 2022-2023 adopted city contains $4 million in recurring funding and $2 million in one-time funding for supportive housing programs in the City’s Housing First model and $24 million in Emergency Rental Assistance from the federal government.

“Safe outdoor spaces” will be a disaster for the city as a whole. They will destroy neighborhoods, make the city a magnet for the homeless and destroy the city’s efforts to manage the homeless through housing. If the City allows the 6 applications for “safe outdoor spaces” to proceed and approves them all, it will be a major setback for the city and its current policy of seeking permanent shelter and housing as the solution to the homeless crisis.”

The link to the New Mexico Sun article is here:

https://newmexicosun.com/stories/629412118-mayor-tim-keller-should-suspend-the-permitting-process-for-safe-outdoor-spaces-until-the-city-council-has-time-to-act

CONTACT THE MAYOR AND CITTY COUNCIL

The public is strongly encouraged to contact Mayor Keller and City Council and ask for a moratorium on the city processing applications for “Safe Outdoor Spaces” until the city Council has time to vote on August 15 to repeal.

The email addresses and phone numbers to contact Mayor Keller and Interim Chief Administrative Officer Lawrence Rael and each City Councilor and the Director of Counsel services are as follows:

MAYOR’S OFFICE PHONE: (505) 768-3000
CITY COUNCIL PHONE: (505) 768-3100

EMAIL ADDRESSES

tkeller@cabq.gov
lrael@cabq.gov
lesanchez@cabq.gov
louiesanchez@allstate.com
ibenton@cabq.gov
kpena@cabq.gov
bbassan@cabq.gov
danlewis@cabq.gov
LEWISABQ@GMAIL.COM
patdavis@cabq.gov
tfiebelkorn@cabq.gov
trudyjones@cabq.gov
rgrout@cabq.gov
cmelendrez@cabq.gov

POSTSCRIPT

ABOUT THE NEW MEXICO SUN

The New Mexico Sun is part of the Sun Publishing group which is a nonprofit. The New Mexico Sun “mission statement” states in part:

“The New Mexico Sun was established to bring fresh light to issues that matter most to New Mexicans. It will cover the people, events, and wonders of our state. … The New Mexico Sun is non-partisan and fact-based, and we don’t maintain paywalls that lead to uneven information sharing. We don’t publish quotes from anonymous sources that lead to skepticism about our intentions, and we don’t bother our readers with annoying ads about products and services from non-locals that they will never buy. … Many New Mexico media outlets minimize or justify problematic issues based on the individuals involved or the power of their positions. Often reporters fail to ask hard questions, avoid making public officials uncomfortable, and then include only one side of a story. This approach doesn’t provide everything readers need to fully understand what is happening, why it matters, and how it will impact them or their families.”

The home page link to the New Mexico Sun is here:

https://newmexicosun.com/

Mayor Tim Keller Created “The Most Dangerous Place In The State”; Keller Must Take Full Responsibility For Cleaning Up The Criminal Cesspool Known As Coronado Park He Created And Owes Community An Apology

On June 27, calling it “the most dangerous place in the state of New Mexico” Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller held a press conference standing in front of Coronado Park to discuss his reasons for ordering the parks closure and saying it was imperative even without a fully formed plan for how to do it and what happens next.

Keller said this:

“We’re not going to wait any longer. We have all the evidence we need that says that we have to do something different. … It is not going to be something where every question is answered, and every plan is thought out. … We do not have the luxury of a perfect plan. … At this point, if we don’t close the park now, it will never be a park again. … There was unanimous consensus that at a minimum, temporarily, this park has to close. … This is the first step. We welcome everyone to help us problem-solve, but someone has to step up and make a decision … And that’s what people elected me to do.”

City officials have said that upwards 120 people camp nightly at the park. Homeless occupants will be told of other housing options offered by the city. The city will continue to offer services and housing options to those using Coronado Park, including making limited property storage available to those who are interested or in need of it.

The links to quoted news sources are here:

https://www.koat.com/article/coronado-park-closed-homeless/40724118

https://www.kob.com/new-mexico/mayor-keller-reaffirms-plans-to-close-coronado-park/

https://www.abqjournal.com/2519423/were-not-going-to-wait-any-longer-mayor-says-of-coronado-park.html

https://www.abqjournal.com/2519038/keller-city-will-close-coronado-park.html

Keller admitted that the immediate closure of the park will be “messy” and that dispersing park residents could create other problems. Keller also said that no decision has been made about the park’s specific closure date. He also said no long-term plans have been made for the property but said options include reopening it as a park, using it for the neighboring fire station’s expansion or turning it into a “safe outdoor space” which is a managed site with rules, toilets and showers where people who are homeless can legally camp.

BOMBSHELL ANNOUNCEMENT

It was on Monday, July 25, in a speech before the very Republican leaning New Mexico chapter of the National Association of Industrial Office Parks (NAIOP), that Mayor Tim Keller announced closure of Coronado Park. The announcement took everyone by surprise. The announcement was labeled by more than one local news media outlet as a “bombshell” announcement.

Keller told the group of commercial and real estate developers and said this in a statement:

“[The]situation is absolutely unacceptable, so we’re going to stop it. In August we’re closing Coronado Park. … It doesn’t matter if we know exactly what we’re doing next. It doesn’t matter exactly what the timing is or how we’re going to do it, but we have to do better than what’s happening at Coronado Park. There is a bed for every person [who stays at Coronado] to go. … The status quo will not stand … This remains a complex issue and while we work to determine what’s next for Coronado, we’ll keep stepping up to get folks connected to the right services and resources. …

We’re very concerned about what’s going to happen in the neighborhoods, but at this point now, it’s a question of what is worse — looking the other way at violence, at homicide, at rampant drug use, or trying to deal with the problem a different way. … It has reached the breaking point where even if it’s creating other problems and other brush fires, we’ve got a better chance dealing with that than we do letting this go.

FAILURE TO CONFER

Mayor Keller was severely criticized for making the decision to close the park without conferring first and getting input from the surrounding neighborhoods, especially the Wells Park neighborhood, local businesses and stakeholders.

Wells Park Neighborhood Association President Doreen McKnight said this:

“It’s hard for us to take a position on this — whether or not we think it’s a good or bad idea — if nobody communicates with us and there’s no plan.”

The Mental Health Response Advisory Committee is in charge of advising the city on issues related to chronic homelessness. Max Kauffman, who co-chairs the committee, said Keller’s announcement came as a surprise. Kaufman said this:

“Now we’re in the position of having to react to it rather than getting ahead of it, helping to make sure that they’re considering all the factors that are relevant to people experiencing homelessness and they’re taking good care in how they’re executing this policy, and whether to execute this policy at all.”

Keller took issue with the criticism that he made the park closure decision without first notifying or consulting with key constituencies justifying his decision by saying the situation at the park had become a major crisis that needs to be dealt with immediately. Keller did say the city would now begin sorting out the closure details and future plans with service providers, park residents, neighbors and other elected officials.

The link to quoted news source material is here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/2519038/keller-city-will-close-coronado-park.html

CESSPOOL OF CRMINAL ACTIVITY

Over the last 10 years, Coronado Park became the “de facto” city sanctioned homeless encampment with the city repeatedly cleaning it up only for the homeless to return the next day. City officials have said it is costing the city $27,154 every two weeks or $54,308 a month to clean up the park only to allow the homeless encampment to return.

Residents and businesses located near the park complain to the city repeatedly about the city’s unwritten policy to allow the park to be used as an encampment and its use as a drop off by law enforcement for those who are transported from the westside jail. At any given time, Coronado Park has 70 to 80 tents crammed into the park with homeless wondering the area.

Criminal activity has spiked at Coranado Park over the past three years with an extensive history of lawlessness including drug use, violence, murder, rape and mental health issues. In 2020, there were 3 homicides at Coronado Park. In 2019, a disabled woman was raped, and in 2018 there was a murder. APD reports that it was dispatched to the park 651 times in 2021 and 312 times thus far in 2022. There have been 16 stabbings at the park in the past 2 years and in the past 30 days APD has seized from the park 4,500 fentanyl pills, more than 5 pounds of methamphetamine, 24 grams of heroin and 29 grams of cocaine. APD also found $10,000 in cash.

KELLER’S COMPLETE REVERASAL

Mayor Keller’s decision to close Coronado Park was a dramatic 100% reversal from just a few weeks ago when he gave excuses why he could not close Coronado Park. It was an astonishing admission of failure when Mayor Tim Keller said this about Coronado Park:

“[The federal courts] will not allow us to just walk in and arrest someone because they’re homeless and the current situation beats the alternative. … It is not lost on me that we created Coronado Park because Wells Park said, ‘We don’t want these folks in our neighborhood,’ and we agree with them. And that’s why they were all grouped to one area. … So you also got to remember the alternative. You can’t have it both ways — you want to close Coronado Park, you are going to open all of Wells Park neighborhood to something none of us want to see.”

Link to quoted news source:

https://www.abqjournal.com/2508302/man-fatally-shot-at-abq-park.html

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

Mayor Tim Keller will never admit it, but it is he who had the biggest hand in creating “the most dangerous place in the state of New Mexico” and creating the cesspool of crime known as Coronado Park. It was nauseating for Keller to deflect blame over what he created when he said:

“This is the first step. We welcome everyone to help us problem-solve, but someone has to step up and make a decision. And that’s what people elected me to do.”

Absolutely no one elected Tim Keller to decide to allow a once beautiful and pristine park dedicated to public use to become a festering blight for over 4 years on the community and creating a cesspool of crime.

Simply put, Coronado Park is an embarrassment with the city violating its own ordinances and nuisance laws by allowing overnight camping and criminal conduct in the park thus creating a public nuisance both under state law and city ordinance. Coronado Park became the symbol of Keller’s failure as Mayor to deal with the homeless crisis and now he has to deal with a nuisance property he created.

Now that Mayor Tim Keller is ordering the closure and cleanup of Coronado Park, he should issue a formal apology to the Wells Park Neighborhood and the businesses in the area and forcing them for the last 4 years to an endure a blight, a nuisance and a magnet for crime he created.

It was disingenuous for Keller to say just a few weeks ago “[The federal courts] will not allow us to just walk in and arrest someone because they’re homeless and the current situation beats the alternative. … .“The current situation at Coronado Park does not beat the alternative of having a zero tolerance of allowing illegal encampments and allowing the homeless to squat all over the city and not enforce the law.

Grouping the homeless, as Keller said, in a city park should never have been considered as an option to deal with the homeless crisis given all the resources the city is spending to help the homeless. This so called “grouping” coming from a mayor who for his entire first term made dealing with the homeless crisis a corner stone of his administration. A Mayor whose administration spent $40 million in 2022 and will spend $60 million in 2023 to provide assistance to the homeless. A Mayor who saw to it that the city purchased the 529,000 square-foot Lovelace Hospital facility on Gibson for $15 million to have it converted into a Gateway Shelter and who made the westside shelter a 24-7 facility.

On July 6 Mayor Tim Keller announced that his administration was “revisiting” its policies on how it addresses homeless encampments that are increasing in number throughout the city. Keller wants to initiate major changes by the end of July on how to deal legally with homeless encampments. Closure of Coronado Park is a good first step.

Mayor’s Keller’s announcement took everyone by surprise and was even labeled a “bombshell” announcement by more than on media outlet. It was as if he was in a rush to make the announcement before a Republican business group in order to make headlines. He told no one else about it, including the neighborhood area of Wells Park, other homeless care providers in the city, nor the city’s Mental Health Response Advisory Committee which advises the city on issues related to chronic homelessness.

Keller himself admitted there is no real plan in place on how to deal with the closure of the park which is sloppy at best and incompetence at its worst. Keller has essentially “pivoted” from a crisis he has created known as Coronado Park to another crisis he will have to deal with when it comes to dealing those that are being displaced.

Mayor Tim Keller is to be commended for at least coming to his senses after a full 4 years of failing to exercise his authority to issue executive orders to clean up and remove unlawful encampments and permanently close Coronado Park. Closure of Coronado Park is a good first step in announcing a new approach to the city’s homeless crisis. Now comes the real hard part to come up with a viable plan that will not make things worse for the area and the city and that will deal with the homeless in a compassionate manner.