Thursday, December 12, 2019

Dem Readers Urge Xochitl To Impeach And Some Bottom Lines 

Those omnipresent TV ads urging Dem Rep. Xochitl Torres Small to vote against impeachment may be taking their toll on her--at least they are with like-minded centrist Dems in other swing districts who are also being subjected to the TV barrage.

We blogged this week that the smart move for the freshman congresswoman would be to vote against impeachment to deprive the R's of a major issue next year. We get the other side from two Democratic readers:

Reader Mike Davis worked for Dem southern Congressman Harry Teague, who was defeated after one term:

Joe, in 2009 when Rep. Teague voted against (Obamacare) the reaction of Dems in CD2 was brutal. The more liberal/progressive the voter the louder they screamed--no matter how hard we explained that Speaker Pelosi had given the congressman a walk on that vote for political reasons. These Dem voters stated loudly that they would not vote for the congressman again--even though he had no primary opponent. I have no doubt that some followed through. He lost the 2010 election to former Congressman Pearce.

This week you mentioned Torres-Small trying "to thread the needle on the thorniest of issues by making offerings to both sides in her sprawling southern congressional district." ​ If she votes against impeachment, she may find that a quote from Jesus about trying to "fit a camel through the eye of a needle" is more appropriate even without the prospect of a lurking primary opponent.

Reader Mitchell Freedman also thinks Torres Small should vote to impeach Trump:

XTS will more likely lose in 2020 if she continues to triangulate. She must rely on those new voters in 2018 who voted for her, and the new voters in 2020 who will also more likely vote for her. These are precisely the voters who would support impeaching Trump because they recognize Trump as a danger to what is left of our republic, as it descends further and further into oligopoly and worse. 


From ABQ City Hall on the homeless shelter to be constructed:

The City posted an online survey for the public. . .A public information session on December 14th will take place from 9 a.m.—12 noon at the Albuquerque Convention Center. The City is asking participants to register in advance for the public session by calling Constituent Services at (505) 768-3000.


The SE NM oil boom is the focus this week of a special series from the ABQ Journal. Our own special report from the Permian Basin was posted here in August. . . Veteran ABQ voice over specialist and radio personality Melody Zownir, whose clients include American Furniture, is getting ready to take on political work in 2020. She can be reached at 450-5866. . .Thanks to T.J. Trout at KKOB-AM-FM and Eddy Aragon at KIVA-AM-FM for having me on to share thoughts about this week's ABQ run-off elections.

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Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Zack Scares Ike; Bassan Trumps Romero In City Council Run-offs, Plus: House Speaker Egolf Draws Primary Foe As Energy Act Opponents Take Aim 

Benton and Bassan
City Councilor Ike Benton got the scare of his political life, Ane Romero was easily handled by Republican Brook Bassan and the Dem political hierarchy got egg on its face. Those are the headlines from City Election Run-off '19. Final unofficial results here.

When the long election season started the political pros pointed to longtime District 2 Dem Councilor Ike Benton as the most vulnerable candidate in the four council districts at stake. In Tuesday's run-off Zack Quintero tried his best to show them right, but fell short. Benton carved out a narrow 52 to 48 win by taking the early vote and losing the election day vote by a small margin.

(Final:Benton--52.22%; Quintero 47.78%)

In the first round voting in November, Quintero, 28, was crushed by Benton by 21 points in a six way race. That he came back to within four points in the run-off speaks to the discontent with the 14 year incumbent over the crime wave and the disastrous ART project he enthusiastically supported. Also, he seems to have disappeared after the November election. Quintero gets credit for finally hitting the crime issue hard in the final days and also winning over more Hispanic voters. He'll be back someday.

In District 4 there was no surprise, except that Dems fell short of expectations that the race could be a nail biter. But Republican Brook Bassan took the prize garnering nearly 54 per cent of the vote. It was 53.46% to 46.54%.

This was the second heartbreaker for Romero, a high quality candidate who also lost a legislative contest in 2016. But she and her progressive supporters were outplayed by the R's who hammered away at illegal immigration and crime, issues that resonated in the affluent portions of the NE Heights district, just as they did for Republican Councilor Trudy Jones in the November election when she easily dispatched her Dem challenger.

If the R's play that hand in 2020, will it help them take back a BernCo legislative seat or two that they lost in the Heights in '18? Dem political consultant Sisto Abeyta said it's a theme to watch. But another D consultant spun hat the Dems "competed strongly" in District 4 and that turnout in the presidential race will be more Democratic than in an off-year, local election.

Well, as they say, we shall see.

The deal this year for the Dems was to have just about all of their prominent officeholders endorse Romero in a lowly city council race. It didn't work. Those wiping the egg away today include Mayor Keller, Rep. Haaland, MLG, AG Balderas and Senator Heinrich.

On the other hand, Keller's endorsement of Benton probably put the endangered councilor over the top (how do you like that, Zack?).

The Bassan win means she and Republican Jones will give Keller more vocal public opposition. The Council, however, remains controlled by the Dems, 6 to 3. With Bassan's win the number of women on the nine member council reaches a record high of five.


Lyla June Johnston
NM House Speaker Brian Egolf appeared to come into his own in the 2019 legislative session when he shepherded a bundle of bills through the chamber on behalf of the new Governor. He took over as Speaker in 2017 but it wasn't until this year that the gavel seemed fully comfortable in the hands of the 43 year old lawyer. Now he is going to have work a bit harder to keep his grip on that gavel. Unexpectedly, the Speaker has drawn a Democratic primary challenger.

Among the bills that Egolf managed was the controversial Energy Transition Act (ETA), beloved by the environmental community, with one major exception. New Energy Economy (NEE) has fought the renewable energy measure tooth and nail. Now a former communications staffer for NEE, Lyla June Johnston, is set to announce her candidacy at the capitol tomorrow for Egolf's Santa Fe legislative seat. From her social media:

Lyla June is a Native American environmental scientist, doctoral student, educator, economist, community organizer and musician of Navajo and European lineages from Taos. Her dynamic, multi-genre performance and speech style has invigorated and inspired audiences across the globe towards personal, collective and ecological healing. Her messages focus on the climate crisis, Indigenous rights, supporting youth, inter-cultural healing, historical trauma and traditional land stewardship practices. 

Here is a video of one of Lyla June's performances.

Speaker Egolf
Egolf is well-liked in the district he was first elected to in 2008 and is the odds-on favorite for the primary, but if Lyla June raises anti-ETA money she could keep him busy. In addition she may score attorney Egolf for his representation of the medical marijuana industry while presiding over House debate over laws for that industry, a matter that has already caused him headaches.

More broadly, the primary challenge, presuming it will be largely over the ETA which is aimed at transitioning the state to renewables, spotlights who will pay for that transition.

NEE maintains PNM is let off the hook under ETA. They claim the electric utility's consumers are being asked to shell out too much of their monthly bills to close down the company's coal-fired San Juan Generating Station. Egolf and PNM maintain consumers will save money because of the move to cheaper renewables.

Egolf has a gavel but he'll soon be wearing a catcher's mitt--to trap the curve ball he's just been thrown.

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Tuesday, December 10, 2019

ABQ Voters Decide Two City Council Seats Today As Murder Meter Registers New High, Plus: Death Claims Respected Roundhouse Lobbyist John Lee Thompson 

As voters head to the polls today to decide two ABQ City Council run-off elections they are being greeted by the news of an all-time high murder rate in the state's largest city. At least 74 lives have been lost this year. That number is sure to rise as still unresolved slayings are added to the total.

The previous murder record was set in 2017 but the more salient point is that ABQ has surpassed 60 murders each year since 2016. It's a new normal that nobody wants.

The murder rate doesn't tell nearly the whole story. Take a look at this quote from Dr. Steve McLaughlin, UNM Chair of Emergency Medicine:

If you go back a couple of years, we're seeing about 10 percent more gunshot wounds every single year. So if you go back to 2016, the numbers were something like 250. And this year, we're going to be somewhere close to 400. So it's gone up dramatically.

That is a stunning number. The number of gunshot wounds is up 60 percent since 2016? One can only imagine how many more murders the city would tally without the excellent physicians and staff at the UNMH emergency room who are saving lives on a daily basis. (Some of those gunshot victims are suicide or accidents).

The violence and mayhem is starting to become politicized. First, BernCo Sheriff Manny Gonzales, a Democrat, refused to rule out a mayoral campaign against fellow Dem and Mayor Tim Keller in 2021. Now, for the first time, the state GOP is making crime an issue. Chairman Steve Pearce reacted to the grim murder news:

. . .This is a prime example of weak leadership. . .Keller is desperate to do anything: multi-agency task forces, upgrades on data systems—he’s focusing on impractical solutions that are coddling the city’s criminals. Albuquerque’s becoming a crime-zone. . .Keller has failed our community. We need real action from the city and the state to hammer out strong laws and fix this problem with real crime-fighting solutions. 

Keller supporters might wonder where the R's were when Republican Mayor Berry was presiding over rising rates of crime and left office with APD in disarray.

For sure, Pearce is hoping that the downbeat crime news will help Republican Brook Bassan who appears to be in a close race today with Dem Ane Romero for Council District 4 in the NE Heights.

In District 2 there is no GOP hope. Both incumbent Ike Benton and his challenger Zack Quintero are Dems. Benton is heavily favored.

The polls are open today from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Only residents of Council Districts 2 and 4 are eligible to vote. Voting info is here. Election results will be posted here.


John Lee Thompson
Respected, liked and effective were adjectives heard in the wake of the news Monday that veteran NM lobbyist John Lee Thompson had died following complications from surgery,.

Thompson, 79, spent over 40 years at the Roundhouse successfully lobbying on behalf of a long list of clients. His son John followed in his father's footsteps and is himself a prominent lobbyist. He told me:

My dad was liked, trusted and respected by all. A truly first class gentleman.

Another Roundhouse lobbying fixture, Mark Fleisher, a good friend to Thompson, came with this:

John Lee was a lobbyist who had served three terms as an ABQ state representative. Like most good lobbyists, he kept most clients year in and year out including: Mid Rio Grande Conservancy District, Association of Counties, Premier Distributing and BNSF Railroad. John Lee was well-respected. He tutored his twin sons, John and Jason, and today both are well-respected lobbyists, a tribute to John Lee's character. He was low-key, had a big heart and was a dear friend. He will be missed.

A contemporary of Thompson's, retired lobbyist Ed Mahr, paid tribute to his former colleague:

John Lee was a man of dignity and class and enjoyed a reputation for honesty and integrity. More importantly, he was a kind and warm individual, well-liked by business associates and friends and loved by his children and grandchildren.

Services for John Lee Thompson are pending.


In a first draft Monday we blogged that the US House could vote on articles of impeachment this week. The House Judiciary Committee may vote on the articles this week. A full House vote could come before year's end.

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Monday, December 09, 2019

Split Opinion: Will It Make Torres Small's Impeachment Decision Easier? Plus: Down To The Wire In Council District 4; Dems Claim Upset In Sight As GOP Early Vote Edge Narrows 

Rep. Torres Small
Sometimes it's almost painful to watch as Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, a liberal at heart, tries to thread the needle on the thorniest of issues by making offerings to both sides in her sprawling southern congressional district. But on what could have been her most painful vote of all--whether to impeach President Trump--the pressure may be easing on the first term congresswoman.

The Democratic-controlled US House could vote on articles of impeachment before Christmas and when it does Trump is expected to be impeached. But impeachment has failed to catch fire with a strong majority of the American public and a quick acquittal of the President in the US Senate is a foregone conclusion if the House impeaches.

In many quarters impeachment is seen as a continuation of the partisan mania engulfing the capital. Also, the charges don't rise to the level of criminal activity that forced President Nixon to resign in 1974 under the threat of impeachment. Both are good reasons why this impeachment has not gripped the nation.

This impeachment effort is reminiscent of the one in 1998 of President Clinton who was impeached by the House but acquitted in the Senate. That episode was so tainted by partisanship (then by Republicans)--that it's scarcely recalled that Clinton was only the second president ever to be impeached.

Torres Small, who says she is undecided on how she will vote, is being pressured with anti-impeachment TV ads by pro-Trump PACs urging her to vote against the articles, but it appears the moment of danger for her may have passed. If she votes against impeachment would she draw a well financed and popular Dem primary challenger? Highly unlikely.

In fact, the riskier political course for her may be to vote for impeachment. That would give the R's an issue to hound her with until next November while her vote against impeachment could quietly put the matter to rest in her swing district.,

Torres Small need not fret that she would be making a strictly political decision by voting against impeachment. It has already failed in the court of public opinion. Rather than impeach, a substantial portion of the nation would prefer to judge this president at next November's election. Her vote to send the decision on Trump's future to them could be one of the congresswoman's least painful moments.


Bassan & Romero
It could be a nail-biter when the votes are counted tomorrow night from the run-off election in ABQ City Council District in ABQ's NE Heights.

Consultants say the early vote--which ended Saturday--shows that of 5,797 votes cast, 44 percent were by Republicans, 43 percent by Democrats and 12 percent by independents.  The early vote was GOP--2579; Dems--2503 and Indys at 715.

That's an improvement for the Dems. The early vote had been going for the R's by 48 percent. However, independents can be expected to lean R in the district, giving Republican Brook Bassan an edge over Democrat Ane Romero going into Tuesday's Election Day voting.

And that's where the Dem machine comes in. Just about every prominent Dem politico has endorsed Romero's candidacy, including Mayor Keller who will be her "closer" today, working a phone bank to get out the vote in the GOP-leaning seat.

Election Day voting almost always tends to be more Democratic so D optimism is rising that Romero may be able to pull off the upset. But R's are canvassing intensely in this district, just one of three GOP held districts on the nine member council. The Dems floated an unconfirmed report that former Gov. Susana Martinez was helping out Bassan in the final hours, demonstrating that the race has tightened. Also, Brandon Hall, deputy director of Trump Victory NM, has been knocking doors for Bassan.

Current Governor MLG was the last Dem power player to endorse Romero, who serves as her deputy legislative director. In a Sunday endorsement she said:

As a member of the Northeast Police Council, she is the only candidate with first hand experience working with law enforcement to make our communities safe. She understands the behavioral and mental health crisis we face, and has spent her life helping to implement policies that tackle these issues. . . 

Lujan Grisham predicted the race will be settled by "just a few votes." If Dems come on strong tomorrow, she may be right. Certainly they are more "all in" for the Romero candidacy than any other we've seen in recent years.

If Bassan wins Tuesday, and she remains favored in the district that has been R for 20 years, the city council will remain 6 to 3 Dem. If Romero wins, the council will go to 7 to 2 Dem. That would be the most lopsided partisan margin in the history of the modern government.

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Thursday, December 05, 2019

More From ABQ Crime Beat That Dominated Week; The Stats Backlash, Plus: Council Run-Offs Get Testy In Final Days; Charges Of Carpetbagging And Cop Cutting 

The week  here has been spent mainly on the ABQ crime beat, and we have more . . .

One suggestion for crime-fighting is to bring back the state police to help APD patrol the streets as was done temporarily earlier this year by order of Governor MLG. But this suggestion comes with a twist: have the Governor and Legislature use the record surpluses to beef up the permanent state police presence in the ABQ metro area. The thinking being that the addition of a couple of dozen officers would give APD breathing room for several years as it tries to staff up.

Any takers for this among the BernCo state legislative delegation?


The erroneous numbers that inflated the success ABQ is making in the fight against crime sparked an uproar this week and our expert readers continue to come with insight and analysis.

Government watchdog Charles Arasim contributes his thoughts on the Monday night city council meeting where the stats snafu was discussed:

At the nine minute mark in this video, you will hear APD Deputy Chief Armijo say that in 2018 APD switched from the UCR (Uniform Crime Reporting) system to NIBRS (National Incident Based Reporting System). She goes on to say at some point, those numbers went into a black hole. You can read about the FBI mandating police departments across the nation make the switch from UCR to NIBRS by Jan 1, 2021, here.

Saying that, I’m bewildered how it can be that APD’s IT staff, Records Staff, Chief Armijo, Chief Geier and, his boss, Chief Administrative Officer Sarita Nair all missed the boat on successfully integrating/implementing the NIBRS software package. It simply makes no sense.


(click to enlarge)

It looks though we could have a close run-off race next Tuesday when the votes are counted in ABQ City Council district 4 in the NE Heights. Both sides are firing ammo in the final days.

The latest comes from Republican Brook Bassan who mailed a flyer accusing Romero of being a "political opportunist," who recently moved into the council district. That flyer is posted here. Dem Ane Romero's campaign came with this response:

Brook Bassan has sent a desperate, last minute mailer, lying about my background saying I've rented an apartment and moved into District 4 just to run for office. It's a flat-out lie. My husband and I are homeowners and moved to the Northeast Heights after we got married in 2015. . . I serve on the Northeast Community Policing Council and my husband is a board member on our Homeowners Association. I have voted in every city election since we bought our home in January, 2016 in District 4. Brook shouldn’t throw stones. She moved into the District just a few years before me, chose not to take the most basic step in our democracy and didn’t vote in most city elections, and then deceived Heights voters by changing her party affiliation six times. . .

Bassan says she switched political parties six times so she could vote in certain Dem and GOP primary elections.

The early District 4 vote trend, according to consultants, has tilted toward the R's but the Dems hope to catch up in the final days of early voting which ends Saturday and in Election Day voting which is Tuesday, Dec. 10.

In District 2 in the Downtown/North Valley area, Zack Quintero has been firing crime salvos at Dem City Councilor Ike Benton, saying that Benton voted to cut 100 police officers from APS, so no wonder we have a crime problem. Benton put out a mailer to refute that powerful charge, saying:

In 2015, ABQ was coming out of a recession and gross receipts tax revenue was flat. A unanimous city council vote redirected funds in Mayor Berry’s APD budget for 100 vacant positions (not projected to be filled that year) to 5% raises for officers and to comply with the DOJ settlement. As a result in 2015, police department funding increased $8 million from the previous years. To say we cut 100 APD jobs is an intentional misrepresentation.

Benton won the initial November election by 21 points over Quintero but his 28 year old rival has been pushing hard in the close and winning endorsements from other first round candidates like  Robert Nelson. Former candidate Joseph Griego has endorsed Benton.


Five days into the start of service, one Albuquerque Rapid Transit (ART) system bus is off the street after colliding with a vehicle on West Central Wednesday afternoon. . . The driver of a pickup truck made an illegal left turn and crashed into the bus as it headed east on Central, near 52nd. The truck driver was taken to a hospital to get “checked out” but there were no other injuries reported. . . 

Thanks for tuning in. We welcome your news, comments, criticisms and thoughts on your own personal existential angst.

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Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Keller May Get To Make City Council Appointment, Plus: Botched Crime Numbers Befuddle Council And: Want A State Job?  

ABQ Mayor Tim Keller may get the rare opportunity to appoint a member of the City Council.

Veteran Councilor Ken Sanchez has been hospitalized since Nov. 25 for a "medical emergency" and it's uncertain if he will return to the nine member panel that he has served on since 2005. If he doesn't, Keller would appoint a replacement who would fill out the remainder of Sanchez's term which expires in 2021.

Sanchez is a Democrat and Keller could be expected to appoint another Dem to replace him. However, Sanchez is one of the few prominent moderate Dems in the metro and Keller would be lobbied to name a more progressive personality who could tilt the council further left.

The last councilor to be appointed was Republican Janice Arnold-Jones by then Mayor Berry in 2013 when Councilor Mike Cook resigned after being arrested for DWI.  However, Arnold-Jones lost the seat in an election later that year to Dem Diane Gibson.


At Monday's ABQ City Council meeting Chief Administrative Officer Sarita Nair said it is uncertain whether crime statistics dating back to the beginning of 2018 are flawed. The response came as councilors explored the botched numbers that were released by Mayor Keller this year that compared the crime rate for the first six months of 2019 to 2018 and found a dramatic drop in most crime. It turns out there was no big drop, to the embarrassment of the administration, which released revised numbers and have resulted in a public outcry.

Nair said the city will look back at the stats and make any necessary corrections. Meanwhile, Keller is asking the state legislature for $20 million to update APD crime reporting software.

While the reporting system was blamed for being flawed there was no mention at the meeting of any specific city personnel bungling their duties.

Here's a 27 minute video from the meeting posted by government watchdog Charles Arasim in which Nair and an APD deputy chief try to explain how there could have been such a large reporting error.

City Councilor Pat Davis, who worked in the records division of the DC police department, said at the end of his questioning, that he still did not understand how APD arrived at numbers so much at odds with the final and presumably accurate ones touted by Mayor Keller at a news conference.

Attorney and former APD cop Tom Grover weighed in:

What a pile of BS. Like they’re finding this out now. And if true, explain why they sat on the job for 2 years. And if not, explain exactly why the Real Time Crime Center even exists. None of this is new news to this administration.

To be continued. . . .


After years of retrenchment state government employment is growing--thanks to record surpluses. And that brings us to this item of interest for job-seekers:

Gov. MLG announced a four-day Rapid-Hire Event to be held in ABQ aimed at fast-tracking hiring for hundreds of vacant state jobs. . . Every state agency with vacancies will participate in the event Dec. 11-14. . . Screeners on-hand will review applicant resumes from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. . . The event will be held at the Tingley Coliseum at Expo New Mexico. However, job seekers outside ABQ and Santa Fe may participate by going to their local Workforce Connections office to set up interviews by video-conference. Rapid-hire events are designed to attract applicants and simplify the hiring process by providing on-site job interviews. Selected applicants can receive a conditional job offer the same day or shortly after. 

More info and the specific job openings are listed here.

One reason state jobs are attractive is because they offer security. Well, as long as you're not a cabinet secretary.

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Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Alligators, Insiders and City Hall Watchers Weigh In With Advice For Mayor: Shake It Up, Tim, Plus: Apartments And Immigration Stir Voters In ABQ Council Run-Off  

Rael and Keller
If ABQ Mayor Tim Keller is going to shake things up in the wake of the crime stats fiasco as he begins the third year of his term, the Alligators, Insiders and City Hall watchers have plenty of advice for him. Let's take a look. . . .

--Shift Chief Administrative Officer Sarita Nair to the Chief Operations Officer (COO) position currently occupied by Lawrence Rael. Make Rael CAO with marching orders to straighten out the APD mess--once and for all.

Rael held the CAO job for years under previous mayors and knows where and how the bodies are buried. The 11th floor has been unable to take control of the city bureaucracy. Get Rael on it. If he can't put points on the board, show him the door. Nair makes $190,000 a year and Rael pulls down $185,000, after getting hefty pay raises. Time for results.

--If the Mayor can't let go of friend and APD Chief Mike Geier he could still dip into the APD command structure, cherry pick those he needs to oust and replace them with Keller loyalists who will have his back. APD is one embarrassment and (humiliation) after another.

Sarita Nair
--Restructure the mayoral communications team so it concentrates more on meat and potatoes matters and less on the fluff. Some observers say Keller is starting to look like Republican Mayor RJ Berry, lost on policy and too heavy on the PR. They argue for a new approach to re-establish credibility and put forth a more serious tone on crime.

Despite what former Mayor Marty Chavez did, a Mayor does not need a news conference or photo-op every single day.

--How about poring over all the crime stats released since the administration's 2017 start and make any necessary corrections as was done to the mid-year report that has inflicted so much damage? If the 11th Floor doesn't, someone else will, possibly causing even further credibility problems.

We blogged Monday that the "political fortunes" of Keller and Chief Geier are on the line. Actually, it is just one of them--Mayor Keller--who has to face the public's judgment directly. The Mayor's friends and enemies agree on one thing--if he's going to shake things up, now is the time.


Meantime on the '19 city council campaign trail, building more "luxury" apartments and ABQ's status as an immigrant friendly city are issues stirring voters in the District 4 council run-off election in NE Heights District 4.

Republican Brook Bassan has received considerable financial support from real estate interests. John Adams Ingram, former president of the Nor Este Neighborhood Association, who is backing Dem Ane Romero in the run-off, says there are development issues in the district prompting the involvement:

Real estate developers want to build another huge “luxury” apartment complex in our neighborhoods, this time at Barstow and Alameda NE. We already have three of these huge apartment complexes surrounding our far NE Heights neighborhoods:

# 1. Alameda &San Pedro NE.
# 2. Wyoming &Carmel NE.
# 3. Barstow & Carmel NE.

Developers are trying to persuade city planners to allow them to build a fourth apartment complex at Barstow & Alameda NE. These new apartments, if allowed, would be less than a mile (or two) from the apartment complexes listed above. Neighbors in Vineyard Estates and NorEste Estates are organizing. We are trying to stop these developers from breaking ground at Alameda & Barstow NE. Romero supports our position. 

Ingram says opponents of the new apartments have hired attorney and former GOP City Councilor Hess Yntema to help them fight the development.


While Ingram rallies for Romero, Bassan is filling mailboxes with criticism of ABQ's status as a "sanctuary city" as she works to firm up GOP support in the Republican leaning district.

Bassan’s campaign ads criticize “sanctuary city” policies. Bassan said she wants local authorities to collaborate with federal immigration authorities, checking the citizenship of those they arrest for other crimes and reporting those who are undocumented to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“I believe before anyone is released from jail, a thorough background check, including status of citizenship, should be conducted to discover if they are wanted by any other law enforcement agency or here illegally. This should not be limited to only those who have been convicted of a crime.". . . 
Romero said she supports the city’s immigrant-friendly resolution, calling it a “matter of public safety.”

The seat is being vacated by longtime GOP Councilor Brad Winter. It leans R. Bassan scored 49 percent in the initial balloting and Romero 42 percent. The run-off election is slated for December 10 with early voting now underway.

Political operatives working the district report that GOP early turnout is good and give Bassan the edge, forcing Romero to pop a surprise in the Election Day balloting.

There is also a run-off in ABQ Valley District 2 featuring Dem incumbent Ike Benton and Dem challenger Zack Quintero.

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Monday, December 02, 2019

Botched Crime Stats Shake City Hall As Keller Marks Second Year As Mayor  

Welcome back. Off we go to the merry month of December.

Well, not so merry for ABQ Mayor Tim Keller and his crime-challenged APD Chief Mike Geier. The news that dropped on the first day of December revealing that an optimistic set of city crime stats were botched was equivalent to the proverbial lump of coal in their Christmas stockings.

Actually it was worse than that.

The news came on the exact day the Mayor was marking his second anniversary as the city's chief executive. Drop another lump of coal in that stocking.

Keller is in over his ankles in the city's crime quicksand and his kneecaps could be next. In the old days they called what happened with the crime stats a "credibility gap." Credibility is still the currency of leadership and the administration--caged with a police department that seemingly cannot be tamed--continues to see it shredded.

The apologetic city PR mavens awkwardly blamed the bum numbers on lousy software and a staff shortage in the records center. The assertions that they were doctored or designed to deceive the public was left to the social media aficionados. They did not disappoint. Caryn McGinley wrote:

What’s even more alarming is the fact that it took someone to notice inconsistencies and to ask questions for this to be reported to the public. They had the correct data at the end of September, and yet we’re only hearing about it now. They chose not to hold a news conference about crime statistics for the third quarter and while APD provided the revised statistics to City Council in October, they did not disclose the change in numbers. Does this not seem deceptive?

The Alligators warned here when the big crime drop was reported for the first six months of '19 compared to '18 that the news should be received with caution. They said the Uniform Crime Reporting Statistics reported to the FBI could tell a different tale. And that's just what happened.

Geier and Keller
It's not as though crime did not go down some during that time. The Mayor made that point in response to the revelation of the botched numbers. That's the same hook that commenter Michael Garcia made on Facebook:

APD and the mayor never reported or stated that violent crime is down. In fact, he has stated that violent crime is a huge problem, and he is doing what he can as mayor to try to curb it. He has previously stated that property crime was down. And here, the ABQ Journal reports by its own investigations, indeed it is down. This is nothing new, nothing revelatory. It's a typical rightward leaning paper, gotcha story. There's nothing mistaken about reporting crime is down, and the Journal is reporting that crime is down but not by quite as much. . . 

Crime is indeed down, but you don't need a degree from the Columbia School of Journalism to know that this is a straight forward story and not a production of Steve Bannon. A dramatic drop in crime or a modest one is a major difference for the lives of thousands of crime victims as well as for measuring progress the city is making in halting the epidemic.

Not to mention a measurement of the city's competence and integrity as questions now swirl over other APD crimes stats.

APD misinformation has a long, long history. We recently reported how the city council and APD could not agree on how many officers were charged with enforcing the federal consent decree, instead of being out on the streets on the crime beat. Now this.

Before the consent decree the cops were shooting left and right and the city paid up something like $70 million in lawsuit settlements. Now millions go out the door annually to pay for consent decree enforcement. Then there's the 2018 tax increase the mayor and council approved for APD that brings in some $60 million a year.

At APD the truth is still looking for a friend. It's a very expensive search for taxpayers and a politically perilous one for the Mayor and his Chief of Police.


City Hall watcher Art Tannenbaum questions the numerous crime fighting plans from the city:

People have been asking why some of the things announced about crime-fighting haven't been done already. For example, why has APD now just begun the "Metro 15" plan, targeting the most violent offenders? Why is an APD staffing analysis being asked for by the union leader only now, in what seems to be an afterthought to the "public safety" tax imposed last year? As long as everybody involved has somebody else to blame and the money keeps flowing regardless of unacceptable outcomes, nothing will really change. These politicos ought to be thanking the public for our extraordinary tolerance.

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Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving, New Mexico; Politicos Give Thanks, Too 

 The politicos give thanks:

--ABQ Mayor Tim Keller is thankful that despite a city crime wave, he has two years until the next mayoral election to straighten things out.

--Gov. MLG is thankful that she's not mayor of ABQ. She's also thankful that not a single rural county sheriff caught her speeding this year.

--State Senator John Arthur "Dr. No" Smith is so thankful that he wants to buy an airplane to chauffeur cabinet officials around the state. Now that's thankful.

--Rep. Ben Ray Lujan overflows with thanks, so much so that he's taken down the picture of President Kennedy from his living room wall and replaced it with one of Maggie Toulouse Oliver who dropped out of the senate race.

--Rep. Xochtil Torres Small is thankful that a full 23 percent of the residents of the southern congressional district can now correctly pronounce her first name.

--NM GOP Chairman Steve Pearce is giving thanks for the simple things, like being able to make payroll at party headquarters this month.

--State Treasurer Tim Eichenberg is thankful that State Auditor Brian Colón is already talking about running for attorney general in 2022 which would give Eichenberg a shot at the Auditor's slot when his Treasurer term expires.

--Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales is showing his thanks by donating $100,000 worth of video lapel cameras to APD.

--House speaker and enviro Brian Egolf is giving thanks in secret this year--he sent a thank you note to Exxon for the oil boom that is filling the state's coffers.

--Sen. Martin Heinrich is thankful for the Kevlar bulletproof vest that his staff gave him for his visits to ABQ.


Reader and film buff Eric Lucero is, as usual, at the movies this holiday:

Pain and Glory(R) Bio/Drama/English subtitles ***1/2 Stars out of 5.

Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar (Oscar for Original Screenplay-Talk To Her, 2003) presents a not for attribution autobiographical sketch of his life.

Almodóvar’s alter ego, Salvador Mallo, is shown transitioning from a Franco Era precocious child to a doubting, drug dependent, contemporary boomer who seeks a reawakened purpose for life, forgiveness, acceptance and a final release from the physical pain that has thwarted his creativity, hence the film’s title.

Antonio Banderas (Salvador Mallo) plays with Oscar worthy delivery the fictionalized filmmaker’s life. His co-star, no stranger in partnering with Banderas, is accomplished actress Penelope Cruz, who plays with poise and authority his resourceful and controlling Catholic mother.


Finally this Thanksgiving week, a note from Lissa Knudsen on Facebook:

Today I learned that the place we think of as Albuquerque in Navajo is Bee'eldííl Dahsinil. 

The mystique of New Mexico is always something to be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving, New Mexico!

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Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Money Race in Bassan-Romero In City Council Run-Off, Plus: Veteran Councilor Ken Sanchez Has "Medical Emergency" And ABQ City Clerk Expected To Run For State Senate Seat 

Democrats say they are on the defensive in that December 10 run-off election for the District 4 ABQ city council seat in the NE Heights. D Ane Romero has accepted public financing for the run-off, getting $13,000 for her campaign but Republican Brook Bassan has rejected public financing and Romero says on Faecbook that Bassan has already raised $40,000. Romero says:

I'm capped at spending no more than $13K. Brook Bassan abandoned the program and is raising money —hand over fist—and from those with a stake in the decisions made at City Hall. So far, she's raised about. . . $40K total. Who are her max-out donors? They are the developers and their associated PACs. I won't be owned by the developers and will continue to advocate for our neighborhoods.

A check of city campaign records shows Bassan has indeed picked up considerable support from real estate and development interests, including $1,500 from the NM Association of Realtors. Former NM GOP Chairman Harvey Yates and his business interests--including real estate--have contributed $3,000. However, Romero, while firing at Bassan over outside money is getting some outside help of her own.

Bassan, a mother of four, a self-described "Household CEO," supported conservative Dem Jeff Apodaca in 2018 when he unsuccessfully sought the Dem Guv nomination and when Bassan was registered as a Democrat. He is returning that support in the run-off, taking to social media to urge voters to turn out for Bassan.

Apodaca says Romero is being disingenuous when it comes to saying she is running her campaign on public financing and says liberal PACS are spending for her as they did in the initial election:

Ole and their PAC money are already at it hitting homes in Dist 4 with anti-Brook mailers. So let’s call it as it is. Both candidates went public in the first election  and Dem PAC’s spent well over $120,000 against Brook Bassan. So who’s playing the system? This is why it’s an easy choice for us residents in Dist 4 as to who will represent us. 

Bassan finished first in the GOP leaning district in the Nov. 5 initial balloting, garnering 49 percent of the vote to Romero's 42 percent. The run-off will see a much lower turnout. About 11,500 voters cast ballots in the first election because of a wide variety of other ballot issues and the consolidation of other elections with the city election.

In the other run-off, in council District 2 in Downtown/Barelas and the North Valley, it's been a quiet campaign. Incumbent Dem Ike Benton beat fellow Dem Zack Quintero in the November 5  balloting. However, Quintero had momentum at the end of the November campaign but making up a 21 point loss--42-21--is asking a lot from the 29 year old challenger. Campaign observers say it doesn't help that Quintero is not holding Benton's feet to the fire on the hot button crime issue.

Early voting is underway for the Dec. 10 election.


Councilor Sanchez
Meanwhile, Dem ABQ City Councilor Ken Sanchez, on the nine member panel since 2005, has suffered a "medical emergency," the nature of which was not disclosed. His office says he is hospitalized this Thanksgiving week and not receiving visitors or taking calls. They have asked the community for prayers.

Sanchez told our KANW 89.1 FM Election Night audience November 5 that he would seek re-election to his Westside seat in 2021 as long as his health held which the 63 year old then characterized as excellent. We wish him well.

And more breaking news from City Hall. Our insiders report that City Clerk Katy Duhigg is leaving that post to seek the Dem nomination for the ABQ North Valley state senate seat held by Republican Sen. Candace Gould who is seeking a second term. Duhigg would be be joining attorney Alan Hall in the race for the Dem nod. Mayor Keller would name a new city clerk with approval of the city council.

Messages to Duhigg and a city spokesman were not immediately returned.


Here's an interesting headline from the state GOP's recent newsletter:

Mexico Ranked As the Worst Run State In America.

Well, that's one way of getting New Mexico out of the cellar.

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