The Albuquerque City Council is scheduled to vote in May on whether to hold the Albuquerque Police Department’s command staff financially accountable if the department fails to make progress in meeting the goals of its settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice. The Council’s Finance & Government Operations Committee voted 5-0 Monday to approve a resolution by Councilor Diane Gibson to withhold retention bonuses and pay raises from the command staff if APD fails to make progress in meeting the goals of the settlement agreement. The resolution also requires the department to name one person to spearhead the compliance effort and report on the progress every two weeks to councilors. Gibson recently has blasted APD, saying its leaders haven’t appeared interested in meeting the requirements of the settlement agreement, which says the department has to be in “substantial compliance” with 270 reform measures by November. “The intent [of the legislation] is to incentivize everybody on the command staff to do whatever it takes to achieve the work that has to be done to get into compliance,” Gibson told ABQ Free Press.
The Albuquerque metro area’s economy continued to lag behind other areas in the region in terms of job growth in February. The area added 3,200 jobs in the year that ended Feb. 29 for a 0.9 percent growth rate. But that was tied for last in terms of jobs growth for 10 metro areas in the region. Austin had a 4.2 percent growth rate, in Phoenix it was 3.5 percent, and in El Paso it was 3 percent, according to data Wednesday from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Albuquerque Public Schools will pay $59,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging it violated the first amendment rights of an Albuquerque photojournalist and long-time ethics advocate who said the APS board limited his ability to attend and photograph board meetings. The settlement with Mark Bralley, a retired Albuquerque cop, is the second time APS has settled a free-speech lawsuit since December, when it agreed to pay $575,000 to settle a similar lawsuit bought by retired teacher Ched MacQuigg. This piece originally appeared on the ABQ Free Press website. Bralley’s lawsuit settled on April 1, according to court documents. An APS spokesperson said the district had no comment on the settlement.
Albuquerque Aviation Police Chief Marshall Katz has been placed on administrative leave and is now the target of an Albuquerque Police Department internal affairs investigation into improperly tagged drug evidence seized from a passenger at the airport—an investigation Katz himself initiated—his lawyer said Wednesday. This piece originally appeared on the ABQ Free Press website. Katz, who has been Aviation Police chief for 13 years, was placed on paid administrative leave on March 23, his attorney, John D’Amato, told ABQ Free Press. He has also been ordered by Aviation Department Director Jim Hinde to stay off airport property until allowed by Hinde to return, a source told the newspaper. The move came after Katz initiated an investigation into a situation where an aviation police officer didn’t properly tag evidence—confiscated marijuana and illegal narcotics—that was taken from a passenger at a TSA security checkpoint at the Albuquerque International Sunport on March 11, a Friday, D’Amato said.
Not only is it incredibly difficult to fire someone from the City of Albuquerque, but the failure to do so in at least one case cost taxpayers big time. That’s the news from our friends at the ABQ Free Press which outlined the story of Mark A. Shepherd and how much the city settled because of his egregious behavior to at least one female city employee. “Shepherd frequently and repeatedly made hand gestures mimicking masturbation while talking on the phone,” according to the lawsuit. “These gestures were directed at the attention of Parada.”
“In 2014,” the lawsuit continued, “Parada was filing something away in a filing cabinet. While her back was turned, Shepherd sneaked up behind her.
Tempers boiled over at the most recent meeting to discuss a bus rapid transit system slated to travel down Central. City Councilor Isaac Benton moderated the latest meeting of the Albuquerque Rapid Transit system, or ART, and clashed with some outspoken opponents of the proposal. Video was posted online by ABQ Free Press and as part of a news story by KOB-TV. Both are embedded below. The videos focus on one man, in a blue polo shirt and jeans, heckling Benton and then confronting him.
An effort to recall an Albuquerque Public Schools board member ended not with a bang, but a whimper. ABQ Free Press reported Monday that the parent behind the effort to remove Peggy Muller-Aragon from the board will withdraw his petition on Tuesday afternoon. The parent, Jacob Gil, cited a lack of legal representation ahead of a hearing where a judge would determine if a recall effort could move forward. Gil did say that if he receives legal counsel, he will refile. From ABQ Free Press:
With a hearing in the case scheduled for Sept.
Recall efforts against most of the Albuquerque Public Schools board members are over before they begin. But one member is still facing a possible recall. Jacob Gil had previously said he sought to recall six of the seven members of the APS board of education, but changed tunes when he found out if there was not a quorum that the Public Education Department secretary would be able to choose a replacement. So, instead, Gil amended the impeachment effort to only include one member: Peggy Muller-Aragon. Muller-Aragon defeated Kathy Korte in the most recent school board elections.
The Albuquerque Police Department lost an open records case where a journalist sought an inventory weapons owned by the department. The journalist was Peter St. Cyr, an independent journalist who wrote an article for ABQ Free Press and sought an inventory of the weapons. APD rejected the request, saying that this would aid terrorists, according to the free paper’s website. St.
Margaret Wright is an Albuquerque-based journalist who is a former managing editor of the Alibi and co-founder of the New Mexico Compass. Margaret has also worked as a teacher, social worker and waitress and is currently a reporter with the New Mexico Political Report. On Friday evening, Gilbert Montaño, the City of Albuquerque’s deputy chief administrative officer, was on the phone to make amends. “Moving forward, I’d be happy to sit down and chat,” he told me. “We’re not isolators when it comes to media.