An Albuquerque City Council committee voted Monday evening to defer for 90 days a resolution asking New Mexico’s congressional delegation to push for an investigation of a 2016 federal law enforcement operation that netted a highly disproportionate number of black people. Councilor Pat Davis*, who sponsored the measure, cast the lone vote to send it to the full City Council. This story originally appeared at New Mexico In Depth and is used with permission. Voting to defer the resolution were councilors Don Harris — who made the motion to delay the vote — Ken Sanchez, Brad Winter and Klarissa Peña. That means the council’s Finance and Government Operations Committee will rehear the resolution after 90 days during which time city officials hope to gather more information.
Everybody has an opinion on millennials. Young people in their 20s and early 30s are often described by older generations as overly sensitive, technology-addicted, cynical kids who constantly need feedback and flexible work schedules. News stories, essays and polls have sought a better understanding of the generation born in the 1980s and 1990s. With titles like “3 Reasons Why Millennials Are Timid Leaders” and “Why do millennials keep leaking government secrets?”, it’s not surprising there might be a lack of faith in the upcoming workforce, especially in politics. In Albuquerque, two young men say there is a place for 20-somethings in politics.
Potential candidates for Albuquerque City Council who aim to run using public funds are up against their first deadline later today. To qualify for the public financing, the city requires candidates to collect a certain number of $5 contributions, depending on how many people are registered to vote in the district. So far, about 60 percent of city council candidates are seeking public financing. Only one mayoral candidate qualified for public financing. Coming into the final day to collect the qualifying donations, about half of the city council hopefuls attempting to qualify for public financing are on track.
To some, it was a waste of scarce and precious police resources. In what could be a metaphor for the plight of Albuquerque, the May 9 reverse sting drug operation by Albuquerque police officers resulted in the arrest of eight low-level drug users and homeless people, $23.10 in cash, a computer tablet, cell phone, police radio, jacket and colic medicine. For that, police deployed around 15 to 20 officers and support staff for the operation near Central and Pennsylvania Northeast. And considering all the other support services connected with the operation, the reverse sting probably cost taxpayers between $5,000 and $10,000, experts said. This piece originally appeared in the ABQ Free Press.
The Albuquerque City Council killed a proposal Monday night that would have withheld raises and retention bonuses for the police department’s top brass if the city fails to comply with it settlement agreement on police reform. The proposal by Councilor Diane Gibson failed on a 6-3 vote, with opponents saying it could drive off APD’s senior commanders and that it would have been hard to implement. “What will we do if we lose the people who are a year into this process? They are working hard and they are doing a good job,” Councilor Trudy Jones said in opposing the measure. Councilor Ken Sanchez echoed that opinion, saying, “I’d hate to hold the upper command staff hostage.”
City Chief Administrative Officer Rob Perry told councilors that bit would be difficult to actually measure compliance under the proposal.
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 city made “double payments” to an Albuquerque Police Department contractor who wore too many hats, according to an internal report released last week. Dr. Troy Rodgers’ “multiple conflicting roles” as both a contractor and city official led to “an overall breakdown in administrative oversight and controls,” the report from Albuquerque’s Office of Internal Audit reads. On top of contracting with the city, the psychologist served as acting director of the Albuquerque Police Department’s Behavioral Science Division. Altogether, the city contracted $500,000 with Rodgers and two companies he’s affiliated with— Public Safety Psychology Group and Forensic Behavioral Health Associates—since 2014. Three of those contracts totaling more than $215,000 are still in place.
The Albuquerque Police Department is tweaking some of its practices after a city audit found the department was unable to track its own ammunition. The report, released last month through the city’s Office of Internal Audit, faulted the police department officials for ultimately not knowing the total amount of its ammunition on hand. Conducted on the request of Albuquerque City Councilor Diane Gibson, the audit also notes that ammunition can be bought and sold on the street. This adds up to “inconsistent practices for tracking ammunition and various opportunities for improvement.” The audit notes that properly tracking ammunition is “critical to controlling cost, operational efficiency and mission readiness.”
The Albuquerque city council narrowly rejected a measure that would have called on the city to weigh in on a controversial planned development on the city’s West Side. Councilor Isaac Benton carried the bill Monday night, two weeks after the council rejected his introduction of similar legislation that would have also given the city a say on the Santolina master plan. Benton said the city had a right to influence the master plan based on the city and county adopted Planned Communities Criteria and the Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Comprehensive Plan. But councilors rejected the bill on a 4-3 vote, with two members abstaining because their employers own some land where Santolina is planned to be built.
During the debate on the legislation, Benton stressed that he wasn’t asking for anything drastic. “We’re not asking for signoff approval,” he said.
In an unusual—though legal—parliamentary move, city councilors rejected the introduction of legislation seeking city input into the Santolina master plan. Councilor Isaac Benton announced late Friday afternoon that he planned to introduce the legislation. The introduction of legislation is generally a part of the agenda that goes by without much notice. But this time, councilor Trudy Jones moved to not allow the legislation to be introduced. After a heated exchange between council president Rey Garduño and councilor Dan Lewis over the composition of the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority, the council voted 6-3 to reject Benton’s bill.