ABQ mayor asks city to work together to slow spread of COVID-19

Tuesday morning, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller asked city residents to work together, both in spirit and financially, to combat the spread of COVID-19. 

Keller said since Albuquerque is the “urban core” of New Mexico, emergency orders and restrictions may diverge from what the state puts in place. 

“We might have to do things longer than the rest of the state or we might have to do things more intensely,” Keller said. “But right now we are in step with the state.”

Following the state’s public health emergency orders and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s most recent “stay at home” instruction means much of Albuquerque is shut down, Keller said. 

Keller encouraged residents who can, to consider donating money to the city’s effort to house those who experience homelessness through hotel vouchers and to help purchase basic necessities for vulnerable residents. Keller also stressed the importance of people staying home when possible due to Albuquerque being the metropolitan center of the state. 

“We’re where all the hospitals are, we’re where the highest density is,” Keller said. “That makes us by far and away, the highest risk for anywhere in New Mexico.”

Keller said all golf courses in the city will be closed, along with many community centers — with the exception of those that are providing childcare or meals. City buildings are closed to the public and administrative hearings will be cancelled or held through video conferencing. 

By this weekend, Keller said, regular weekday city bus service hours will be drastically reduced to what would normally be a Saturday schedule.

ABQ asking for PPE donations and other updates from Mayor Keller

Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller and other officials gave an update on the city’s efforts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 is a disease caused by a type of coronavirus. Keller emphasized that the city’s services are up and running. “We very much want government to operate as best as it can. Government is there for us, and it needs to be there for us, especially in this challenging time,” Keller said.

ABQ declares public health emergency amid COVID-19 pandemic

Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller declared a public health emergency Wednesday for the city amid growing numbers of COVID-19, a disease from the coronavirus. 

“We are continuing to take action to slow the spread of the coronavirus and help the most vulnerable folks in our community,” Keller said in a statement. “Like many mayors across the nation, declaring this public health emergency declaration gives us the tools to allocate resources to immediate needs and tap into additional funds for recovery and response.”

While the city’s ordinance already allowed mayors to declare a state of emergency, it was only Monday that the city council approved a public health emergency provision. 

Under that new provision, the mayor of Albuquerque can use the emergency declaration to get financial assistance from the state or federal governments, mandate purchasing limits on certain products, close streets and ban certain gatherings. But a press release from Keller’s office said he would only be using the declaration for emergency funds and not for other public restrictions. 

Keller’s office emphasized that there will be no mandated curfews, street closures or bans on selling firearms or alcohol. 

But the mayor’s office did encourage voluntary “social distancing” or limiting in-person interactions, including working from home if possible. 

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office, along with the state’s Department of Health and Keller’s office, continue to encourage those who are showing symptoms of COVID-19 — fever, aches and trouble breathing — to call the Department of Health at 855-600-3453. 

Updates on what city services are available can be found here. 

Guv issues directive aimed at limiting face-to-face contact by state agencies

State museums, state parks and other facilities will be closed beginning Monday as part of the governor’s Sunday directive to agencies to minimize face-to-face contact. The governor announced the directive in a release Sunday afternoon, which excludes those deemed essential to public health and safety. The governor’s directive says that state museums, state historic sites, state parks and cultural institutions will be closed to the public effective Monday morning. The Rail Runner, which runs between Belen and Santa Fe, will be closed during the state public health emergency, which Lujan Grisham declared last Wednesday. “We continue to adapt as the situation changes, choosing needed, measured responses to stay a step ahead of the virus,” Lujan Grisham said.

ABQ Mayor: Don’t hoard supplies and other COVID-19 updates

Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller gave an update Saturday morning on the city’s response and preparedness for the possible spread of COVID-19, a type of coronavirus. The press conference can be watched on Facebook here. Keller emphasized the importance of social distancing to “keep our public as safe as possible and to try to flatten that curve.” He said the city is prioritizing services for the community’s most vulnerable, including children, low-income families and the elderly. He said residents can help support the city’s efforts by “doing things like not trying to go to the grocery store unless we actually need some food and supplies; and when we go to the grocery store, only getting the things we need and not hoarding and buying lots and lots of things we don’t need.”

Keller said law enforcement officers will be present at big box stores where food is sold, “just to make everyone feel safe.”

“If you see firefighters out there, or police, thank them for being there,” Keller said. Other updates

-The state Department of Health is setting up an information center at the Sunport that arriving passengers can use “as soon as they land” to receive information about their destinations within the state, and help them determine the best course of action to take.

City of ABQ sends $211K bill to Trump campaign for costs surrounding rally

The city of Albuquerque tallied up the costs incurred during a September Donald Trump campaign visit and invoiced the president’s reelection campaign $211,000. Most of the costs came for paying for time off for city employees, who received paid time off after leaving early on Sept. 16 and coming into work late on Sept. 17 while the president spent the night in a downtown hotel. Other costs included services from the Albuquerque Police Department and for barricades.

Climate rally in ABQ includes calls for action

Thousands of students walked out of school and adults left work across New Mexico as part of massive international climate protests. In Albuquerque a large crowd took part in large a rally downtown  on Friday with hundreds, likely over 1,000, people. The rally included local artists, politicians and students speaking about the impact of climate change and the need to immediately address it. Most of the speakers were local youth. Alyssa Ruiz, the founder of the Sandia High School Climate Club, spoke to the crowd and called on zero emissions by 2050.

As Trump speaks, Democrats rally miles away

While the city of Rio Rancho prepared for President Donald Trump’s appearance in Rio Rancho, Democrats held a unity rally in Old Town Albuquerque at Tiguex Park. Hundreds of supporters listened to Democratic elected officials and others slam Trump and his agenda. They also rejected the idea that Trump could win New mexico and be the first Republican presidential candidate to win the state since George W. Bush in 2004. Related: Trump rallies in Rio Rancho, vows to flip NM in 2020

Supporters held signs calling for Trump to be impeached, calling for action on gun violence and to protect abortion access. Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller kicked off the event.

State, ABQ suing federal government over changes on policy for asylum seekers

The office of the governor announced Monday the state filed suit against the Trump administration over changes to the federal government’s “safe release” policy that provided aid for asylum seekers. The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico, says the federal government’s abandonment of the policy is unlawful and has “profoundly impacted” the state of New Mexico and the city of Albuquerque, which is also a plaintiff on the suit. The state wants the Trump administration to reverse its decision on the policy and to reimburse the costs associated with the change. “The Trump administration has consistently and flagrantly failed in its response to the ongoing humanitarian crisis at our southern border as well as in addressing legitimate border security concerns,” Lujan Grisham said in a statement. “The president has shown time and again he is interested only in demonizing the vulnerable people who arrive at our border, stoking unfounded fears about national security while taking no action to substantively and proactively protect immigrants and our southern border communities from human- and drug-trafficking.”

In October of last year, the Trump administration abruptly ended the Safe Release program, which had been in place for a decade.

ABQ Mayor’s hire of controversial ex-prosecutor riles community

Leonard Waites was surprised. The executive director of the state Martin Luther King Jr. Commission had just learned from a reporter that Mayor Tim Keller had hired former U.S. Attorney and defeated congressional candidate Damon Martinez as a senior policy adviser for the Albuquerque Police Department. Waites, who is black and also serves as chairman of the Albuquerque Police Oversight Board, was outraged last year by the results of a large-scale federal law enforcement operation. Overseen by Martinez, agents had arrested a grossly disproportionate number of black people for relatively minor crimes in 2016. “I have very, very serious concerns about this,” Waites said Monday of Martinez’s hire, adding that he had heard nothing about it from the Keller administration.