Councilors: Kill APD Reform Messenger
How do you hide your own miserable and massive failures?
You try to deflect attention away from them.
And how do you try to keep the word from getting out about those failures?
You try to shoot the messenger who has been telling the world about those total and absolute failures.
That' what happened Monday when three city councilors called for an audit of the special monitor in the Albuquerque Police Department's reform settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice.
The call for the audit of the monitor, James Ginger, is another example of how shockingly and disgustingly broken this city's administration, and this city council are.
Rather than blaming themselves for APD's blatant obstruction of the reform process, they're going after Ginger.
What has Ginger done to deserve being audited?
In the past three years he has issued report after report after report detailing APD's attempts to obstruct the settlement agreement with the DOJ that the city negotiated and signed. In his last report, Ginger said APD's command staff was in “deliberate noncompliance” with portions of the settlement agreement.
In early 2016 Ginger appeared before the city council and was asked who had the ultimate responsibility for ensuring that APD complied with the settlement agreement.
His answer was the city council itself; the city's policy making board and authority, and the body that appropriated the $4 million needed for initial compliance efforts and to pay Ginger. It was the city administration and the DOJ that jointly hired Ginger.
So what have the three councilors who called for the audit of Ginger – Ken Sanchez, Don Harris and Brad Winter – done about those brazen acts of deliberate noncompliance on APD's part? And what have they done to ensure that APD complies an stops wasting our money?
Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
They've have never APD demanded of APD Chief Gorden Eden why he has obstructed the reform effort; they have never demanded of Mayor Richard Berry an explanation of APD's obstructionist behavior; and they have never called for Eden – or anyone else in APD's command staff – to be fired for failing to abide by a settlement agreement that the city signed with the DOJ.
They have never demanded an audit of Eden, Berry, APD's command staff or of themselves for failing to hold APD accountable, and for failing to ensure that APD complies with the settlement agreement quickly so the DOJ can leave town and the city can stop spending taxpayers' money on the reform effort.
That's their job and they haven't done it. So instead of admitting their failures, they act like cowards and try to discredit Ginger. It's so disturbing, so sickening and so pathetic. In any other major city, Eden and the command staff would have been fired by now.
But not in Albuquerque. This town really is ill.
Here's what Councilor Winter said in a news release announcing the request that the city's Office of Internal Audit investigate Ginger:
“The Independent Monitor’s agreement, which the federal court approved, called for the Monitor to make his financial records available to the City for inspection at any time. Since 2015, the citizens of Albuquerque have paid millions of dollars to fund the Monitor, and we want to make sure that we’re spending taxpayer dollars wisely as we prepare to evaluate the Independent Monitor’s proposed annual budget for the fifth year of work.”
Sure we've paid millions of dollars toward the reform process, and $1.2 million to Ginger so far. But U.S. District Court Judge Robert Brack, who is overseeing the reform process, in April 2015, approved a $4.5 million budget for Ginger's team for the first four years of the reform process.
It means that Ginger is being paid a set fee for four years of work.
What Winter apparently has forgotten, doesn't know, or ignores, is the fact that the city has paid out more than $50 million in the past several years to settle APD shooting cases and negligence cases.
Those settlements include $6.5 million to the family of James Boyd; $6.5 million to former APD officer Jacob Grant, who was shot multiple times by his own supervisor; and $8.5 million to the family of a young woman who was killed with a speeding APD officer slammed his car into hers.
Winter and his fellow councilors are concerned about spending money on the reform process, but they apparently could give two-shits about how much money the city is paying out to settle shooting and negligence cases. Why have they not called for an audit of Eden and APD's command staff?
That's not even hypocrisy, it's sickening cowardice.
Councilor Sanchez said he's concerned that Ginger has spent an average of 42 days a year in Albuquerque when the budget calls for him to be here 200 days a year.
That's a potential point, but it appears that Sanchez has forgotten about the telegraph and other modern communication technologies. Yikes! We even have the internet, email and video conference nowadays.
Councilor Harris said he's worried that Ginger might be trying to game the system by staying here longer than necessary to squeeze more money out of city taxpayers. But here's the real situation: Ginger will be here only as long as it takes to get APD into full compliance with the settlement agreement.
It's really not Ginger's call as to how long he stays here. It's up to the APD and the federal court judge.
And ultimately, it's up to Sanchez, Harris, Winter and the entire city council to ensure that APD complies and that we stop spending gobs of money on the reform process.
And the city council, including Sanchez, Harris and Winter have failed to do their jobs on our behalf.
Retired APD Sgt. Dan Klein nailed it.
“These people rubber-stamp anything that Eden does instead of holding him accountable,” Klein said. “Eden is consistently absent, Berry is consistently absent, and the city council wants to blame others. It really points to the exact problem with APD. You can't get any more blatant than this. Instead of blaming Eden, they blame the messenger.
“If the city council had been doing its job and had terminated Eden, and if Berry had been doing his job, this would have been over. They were forced to have the DOJ here, and then, three years into it they get pissed at the DOJ for telling them, 'Your chief sucks.'”
Not only does the chief suck, but so do the three councilors who are trying to kill the messenger.