After reading that newly appointed Albuquerque Planning Director David Campbell, and former and former Berry Chief of Staff Gilbert Montano, as well former Mayor Richard Berry are back in the news with their usual flair and lines, I could not help but think of the 1975 hit song by Judy Collins "Send In The Clowns"
DIRECTOR OF PLANNING DAVID CAMPBELL
David Campbell made his entrance again into the news with his “usual flair” by speaking to the Albuquerque Economic Forum and delivered his speech using a scene setter dubbing the city “Embassy Albuquerque”.
The Albuquerque Economic Forum has been around for at least 40 some years and has many members who consider themselves the “great movers and shakers” in the Albuquerque business community and its members are big promoters of all things Republican and the Republican Agenda and Republican candidates for office.
Least anyone forgets, attorney David Campbell was a land use attorney dealing with city zone changes and developments before he became City Attorney under Mayor Louis Saavedra.
Campbell worked and was schooled in how city government works by Saavedra's Chief Administrative Officer Art Blummenthal, a long time City Hall insider.
David Campbell was appointed in 2009 as the first Chief Administrative Officer under Mayor Richard Berry who was in office for the past 8 years.
After leaving the Berry Administration and Albuquerque to work for the foreign services as a diplomat to Mauritius and Ecuador, David Cambell has now again returned and is “so sure of his lines”.
What is so rich about David Campbell is the way he talked and channeled former Mayor Berry in his presentation and virtually all of the projects that Berry supported and promoted since 2011.
Campbell talked about all the new community assets built or established since 2011 such as the Lobo Rainforest Innovation Center, new Uptown retail, indoor entertainment venues, Hotel Chaco, Downtown Anasazi, One Central Downtown, Imperial Building and grocery Downtown and the Railyards Market, all projects I am sure the Economic Forum wanted to hear about.
The only thing Campbell did not talk about was the Berry legacy ART Bus project, and I am sure it is because it’s such a disaster.
Campbell cited crime as the single worst problem in the city affecting safety and economic development and said it is part of the civic narrative and the community’s self-image.
David Campbell made no mention of our high poverty rates, no mention of our troubled education system, no mention of our high jobless rates, and no mention of any viable economic development practices.
Campbell did go on to say the coverage of crime by local media contributes to the city’s negative self-talk and image when he said:
“This negatively impacts everyone’s feeling of individual safety and the city’s ability to attract employers. … Our self-talk about security is very devastating … Not that it doesn’t exist. Not that you don’t report on it, but it sure seems to me that we emphasize it in great measure perhaps more than what is good for us.”
What Campbell wants to ignore is that he and his former boss Mayor Richard Berry were clearly part of the problem of where we are today but prefers to blame the media instead of addressing the problems and how to solve the problems.
The City’s severe crime spike and wave began during the time David Campbell was Chief Administrative Officer under Berry when in 2010 there were 42 homicides and virtually all property crime statistics started to climb and climb fast.
It was Mr. Campbell who decided to leave Albuquerque to become a diplomate leaving APD in the hands of the likes of Darren White as Chief Public Safety Officer.
Since 2012, violent crime has dramatically increased in Albuquerque by 77%.
When Campbell started to talk about crime, he once again channeled Mayor Richard Berry without mentioning whatsoever what has happened to the Albuquerque Police Department while he was away being a diplomate and the destruction of one of the finest police departments in the country.
What is glaring and which is very suspect is that new Planning Director David Campbell failed to talk to the Economic Forum about the ABC-Z comprehensive plan which will have long term impact on our neighborhoods and favors developers.
The enactment of the comprehensive plan was a major priority of Republican Mayor Berry and the development community pushed hard for its enactment before Berry left office and no doubt the Economic Forum rejoiced in the enactment the ABC-Z comprehensive plan.
The ABC-Z project rewrite was nothing more than making “gentrification” an official city policy and the “gutting” of long standing sector development plans by the development community to repeal those sector development plans designed to protect neighborhoods and their character.
Campbell clearly failed to talk about any of the goals, priorities or proposed policy changes of the new Keller Administration.
One must wonder why David Campbell even bothered to talked to the Economic Forum, other than make sure he curried their favor and to reconnect with old buddies who no doubt want to talk to him about Albuquerque’s new ABC-Z comprehensive plan in private and answer their questions.
FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF GILBERT MONTANO
It has been reported that former Mayor Richard Berry’s chief of staff Gilbert Montaño has been hired as Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) for the city of New Orleans.
Montano was appointed CAO by the city’s first female mayor, LaToya Cantrell, a Democrat.
Montano said of his appointment:
“I felt that the opportunity was so great. … I’m humbled by the challenge.”
New Orleans is smaller than Albuquerque, with about 400,000 people, but along with its surrounding metropolitan area is about 1.3 million people.
Former Mayor Richard Berry commented about Montano’s new job appointment by saying in his usual positive flair:
“I’m excited for Gilbert and Mayor-elect Cantrell. … He proved himself here. … Albuquerque was one of the best-run cities in America for several years in a row, and he was really integral to our administration. Now New Orleans is going to have the benefit of his experience.”
Let us hope that New Orleans does NOT have the benefit of Gilbert Montano’s experience and being an intricate part of the Berry Administration and causing Albuquerque to be one of the worst run cities in the country.
City Hall’s finances went to hell in a handbasket under the leadership of Mayor Richard Berry and his Chief of Staff Gilbert Montano.
A December 2017 financial forecast for the City was released within days after Berry left office and reported that the City was facing a budget shortfall of nearly $40,000,000 next fiscal year.
The deficit was attributed to reduced gross receipts tax revenues going to the city, state cuts in appropriations to the city, additional operating costs for new capital projects built by the Berry administration, including the Berry’s disastrous legacy ART Bus project, and the need for increase funding for public safety and police just to mention a few.
On September 25, 2017, in his final Mayor State of the City speech, Mayor RJ Berry proclaimed “the state of our city is strong,” and said Albuquerque’s next mayor will “inherit an efficient city government that is living within its means, a growing economy and close to $1.2 billion in infrastructure projects that have been built or are in the pipeline”.
The September 25, 2017 headline proclaimed “A hallmark of physical responsibility”.
Berry left the City’s finances and condition so bad and with the $40 million-dollar deficit to the point that the City Council was forced to increase gross receipts tax to generate $55 million a year to deal with the deficits and expansion of public safety.
Contributing factors to the $40 million projected deficit include the following Berry piles to clean up by Keller:
$2.3 million in lost funding due to the phaseout of “hold harmless” payments from the State. “Hold harmless” payments were being made to cities and counties to compensate them for revenue funding they lost when the state eliminated the gross receipts tax on food and medicine. Mayor Richard Berry supported the elimination of the “hold harmless” payments made to the city to the detriment of his own city.
$7.2 million in operating costs for new capital projects that will be coming online, including the Albuquerque Rapid Transit project. This does not take into account the $75 million in federal funding that has yet to materialize for the Albuquerque Rapid Transit (ART) project now costing $134 million instead of $129 million. Keller went to Washington in January and see if he could get the money promised and there is still no guarantee of getting anything from Congress.
So much for Berry’s “a hallmark of fiscal responsibility” and Albuquerque being one of the best run cities in the country during his time in office.
Congratulations are in order for David Campbell for returning to city hall, but I suggest he find out what Mayor Keller’s priorities are all about and especially verse himself in the content of the ABC-Z comprehensive plan seeing as he will be the one most responsible for enforcing it.
Congratulations are also in order to Gilbert Montano for being able to come down from “mid air” and land on his feet after five months of looking for a job.
Congratulations to former Mayor Richard Berry for keeping his rose-colored glasses clean and opening doors for his former employees who continue to have his back.
My apologies also go to Judy Collins.
Who knows, if things do not work out for David Campbell or Richard Berry in Albuquerque, they can go work for Gilbert Montano in New Orleans.
You can send in the clowns now, but maybe there still here.