Klein: Pretty please, Mayor Keller, do the right thing
Let’s talk about the ongoing scandal swirling around Albuquerque City Hall, Albuquerque Police headquarters and the TV newsrooms. The scandal starts with a complaint that was never filed, regarding PIO Simon Drobik and the huge amount of overtime he was working. The CPOA took this reporter’s questions, that were not directed to the Civilian Police Oversight Agency but to the City Auditor and decided to make a formal investigation out of it. Don’t get me wrong, this needed to be investigated, but did the CPOA violate its own rules by not having a formal complaint? Does Ed Harness care? Rules? Ed don't need no stinking rules; he’s a lawyer! If the governing agency for police officers doesn’t give a crap about their own rules, why should they enforce them on officers?
The CPOA is now recommending termination for Simon (that has about as much chance as happening as me winning a Pulitzer for this column), but without Simon what will KOB, KRQE and KRQE do for May ratings sweeps month? The newsrooms must be hysterical with screaming, panic-stricken reporters and news directors! My God, where will they go to get disgusting perp walks, orchestrated by Simon for his friends in the media? What will young Albuquerque TV reporters do when they can no longer scream into the face of an arrested person, “Why did you rape her!?” “Why did you kill him!?” Of course, these same wack-a-burque reporters are nowhere to be found when that same person is released without charges. But that doesn’t matter, it’s news we are talking about, not the truth. It’s video, and we want our videos! Well, everyone but former state Rep. Monica Youngblood, but I digress.
Here is an idea for the TV news departments May ratings sweeps dilemma: since Simon might not be able to do more perp walks with people who are presumed innocent under the law (but who cares about innocence, it’s a perp walk god dammit!), have your reporters find innocent people—people who the reporters have screamed at during perp walks (shaming them in their community), and have the reporter apologize to them on live TV. That's a video you will never see.
Without Simon, Albuquerque TV news departments will be forced to report on more suspiciously shaved cats (KOB ran this joke of a news story, as serious news, on April 14), and pathetic pet owners who are offended that someone laughed at their crippled chicken. Is a shaved pussy (cat) really news? It is to at least one ABQ TV “news” department. Welcome to Albuquerque TV media, where if they don’t have “access” to orchestrated propaganda by the police department's PIO, they don’t know what to do.
Hey KOB, someone shaved my butt while I slept last night, can I be on your 6 p.m. news? Can I, please?
My next vent involves my good friend, Albuquerque Police Officers Association President Shaun Willoughby. He's the only guy with APD who will talk publicly about Drobik, and he has praised Drobik for claiming massive amounts of overtime, while repeatedly breaking APD rules—at least 51 rule violations in 2018 alone!
For some unknown reason, Willoughby jumps in front of news cameras like a prostitute on Central Avenue jumps in front of a BMW. In this case, the BMW is driven by APD Chief Mike Geier and Mayor Tim Keller. And just like every “john” I have ever dealt with, Geier and Keller use Shaun and dump him off in an alley off Morningside and Central, without even giving him a kiss or a reach-around. I have pleaded with Shaun not to degrade himself like this and to let Geier and Keller deal with their own train wrecks. But my friend has a good damn heart and truly loves his fellow officers.
Were any of us surprised that both Geier and Keller have refused to say anything about Drobik and the CPOA's investigation into his ridiculous overtime claims? No. They send Shaun out to make excuses for Simon's behavior and his rip-off of city taxpayers. There's Shaun giving the Albuquerque Journal an interview, and like a prostitute who gets out of line, taking a slap down for it on social media. Shaun talks, when Keller and Geier don't, and when they should, and it makes lots of people think that he runs the police department. Maybe he does. Well, at least he should. He'd do a lot better job than Geier and Keller.
When Journal reporter Elise Kaplan asked Willoughby about the investigation into Drobik, which uncovered over 50 violations of APD policy, Shaun responded by saying, “I don’t know a harder-working police officer than Simon Drobik. Every single time we are given information about some atrocity inside of Albuquerque, Simon is the face you see. He’s doing a job nobody else in the department wants to do.”
That’s a beautiful quote, and after reading it I almost kissed my Simon Drobik poster. The problem is that Shaun's words aren't true. Simon doesn't know what he's doing. Remember, Simon is the one who informed us all—including Geier and Keller—that a 7-year-old girl's blood-stained underwear isn’t evidence of a crime. Willoughby’s assertion that no one else at APD would do Drobik’s job is FAKE NEWS. I count at least four people getting paid to do his job. Lets’ see who they are.
APD has a full-time public information officer, his name is Gilbert Gallegos, or as he is fondly known in media circles, the Invisible Man. Gilbert gets paid over $80,000 per year (plus benefits) to be the PIO! If Simon is doing a job no one else at APD wants to do, then why are we paying Gilbert? What about Officer Tanner Tixier? Or Officer DeArguero? What are they doing, if Simon is the “face of Albuquerque?” Should we start referring to Simon as “El Duke” (Simon, if you use it remember I coined the phrase)? And I must say, if someone is going to be the face of Albuquerque, I vote for Gilbert. I like his face; it’s kind, gentle, caring and rested. Simon looks exhausted, like he could physically collapse on any given jogging session with APD cadets (yeah, he was getting 2 hours of comp time to go jog with the cadets, go figure).
Don’t forget that Geier and Keller created a Deputy Chief of Staff position to handle, among other things, social media. Yes Albuquerque, you are paying Liz Armijo (ex-lieutenant New Mexico State Police, $116,000 plus benefits per year) to handle social media and to sign off on Simon’s overtime slips. It’s great work if you can get it, but to get it you better know Geier. He doesn’t just hand out these big salary jobs to anyone. He gives them to his friends, who have little to no experience in how to manage a large metro police department. No wonder the City Auditor says APD sucks balls when it comes to managing our money.
Geier’s friends include his Chief of Staff, ex-Rio Rancho police officer John Ross. Ross worked under Geier when he was police chief in Rio Rancho. He is now Geier’s chief of staff earning $128,000 per year plus benefits. Rio Rancho's police department is one tenth the size of APD, but what does that matter? It’s not Geier’s money Ross is signing off on. It’s your money and my money. These people might care about it, but like a 13-year old girl who is trying to raise a baby alone, they just don’t know what they are doing. As soon as they waste millions, they just go back to the “lost in space” city council and ask for another public safety tax increase!
For the CPOA our money mattered, because their investigation into Simon stated that, “While one supervisor was responsible for approving his (Simon) time off for most of 2018, even now as PIO, he takes vacation or comp time, usually approved by the Chief of Staff (Ross) or the Deputy Chief of Staff (Armijo), and while he should be tending to PIO duties, he is off at a Chief’s overtime assignment being paid $78.75 an hour.”
That is why hiring friends may be good to strengthen friendships, it’s not good for Albuquerque taxpayers. We depend upon APD Command staff to know and enforce APD policy, rules and regulations and be good stewards of our money. The CPOA investigation, and numerous city audits over the years, make APD command staff look like Lieutenant Dan of Reno 911. (Thank god it’s Geier. Could you imagine Gordo Eden in short shorts? Hold on, I don’t want to imagine Geier in short shorts either).
But who am I kidding? Just like my chances at becoming six-foot tall, blond and beautiful (I am half way there), any chance that Geier and Keller will act against anyone who signed off on Simon’s leave time, so he could go do Chief’s Overtime, is a dream. I am going out on a limb and make a projection. Simon and others will receive next to nothing in discipline. The policy will be changed to allow Simon (as PIO) to sign up and work Chief’s overtime while on call as PIO. Mayor Keller I hope you prove me wrong.
Mayor Keller you were State Auditor. You should be asking for an independent in-depth investigation into all APD overtime in 2018. Tim, why are you silent? Why are you hiding in RJ Berry’s bunker? I am not asking you to inject yourself in a “personnel” matter. I am asking that you quit listening to your “spin committee” and just do your job as mayor of Albuquerque.
Mayor Keller this one is one you. It’s been one week since the CPOA report into APD overtime abuse and you have remained silent. Albuquerque taxpayers were used to this type of cowardice from RJ Berry, but you promised a transparent and open city government. Tim, are you just going to hide in the bunker or are you going to be a leader? Albuquerque is waiting for your decision, how much time do you need to make a decision?