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Familiar businesses back ABQ foundation

Comcast is one of the big businesses that donated to the One Albuquerque Fund, according to records. (Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press)

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

Less than six months after it was incorporated to support and aid city priorities, the city of Albuquerque’s new foundation has raised nearly $250,000.

But records show most of the money is not coming from individual citizens, but rather a small cross section of businesses, including some of the most familiar names in the state.

Comcast, Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Mexico, New Mexico Gas Co., McDonald’s and Netflix have already given $10,000 each.

The single greatest contribution to date – $50,000 – came from Garcia Subaru, according to records provided to the Journal under a public records request. The company is owned by the Garcia family, which also has several other local automotive dealerships, a growing piece of Downtown Albuquerque real estate and a stake in the New Mexico United professional soccer team.

Other large contributors include Golden Pride Chicken and Fresquez Concessions.

Golden Pride gave $20,000, and its sister eatery, Frontier Restaurant, kicked in $5,000.

Fresquez Concessions – which has an active agreement with the city to run all the food and beverage business at the Albuquerque International Sunport – donated $20,000.

The real estate and development industry has also poured in money: construction company Bradbury Stamm and property management company RMCI Inc. gave $10,000 apiece.

All told, 35 entities and individuals are responsible for all $248,250 the fund has raised so far, records show.

And some contributions came in response to face-to-face requests made by Mayor Tim Keller himself.

Jessie Damazyn, a mayoral spokeswoman, did not say exactly how many of the existing donors Keller met with personally to solicit contributions, but said that he has talked with “nearly all” of those on the list as well as many others “in contexts from coffees to community events to speaking engagements about how they can play a role from volunteering to donating.”

Golden Pride and Frontier owner Larry Rainosek said he donated after a meeting with Keller that the mayor’s office had arranged.

“We always try to do things that will benefit the city and community,” said Rainosek, adding that his business has also supported the University of New Mexico.

The city launched the One Albuquerque Fund last year to attract additional resources “in support of and to supplement city priorities” such as spending on police recruiting, housing vouchers and workforce development, according to a September news release. Keller said at the time that citizens wanted to help.

“Every day, people in Albuquerque ask how they can step up and (be) part of addressing our city’s greatest challenges,” Keller said in a statement last fall.

Only six people made donations under their individual names, according to the city’s list. That includes Doug Brown, the president of the University of New Mexico Board of Regents, and Gary Goodman, the real estate developer behind Winrock Town Center. Each gave $5,000, records show. Nick Kapnison, a local businessman and restaurateur, contributed $3,350.

Damazyn said the foundation is still young and more citizen contributions are expected. The foundation’s board of directors has hired a staff person to work on public outreach and fundraising, she added.

“This fund is just getting started and we anticipate that more individuals will begin to donate as they learn about it. This initiative started as the One Albuquerque Housing Fund that has raised over $74,000 from donors who believe that housing is key,” Damazyn said in an email.

Rainosek said he thinks the foundation has the potential to help mitigate some of the city’s problems – at a news conference last month, Keller highlighted the foundation’s $20,000 expenditures on housing vouchers and $5,000 on police recruitment.

Rainosek said he did not think his contribution bought influence with the mayor, but said the meeting about the foundation gave him a long-awaited opportunity to air his grievances about Albuquerque Rapid Transit and some changes he would like to see in the future.

“He had his agenda,” Rainosek said of the meeting with Keller, “and I had mine.”

Damazyn said the One Albuquerque Fund would not impact how the city chooses contractors, citing the city’s competitive solicitation process.

She noted that many other public agencies, including Albuquerque Public Schools and UNM, also have supporting foundations.

The city’s foundation will comply with New Mexico’s Inspection of Public Records Act, she said. That is not true of some others – the UNM Foundation, for example, has argued in court that it is not subject to the state’s public records law.

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