Friday, July 03, 2015

A Better Approach

I tried to ban concealed weapons in Albuquerque under 'home rule' laws back in 2001 when I was Mayor. We got nowhere as every judge on the Supreme Court in NM ran screaming from the NRA. I recall they were all democrats. This 'good cause' approach might be a good one for some brave city councillor to take on. It basically says that before a concealed weapon license can be issued, that a good cause must exist for it to be issued. Certainly our mascot Mayor will not attempt such a thing. Well, we can always dream.

Once again, did you notice how Donald Trump PiƱatas and the confederate flag took all the heat away from the NRA after the last massacre? Culture wars trump real issues. Ha Ha.

Ice

Everything is upside down.  Albuquerque's economic development is as fast moving as a glacier, (going backwards these days.)  Housing starts have once again dropped while all our surrounding states enjoy booming economies.  Meanwhile, an iceless ice rink on the oven known as Civic Plaza in downtown Albuquerque has been opened by the Mayor.

The glacial concern over our staggering economy by the Governor, Mayor and leaderless business community continues.  And the sap public laps up the laurels heaped on them by the Albuquerque Journal.  Pictures of the Mayor and Governor at inconsequential ground breakings and other public appearances while nothing happens to grow jobs and stability for New Mexicans.  How long can this go on?

This is from a golfing buddy of mine who summers in Michigan and winters in ABQ.  A very successful moderate republican business man.

"I think you know we are making a serious building addition - well this you can share with guys

It is so hustle and bustle here we can not get three subs to bid so we have settled for two per trade
Housing very strong
Unemployment really low
Wages up strongly. I especially like that as too many places held off routine raises for to long
Commercial building out of sight
Engineers are darn near impossible to find
Even college enrollment is up at places like Hope Calvin Alma let alone U of M
New med school is open in GR next year one opens in Kazoo at WMU and year after that in Mt Pleasant at CMU

What is missing is NM weather and a fix for lousy roads - the Republicans are obsessed with avoiding gas tax raise"

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Pendaries, NM

Golf in Pendaires was incredible.  The abundant moisture has northern New Mexico looking like a garden.  There is still snow atop some of the mountains.  Four years ago this looked like a desert.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Opposite

Think of corporate America and its US Chamber of Commerce who spend millions in suing foreign governments who try and educate people about the dangers of tobacco.  This is a different kind of terrorism that ends up killing many people.  The board and CEO of the Chamber should be brought to trial for murder.

Think of President Obama and his new policy of requiring overtime pay for those in the middle class who are forced to work extra hours.  Doing something good here for many Americans struggling with student loans and the effects of corrupt bankers.

It is easy to see who the decent and moral people are in this debate.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Gerry Mander is Not a Guy

The Supreme Court has slapped down right wing Arizona republicans by ruling that independent commissions can set the redistricting lines for congressional and legislative districts.  This is a great thing.  Gerrymandering has kept right wingers, and left wingers, in office by designing districts only they could win, even if the districts defied all logic.

You can see this in one of our especially bizarre districts for the NM Senate.  District 39 winds it way from San Miguel County like a snake through multiple counties all the way to Ruidoso.  It is non sensical.  See it here.

For a good explanation of gerrymandering look here.

The City of Santa Fe recently handed over its redistricting duties to an independent commission and readily accepted their work and passed it.  Oh, if only we had some brave legislators in Santa Fe that would do the same.  The way is now clear.  We will see who in Santa Fe are self serving.  You will be able to make that judgement by the excuses they give for not letting such commissions function in a non partisan manner for the good of New Mexico.

Evolve

I wonder how many of those folks, like former homophobe City Councillors Mike McEntee and Greg Payne have been able to evolve from their positions on fighting gay rights.  I have a feeling that some  people like them have done so.  Others never will do so.  It is a brain thing formed by hateful teachings and surroundings.

My sister, brother and I were educated all the way through high school by the Catholic school system.  Back then I don't think, at least in grade school, that we were ever lectured about gays in any way.  Strangely, I think in some ways our liberal leanings came from the church in doses between the silly dogma catechism classes.  Compassion and helping others was a theme we learned.  But apparently our new Archbishop has never evolved on the issue, although on many other policy questions he seems fine.  So, in many ways the churches that hold to such xenophobia will never evolve until they are so marginalized that they must do so.  Kicking and screaming.

The media sure isn't evolving on gun issues coverage.  Nor are any of our congressional representatives or Senators.  That latest massacre has done nothing.  However we all know what the social media and mainstream news operations are into, and that would be Donald Trump.  Once again the NRA escapes unscathed because the guy with the combover is so outrageous.

But, at the end of the day....two steps forward and one back.  Health care and human rights in this country are better guaranteed than last week.  It shows progress.  

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Little Steps

Here is an old Journal story from April of 2000 on one of the many little steps taken to get us where we are today with the Supreme Court decision on same sex marriage.  I took all sorts of hell from the republicans on the city council and religious extremists for this action.

The GOP is still whining about not being able to stay in the past.  I am proud of this action and saw it as one of my major executive orders.  A lot of credit goes to the gay community in Albuquerque back then.  Especially my communications officer at the time, Brian Morris.

Later that year I served as the first Mayor to ever ride, as grand marshall, in the gay pride parade in Albuquerque.

 Edition--Final Date--04/12/2000 Page--A1 
 City To Insure Domestic Partners 
 Olivier Uyttebrouck Journal Staff Writer 


 Albuquerque plans to extend insurance benefits in July to unmarried domestic partners of city employees. 
 Mayor Jim Baca quietly approved the policy in an order he signed March 8. 
 "It will give insurance coverage to many people and children who don't have it," Baca said Tuesday. "Why would anybody not want those folks to have insurance?" 
 The policy also will help Albuquerque stay competitive with other large employers that offer insurance benefits to their workers' partners, he said. Area employers that offer similar benefits include US West and the University of New Mexico. 
 City officials estimate the extended health insurance will raise the city's premiums 1 percent, or about $185,000 a year. The city pays 80 percent of premium costs for most employees. 
 Councilor Greg Payne said Tuesday he opposes extending city benefits to people who are not married. 
 "There isn't enough money in the budget to put enough cops on the street to answer 911 calls, but we magically find money to benefit domestic partners," Payne said. 
 Payne also said Baca should have brought the issue before the City Council and the public because some will find it offensive. 
 "It's going to have a financial impact on the city, and he has an obligation to bring it before the council," Payne said. 
 Councilor Mike McEntee said he objects to the policy on moral and fiscal grounds. 
 "This is the kind of thing that breaks down the fabric of the family," McEntee said. Unmarried couples "don't have the commitment to get married, but they want you and me to pay for their benefits." 
 Baca responded that councilors would reveal themselves as intolerant if they introduce a bill forbidding the city from extending benefits to unmarried partners of city employees. 
 "To me, that would be promoting discrimination and bigotry," Baca said. Baca also said the City Charter gives him the authority to make administrative decisions, including those regarding employee insurance benefits. 
 City officials said they don't know how many employees will take advantage of the new benefit. Under the new policy, partners must have lived together at least 12 months. The policy will apply to heterosexual and same-sex relationships. 
 Employees who want benefits for their partners will be asked to fill out an "affidavit of partnership." They must produce at least three documents, such as a joint lease or mortgage, a joint bank or brokerage account or a joint automobile registration, showing they "share financial responsibility" for each other. 
 If approved, the employee's partner would be eligible for health and dental insurance coverage and optional supplemental life insurance. The employee also would be eligible to use city leave to attend to a sick partner or attend a funeral. 
 Valerie Santillanes, spokeswoman for US West, said the company began offering insurance benefits to same-sex partners of employees in 1998. But the company doesn't offer the extended benefits to heterosexual partners because, unlike same-sex couples, they have the option of getting married, she said. 
 That policy led the New Mexico branch of the Christian Coalition to file a complaint with the state Public Regulation Commission in March. The Christian Coalition argued that US West has no right to seek a rate increase while spending money on insurance benefits for same-sex partners of employees. 
 PHOTO: Color 
 BACA: "Why would anybody not want those folks to have insurance?"

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Adjacent

Adjacent  stories in the Journal this morning were somewhat funny to me.  The lead story was about a better system for deciding whether to adopt out dogs that have shown a vicious streak.  Apparently assessments being done by the people at the city animal control center are arbitrary.  Now there will be put into place an independent group to make the decision.  Experts are required.

The story next to this is about the Bernalillo County Commission giving a final approval to the horrendous Santolina development.  The contract the majority on the Commission voted for ties the hands of future leaders and it sets up the taxpayers for a train wreck down the track.  This vote was also arbitrary, but in this case no one has asked for an independent group to make decisions.  In fact, there were attempts to limit debate of dissenting Commissioners Maggie Stebbins and Deb O'Malley. Apparently experts in urban planning and sprawl were not required.

Lets hope that the ABCWUA folks will make some decisions that involve the wisdom of this development when they decide what kind of water service to hand out.  Perhaps they could call in water experts and urban planners to write contracts that make sense.



Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Misc.

We continue to shell out big bucks to fix the Albuquerque Police Department.  Another $750K to pay a watchdog was approved by the City Council last night.  Add to that the costs of trials of officers for unnecessary killings and civil suit payouts and the city budget is taking hit, not to mention the money being spent by special prosecutors hired by District Attorney Brandenburg.  Those responsible for the poor leadership at APD are still in their jobs and the Mayor and CAO have done nothing.

That $2.5 million the State Fair received for capital improvements is really a farce.  It will be spread around several hundred acres of deteriorating infrastructure and grounds and will be virtually invisible.  It is too bad  the Governor, who has a Fair Commission that never meets, can't show some vision and make this Exposition into a model of modernity.  Build science exhibits and digital interactive educational venues for the young folks who might find it more interesting than watching animals poop and corndogs fry. (I love those.)

It was 109 degrees on my back porch yesterday.  Almost too hot for golf.


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Medieval



When you think of State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn think of these pictures.  He has invited the trapping of wildlife back onto State Trust Land.  Traps are non specific and cruel and he and Governor Martinez are attempting to kill every four legged creature other than cows on New Mexico's lands through the Game and Fish Commission.  In effect it is another subsidy for the livestock industry.  I am hopeful this act of barbarianism will be met with mass national protestors flooding into Santa Fe.  Grazing cattle in the desert has always been stupid, but now it is also medieval.