Friday, September 30, 2005

One Goon Squad, One Dog and a Disgraced Chamber

The only way you can describe developments in the Mayor's race yesterday is with the word "Bizarre". Mayoral candidates Eric Griego and Brad Winter held a joint news conference on City Plaza to question Mayor Chavez's integrity in connection with a fundraiser held by the bagman for our indicted State Treasurers. It was a campaign news conference and a legitimate one. But, apparently the Mayor and his minions decided to call out a goon squad and the Mayor's dog to disrupt the news conference. Many of those attending were city employees. How dumb is this? How could there be such a failure in judgment in the Chavez campaign? This made his connection with the bag man a front page story. It made him look as if he had something to hide. And sending his dog? Mondo Bizzaro!

Add to that the way the Chamber of Commerce has disgraced its name by designing and funding the most libelous and untruthful campaign against the minimum wage bill and you have the makings of a meltdown in community relations in Albuquerque. The fall out will be with the Chamber for some time. Certainly the Chamber could have come up with a better way of fighting this proposal.

A Mayor and History



The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is upon us once again. It is an event that has brought Albuquerque world wide attention for decades now. The man to thank for that is former Mayor Harry Kinney, and oh yes, thank me a little bit too.

Here is the story. I used to be the city public information officer. I worked for Mayor Kinney back in 1975 for a few years. Yes, I worked for a Republican back in the days when non partisan really meant something in city government. Harry Kinney hired me after I left my job as news secretary for Governor Bruce King at the end of his term.

At that time our Balloon fiesta was an affair run by Tom Rutherford and Sid Cutter at the State Fair Grounds. They couragesously managed this exciting event on very little resources. They were ready to fold their tent because of financial considerations and came to the city to see if they could get some help. Mayor Kinney came to the rescue by naming a committee to help formalize and manage the balloon Fiesta. It was visionary on his part. This was to be a non-profit group that would bring financial security to the event. The Mayor appointed as Chairwoman Betty Perkins, an Albuquerque banker, and about 25 other people to the Committee. I was appointed as the city representative. We all went about raising money to move the fiesta to a new site, which was near the present one, and to attract private sponsorships for the event.

Still, we were having a rough time and Betty Perkins insisted on the city kicking in some help. I went to Mayor Kinney and he said to proceed with the public works department, city police and the fire department in getting the site prepared and arranging for public safety. When I went to the Chief Administrative Officer Frank Klienhenz to authorize the work he refused. He told me if he saw one city employee working on the event that I would be fired! So, I was caught in a little power struggle between the Mayor and the CAO. I went with the Mayor and personally arranged for the needed city help. I recall that Kleinhenz was out of town that week prior to the opening and that is when I did my best at getting the city involved. He called and said he wanted to meet with me on the Monday after the first weekend of the fiesta. I started thinking about future employment.

We weren't sure how the public would turn out that first weekend. Well, one hundred thousand people showed up the first day. We were taking in unimaginable amounts of cash in entry and parking fees. We had not expected it really, and ended up putting grocery bags full of cash into the trunk of a car until the bank opened on Monday. After that first year the city was reimbursed for its expenses.

Frank Klienhenz flew back into town on the Friday before the opening day of the fiesta. I believe he was in Seattle. We had our meeting and he apologized for his attitude. I asked him why and he said the plane he flew in on was full of people coming to see the balloons. I guess he did a little math and figured this was a big winner for the city. It certainly has been.

Harry Kinney really deserves our gratitude.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Post Op

The colonsocopy is done and I am clean. The really exciting part of this whole process is not remembering it. Doctor De Flice and I were talking about sewer problems near his house on Rio Grande, yes we really were talking about it, and then the joy juice kicked in and the next thing I remember is my son Justin standing over me with my bag of clothes in the recovery room.
I have always suspected that when you are semi conscious during a colonoscopy that the Docs and Nurses ask you crazy questions and that you always tell the truth. What a dangerous place for a politician to be. Yuk! Think of the possibilities if bush needed a little exploratory work done, or Mr. tom delay or michael montoya or robert vigil.

Ok....the joy juice is still working. I come back when I can be more responsible.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

On the Rocks?


Pretty soon even cheney is going to have to acknowlege that the Arctic is in danger of losing its ice. This is a must read article from the Scientific community that pretty much scares me. This isn't just an American problem. Many who will be adversely affected by generally rising sea levels are the poorest people around the world. Wouldn't it be great if the country could be the leader in realistically dealing with this?

You Were Waiting for This


You knew I would do this, didn't you?

Here is the question. Will the New Mexican republican party call for the with holding of grand jury indicted Tom Delay's salary while he is under investigation? Will they ask him to resign? Will they connect him to other republicans who got his alleged illegal gains? Will Pigs fly?

Glazed

The Albuquerque Journal glazed over the fact that Mayor Chavez had a fund raiser at the home one of the indicted suspects in the State Treasurer campaign. Just the day before there was a front page story about the Governor's friend, Game and Fish Comission member Guy Riordan, having been an investment advisor to the State Treasurer. The story on the Governor didn't allege any wrong doing whatsoever, but it was prominent. The story on the Mayor's fundraiser didn't allege any wrongdoing either. The difference in handling the stories was phenonomenal. Shouldn't they be given the same amount of coverage? Why is one on the front page of the Sunday Journal while the other is in a reporter's notes sidebar? Go figure.

Fasting

This will be a difficult day and a half as I must fast until tomorrow noon. Yes, I need to go in and get a roto rooter job, in other words a colonoscopy. I know, you don't need to know this, but I think the message here is that if there is a history of colon cancer in your family then you should get this done every five years or so. My dad's side of the family is very susceptible to this cancer and so we all go in on a regular basis for an inspection. The first time I had it done was when I served as Mayor of Albuquerque. The procedure wasn't so bad because I was used to experiencing similar things at the hands of some of my right wing city council members.

After a colonoscopy discovered cancer my dad went through colon cancer surgery in 1991 and lived another fourteen years with no ill effects. Many other members of his family have done as well. So the message is, don't be squeamish about this. Actually, the drugs they give you are pretty good and it is over and you are out of there in 90 minutes.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

My Little Girl


This is a picture of our daughter Noelle in Bangkok, Thailand. She is attending Rangsitt University there for the first semester of her senior year. She normally attends Rice University in Houston. She was really worried about hurricane Rita's effect on her belongings that were in storage there, but we found out that nothing was damaged.

I think this study abroad program is great and that it really lets these young people learn that the United States is not the center of the universe. I wish these programs were available to all students at all times. It might be a way for us to show the world that we can be good neighbors despite the actions of our current administration.

Kristoff has a really good column in the New York Times today that is very complimentary of Governor Richardson. Read it here.

Also, I saw this on Julia Goldberg's blog today. It is a masterpiece.

Kangaroo Court?


Kangaroo court-- An unfair trial in which the rights of the accused and precepts of justice are ignored and the outcome is usually known beforehand.

New Mexico Republicans are calling for the impeachment of State Treasurer Robert Vigil in the special two day session coming up next week in Santa Fe. Whether you are out for blood on Vigil or not you can only wonder if anyone can get a fair trial in two days. Has the Legislature done the proper investigation? Have the Republicans be given access to the evidence or the government's investigation? If not, will they ask for it so they can at least have more facts on this scandal than we have recieved in the newspapers? If they don't get it can they ethically proceed? Remember how much thought went into impeachment hearing of Bill Clinton after his scandal?

I am all for impeaching Vigil if he is guilty, but I am also convinced he should have a chance to defend himself. I just don't think this will happen given the reservations I noted above.

It is pretty obvious to me that the Republicans are pursuing a much larger agenda here than getting Vigil outof office. They are already floating innuendos about other Democrats possibly getting some of the alleged kickbacks although they don't have any names. Everything we need to know will come out soon enough and if those responsible for this mess spend time in jail that is fine with me.

The best thing that can happen is for Vigil to just resign and save us all the dramatic wailing of the neo con Republicans in New Mexico.

Justice is a certain rectitude of mind whereby a man does what he ought to do in the circumstances confronting him.
Saint Thomas Aquinas

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Anti War


A fiend of mine who works in DC attended the antiwar march in Washington yesterday. She said she stood in one spot for seven hours as marchers strode by. This got scant attention from the media, but it shows some real energy building.

This is Steve and Molly Cobble. They are amongst my favorite people in the world. They are also amongst the smartest couple we have ever known.

Steve has a consulting business in Washington that deals mostly in advising good liberal nonprofit groups on strategy, media and politics. Molly is a school teacher, chemistry I believe, in the Virginia school system.

More on Wage Spin & Journal Endorsement

I got this from a blog reader who did a little research on the horrible minimum wage flyer I received. It can put you on the chase!

For what it’s worth, I checked the domain registration. It comes back to Rick Johnson Marketing with a contact name of “Shannon Bell” if that’s any help. I also noticed that the physical address listed is not that of RJM, but appears to be the Jiffy Lube by TEMA. Weird. I also googled the domain name and ended up here, which would certainly seem to confirm the idea originated at the chamber and was then outsourced to a marketing company.

Also, the Albuquerque Journal endorsed Mayor Chavez this morning. That is their right but I find it hard to believe they didn't even mention ABQPAC. I think they are worried the scandal in Santa Fe could somehow stick to Marty's scandal if they were to bring it up. Usually, they will bring up warts like that when endorsing a candidate that had problems.

Just when you wonder what the Journal Editorial Board can be thinking about, the reporters make it all bearable. The story this morning by Leann Holt regarding the family of John Hyde was staggeringly good. It is what good journalism can do for us all. It details the tragedy of the death of two police officers and two motorcycle shop employees from the stand point of the mental illness of the killer. It puts things in perspective and makes some of the comments of the police, and even the religious ministers at their services, seem a little outrageous.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Rovian Spin


Look at this postcard we got today. It says if you vote for the minimum wage proposal in the city election you will be allowing complete strangers into your children's schools. I can't wait to look at the contributors list of this organization to see who actually gave money to them to run this kind of Karl Rove inspired bull. Shame on them. If the Chamber of Commerce gave them money then they should be heavily criticised. If they want to take a position that is certainly their right, but this kind of stuff is beyond belief. Any business that gave money to this group will probably earn my boycott.

Selling Out our Image



Mayor Chavez, as Lucy's husband used to say," you have some splaining to do!"

Seriously, explain why our beautiful airport has been turned into nothing but a reception area for the local casinos. Explain why these ugly signs are now in the corridors and everywhere else you look. They block line of sight and open space. They make it incovenient for travelers to see the gates and they generally cheapen the city's image. Shame on the Mayor and the Airport management for letting this happen. Our unique airport has been turned into a cheap carnival. Why? So we can make a few extra bucks instead of making a good impression. Some greeting for our visitors.

Friday, September 23, 2005

The Long Ballot



The horrendous corruption at the State Treasurer Office has brought into focus the so called "long ballot" in New Mexico. That refers to the amount of elected officials we have in this state. Count them, the Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, State Land Commissioner, State Auditor, State Treasurer, Secretary of State, and Public Regulatory Commission(of which there are 5), nine Appeals Court Judges and five Supreme Court Judges(who stand for retention elections after their first popular election.) If I count right that is 26 statewide elected positions that the public grapples with. This system leaves little accountability and oversight because of the invisibilty of some of these offices. Prior to this scandal I seriously doubt that Robert Vigil or Michael Montoya would have had name identification of more that 5% amongst the general public.

Members of the Legislature are making noises abut doing away with the State Treasurer Office and making it appointed. They probably should not stop there. They could easily make the Secretary of State, Auditor, and Members of the PRC also appointed. State Land Commissioner and Attorney General should probably stay elected because of their broad constitutional powers.

In fact, it might be time for a State Constitutional Convention. Those are hard to do as I recall the great efforts put forth in 1970's attempt. (That was one of the first big stories that I covered as a young reporter, along with my good friend Rodger Beimer.) That attempt failed because the Game and Fish commission came out against it as they felt they would lose power. They convinced the state's sportsmen to vote against it. Former Governor Bruce King did a great job as President of that Convention, but the hard work couldn't be turned into a victory at the polls. And so New Mexico stagnated while surrounding states economies grew rapidly. I really believe that is when our state missed the economic development boat.

Another convention might be a good idea, although it would certainly "open a box of Pandoras" as Bruce King would say. It could achieve great things however if a bi partisan effort could be made to write a more modern constitutional document. The one we have is almost 100 years old and could use a little work. Or, maybe this is just a bad idea given the existing partisan divisions in this country. Nevermind.

Disgrace does not consist in the punishment, but in the crime.
Vittorio Alfieri


Distraction


President bush is preparing to leave for Texas as Hurricane Rita approaches. A close friend called a while ago and said he was making bumper stickers that say, "Stay In Texas".

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Old Time Religion?

I was born and raised a Catholic. My dad's family came from old New Mexico traditions of being strongly connected to the Church. My sister, brother and me attended Our Lady of Fatima Heights Catholic School in Albuquerque and St. Pius X High School. They were pretty good schools from my standpoint even when doling out the daily dose of 'Catholic guilt'. I stayed active in the Church through my first couple of years of University and I hung out at the Newman Center at UNM. But I fell away from my religious beliefs beginning in my Junior year at school because of the attitude of the Church on family planning.

Now, I pick up the paper and observe the Holy See on a pogrom against prospective gay priests. I have not seen much scandal involving gay priests but I have seen much scandal involving pedophile priests. They are not the same thing no matter what gay bashers tell you. And so, I am confused about the priorities of the Church of which I once considered myself to be a devout member. Let's see, no women priests, no gay priests, no independant minded priests allowed. Soon, there will be no Catholic Church.


This is a picture of a dead gay New York Fire Department catholic Chaplain Father Mychal Judge who gave his life helping others on 9/11. I wonder what the Pope would say to his flock and family right now.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Spin Up and Spin Down


As Rita Spins up in the Gulf of Mexico we wonder if the bush administration will spin down this report released today on climate warming. This report deals mainly with the effects of climate change on the western United States and its water supplies. This report comes from the Rocky Mountain Climate organization in Denver. I have met these folks and respect them for their science based approach. That will probably get them dismissed by bush as crackpots.

Moyers Again

Here is Bill Moyers latest and greatest speech. It is really worth the read. It is really a wakeup call which can be summarized with this excerpt. Thanks to my sister Carlota for sending this.

As I look back on the conflicts and clamor of our boisterous past, one lesson about democracy stands above all others: Bullies—political bullies, economic bullies and religious bullies—cannot be appeased; they have to be opposed with a stubbornness to match their own. This is never easy; these guys don’t fight fair; “Robert’s Rules of Order” is not one of their holy texts. But freedom on any front—and especially freedom of conscience—never comes to those who rock and wait, hoping someone else will do the heavy lifting.
--Bill Moyers

Newspapers


I get worried when I read stories like this one in the New York Times about the New York Times and newspapers in general. I get most of my information on current events from newspapers. I have three of them delivered every day to my house. The Albuquerque Journal, The New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal are my staples through out the day. I also do quite a bit of internet reading at night.

As real newspapers continually cut their editorial staffs we all will suffer. One thing I like about the existence of newspapers is that you almost always can get in touch with them about corrections or to provide comments. That is often problematical with internet journalism.

It may be that we will see most newspapers close down in the next twenty years to be replaced with some sort of broadband editions that are delivered daily to your home or laptop computers. I will miss the ink and newsprint, but mostly I will miss the diverse points of view that I get with my coffee in the mornings.

Please read Friedman in the New York Times today. It makes a lot of sense especially since I have been saying the same thing.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Mayor's Race Untruths



I have kept relatively silent on the Mayor's race. I figured anything I might say in the way of criticism would be construed as sour grapes, but I have decided to correct Mayor Chavez and his campaign untruths about his and my fiscal responsibility as Chief Executive of the City of Albuquerque.

Marty Chavez is a big spender. He spends every dime that comes in the door when revenues are good. He has consistently, through both of his terms. overspent the rate of inflation just because the money was there.

Please, look at this story on the spending practices of my administration which was written by Albuquerque Journal Reporter Jim Ludwick.

11/13/2001
City Budget Lags Behind Inflation
By Jim Ludwick, Journal Staff Writer
The city budget increased by more than 6 percent during the four-year term of Mayor Jim Baca, but that wasn't enough to keep up with inflation.
The general-fund budget, which pays for basic city operations, would be $14 million larger this year if it had grown at the rate of inflation throughout Baca's term.
Baca this month proposed budgetary changes that reveal the city's most recent projections of its income. Based on those figures, the general-fund budget could be about $322 million.
But the budget would be more than $336 million if it had grown at the rate of inflation during each year of Baca's tenure. That would reflect the Consumer Price Index and a starting point of about $303 million for the budget in fiscal 1998, when Baca took the reins.
Overall revenue has grown while Baca has been the mayor, but it has not kept pace with inflation.
The gross-receipts tax, however, has outpaced inflation during Baca's mayoral term. It's the major source of revenue for the general fund, and Baca repeatedly has said it is not growing rapidly enough to meet the city's needs.
Estimates for the gross-receipts tax recently were revised as the city prepares for the impact of an economic downturn. Under the newly lowered estimates, the gross-receipts tax would provide about $230 million for the general fund this year. That would be about $7 million ahead of inflation, based on Baca's starting point.
Other sources of revenue include property taxes, fees paid for permits, charges for services such as the entrance fees at the zoo and various other categories of city income. As a group, those sources of money have failed to keep pace with inflation. They make up roughly 30 percent of the revenue.
Inflation isn't the only challenge for budgeting. The population of Albuquerque has grown roughly 7 percent while Baca has been mayor, according to the latest estimates from the Census Bureau.
Baca, interviewed Monday, said the financial situation "is just not going to get any better" unless the Legislature develops a better method of funding city operations.
"I was not a tax-and-spend mayor. We've done a good job of fiscal management. ... When you don't have enough money to do what people expect, it becomes very difficult to run local government," Baca said.
Financial changes Baca proposed this month would cut nearly $6 million from general-fund programs. He suggested cuts in social-service contracts, shrinking the city's bus system, a four-month delay for a police cadet class and a host of other changes.
Mayor-elect Martin Chavez, who takes office Dec. 1, has suggested that Baca's cuts might be too modest. Chavez is reviewing city departments with the help of his transition team and is coming up with his own proposals for changes.

When I took office from Marty in 1997 I inherited a 22 million dollar shortfall in the budget. We worked hard to erase it and keep our bond ratings for the city intact. The cuts that we made were hard to do and we suffered through years of poor revenues. This issue became big when Marty ran for Governor against Gary Johnson and it probably helped defeat him. He has been bitter ever since because he blamed me for the bad publicity. We never set out to hurt his efforts in that campaign and in fact City Councilor Tim Cummins and I supported Marty in radio commercials.

Now, in 2005 Marty claims in his inaccurate TV commercials that I left him a 50 million dollar shortfall. That is false. There was a 12 million dollar shortfall and most of that would not have existed had the city council passed budget cuts recommended by me in the fall of 2001. They refused to do so. And Marty had to handle it, just like I handled his bigger shortfalls. Much of my budget shortfalls were caused by the fall of revenues and increased costs due to the September 11th, 2001 terror attacks. A good portion of it came from added police expenses. Things got somewhat worse because of continued recession after I left office in December, 2001.

Marty is currently spending freely. Double digit increases are the norm. Yes, the city council helps greatly, but the Mayor is primarily the mover of the budget. Most fighting you see is usually over about one tenth of one percent of the budget. Those fights get all the ink while the bigger issues of revenue stability are ignored.

I would also refer you to this article in the Weekly Alibi by Jerry Ortiz Y Pino.

Marty is always ready to take credit for good things whether he had anything to do with those things. (Witness putting his name on the baseball stadium and the museum expansion.) But the least he can do is tell the truth in his slick advertising. Otherwise we might construe he is ethically challenged.


Sunday, September 18, 2005

Right Again

I hate being right about some things. I spent a good amount of time trying to convince my fellow enviros at the Wilderness Society that we should be very concerned about bush using Katrina to further damage our efforts of land protection by not raising taxes to respond to the Katrina disaster. And then he did just what I thought he would. He says the federal government will have to come up with the money with no tax hikes. Practically speaking, that means he will cut to the bone agencies like the Interior Department, the Forest Service, the EPA, and Science based government initiatives that deal with climate change.

How on earth can we in good conscience hand the bill for New Orleans and the Gulf Coast to our children and grandchildren? Think about this. We have already put them in hock for bush's war in Iraq, and now we are making them pay for this. They are so screwed!

We can only hope that the moderate republicans will stand up to bush and that the democrats will grow a spine. If not, we are proving that we just don't care about anything but instant gratification.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Water

Okay, I am in Ely, Minnesota. Got access to a computer and just wanted to say it is beautiful here. It is flat, there are a lot of trees, a lot of lakes, and where ever those don't sit on the landscape there is a lot of corn all the way to Minneapolis.

Out meeting is going well, but get ready for bush to raid all environmental agencies budgets to rebuild New Oreleans since he won't raise taxes to do it. If anyone else ran a government like this they would be fired. Back on Saturday.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Friedman's Best

As I leave for my meeting you simply much read Thomas Friedman today. He is absolutely correct in his observations. After reading it you can begin to understand why America has been let down by the current administration in DC.

Have a great weekend!

On the Road

I will be traveling for a few days. I am not sure I will be able to blog from the great metropolis of Ely, Minnesota so this might be my last missive until Sunday. I will be attending a Council Meeting of the Wilderness Society. I have served on that Council for about 13 years. It is a great organization and it enables me to stay involved with the Wilderness movement. The temperature up there is already plummeting so it should be a change.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Same But Different

The Albuquerque Journal's editorial this morning on Heather Wilson's protective attitude towards saving the Valle Vidal was confusing at best. I am glad Heather wants to protect that heavenly piece of northern New Mexico. She needs to after signing on with bush to make a joke out of most of this nation's environmental laws over the last five years. This Valle Vidal position of hers is good, but she has a long way to go.

The Journal Editorial says that the Valle Vidal should not be compared to the proposed Otero Mesa Wilderness protections that many New Mexicans feel should be enacted. They are right in that, but only so far as the ecosystems of each of those pristine areas are concerned. They are certainly different but they should both be protected. Yes, one is more beautiful than the other because it has trees and lakes and water.
However, Otero Mesa's Chihuahuan grasslands are just as important for the species it harbors.

I think the real difference in these two New Mexico Landscapes is that big contributions to our Republican congressional delegation comes from Yates Petroleum. They are the ones who want to drill the hell out of Otero Mesa.

The Journal's environmental editorials lately have been consistently pretty good. This one is not.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Corn Dog Extrordinaire


The 2005 Corn Dog was awesome. Deputy State Fair Manager Rodger Beimer gets an A+ for his reconnaissance. This corn dog stand was great. Flowers out front too! What more can you ask other than a good cook.

Meagan cooked my corn dog.


Look at the size of this!


This was a full meal and it cost $3.00. This little stand is located in the food court right off main street at the main entrance. Tonight I am considering taking an extra Zocor pill. But this was worth it.

An Astonishing Man

After dining on my corn dog at the fair I went with Rodger to sit with him at lunch in the Sponsors Tent. I think Rodger has had all the carnival food he can handle after three days.

We were joined by a really nice guy by the name of Benjie Segovia. He runs the Country Store at the Fair. He is a marketing specialist with the New Mexico Department of Agriculture. He spends a lot of time in Mexico working to improve the genetic makeup of Mexican cattle. He does that because much of our beef supply comes from Mexico as calves because the depleted grazing lands in Mexico are incapable of fattening up those calves. Apparently those calves are hard to fatten up once they are here too so work is being done on genetics to change that.

Anyway during the course of our discussion we started talking about Mexican laborers in the United States. I asked Benjie if he had ever seen the movie, "A Day Without A Mexican", which is a funny movie about what would happen in Los Angeles if one morning everyone awoke and all Mexican workers had disappeared. It is a hilarious movie.

Benjie then said something I could not believe. He has not been to see a movie since he went to see E.T. Think about that. Think about how much money he has saved that would have otherwise gone to buying buttered popcorn and diet coke.

I didn't think anyone could go that long with out going to a movie. Admittedly, I am on the other end of the spectrum. I go at least 3 or 4 times a month in addition to having three net flix movies delivered to the house every month. I am a movie freak. Anyway, Benjie is a really nice guy and I hope someday soon he will find the time for some big screen viewing.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Once a Year

It is that time of year where I make another annual pilgrimage. It is not far nor difficult. It is to the New Mexico State Fair. I have been going to the Fair since I was born. My dad and mom used to love to take us to the horse races at the Fair and we would go quite a bit during that season. My dad especially enjoyed going and I never really saw him get more excited about anything than winning at the Track. He did well at handicapping the nags but he was never compulsive about it.

I remember as a toddler going with my sister and twin brother to the terrace on the grand stand where you could look out over the midway's carnival rides and food sellers. That brings me to the point of this blog. The CORN DOG!



Now every year I go to the Fair primarily for my annual search for the best corn dog. I love corn dogs. They are really bad for me so I limit my intake of them to what I can find at the State Fair. All corn dogs are not alike. Some of the vendors there sell pretty bad ones. But there are a few conscientious corn dog vendors who know the importance of perfection. That means a high quality tube steak that has been submerged and saturated with the very best of whatever it is they dip it in. I am pretty sure it is mostly cornmeal, but I know there is a lot of other bad stuff in there, but certainly nothing worse than what is in that dog.

One website said Corn dogs were supposedly created in 1942 for the Texas State Fair by Neil Fletcher. He is dead now another website said. Corn dogs are an excellent source of calories, fat, cholesterol and salt.

My good friend Rodger Beimer, the Deputy State Fair Manager, has become indispensable in finding the location of the finest corn dog vendors as they start setting up shop a few days before opening day. This year he has opined that it is at the food court. The top of the stand has a large red sign that says, Corn Dogs.

I will probably go there tomorrow for lunch. I will take photos.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Kick the Poor When They are Down

This one got past me since I was traveling yesterday, but the New York Times saved the day with their editorial.

How uncaring is it that bush issues a proclamation cutting existing wage rates for rebuilding work contracted by the government in New Orleans? Just when I think it can't get worse with this White House, It Gets Worse!






Thursday, September 08, 2005

bush Prayer Gambit

bush has pulled out the religion card by designating Friday as a National Day of Prayer. Maybe he wants people to pray for his Presidency. I would hope if people pray that they also send what ever they can afford to the Red Cross. You know the saying, 'praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.'

I just googled bush and prayer and got 7,550,000 hits in .08 seconds. He has done this before.

In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart.
Mohandas Gandhi

Mexicans Skirt the Minutemen


This is rich. The Mexican Government has sent a convoy north over the border to aid relief efforts on the American Gulf Coast. I wonder if the Minutemen watched. Read about it here.

The Albuquerque Journal said in an editorial this morning that suspending the gas tax might be a good idea. Senator Joe Carraro and Congressmen Pearce came up with that idea. They said we could use the anticipated state surplus to make up the difference for road funding. I still think a windfall profits tax on the oil industry would be a better way of providing relief. Or, perhaps we could stop road construction projects that affect the good legislators districts as a way of making up lost revenues. I am sure Joe and the Journal wouldn't mind losing the Paseo project, would they? Ok, that was a dumb rhetorical question.

The more interesting question is should the gasoline tax be limited to 17 cents per gallon? New Mexico has a low tax compared to most of the states. See here. Seventeen cents might be a lot at $1 a gallon gas, but at $3 a gallon it is very low. It should really be a percentage if we want to properly fund transportation infrastructure. I understand it used to be that way and it might be a time to return to that scheme.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Ritual


Life goes on! Here you see Justin, Noelle and Bobbi immersed in the fall ritual. The bagging and freezing of two bags of medium Hatch Green Chile. MMMM. I took the afternoon off to watch.

Let's see, Noelle leaves Thursday for Bangkok for a semester, Justin leaves for San Francisco to check out an MBA fair and to see some friends on Saturday, and Bobbi returns to Washington, DC to her job on Sunday. We are all over the place.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The Media

Read here to see Domenici defend his committee's funding of flood control in New Orleans.

A good friend sent me this transcript link for the press briefing in the White House today. It is encouraging.




"I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore."




The City That the Clueless Forgot

Dr. John Simkovich, director of the Charleston, S.C.,-based Department of Health and Environmental Control, got word from FEMA to prepare for a planeload of Katrina victims from New Orleans. He was able to assemble a team of physicians to greet the plane, which, FEMA officials told him, was due to arrive in just half an hour. And then . . . .

"Unfortunately, the plane did not come in," Simkovich said. "There was a mistake in the system, coming out through FEMA, that we did not receive the aircraft this afternoon. It went to Charleston, West Virginia." A line of buses and ambulances idled behind him at Charleston International Airport as he described what happened.

To Google

I just googled the words Katrina and incompetence and got 107,000 hits in 0.35 seconds.


Still Funny

Some things are still funny in this surreal atmosphere of natural disaster and unnecessary war. One of the guys at the Albuquerque Journal spotted this in the NYTimes today.

New York Times
Correction:
Sept. 6, 2005, Tuesday:

An article in Business Day about Brendon Loy, the Notre Dame student who was one of the earliest to sound the alarm about the potential threat to New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina, misstated the name of Mr. Loy's dog. It is Robbie, not Becky (which is his fiancée's name).

60 Years on the Planet


Those who believe in reincarnation say that we might come back as lesser beings every time. The question then is, "Is this our last trip around." I am just thinking about this on my 60th birthday, which is today, for some reason. I don't know why except maybe for the fact that I think some politicians are certainly on that last trip around. I am thinking of some New Mexico Congressmen and Legislators who are suggesting we should do away with the 17 cent per gallon gasoline tax because of high prices. As Homer Simpson would say, "D'oh". Forget about funding transportation projects and mass transit.

These guys are doing this with a straight face too. All during a time of record breaking profits at the oil companies. Now I would think these guys are geniuses if they suggested it might be time for a windfall profits tax on those companies with the proceeds going to disaster relief.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Mercy Flight



Sunday afternoon I accompanied by brother, Tom Baca, the State of New Mexico Aviation Director to the Albuquerque International Airport. He was there to help General Services Department Secretary Ed Lopez. Governor Richardson made available the state's new Cessna Citation Jet for its first ever official flight to assist the delivery of technicians and blood supplies to Louisiana. Three technicians and a van load of supplies arrived in that hurricane ravaged state just two hours after taking off. This is a great first use for New Mexico's newest state bird. Wylie Coyote will never catch this Road Runner!

Question

Does any one have any "Impeach Incompetence" bumper stickers? Can we get some printed?

Convergence & Timeliness

It seemed from reading newspapers around the country this morning that the many trails are converging smack dab in the middle of bush's lap. There was a story about past success in dramatically bringing down the rate of infection of AIDS in African countries because America, prior to bush, funded education on the use of condoms. Now, the rate will increase once again because this incompetent administration will only give money to the same countries if it is used for preaching abstinence and not educating about condoms. How stupid is this? This could be construed as back door genocide, even if it is just religious fanaticism.

Another trail leads to bush's lap from the devastation of New Orleans' poor and black communities. This can be construed as genocide, even if it were only 100% pure incompetence.

I personally do not think bush is a racist. I do think he is the most incompetent President this nation has ever had.

Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence.
Napoleon Bonaparte


Has bush's sense of timing bottomed out yet? Today he said, "There are now two vacancies on the Supreme Court, and it will serve the best interests of the nation to fill those vacancies promptly," Mr. Bush said. "I will choose in a timely manner a highly qualified nominee to succeed Chief Justice Rehnquist."

Now, is this a good sense of timing? Urging quick action to get another right winger into the Supreme Court while bodies are still floating in the waters of the Gulf Coast?

Couldn't he have said, "we have many priorities in the gulf states right now and we will get to these other matters when we can." Has Rove had a stroke?

Read Frank Rich today. It is harsh but it is accurate.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Friday, September 02, 2005

One Question

Who is in charge of the Federal Government's on the ground emergency response teams? And, one more question shouldn't bush find someone that is a proven administrator and put him in charge of this relief effort immediately? Obviously, his White House and FEMA folks haven't risen to the challenge and something needs to be done today. This is heartbreaking. Remember General George C. Marshall? He was the guy in charge of the Marshall plan to bring aid and relief to Europe after World War II. He made it possible for that war torn continent to recover. We will need no less than a man of that caliber to see the Gulf Coast protected and renewed. That person isn't one of bush's current cronies and so bush should throw a wide net.

If you don't do anything else today. Read this.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Oops!

Many folks have said they want to comment on my ranting. You can now do so. I had not set the program up to let that happen, but now it can. Discussion is welcome.

What Would Teddy Do?

I had a great conversation at lunch today with my regular noon time buddy, Tim Flynn-O'Brien. He related a discussion with a friend of his yesterday about the current players in the White House and the controlling GOP majority in Congress. Democrats like Senator Landrieu in Lousiana have helped them.

The discussion centered around the fact that this crew in DC are primarily concerned with instant gratification. Tax cuts for the rich, war profits for the favored corporations, development over conservation, and the eradication of social safety nets.


Think back to that Republican Teddy Roosevelt. According to the National Geographic, the area of the United States placed under public protection by Theodore Roosevelt, as National Parks, National Forests, game and bird preserves, and other federal reservations, comes to a total of approximately 230,000,000 acres or about 84,000 acres per day during his Presidency! See it here.

Think now about george bush reversing a policy that has for decades protected the wetlands that protected New Orleans in the favor of developers. Think about his cutting flood control budget dollars for New Orleans to fund his war in Iraq.

Theodore Roosevelt embarked on his remarkable conservation odyssey at a time when many people would have thought it unnecessary, because the United States at that time had untold vacant lands that had not been exploited. So why worry? Well, Roosevelt had something in his character and sense of ethics that bush and his cronies have totally lost, and that is concern for the future. bush and his buddies will not be able to worm or spin their way out of this malfeasance. The hurricane was not their fault, but some of the aftermath can be pinned directly upon them and
rightly so.

"The conservation of natural resources is the fundamental problem. Unless we solve that problem it will avail us little to solve all others."---Theodore Roosevelt