Friday, March 31, 2006

Fun in the North

John Gonzales and I had a great trip through the north over the last couple of days. We made a quick stop in Pena Blanca to check out the farm.
The Jemez Mountains looked beautiful on a clear day.

There was a great fund raiser in Taos last night for the Valle Vidal Coalition. It was sold out and highly successful. We did newspaper and radio interviews this morning in Taos and shook hands all over town.
The Mora Valley had some snow---but not near enough. This watershed snowfall is way below normal and the communities in the area will have tough going this year. Las Vegas has extreme restrictions in place.

We stopped by Ledoux, New Mexico to participate in a ribbon cutting by the State Parks Department and the State Department of Transportation at Morphy Lake State Park. (That is pronounced Murphy by the way.) That is Dave Simon, State Park Director at the podium.

San Miguel County commissioner
Leroy Garcia and newly appointed District Judge Abigail Aragon were present. She was recently appointed by Governor Richardson as the first woman to hold a judgeship in that district and is now running in her first election. She is a very accomplished trial attorney.
One of the real treats of this trip was seeing Father John McHugh of St. Gertrude's Church in Mora. I have known Father McHugh since I was just 8 years old. His nephews were close friends of my brother Tom and I and we would go spend several weeks in the summer in Mora for a dose of Father John's discipline and guidance, as well as camping and fishing. Father John has spent most of the last 40 years in Belize running a mission for the poverty stricken in that country. He is a living saint as far as I am concerned.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

In to the North

I will be taking a two day swing into the Northern part of the State. I head for Santa Fe, Espanola, Taos, Mora and Las Vegas for campaigning and visiting old friends. I will attend the Valle Vidal fundraiser tonight in Taos. That campaign to save one of New Mexico's last great places from the drilling rig is an example of just how effective grassroots can be. I have helped raise some money to assist this effort and will hopefully bring in some more from a foundation in the next few weeks. I will be accompanied on this trip from my long time friend and native of Taos, John Gonzales. John worked with me as a policy guru when I was Mayor. He is the salt of the earth.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


The federal, state and local governments of this country need to wake up soon to our lagging broadband connectivity and equipment manufacturing. The New York Time's Thomas Friedman said this morning that in the year 2000, America was number one. Now, it ranks 16th. This is bad news.

I worked as a consulant with a company (Road 9) for the last few years that is in the business of creating fiber optic networks in new planned communities, such as Campbell Ranch, Mesa Del Sol and Mariposa in Albuquerque. These fiber optic systems would protect homes and businesses from becoming obsolete since fiber works at the speed of light with extremely high capacities.

The State, Cities and Counties should eventually mandate this kind of infrastructure in all new residential and commercial centers in New Mexico. Sadly, not much is being done other than putting in major fiber lines. The 'last mile solutions' are being ignored and that will harm us in the future.

Very few developers will do these systems on their own because it is an unfamiliar business to them. They just rely on Cable TV company or the phone company to come in and put in as little as they can get away with. Our local and state governments should demand more.

One successful project we brought together for this full service fiber optics to the home was in Loreto Bay, Mexico. This new planned community located on the Sea of Cortez will far out perform just about all projects being done in this country. Think about that for a moment.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Retirement Guy

This nice guy is Vince Jaramillo with member services of the Public Employees Retirement Association in Santa Fe. I needed to stop and see him today prior to some political meetings in the Capitol City. Vince told me that there are now close to 23,000 retirees on the PERA system who are receiving pension checks. I will be one of them as I will get my first check in a few days.

The PERA system, which covers state, city, county and other local government entities in the state is truly one of the best systems in the United States. Furthermore, it is very solvent and not in trouble. It is to bad the Educational Retirement System is not as well funded or generous to our state's school teachers. I could never figure out why their system is so much weaker. It just doesn't seem right and it is something that has to be fixed. Maybe I can help with that if I am elected.

Vince let me know what my final retirement payments would be, less taxes and health insurance. Since I am sixty and have twenty years of service I was eligible to retire. It will be a nice check every month, but just part of my retirement plan.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

So Good!


George W. Bush and a secret service agent are taking a stroll when they come upon a little girl carrying a basket with a blanket over it. Curious, Bush asks the girl, "What's in the basket?"

She replies, "New baby kittens," and she opens the basket to show him.

"How nice," says Bush. "What kind are they?"

The little girl says, "Republicans."

Bush smiles, pats the little girl on the head and continues on.

Three weeks later, Bush is taking another stroll, this time with Karl Rove. They see the little girl again with the same basket.

Bush says, "Watch this, Karl; it's really cute." They approach the little girl. He greets the little girl and says "How are the kittens doing?"

She says, "Fine."

Then, smirking, he nudges Rove with his elbow and asks the little girl, "And can you tell us what kind of kittens they are?"

She replies, "Democrats."

Abashed, Bush says, "But three weeks ago you said they were Republicans!"

"I know," she says. "But now their eyes are open..."

Thanks to Rev. Pouppirt for sending this to me.

Friday, March 24, 2006


I actually am having trouble finding time to attend to my blog this week. These are crucial days before an election. We are 74 days out and there is a lot of preparation work to do. Frankly, when all of us candidates in this primary get up in the morning we should stop and remember that aside from ourselves and our staffs, there is absolutely no one thinking about our political ambitions. It is too far out from election day for most voters to be concerned about this. The time they will start thinking about this is when early and absentee voting starts up during the first week of May. Until then, all our efforts are pointed at preparing our media for that event. Also, travel will consume time and the ever present fund raising.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Web Site is Up! Send Money via Credit Card

My Website for the campaign is now up and running and accepting contributions. The Website was designed by Matt MacMillan of Buzzmaker. He did a great job on it. If you are a current reader of my blog I hope you will sign into this new site and ask your friends to do so also. The address is

If you want to directly go to the contribution form click here!

The truth is that this technology is changing the way campaigns and fundraising are done. You still have to press the flesh.....and I am trying to get better at that, but this is a very efficient way of reaching folks too if you have the contacts to disseminate the address. I will start doing that right now.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Fat Lady Sings

It will be a grueling 76 days until the FAT LADY SINGS!

Now the real work begins in the Primary campaign. This is where you start courting actual voters around the state. Half the time we will be on the road and half the time we will be raising money. That is what modern campaiging is, like it or not. It used to be that you were on the road about 80% of the time but the importance of fund raising is elevated. It is always harder in a primary election, because no one wants to make a mistake. However, we have been doing surprisingly well up to this point. Once we have all the dollars we think we can get, then we have to decide how to spend it in a Primary that will most likely have a low voter turn out because the main races, Governor, Congress and Senate are not contested. Only the lower constitutional offices have contested races, mine being one of them. I have the feeling that the turn out will be driven by local races, such as County Commissioner and such.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Convention Flashback

Deja Vu all over again. I just don't do well in machine politics. Just like 25 years ago the machine ground me up at the convention but I did get on the ballot. Just like 25 years ago I will probably win the primary. I got 27% of the delgate vote, but that is enough to be on the ballot.

The convention was well attended with many old faces and a few new ones.

Connie Beimer gave my nominating speech and Carl Garcia did the second speech.

I addressed the crowd, which by then had dwindled to about 1/3 since early voting diminished the attendance.

Kara Shair-Rosenfield, Michelle Mares and Amy Foster were some of the young folks at the convention.

Conventions start orderly and end chaotically.

Here is my speech from the Convention.

Make no mistake about it. We need a tough, feisty Land Commissioner who will fight George W. Bush and his incompetent, corrupt cronies every second during their last two years in office. You might be asking yourself, right this very minute...What does the Land Commissioner do? Well, the present Land Commissioner doesn't do anything but spend taxpayer money talking about him self. I won't do that...but I will fight to protect and preserve our lands, work to bring more money for our schools, and fight to protect our water and natural resources. I want to Save the Enchantment of this wonderful land we call home! Remember, Bush ‘s vision for New Mexico’s public lands starts at the oil pump and ends at the gas pump. His vision for our public lands is to sell them off to pay for his disastrous fiscal policies. He has a great ally in our current republican State Land Commissioner. Pat Lyons is to conservation what Dick Cheney is to hunting. Bush and Lyons are anti conservation and land protection. If they have their way they will drill our last great places like Otero Mesa and the Valle Vidal into oblivion for short term profits. They will sell the public lands to feed unplanned development around our New Mexican cities. Their policies will threaten our clean water supplies in perpetuity.

Democratic Delegates, if you’re looking for someone to stand up to Bush and Cheney and all their incompetent cronies, then I’m your choice. I am a fighter. I feel I am the best choice to fight Bush and his operatives because of my experience and my proven willingness to stand up to their reckless, short-sighted, unsustainable national policies. And I am proposing some big changes for the way the land office functions. I will, if elected ask the voters for protection of our last great landscapes by starting a State Land Conservation System, much as President Clinton did to save our federal public lands in the west. At the same time I will ensure continued revenue production in appropriate areas so that our schools will have the money they need. In my first term I negotiated tougher deals to bring in more money for our schools. It didn’t make me popular with some groups but it had to be done I created an Audit division in the land office that has found tens of millions of dollars in unpaid revenue for oil and gas companies.

And I will do one more thing—I will advocate every single day for making our Land of Enchantment the world leader on renewable, sustainable energies like solar and wind—for policies that enhance and protect our state’s enchanting setting for our children and grandchildren. Because unlike George W., I believe in science—and I know that climate change is real, and global warming is a threat that must be met head-on. The State Land Commissioner of New Mexico could lead that fight.

Yet at a time when oil and gas revenues are at an all time high our current land commissioner has cut the land office budget. At a time when it is more important that ever to have professionals out on the land making sure that prudent practices are in place by lessees, our land commissioner does nothing. While he cuts the budget for conservation, he spends over 100 thousand dollars of land office money to buy TV advertising for his campaign. That money would have funded all the school supplies for one of our poorer school districts. This is an ethical lapse that says a lot to us about republican leadership in the land office

We can not afford to have a commissioner who has a ‘go along to get along’ attitude in the land office. I am sorry, but you can not build bridges with the likes of the Bush and Cheney. It can’t be done. The other side of their canyon is just too far off to the right. And so, let’s do our Land of Enchantment a great favor. Let’s show the republican incumbent the door next January. I am electable and will raise the funds necessary to win this race, as I have done twice befoe.

My theme for this campaign is “Save the Enchantment”. The task before us is no less than that. I ask for your support to be a leader in this effort. Because you know I’ll stand up for New Mexico.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Friday Evening

The Young Democrats had a great reception on the eve of the State Democratic Convention. The room was filled to capacity with delegates who were in town for the event. On Saturday the Democratic delegates will vote to put the candidates on the ballot. There are a lot of nervous candidates around tonight, although most will make it on to the ballot with 20% of the delegate vote. I certainly hope to be one of them. I will post my nominating speech here tomorrow. We will all give these speeches, but if the convention is a normal one there will be a lot of background noise and only a few will be able to hear it all. It is all a lot of fun.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Monolouge Many of Us Would Like to Give

I got into this show, Boston Legal, on ABC a couple of months ago. It is a quirky and funny show about a high powered Boston Law Firm. Last night the character played by James Spader gave a monolouge that was magnificent. He was defending his secretary who refused to pay $400 in federal taxes as a protest to the inept bush administration. She wrote the words 'stick it' on a post-it note and mailed it to the IRS. This is Spaders closing argument in the case. I got up and cheered and called Rodger Beimer who always watches the show and told him we should buy post-its for everyone we know.

Bitter Lakes Refuge

Yates Petroleum has announcedplans to drill two exploratory wells inside the Bitter Lakes National Wildlife Refuge in Southern New Mexico. The leases are State Land Office mineral leases which underly land that was traded to help establish the Refuge years ago. I vaguely remember dealing with this issue before I took office in my first term as land commissioner in 1983. There were plans to drill it then too, but there were such protests that it wasn't done. I can't figure out why those leases haven't lapsed and why they might have been reissued in such an important place. I have called on current Commissioner Pat Lyons to stop this and start negotiating a solution. Yates is one of his biggest campaign supporters and the owner of leases that were issued for the right to drill in Otero Mesa. The Otero Mesa leases were issued by my opponent in the primary election, Ray Powell. I hope everyone will take a moment to write the land office and tell this this drilling is not a good thing to do.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Campaign Costs

The costs of running a campaign are truly enormous these days. I remember my first run for land commissioner in 1982 when I expended about $25,000 in the primary election and another $50,000 in the general election. Think of it, a statewide campaign for 75K. That money bought a lot in those days. You could buy all of your printing, radio, TV and mail costs for that. Additionally, I bought one of the first commercially available small computers for about $5,000. It was a Radio Shack computer about as big as a desk. I think I was the first ever candidate in New Mexico to invest in this technology for a campaign. It really paid off.

Those kinds of costs are a thing of the past. While computers are certainly a lot cheaper everything else has gone up in price five or six times. Most of the printing has to be done in full color now or you risk looking second class. Television commercials, if the stations will allow you to buy airtime, are $1500 for a spot in the news.....and it goes up from there. You can buy on cable systems much cheaper, but you have really limited exposure although it can be focused towards a certain demographic niche. Postage, according to Google, in 1982 was 18 cents. Now it is 39 cents and probably the lowest inflation item on the list.

So, the costs spiral ever upward and the donations must be pursued more agressively. You wonder how long this can go on. Public financing might be the only answer.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Upcoming Convention

The State Democratic Party Convention will convene on Saturday and the 1000 plus delegates are being pummeled by phone calls and letters from the candidates. That is happening because a candidate must get at least 20% of the delegate vote to get on the ballot. If they fail to obtain that then they must go out and get a lot more signatures. Probably everyone will end up with enough and the only reason one wants to win is to get the top ballot position on the voting machines. That used to mean something on the old mechanical voting machines but it really doesn't mean much anymore because the new machines are so easy to read.

Here is a true story from my first race for land commissioner in 1982. I was an inexperienced candidate when I showed up to the convention. In those days they were much more of a "political machine" kind of operation. I knew I was in trouble the night before the convention when I found out my opponent had paid for half the hotel rooms for the delegates. My opponent was the oil and gas candidate and had been a long time employee of the land office. He and his friends really did a job on me. He ended up with 74% of the delegate vote. I ended up with 26% and was essentially written off by politicos as a serious candidate. Oh, except that I won the election two months later by 1000 votes after being outspent eight to one in campaign dollars. I went on to lead the ticket in the general election that year in which the Democrats did so well.

One thing I have noticed is that there are a lot of new people now involved in the party. They will be at the convention and they are not 'machine' oriented, but issue oriented. That is good for us all.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Good Bye Gale

Interior Secretary Gale Norton, bush's disastrous policy maker over everything affecting public lands, wilderness, parks and rivers, has resigned. She said, "I hope to end up closer to the mountains we love in the West." I have to say her leaving her post may give a reprieve to those mountains which she has so ravished with drilling, roads and and destruction of landscapes. One can only wonder what bush has up his sleeve for a new Interior Secretary. That should be an interesting confirmation hearing. I would like to be at that one.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Making Time

I am in trouble with my campaign staff this morning because I lost focus and made time for a discussion with representatives of the Kyrgyz Republic. This is a former Russian State.

I was asked by Steve Capra of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance to sit and discuss land use planning and land protection with the delegation. They were interested in talking to me because I have worked in all three levels of Government in my career. Those are the National Director of the Bureau of Land Management, State Land Commissioner and Mayor.

Mrs. Nurjamal Satarovna is chair of the Bishkek City Council. Mamytbai Salymbekov is a member of Parliament and Head of the Land Use Commission, and Mr. Nurlanbek Toibaev is the Head of the State Committee for Urban Development and Architecture, of the Kyrgyz Republic.

They are dealing with the same problems as most of us in this country, but they have time to remedy their approach to land use, especially as their cities grow. They were astonished at how the city of Albuquerque has sprawled and how on earth we pay for the costs of that sprawl. I told them that although we have zoning laws, the real estate developers wield raw political power and taxes are paying for this kind of growth. They seemed incredulous.

They are very concerned about their public lands around their cities and about their wilderness areas being protected. They are concerned about climate change and pollution. They are just like most of us in this counrty. They are very nice people.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Ignoring the Trust

Current Republican State Land Commissioner Pat Lyons has been bragging on his government funded website that he cut the state land office budget by two tenths of a percent. This comes at a time when state land office revenues are setting records because of the price of oil and gas.

It is hard to understand why Lyons is cutting the land office budget in the face of drought, diminishing species, pollution from oil and gas activities, and extreme fire danger. If anything, the time for increasing the State Land Office capacity for dealing with biological assets and land health is now. If you don't think so just read this from the Washington Post today. But, I guess we should remember that Lyons is the guy who joined the bush administration in fighting Governor Richardson in a lawsuit to protect Otero Mesa Wilderness in southern New Mexico. Yes, he was trying to move forward with drilling leases that were signed by my primary opponent Ray Powell, but he might have worked to find some other solutions to despoiling this Chihuahuan grassland. You really need to realize that one of Lyons biggest financial supporters are the leaseholders in Otero Mesa

It is interesting to listen to Ray Powell out on the campaign trail picking up the mantra to protect Otero Mesa after issuing the leases to drill there when he was land commissioner. I think Ray is a generally decent and honest guy, but he really should make it clear he started this whole mess.

There is more campaigning ahead this week. I have spent hours on the phone calling delegates to the State Convention which takes place on March 18th. I will take a quick trip up north today to Las Vegas.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Domenici's Las Cruces Land Sale

First, this link is sobering.

Organ Mountains on the East Side of Las Cruces

New Mexico needs to grow, and we need the cooperation of federal agencies. In the case of public land sell offs around Las Cruces, Senator Domenici and the BLM have moved too quickly. Without adequate consultation, they are proposing to sell lands around Las Cruces that could forever change the community. Look at what is happening in Albuquerque, where rapid growth in some areas is causing school overcrowding while other schools are struggling to maintain minimum student enrollments. For schools, public safety, and other services, it is critical to plan future growth. Senator Domenici's proposal doesn't do that. His proposal could end up being a huge expense to local taxpayers as well as to the state. Remember how the Legislature is being asked to put hundreds of millions of dollars into schools in rapid-growth areas -- Senator Domenici's proposal could add fuel to the fire.

On proposals like these, there should be real consultation not only with local elected officials and school boards but also with local people who are concerned about how federal lands are managed. The public lands around Las Cruces are a precious legacy that could provide extraordinary opportunities for the future. They should be carefully managed for the community's benefit and long-term public values -- not to produce revenue that a federal agency wants to implement its own programs.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

This Guy

The Albuquerque Journal did a story Sunday on the fact that one of my opponents dropped out of the Land Commissioner race in January and endorsed me. Leroy Garcia, a San Miguel County Commissioner took a job with the Richardson administration and decided not to run after having collected most of the required signatures for his nominating petitions. I had called him when I decided to run during Christmas week just to let him know I was in the race. He said at that time he wasn't sure he was going to run and would call me. He said he was considering returning to work for the state. The Albuquerque Journal saw his eventual withdrawl and getting that job as a conspiracy between the Governor, Commissioner Garcia and myself. It just isn't true.

I am sure that someone, my opponents or others, fed the Journal this stuff. Commissioner Garcia told me Ray Powell, my opponent in the race had called him after he endorsed me asking him to stay in the race or switch his endoresement to him. Well, thats okay and comes with the territory. These kinds of things that appear in the paper always have unintended consequences. Sunday morning while I was grocery shopping this guy came up to me and said he saw my picture in the paper and the story. He said he hadn't realized I entered the race and he and his family would be sure to vote for me.

We started the publicity, we started moving in the same direction with them, and then the devil came in and just turned that right around. Solomon Burke

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Silver City to Bernalillo

There was no tilting at windmills on this three day campaign swing. We put 700 miles on the car before it was over. After leaving Deming yesterday we arrived in Silver City where I had coffee and visits with long time supporters. I did a nice interview with Avelino Maestas at the Silver City Daily Press. They are one of the few local newspapers in New Mexico that still print on site. 8700 copies a day!

It was then on to the Grant County Democratic Fundraiser at the Red Barn restaurant. The place was filled to over flowing and I had a lot of old friends there. I think our campaign will do very well there.

Matt Runnels, the County Democratic Chair along with Lt. Governor Diane Denish and other good Democrats were gracious hosts. Matt looks really good after undergoing heart surgery just a short time ago.

We left Silver City at 8pm last night and took the mountain route over Emory Pass. I wish I could have taken a picture of the night sky from the summit. It was breathtaking. We got into Albuquerque about midnight.

It was up again this morning for the Sandoval County Democratic Convention. Once again it was well attended. I also had a crew up in Taos County for their convention. So it has been a long three days but it was really enjoyable!

Friday, March 03, 2006

Deming to Silver

We had a great time in Deming. We spent a little time in their great musuem. If you ever get down here you absolutely must stop by here.

They had a really good latte available here too. Yeah, I know it is elitist but it sure is good.

The City of Rocks State Park is a favorite place to stop. There were a lot RVs there in the overnight spots. It is a heavily used park and one of the better ones in the state system.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Dona Ana County

We hit the road at 1:30 this afternoon to attend the Dona Ana County Democratic convention. The ride down to Las Cruces was great, but windy. I have to say that all the rest areas we have stopped at recently have been very clean and well kept. Congratulations to Rhonda Faught and her workers at the Department of Transportation.

This is Carl Garica and Joyce Armijo. Carl was one of my constituent services specialists at the Mayor's office. He is taking this three day trip through the south with me. He is one of the nicest guys I have ever known. He still works for the city and is responsible for a lot of innovative programs in the zoning enforcement department. His latest program is the removal of junked cars at no cost from yards and businesses. Joyce Armijo is the sister of Jeff Armijo, candidate for Auditor. She is everywhere on this campaign. Jeff and Joyce have relatives everywhere we go.

The convention was very high tech and well run. Each candidate was given 2 minutes to say a few words and the timekeeper was efficient. We head off this morning for Deming for some meetings and then north to Silver City for a meeting tonight. I hope the museum in Deming is open today. It is one of he best in he state. I haven't visited it since the 90's, so I hope it is still functioning.

Get Over It

State Republican Party Executive Director Marta Kramer is crying foul because the party is being audited by the State Labor Department on their Workmen Compensation Taxes. They feel, along with republican legislator Dan Foley who was audited last year, that they are victims of selective audits. Get Over It!

As Governor Bruce King used to say, the tax auditors are "equally unfair" to everyone. I am sure the Democrats will be audited too. The best thing that could happen for the Republicans is to come out with a clean bill of health. I read that the republicans and democrats were last audited in the 90's sometime so what is the big deal here?

"The Lady doth protest to much"

This will be an intense weekend for all of the Democratic Primary Candidates. There are county conventions all over the state.
I will travel to Las Cruces for the Dona Ana County Convention tonight. I always love seeing the Organ mountains to the east of Las Cruces. The area is being considered for Wilderness status.

Tomorrow we hit Deming and then on to Silver City. Saturday morning I will fly back up to the Sandoval County Convention while my erstwile campaign manager Jessie Keefe and other volunteers will handle things for me in Taos County.