Friday, February 29, 2008

More Rant

Attorney General Gary King has put the warning to State Land Commissioner Pat Lyons that he is overstepping his authority on making sweetheart deals with land developers and others. King says that Lyons no bid contracts are violating state law. This will put the skids on his questionable dealing with Las Cruces developer Philip Phillopu. Fellow blogger Heath Haussamen has a good round up on this issue.(posted yesterday) Strangely, is has gotten little play in other media so far. They should start paying attention real quick because there are a lot of these deals out there.

One has to wonder if this will help slow down the Pinon tree powered generating plant in Estancia. Lyons gave a sweetheart deal to those developers to clear thousands of acres of our beloved state tree to burn as a fuel source. That was a no bid contract too.

I hope PNM, who has contracted to buy some of this power, will soon back out of the deal. It stinks all the way around and is hardly a renewable energy project that they like to brag about.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

One Of Those Days

It is bad enough when you have to start your day with an early morning dental appointment. I always try to do these sessions first thing because I figure the day cant get any worse. I am so naive! Of course things can always get worse. I actually got out of the dentists chair with minimal pain and bleeding. All I could think of was my morning Starbucks 'tall with room'. And so I headed to their nice store and Lousiana and Indian School. I went in, got coffee and a roll, read the New York Times front section and then headed off for work to find a parking place. (That was going to be difficult today because I park in back of the El Rey Theater downtown. It burned early this morning)

As I went to my car at Starbucks my day got worse. Some jerk in a large vehicle had peeled back the whole right rear section of my parked BMW with his very tall SUV tires. He then left the scene and $1700 damage to my car. No one saw it happen. I hope he gets malaria.

The State Farm people had every thing figured out and within two hours I am all set to have the car fixed next week. I get to pay $250 deductible.

This is all pretty minor stuff and things actually can get a lot worse. This in truth is just a minor aggravation in the larger scheme of things. On the bright side when I went in to file a police report I was able to connect with a good old friend of mine and we had a great chat!

Back to the El Rey Theater. I remember when we were kids that we went to every movie theater in town, except for the El Rey. Probably because they specialized in Spanish Language movies. Looking back on it, that is where we should have been to increase our language skills. We sure didn't get any training in our catholic schools in languages, except for Latin in altar boy class. In fact the Dominican nuns would punish kids for speaking Spanish if they were already bilingual. It is good things have changed but a whole generation of kids missed out on early language skills.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Front Line

It is amazing that Senator Pete Domenici continues to be the front line for the Oil and Gas industry in New Mexico. It is also not surprising that the state and now Santa Fe County are the front line against the oil and gas industry's bullying attitude in the Land of Enchantment.

Domenici issued a statement this week criticizing the Richardson administration's support for new regulations on making the oil and gas boys clean up their messes in New Mexico. Domenici's biggest supporters historically have been the Oil Industry and especially Yates Petroleum. Senator Pete is complaining that the new rules will cost the companies a lot of money. These are the guys that are raking in record profits in an orgy of greed unparalleled in recent history. Pete has even protected them from windfall profit taxes and the nation's deficit grows to unfathomable proportions. All this happens as oil approaches $4 a gallon by summer. Maybe that expensive gas will ultimately do in the industry as it makes just about every other alternative fuel look even better.



Enter the Santa Fe County Commission on another oil and gas matter. They have enacted a 6 month embargo on any drilling in the Galisteo basin. This comes on top of a six month moratorium enacted by the Governor's office.

The Front Line in battling the Oil and Gas industry now rests pretty much with local government and it will remain that way until bush leaves office. That will be just 11 months from now.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Rant

Okay, I know I should not rant about the New Mexico State Land Office but I just can’t help myself. The rape and pillage attitude of Commissioner Pat Lyons continues. He steadfastly defended the land office’s support of a forest burning power plant in Estancia today in the Albuquerque Journal. The State Tree, the food producing Pinon, is destined to be thrown into incinerators to power electric generators. This is wrong on so many levels. I will admit that the Pinon Juniper forest is thick due to over grazing by Lyon’s cowboy buddies. Some thinning is okay, especially of Junipers. But it is not okay to denude hundreds of square miles of trees that soak up green house gases, especially the Pinon that provides food crops. We all know that Lyons is taking care of some ranchers by clearing land so they can produce more cattle by stripping the desert landscapes of vegetation.

Lyons is also now putting up for bid the Moon mountain property in Ruidoso that has been fought over. The locals want the land saved as open space. Lyon’s wants his developer buddies to jam more homes into an already water short community. After being shut down on a secret trade on this deal last year, Lyons is now auctioning the land to the highest bidder during a depressed real estate market. Does that even make sense? Any bets that the guy who wanted to do the secret trade with the Land Office will end up with the winning bid?

Business as usual at the Land Office! If any of Lyon’s current assistants try to replace him as Land Commissioner these affronts can be hung around their neck.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

North

Bobbi came running in from the back yard to say that every Sand Hill Crane that had been hanging out in Bosque del Apache were on the move North. I think she was close to the truth. For several hours thousands of them flew right up the Rio Grande towards snow covered Northern New Mexico. They sounded a great Sunday morning Symphony.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Missile

So, we have managed with a small missile launched from a bobbing ship in the Pacific to knock down an errant spy satellite. Not only did we hit it, we hit it right in the fuel tank where we wanted too. I think they probably did it. Amazing! (I also think they wanted to show other nations that their satellites can be had!) Now, my question is if the Pentagon can get something like this so right, why can't they stop bad information from coming out of Iraq. (Remember Pat Tillman) If you didn't notice it in the paper today there was a story that the two female suicide bombers who slaughtered one hundred of their country men a couple of weeks ago were not Down Syndrome victims after all.

NeoCons have been using that bad information saying we must stay in Iraq because we are fighting people so bad that they are sacrificing the mentally retarded in suicide bombings. What will the war mongers do now? Retract those statements? Don't hold your breath.

I had an interesting comment on yesterday's blog about the need for policy summaries from Barrack Obama's campaign. The commenter said it really wasn't that important because it wouldn't make a difference in whether you would vote for Obama. That might be true. But, it will make a difference in how hard people work to get other voters out for him. Once again, you don't have to get extremely detailed in these summaries. For example on western issues we just need enough information to know that he does care about western wilderness, wildlife, landscapes, roadless areas and watersheds. This isn't minor stuff for many people.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

McCain

Last night something kind of funny occurred when I was channel surfing. Mostly, I was watching the election returns on CNN. When John McCain started his speech early in the evening I watched him, painfully, for about five minutes and then just couldn't stand it anymore. I started surfing for a bit and ended up on the History Channel's excellent 'Universe" series. The subject at that point were pulsars that send out their signals into the universe and how some of them slow down sometimes. I found it funny because I had been wondering when McCain was reading his speech from the teleprompter if he had much of a pulse at all.

When I surfed back to CNN Hillary came on to the stage. I think the lighting on her was designed and provided by the ghost of Bela Lugosi. It was truly awful and we watchers all saw it as a metaphor for they way her whole campaign has been running. How could her 'producers' let this happen and how could she once again ignore reality and not even mention her defeats even in passing?

Then Obama came on and talked for 44 minutes. CNN cut from Hillary's coverage just as we all suspected they would. Obama has a tendency to run on a little but I have to say every time I was ready to surf again he would say something that was meaningful and we all agreed to keep watching. We thought CNN would cut him off at 8 PM but twenty mintues later they were still with him. Amazing. And then one of the commentators said he spoke to long. That figures coming from the folks who give presidential candidates on the news and average of 9 seconds in a sound bite.

I think it is all over for the Clinton effort. Now Obama has to put meat on the bone and start delivering some more specific policy on issues such as public land policy and water issues in the west. I know a lot of people that will help with that. These policy papers don't have to be extremely detailed. They should just provide everyone a feel for where he is headed.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

That Lawsuit and the Secretary of State

When I was Mayor I inherited a lawsuit brought against the city by a developer who had his land down zoned by the city in the mid nineties. It concerned land near Coronado and Winrock centers and there was no doubt in my mind that the city was wrong in what it did. The situation came about because the city council under the leadership of Vicki Perea just did the wrong thing. That was fourteen years ago. I offered to settle the suit for 3 million dollars in 1999 but the city council said no in order to save face for them selves and their staff. After I left office Mayor Marty Chavez would not attempt a settlement because it is said he didn't like the lawyers for the plaintiff. Now the New Mexico Supreme Court has sided with the plaintiffs and the city could be facing a payout of up to 14 million dollars after lawyer fees and interest is added up.

It will be interesting to see if the city continues to fight this. One wonders whether there is enough money left in the city's risk management fund to pay it. Could the Mayor and city council have raided that fund for other things in the Mayor's spending spree over the last six years?

On another matter, can you believe the amount of money spent by former Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil Giron on promoting herself when she was in office? Over six million tax payer dollars to put her face on TV. Of course now we know why. She is using the face time earned to run for congress against Martin Heinrich. Somehow that spending spree may not actually work for her, do you think?

I can't wait to see what happens in Wisconsin's primary tonight.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Friday, February 15, 2008

Legislature

I am hopeful the Governor will call a Special Session to deal with Health Insurance. The legislature's staff can assimilate a lot of knowledge about the plan over the next few days and then can advise their bosses on the best course of action.

It could be that many of the Legislators are like many of their constituents. They have health insurance and the issue doesn't seem like one that is deserving of concentration and action. But, for those who don't have insurance this is a really big deal. The fact is we are all paying inflated costs right now for our insurance because there are so many who are not covered. Okay, maybe that is not true but if you can mandate car insurance for drivers what is wrong with mandating health coverage for all of us?

The Governor is in a confrontation with the lawmakers on this one. This is the way the system works and if you look back to the Gary Johnson administration's relationship with the Legislature this current difference of opinion is hardly impressive.

The system naturally has tension in it, but Governor Richardson has had an overall great relationship with that other branch of government.

Finally, would someone please advise the NM Democratic Party on how to deal with the news media? Could someone possibly look over the Chairman's speeches before he gives them. There has been enough embarrassment?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Just Asking

Why is use of steroids by baseball players taking up even one second of Congressional hearing time? Every moment available to Congress should be use to figure out how to get out of Iraq and how to fix a million other more important things needing attention. This is Congress at its worse and I am disgusted. I think some Congressmen and their Counsels are just looking to make names for themselves. They are the reincarnated beings of those folks rearranging the deck chairs on the Titantic.("To rearrange deck chairs on the Titanic" is used in English to mean a futile or pointless activity.")

Why did the Albuquerque Journal editorial this morning dump on the Governor and the Sports Authority for trying to help out with building an all purpose arena for Albuquerque? If they are trying to help, isn't that a good thing that shows cooperation with the city and county in trying to get something done? Go figure. Frankly, until the Mayor truly makes this a priority and spends some political capital on it, it will be difficult to do. That will only happen when the Mayor thinks more about city needs than his next race.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Candidates and the West

This is a beautiful landscape of New Mexico looking east from Emory Pass. Four years ago John Kerry ignored the 'E' word and came west and never found time to talk about our land and water issues. This was strange because he had a good record on general environmental issues. His poor campaign leadership team didn't recognize that these actually are important issues here in the Inter mountain region of the Nation.

Today there is a story in the media about the possibility of Lake Mead becoming unusable with in ten years. This should be put in front of all of the candidates for President today so they can understand the precarious situation here in the west. Our public lands and watersheds simply must be protected if there is to be a future here. Climate change will exacerbate our future as well.

Hillary Clinton has no public position on these issues so far as I can see, although she must be knowledgeable about them. Senator John McCain knows the issues as a Western Senator, but his ratings by the League of Conservation Voters is abysmal. That brings us to my favorite candidate Barack Obama. I think his team may be a little clueless on the issues here because he is from a non public land state that sits on a Great Lake.

Obama is in somewhat the same situation that Bill Clinton was when he took office. He did not come from a public land state. He was clueless and seemed to put his decisions regarding these public land issues into the hands of Western Governors and Senators. That was a bad move back then but admittedly we have a better group in office now. But still, Obama cant let his team ignore these issues if he is to be elected.

Obama must come out with a solid western land and water policy paper that errs on the side of protecting wilderness and species, adding to wilderness inventories, protecting roadless areas, protecting watersheds and riparian areas, and generally taking care of our great landscapes. He needs an economic policy for the west that doesn't include the rape and pillage of land and water for the extraction of fossil fuels.

I talked with some Obama folks who are working on policy for him and they admitted they are behind on this issue. I know there are a lot of people who are smarter than me out there that can help them craft a sensible policy. It needs to be done soon.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Just Shoot Me

We all do dumb things. This morning I did one. I signed on early to check my email and saw a message saying Valentine for Dad. I opened it. It is now sending copies of itself to half of the population of France. Really.

My Norton anti virus program didn't catch it. Even after several anti virus scans the little bugger is still popping into action unexpectedly. So now I have to call a guy who fixes this stuff for a living. Wouldn't you just like to get your hands around the necks of these virus builders. A slow 20 minute strangulation would be too good for them. Maybe a slow dissolving acid!

Speaking of dumb things I see where most of New Mexico's super delegates who stated a preference are Hillary Clinton supporters. The thing that is dumb about it is if she loses the popular vote designated delegates given her in the primary season(which is happening) but then wins with the super delegates added to her totals, then the Democratic Party can just pack up and leave town. It would be the worst nightmare imaginable. I am hoping these super politico super delegates think about this.

I am kind of hoping Governor Richardson will go with Obama. I think he could get into Texas for Obama and do him some good.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

34 to 1

The election map on CNN looks a little embarassing with New Mexico's color being a pale yellow for no results yet. I have been thinking a lot about this embarassing performance in getting elections done efficiently and on time. I knew there would be problems in this one when I belatedly found out there would be no early voting. I had to schedule a trip last week to DC a day earlier than anticipated so I thought Bobbi and I could go vote early, like the week before. Sorry, no luck there and as it turns out my not voting surely didn't add to the suspense of election night.

At the same time I think the highly embarassed Democratic Party of NM is being dumped on a little harshly. Usually, it takes 33 county clerks and one Secretary of State to screw things up.

A friend of mine said at coffee yesterday that he thinks we should just get used to this because elections in New Mexico will just always be extremely close because of the makeup of our electorate. Lets hope that the nation doesn't have to wait on NM to decide the election via electoral votes next November.

In the meantime I am just blown away by Barack Obama's performance over the weekend. That dog barking in the distance I have been joking about has now turned into a rabid wild dog pack and they are on the heels of Hillary Clinton.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Serenity

It may be my imagination but Washington over the last few days seems to be somewhat serene. Everyone seems somewhat relaxed and pleasant. We were up on the hill today visiting with Senator Jeff Bingaman, probably the most widely known relaxed person in the Senate, and we couldn't help but notice that there was not the frantic running around in the halls of the Senate Hart Office building that we are used to seeing. Maybe that was because it was only 9am. My feeling is that DC is just patiently awaiting the departure of bush and company so that serious changes can be made.

We had a nice dinner last night with Steve and Molly Cobble at a restaurant where the wait staff all are great vocalists and sing for you when they aren't bringing you another drink or a course of your meal.

Still no election results I see. As some one said the country no longer cares what our results are. Somewhere a dog is still barking. Off to the airport now.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

From DC

Where are New Mexico's election results? The World Wonders!

At least everyone I know in DC is incredulous that 48 hours later we still are not sure what is going on. I can only mumble and shrug my shoulders and say "Beats me." Every time my phone vibrates across the hard conference table people look at me hopefully for news but I can only look down at my coffee........somewhere in the distance a dog barks.

Jeeeesh!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

More Fun

It looks like the fun continues for a few more months after Super Tuesday! I got up early this morning in Washington and signed on to the results in New Mexico. I have to say the close race is not a surprise to me and in some ways I view it as a victory for Obama although the margins are narrow. It might also be a wake up call for the old line and loyal party Democrats that a new type of candidate can do well in the Land of Enchantment. I think his successful appearances in New Mexico carried the day for him.

As Obama and Clinton battle over the remaining delegates I think Obama must work very hard at making as many appearances as possible. I agree with many national analysts that the more contact he has with voters the better he does.

There is a lot of talk about his performance with Latino voters. The problem may or may not be real but you really cant lump Latino voters into one group. They can be diverse as America.

Let the good times roll up until the convention.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Mistake

Buried in the New York Times and other media today is the account of nine Iraqi civilians killed by American forces and three more maimed in a case of "mistaken identity". Just another mistake that started when the Congress let george bush, dick cheney and don rumsfeld etal. get away with starting this war.

We can look to our Democratic delegation of Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall with pride. They voted against this tragic invasion of Iraq which earned us the enmity of the world and caused us to drop the ball in Afghanistan.

I have said it many times before on this blog, but I can't support Hillary Clinton for her vote to allow the invasion. Her vote along with the rest of the Congress resulted in this tragedy. It resulted in these 9 civilians losing their lives near Baghdad as the result of a "mistake." I could forgive Hillary, and will if she is the nominee, if she would just admit to this blunder. Former U.S. Senator Gary Hart is pretty much of the same opinion.

It appears to me that Obama has momentum going into tomorrow. Most politicos will tell you that is more important than any polls done over the last few months. Although this contest between Obama and Clinton is far from over, I think Obama may well be looked at as the victor tomorrow night because of dramatically closing the gap.

Bobbi and I will be in Washington, DC tomorrow night.(security systems on at the house along with the heavily armed house sitter.) I am doing some state business and attending a meeting of the Wilderness Society for a day. We have found an Obama election return party to attend near our hotel tomorrow night. It should be fun.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Reasons

My good friend Steve Cobble wrote a nice piece for the Progressive Democrats of America Blog. There is some good reasoning in it and I hope you will read it and the links to Hillary Clinton's speech on the war before she voted for it and Barack Obama's statements on opposing the war in 2002.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Barack Obama in ABQ


I joined a lot of people standing in line to hear Barack Obama speak at the Kiva Auditorium in Albuquerque this afternoon. It was a overflow but polite and orderly crowd.
Once the room was full and the media in place the doors were closed leaving a lot of folks outside.
While the nicely diverse backdrop of supporters waited the candidate spoke to the people outside so they wouldn't go home upset.


Obama gave a great speech on economic issues and was impressive in his forcefulness.

Obama is the real deal It is going to be an interesting few days.


I snapped this photo on the way back from the event to my office. It was symbolic of where we are after eight years of bush rule. Things are in tatters and shrouded in sorrow, but the underpinnings are strong and things can be put right.
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