Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Back and Forth Triple Dippers

Have you ever watched people watching a tennis match? It is funny how their heads go back and forth...back and forth. They could just as well be watching County Commissioner Alan Armijo and County Commissioner Michael Brasher. These two guys are making an art out of jumping between political offices. They both served two terms on the city council. Now they are both completing two terms on the County Commission. YUP! Now they are both looking at running for city council again. Is there some sort of retirement benefit for them in doing this? Who knows?

This back and forth routine might not be all bad...or all good. I just don't know. But I will not buy the argument that it makes for better relations between the city and county because of the knowledge base of these 'triple dippers'. I don't believe relations have improved that much between the city and county.

There is always an argument for new blood in any organization. This is probably true in this situation.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Big Fence

Beagle with his Family in 1998

Our beloved "Beagle", the older of our two beagles, 'jumped the big fence' today. He was fourteen years old. He brought joy to our family after Justin, when a sophomore in High School, picked him out of a litter in 1995. He spent many hours with us in the Rio Grande Bosque sniffing out every scent he found. Now, we need to shower lots of attention on Athena. She will miss her buddy.

Lazy Weekkend

After reading the bizarre tale of Attorney General Gary King's investigators hassling State Auditor Hector Balderas I sort of had a 'brain freeze.' What the hell is that all about and is it really necessary?

After that Bobbi and I had a lazy weekend to celebrate her 57th birthday. We ended up at the Museum of Albuquerque on Sunday to look over the exhibit on the Alvarado Hotel. It was a great look at that historic place. I remember I was a reporter back in the early 70's when the Alvarado met the wrecking ball. I filmed the destruction and always felt it was a big loss for the city. As a child my parents would take us to Sunday brunch occasionally and I would hang around the large fountain. We would go there to catch the train for our trips to Washington, DC where my mother's parents lived.

There was a impressive crowd at the museum Sunday. Lots of folks my age were there, but also students taking notes. It is really a nice museum and the new addition that I funded as Mayor makes a great statement. Actually, the people of the city funded it with their vote and they are the ones that deserve the credit for doing so.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Big Picture

It is still early in the Albuquerque Mayor's Race. However, not one of the candidates so far has given us the 'BIG PICTURE' of what our city would be like after four years of the next administration. What is the overarching goal? Will everyone, as ususal, fall back on crime reduction as the major issue? Or will someone just lay out for us their vision for a better city?

The Mayor has not done so. Richard Romero has not done so. The republican candidate seems to be running on one issue only, and that is that he is a republican.

Big ideas have a place in politics. President Obama knows that and used it in his campaign. It would be nice for the candidates for Mayor to clue us in too.

I might also add that candidates for Governor better be doing the same thing. So far, they haven't either.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Thanks to our Senators and Congressman

Sabinoso Wilderness

Minutes ago, the US House of Representatives voted 285-140 to pass H.R. 146 as amended in the Senate to include the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009. This historic legislation, the most significant conservation bill in over a decade, will go to the President’s desk in the coming days. Senator Jeff Bingaman deserves much credit for moving this along. Congressman Martin Heinrich actually worked in the non profit sector to get this done. Congressman Harry Teague showed courage in voting for it. Congressman Ben Ray Lujan will get protected areas in his district.

The bill designates more than 2 million acres of wilderness, establishes three new national park units, a new national monument, three new national conservation areas, more than 1,000 miles of national wild and scenic rivers and four new national trails. The package also includes the National Landscape Conservation System Act, enlarges the boundaries of more than a dozen existing national park units, and establishes 10 new national heritage areas. Over 160 bills were included in the 1,294-page package.

The New Mexico Congressional delegation, everyone of them, deserve our thanks for voting for this bill on its long and arduous journey to passage. New Mexico's increased federal land protections will mean much to future generations. I am also proud to serve as a member of the Wilderness Society Governing Council, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and the Wyss Foundation which helped build support for this effort.

Government Information

My friend Rodger Beimer and I were talking about the future role of Public Information Officers who work for government agencies this morning. What happens to them when newspapers cease to exist? Who picks up the news releases for publication? Some of these releases offer valuable information on programs and policy and have been traditionally used by print media as a starting point for stories. Of course, you will still have many web sites and blogs that will carry this stuff, but mostly it will be spread out and dissemination to the public will be splintered. Forget TV News....they are not set up to do it.

Right now a couple of things should happen.

  1. Governments need central websites that do nothing but run these news releases. All in one place and not spread over umpteen departments websites. This will make it much easier to track information.
  2. Some enterprising out of work journalist should design a site that takes those news releases and separates the wheat from the chaff. We all know many news releases just exist to get some one’s name in print.

Actually, this should all be done whether we lose our daily newspapers or not. It is kind of surprising it hasn’t been done before.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Stem Cells and a Mayor

Mayor Louis Huning of Los Lunas has announced he will be resigning. He is suffering from Parkinson's disease. He has been Mayor in that community for over 25 years. While I was Mayor of Albuquerque he was one of my favorite colleagues. Mayor Huning was always present at the regional Mayor's lunches that I initiated. He had a good view seeing the region's governments as a close association for planning purposes. He is just a very nice guy.

At the same time I watched the Archdiocese of Santa Fe flexing its muscle to kill stem cell research legislation in New Mexico. I don't know if Mayor Huning agrees with this or not. However, it is hoped that stem cell research can lead to cures for diseases like Parkinson's disease.

It is perplexing that the Catholic Church would be so against the death penalty but be cavalier about saving lives by fettering science's ability to find cures through stem cell research. It is just bizarre.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Hell Freezes Over

The legislature passed campaign contribution limits. Hell has frozen over! It is a great day. Now the oil and gas industry will have to act in bad faith when they purchase land commissioners and other elected officials via the campaign contributions that they could make under the old law. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations by very few people will now be more difficult. Subterfuge will need to be used, and undoubtedly will, but still this is a great thing the legislature did.

In another bill the legislature has decided to create subclasses of state government employees with their law aimed at stopping double dipping. If the state wants to stop this practice that is fine. (Remember, I am a double dipper.) That might be a good thing and it might not. But what the passed legislation does is make it possible for some employees to return to work with out being monetarily effected while others are severely constrained. You can be sure any policeman who wants to return to work after retiring with 20 years service will be allowed to do so with little effect on their salaries. But a sanitation worker, (who statistically has a more dangerous job) would not be allowed to make more than $30K if he goes back to work. This hardly sounds like equal protection. The way I look at this is that both occupations deal with the health, safety and welfare of the public.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Oil and Water

The Wall Street Journal has a great story on the oil and gas industry gobbling up junior rights on the Colorado River. Their information comes from Western Resource Advocates. You can read their report here.

The oil boys are waiting for the moment to use all the water it can get its hands on for oil shale development. One million people in New Mexico are currently supported by water from the Colorado.

A barrel of oil will require about four barrels of water to extract it from the shale. This is water that could be taken out of uses that wont speed climate change. This doesn't even address the resulting wrecked landscapes from developing oil shale regions.

New Mexico must protect its interests in this water grab.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Must Read

One of my readers sent this missive along about newspapers. It is a must read.

Marty's Impact Fee Wish

Mayor Marty Chavez wants to reduce impact fees for developers to help them through this tough economic downturn. Whether that is wise or not is debatable. However, I heard at lunch today it might actually cause some developers to be at a real disadvantage. Why? Because they already paid their impact fees on developments before the downturn and now they will have to compete against those who will not have to ante up.

Lost Opportunities

I don't follow sports much. I have a passing interest in Lobo Basketball and Football, but nothing that makes me want to put a UNM license plate on my car. (Ever notice how cars with those plates are always speeding?)

Anyway, a great opportunity has been lost as the "PIT" undergoes major renovation. They city and the University should have talked to each other about this a long time ago. If both entities had just put a little effort into it, we could have had a world class all purpose arena built that would have ultimately saved a lot of money in the long run. But of course, that would have meant that some one's turf would need to be ceded a little. I remember when I was Mayor I tried to interest UNM in building some of their dorms downtown. It was actually closer than some of UNM's parking lots to the main campus. They told me to stuff it.

The lack of vision on the part of UNM and the City/County governments seems to have worsened. They all act like separate sovereign entities that would rather fight that create a little synergy.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


This latest look at the state of the news media is truly frightening. My first love has always been journalism and I loved the profession when I was working as a reporter. What happens when newspapers disappear?

Memo to U.S. Attorney

Today Senator Manny Aragon will be sentenced for corruption. The U.S. Attorney can thank an accountant, Judy Wagner, for putting this case together for him. Manny and the rest of his co-conspirators will get what they deserve.

Now the US Attorney should use another accountant to investigate State Land Commissioner Pat Lyons on 'Pay for Play' issues. That accountant would be the State Auditors Office under the leadership of Attorney Hector Balderas. The story in the Albuquerque Journal today quoted Balderas as saying, 'the audit will cover instances of financial benefit in exchange for land transactions; transactions executed between government employees and appointed officials; and whether transactions were improperly influenced by relationships between parties."

This sounds serious and once again points out the need for modern day checks and balances to be applied to the State Land Office. I think this time there will be a serious look at Lyon's administration of the Land Office. Will the U.S. Attorney finally notice?

Of course Lyons is saying this investigation is occurring because he is a republican.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Cadigan Was Next

City Councilor Mike Cadigan pulled out of the Mayors race on Sunday....answering my question from Saturday on who would follow Debbie O'Malley. The irony here is that Cadigan was the sponsor of the city charter change that put this ridiculous system in place where you have to get 3500 $5 contributions to get public financing for the campaign. I have always said that was impossible. Now only Richard Romero is still in there slugging away at accruing those donations. Rob Dixon, who I like a lot, is going the signature route for nomination....he will need 8,000 to be safe. That is a big task too. If I were a lot of these candidates I would be looking over the validity of all their opponents five dollar donors to make sure it was the donors money that was actually put into the campaigns.

We could actually end up with no one running for Mayor before this is over.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Who is next?

City Councilor Debbie O'Malley dropped out of the Mayor's race today because she couldn't collect enough of the required 3500 $5 contributions from city voters. I have said before in this blog that it would be very difficult for anyone to get those contributions and I guess this is proving me right so far. I see from the totals that the other candidates are all having problems too. They have only two weeks left to get them and from the totals I have seen none of them are very close. Except for the Mayor who was able to 'influence' union members, city employees and others out on the streets. The only other way to get on the ballot is to get 6500 signatures without the $5 contribution. That means you need to get 8000 or so to be safe. That is more than you need for statewide office. If you go that route you wont get any public financing.

It is incredibly hard to get someone to just sign a nominating petition. Pile on top a $5 'fee' and it gets into the realm of impossible. Unless of course your volunteers illegally put in the $5 themselves. Is anyone checking on this?

We could end up with very few in this Mayor's race.

Friday, March 13, 2009


My niece Sara sent this to me.

Here is a little something someone sent me that is indisputable mathematical logic. This is a strictly mathematical viewpoint....it goes like this:

What Makes 100%? What does it mean to give MORE than 100%? Ever wonder about those people who say they are giving more than 100%? We have all been to those meetings where someone wants you to give over 100%. How about achieving 103%? What makes up 100% in life?

Here's a little mathematical formula that might help you answer these questions:



is represented as:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21

22 23 24 25 26.


H-A -R -D-W-O -R -K
8+1+18+4+23+15+18+11 = 98%


K -N -O -W-L -E-D-G-E

= 96%

But ,

A-T -T -I -T -U -D-E
1+20+20+9+20+21+4+5 = 100%


B -U -L -L -S -H-I -T
2+21+12+12 +19+8+9+20 = 103%

AND, look how far ass kissing

will take you.

A-S -S -K -I -S-S -I -N-G

= 118%

So, one can conclude with mathematical certainty, that While Hard work and Knowledge will get you close, and Attitude will get you there, its the Bullshit and Ass kissing that will put you over the top.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I Like Newspapers

Damn, I am on the outside again. Read this.

Cheeseburger and a Glock

The legislature is considering letting people with concealed weapons carry them into restaurants that serve liquor. How does this make us safer? Only the NRA knows I guess, because I sure don't understand it. Years ago, before concealed weapons were legal, I was the Director of the Alcohol Beverage Control Department. One thing we did was make sure that every place that had a liquor license displayed a card that said it was a felony to bring in a firearm to the establishment.

Now, with over 17,000 people carrying concealed handguns in New Mexico we will have to alter those signs to this. "Guns allowed only if ordering cheese burgers." I guess the cooks better be on their toes.

In the meantime it was reported that hundreds of concealed weapons carriers in the southern part of the state were improperly trained, or not trained at all by instructors who certified them. Are they still carrying? Who is paying to retrain them? Not the government I hope.

No, I am not anti gun. I have lots of them for sporting and defense. I just don't think concealed weapons in a movie theater is a good idea. If it was a good idea why do legislators not allow them in the capitol building in Santa Fe?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Police Work

First 12 bodies pile up in one site on the west mesa and no one in law enforcement seems to know there is a possible serial killer running loose. How do 12 women go missing with out someone at APD or the Sheriff's office scratching their head?

Then two guys who have been cooling in jail for murdering a northeast heights couple are now going to be set free because it appears the evidence doesn't show they committed the crime.

I know police work is tough but this shows that a reassessment of practices and procedures at local law enforcement agencies might be a good idea. It doesn't mean any one is guilty of malfeasance, it just means that some scrutiny is due. So far, I haven't heard the Mayor, City Council, Sheriff or County Commission calling for such an effort.

It is about time that this be done.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Conflicting Standards

You just have to wonder sometimes. The state legislative leadership just deep sixed a bill that would have disallowed legislators who retire from their office from returning for one year to that body as a lobbyist. At the same time they are riding a wave of populism by passing a bill out of the house that would not allow public employees who retire from coming back to work for more that $30k if they are still drawing their pension. I would argue that the legislative prohibition on members lobbying is a much more egriegous situation.

I should say here I am one of those double dippers. I retired from State service with 20 years in 2006. I returned to my old job 15 months later when my replacement, Martin Heinrich, resigned to run for Congress. Well, he won and I am still doing this job as State Natural Resource Trustee. I had planned on staying here for the rest of Governor Richardson's term to see out a couple of big cases we are working on, but if this law passes I will have to say adios in July. Under current law I did nothing wrong in that I was gone for more than a year before I returned.

The Channel 13 Larry Barker series on 'fake retirements' are something else again. Those are illegal. Mayor Chavez knowingly let it happen in City government and then after seeing bad publicity aimed his way he threw his employees under the bus. He also said he wouldn't allow retired folks to come back and work for the city at all. Well, some of the employees....Police and Firemen can continue to do it. Everyone else is second class I guess. I wonder if there are constitutional problems here.

Finally, the truth is out on the MIddle Rio Grande Conservancy Districts sweetheart deal with its manager Shubas Shah. Watch it here on Channel 13.

I have been tryng for years to get some one to run with this story in a serious way. It finally happened. When I was General Manager of the MRGCD I tried to get Shah fired by the board for unethical practices. I was fired instead along with the agency attorney. We won a wrongful termination suit.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Curry Favor?

Ron Curry, Secretary of the NM Environment department, is now being rumored as a possible candidate to take over the regional federal Environmental Protection Agency in Dallas. This Region 6 office covers Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Louisiana and Arkansas. I hope this happens. Over the last decade the Dallas administrator has usually been picked by the Texas Governor due to Texas politics and bush/cheney operatives. Now there is a good chance for a new outlook for the region that includes New Mexico. If Ron gets this job it would be hard finding a replacement for him in Santa Fe. Ron has been especially courageous, with the backing of the Governor, in carrying out his duties to protect New Mexico's land, air and water resources.
Curry would take that sense of good public policy to Dallas where he might be working soon.

The Usual

While the legislature does little in the way of campaign and ethics reform and gets away with, some legislators are upset that some large development companies are seeking passage of a Tax Increment Development District Bill. This would redirect tax revenues generated by the project back to the developers to build the infrastructure required for the development. There are arguments to both sides of this issue. I haven't taken a position on the issue much to the chagrin of some progressives. I am not convinced it is a totally bad thing.

Sunday, the media made a big deal out of the fact that the developers had contributed 62 thousand dollars to legislators. I had to chuckle about that when I compare it to the hundreds of thousands that the oil and gas industry has contributed to their candidates for legislature, the State Land Commissioner and the Republicans Party. The developers donations look like small potatoes.

What is amazing about this is the legislature, if they passed meaningful campaign and ethics reform would stop most of this campaign money controversy cold in its tracks.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Mercy for Some

I was astounded to see that the Archbishop wrote a letter of support for convicted Senator Manny Aragon. Archbishop Sheehan wants to court to be merciful on the once all powerful legislator despite the fact that he and his friends stole millions of dollars from the public treasury. Millions of dollars that might have been used to help the poor or increase education funding. Well, mercy and understanding is a good thing that the Archbishop's church practices, although it is only in select cases.

Travel back in time a couple of weeks and you would see the Archbishop sitting in a legislative committee supporting the view that a domestic partners bill was evil. You know, health insurance, medical care, visitation rights, happiness and all that goes with it for gay people was not worthy of support of the church he leads in this Archdiocese. I just find this almost to hard to bear. Especially when the church seemed so good at looking after the well being of pedophile priests by relocating them to new parishes after their 'counseling'. Oh, and lets not forget the willingness to bring back to the collar a Bishop who had been excommunicated for denying the Holocaust ever occurred. (He also thinks women should only wear dresses.)

Thursday, March 05, 2009


So, what do we do if we end up with 20% unemployment in this country. It looks likely if GM goes kaput and the banks sink. I am wishing that the media would start writing or broadcasting substantial stories on how to help the unemployed make it through this crisis. Sort of turning America into one big extended family. This sounds weird coming from a guy like me who has been known as not being 'touchy-feely', but I gotta say a lot of people will need help and hope.

Certainly we cant lay every responsibility on the federal government. Local and state governments have to start gearing up for relief efforts too. Non governmental organizations and church groups don't seem to be preparing and it will be hard for them since their contributions will dry up too. Still, they must involve themselves asap.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

City Elections and Elephant in the Room

I am predicting that many of the people who are announcing candidacies for Mayor in Albuquerque will not get on the ballot because of the onerous requirements for qualifying for public funding with over three thousand $5 contributions or by collecting over 6000 valid signatures of voters. This is a very difficult task with little time to do it in and some of the new politicos simply will not have time. I noticed that Rob Dickson is entering the race. He is the guy who brought his vision to the redevelopment of the old Albuquerque High School site. I am glad to see him in the race but worry he will have a tough time gathering those signatures.

The elephant in the room for the Mayor's race is the dismal city financial outlook. After Mayor Chavez and the City Council have had nothing but double digit budget increases over the last 7 years the pain will now be felt. Big Time! The general fund budget revenues could contract by 10% or even more. Pile on that the overly generous raises for police and fire and you have a real mess on your hands. Some one needs to talk about this in the race, but I think it may well be a submerged issue. Even so, it could be used effectively against the incumbent. Of course, with all the people in the race he may win. There would be poetic justice there in that he will need to deal with the budgetary disaster of his making.

Meanwhile the only issue I see being discussed is the fact that public financing might be used for buying beer for campaign volunteers. The loudest screamers are city councillors who helped get us into this budget mess.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009


We got home! Into a soup of Juniper pollen. I started feeling it as we descended over the Sandias from Dallas. Really, I did. On top of my cold it hit me hard. I am in another Benadryl stupor. Things could be worse though.

While we were gone I see that the body count on the West Mesa has gone to 13. How could these murders and disappearances happen with out the police agencies realizing that something was occuring? Has anyone started asking questions of the Chief, Sheriff, Mayor, County Manager etc.?

It is hard to believe this many people could be off the map when they disappeared. You could maybe see this happening with two or three folks.....but thirteen? Are there any mechanisms within local law enforcement that might have caught this? I hope we get answers soon.

Monday, March 02, 2009


This was taken in Secretary Ken Salazar's office at the Department of the Interior. The young man on the right is Ray Rivera of New Mexico who was appointed by Salazar as head of inter governmental affairs for DOI. He has a big job ahead of him.

Ray was an intern for me when I was Mayor. He was a very hard worker. I knew then he would go on to bigger things. He ran the Obama campaign in Colorado and did an incredible job. This guy could come back to NM and run for high office some day. He is smart and capable. I will send him his first donation.

Snow Job in DC

We are still snow bound in DC, but we hope to be home tonight sometime. You never know with Delta Airlines. Their phones have not worked since yesterday but they automatically rebooked us on a late flight...29 hours later than our original departure time. At least we got to see Justin and his wife Karly a little more last night.

This is Bobbi, Noelle, Justin and Karly overlooking part of the Gettysburg Battlefield. If you have never been there you should go. The new visitor center and museum are awesome.

Sunday, March 01, 2009


Bobbi and I are still in Washington, DC and will be for at least another day due to the airlines cancelling most of the flights today in anticipation of a blizzard. On top of an intestinal virus, and a cold for me...well I have had better trips. Still, we had great meetings here and we got to visit with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. He is really delivering on change so far and I hope he can keep it up. He could be the greatest Interior Secretary since Stewart Udall.

The mood here in DC is generally really upbeat. How hard can that be to sustain with bush/cheney being gone? In the meantime I see that rush limbaugh is now the hero of conservatives and is being called their leader. Just what they need, another bloated crazy man carrying their flag.