Friday, October 30, 2009

The New City Council

The new Albuquerque City Council will be a interesting group to work with and I don't envy Mayor elect Berry's upcoming battles. One of the new guys, Councillor Michael Cook, is demanding to know how much money CAO designee David Campbell was paid by me when I asked him to file a suit to keep concealed weapons legislation passed by the state from taking effect in Albuquerque. As Mayor I saw no value in having a guy pack a concealed Glock 9mm while sitting next to your kid in the movie theater. The city council at the time led by republicans Mike McEntee, Brad Winter, and Greg Payne and some democrats blocked the City Attorney from taking the case to the Supreme Court based on Albuquerque's Home Rule status.

That is when I asked David Campbell to do it. He did so and he did it for no compensation. He thought it was worth doing for the safety of Albuquerque's children. We lost the case on the grounds that the Supreme Court, an elected body, was afraid of the NRA. Yuk!

So, Councillor Cook, I can tell you that your question has been answered. I also will be following your tenure with great interest. Anyone who obviously will kowtow to the gun lobby will bear observation. P.S. I am not against having firearms (I own many) but I am against concealed weapons being carried by neurotic people. I would like to see those weapons so I can steer clear.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

GOP and Big Oil

You can almost see the incest. The republican party and the oil and gas industry are skipping down the road hand in hand. They are denying reality and what is in both their long term interests. (Here in New Mexico the republican party is run by Yates Petroleum.)

The GOP is out with their bayonets trying to defeat their own candidates who are not deemed conservative enough for the likes of Sarah Palin, Glenn and Rush. Does defeating republicans now trump electing them with this party? Even as a strong Democrat I think the two party system is important to our nation. The GOP is trying to kill itself off. How weird is that?

Then there is the oil and gas industry impaling themselves on the climate change issue by denying there is anything to worry about. Their TV and newspaper ads are threatening the American consumer with $4 a gallon gasoline if a climate change bill is passed. ($4 gas may be the thing that ultimately saves us.)

Oh, and they are saying they should not be the victim of any new taxes after making windfall profits off consumers backs for over a decade. Instead of going down this path why in the world don't they invest in clean and alternative energies? Their longevity is already doomed by climate change anyway so why not do the right thing and invest in a new era? Not doing so is akin to the Dutch and Spanish Navies who refused to see steam powered ships as being viable. They stuck with wind in their sails and then fell as world powers.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


After the Governor's cabinet meeting today I had a chat with the Governor to let him know I would be retiring on December 31st. He was very gracious and said he wanted to make sure a strong conservationist would be there to take my place. I have to say as New Mexico's Natural Resource Trustee that every time we needed support from Governor Richardson that he was there for us. I know he has also been supportive of all of the environmentally responsible departments. I think he may be the best ever Governor for protecting our resources and public lands in New Mexico. I will continue to help him on issues after I end my public service career of 24 years.

I am ready to retire and devote myself to some non profit work I do with environmental groups and foundations. I also want to spend some time every week helping out at the Road Runner food bank. I also enjoy mouthing off on my blog every day. I might try returning to some good old fashion reporting on issues that I care about.

Oh! and I bought some new Ping G-15 golf clubs. Hopefully I can get in about 100 games a year.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Yesterday one of the Albuquerque Journal's front page bloggers went on a frontal assault against KRQE investigative reporter Larry Barker for calling a former state official out on falsifying documents and pay slips. This official was the former head of the Commission on the Status of Women. The Journal story made it look like this official had been unfairly victimized by Barker. I happened to speak with Barker yesterday on a solar array he is putting up on top of his house. He told me that the reporter from the Journal admitted to him she had never seen the broadcast story that Barker did. This particular front page columnist loves to do stories on victimhood.

Today there is a front page story on a Doctor from UNM who is being sued by a woman who claimed he demanded sex for drugs. The story was fairly done I guess. Read it for the details. However, I got the feeling that because litigation is involved that the Doctor could not really defend himself in the story on order of the lawyers. There were hints in the article that there are strong defenses. It seemed like a 'sensational' story at best and it was right up there big time on the front page.

These two day juxtaposed stories are just interesting.

Monday, October 26, 2009

This Week for State Executives

Here is the life of a cabinet member and other high ranking executives in state government this week. On Monday morning they will get to work and head into their offices as all eyes follow them. They will sit in their offices for a few moments trying to figure out how to manage something that they have never had to deal with before. Layoffs of employees or at least furloughs. Then they will call in their budget directors and deputies in for a meeting to try and get their arms around what else might be cut from the budget before putting the paring knife into peoples wages. There is not much else than can be cut unless the power, phones and heat are turned off. The rest of the week will be more of the same.

In the meantime the rank and file employees will be sitting at their desks and cubicles or driving out to serve the public. They will all be wondering what will happen to their jobs and if the bottom drops out of revenues even more and what will become of them and their families. This crisis will really affect those who are planning to retire in the next year or two as it will influence their retirement checks. These state public servants are probably amongst the last to feel this recessions tremendous force, but it wont be any easier for them.

This budget crisis is unmatched for New Mexico state government in my memory. I have been in public service off and on for 35 years now and have never seen things this scary. I think even the most libertarian legislator will not enjoy what will happen in January when the regular session of the legislature will have to deal with even further cuts.

We should not forget that there will be cuts in public services as a result of all of this. Then many of the taxpayers might see that their money really does work for them.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


The meat cleaver approach which will cut many services to New Mexicans has prevailed at the state legislature. The across the board cuts of 7.5% are dramatic and need to be improved upon. I am not arguing about the amount of money that must be saved, but the meat cleaver approach leaves little room for thoughtful management. Now, the Governor must decide what to do and I would not be surprised to see a veto.

The State Land Commissioner announced horrible drops in revenue from the production of oil and gas. This means he must resign. At least if he followed his own philosophy of attacking me in our last campaign for causing a drop of revenues in 1993 when I was Land Commissioner. Of course it is the national economy that does this, not the Land Commissioner. But, I challenge this Commissioner to now step down since he has disgraced himself by his own admission. Add to that the sweet heart/middle of the night land trades and leases he has done and we would all be better off for him leaving early. The regular media will never call him on this.

Have you noticed? Still an ominous quiet from Albuquerque city government on its financial condition. I think we will hear a lot about it on December 1st when Mayor Marty marches out of office proclaiming a balanced budget.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Great Quotes

"Banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies."---Thomas Jefferson

"What is robbing a bank compared with founding a bank"---Bertolt Brecht

"The best way to rob a bank is to own one."---William Crawford

"Finance is the art and science of managing revenues and resources for the best advantage of the manager."---Ambrose Pierce

And so I applaud the Obama administration for cutting bonuses and salaries of the bailed out banks.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


I see where the Pope is trying to be very inclusive. He is offering membership in his church to all Anglicans who want to leave their church because it is inclusive. I love irony.

If Mayor elect Berry's choice for CAO, my old colleague David Campbell, does not get approved by the City Council then it will be a miserable four years for our city government. The Mayor elect has always been able to pick his CAO with out worry about whether or not he is a 'born again christian' or if he is too moderate for the crazies in politics. Both Democrats and Republicans on the Council should send a message of respect to the Mayor elect and confirm Dave Campbell. Then they need to get to work on cleaning up the budget crisis at City Hall.

This will upset some folks, but I just don't think those firemen in Eddy County should get a dime for emotional distress because they saw horrific scenes at a natural gas explosion that killed an extended family. These guys are expected to deal with this stuff. I remember as a reporter/photographer, for Channel 7, going to a really gruesome plane crash that killed nine people. My friend Rodger Beimer and I were among the first on the scene and it was horrific but we did our jobs and didn't sue the airplane manufacturer because we saw bad things. Yes, I surely do appreciate the job that firefighters and rescue personnel perform. But, they have to know they will see this kind of thing and not run to some lawyer trying to cash in on it.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Many legislators are finger pointing at the Governor and trying to blame him for all of the state's budget problems. They are also trying to lay it at the feet of Lt. Governor Diane Denish. She presides over the Senate. But stop and think a moment. The Governor must get approval for the budget from the legislature. So maybe many of those members should be pointing at them selves for pork projects, tax cuts, freely spending in times of plenty, and generally letting the good times roll.

They are also trying to scapegoat the 'exempt' employees for being a source of many problems. Yes, the Governor has increased the number of exempt employees but it is hardly the cause of the budget meltdown. Also, these exempt employees are the only ones in state or school employment that have taken a salary reduction. They are doing their part to staunch the bleeding.

Now, switch over to Albuquerque City Government where Mayor elect Berry has hired an exempt as a republican favor. Think of Sheriff Darren White. If that isn't a political hire then I am Santa Claus. (I actually think White has done a good job as sheriff.) It will also be interesting to see how many exempt positions get axed by the new Mayor. Probably more than a few, but certainly not all of them.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Other Shoe

I am still waiting for the other shoe to drop in the aftermath of the financial condition of the state that the Governor and Legislature are trying to deal with. That shoe would belong to the incoming administration of Albuquerque Mayor Elect Berry. There is an ominous silence on city finances from the incoming and outgoing administrations. The media has not asked for any comment on what the new Mayor is facing and the Mayor elect is not talking about it. Certainly, Marty Chavez wont but I have a feeling he will be hearing about it for years after he steps out of office on December 1st.

How about the City Council? Do any of them have any information on how bad the situation is? Come on! We are all (mostly) adults around here and we can take some bad news.

I have made a couple of calls to the transition office asking if, as a former Mayor, I might get in to see the Mayor elect. I have a little experience in dealing with a financial disaster left by Marty Chavez. I have not received any call backs yet. Ten days later. When you are in you are in.....when you are out you are out.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Yesterday there was a big story in the national financial media about the fact that the largest bonus payouts in history for CEOs in the financial industry are about to take place. At the same time there is a story in Colorado that the legislature will lower the minimum wage in that state. And this weekend the New Mexico Legislature will probably end up cutting wages for state employees.

The Social Security Administration will not enact a cost of living raise for seniors and others this year. That is understandable, but not in light of the CEO's greed.

This is the kind of stuff that leads to revolution! Next we will be throwing homeless families into debtors prison for stealing bread. It is no longer just a"Tale of Two Cities" but a tale of two economies. I guess I would be classified as upper middle class and people like me can't stand around and watch this injustice go on much longer. We will all pay a price.

I was watching local news last night and saw Mayor Elect Berry once again say he would run the city like a business. I know he will find it necessary to keep saying that for a while, at least until he figures out it won't work that way. I think he will be a good Mayor once he sees that operating government and business are really two different things.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Out of the Gate

Mayor elect Berry's selection of David Campbell as Chief Administrative Officer is a winner. Dave is a good guy with progressive tendencies and a good overall understanding of the city bureaucracy. I worked with him a lot when I served as Mayor. He is a realist and a thinker.

Mayor elect Berry's selection of Darren White is a gift to the republican party. That is about it. White will enter a job that was created by Marty Chavez to give to a long time supporter eight years ago. This "Public Safety" position will mainly consist of knocking down derelict properties in the city. The Albuquerque Police Department will run itself as will the Fire Department. At least now White wont have to go back to an hourly wage as a police officer in Torrance County, or as a crime reporter on TV when his term as Sheriff ends.

I have to chuckle at the Bernalillo County Commission for doing the right thing. The democratic commission appointed a republican to take over Mayor elect Berry's seat in the legislature. Can you imagine a republican dominated commission doing that for a democrat? Not in this lifetime!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Think about it. Our legislature that is. Last November the progressive minded democrats took over three legislative seats in the primary election from more conservative democrats. Add to that the loss of another half dozen or so republican seats to democrats in the general election. That was a signal of sorts that the legislature should become more centrist or left of center. In fact it has not changed at all because of the seniority system that has the conservative wing of the democratic legislative delegation still calling the shots. I am talking about Senator Tim Jennings and Senator John Arthur Smith. This isn't a necessarily a bad thing but it does fly in the face of what one would have expected.

Now, the legislature meets this next weekend for a horrendous job of dealing a plummeting revenue base. With the seniority system alive and well the chance for any repeal of tax cuts for the rich is about zero. The Governor has his work cut out for him. It will generally be a very unpleasant weekend.

And New Mexico's oil and gas industry, the industry that made immoral and obscene profits up until about a year ago, are weighing in saying this state's environmental regulations are killing their business. They are threatening to pull up stakes and jobs from New Mexico unless these regs are repealed. They seem to be sending a message of, "We want our way on degrading your water and landscapes and in return we will give you short term jobs" Doesn't sound like a good deal to me. Do not forget that the republican party is led here by oil and gas executive Harvey Yates of Yates Petroleum.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Solar Update

Our Solar Panels that went active on the roof around August 1st are starting to pay off. For the month of Sept. 9 to Oct. 9 our total bill for electricity from PNM was a minus $37.50. Yes, that is right. They owe us money for the amount of energy we sold them during the daytime. We sold them 467 kilowatt hours(kwh) during the day at about 13cents and we bought power in the evenings of 228 kwh at less than 10 cents. The estimates we had for the system are right on target for paying off the system in about 9 years. More importantly, our system is saving the emission of green house gasses.

Journal At Its Best

The Sunday Journal has started a great series on Latino/Hispanic youth education issues. It is the kind of thing we wish we could see more often. I am looking forward to the ongoing reporting on this most important of issues for New Mexicans.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


The headline in the Albuquerque Journal this morning on President Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize really pissed everyone off in this house hold. It says, "Nobel unlikely to help Obama". Now, that is a pretty negative headline for a Nobel prize winner. It is ironic, as one of my hiking buddies said this morning, that the only ones who will not understand the importance of this award to an American President is the American people themselves. C'mon, this is an expression of how good the U.S. is looking to other world nations right now. Be happy about that! Or is a striving for peace now not a good thing?

State Government is now facing the full blunt trauma of the economic downturn. Oil and gas prices are still in the crapper and a deficit of 600 million or more in the state budget means pain. It is pain we should all accept. Every special interest group will be howling.

I hope the remedies to this will not mean layoffs of any employees. Cuts can be made through well thought out furloughs that can be spread through the fiscal year to take the sting out. That way everyone in state employment still has a job and health care coverage.It is just medicine that must be taken until times get better.

Friday, October 09, 2009


With all the Albuquerque political stuff ricocheting around in my head I find the best way to cleanse it is by going to the Balloon Fiesta. I had not done it in a few years. Here is a history of my involvement with the Fiesta.

Noelle and Luke came in from Phoenix along with his mom Susan. The kids got a great hour long ride from State Environment Secretary Ron Curry.
Susan, Bobbi and I stayed on the earth and just took pictures.

Everyone smiles at balloon fiesta!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009


Well, Richard Berry did take the Mayor's election without a runoff. I thought it unlikely, but fatigue with the Chavez administration did Mayor Marty in. Richard Romero just could not give good reasons to vote for him. This was all done on a low turn out and low interest election with just over 25% of the electorate participating.

Congratulations to Mayor Elect Berry. He is going to need everyone's help as he comes into a financial meltdown of city finances cause by eight years of overspending and a tanked economy. Last night I spoke with city councillor Ken Sanchez, who has always carried water for Mayor Chavez but also knows city finances well. He admitted that the condition of the city treasury was scary and that city employees and other interests groups were going to have to sacrifice greatly for a while.

Berry will have to run a bi-partisan effort as he tackles these enormous problems. He wont have time, at least for a while, to fall into the grip of radical republicans who will now take credit for his election. Berry got democrat votes too along with a lot of independents. He will have to continually remind himself that he was elected with a plurality and not a majority. He faces a split city council but it is also a mostly veto proof council.

I think he will do well if he listens. He must put together a really good transition team that can take some of the heat off of him. They can give him tough recommendations on balancing the budget and erecting a safety net for our most needy citizens.

I sincerely hope he is successful. In times like these everyone needs to pull together.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Campaign Committees

I got a comment on my blog yesterday from the good people at common cause who said my prediction that 'measure finance committees' would turn an Albuquerque Mayor's runoff election into a mockery of the public finance law is just not true. They say that if a committee starts spending a money against a candidate then that candidate will get a matching amount of money from the public financing fund. I am sure that may be true, but the goal of public financing is really to take the big money out of these races. That probably will not be the case. Of course, the economy is in bad shape so maybe the money won't be forthcoming into the committees. However, you will see a lot of money come in and you will see a lot of money not reported. Word is that some campaigns are asking people to write direct checks to the post office for mailings. Will that ever be picked up? Also, last night the parking lot at republican headquarters was jammed with phoners for their candidate. Will those costs be reported?

Don't hold your breath. But do get out and vote.

I will be on KANW FM 89.1 radio this evening with fellow blogger Joe Monahan as we try to make sense of the returns....

Monday, October 05, 2009


My predictions on the non partizan Mayor's race in Albuquerque are as follows.

1. Republican Richard Berry will get in the runoff. Republicans could try to get him to that magic 40% to avoid it, but that is not likely.
2. Mayor Marty Chavez might get in the runoff.
3. Richard Romero might get in the runoff.
4. When the runoff election is held then the 'measure finance committees' will start raising oodles of money for the candidates in an attempt to elect their favorite while at the same time making a mockery of our public financing system.
5. Some pundits and bloggers will try to turn the little Albuquerque Mayor's race into an indictment of the Obama administration(all of eight months old). I haven't quite figured this out yet, but remember you heard it here.
6. The turnout in this election will be meager which means that having a 'get out the vote' cadre in the field is the tie breaker.
7. Who ever wins the runoff will face four years of hellish city finances.

Friday, October 02, 2009


The UNM Athletic Department called me this morning to apologize for the conduct of one of its fundraisers in my state office the other day. Apparently the fund raising is done by contractors and not by UNM employees. It was nice of them to call.

I will be taping a public affairs program on KOB TV this afternoon to talk about the Mayor's election next Tuesday in Albuquerque. Fellow blogger Joe Monahan, Reporter Stuart Dyson and I will be scratching our heads trying to figure out who is on first. The truth is that we will all be just guessing. Anything can happen.

Thursday, October 01, 2009


The Navajo and Hopi tribes have told environmentalists they are not welcome on the reservation lands because they object to coal fired power plants. This mainly concerns the Desert Rock Power Plant that would buy coal from the tribes. That would be needed cash for the tribes, but those plants could eventually kill us all. It is a disturbing thing but not unusual that any particular group cares more about economic development than the health of the planet. That certainly is not just the attitude of the tribes. However, there are a fair amount of tribal members who object to these dirty coal fired plants too.

Mayor Marty Chavez has picked up the endorsement of the rightwing NRA. Marty doesn't have to worry about concealed weapons in his personal space because he has full time body guards siphoned off the Police Department. He is the first Mayor ever to pull away police from crime fighting to open his SUV door for him. Also, concealed weapons are not allowed in city buildings so he has more protection than you do at the movie theater.

State Land Commissioner Pat Lyons is trading away valuable commercial property from the state land inventory along the border with Mexico for another ranch. While this trade is even constitutionally questionable I wonder if the meager grazing fees it will bring in comparison with revenues that might be made off the border land isn't another rip off of the trust. There was only one bidder on the deal. This stuff is all done almost invisibly.