Friday, April 30, 2010


Bernalillo County Government is usually somewhat ignored by the media in the metro area.  Today however there are two major stories in the Albuquerque Journal about employment issues.  Usually, the county gets away with ducking publicity because the media has no one to focus on, like a Mayor.  Instead they see five Commissioners and a County Manager and don't know who they should really approach.  So they blow things off.

That might be changing and lets hope so.  When you see an old politico like former legislator Al Valdez get a job in the midst of a hiring freeze at the county then you know the media will start asking questions.  If you believe that Valdez got his job on just merit, then you are pretty gullible.  That is not the way things work, especially in county governments around the state.

County Commissioner Maggie Hart Stebbins is beginning to be the go to person for the media.  She is always willing to speak about issues and management at the County.  That is good.  Now, I would like to see some detailed reporting on County finances.  They are in pretty good shape compared to city and state government because of their stable revenue source.  That would be the property tax.  However, some scrutiny wouldn't hurt.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


I was reading the Salt Lake Tribune newspaper about Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar's speech to a right wing group in Utah.  Some of these people were responsible for passing a law in the legislature there a few months ago that essentially appropriates all public land in the state owned by Americans to the ownership of the state.  It is a stupid and unconstitutional law that was signed by the Governor there.  Why Salazar needs to appease these crazies is beyond me especially when Utah is the worst state for Obama in terms of support.

As I was reading the paper I noticed an Editorial about concealed weapons in Utah.  They have virtually no training requirements for those who want to 'carry'.  They cited New Mexico as having a reasonable training requirement but then said that two New Mexico trainers were arrested recently for conducting sham training in our state.  Most of the media missed this in New Mexico and it is worth reporting on.  Did the Public Safety Department in Santa Fe make this public?  Why do we read about it in a Utah paper? (or did I just miss it)  What has happened to the people who got their concealed weapons permits from these guys?

Are they sitting next to your kids in a movie theater?

Timing is everything.  Take for example President Obama opening up more offshore drilling sites and then a few weeks later having a disastrous blow out of an off shore rig in the Gulf of Mexico.  It reminds me of that 1970's movie "The China Syndrome" about the near meltdown of an American Nuclear plant.  Three weeks after the movie premiered we got to live through the Three Mile Island disaster.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


The only thing that republican gubernatorial frontrunner Allen Weh can say in his TV commercial is that Lt. Governor Diane Denish shouldn't use the state jet to travel.  This is his solution to the economic crisis, joblessness, crime, war and a myriad of other issues that face us.

So, in fairness why does he not talk about all of his jets.  He charters them for a living through his company CSI Aviation Services and has made millions in war profits by hauling people and cargo to the war zone.  When will he give us an accounting of his profits from the Iraq war?  Were his aircraft charters used in extraordinary rendition?  Should he tell us these things so the voter can get a  measure of the type of person he is?

He won't do it, because it is so much easier to talk about the state owned aircraft.  It is a meaningless issue in the scheme of things but is something that can get people upset.  So I am sure he will skirt all the important things he could talk about and focus on this.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


I am a great believer in 'institutional memory.'  Whenever an organization loses a long time professional and dedicated employee it will eventually cost big time.  Why?  Because there is not anyone around to see costly and stupid mistakes coming straight at them, especially when they have probably happened before.

That is why it is so sad to see two long term public servants leave their government careers.

First there is Bob White, the long time city attorney for Albuquerque.  He has seen in all.  He started his career as a city councillor back in 1979.  He served as President of the City Council.  After one term in office he was asked to serve in city government by Mayor Harry Kinney.  Over the years Bob rose to the position of city attorney in 1994 and he as been doing that job ever since.  He has been one of the most honest and hardworking lawyers the city has ever had.  He has walked the fine line of representing both the city council and the Mayor.  And that ain't easy!

Secondly there is Paula Tackett. She is retiring after 22 years as Director of the Legislative Council Service in Santa Fe.  She might be the most knowledgeable person in the universe on the workings of our State Legislature.  There probably isn't a piece of legislation passed in the last three decades that she isn't familiar with.  She started her career clerking for Appeals court judges, then went on to private practice and some lobbying work.  Then she went to work as an analyst for the Council service in the mid 80's.  She has always been respected by both sides of the aisle.  She was recently honored by the NM Bar as the Public Lawyer of the year for 2010.

Bob and Paula may be the last of a breed of long time public servants.  It is hard to see how many people could put up with 25 years of abuse in today's nasty Newt Gingrich and GOP inspired hate politics.  The public servants are the ones who catch hell while the politicos sail on into the next election cycle.  I frankly don't know how things will function without good people like them.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Let Me Count the Ways

How can one respond to the immigration law passed by Arizona?  I watched the Arizona Governor's news conference on TV just long enough to get the impression of an angry pissed off white woman backed up by a bunch of angry pissed off white guys, all republicans, trying to blame President Obama for the whole immigration mess.  At least that is how I perceived it.

But this new immigration statute is now the law and the fight in Arizona is only beginning.  How do people register their displeasure with it?  I kind of agree that a boycott of businesses in Arizona might send a message.  So I will do that in hopes that it adds a little pressure.

How do I do it?  I am not sure.  I will not buy gasoline or munchies on out trips anymore to Phoenix.  I will arrange the fill  ups of gasoline on the borders of New Mexico and stock up on the Cheetohs too.  I will take fixings in the cooler for good New Mexican food to prepare for Noelle and her beau instead of going to some Scottsdale eatery.

Will this make any difference?  Only if a lot of people do it.  I hope someone with a big internet presence at leasts suggests the gasoline purchase strategy.  I think that could actually work a little.  Truckers, tourists and others pour a lot of money into the highway funds and sales taxes for Arizona.  Maybe this would sting them a little.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


I had a nice weekend in Moab, Utah.  I serve on the board of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.  The reason I do so can be summed up in these photos.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


The Journal ran a story this morning that said the Governor's office blamed the newspaper for the the Governor getting dissed as one of the worst Governors in the country.  Well, the Governor's staff allegation is true.  Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington rated the Governor '1 of the worst' in the country.  The Governor's office said that was due to the Journal's  repetitious reporting of stories on problems with the Investment Council.  It is still important to note that the Governor has never been indicted by any Grand Jury at any level of government.

Albuquerque Mayor Berry continues to be moved off the pages and screens of the media by his publicity seeking public safety chief Darren White.  Maybe that is the way Berry wants it, but I gotta believe that is not true.  I was happy to see Berry get riled up about the revolving door for criminals at the courthouses, but Mr. White is the one with his picture in the paper.

Former Governor Gary Johnson is on the drug legalization bandwagon again.  I am with him on that one, but only that one.  It was courageous for him to take that position when he was Governor.  It cost him big time but sooner or later these laws will fall and your homes will be safe from junkies stealing your flat screens so they can buy a fix.

I will be gone for a few days on a trip to Moab, Utah for a board meeting.  That is a beautiful drive and I am looking forward to it.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


I think there is a great conspiracy occurring.  The purveyors of Flomax are really behind the move in many states, now including New Mexico, to close highway rest stops.  This would be a  very bad move for people like me who just don't like to take any drugs advertized on TV every ten minutes.  Especially when the described possible revolting side effects take up half the commercial.

So, Governor Richardson must come to the rescue of all of us mid 60's guys and tell the state Transportation Commission to find another way to save money!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Oil Boys

I don't think there is much doubt now that the republican party in New Mexico is actually just a subsidiary of the oil and gas industry. In terms of resources the oil boys, and especially the Yates Petroleum Company, are bankrolling the GOP here.  Yes, I know organized labor is financing the Democrats, but no where near the dollar amounts that energy producers are sending to the elephant crowd.

But there is a little more here than meets the eye.  I noticed that the Potash industry has given a $12,500 donation to Lt. Governor Diane Denish's campaign.  Why?  Probably because for years the oil boys have wanted to drill near the potash mines in Eddy county.  They  have been trying to get approvals for this since I was Land Commissioner in the early 80's.  I wouldn't do it because it could endanger the miners if methane gas escaped from the drilling into the mines.  And I hear that the oil and gas industry once again wants into those mining areas.  It would be a bad move to approve this on a lot of levels, especially mine safety, but also from the standpoint that potash is a valuable resource that should not be endangered.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Some Advice

The Governor, Judges, Public Defenders, County Commissioners, District Attorneys and Mayors of New Mexico have a great opportunity to do something for all of us.  With the revelation of a guy running free after 125 arrests maybe the Chief elected officers of local and state governments might want to take this opportunity to look at exactly, and I do mean exactly,  how this situation came about and who had a role in it.  And then, start making people accountable for allowing these kinds of things to happen.

I mean, how does a guy who gets arrested 125 times remain free?  Even if it is just for spitting on the sidewalk?  125 times.  And he is free again.  Shouldn't he just be chained to a post?  Or drag around a 50lb iron ball?  I know, as a liberal I shouldn't say such things, but frankly this guy and others like him are preying on all political persuasions.

So, the Governor should contact the Municipal League (the mayors) and the Association of Counties (the County Commissions) and others and say, "What do you think?  Shall we all get together and find out what is wrong with the system and fix it.  It might not even be that difficult."

I think the Governor could be a hero along with the Mayors if they take this effort on.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Indecision Finished

Well, I finally bought a car.  A Toyota Highlander 4WD.  Why?  Because I have a project coming up that I will need it for.  It is an ambitious undertaking that will take me a couple of years at least and I need a car that can go off road and has storage space.  The MPG isn't great but Bobbi is making up for that when she gets her Prius in a few days.  How is that for rationalization?  On my part!

Speaking of rationality, I have decided that the TEA party people, educated as they are, just really aren't rational.  There is nothing we can do about it except hope that their bizarre behavior doesn't turn violent.  As Hilary Clinton reminded us yesterday it was this same kind of irrational behavior that brought us to the Oklahoma federal building bombing.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


So the Tea Party folks are rallying today against taxes.  Nothing wrong with that.  But I am truly bewildered by them when you look at the fact that they far outstrip the population in general when it comes to getting social security benefits.  I guess they think that money that funds social security benefits comes from God and not from taxes.  And these people generally have a better education than most Americans.  But maybe they never took a logic class.  Certainly, Social Security is the biggest user of tax money but what would happen to these folks if we just stopped those benefits?  Do you think they might be upset?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


The big business news today is how well Intel is doing on its revenues.  That is good for Albuquerque/Rio Rancho.  It is also good for my daughter Noelle, age 25, who works for Intel in Chandler, Arizona.  She is a revenue analyst.  She is attending a two day conference in Santa Clara, California and got to have her picture taken with Paul Otellini, CEO of Intel.  Now, about that promotion Mr. Otellini!

Actually, there were others in the picture but I cropped them out.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Finance Reports

The candidates for this years primary election had to file their financial reports yesterday.  Most news outlets reported on the Governor's races and Lt. Governor races but not the rest of the contests.  One that was left out was the race for State Land Commissioner.  As I write this one thing is still obvious.  The special interests who run the land office under Commissioner Pat Lyons are now throwing their money at various other candidates.  Ranchers and oil field interests still control this race from a financial aspect.  This is their last time around as special interest financing of campaigns will become tougher in the next set of elections in 2014.

As of this writing not all of the candidates reports have been posted, but the biggest fund raiser right now is democrat Sandy Jones.  I have always felt he has a good shot at this if he doesn't let big oil run his life.

I have always liked republican Doug Turner as a person.  But yesterday he got on the big oil and coal band wagon by filing a court action against a carbon cap and trade policy from Governor Richardson.  Just like yesterday, I will again recommend that everyone read Paul Krugman's article on cap and trade in the New York Times magazine.

The sad thing is this move on Turner's part has turned off a lot more people than he will ever rally to him in a republican primary for governor.  And it shows he is not wise on climate change.

You can go to this new site to see the reports.  Just put in the office your are interested in to see how the candidates did.

Monday, April 12, 2010


I have always felt having priorities was a good thing.  Some things are more important to get done than others.  So, why do we spend so much time at UNM worrying about the basketball coach while the Mathematics and Statistics Department melts down?  Shouldn't we put more money into that pot to attract and keep talent, rather than wringing our hands over the athletic program?  Just wondering here what the priorities are.  Thanks to the Journal for doing this story.

The lead story yesterday in the Sunday Journal was about how the chimpanzees at the zoo are getting along.  Leslie Lithicum did a great job on it as usual.  But the priorities of the editors make me wonder on its placement.

Everyone should take the time to read this New York Times Magazine Article by Paul Krugman.

I need to make a final decision this week on a new car.  My friends and Bobbi always marvel at how I agonize over what to buy and this time is no different.  I have leased my last five cars, but now that I am retired I will buy one so it has to be just right and last a long time.  I think I know what I want but maybe it costs to much.  What to do.....What to do.  This has been going on for six months.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Bobbi's Tulips

Bobbi's Tulips are great this  year.  Maybe the cold winter helped.  Who knows.  I sure don't study Tulips but I do like them.

Fray Angelico

My uncle, Jaime Baca, called me Friday and asked if I could drive him to Santa Fe for a symposium on New Mexico's prolific author and artist Fray Angelico Chavez.  My uncle knew him and I met him on several occasions.  He spent a lot of time in our family's home town of Pena Blanca where he painted he stations of the cross on the walls of the church using the villagers as models.

He is also well known for his 26 books and 600 short pieces of literature and history.

He was quite a man who left his Franciscan priesthood for a short time and became a full time Santa Fe bohemian until he returned to the church shortly before his death in 1996.

My sister Carlota met us at the event and gave us a tour of the new State History Museum.  I had not been there since it opened on the plaza a year ago. It is truly a world class facility and I urge everyone to visit for a day.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Duke City Finances

We had a great meeting in Boston and funded some solid environmental groups.  We have not had to cut back on our grant making during these economic times.  I think it is because of our focus and smart approach to getting real value for our expenditures.

Now as I return to Albuquerque I see that the budget crunch on city government is very real and decisions have to be made.  As a former Mayor I will put in my two bits worth.

I think there can always be waste trimmed in any government budget.  If elected officials who are in charge of the budget will look around they will find that waste and it will be easy to take care of it.  But I feel that cutting city services is not an option.  I am talking about basic services of public safety, environmental safeguards, parks and recreation and such.  That is why I would be against any permanent slashing of services that citizens have become accustomed too.  I think a furlough system for employees, much like the state is doing, is preferable to pay cuts.  This way employees will not see their long years of service being lessened when retirement comes around.  A three or four percent cut will really affect pensions and morale.

The city employees and their unions must understand that times are really hard and raising taxes to keep the status quo will not be accepted by the public taxpayers.  So the unions must approach this responsibly.  Level heads must prevail here.  This may just be a two or three year problem as there are a few signs the economy is adding jobs which means tax revenues will go up.  Since the city mainly relies on sales taxes for its revenues it will take a while for added spending to show up in city coffers.  In the meantime everyone should just be patient.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010


It is supposed to be 82 degrees in Boston today.  And  there is now juniper pollen around.  Good news for me for a day or so. 

Tuesday, April 06, 2010


The only thing that matters right now is that I will be where the Juniper pollen is not.  In Boston.  I am off to another meeting of the Wyss Foundation.  It will be an important meeting for us and I am looking forward to it.  And to the efficiency of getting oxygen into my lungs.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Blast from the Past

Rodger and Connie Beimer came over for dinner on Saturday night.  Rodger had been rummaging around in old boxes as he prepares to digitize many images and he came up with this newspaper ad from 1972.   (Notice the young Dick Knipfing.) The Albuquerque Press Club awarded Rodger and I "best news story  of the year" for coverage of  the crash of an RB-57 Air Force plane.

I was driving out of the Television station parking lot on the way to an assignment when I noticed some strange glittering flashes over the Manazno mountains.  I put the news car into the median of University Blvd. and jumped out with my Bell and Howell DR70 16mm news camera and started filming with the telephoto lens.  I wasn't sure what I was filming but it turned out to be the  break up of the aircraft in midair.  The back seat pilot had become unconscious because of oxygen deprivation and the command pilot put the plane in a severe dive to get to a lower altitude.  The aircraft, which had huge wings, broke apart.  Both officers died.  I wish I still had that film.  The USAF came out and took it for an investigation.

Saturday, April 03, 2010


So the poor students at UNM will pay for an 8% increase in tuition and fees while the football coach gets a two year extension and potential bonuses.  Add  this to the students burden of 7% interest on their loans from the lecherous bankers.  Why don't these people raise some hell?

These two simultaneous PR revelations from UNM are classic.  But not near as classic as what is going on in the Vatican's pedophile priest saga.  How could anyone be so stupid as to compare pedophilia criticism with the holocaust?  It just is something I can't fathom.

I have a book recommendation.   "The Quants" by Scott Patterson.  It is about the Math geniuses on Wall Street who brought us the latest economic disaster.  It is enlightening.  No doubt, these folks are so super smart that they scare the hell out of me.  But when they are out.  I told my mathematician friend Jim King he should read it.  Here is his reply..."A real mathematician, a pure mathematician, would have realized it was a waste of time and gone off to solve something really hard that nobody could use for at least a hundred years.  Applied mathematicians aren’t much better than physicists."      

Thursday, April 01, 2010


Someone with my name owes money.  I am getting called by every two bit collection agency in town and being interrogated about my real identity and my life history up to this point.  Halfway through the questions I use a profanity involving a deity I don't believe in and  hang up on them.  The only one who didn't give up was the University Hospital who kept calling until I got really nasty.

These collectors are about as welcome as Juniper Pollen.  Did you see the count today?  1200!  Normal would be 90!  Unlike bill collectors with the wrong number you can't curse away the pollen.  If you were to look outside today in Albuquerque you might think that all the crud in the air was dust from our spring time winds.  No, I think it is all pollen from every Juniper tree between here and Pacific Ocean.

I am in a benadryl stupor at night and tired during the day from lack of oxygen.  I thought we were so smart leaving for South America for a couple of weeks and that most Juniper poison would have blown over to Texas by now.  Wishful thinking.