Monday, February 28, 2011

Pick Your Battles

I continue to be astonished at the way our new governor is spending her time fighting with the Albuquerque School board over how big their public relations staff is.  Is this a battle that means anything?  Is there something more positive that could take up a governor's time?

One thing is becoming apparent to me and that is that Susana Martinez is a pretty negative leader.  She is against APS. She is against the film industry.  She is against the Space Port.  She is against the Rail Runner.  Her campaign managers who now steer her philosophy in the state capitol are turning her into a whining governor who will be remembered for nothing except carping.  Deep down I would like this Latino woman to succeed, but she is not being influenced in any positive way.  What a shame!

If you didn't get the opportunity to read the New York Times article on the dangers of natural gas drilling I would advise you to read it here.  It is strange that these problems didn't get the attention of the media when the danger was only in the west.  Now that it has moved to places like Pennsylvania and Ohio it is all of a sudden a serious concern.  Anyway, it is a great piece of Journalism and it makes the industry squirm.  I was especially outraged that an industry representative said that it was up to the states to regulate the problems.  Guess who will spend millions to make sure that won't happen.

Saturday, February 26, 2011


As we were talking about the new Congress in DC and how it will really screw up land and water protections by killing environmental agency budgets I suddenly had a revelation.

The first tea party was held in Boston to protest "Taxation without Representation".   Now that those 47 tea party congressmen are in office we have "Representation without Taxation."

Especially for the rich.


I returned from Palm Springs on Saturday after a nice drive.  I needed to beat the weather front coming in from Southern California that was going to dump a foot of snow on the interstate.

I have to say that I really enjoyed the desert.  We hiked up a canyon that had it all.  A real Oasis.

We spent a lot of time at our Wilderness Society talking about  renewable energy and the challenges it presents to us on the use of Public Lands.  I for one think we must do solar development in a way that great landscapes can be protected.  At the same time we need to get the Feds off their butts and working harder at doing it.  We keep hearing from everyone that it just isn't happening and that the White House economic advisors would axe all support for Solar in the next budget.  That will make it impossible for solar to compete with natural gas, a carbon emitter but better than coal, and then the renewable industry fails for 20 years.  It will be to late then to arrest damaging climate change in many scientist's opinion.

One thing is for sure.  We must kill coal as soon as we can.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Palm Springs

We are still in meetings of the Governing Council of the Wilderness Society.  It has been a busy day but ended with a nice hike into some canyons.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


I am leaving Amado, Arizona today for Palm Springs, California.  It is a nice area that is picturesque except for the thousand foot high piles of mine tailings from pit mines.  My friend Lee said they had considered living in the area but that after seeing the wind blowing huge amounts of tailings into the atmosphere, with attendant chemicals, they decided otherwise.

The number of snowbirds in southern Arizona is truly amazing.  The albedo of the surface area has been changed by all of the white RVs parked in temporary mini-cities.  As I pass through Yuma today I am told it will be even more astonishing.

My friends told me that one thing everyone in the area avoids as a topic for conversation is the immigration issue.  It is apparently too volatile down here to speak much of it.  After arising early this morning I see where our Governor Martinez is being led around by the nose by people in the right wing.  The Journal website says the GOP is sponsoring robo calls against democrats because they wont adopt anti immigrant legislation that our right wing governor is sponsoring.  Hooray for the Dems, but frankly as this stuff gets into the national press it will make us look as bad as Arizona.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


On my drive down to Tucson, Arizona  a couple of things became obvious.  Arizona's highways are in bad shape compared to New Mexico's.  And if you need to take a potty break, do it before reaching Arizona since their Governor Brewer closed the rest areas to save money for her immigrant persecution programs.  I mean really!  What is more basic than a restroom along a highway?  The space behind some short vegetation just wont do.  Why do pols like Governor Brewer here cut first the things that provide basic services?

Note to Governor Martinez.  Just because you want to crack down on immigrant families too, you should not follow this state's lead on other things.  Like closing crappers on the highway!  The rest stops in New Mexico were clean and functioning thanks to Governor Richardson's action to keep them open.

On this long drive to Tucson I spent a lot of time listening to the BBC News on Satellite.  Although it is repetitive, I felt I was getting straight news with little punditry.  It was refreshing.

I had dinner with my friend Lee Otteni in Green Valley, Arizona where they are living for the Winter.  They pulled down their RV to live in the relative warmth of this landscape between Tucson and Nogales, Mexico.  Them and about half a million other RV owners.  I think there were more snowbirds on the highway than big semi rigs.  Even so, this area saw its coldest weather in 40 years too.  It got down to 12 degrees one evening and all the RV folks had to drain their water pipes.

Today we play golf before I head off Wednesday for a Wilderness Society meeting in Palm Springs.  The big topic is renewable energy development and its affects on public lands.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

My Jeff Story

I worked with  Jeff Bingaman when he was the Attorney General for New Mexico.  He and Bruce King had run campaigns at the same time in 1978 and I got to know him well there.  Just before he and Bruce were sworn in as office holders the Governor appointed me as New Mexico's State Liquor Director.  The laws on licenses then led to corruption and were the focus of the New Mexico Organized Crime Commission.  The Governor gave me the assignment of cleaning things up and it turned into a monumental three year battle that culminated with the legislature, against all odds,  passing strong reform laws.  The photo above, from the Santa Fe New Mexican, shows Jeff and me testifying on the legislation.

 The Liquor industry sued saying the reform was unconstitutional and Jeff Bingaman took on the job of personally defending our reforms in a week long trial where I was beaten up unmercifully by the industry.  One day as we were leaving an especially bad day in court where the Judge seemed to side on every issue with the plaintiffs, Jeff came up to me and said, "Don't worry, the Judge is just making those other guys feel good.  I think we will win."   And sure enough we took all the marbles.  In fact, the industry lost some incentives that had been built into the new law.  They brought the lawsuit and ended up screwing themselves badly.

I tell this story because Jeff's instincts were so good.  That is why he served us as a U.S. Senator for 30 years.

I will be on the road for a week but posting regularly.  I have board meetings in California with stops along the way.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Who are the Governors Working for?

Governor Susana Martinez doesn't like the Rail Runner between Belen and Santa Fe.  The new republican governors of Florida, Ohio, and Wisconsin don't want the trains either and have turned down funds to get high speed systems started.  Is this coincidence?  Or are these new governors taking orders from the national GOP on behalf of the oil and gas industry and others who would be hurt by this kind of public transportation.

I don't think this is entirely coincidence.  They are all republican.  They are being manipulated by the GOP and are ignoring the best interests of their states.

Senator Bingaman

Who can blame Senator Jeff Bingaman for deciding not to run again?  Since he is a voice of reason in the Senate, although a subtle one, he is smart enough to know that the oil and gas industry and other ultra right wing types under the cover of the Supreme Court of this land will target him with unlimited millions of dollars in donations to any opponent who springs up.  How fun can that be to endure?

I have known Jeff for over 30 years and he has always been moderate in his approach to policy.  Sometimes it frustrated me that he was not more aggressive.  He is however one of the finest politicians we have ever had representing us in the Senate.  His honesty and integrity are unquestioned.

Now, the Democrats have to work very hard over the next couple of years to make sure this seat stays in their column.


The group of religiously inspired fundamentalists who insist gay people shouldn't marry marched in Santa Fe to a mostly hostile group of observers.  I am sure these otherwise decent people just do not realize how irrelevant they appear to most young people in this country.  I have a feeling that this homophobia will die out as this generation of people die out.

Albuquerque's Public Safety Chief just took a nasty P.R. bullet from the Albuquerque Police Department membership when they overwhelmingly gave him a no confidence vote.  This is what happens when the purse strings are tightened. Of course Darren White's show boat persona in front of the TV cameras makes him an easy target.

The Albuquerque Journal continues to use the OPEDs of Marita Noon who today attacked renewable energy.  Isn't she funded by oil and gas industry republicans?  You would never know it by reading the Journal's description of her credentials. She has been proven so wrong on her facts so many times that you wonder why she keeps appearing in print.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Albuquerque Police

The discovery of social media mutterings of Albuquerque Police Officers should not be surprising.  Everyone does it.  I shoot my mouth off every day on this blog.  But unlike police officers I don't carry a gun and have a right to use it on other citizens.  So, the attitude of one officer, who just shot a guy, that he is in the human waste disposal business is indicative of a real problem at APD.

When I served as this city's Mayor from 1998-2002 I was concerned with the training regime at the Police Academy.  It was more Marine Corps boot camp that an academy for turning out public servants and police officers.  I attempted to change it and it so riled some Academy Drill officers that they would refuse to even shake hands with me on the street.  So, if Mayor Berry wants to find out why so many police shootings have taken place over the last few years, and why social media statements are outrageous, then go look at the training program.

Ask a few questions of cadets who have fallen out of the program.  Ask for comments from newly sworn officers and how the academy is functioning in their view.  Have an outside expert come in review the curriculum.  And do it soon.  Do not put Darren White, the city's chief public safety officer, in charge of this.  It would actually be unfair to him and the citizens.  And finally, there are a lot of good officers out there and I appreciate them.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


It is pretty easy to tell that I am left of center.  So here is some Sacrilege.  I don't see any problem with people having to show an identification when showing up to vote.  It is at least as important as a thing to do as requiring i.d. for buying a bottle of wine.  If one doesn't have a drivers license then get some sort of i.d. that shows who you are.

This whole debate is really just a culture war and there are more important things to work on in our society.

Another sacrilege today is the photo coverage in the Albuquerque Journal on an otherwise good story on the big donors to politics on both sides of the aisle.  It  has only pictures of democrat donors.  No right wing crazies were shown like the oil and gas magnates and real estate tycoons who supported our new governor.  I am thinking maybe pictures of the Yates Petroleum people and Texas wingnut Rick Perry who gave a half million dollars to Susana Martinez.

“The new always carries with it the sense of violation, of sacrilege. What is dead is sacred; what is new, that is different, is evil, dangerous, or subversive.”    ....Henry Miller

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Owl Update

My friend Lee, who did his graduate work on owls, said this is a Screech Owl.  So did some of my Commenters!  Some lore says that the owl is a messenger of death.  Damn!

The owl, night's herald.
William Shakespeare 1564-1616  Venus and Adonis [1593], l. 531

Monday, February 14, 2011

An Exciting Night in the Baca House

We had some excitement around the house last night.  Bobbi walked into the office in our home.  And found this.  Yes.  A young owl had somehow come in through the doggy door.  Or was escorted in by Hermes and Ajax the cats.

He was a beautiful young bird with some down still on him.  But he could fly very well.  He went back and forth between a plate given me by the Mayor of Alburquerque, Spain and one of my Golden Ape Awards for best Television news story of the year back in 1972 at Channel 7.

I think this is a barn owl but anyone who wants to make a comment to correct me should do so.  He was not afraid of us.  He just watched me and Bobbi as we tried to figure out what to do.  I took down the doggy door from the sliding glass door in hopes he would fly out.  He made no move after 15 minutes so I went to the garage to get my fishing net to try and catch him for release.  When I returned he was gone.  On the wing and safe I hope.  Such beauty in our wildlife.

The cats were playing dumb on whether they did bring him in.  There were no feathers around so who knows? It does upset us they may have brought him in and it is one of the problems of indoor-outdoor cats.

The Basics

One thing you have to be aware of as a leader in New Mexico is where  your bread is buttered.  Susana Martinez in her poorly written state of the state speech basically said that government doesn't create jobs.  Recycled Congressman Steve Pearce says the same down south in his district.  Both of these leaders seem to hate government with a passion, but the fail to see its importance in New Mexico.

Fully one quarter of all jobs in our state are government jobs.  From the fireman to the school teacher to the physicists and eggheads at our national labs and military installations, this is a government job state.  And then there is another 25% of the jobs that deal with government agencies.  From supplying paperclips to building half billion dollar construction projects at Sandia Labs and Los Alamos Labs.

So, when these ill informed leaders want to cut the heart out of New Mexico's economy while giving the oil and gas industry subsidies, someone is bound to notice.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Real Journalism

The Santa Fe New Mexican put a face on immigrant families being torn apart in the Sunday edition.  A father who worked for 16 years in Santa Fe as a printer was arrested on a minor traffic violation and will now be deported to Mexico leaving his wife and three U.S. born children fatherless and penniless.  These are good people.  Although this arrest occured before she took office, this is the face of what can happen as Governor Susana Martinez ramps up her heartless campaign against immigrants.  This may well be her legacy.  Bill Richardson left us a Rail Runner and Space Port.  She will leave us broken families.

The story was very good, but I fail to understand why the reporter did not ask for comments from the Governor's office.  Maybe in a followup?

Friday, February 11, 2011


While I was at a dinner last night in Salt Lake City, my phone buzzed more than once with the news that Harrison Schmitt bailed out of his nomination to head the Energy and Natural Resources Department for the Martinez administration.  I never saw this as a very good fit and was surprised when it was announced.  I think that revelations of his ideology was probably unhelpful to him too.  So he is gone and that is good.  But who replaces him.  I am betting a person will come from the oil and gas industry directly or indirectly. 

I am headed off for meetings of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.  We always talk about the lay of the land in the state of Utah's congressional delegation.  When you start thinking of Senator Orin Hatch as a moderate you have to realize the politics here have entered the Twilight Zone.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Cautionary Tale

Bill Gates started his great computer revolution in Albuquerque, New Mexico near the house I grew up in near San Mateo and Central.  Because of small thinkers and fate he found it necessary to leave the Duke City when his local lawyers demanded payments in cash rather than shares of stock.  Gates went home to Seattle and the rest is history.

Is this what Governor Martinez's administration is getting ready to do once again?  I am not sure that the space port will be a great success.  No one was sure Bill Gates would be either.  But both the space port and Microsoft share cutting edge ideas that requires some risk and vision.  And it appears the Governor just wants to dump one of them because it wasn't her idea and Bill Richardson started it.

This is sad because one thing Bill Richardson had was a bigger than life vision for what could be.  Now we have an ultra right wing administration that wants only to please the oil and gas industry.

I finally got around to reading Martinez's state of the state speech.  It was incredibly shallow and not much more than a political hack speech written by a second rate writer.  Read it to believe it.

I am off to Salt Lake City for a board meeting.  I hope the sun is shining.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011


Did you know that New Mexico is defined as a state by its scandals?  I never knew that.  But right there in the Albuquerque Journal this morning is republican legislative sweetheart Nate Gentry saying it is so.  He is the kind of politician who would say anything to get into the newspaper.  Even if it is B.S. I always wonder when a pol says something like this if he really believes it.  Maybe Gentry is the Michelle Bachman of New Mexico.

I think New Mexico is defined by its great landscapes, cultures and people.  Scandals exist, but they hardly define us.

I am back from the east coast.  Boston's streets are lined with black snow in piles five feet high.  But the city was functioning well and no one was complaining.  They know how to prepare for these storms for the most part because they occur on a regular basis.  Unlike the 40 year record for low temperatures here last week in New Mexico.  So, it seems to me we need to understand that bad stuff happens when it gets that cold and everything won't work well for a while.

Those people without gas suffered but they all got through it.  Busted water pipes and all.  My poor sister Carlota, who just had a hip replaced a couple of weeks ago, got home last Friday after a followup visit to her Doctor and found her house full of water from a busted water pipe.  She rose to the occasion, while using a walker, and turned the water off to the house. She then found help and things are getting back to normal.  New carpets are on her agenda as the old ones are now in a pile outside.

In the meantime, do we spend oodles of money in new gas service charges to build infrastructure for another cold snap like this that might occur with in the next 60 years?  Remember, this was not a gas supply problem but a delivery problem.

Monday, February 07, 2011


I flew to Boston yesterday for a board meeting of the Wyss Foundation.  We work in focused ways to fund non profits who protect western landscapes and waters.  We enable the purchase of large parcels of private land  to turn over for federal protection.

As we were flying towards this snow bound city I felt like I was trapped in the 80's.  Like an echo, the mantra from the right wing republicans and oil and gas industry is that there is a 'war on the west' emanating from Washington.  Of course  there is not, but that doesn't mean anything to the special interests, ie. liars, who promote it.   So, it is time for more heroic actions from the conservation community.  One group that needs support is the New Mexico Conservation Voters Alliance.  They have to square off against the bad guys everyday in the legislature.

We also need courageous state employees in the environment department to stand up to for their principles and fight the Martinez administrations plans for gutting protections.  Those employees face great challenges in doing this.  They will be threatened with job loss and lengthy court battles.  They need good lawyers too.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Political Regime

The old movie line, 'be very afraid' comes to mind when I see what the Martinez administration's reaction to push back on  her family destroying immigration policies are.  After a dozen legislators said they would fight her pogrom against immigrants, her state paid political consultants made a statement to the media that polls showed their policy had more support.  That was their response.  Nothing about whether breaking families up is moral, advisable or good.  Just do what the polls say favor you.  This is not governance.  It is mob rule.

I fully expect the Martinez regime to now call for increased oil and gas drilling with lessened regulation as a result of natural gas shortages over this cold spell.  Don't fall for it.  The problem was a forty year record cold.  Not supplies.  The problem was delivery of gas due to power failures in Texas where the gas is compressed for its trip through pipelines.

This was the Rio Grande at 9:00AM this morning.  The hike was welcome and I got to wear a new winter coat that I bought last year.  I got hot.  I am old enough to remember the last deep freeze in New Mexico back in 1971 or so.  It was as bad as this one and lasted longer.  It also resulted in delivery and shortage problems.  It was so cold that our family apple orchard of 800 trees were essentially killed by the sub zero temperatures.  We always had a good supply of firewood after that.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Brain Freeze

My brain is frozen with cabin fever and the cold.  My garage door opener stopped working because the lubricant in the rollers froze up.  Bobbi needed to take my SUV to work yesterday where she parked under a tree that had flocks of birds.  The front end of the car looks like the bottom of a bird cage.  The car wash wont be open for days and my hoses at the house are useless.

There are some good things to mention.  The Gas Company and PNM have mostly delivered under the highest demand conditions in forty years.  There were bound to be some problems but they are manageable.  We tend to think of those companies as heartless or wrongheaded some times, but they do deliver the goods.

Just like the two state transportation workers who rescued a family of four yesterday from an overturned car near Corona, NM.  The same government workers that many in the Tea Party and our legislature think are vampires sucking away state tax money because they have a pension plan.  It was nice to see the Journal give them some ink.

I keep thinking about sitting on the back porch with my coffee, newspapers and toast.  Maybe in about three months.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Out in the Cold

One of the cats went out in the wind and blowing snow last night.  I don't think they were there for long.  Being left out in the cold is not a good thing.

The Albuquerque Journal Editorial page is ranting about the state retirement plans for state employees.  (I am one of those.)  This is a company that no longer provides any support for its retirement plan.  So, why should anyone else have one?  I think that is their attitude.  I wonder what their employees think when they read that stuff.  They have been so screwed by the publisher  that I can't believe they stay so quiet.  They must live in a fearful work place.

I notice that Tim Korte, an able reporter/editor for the Associated Press has taken a job with the Martinez administration as a PR person for the Department of Finance and Administration.  This really scares me when an AP reporter sees greener pastures outside that great institution.

Finally, I would never put my cats out in the cold.  They have access to Athena the Beagle's doggy door.  Time to get rid of the nose goo on the flap though.  Yeeech!  This is Hermes contemplating a visit outside in a -23 degree wind chill.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011


Governor 'oh Susana' has ordered the police to check immigration status for people accused of breaking the law.  So, if a woman is stopped for violating a traffic law, does that mean she will be deported away from her children who were born here in New Mexico?  I want some reporter to ask that question of her.  Does she see that as a good solution to our immigration problems?  Breaking up families?  Just put your efforts elsewhere Governor.

 Is this more important than creating jobs?  Why make a big deal out of this when there are so many other important issues to address?  I will tell you why.  It is because the new administration is at sea with no rudder.

I keep hearing that many state agencies still have not heard from the Governor's office on policy and direction.  I wonder exactly what was going on during the transition and the first part of January.  I have always felt that transitions mirror the management style of a governor and I think what we are seeing is a style of government where playing catch up is the form we can expect.

Today in the New York Times the oil and gas industry said they are subsidizing the government and not the other way around.  They said royalties subsidize the Feds.  Remember, a royalty is a payment for taxpayer owned oil under federal lands.  But they want it for free while suffering windfall profits and causing suffering on a global scale. These guys are unbelievable.

The republican house legislators (the oil and gas industry) walked out of a House Energy Committee yesterday because they didn't like what they were hearing in a general information session called by Chairman Brian Egolf.  They said the testimony was inappropriate.  I guess because it contradicted their positions.  This shouldn't surprise anyone since the oil and gas industry never listens to peoples concerns anyway.  It is the stuff of two year olds and despots.  It kind of reminds me of what is happening in Egypt where a million people are in the streets telling Mubarak to go and he puts his hands over his ears.

Update:  My sister just gave me hell for using the term 'oh Susana' when referring to our new female governor.  She thinks it is disrespectful of women.  So, in order to keep her happy I will no longer use the term.  I wonder where this leaves us with the nick names for Dave Cargo, known as Lonesome Dave, or Bill Richardson, known as Big Bill, or Gary Johnson, known as Governor No.