Friday, September 30, 2011

Priceless

Sometimes I wish I were a believer.  It makes things so simple.

Balloons

It is nice to see many great things being said in the media about Sid Cutter who passed away this year.  He is seen as the father of the highly successful Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta.  Indeed he is.  But as I recounted several years ago one real hero who is often forgotten about is my former boss Mayor Harry Kinney. His vision made the Fiesta what it is today.  Read about it here once again.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Green Wash

The term Green Wash refers to the spin that corporations and politicians put on their records that are meant to show they are big supporters of environmental protection when their past actions prove otherwise.  Think of BP saying that they care very much about our oceans cleanliness.  Even while dangerously polluting those oceans.

Currently there is a rather large and embarrassing fight going on over some Washington, DC based environmental leaders endorsing Martin Chavez in his congressional bid.  They did so without ever calling back to New Mexico to see if he deserved these endorsements.  His record as a state legislator and Mayor of Albuquerque would not warrant such endorsements in my opinion.  The much respected group, Conservation Voters New Mexico, agrees and gave their thumbs up to Candidate Eric Griego.  Believe me, they know exactly who deserves such endorsements.

I serve on several Boards of large environmental groups in DC.  Usually they stay out of the politics because of their non profit status with the IRS.  However their employees on their own time, as is their right, do help candidates.  There is nothing wrong with that.  That is why it is so peculiar that the DC crowd has been caught with their pants down on this race.  My feeling is that they are being pressured by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the National Democratic Party.  They are being made to look foolish.

I will vote for Eric Griego in the primary election.  If he should lose to Martin Chavez then I will vote for our ex mayor in the general election.  I can no longer vote for republicans since there doesn't seem to be any sane ones left that are running for office.

Misc.

PRC member Jerome Block took the hit for himself and his father Jerome Block Sr. when he copped a plea to numerous charges of embezzlement and violating campaign finance laws.  The Senior Block was in charge of those finances.  It was obvious that the younger Block had some stability problems and he confessed to a drug addiction.  Now he needs to get real help.  It is good he resigned and saved the state a pile of money that would have been spent on impeachment costs.

I am still chagrined that when I vote early in the city elections that I have to watch the city cough up $500K for a 'lost balloonist' memorial.  I have never voted against a city bond issue but I cant say what I might do this time.  I just don't know.  Other than that this whole city election is somewhat of a bore.  The bond issues and candidates show little vision this time around.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Weinered

Bernalillo County Commissioner Michael Weiner invited a whole civil rights organization to 'go to hell.'  He doesn't like the ACLU because they object to holding official public meetings in churches.  I agree with the ACLU on this one.  When I disagree with something they do, and I have many times, I don't tell them where to go.  What liberties we still enjoy in the 'Patriot Act' and GPS tracking age are largely due to the ACLU.

There was another story in the New York Times today about a bible thumping city clerk in New York that refuses to issue marriage licenses to gay couples even though it is the law that she do so.  She is being represented by a christian fundamentalist group that says its okay because she is practicing her freedom of religion.  If one thinks this out it is easy to see how separation of church and state is truly important.  What is next, burning heretics in city parks?

People should not forget that it is the ACLU that fights to protect freedom of religion in this country, but not when it gets involved in official government actions.

The County Commissioners who voted against the resolution to ban official public meetings in local churches must also think that Sharia law  is good.  Right?  Well, probably not but it is a small inroad.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Temperature

Rodger Beimer and I travelled back from Las Vegas, NV yesterday.  On the way there Sunday after dropping off Bobbi and Connie we decided to stop at Baker, California to take a picture of the world's largest thermometer.  It was erected to show the hottest temperature recorded in the area, which was 135 degrees.  The thermometer doesn't seem to be functioning but lots of people were there taking pictures just like this one.

The device is indicative of my rising temperature over a failed governor and legislature wasting millions on a session to redistrict.  There was never any doubt I guess that the Governor would veto everything and that every legislator would be looking out for number one instead of the state's best interest.

My fever rose over another payoff to a coach who was hired by UNM.  I wonder if we  had a failed Physics professor if we would pay him to leave?  Maybe it is time to fire the Athletic Director too.  Although honestly I guess I could care less about the UNM athletic program in its current form.  It reminds me of the depressing scenes in the now run down casinos we saw in Laughlin, Nevada.  They have all seen better days.

It was great being in wine country and on a road trip with our good friends Rodger and Connie.  Connie got to run her daily five miles up and down rows of maturing wine grapes.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Heading East

This is what my Highlander will look like after having to transport lots of wine, luggage, olives and stuff back to New Mexico.  With a stop in Vegas for a steak.  We will drop the wives in Bakersfield for a quick trip back from our tour in wine country and two nights in my friend's restored Victorian House.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Halter Ranch Vineyard




Mitch Wyss, the grape grower at Halter Ranch gave us a tour of the Vineyard and new winery today.  We saw golden eagles, a world record 400 year old oak tree and sampled lots of grapes.

Halter Ranch Vineyard



The harvest is late this year because of weather in the spring.  Early morning in a Vineyard is beautiful.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Bakersfield

We are in Bakersfield, California awaiting the arrival of our spouses at the airport before moving on to the Vineyard for the weekend.

It is unlikely we will be squashing grapes with our feet this weekend as everything is automated.  That is okay with me.  Remember when Lucy squashed grapes?

I would like to put Congressman Issa in a grape vat head first and leave him there.  He seems to think the US should abandon the solar industry because of the bad solar/renewable loan made to a California firm.  Yesterday we passed by Boron, CA and witnessed the construction of the largest solar generating plant in the world.  Issa is from here and I hope he hears from these folks.  If Issa was not a double standard neo con then he would call for an abandonment of oil production after the Gulf of Mexico debacle lead by BP's blow out. That cost many times what one bad loan cost.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Standing on the Corner in Winslow, Arizona

I didn't even know that this was a famous place until we stopped here yesterday.  A famous song makes for a great tourist trap.  I came, I saw, I stood there.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

DIABLO BURGERS FLAGSTAFF

 These were pretty tasty burgers.  Supposedly these are one of the best ten burgers in the USA.  Tasty and Pricey.  I don't think many northern Arizona University Students can eat them often given the expense.  But honestly they were yummy and cooked to order.


We stopped in Williams, Arizona after eating that cow and played golf at the Elephant Rock Golf Course.  Very pretty setting.   We ended up in Laughlin, NV at Harrah's Hotel and Casino.  It has seen better days but the place was full of Koreans and senior citizen Americans.  Maybe I am one.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

On the Road

A good friend and I will take a road trip over the next week and golf our selves all the way to the wine country in Paso Robles, California.

Our lovely wives will join us there via airplane for a weekend at a friends vineyard.  Apparently the grape harvest is three weeks late this year for some reason so we may be able to watch the whole process.  While our well armed housesitters take care of cats we will be sipping our way through the vineyards in the region.  I will post pictures along the way.

I love retirement.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Solar Facts

GOP Congressional members are trying to paint the Solar industry in a bad light because of one company declaring bankruptcy after accepting Federal incentives.  You would think the oil, gas and coal industries are egging them on.  At least when when a solar panel breaks it doesn't pollute thousands of square miles of ocean bottom.

Here are some facts;
  • The solar industry employs more than 100,000 Americans, more than twice as many as in 2009. They work at more than 5,000 companies, the vast majority being small businesses, in all 50 states.
  • The U.S. solar industry grew by 69% in the past year, making it one of the fastest growing sectors in the U.S. economy.
  • Since the beginning of 2010, the price of solar panels has dropped by 30%, and costs continue to fall making solar an even more viable choice for residential and business customers.
  • The U.S. was a net exporter of solar products in 2010 by $2 billion. We were even a net exporter to China.
  • Solar power in the U.S. now exceeds 3,100 megawatts (MW), enough to power more than 630,000 homes.
  • Continued industry growth enhances our energy security and diversifies our domestic energy portfolio.

Spinal Growth

I have to say I am happy that President Obama seems to be forming a backbone.  One needs one to stand up.  His tax proposal to enhance revenues from the rich is finally knocking the chip off the GOP's shoulder.  Their crazies are calling it class warfare.  What B.S.  It is just a progressive tax rate.  We used to have those in this country and we can again.  They are fair and help everyone shoulder the load of government finances.

It will be interesting to see how the GOP will handle this little hand grenade.  They can't put it in their back pocket and ignore it.  They have finally been backed into a corner where the general public might finally understand that this is the party of the rich and for the rich.

I know some rich people.  Very rich.  And they are all appalled that they don't pay enough taxes.  They say they can afford it and are willing to pay it.  But the rich folk I know are vastly different than  these other strange people who think that having tens of million tucked away unused is a good thing.  I mean, once you have five homes and several jets, what else do you really need?  Sure, they earned it or inherited their wealth and they are entitled to enjoy it.  But now the President is saying....pay your share.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Gatos Again

You will remember one of our cats got partially squashed by a car.  That would be Hermes the brown tabby on top.  His convalescence is going well and he is beginning to run and jump a little.  Hard to do with a missing hip socket.  He has started playing with Ajax the yellow tabby so I guess that is a good sign.  Hermes has become a house cat and will meow at you every time you meow at him.  He still goes out in the back yard a lot, but he sticks pretty close due to our high fences.  Ajax is still hunting every night.  We were presented with a the partial remains of a lizard this week.

Domenici

It would be really interesting to know who funded the documentary that was produced extolling the career of Senator Pete Domenici.  He was a US Senator who never hesitated to help the livestock,  oil, gas, nuclear and coal industries in fighting meaningful environmental safeguards.  Domenici also did some good things regarding public lands  like working to get some wilderness areas created.  But, on balance he was a purely industry guy and put their interests first.

The film did not mention Domenici's role in the horrendous deficit spending of republican Ronald Regan and George Bush #1.  He also was a big supporter of bush #2's unfunded wars coinciding with tax cuts for the rich.  Now he is regretting that I think.

 I find it appalling that Senator Jeff Bingaman was never asked to participate with comments in the production.  One thing I experienced is that Domenici held grudges against people he saw as a threat to his political power.

He will go down as one of the giants in New Mexico history alongside Senators Dennis Chavez and Clinton Anderson.




Friday, September 16, 2011

Double Standard Again

The solar company that went belly up after taking $500 million in loans from the Government will the the subject of congressional hearings, political finger pointing, electioneering and an example of how to do things wrong.  It might be endless right up until the November elections next year.

The guy who cost UBS bank $2 billion in profits due to unauthorized trades is being called a 'rogue trader' by the media, as if the bank he works for bears no responsibility for their employees actions.

This is the double standard in our country that grows in leaps and bounds.  Government can do no good while Corporations can do nothing wrong.

Life is too short.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Richardson

It looks like former Governor Bill Richardson has grandly struck out in getting an American imprisoned in Cuba released.  And he got in a spat with the Cuban government too.  This tantrum on both parts is unfortunate.  Richardson has usually been pretty competent at these one man missions to hostile countries but he seems to have lost his stride and diplomacy.

I have been an ex elected official several times in my life.  It is not easy and you will really find out who your true friends are.  At this point I think the Governor is having a difficult time handling his status as another ex politico.  It is pretty much normal for former high visibility pols.  I hope he snaps out of it soon because it could wear him down.  He looked pretty hassled on TV the other night wearing a T-Shirt in Havana's muggy heat.

One thing I also learned in my checkered political career is that you are never really finished in politics until you make the conscious decision to stay out of it.  Richardson could be down but not out on other political opportunities in the future, where ever they may be.  (Probably not in New Mexico as long as the Albuquerque Journal is still using ink by the barrel.)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Misc.

The republicans in congress are coming after Obama now on a loan guarantee for a solar company in California that went belly up.  Of course it is the oil and gas funded congressman who are whining, even though the loan was pushed by the bush administration in the first place.  One reason the solar industry is having problems in this country is the unprecedented dumping of solar panels into the world market by China.  They want to be the only ones left standing. Obama needs to have a show down with them.

Dear Mayor Berry,  Will you please get control of the rates that the city franchised Comcast Cable is charging.  A year ago I was paying $95 for internet and phone service.  Today I am paying $108!  Almost a 15% raise!  Why are you allowing this?  Do you think maybe you could get a company like Verizon to come in with their highly advanced fiber optics to the home system?  Make Comcast compete!  Please!

The city council should take note of this too.  Get tough with Comcast.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Hot Air

When I was Mayor of Albuquerque and people were lining up to get their projects put on the bond issue election you just had to more or less stand out of the way in a give and take sort of way.  I always disliked each city councillor putting funds in for little police substations in their neighborhoods.  It sucked away money from real needs and the little stations required taking officers off the streets to staff them.  Mostly, they are useless.  But trying to fight them was always a loser because each councillor wanted one as a monument to themselves and they always voted unanimously to approve them.  It is just one of those pork barrel things.  A veto by the Mayor would have been over ridden instantly and the councillors had already reserved several million for each of their projects anyway.

I would like to be the fly on the wall on who convinced the council to put $500K in the upcoming bond election for a "lost balloonist" memorial at the Balloon Museum.  That Museum was a legacy of the Marty Chavez administration and is the biggest white elephant in the city infrastructure.  No one goes there.  And now they want to sink another 500K into it in hopes it might attract a few more visitors?

This is government pandering at its worse and I can think of a few better things to spend that money on.  Like a new training system at the Police Academy that keeps officers from shooting people unnecessarily.  The problem is many times the bad ideas are locked into a category that also has good ideas included.  So usually you have to vote yes.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Onion Gets the Governor

This man on the street thing is always my favorite in The Onion satirical newspaper.

Short Term

Who knew?  I read with disgust this morning that the Ortiz Mountains near Santa Fe are once again under threat from gold mining.  We fought some pitched battles in the 90's when I was Land Commissioner in NM to keep a cyanide heap leach mine from being operated there.  Even my old boss Governor Bruce King was opposed and he wasn't exactly an environmentalist.  Now the Martinez administration in Santa Fe has quietly handed out a little exploration permit to look at scarring one of the Land of Enchantments iconic mountains. The prospective miners say that liberal Santa Fe residents are now more concerned about jobs than saving the mountain.

I read this at the same time I see Mayor Berry's administration is getting ready to gut energy efficiency and green building requirements in the City of Albuquerque.  They say the added costs are too much and will cost jobs.

So, it is jobs that rule everything and in someway it is understandable if you have been unemployed for a year.  However some short term gains that would scar the Ortiz mountains are just not worth it.  And Mayor Berry trying to save 2K per house will not rescue the housing industry.  Future New Mexicans will look back and say, "Who did this?"


Friday, September 09, 2011

9/11 Queasiness

I sometimes think that the 9/11 tragedy has turned into a retail brand.  It makes me nauseous.

Of course it was a dark day in our country's history.  I was Mayor of Albuquerque on that day and found out about the attack as I prepared to go to my office.  I got a call from our airport manager at the time, Jay Czar, and he said the planes had almost filled all of the available space on the tarmac at the airport.  I had no clue what he was talking about since I never watch morning TV.  He filled me in (the FAA was forcing all planes to land at the nearest airport) and I opted to open the city's new emergency operations center. Mostly to give the local media a place to go for information on local issues surrounding the attack.

Here we are ten years later and we are submerged in it all over again.  Yes, a memorial is perfectly appropriate, but what we are seeing is the merchandizing of the deaths of over 3000 citizens by religious fanatics.  One just has to turn on the TV to see it.  So, we need to move on after this anniversary and tackle the aftermath of the attacks in a serious way.  We need to end these unnecessary wars, pull back our troops from all these countries we are in, end our warrior nation status and get America working again.


Thursday, September 08, 2011

Misc.

We were yammering over coffee this morning that it is possible that Governor Susanna Martinez is heading towards being a one term Governor.  When she has an ongoing fight with the state's  Archbishop and Bishops over this contrived wedge issue of drivers licenses for immigrants then she is losing support quickly in a key demographic group for her.  If it costs her just 3% then that is a real threat to her reelection effort.  I find it kind of weird and delightful that the Catholic hierarchy seems to be so adamant about this.  More than the anti-abortion issue in some ways.

It is hard to believe that the Journal tries to make a controversy out of putting up direction signs at the UNM Campus.  They went out of their way to make it seem like a waste of money when in fact it is really a public service for anyone  visiting the campus.  Signs are expensive if they have to endure our sunny days and cold nights.  Could it be the people who are against the signage, directing visitors to 300 plus structures on the campus, are ones who would rather see money used for their paychecks?  The head of the Graduate Students who are teaching assistants don't like it, the head of the undergraduates who are students does like it.

The Albuquerque City Council has lost a fight to the Mayor over asking for a Federal investigation of the Albuquerque Police Department.  It is all moot since the Feds will start looking over the APD anyway.  This kind of posturing on both sides is a total waste of time.


Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Misc.

It was a really fun last five days with my old high school buddy Bob Grethel.  We played golf four times and traipsed around the Tent Rocks National Monument in the Jemez on a beautiful day.  You should thank Bob every time you turn on your GPS because he is the one that did the math that made its accuracy so good.  He just retired as a mathematician and scientist.

It will play right into the hands of the Tea Party if things get out of hand in Santa Fe during the special session of the legislature which is supposed to be dealing with reapportionment.  Of course the Governor will love to see chaos since she can just point to the 112 elected officials downstairs and make them the bad guys.  She called out her Tea Party folks to scream about drivers licenses for the undocumented workers.  They were all white senior citizens as far as I could tell and watching them explain themselves on TV was almost embarrassing.  The Governor will probably end up with a lot of bad feelings from GOP legislators too.  They haven't succumbed to the craziness of the US Congress just yet and they will be tainted by this fight as the media will blame everyone, since that is so much easier than getting into some real policy dissection.

The Bernalillo County Commission hired a career employee and professional to be the new manager.  This county government is a big bureaucracy and has usually been run by glad handing and conniving managers, so this is a breath of fresh air.  Of course he may be doomed because of his lack of political deal making, but lets see how he does.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Must Read

I have had more than one person send this to me today, which is my 66th birthday.  One lady said, 'this is why I will vote for Obama again no matter what else happens."  Well, maybe she is right.  This is a long essay but it really puts it all together from a republican who couldn't take the craziness any more.  Please, as my birthday present, read it all.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Friday PM Shuffle

While I was out with close friends at 7 this morning playing golf in the rain cleaned air at Santa Ana, the President of the United States absolutely grin screwed his EPA Secretary Lisa Jackson by saying, to hell with your tough clean air rules. He thinks he needs to keep the oil and gas boys and the US Chamber of Commerce happy in hopes they will vote for him.  Obama reverted to the weak clean air regs of the bush administration.  Actually, he is the weak one and this will set him on a futile course to reelection.

This is the "Hope" so many of us worked for?  I could go through a litany of wrong things Obama has done when it comes to protecting public lands, waters and landscapes.  But why bother.  He is just a tool I have decided.  People get angry with me for saying I may not vote for him again.  But explain to me how he is different that his predecessor.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Military Bases In NM & Misc.

Yesterday an Albuquerque Journal reporter called me to ask questions on a story they are doing on the 9-11 anniversary.  I was Mayor then.  They asked if I thought the regions economy had been hurt by that horrendous event. I said no.  The federal government started pumping more money in to defense contractors here and hired god know how many TSA employees to grope us at the airport.

However, our economy here is getting ready to be hurt when the Fed budget stops money coming into the state.  Since we get so much of it we will be harder hit.  I am wondering which one of our Military bases will be closed in this contraction.  Kirtland AFB, Canon AFB, Holloman AFB, White Sands Missile Range and other bases in the region could be whacked.  We see little of this speculation in the media.  

They should revisit the closing of Walker Air Force Base in Roswell several decades ago to see what it did to Roswell's economy.  I contend they still have not recovered.


Governor Martinez got at least a temporary set back in her pogrom on undocumented aliens with drivers licenses after a Judge put her program on hold.  Maybe while all that is being sorted out she could take a trip around the country to seek companies to relocate here.  I can't think of anything more important.

The Albuquerque Police department took down a man who was armed with an assault rifle yesterday.  I can't say if it was warranted or not since I wasn't there, but it may have been.  What is not understandable is the number of police officers that hang around after a shooting has occurred.  If you look at news footage it always seems there are at least thirty cops milling around.  What are they doing?  Just wondering if some enterprising reporter would ever check into the overtime bills on those days.  I remember my days as a reporter when I would go to such scenes back in the 70's.  The cop mobs weren't as big then.  But the ones that were there mostly just stood around and gossiped.  I participated.