Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Balkanizer

Senator Munoz from Gallup, NM is a Balkanizer in my view.  He wants to gut the Rail Runner that serves the Middle Rio Grande and Santa Fe Communities because his constituents don't use it.  That is true.  They don't use it.  But they do use our airport quite a bit, so any one from his district should pay $100 to use the Albuquerque Airport.  And anyone from McKinley county who uses our CNM educational facilities should pay $1,000 extra to attend this great campus that Beralillo County pays for, mostly.  And then if they want to use the UNMH medical facility, maybe the Munoz constituents should pay extra for that because we pay extra property taxes for that too!  And then we could place the Albuquerque Zoo, Biological Park, Botanical Gardens and Isotopes Stadium off limits too, unless they pay extra.

The point is that this kind of moronic parochialism would never end.  It would carve us up into little city states of legislative districts where there is no common and binding institutions.  Munoz is the kind of politico that would lead a charge to disassemble our infrastructure for his own petty political career.  It is very sad.



Monday, January 30, 2012

Steve Pearce...Read This

I am recovering from the wedding in Wyoming this weekend.  What a great place it is at the Grand Tetons.  It reminds us about what is so special in the west, and yet our politicos on the right would drill every square foot.  So, they might want to read this poll, done by republicans, to figure out where they need to follow the people.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Wedding

The Setting.  Grand Tetons.

0 degrees...really....they lasted a few minutes without coats.  Luke and Noelle had their day in paradise.  Lots of snow and moose and elk...pics of them later.

The Parents
Bobbi, Sue, Don and Jim

The Vows


Married!

The Cake after a magnificent meal at 9500 feet elevation.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Fun Weekend

Bobbi and I will be taking off for a three day weekend in Jackson Hole, Wyoming for the marriage of our daughter Noelle Alexandra Baca to Luke Currell of Minneapolis, Mn. (Click here to see a quickie movie of our little girl growing up.)

Noelle and Luke had planned a big wedding next May in Colorado but decided a couple of weeks ago that it wasn't worth the stress or money.  They are so smart.  So they are getting a check from us instead of it going to the wedding planner and they will be married at the top of the ski slope Friday evening. Then a nice dinner with not to much to drink at 9,500 feet altitude.   Luke's mom and dad will be there, Sue and Don, along with Luke and Noelles' friends from Fort Collins, Colorado where they have taken up residence, bought a home, work good jobs, and do their heavy outdoor athletic thing.

I should have some pictures and movies posted on Saturday assuming the snow doesn't stop us from getting into the airport.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Caste System

Are we creating a caste system in which former or current public employees are looked down upon as 'untouchables'?   The latest evidence is that of former exempt employees of Governor Richardson being denied unemployment benefits.  The Martinez administration is seeing to it that the wives and children of those former public servants are being made to suffer in her prosecutor's 'revenge' state of mind.  I know some of these people and they are struggling mightily.  No safety net for them!  It is very sad.

And then if you are a public employee you should not get paid your salary if you serve in the legislature.  I can see room for debate on this matter, but if it is good for public employees then it should be good for all of the other legislators to not be paid by their employers too.  Especially those involved in the oil and gas industry and other powerful lobbies in Santa Fe.  Even the self employed should be made to live on $150 a day per diem in Santa Fe.  That is not much money in the state capitol where food and lodging is very expensive.

These public employees are your neighbors, family members, and friends and yet they are being relegated to a second class citizenship by a continuing hate campaign by the right wing.  It is sickening to our democracy.  Who would be next?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

An Interesting Read

This is an excellent essay and pretty much represents my views.  Just so you know!

Misc.

There is a lot of finger pointing going on about settling of police misconduct law suits against the city of Albuquerque. Former Mayor Marty Chavez  would not settle lawsuits which was a risky business because runaway juries could end up giving huge awards that would cripple the city's self insurance fund.  Now Mayor Berry is faced with settling a lot of cases that have occurred during his watch.  Many of them from police fatal shootings that were unnecessary.  But, should Mayor Berry get the blame?  He inherited more than a few officers that were recruited willy nilly during the Chavez administration in his effort to bring the police force up to an arbitrary number that he called for in his mayoral campaigns.  Some times less than desirable officer candidates were brought in to meet that number.  Couple that up with the US Marine style academy training and problems were inevitable.

The Albuquerque Journal, which arrived on my driveway and turned into paper pulp in the rain today, is now advertising on its own pages.  In an ad designed to get political advertising it touts the number of democrats and republicans who read its editions on weekdays and Sundays.  There were a lot more democrats than republicans that read the paper and yet the editor still insists on a lopsided editorial page that caters to right wing ideologies.

The New York Times did arrive in a nice plastic bag with out even a drop on it.  I do have to say though that our Journal carrier is a very efficient and punctual person and that this rarely happens.  I read the online version today.  In a way it is easier because I can make the fonts easily readable.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Silver Lining

Perhaps there is one silver lining in the current 'Punch and Judy' republican campaign for the Presidential nomination.  Just maybe there is some insight occurring in the American public's mind about the ability of corporate America to violently fund super pacs favoring one candidate or another.  The right wing led Supreme Court decision that created this situation is a democracy killer in my eyes.  No matter if the left or right uses it.  It all stinks.

If you talk with younger politicos these days who serve in congress you will find out they have no life.  Their days are spent on the phone raising money and kowtowing to business group's pacs.  They are miserable and their efforts are not spent on examining policy or legislation.  They are full time on the money chase.  So it would be great to see some of them, like Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Lujan, team up with other sane politicos of their own party and the other side of the aisle to try and pass a constitutional amendment to fix this corrupt system of the rich running everything.  The President should start weighing in on this too.  Big time.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Strangled

It is really quite evident that New Mexico has put many of its eggs into one basket.  That would be the oil and gas industry mainly.  Every time there is a move in the price of natural gas the State's Revenues are overly affected.  During high prices we get a glut of money that the Governors and Legislators spend freely.  During times of falling prices the budget shrivels up like a prune and the ones that get  hardest hit are the poor and education.

The other big revenue source for our state is spending by the federal government on military, research and general federal programs.  That is now under constant attack by the current Governor's right wing handlers.  The budget cutting they want the feds to undertake will devastate New Mexico.

One thing that Bill Richardson did was try to diversify our revenue sources by attracting new industry.  The Space Port and Film Industry got tax breaks but in the long run will pay dividends.   I think Governor Martinez's softening of attacks on these two efforts shows she at least is beginning to understand their value.

The really bad situation here is the effective money laundering into the Super Pacs by  the oil and gas boys that seeks to feather their beds even more.  You don't see that kind of effort and political capital being expended on protecting New Mexico's federal revenues.  Too bad.  It will hurt us greatly in the future.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Misc.

The question is will President Obama now sit and do nothing while the oil and gas industry spends tens of millions of dollars to crucify him for his right minded decision on the Keystone Pipe Line that would bring dirty tar sand oil from Canada to Houston, Texas?  This is the behavior that makes me think Obama lacks any spirit for political combat.  His deer in the headlight approach just doesn't work for me and many of the folks who voted for him in 2008.  Yes, I will vote for him again because there is no choice, but I am not sure all those independents who wanted change will do so.  I for one don't think there is anything wrong with criticizing the President as some of my commenters believe.  That kind of criticism finally caused him to get real about the pipeline decision.

The Bureau of Land Management is unleveling the playing field again.  They are raising fees for citizens visiting some of our great landscapes and monuments while still charging less than ten years ago to the livestock industry for their grazing rights on publicly owned land.  I don't have a problem with them raising fees for visitation if it is put back into protecting these places, but how is it they look the other way on the continued abuses of our watersheds and deserts by the ranching industry.  Many ranchers are very responsible, but when the bad ones act up nothing happens for years.  It drives me crazy.  And the subsidies generated by outrageously generous grazing fees is ridiculous. The GAO in 2009 reported that Feds spend $144 million a year managing that live stock grazing.  The fees that are charged are only around $21 million.

I see the Governor has sat down to chat with the catholic bishops and clergy.  I wonder if she would do that with a group of muslims, hare krishnas or atheists.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Reborn

Could President Obama now understand the folly of the Keystone Pipeline?  It seems so.  He will delay further the decision on this climate wrecking project despite the hysteria by republicans that it will end all hope of new jobs in this country.  What a bunch of asses they are for a predictable and sophomoric response to a scientific based decision on the President's part.  Perhaps my respect for Obama is reborn.

The Right Kind

I have always thought of New Mexico Speaker of the House Ben Lujan as the right kind of politician.  The crafty and sly democratic leader comes from a working man's background in the Espanola valley.  He never ever forgot why he went to the legislature.  He really truly cares about the less fortunate and poverty stricken.  I wish there were more like him in the legislature, and especially in the staff that surrounds out right wing marionette of a Governor.  She also came from humble beginnings but seems to have spurned them.

Whenever I had the opportunity to deal with Ben Lujan as an elected official I found him to be forthright and honest about his positions.  If he agreed with you he would let you know, if he disagreed with you he would be honest about it.  I always appreciated that.

Ben Lujan will leave after his term is up next year as he battles lung cancer.  We certainly need someone of his morality to come in and take  up the reins.  I think Rep. Ken Martinez of Grants could do so.  He too seems to be one of those rare breeds of politicos.  He has a heart.




Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Misc.

Democratic Congressional Candidate Eric Griego will sign a pledge today that says he will never vote to allow corporate America to expend funds in any way to influence elections.  It is a little late for that since our right wing dominated Supreme Court says corporations are people.  What Griego and any decent congressman or Senator needs to do is draft a constitutional amendment that bans such corporate activity. That process could play out in a couple of years. Any congressman who opposes it would face some tough questioning.  Eric is doing good by talking about it.

Governor Martinez  reminds me of the US Attorney's office.  She never gives up even she it is obvious she should.  She will bring the immigrant driver's license wedge issue, really a hate issue, up in the short session of the Legislature which begins today.  It will take up valuable time which should be used on other issues.  It is like the US Attorney's office continually rolling the dice on trying to get an indictment of former Governor Bill Richardson.  Maybe it is time to admit their is no reason to do so, or that they are incompetent to do so.

As expected the Albuquerque Journal has done absolutely no followup on the case of Democratic Congressional Candidate Marty Chavez's live in girlfriend who is accused of embezzling three million dollars.  It sort of leaves Chavez dangling in the wind to not know what he knew.  If anything.





Monday, January 16, 2012

Quickie

Bobbi and I took a quickie trip up to see our daughter Noelle and her fiancĂ© Luke.  It was a very nice trip and we got to see their new home in Fort Collins.  That is a really great town.  On our way back the only bad weather we ran into, except for a constant 40mph headwind, was near the Pecos turnoffs on I-25.  You could see it approaching through the windshield.  It was a nasty twenty miles.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Difficulty

I am having quite a bit of difficulty wondering why everyone is freaked out about two U.S. Marines urinating on dead Taliban.  I can't figure out why that is so horrible while at the same time we don't make a fuss over all the dead civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.  Thousands have died but what makes something especially horrible is urine?

I am having difficulty dealing with the Albuquerque Journal's kid glove treatment of Governor Martinez on the awarding of the contract for Casino operations at Expo New Mexico.  If the protests about that contract procedure had happened a couple of years ago then Bill Richardson's name would have been in every other paragraph.  Martinez was mentioned as appointing the contract review committee.  Do the editors at the Journal think people don't notice this?

I am having difficulty in figuring out why the Governor is favoring the large internet retailers over small local businesses by making the locals collect gross receipts taxes which add to their merchandise cost, while not requiring it of the giants like Amazon and others.  Plus, the amount of money that is being lost to state coffers is astonishing.  Everyone should be treated equally.  This is another case of corporate America running the New Mexico's State Capitol.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Signs

There are some interesting signs about and many politicos might want to take notice.  For example, the Regional Water Authority says that water use is down in a time of drought.  And it appears that the meat eating public is no longer eating much meat, as beef and chicken consumption in America is dramatically falling.  (The crazy livestock people are blaming a covert conspiracy by the federal government for this.)

Little things like this might indicate that slowly but surely the American citizen might be thinking that there are limits to resources.  Even after the oil and gas industry and coal industry's expensive lobbying campaign fighting scientific proof of global climate change, the majority of the American public still believes it is happening and that fossil fuels are responsible.  They might have noticed that over 1,000 locations this month in our country have recorded record high winter temperatures.

I certainly hope President Obama gives some notice to this as he makes his decision on the Keystone pipeline.  That is the line that will bring dirty tar sand oil from Canada to Houston.  If he capitulates on this then he will have done a great disservice to future Americans.  But he still looks good compared to the keystone cop lineup of republicans wanting to be President.  Doesn't he?

And for a laugh today for Tebow....see Bubba Munster.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Misc.

You will remember when Lowe's Home Centers pulled ads from a show about American Muslims at the request of some christian wacko group in Florida.  At the same time Bernalillo County Commissioners were getting ready to give tax incentives to Lowe's for locating a call center here.  I sent an email to Commissioner Maggie Hart Stebbins to see what she was thinking on the discriminatory act.  Then I sent another email.  And another.  And another.  And never even was given the courtesy of a reply.  Her aide responded that she would get back to me when Maggie was ready to state a position.  Lowe's never responded to my email either.

The Albuquerque Journal's latest bias is against illiterate people who work for the state.  They are upset that such a person worked for the NM Expo and the Richardson administration should have done something about it.  That person was hired during the Gary Johnson administration.  Apparently that person did the job of collecting refuse around the grounds.  I guess the Journal thinks this illiterate person should be unemployed and homeless.  The Journal was trying to use this person as an example of a flawed state personnel department.  It was a heartless example.

Jury duty is still on but my group was excused today.  Yesterday I went to be interviewed with 21 other folks for a DWI case, but I wasn't chosen to serve.  Judge Linda Rogers impressed me with her demeanor towards us and she was very clear in her questions.  Seven were chosen.  I was sent back to the bull pen and then called again and told that I would undergo another interview several hours later.  We left for lunch and exercise and returned to wait for the call.   Judge Sandra Engel and an Asst. District Attorney then came down to apologize for the delay and said the case had been settled.  They were very polite and professional.  So far the experience has been positive.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Out

I am back in Jury duty today.  Lots of reading and crosswords until I get called.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Misc.

Governor Martinez wants to 'starve the beast'.  She wants some new tax laws that will stop charging gross receipts taxes on other gross receipts taxes that have already been paid in a chain of business transactions.  I think this is needed and I don't disagree that it is a bad system.  I just want to understand from her administration where the sizable cut in revenues will be made up.  You can only cut revenues so long before real damage in services to our citizens will be felt.

The City of Albuquerque's capital improvement program is in great distress.  Much of the money that would usually go into paying off bonds for these projects were siphoned away during the Chavez years in the Mayor's office in order to fund pay raises for the police and others in the run up to his last election.  During a strong economic era it was not evident but now we are paying big time.  The problem is those capital programs for infrastructure improvements created jobs.  While we are looking into this situation I would recommend that the city auditor take a close look at the revenues that are supposed to be going into transit services and road rehabilitation.  The voters approved a special tax for that back when I was Mayor and it was renewed in a vote a couple of years ago.   I suspect some of that may be misdirected too.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Happy Birthday New Mexico

It seems kind of profound or scary to me that when I was born the state of New Mexico was only 34 years old.  Now it is 100 years old and it is celebrating its birthday with little fanfare.  Unlike the 250th anniversary of the City of Albuquerque's birthday back in the 1950's.  Everyone went all out for that one and all the men in the city were growing beards to commemorate it.  Even my dad Fermin did so.

There was a real sense of community excitement in the city on that anniversary.  There is decidedly little notice on our state's behalf because the political leadership so far has done little to take note of it.  Maybe it is just the way things are now.  I kind of miss the hoopla.  I did put up our New Mexico State Flag in the front  yard today.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

The Jury Room

We are entering our fourth hour of sitting in the jury room in Metro Court.  There are about one hundred of us and every one has their nose buried in a book, laptop or newspaper. It is a very nice group of folks and everyone has been very patient.  Only ten have been called out for service so far and most of us wish we were among them.

The facility here is very comfortable.  Drinks are provided and one must bring their own food unless they are sitting on an actual jury. There is wifi which is pretty nice.  No cell phones allowed though.  All in all an astute group of people.

Land Mine

I think Governor Susanna Martinez stepped on a land mine when she said she would oppose a 1/2% pay raise for state employees.  They have not had a pay raise in years and were also, rightfully so, asked to contribute more towards their retirement pensions.  The Governor had the support of many state employees in the northern part of the state and probably even more in the southern part of the state.  Even conservative democrat Senator John Arthur Smith thinks it would be okay to up the pay check a smidgen.  This pay raise would come to less than a dollar a day for the average state employee.  So you must know that this is the extreme right wing pulling the Governor's strings again.  This is a move democrats should like.

I am off to my second day of jury duty.  The orientation yesterday was good and today we will sit around the metro court jury room waiting to be called for a jury.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Misc.

This morning at coffee with a friend an old time republican moderate came up to me with a 10,000 mile stare and said, "Rick Santorum....Rick Santorum.....Ahhhhhhhh!"  At least this development is chasing out other unfit candidates today.  First Bachmann and soon Texas Governor Perry.

This really happened and it indicates to me those few remaining thinking moderate republicans are adrift in a sea of disbelief.  I have to jump right in with them in watching a guy who can't tie his shoes come into a dead heat with his party's only hope, Mitch Romney.  What we are seeing here is historic.  Brought to us by the evangelical christians of the Iowa corn belt.  And frankly, all brought to us by a teensy tiny percentage of American Voters.  What a system!

The Board of Regents showed some courage in picking Kent State's Provost Bob Frank as the University of New Mexico's 21st President.  This was the candidate that the faculty disliked.  They will probably see this as a pretty big poke in the eye but some folks that I know think he is a very talented guy and he will win the faculty over.  If they give him a chance.

Today I embark on that great American calling.  I have been summoned to be a Juror in the Albuquerque Metro Court.  I have never served as a juror before because of my political offices.  I was always automatically released from such duties as no one would want me on their juries while holding elected or appointed office.  It will be interesting to see if that still is the case.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Misc.

Where was all the frugality on the UNM Board of Regents when the search for the new football coach was underway?  We now see that the Regents think they need to ratchet down the pay and perks for the UNM President that they will choose this week.  It was bad enough that the football coaches make more money that the chief academic, but now they are widening the gap even more.  I don't care if the coaches salary is paid with other funds.  University Presidents and football coaches have short career paths unless the coach is a winner.  The coach also doesn't have to put up with the political b.s. from the Regents.   They are probably worse than the football fans and jocks.  This all sends a message that is surreal and bizarre at the same time.

As the Iowa campaigns wind down for the republicans we decided this weekend that a system that has several thousand evangeilical christians anointing the front runner is not worthy of our interest.  We really don't give a damn who wins that pathetic contest.  The one positive thing the media has done is getting across the message that this is a particularly weak lineup of candidates who all managed to have a lead at one point.  Thus, getting scrutiny that pretty much exposed their craziness.