Friday, August 24, 2012

Sergiev Posod

We spent the day traveling 70 kilometers to Sergiev Posod to view the 16th Century Monastery.  It is a revered place in Russia.  Many of the people coming here are pilgrims. They probably got there faster than we did by walking.  Moscow traffic is infamous.

They kiss the paintings.

Worship the icons as in the eerie photo I took in near darkness with no flash.  The woman had bowed to the altar.

They work at the shops surrounding the complex of many chapels.

Tourists gawk at the gilded altars.
We had a wonderful time at this special place.

Russian Girls are pretty.  Here is the Barista at the hotel and a two waitresses from our luncheon.

And then life kicks in.

This may well be my last post until 7 days from now when we arrive in St. Petersburg after our riverboat journeys   There will be no internet or phone service.  We will be in old time Russia.

Thursday, August 23, 2012


A day of touring in Moscow.  This is the New Mexico contingent.  From the left is Susan Feiner  and Peter Whitman of Santa Fe.  Then Diana Otteni and Bobbi Baca, Lee Otteni, a beached whale that looks like me, and Joan and Frank Nordstrum of Santa Fe.

We did the Red Square thing.  Marveled at the famous St. Basils.

Saw a monument to General Zukov. 

And we took a ride on the clean and efficient metro that moves ten million people a day.  The beautiful stations all have a theme.  During rush hour a train comes every 35 seconds.  The system is subsidized by the state.  In the USA the current GOP would hate this public service.  Moscow residents depend on it to keep this city running.

It seems there is a church on every corner.

We had a generally good time.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


We went out for our first Russian Cuisine at a Georgian cafe in downtown Moscow.  Many of the people on our aircraft were coming on this tour and a lot of them crashed at the hotel.  We went out with Frank and Joan Nordstrum. 

 Lots of veal, lamb, kabobs, and cheese were on the menu with dark Russian beer.  After the airplane food it was a big hit.

We are ten hours ahead of New Mexico.  Our dinnertime is breakfast burrito time in the Land of Enchantment.


Weather is cool here.  Nice after long flight.  No photos yet.  Just jet lag.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Into the East

Twenty hours of dehydration ahead as we await our flight at ABQ to Domovedo airport in Moscow.  I often think the prices charged for water at the airport can only lead to one thing.  Some one will figure out how to charge for air.  So profitable!

Monday, August 20, 2012


Can it really be that Mayor Berry is in cahoots with the Albuquerque Journal on keeping  city councillor Isaac Benton from voting on the Paseo/I-25 issue? They have attacked him because reapportionment has moved him out of the district?  The story in the Journal this morning points that way.    This is the lowest blow I have seen, especially since the reapportionment law said the councillors could serve out their terms.  If Berry and his mascots in the right wing GOP are really trying to do this, think domestic violence perp Jay McClesky,  then I have lost all respect for his administration.   This is just a Karl Rove type attack on the credibility of an honest and well intentioned councillor who thinks the public should be given a chance to vote.  Remember, this issue was voted down just a year ago.  Meanwhile, not a peep out of the Journal so far on all of the Governor Martinez appointees who have domestic violence problems.

I have to chuckle at American people who are so upset about the 'Pussy Riot' issue in Russia.  Instead of putting on baklavas to protest maybe they should be in the streets condemning this country's patriot act.

As we travel around Russia over the next couple of weeks I will attempt to post some pictures occasionally.  While we are in Moscow and St. Petersburg it shouldn't be a problem, but while we sail the rivers and lakes between the two cities it might be impossible.  This will be an interesting trip into a country with such a rich and varied history.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Lucky Us

I just realized that we will be in Russia when the GOP has its national convention.  Damn, we are so lucky!  It will do wonders for my blood pressure that I will be enjoying simple cuisine at stops in the countryside while the Tea Party types are serving them selves up some deep southern fat fried fat.  Do you want to bet they will rally behind that terrible Russian female rock band, Pussy Riot, to show they are real men who care.  Except they are the ones who continue to want to control women's uteruses and push for more Patriot Act type legislation while at the same time suppressing the vote of poor people.

Hell, I might even eat some borscht in celebration of being far away while this nauseous confab occurs.  You have to know that in my book beets rank right up there with liver, lima beans and okra as the food of demons. If I am wrong about my lack of religious beliefs then that is what I will be eating in hell.

Friday, August 17, 2012


We went to see the movie "The Campaign" last night.  It was funny and true to the point as it chronicled the campaign of two modern day candidates who do everything but talk about the issues.  But the real losers in the movie were the media who always let them get away with it.  This modern day media is failing the democracy it historically served.

Then this morning the Albuquerque Journal trots out a poll showing everyone wants $50 million spent out of city coffers for a Paseo/I-25 interchange.  Of course they do, but the issue was presented as a vote of the public, not the vote of 7 of 9 city councillors.  I think this vote needs to be held given that the voters turned it down once before in a poorly thought out bond vote cobbled together by the Berry Administration.  Hopefully our city councillors will not succumb to this ham fisted bullying.  Certainly in the meantime a lot of preliminary planning and scheduling of the project can be done.

We are scheduled to leave for Moscow, Russia on Tuesday.  Right now I can envision rioting and lawlessness after the sentencing of a girl's rock band to a couple of years in prison for the great crime of making Putin look bad.  I did look at the performance that got the band in trouble.  It was done without permission on the altar of a historic church.  It was tasteless and crass and not very good.  It was aimed at the Orthodox Christians in Russia who support Putin.  Religion again!  But, there are better ways to protest.  We will watch this closely.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Poor Pay-The Rich Get Subsidies

Bio Park Flamingos at Night

Raising prices for entry to publicly owned facilities is always risky.  Cutting back on days that such facilities are open is also very dangerous.  During my term as Mayor I advocated closing the Bio Park facilities on Mondays to save money during an economic down turn.  You would have thought I was the devil incarnate.

I had also been an advocate of the real estate boys paying more for the sprawl development they love so  much.  You would have thought I was the devil incarnate.  At least that is what the local media thought.  They never much cared we grew the budget during my term less that the inflation rate.

Now, Mayor Berry sees a need to raise prices at the Bio Park by a whopping 30% to help pay for maintenance and improvements.  It is a tough call and I can't argue that the facilities need some work done on them.  But when you stop and think about it, it is all upside down.  This is being done while the administration pushes for lower development costs for the real estate boys.  Sure, that may lead to a few more jobs but it will also lead to Paseo/I-25 type issues in the future.  Right now the administration is demanding that Bio Park attendees pay for the ongoing costs while they are insisting that sprawl development be given a subsidy.

Well, being a Mayor is a difficult job.  But for the life of me I can not figure out why Berry isn't up on the Governor's doorstep looking for money for the interchange project which is really a state/federal issue.  Instead the great Bio Park facilities will pay their freight while the state and others get a free pass.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Conflicting Views of America

Just about everyone deep down feels good that the USA did very well in the Olympics.  You just can't help it.  We had a bunch of young athletes there in London giving it their all.  Even the ones in less televised sports where you had to wear more than a bikini.  The wont get famous but they still represented us proudly.  Many of them came from backgrounds of poverty and difficulty but they competed for the USA.  No whining there.

Today, thousands of young immigrants lined up to sign up for Obama's road to citizenship.  These people think our country is well worth exposing themselves for.  They would be proud to be Americans.

Then there is the Tea Party types that think there is nothing right about our country.  They and their new hero, VP candidate Paul Ryan, think we are on an abyss because of a national healthcare program amongst other things.    It suddenly came to me today that these poor souls are just depressed because everything isn't perfect.  Hilariously though, the majority of them do get many benefits from the government they hate.  It is just plainly bizarre.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


The legislative democrats in New Mexico are setting up some PACS to try and dull the attacks of Governor Martinez's PAC.  You know, the one run by a violent domestic violence perp.  Good luck with all that.  If the dems can raise even as much as what one fossil fuel donor gives to the Governor then they will be a success.  In the end they will get outspent with dirty money.  However, they will still win.

I understand that the democratic party is now getting ready to file  law suits against the Martinez/Duran voter suppression efforts.  They will try and restore the straight party voting option and the efforts to throw long time voters off the registered voter list.  I hope they get good lawyers and do it all quickly.

If the City Council votes to spend $50 million dollars on the Paseo/I-25 interchange with out going to a vote it will be a very bad precedent.  It opens the floodgates to subsidizing the Real Estate industry who loves to sprawl.  This would send a signal that they can ignore the voters on the extension of infrastructure because they know when the transportation systems fail that the council will bail them out.  Frankly, this whole issue has been incredibly mismanaged by the Mayor and Counci.  How could the city attorney not know he couldn't mingle city and state elections?  Or was this all done by design to create a crisis in order to evade an election?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Old Time Journalism

Mike Gallagher's series of reports on drug addiction in the Albuquerque Journal reminds me that there are still some shreds of journalistic ethics at our city's only daily newspaper.  The undercurrent I take away from the first two segments of this series is that things never change when it comes to drug problems in the Land of Enchantment.  Yes, clientele goes more upscale and the most favorite drug changes back and forth.  But, all of the efforts at stopping this love affair with narcotics are pathetic and will remain so because you cant change peoples craving for their highs.  The only thing we do is throw enormous sums of money at it.  Untold millions for law enforcement and incarceration.  And the laws just cause more violence and larceny.  This whole drug war is a poster child for stupidity.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Attack with Facts

Mike Corwin at the Independent Source Pac has often been attacked by Governor Martinez's mascots because he dares to use uncovered facts to show the shadowy dealings and personalities in that administration.  I cant wait to see what the Martinez minions  do with the latest revelations from this highly skilled investigator.  Will they use state resources to get back at Corwin?

His latest information on the people who Susanna Martinez surrounds herself with is devastating.  Read it here.  The main thread running through this expose is the domestic violence that stalks her appointees and political advisers.

There are a couple of troubling issues surrounding this.  One is that our newspapers and TV reporters have no clue.  I realize that printed news is on the skids and that it may not be possible for them to do this kind of work any longer.  Empty desks in the Albuquerque Journal newsroom say it all, along with the Journal's spilling of editorial stands into day to day operations of the news desk.  The question now is whether the Journal will just ignore these bombshells.  That couldn't happen, could it?  And TV's so called investigative reporters can only handle the low hanging fruit.

Secondly, in the case of Jay McClesky the uber chief of staff for Martinez who is not a state employee but a poltical pac operator, seems to be running things in the state. Even with his dark past he gets paid big bucks, really big, to run the Governor's PAC and that requires him to rake in the big money from oil, gas, and coal treasuries.  Then he walks onto the 4th floor of the Capitol in Santa Fe and orders up legislation and policy initiatives for those guys.

The Governor is going to have to explain why she has these bullies around her.  Or, she risks losing support from many who were in her court a couple of years ago.

Do your self a favor and read this expose.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Let's Hope

Let us hope for a new day in the nation's capitol as young and smart folks get elected.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York came to campaign for Congressman Martin Heinrich's Senate campaign in Albuquerque and Santa Fe on Friday evening.  She won her seat after Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State.  She is running for a full six year term.

Both Gillibrand and Heinrich, in front of a nice gathering at the home of former Attorney General Patsy Madrid, promised that the issue of climate change would come back on the radar after the election.  It better had because we don't want to see cows and people fighting over an ear of corn as crops fail in a heat induced drought.  I am not sure how they will deal with the wacko anti environment crowd in DC, but they need to concentrate on this.  This is no laughing matter.  And when Obama is reelected he better get on board.


Two days in the Mountains of Pendairies, NM was a great tonic.  I limped and drove around the golf course on my bad knee and we generally enjoyed our selves. This video is of the diabolical 10th hole. By the way, the summer chef at the restaurant at the small hotel in Pendairies is really a master.  If you go up there to play golf or look around be sure and stop in for dinner.

I read this morning that the City Council will, at Brad Winter's urging, try and issue bonds for the Paseo/I-25 interchange with out going to a vote.  This whole mismanaged affair just gets more ridiculous.  I can remember Winters insisting that the public should vote on everything when I was Mayor.  He demanded it and we complied.  Now, he  has a change of  heart.  I hope the city council just rejects this and either funds a mail in ballot question or waits until next year.  With low interest rates I would go for the mail in ballot right now.  It would likely pay for itself.

What is more interesting is the city council dragging its feet on issuing a decision on the ill advised location of a Walmart on Coors and Montano.  I know this game.  They are trying to outlast the opponents.  Then they can give a go ahead to the project which will force a future Mayor and Council to go through another ordeal like the Paseo/I-25 fiasco because the interchange at Montano will need rebuilding to the tunes of tens of millions of dollars.  Corporate America seems to own some of these players on the Council.

The same with the County Commission who is handing out incentives to Lowes Home Improvement Centers.   Even after their blatant discrimination against the Islamic community last year.  You will remember they pulled advertising from a reality show about an American Islamic family after getting pressure from right wing Christian fundamentalists.  Not a peep from the Commissioners about this.  At least Lowes' champion, Maggie Hart Stebbins, could ask for some guarantees from the company that this kind of behavior won't happen again.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Mountain Air

I am off for some Mountain air in the high altitude of the golf course at Pendairies, NM.  Hopefully, I can watch the Olympics tonight.  I have really been enjoying seeing this international casts of male and female jocks doing their best.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

What Does It Take

One wonders how many signals the nation's leaders can ignore.  The same goes for our Governor and Legislature.  We read today that by August 16th or so the farmers in the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District will run out of water.  The heat and drought now comes home to our valley.  This photo was taken in July of 2005 from my brothers airplane.  Cochiti Lake is in the foreground with Cochiti, Pena Blanca, Kewa (formerly Santo Domingo) and San Felipe stretching out behind.

Last night on the PBS news hour NASA scientists once again gave us an ominous warning.  If you missed it please watch it here.

And so I applaud the young high school student who was profiled in the Albuquerque Journal this morning for suing the Governor and others for their lack of action on protecting her future.  We need more kids like her.

Monday, August 06, 2012


Will someone please explain to me why the NM Democratic Party has let the Martinez/Duran cabal at the state capitol just get away with murder on killing the ability of voters to pull a straight party ticket?  Has someone done some math that shows that will help democrats?  Should a severing of options for the citizen voter be allowed to just take place without anyone filing suit?  Please, some good statistician out there needs to explain for us math deprived folks what is going on here.  And the leader of the Democratic party, Javier Gonzalez(a nice guy) should at least let us know what decisions were made within the party about this.  Here is a hint Javier, if Martinez/Duran wanted it then maybe it is not a good idea.  It is one more example of vote suppression by the right wing.

If NASA can put a Rube Goldberg device successfully on Mars then why cant the Berry administration complete construction on one new roundabout intersection on Indian School road NW?  Indian School has been closed to through traffic for the summer as they spend little time on the project.  This is an indication to me that the Berry Public Works Department works at the beck and call of construction company CEO's rather than the taxpayer.  Mayor, get your eyeballs on the scene and figure out what is going on.  And while you are at it just forget any more roundabouts, especially at Candelaria and Rio Grande.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Glorious August

I ran over to on this glorious August Morning to meet some folks in Pena Blanca along with my brother Tom.

They have a plan to put much of the land there into production of Sun Flowers.

Eventually, they would like to see an oil press situated in this village on the Rio Grande below the Jemez Mountains.  Certainly, there can be no more beautiful crop with the landscape as a back ground. Pena Blanca residents are planning a Sunflower Festival on August 25th and 26th.

This barn behind the tractor has an interesting story.  It is constructed with large beams stacked like bricks.  The beams were washed down the Rio Grande decades ago after a severe flood destroyed the bridge they supported.   The salvaged wood has been standing as this barn since I was a child.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Once in a While

The newspaper I love to hate, the Albuquerque Journal, gets it right once in a while.  Their story on the Albuquerque Police Departments macabre handling of the death of civil rights attorney Mary Han was on the mark today.  It seems every high ranking police official wanted to visit and trample the scene where Han allegedly committed suicide.  (Our daughter and Mary's daughter were good buddies in their childhood and we often spent time with Mary.)

When stories like this keep oozing out then you know there is a lot more packed inside the issue.  Why was it necessary for the cops to swarm the place and take pictures of Mary's body on private cell phones?  Just because she nailed them on so many civil rights lawsuits I guess.  But, it certainly reveals the institutional problems at the department and that can only be fixed with a wholesale housecleaning.

On another issue you see someone occasionally make a decision to make a bad career move.  Here I am talking about the UNM Law School Dean moving out of that job to take one the post of Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs at the Department of Interior.  Knowing what I know about such jobs I think that Kevin Washburn will soon lament leaving the Land of Enchantment.  That particular job just grinds up people every two years.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Dog Days

We are in the dog days of summer.  That doesn't jive around the Baca household any more since our beloved beagles went to eternal doggy day care in the sky.  Ajax the cat has the right idea though.  Hunt at night.  Barf up bugs in the morning.  Sleep all day while demurely showing off his long tail.  No culture wars for this kitty.  I am joining the cats for a day of rest as my knee blew up again yesterday after cutting down our peach tree that succumbed after a bumper crop of peaches.  The borers  killed it in just a matter of days.  So, no political stuff today but I will watch the Olympics.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Intolerance with Feathers

I once heard a woman say, "I don't eat no feather meat of no kind."  I am petty much with her when it comes to Chick fil A chicken.  It is not a bad meal either as far as fast food chicken goes, but now that the religious right organized an 'appreciation day' for this gay hating and chicken killing chain I have pretty much decided they are off my menu.  I will bet you the leadership of the boy scouts will endorse them pretty soon.  Now mind you, this is all your standard brand of fundamentalist christian hatred at work.  Make no other assumption.  One could say these religious zealots have something in common with the Islamic Taliban.  They all hate people who are different.  The christians deny it of course.  But it is true.  Next thing we will see is the Chick fil A mascot cows holding signs saying "Kill a queer for Christ."  But, they do have a right to their opinion and some Mayors around the country are overstepping their bounds in trying to ban the fattening food outlets from their towns.  The best protest is to not spend your money there.

Actually this is all pretty scary.  Not funny.  As we see evidence of continuing divide between the classes one could imagine that corporate giants like Chick fil A could use this issue to keep some of the poverty stricken religious right in an alliance.  Boy that is a crazy statement, isn't it?