Friday, September 28, 2012

Time Marches ON

This picture was taken 30 years ago.  The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta mass ascension was underway on the first day of the Fiesta.  I was in my first ever political campaign running for State Land Commissioner.  I won the general election carrying the ticket with the most votes and widest margin of victory.  Even the Albuquerque Journal supported me in those days.  All before the crazies in the right wing took over the media and the GOP.

Shown in the picture are Rosemary Glenn, my wife Bobbi holding our then two year old son Justin.  Rita Longino with their daughter Laura(now working hard for Michelle Lujan Grisham), my brother-in-law Dave Miller who is now the safety officer at the Albuquerque International Airport. Behind  him is Roy Soto(Rita's husband) who became my Deputy at the Land Office.  Pleas Glenn has the sunglasses on.  He headed up the Commercial development department at the Land Office for me.  He did all of the preliminary work on starting up the Mesa del Sol project.  Of course Rosemary, Bobbi and Rita were all highly successful professionals and career oriented women.  And I am up on top of the group with a smile because I knew the race was in the bag.  Those were really good times.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Misc.

So, do you remember the mantra of Governor Martinez and Secretary of State Duran that voter fraud was rampant in New Mexico?  It was pretty much aimed at democrats and immigrants.  Real hateful scapegoating there.  But now after wasting untold funds and man hours on investigations they could only come up with 19 cases of possible fraud.  Spread this over thousands of precincts, legislative districts, city council districts, county commission districts, etc. etc.  And you can only surmise that the real idea behind all of these scare tactics were, well scare tactics.  Especially against immigrants.  All aided and abetted by bigoted media outlets.

The new republican Bernalillo County Commission has just given the christian fundamentalist backed sheriff fifteen new deputies.  If they are needed I am not complaining.  But the budget numbers for this that the republicans used are without a doubt bogus.  It will cost at least 50% more than they say once you buy equipment, patrol cars, and overtime for these new officers.  What a twist!  The GOP growing government under false pretenses.  Look for real tax increases soon from the County.

Here is a question for everyone.  How many of Governor Martinez's exempt employees carry concealed weapons?  We know she does.  When I saw that the armed securities investigator that unjustly had NMFA employees arrested and cuffed for the cameras I began to wonder how many of these folks were allowed to carry weapons.  Why the hell does a glorified accountant carry a badge and a gun.  Does Darren White at NM Expo carry?  How about other state employees hired by Martinez? Are they allowed to carry on to school grounds and into movie theaters?


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

History

My good friend Eric called from Hawaii to talk a little about Albuquerque's economy.  He says our economy was formed by General Leslie Groves and Scientist Robert Oppenheimer when they opted to center research on the building of the Atomic Bomb here in New Mexico.  More specifically Los Alamos. This decision was paramount in the historical arc of our state's federal based economy.  (We beat out Utah.)  All because Oppenheimer had spent time at a boy's camp near Los Alamos as a youth.

Of course Los Alamos Labs and Sandia Labs were the heirs to the A-Bomb effort.  And it is good they stuck around because New Mexico's leaders for the last few decades pretty much concentrated on one thing only.  Sprawl development was our economic development.  More and more homes meandering into the desert was our means of growing.  Building and buying houses.  That's pretty much it and when things melted down we suffered greatly, except for our federal employment which really softened the impact.  Still, we see the Albuquerque Journal and our local and state political leaders doing everything they can to sweeten the pot for real estate developers.  That is not what we need.  We need manufacturing and development jobs in the private sector.  It would be the third leg in standing our economy on a steady level.  And it would make no sense to gut the federal, state and local government payrolls or the whole thing topples again.

It was hilarious to see John McCain here yesterday for Heather Wilson warning that budget cuts would harm New Mexico.  Aren't budget cuts the GOP's answer to everything.  Talk about the height of double talk by right wing politicos!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Misc.

Bernalillo County issued a press release on their great and ongoing economic development effort.  They will no longer charge a $50 vendor registration fee for vendors in their boundaries.  Doesn't that give you a feeling that  maybe they have reached the end of the line?  And frankly, what is wrong with licensing vendors?  I would like to know there is some record of them in case they are selling tainted food or merchandise.

Down here in the close North Valley the big divisive issue is a planned round-about on a very busy intersection at Rio Grande and Candelaria.  City Councillor Debbie O'Malley, who I sent some money to for her County Commission race yesterday, said she supports it.  Big mistake.  That project will cause constant and daily traffic jams on Rio Grande.  Sometimes well meaning planners who come up with these things just don't seem to see reality.  It is a very dumb project.

The ever masterful Journal reporter John Fleck came up with a great column on a court case that is trying to decide what a beneficial use of water is under New Mexico water law.  It was a well written and informative piece and everyone should try and read it.

They should also read Richard Cohen's column today on how the republicans got where they are with Mitt Romney.  It is absolutely on target.  In fact, even as a staunch moderately left of center democrat, I would like to see the GOP mend itself in order to present candidates that are decent and moderate.  At least it would provide some choices.

Monday, September 24, 2012

"Shocking...Laggard"

No wonder Ajax the cat wants to hide out in the shopping bag.  I am betting Mayor Berry and all of the City Council would like to crawl in there with him.  Allergies or not.

The Journal Business Outlook story today on Albuquerque's economic report card was devastating for the local elected officials.  UNM's Lee Reynis, Director of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research, said that the Duke City when compared with other municipalities is the 'laggard'.  She said the situation is 'shocking'.  Reynis is not one to use such words loosely.

One of the big reasons is the fall in government jobs which has been so important to this region.  Both federal and local jobs have been cut to the joy of the republicans.

So, will anyone notice when election time roles around next year?  Doubtful.  City Councillors who wish to be reelected will be.  They are largely invisible and nameless and will be elected by few voters.  Mayor Berry will have to endure some real slings and arrows but there are no strong candidates appearing to take him on.  Certainly, his economic development team needs some shaking up and the Albuquerque business community needs to step up and start helping with strong job recruitment.  So far everyone has not risen to the occasion.  And of course they can expect absolutely no help from the Governor who will only show up for a news conference.

He Isn't Listening

Mitt Romney said on 60 minutes last night that he prays to God every night.  Well, I would have to say the big guy in the clouds isn't listening given the mistakes Romney's campaign has made in the last couple of weeks.  I watched snippets of the interviews last night of Obama and Romney.  We and our guests were enjoying a pretty good chicken Marsala as the Q and A proceeded.  The lamest answer of the hour was Romney's saccharin response to the question of his big goal for the country as President.  He slathered out some totally inane statement on guaranteeing freedom in this nation.

Pablum.  B.S.  A punt.  And he delivered it all with no sparkle of intelligence in his eyes.  I have to say I have never seen this kind of deadpan zombie like rhetoric before.  I had thought he had more in that head than Karl Rove jingoism.

I am actually beginning to think he could bring down the entire GOP apparatus with his disjointed campaign.  Yes.  Even the House of Representatives' Tea Party types could suffer.

All of this could work in New Mexico's long term favor.  If the era of crazy GOP elected officials wanes over the next couple of cycles then our Senators and Congressmen will have accelerated clout in Washington.  And we need it.  Those federal jobs are the only thing that keep us above the water right now.


Friday, September 21, 2012

Ron Curry

Highly respected former New Mexico Environment Department Secretary Ron Curry has been appointed head of the Region Six Office of the Environmental Protection Agency.  This is great news for any one who cares about the public health, safety and welfare.  Curry never caved in to the polluters in the fossil fuel industry.  He is honest and will put the health of our landscapes and people first.  Click here to see the Region Six website.  A big win for the Obama team with this appointment.

Back

Five days and four rounds of golf.  Cochiti on Monday.  Rest on Tuesday.  Pendairie on Wednesday and Thursday.  Isleta on Friday.  Knee surgery needed soon.  Bummer.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Out

I will be out of town for a couple of days.  Yeah, playing golf at Pendaires.  Have to get a lot of games in before cold weather and possible knee surgery.  Life is too short!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Repress the Young

Does the Albuquerque Journal Editorial staff and the school board have it in for high school students and politics?   You must think so after reading today's issue.  The main headline was a big and silly story condemning a soccer team for delivering political handbills to make money for the team.  This story took precedence over the johnny come lately story on the Governor's Chief of Staff calling  legislative leaders every name imaginable in a recorded phone conversation.  Sometimes you have to think the editors at the paper have lost all sense of proportion in their extreme right wing views.  Here are a bunch of kids working to raise money for their endeavors and the Journal smacks them down with a big headline.  Is this a positive thing?

Oh, silly me, the hand bills were for a Democratic candidate.  That is the real crime.  If the candidate were a republican the story would have read that the kids were learning the political process and how democracy works.

Better to keep young ones in the dark I guess.   Speaking of which, when will PNM start carrying out their responsibilities and keep the street lights functioning on our interstates?  Take a ride down the freeways and count how many burned out lights there are.  We taxpayers pay them to do this and they are literally stealing from us when they ignore these.  It is also a safety issue.  So, Mayor Berry call them in on the carpet and chew them out.


Friday, September 14, 2012

A Lesson

There is a lesson to be learned by the treatment that the President is getting from the fossil fuel industry. See today's New York Times.  All politicians should take notice, especially guys like Senator Tom Udall and Congressman Ben Ray Lujan.  That lesson is that no matter how accommodating you are to that industry they will screw you in the end.

The oil and coal boys are spending untold amounts of money on defeating Obama even after he tread so lightly on them over the last four years.  His instructions to the Interior department to make nice with these climate destroying industries is now biting him twice.  The renewable energy crowd is sitting out this election because the President betrayed them by 'disappearing' the climate change issue.

I have never understood most democrat elected officials who seem to follow the philosophy of 'help your  enemies and screw your friends.'  It is sickening.

Senator Tom Udall represents a state that has beautiful landscapes worth saving.  And yet his staff treats his biggest supporters in the conservation movement with great disrespect and apathy.  And Congressman Lujan plays footsie with the livestock industry in trying to weaken wilderness legislation. Don't these guys know they will suffer the double whammy that Obama is experiencing right now?  Would Obama be in some measurably better shape if he worked harder on environmental and public land issues in this election?  I think he would be.  Half a percent in some states might make all the difference in the world when it comes to those electoral votes.

So, everyone of our democratic officials should stop acting like mewling kittens around the fossil fuel guys.  They will never, ever, ever support their candidacies.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Misc.

Following up on yesterday's post about the off the grid discussions by city councillors Debbie O'Malley and Dan Lewis I have to say that I was glad they were having some discussions.  Many folks in the media naively think that there is something wrong with two elected officials talking to each other on an issue when they are not being televised or recorded.  Well, I hate to let those half ass journalists know that this is how compromise and progress is made.  It is something that used to occur regularly that would grease the skids of bipartisan cooperation.  Of course that all ended with the hate inspired politics of Newt Gingrich and his GOP freshman class of congressional idiots in 1994.  So, a tip of my hat to O'Malley and Lewis for being civil enough towards each other to have a chat.

I think we can all see what an empty vessel Mitt Romney is by his knee jerk reaction to the violence in Libya.  It shows  us the kind of President he would be.  Very frightening.

And, here is a fascinating look at campaign spending in this election.  Can it be true that more money is being spent on TV ads in New Mexico than is being spent in California?  Some of those TV station owners are wishing their vessels were full of money.

And finally, one shouldn't be to surprised at Governor Martinez's popularity in the state.  When an elected official does nothing and has no legislative plan then she doesn't upset anyone.  She just runs around being visible and shrugging her shoulders saying everything is the fault of democratic legislators.  Meanwhile the people she surrounded her self with, like Pat Rodgers and her Chief of Staff, take the heat off her by being sophomoric.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Adrift in Journalism

Emails, texts, video cams, editorial bias.  All part of modern day journalism.  It requires little or no journalistic work.  It just copies the 'he said, she said' regurgitation of digital data.  It is heart breaking.  But then you have outlets like the Albuquerque Journal that plays sides so strongly on using this stuff that it equals the big lie.

The Journal has ignored the diatribe by the Governor's Chief of Staff.  It was an eyeopener in the last few days.  But zero coverage from the Journal and its partisan publisher and editor.  But the texts of city councillors trying to work out a non partisan deal on the Paseo bond issue is headline news.  Like something is wrong with the give and take of politics between two elected officials.  They were doing what we are all longing for.  Working together to find solutions to tough political questions.

How can we trust Journalists any longer?  We are witnessing a complete reversal in this country.  It used to be Journalists sought out the truth and we watched TV shows for entertainment.  Now we seem to get more truth seeking in TV shows than we get in TV and printed news reports.  Mondo Bizaaro!


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Misc.

The Journal's coverage of their own poll shows the power of their right wing editor.  They would have it appear that most New Mexicans are worse off in this economy than they were four years ago by they way they presented their graphics in todays paper.  In fact, their own story shows that two thirds of New Mexicans are better off or the same.  The editor thinks everyone is an idiot I guess and can't see through this.

They also have completely ignored the fact that government jobs in New Mexico have protected us from the higher unemployment rates that the rest of the country has experienced.  Our national labs and defense infrastructure have somewhat insulated us and yet the right wing editors would cut those jobs.  I am all for shifting defense dollars into infrastructure dollars to rebuild our nation and state, but cutting government jobs in an economy like this is self destructive.

The Journal poll really didn't have any surprises for me.  Martin Heinrich will be our new US Senator and Michelle Grisham Lujan will serve in Congress. These are two young politicos who seemingly came out of nowhere over the last few years to become successful.  That is the way it should be.  Neither of them came from big money or machine politics and I think that has really worked for them.  GOP Senate candidate Heather Wilson just could not shake the 'oh, her again' image and her party has abandoned her for greener pastures.

Congressman Ben Ray Lujan, who is a benefactor of old time politics through his dad, is still a breath of fresh air.  He will be around a long time.  Steve Pearce, the kooky right-winger in the southern district, will also be around on the strength of the oil and gas industry.

And then there is my old friend Senator Tom Udall who is almost totally invisible thanks to his particular style.    He is a decent guy and could use some new staff who might deal better with his constituents.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

An Aside

This really happened.  I was reminded of it last night after catching up on 'Breaking Bad.'  Believe it or not it is one of the top rated shows in Russia.  When some Russians found that some of us on the tour were from Albuquerque they all said they wanted to visit our city because of that TV show.  Really!  So, Governor Martinez, there is one more indication that our film industry is important.

Some one asks if St. Petersburg, formerly Leningrad, was heavily damaged during WWII.  In fact, only one in three buildings survived.  A massive rebuilding and restoration of the city was undertaken immediately and even under Stalin it was thought to be important to restore its grand palaces and buildings.  Things went down hill and the 80's and 90's, but now there seems to be a scaffold in front of every building as it undergoes renovation.

Read the book "900 Days" about the horrendous siege of the city.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Same Old

First off, credit where it is due, the Journal is doing a good job on issues positions of the candidates for Congress and Senate.  It is like the Journal of old.  The coverage seems fair and to the point.

But, it looks to me as if the GOP candidates are just like the little souvenirs we brought back from Russia for our grandson.  They are nestled dolls that are all alike.  Every time you open one of the dolls you hope the next one might be an individual.  But it just does not happen.  They are clones of the Rove kind.

In today's story on energy the GOP is still into the whole drill baby drill mantra.  It is disappointing and one can only wonder if the candidates are really that comfortable parroting this stuff for their oil and gas puppeteers.  One, it is the wrong course for America.  Secondly, it is old and stale.  Yesterdays jingoism.

And then the only retort is that Martin Heinrich drives a big diesel truck.  If you know Martin he is the avid outdoorsman and as his able press person says...."you cant put an elk in the back of a Prius."  His other car is a Prius.  

Thursday, September 06, 2012

First Thing

Two Bags.  Hatch Medium. Roasted to perfection at the Fruit Basket on 12th Street.

Home

The St. Petersburg Airport is like a level in hell.  I am not sure which.  We stood in line for three hours trying to get a boarding pass and got on the airplane two minutes before the door closed.  But we are home.  We flew one of those levitated skyscrapers, the Airbus 380, and for having to be jammed on there with 550 other folks it was surprisingly nice.  Good food and service by Lufthanza and the seats were okay.  It was weird but all six of us managed to land in rows with empty seats between us.  Very comfortable.  And I only gained one pound on the trip.  I would have thought that was impossible after pigging out in St. Petersburg.

It was so nice to fly into ABQ last night with the thunder storms here and there.  We immediately shriveled up a little from the dry air.  Our cats greeted us nicely upon arrival home.  Green chile was next.  And then we caught Clinton's speech for Obama.  He won it for him.

Reading the Journal this morning it is really funny to see what ink is spent on.  Emails and bad jokes. The media in Russia was on the big issues, including scathing editorials on Putin and the Russian Orthodox church for their collusion.

I will be making a movie of our trip over the next week or so.   6 minutes max.  I will post it when finished.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Catherine

She showed the women are just as good as the men when it comes to spending the nation's wealth on some good digs.

Truly, a resplendent place.

Great for photographers.  

Nice Gardens that are actually larger than the ones at Peterhof.

The Germans attempted to blow up the palace when they were driven from Russia.

They put time fuses on seven one ton aerial bombs through out the castle.  A Russian soldier defused the timers before they could go off.

But the place was badly damaged and it took decades to restore it.

Room after room of the Baroque style.

I finally got to see the Amber Room which the Germans dismantled and shipped home during the war.  (I had wanted to see this for years.) It was known to be safe but it was never found.  So the Russians found 12 tons of Amber and restored the room.  It was the only place you could not take photos so this one is from the web.

This ends the tour of Russia.  Tomorrow we cast our fates to the wind at 3am Russian time, 5pm Albuquerque time, and hope the cabin crew strike at Lufthanza doesn't prevent our flights.  We go to Frankfurt.  Then on one of those giant Airbus 380s to Houston, and arrive home at 6pm or so.  Wish us luck.  Anything can happen.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Peterhof

We had a wonderful day here.

Peterhof was constructed by, who else, but Peter the Great.  

He needed a stopping off point for his trips to Europe so this site on the Gulf of Finland was perfect.  

He started building a Summer Palace to try and match Versaille, France.  


video
He pretty much pulled it off.


Sunday, September 02, 2012

Can't Wait to Come Again

We have decided this is one of the greatest cities ever.  St. Petersburg has it all.  As one can see at a 9PM Sundown in this northern latitude.  (Same as Anchorage)

Now, let me tell you about the food.  The last two nights we have had meals that would rank in the top ten we have ever had.  Screw Weight Watchers.  We are on vacation and will be back to our system in a few days.  Last night we ate Italian at Sardina.

Tonight we went to the Buffalo Steak House.  I had the best Stroganoff ever.  Yeah....all heart stopping butter and cream.....but God that was good.  The restaurant was in an old 18th century store house made of bricks.  They played good American Jazz/Pop from the 50s.

Monday morning we go to the Peterhof gardens and palaces.  I will ice my knee and break out my cane for help should I need it.  Can't Wait!

Rainy Sunday

We spent a rainy Sunday morning in the Hermitage Museum as seen here from our canal tour later in the day.

 It is the biggest museum in the world where it it said that it would take 11 years to tour it if you spent one minute in front of each piece of art.  I believe it.


A wonderful place.



Lots of decor and structure.


And Rembrandts

The city has a lot of canals and rivers.

And the original Cruiser Aurora that started the 1917 Revolution.


Saturday, September 01, 2012

St. Petersburg

This is an absolutely beautiful city. 

 No wonder some describe Moscow as a big village and this place as cosmopolitan.

We visited the Fortress of Peter and Paul and saw the tomb of Peter the Great.  

There are many sculptures, palaces and museums. 

It was the first day of school in Russia which is a very special day here.  All the kids were out and the girls had ribbons in their hair. 



Last night we experienced a special treat.  A performance of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake at the Imperial Theatre at the Hermitage.  Tickets were pricey in the small theater for 300.  But how could one not go see Swan Lake in St. Petersburg?

Out of Russian Hinterlands

The last seven days on the Volga and Neva Rivers from Moscow to St. Petersburg have been fun.  Except for a bad case of "Stalin's Revenge" on Friday.  The boat ride was pleasant, the quarters were hard and the food okay.  The company was good.  We arrived in St. Petersburg this Saturday Morning.

It is a beautiful city.  But first here is a taste of the last seven days.


The Kremlin


We got to tour inside the Kremlin today.  One would have thought it would be a center of bureaucracy, but in fact it is more like a park.  

Many cannons and gardens.

Some really big guns.

Lots of domes and holy places. 

We visited the famous armory but no cameras allowed.  Thrones, carriages, gowns and Fabrege eggs.

Bobbi took some great night time pics while I iced my knee.



Uglich

The river cruiser Tolstoy is a pretty ship at night.   

The rooms are very small.  


We sailed through locks for most of the evening.

Our first port stop was Uglich in the before sundown.  An absolutely beautiful time for a stroll.

It is a colorful town on a sharp corner on the Volga. 

 The town prospers as a watchmaking center for the country 

An incredible choir sang for us.Religion is having a comeback in Russia with at least 60% of the populace saying they have strong beliefs.  Mostly Russian Orthodox.


The high light of the evening was a home visit to Tatiana’s residence not far from the boat.

She had one of the most beautiful gardens I have ever seen.  It could support her family for a year.  

Our guide stated that 80% of the veggies consumed by Russians are grown in their gardens.  Many city dwellers have garden plots in the country.

Tatiana served some homemade moonshine.  It was like the best Cognac I have ever tasted.  Incredibly smooth, but very potent. 

We sampled her veggies, homemade pickles and a wonderful Apricot pastry.

Next to my chair was a stack of books.  On top was a picture book of New Mexico that some former visitors from Albuquerque had sent her.  Hilarious.

She was a gracious hostess and we will send her a gift when we return.

Yaroslavl and Rostov the Great

These Russians were really into the whole Monastery thing.  Everywhere you look in this country are the onion shaped domes.  

Bobbi, Joan and Diana all got in the swing of things at Rostov the Great.


Most Monasteries will not allow pictures to be taken inside.  Some will let the cameras work for a fee.  Same with some of the state museums.  These are not ornate churches like in other European countries.  Many have little in the way of treasure but lots of painted icons everywhere.

Rostov the Great is now a state museum.  Our guide said that most of the churches and monasteries that are being rebuilt use only donated money.  


The churches here are all raking in the rubles, much of it from the burgeoning ranks of billionaires in Russia.  

Just the opposite of  many American churches where school closures and consolidations are occurring.

A few of us posed for a portrait with Lenin on a town walk in Yaroslavl.  Many of his sculptures have been torn down to make way for new projects.

Goritsky and Kirillo-Gelozerk

The riverbanks in this region are mostly wetlands covered with reeds and trees.  Lots of pretty scenes.

Thousands of villages were submerged when the locks and dams were constructed on the Volga and Neva rivers.  Here is the steeple that shows where one hill top church was.  In the background is a large radio telescope. We have enjoyed the boat journey so far and the food is very Russian and no chile in sight.  We all miss red and green.  I have taken to eating half portions so I don’t regain a lot of weight.

We visited the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery which was founded by St. Cyril in 1397.  It is one of the largest Monasteries in the world and now is a government funded museum.

One wonders how so much wealth was pumped into these facilities back those centuries without the public rebelling.  But, they were all promised a place in Paradise as repayment I suppose.

They are impressive places.

Moonrise on the Volga

We had some great views of the moonrise over the Volga.  Another cruiser was in the water behind us.  There are quite a few of these kinds of ships going up and down this route. 

We went through many locks last night as we started to descend to St. Petersburg.  We will come down about 250 feet from our high point.

We got a tour of the bridge on the ship.  Lots of attentive young officers keeping us on course.

Kizhi

We spent a good part of the day cruising Lake Onega.  We arrived at Kizhi Island for a great walking tour.  

The famous wooden cathedral, The Church of Transfiguration, was undergoing repairs.  It is constructed entirely of local forest products.  Lots of Aspen that are used as siding and shingles.  


This outdoor museum  site includes original homes, windmills and other structures.  The cathedral dates back to the middle of the 16th century.