Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Friends Meeting House

My son Justin and I dropped by the Friends Meeting House tonight to watch the presentation of the Union of Concerned Scientists presentation on the proposed development of a nuclear bunker buster bomb. It really was very informative and if you look at my blog entry from this morning you can learn a little more. There were about 85 people at the meeting. I knew many of them from my past campaigns and work with environmental groups. This crowd is educated and dedicated about current events and liberal ideals.

I could not help but notice that out of the crowd there were not five attendees under the age of thirty. Look at the picture closely and you will see mainly a crowd made up of 45 plus activists. This is disturbing. Where will the next generation of people like this come from. As I recall, activism usually starts in colleges and universities. There wasn't much evidence of that tonight although this group of folks are experienced in moving their agendas forward. However, we aren't going to be around to do this forever and it is encouraging to know that many folks see what is happening and many foundations and philantrophists are aiming to do something about it.

And Finally

And then ponder this photo.

In the Thick of It! Pity Him

This is Jim Ludwick. He is the Albuquerque Journal Reporter who covers the City Hall beat, including the Mayor's office and the City Council. We should pity him a little bit for what he is about to endure over the next five weeks. It will be up to him to make sense of the Mayor's race, the minimum wage proposal and city Council races for the Journal's readers.

Jim is a really likeable guy. He moved here from Montana in 1997 just as I took office as Mayor. Jim has been a journalist for almost thirty years now. Like most of the Journal reporters he is very accurate and fair in his reporting and he is very professional in his demeanor. I always enjoyed working with him.

I remember when I ran for Mayor the first time back in 1985 that Karen Moses, the current Managing Editor, was covering the race. About a week before election time I don't know who was more exhausted of the two of us. I had one campaign to run, but she had to cover multiple ones. She was also very pregnant as I recall and I thought she might not make it to election day. I really thought very highly of her too.

Good People

I had early morning coffee with some really good people. They are all in town as representatives of the Union of Concerned Scientists. This has always been one my favorite activist groups because of their heavy reliance on science to move their agenda along. On the left is Doctor Robert Dodge of Ventura, California, in the middle is Damon Moglen of the Gobal Security Program, and on the right is an old colleague of mine from The Wilderness Society, Doctor Sue Gunn, Senior Washington Representative.

They are in town to alert New Mexicans to the dangers of the proposed Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator, more commonly known as the bunker buster bomb. See more about it here.
This thing really looks like a boondoggle that won't do what it is supposed to do. And, do we really need more nukes in this world?

This group is making the rounds of New Mexico cities in hopes that the public will convince Senator Pete Domenici to eliminate funding for this project in the next year. They will make a presentation to the public on Wednesday night at the Friends Meeting House at 1600 5th North West in Albuquerque.

Red Cross Time

We all feel a little helpless as we watch events unfold on the Gulf Coast. One way of helping is by sending money to the Red Cross or some other non governmental entity that is involved in the disaster relief effort. Bobbi and I sent them an online donation last night. It took me several attempts to do it since the Red Cross servers were jammed up with other folks doing the same thing.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Justin and Noelle

I popped home prior to lunch and was greeted with this scene. Justin and Noelle eating breakfast burritos from Little Anitas while working on their wireless network computers. Justin will be here for several months working for his non profit group and Noelle leaves next week for Bangkok for the studies abroad program at Rice University.

Bobbi is home too and already went to Jazzercise class. I am going to take the afternoon off for some quality time with Bobbi on the golf course.

Corporate Albuquerque

If it is really true that Mayor Martin Chavez told the National Office and Industrial Parks audience yesterday that he wanted them to vote for 'corporate minded' city councillors, then I feel he has lost sight of who his real constituents are. Does the Mayor and Council serve corporate America or do they serve the people of Albuquerque?

When the Mayor was thinking of "corporate minded" councillors he probably wasn't thinking of this gentleman. He is Isaac Benton and he is running against one of Chavez's handpicked candidates, who happens to be a former employee of the Mayor's Office.

Isaac is a long time architect in Albuquerque and a small business man. He has been active with his neighborhood and believes in investing in the city's core. I think he is going to make a great city councilman and I am going to support him as much as possible. I will even send him a contribution.

Concealed Weapons Redux

The Albuquerque Journal's Editorial this morning really did amaze me. They stated that the one and a half year old concealed weapons law has not been so bad afterall, and that the carnage some people had predicted hasn't materialized. That is true. However they seem to feel that the killing last week of an abusive husband who was attacking his spouse with a knife is okay. Maybe it was, but what does having a concealed weapon have to do with it? Before this law was passed anyone could walk around this state with a gun strapped to their hip as long as it was visible. Wouldn't that be a better deterrent if you are looking to scare off abusive husbands? Why is a concealed weapon better than a visible one? Police officers wear their firearms where they are visible for a reason.

I am still a little aghast that it is illegal to take a gun into a wine bistro or court room, but not to the Wal Mart, or movie theater, or the newsroom of any TV station or newspaper. I wonder if the Albuquerque Publishing Company has a policy of not allowing any firearms on their premises.

Just asking!

Monday, August 29, 2005

Katrina and bush

I was watching CNN's coverage of the hurricane when bush showed up for a hastily called news conference. The purpose of the news conference was to make bush look 'prepared' to handle the aftermath of Katrina. He almost appeared happy as he proclaimed the government was ready to help with the recovery. I hope bush has planned this better than Iraq, after all his dad lost a presidential election because of his poor reaction to Andrew, which devastated Florida.

bush will hide out behind this natural disaster for as long as he can. He will make emotional visits and be shown hugging victims, but don't forget this is just show because so far as I know he still hasn't hugged any victims of the man made (bush) Iraq disaster. Watch what happens with him over the next few days. It will almost be nauseating.

Meanwhile, lets do what we can for the victims of Katrina.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Valles Caldera

I had to chuckle at the story in the Albuquerque Journal today regarding the grazing program at the Valles Caldera in the Jemez Mountains. This is the piece of pristine public land that is being managed under a scheme that pretty much deemphasises the professional public land managers in the US Forest Service and other agencies in management of that property. The Valles Caldera was purchased by the Federal Government some years ago but part of the deal was that the care of the land would be divested to a nine member committee appointed by the White House. This was an experiment that was aimed at giving locals control of Public Lands owned by all Americans. This committee has been working very hard however and they are finding this land management business is tricky. Their chief executive, former state land commissioner Ray Powell just resigned after only 10 months on the job.

It seems that the committee is spending a major portion of its time trying to manage its short grazing season. Like any grazing program in the west they are finding out that the revenues will probably never pay for the cost of the program, just like most of the other grazing programs on public or State trust lands in the west. The taxpayers continue to get soaked for these grazing lease give aways on public lands all over the west. That is just a fact and it probably won't change. The myth of the Cowboy and their 'way of life' is just to hard to overcome.

The Committee's mountain bike touring program is bringing in as much money as grazing and it causes less impact and environmental damage on the land. It probably is paying for itself.

My son Justin has been working for the National Public Lands Grazing Campaign in Washington, DC. They are working to get legislation allowing voluntary buyouts of grazing leases on public lands in the west. The idea is that ranchers aren't making any money, they are costing the taxpayers money in subsidizing them, and wouldn't it make more sense to buy them out of the allotments to give them a bankroll to start another business. The land is then retired from heavy grazing so it can recover and the taxpayer subsidies will go down.

Today, Justin is driving from New York to Albuquerque to spend the rest of the year here on the job for his employer before attending graduate school next year. Bobbi is traveling to Houston and she and Noelle will be driving home from there. Noelle has been working in Houston on her summer break from Rice University. Noelle leaves for Bangkok for a fall semester of study on September 8th. Bobbi and I are scheduled to go see here in November.

Anyway, they will all be arriving here late Monday night around the same time and we will be a nuclear family over the next ten days. Our first get together will undoubtedly be at the Frontier restaurant for breakfast burritos. The kids eat them by the dozen when they are in town. They will all be here for my 60th birthday on September 6th. That's cool.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Concealed Weapon Death

The first concealed weapon death has been recorded after a man was shot in a Wal Mart in Albuquerque by another man carrying a permitted concealed weapon. The dead man was allegedly stabbing one of the female employees whom he was estranged from.

When I was Mayor I was absolutely opposed to concealed weapons and that probably helped defeat me at reelection time. I am actually a gun owner(a dozen or so of all kinds) and was once a very active sportsman and marksman. I just saw no need for concealed weapons. It was already legal to wear weapons in public as long as people could see them, which I thought was more of a deterrent than hiding them. At least that way you could steer clear of the weapon carrier, good or bad. It just always seemed to me that people who wanted to carry these weapons were full of fear and it wouldn't take much for them to whip it out.

So, now you know that even in a Wal Mart or the movie theatre the guy next to you may be packing! It was very fortunate no innocent bystanders were injured or killed. Time will tell if the weapon carrier's use of deadly force was really necessary. This kind of thing will happen again.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Master Lobbyist, Golfer and Friend

I got a quick round of golf in with my long time friend Tom Horan. This is a picture I took of Tom and his wife, Mary Ann Campbell-Horan, at their home in the north valley near the Albuquerque Country Club where we are members. As you can see from the sign in their front window, they still show their allegiance proudly.

Tom and I entered the first grade together at Our Lady of Fatima Heights Catholic School in 1951. We went to school together all the way through high school. Tom's father was Frank Horan, the legendary Albuquerque City Attorney for many years. His dad was one of the funniest men who ever lived. He was also very competent and he got Tom interested in politics.

Before that however, Tom and my twin brother Tom flew helicopters in Viet Nam. My brother, who is now New Mexico's State Aviation Director, gave Tom his first helicopter ride when Horan was a Lieutenant in the Infantry. That convinced him to take to the air and he flew for many years with the Army and the New Mexico National Guard. A few years ago Tom's flying skills were validated when his Beechcraft bonanza blew an engine outside of Roswell one night. He made a safe emergency wheels up landing in the desert and he and his passenger walked away. That plane is now flying again with Tom as the pilot.

Tom served in the Legislature for several terms. I am well aware of this because back in 1975 or so he told me he was not going to run again so I decided to move into that district and take a shot at the seat. So I moved to a new apartment there and then he let me know he had decided to run for one more term. I was a little pissed off at that for a while, but looking back on it I think it was the best thing to happen to me career wise. Very few legislators ever rise above that level. A few years later I ran for state wide office and was elected.

Tom is now one of the most respected and knowledgeable lobbyists in Santa Fe. He has a large stable of clients, including the City of Albuquerque. He is a good guy to know up in the round house. If you ever need his services give him a call because there is no one better at pushing legislation through that meat grinder in Santa Fe.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Summer Evening Stimulation

We spent a wonderful August evening in Arturo Sandoval's back yard. Pizza, beer, and a great speaker in the person of Dr. Juan Almendares of Honduras. The good Doctor is running for President of Honduras and is well known for his clinics that serve Honduras' poorest citizens. The Doctor does not allow his Doctors and healthcare assistants to wear white coats or sit at desks when dealing with patients. He believes this separates them for the people they are trying to cure. He is a proponent of alternative medicine.

Juan is getting a lot of attention on his work involving torture of political prisoners and prisoners of war, where ever it may occur. Read more about him here.

Dr. Almendares was in Albuquerque to speak to the Strategic Leadership Institute which brings together leaders pushing for positive change in New Mexico. Yes, this is probably a very liberal group and that is really a good thing.

There are many Leadership Institutes in New Mexico and most of them are strictly business oriented or very conservative in nature. This new Institute helps balance things out.

Finally, it occurred to me that the reason we should all care about this is symbolized in little Anila's gaze over the back of her lawn chair. She is after all the one who will live with the decisions we are making in this country right now.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


Could it be Americans are beginning to understand. See this latest poll.


I recieved this from my former classmate at St. Pius X High School. Dennis Jett was a career State department dipolmat and served as U.S. Ambassador to Mozambique and Peru. He retired a few years ago. He is a columnist for various newspapers across the country and is currently the Dean of the International Center at the University of Florida.

I had actually thought about putting this together myself, but Dennis beat me to it.

President Honors Veterans of Foreign Wars at National Convention
Salt Palace Convention Center
August 22, 2005 11:17 A.M. MDT

President Bush: “We've also expanded grants to help homeless veterans in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. No veteran who served in the blazing heat or bitter cold of foreign lands should have to live without shelter in the very country whose freedom they fought for.”(Applause.)

The Reality:

More than half a million veterans experience homelessness over the course of a year. Conservatively, one out of every three homeless males who is sleeping in a doorway, alley, or box in our cities and rural communities has put on a uniform and served our country.

Source: National Coalition for Homeless Veterans web site:

President Discusses Iraqi Constitution with Press Pool
Tamarack Resort
Donnelly, Idaho

August 23, 2005, 8:50 A.M. MDT

Q Sorry about that. Does the administration's goal -- I'll ask you about the Iraqi constitution. You said you're confident that it will honor the rights of women.


Q If it's rooted in Islam, as it seems it will be, is that still -- is there still the possibility of honoring the rights of women?

THE PRESIDENT: I talked to Condi, and there is not -- as I understand it, the way the constitution is written is that women have got rights, inherent rights recognized in the constitution, and that the constitution talks about not "the religion," but "a religion." Twenty-five percent of the assembly is going to be women, which is a -- is embedded in the constitution.

The Reality:

Draft Iraqi constitution from the New York Times web site:

Article (2): First, Islam is the official religion of the state and is a basic source of legislation:

a) No law can be passed that contradicts the undisputed rules of Islam.

I am beginning to think bush is living in an alternative universe and only pops over to this side to conduct news conferences based on what is happening in his world.

The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.
Dante Alighieri

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Death of Science in Rio Rancho?

Just when I think news headlines can't get any worse the Rio Rancho School Board makes a fool out of me. On a three to two vote last night they opened the door for the teaching of intelligent design in their schools.(Read this for sure) The courageous Rio Rancho science teachers were flipped off on this vote by the three zealots on the board.

Creationists make it sound as though a 'theory' is something you dreamt up after being drunk all night.
Isaac Asimov

This comes on the tail of television preacher Pat Robertson's statements that we should probably assassinate Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, a constant critic of the Bush Administration. Roberston said, "You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war ... and I don't think any oil shipments will stop." Aww....that good old time religion! Read about it here.

I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.
Mohandas Gandhi

Add to all this the adoption of Islamic law as a major force in the new Iraqi constitution that America is condoning and it seems if we are headed into the dark ages again.

Well, it seems the Christian bush administrators in Iraq seem to be agreeing with the Mullahs on one thing, Women's rights! They shouldn't have any.

I wonder how much longer free thinking Americans will put up with this crowd. Not long I hope. The best place to start fighting it I believe is on the local level and we should start in Rio Rancho. I am not a big fan of the American Civil Liberties Union because I don't think they do a good job of picking their fights, but if they want to fight this school board action I will send them a check today.

You need to check out the Washington Post's Tom Toles today. He just got back from vacation and his editorial cartoon today is priceless.

Meanwhile, bush is still officially on vacation.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Core Beliefs

This is a picture of Mayor Rocky Anderson of Salt Lake City. I know Rocky well from my time as Mayor and in other dealings I have on public lands issues in Utah. Rocky is a somewhat liberal Mayor in a state that voted 71% for bush the last election. Rocky is pretty well liked in the city of Salt Lake itself, but once outside those boundaries I don't think he would score very high with the voters.

The reason I like Mayor Rocky is because he is a guy with strong core beliefs. Today, he organized and attended a anti Iraq war rally near bush's speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Salt Lake City. I really respect him for doing that. I have always felt that most politicians, including corrupt or blindly ambitious ones, have some strong core beliefs.(I have only known one who doesn't seem to have any.) Many times they will hide those beliefs because it is politically smart to do so, but some, like Rocky, aren't afraid to let them be known. He is courageous and I am proud to know him.

Press Guys

Now here is a trio that you should know. They are the hardworking news relations guys in the Governors Office. They do a lot more than handle the press. Just about anything that will end up in front of the public or media concerning Governor Richardson and his administration in Santa Fe will be filtered through these guys.

Billy Sparks, Deputy Chief of Staff, hails from North Carolina and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Billy has been working with the Governor for many years and seems to be one of the calmest guys I have ever known. I have never seen him get angry which is impressive when dealing with some of the media sometimes.

Just below Billy on the left is Gilbert Gallegos. Gilbert was a long time reporter at the Albuquerque Tribune and was on the job there when I was Mayor. Gilbert was simply one of the most accurate reporters I had ever worked with and he had a good sense for a story's meaning. He was one of the Governor's first hires and it was a great choice.

Next is Pahl Shipley. Pahl is the former news director of my old employer some thirty years ago, KOAT TV. Pahl has always reminded me of Lou Grant in the Mary Tyler Moore show(also from 30 years ago.) He has a dry sense of humor which I really enjoy. Paul's wife Liz is a long time media and policy person at the Albuquerque Public School System and now serves as the Executive for Board Services.

These are hardworking staffers who rarely get recognized by the public for their professionalism.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Mayor's Poll

As a former Mayor of Albuquerque I will now interpret the research and Polling Poll that was released in the Albuquerque Journal today. This interpretation is totally prejudicial though. The poll shows Mayor Martin Chavez right on 40% but with over 60% in approval ratings. His nearest competitors are Eric Griego at 13%, Brad Winter at 11% and David Steele at 3%.

Marty is probably in pretty good shape right now, but with 40% reelect numbers he is not out of the danger of having a run off election. His low reelect numbers are traditional for any Mayor in Albuquerque. No Mayor has ever won a reelection effort, although two have hung out for four years and come back to win again. They are Harry Kinney and Mayor Chavez. Chavez could break that jinx this time around because of the nonexistence of any serious opposition campaigns. It probably will get pretty nasty in the last month however and that is why Chavez might indeed face a runoff.

One other thing to consider is the effect of the minimum wage ballot initiative. If the public is heavily in favor of that initiative then where do those voters break out on election day for Mayor? Marty Chavez opposes the initiative and that could potentially hurt him. I feel that this initiative will drive the turn out and you can be assured most of the campaigning by special interest groups will center on this issue and not the ho-hum Mayor's race. Some of the city council races might be more interesting to watch, but overall apathy still reigns on local politics.

Friday, August 19, 2005

APD Officers & War News

Albuquerque has lost two police officers to a deranged man who is also suspected in the deaths of two other men at a local motorcycle shop. It is a very sad occasion and I send all my sympathies to the families of both the officers and the other victims.

This will be the lead media story in New Mexico and especially Albuquerque for the next few days. The story will provide very big headlines and lots of airtime, and it probably should. When this kind of loss is experienced close to home then it becomes very real. It is almost as if geographical proximity increases the sense of loss. Maybe that is why media coverage of the loss of American soldiers in far away Iraq and Afghanistan seems to dwindle with the repetitive casualty reports. You can't help but notice that these stories fall further back in the front section of many newspapers. Of course when a local soldier dies in that conflict the coverage will pick up for a day or two.

One difference you will notice over the next few days is that the Governor, Mayor, Legislators and Councilors will probably attend services for these men. They will do this because they know it is important to honor the officers for the service they provided their local citizens. This kind of recognition is something we have not seen from the bush administration when their service men fall far away.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Theocracy vs. Democracy

I am glad my wife Bobbi, daughter Noelle, sister Carlota and all other women I know don't live in Iraq. If they did they would be facing a bleaker future than they might have had under the government of Saddam Hussein. My sister sent me this link.

This is a link worth following. Although the issue of the disintegration of women's right in Iraq has been poorly covered by the media, it should have every man and woman in America, liberal or conservative, questioning our country's collusion in this unfolding disaster. This nation is condoning the turning of women's rights over to fundamentalist religous zealots. Was that bush's vision for Iraq?

Men, their rights, and nothing more; women, their rights, and nothing less.
Susan B. Anthony

Movie Night

I often go to the movies. I love them and see at least three or four a month at the Century Theatre Downtown in Albuquerque. (I helped convince them to build it when I was Mayor.) I caught the late matinee of the movie "The Great Raid". It is about the rescue of 500 Americans from a Japanese prisoner of war camp in the Philippines in 1945. I knew the story of this true occurrence because I am a history fanatic of the 30's and 40's. It was a fairly good movie and as most war movies now was realistic.

This particular raid was one of the best documented actions by armed forces camera men during the war. I was a military photographer during my service in the Air Force and have always respected the work of the combat photographers in World War II. At the end of the movie they show quite a bit of the news footage of the rescued servicemen and the American and Philippine guerrillas who freed them. It was very emotional visual journalism and it got me to thinking how much has changed. There were scenes of the emaciated POWs returning on a troop ship to San Francisco and the thousands of people who turned out to greet them with marching bands, parades and rallies. I was joined at this movie by my friend Pat Bryan who just happened to show up at the same time I did. He is a graduate of the Naval Academy and a combat veteran in Viet Nam. He made the remark when we walked out that when he returned from Viet Nam he wishes he had gotten that kind of reception.

Fast forward to 2005. Now, it takes freedom of information lawsuits to get photographs of our returning wounded and dead Americans from Iraq. Think about this. It is really pretty staggering to think bush and his neocons have come this far. Do they think this policy will hide the 1800 dead service men and women from their family and friends? Do they think that none of us at all will notice their sacrifice and the sacrifice of the thousands of maimed soldiers in hospitals all around Europe and the United States? All in an unnecessary war!

The movie will stir patriotism in those who see it, but it should be tempered with the reality of what our government is currently doing in respect to being open and honest.

Well, that was the first movie I saw tonight. The second was an independent film that I first saw In theatrical release, and it may be the most thought provoking movie I have ever seen. I ordered it up on Netflix and it was delivered today. It was good I watched it after that first movie. The movie's title is "What the Bleep Do We Know". It is a hybrid documentary movie about quantum physics and the human brain and our perceptions of reality and how we can change it. It is simply a movie that everyone should see at least twice. I will watch it once more to be sure I have absorbed it all. I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Government Gone Insane

The story in the Albuquerque Journal this morning about the student who stuck a wad of bubble gum to a traffic ticket and mailed it in with her fine is proof that our government has gone insane. It got the attention of people in the government who worry about WMDs. How weird is this? This admitedly stupid act is now clogging up the Federal District Court and the time of the FBI. It is as ridiculous as infants not being allowed to board commerical airline flights because they have the same name as people on the 'no fly' lists.

Oh, I know what they must have been thinking. It was Bazooka bubble gum. Very dangerous in the wrong mouth!

Where is common sense? How can something like this bubble gum caper get as far as it has? The only explanation can be a complete break down of the competency in our Federal Governments 'War on Terrorism'. I want the people who are taking their time up with this silly stuff to be out looking for the really bad guys. Remember Osama?

Somebody do something!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Downtown Parlor

It has been in business since 1931. The Model Shine Parlor in the 200 block of Gold Avenue has seen the soles of countless thousands of people since William Cheers opened it. Cheers, who operated the business at numerous locations until his death in 1986, was a well known figure to generations of folks seeking a good shine. I knew him as well and was convinced no one could have had a better name and lived up to it. He was always cheerful and smiling. The walls of the Parlor are adorned with pictures or testimonials to this man.

The shop is now owned by Adam Campos shown here with his dad Charles Sanchez. Adam had worked there for many years prior to taking the shop ownership. He has a very devoted clientele and always seems to have a couple of folks in the chairs. Politicians, Cops, Bankers, Cowboys, and just about anyone else you might think of spend a few minutes of their time chatting, debating, or looking at the collection of Playboy magazines on the racks. I hope the Parlor is around for a long time. Downtown wouldn't be the same without it.

Big Oil in the Land Office

State Land Commissioner Patrick Lyons has sided with the federal government against Governor Bill Richardson and Attorney General Patsy Madrid by opposing their lawsuit to protect Otero Mesa from oil and gas development. Lyons, a genuinely nice guy, has fallen into the hands of those who would drill and disrupt this last unspoiled grassland in southeastern New Mexico. You might check out who Lyons' biggest donors are for his campaigns. If Yates Petroleum is one of them that explains it all. They are the ones pushing for this unnecessary development. Lyons falls back on the premise that his only responsibility is to make money for education from state trust lands. That is a crock. He also has responsibilities to conserve and protect state trust lands. For more information on Otero Mesa look here.

In fairness to Lyons, our state constitution is in great need of some amendments on the administration of state trust lands. The constitution was written almost 100 years ago and could use some amendments on the responsibilities of the Land Commissioner. The Legislature should begin looking into the work that has been done and proposed in the State of Arizona. They were admitted to the Union at the same time as New Mexico and shared the Enabling Act and Constitution that spelled out the duties of the Commissioner. Arizona has passed amendments that makes it easier to manage their state trust lands in this day and age. But in the meantime, some common sense would be welcome from the Commissioner Lyons in protecting this great landscape.

I am happy to hear that Albuquerque City Councilor Martin Heinrich will be running for Land Commissioner next year. He is a solid guy with all the right credentials to run that office. I am sending him a check.

I had breakfast this morning with some really nice Masters degree students from the University of Michigan's School of Natural Resources & Environment. Drew Vankat and Emily Kelly are in New Mexico to interview people on the State Land Office's Mesa Del Sol Project on Albuquerque's southeast mesa. This is a project that I started when I was State Land Commissioner in 1983. It is a project that should have happened by now, but New Mexico's politics just kept getting in the way. This planned community, which will be developed by the highly reputable Forest City development team, is only about 4 miles from downtown Albuquerque. It has just sat there while westside developers had utilities pushed close to 15 miles out to the northwest mesa. Welcome to sprawl, long commute times and expensive energy costs. Mesa del Sol's time may finally have arrived however and we should all now support it as a good way of growing the city.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Amazing Juxtaposition

As I said earlier, I am a known channel surfer. I stopped on Fox TV and saw the most amazing thing. It was a news teaser for an upcoming news story. It said something like this, "Immigrants coming over our southern border are bringing in criminality, disease, and terrorism." This was aimed squarely at Mexican and Central Americans coming to find work. No doubt about it.

Now, get this. The next thing to appear was an Army recruting advertisment in Spanish.

This is not a joke. This really happened. The one time I land on the Fox Channel, which I never watch any more, and I see this. Even the Simpsons can't lure me back for fear it will give better ratings to these people.

’Twas strange, ’twas passing strange,
’Twas pitiful; ’twas wondrous pitiful;


Soft Sell

I have been watching a little TV this weekend, especially the PGA golf tournament. I am also an obsessive compulsive channel surfer during commercials. One thing I have noticed is the large buy the US Army has made for its recruiting efforts. The commercials are really somewhat soft. They don't show tanks running around or soldiers dropping out of helicopters or swinging from ropes. They usually show a family setting of some sort and a "coming of age" mini drama as a young man decides the Army is the right place to be right now. They are well done as far as production and acting goes, but they are almost to painful to watch because you know where those recruits will end up.

My brother Tom used to be a Recruiter for a while and as I recall the position is very high pressure. I can't imagine what it must be like now. However, I can imagine the real conversations around the dinner tables these days in America as the war grows more and more to resemble quicksand. I don't think too many families are encouraging their kids to sign up, even if they are not pacifist. There certainly is a growing feeling that you wouldn't want your kids going into harms way with our current political leadership calling the shots. This leadership that fraudulently came with reasons for going to war, and then didn't provide what the military really needed in terms of manpower and basic military armor and materials can't make any parent feel too confident. That is to bad because the military can offer many good opportunities for young people.

Frank Rich in the New York times today said the war is over, but that the only ones that don't know it are bush and his hawks. Read it here.

Now, do you suppose any of those young actors in the Army commercials have signed up to serve? For all I know they may have been real recruits, or maybe those young actors have decided to leave the fighting to someone else. Some enterprising journalist might want to check this out.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Rain Actually

This is an unusual site this year. We actually got rain down in the valley. We got some yesterday and this evening.

"The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain."
Dolly Parton

"I think fish is nice, but then I think that rain is wet, so who am I to judge?"
Douglas Adams

No Blog-Just Golf

I played golf today for the first time in fifteen months. It was a beautiful New Mexico morning with good friends and a mediocre score. I will get the kinks out soon.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Senior Senator Silence and City Issues

Yesterday I let you know about Senator Pete Domenici's one man amendment in the Energy Conference Committee that would allow the export of highly enriched Uranium. See the story here.

I called Senator Domenici's office today and asked for an explanation on this action and got absolutely no where except for a nice staffer who said it was only an oped piece out of the New York Times. She said the Senator would respond to it at some point in the near future.

Obviously, after reading the story it seems some lobbyist somewhere had a real "in" with Pete. We should find out who that is and who they work for. I hope there is a good explanation for all of this.

“No matter how cynical you get, it's impossible to keep up.” —Lily Tomlin

Mayor Chavez and the city council were rightfully reversed on their plans to sieze first time DWI offenders cars. I am totally in agreement that people guilty of DWI deserve to be punished, and that after a second offense taking their car might be an option. However, the confiscation after the first offense seems onerous, especially when other family members and spouses will need a car to travel to work.

Now the Mayor says you will get a traffic ticket and a large fine if you are even one mile an hour over the speed limit in a school zone. He is setting up radar and cameras and you will be had at 16 miles per hour in a school zone. How weird is that? Have you calibrated your speedometer lately?Does this get the Mayor more votes? Obviously, he thinks the tougher he looks the closer he inches to that 40%. Marty is a pretty smart politician and he must believe that Patriot Act type totalitarianism is in vogue. He may be right but this is ridiculous. If he wants to be a tough Mayor then he should turn his sights on reigning in leapfrog development.

In other city election news, which so far hasn't really been about important issues, candidate Judy Espinosa is now saying Eric Griego wants her out of the race because she is the only woman. That is a pretty poor card to play and from what I have read in other blogs it is really backfiring on Judy. I have always liked and respected Judy, but she has not handled this campaign very well. She just should have gotten the signatures that she needed.

Now, city councilor Miguel Gomez, with the help of former city councilor Sam Bregman, is trying to keep former county commisioner Ken Sanchez off the ballot because Miguel says Ken doesn't live in the district. Now that might be a winner if Ken really doesn't live there. Ken is one of the Mayor's candidates.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Our Senior Senator

Now this is really scary. Has Pete lost his mind? Will the local media ask him why he did this?

Cost of War

My sister sent me a great website where you can see a real time financial ticker on the cost of bush's war to the American economy and right down to individual cities. Right now, New Mexico's share of this burden is $630,000,000. Think what we could have done with that money in our educational institutions. Visit this great site here.

I was out in Sile and Pena Blanca, New Mexico this morning on a field trip with a Council of Governments staffer who is doing some work for us there. On the way back in we stopped at the renowned Range Cafe in Bernalillo. That is a great place to eat whenever you are in the area. My friend Nick and I sat at the counter because the place was so busy and we didn't want to wait to order our three pound sandwiches. I ordered the meatloaf sandwich and ate about one third of it. Nick was only able to get down one half of his Fiesta Burger, but hey, with styrofoam it is two meals for the price of one!

Our waitress apparently was in charge of the soda jerking as well. Her name is Terra and she was a wonder to watch as she started constructing the bananna split from Hell. She had to get a new container of ice cream from the main freezer. Of course, it was as solid as granite, and she worked like a hard rock miner to get it out, just little slivers at a time and the she rolled them up into a ball. Talk about dedication! That bananna split if eaten by one person at one sitting will however cause a fatality, but what a way to go.

Yesterday's blog caused a few comments to come in. As a followup on what the right wingers are doing to discredit our gold star mother read this.

This is an article that Cindy Sheehan wrote today.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Mom and Apple Pie

I think Cindy Sheehan is doing a great thing. She is the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq and she is camping out at the entrance to the george bush ranch until he talks with her about pulling our troops out of Iraq. Read more about her here.

After watching her efforts over the last few days I fantasized this morning about jumping in my car and driving to Crawford, Texas to thank her and give her an apple pie. I called Rodger and asked him if we would go with me. He reminded me that Crawford is 750 miles from here and would we just consume more gasoline which is why we are in this mess in the first place. I just don't like the idea of her out there on the highway alone, well maybe there are a few hundred members of the media nearby. I just wish there were some way we could rain down thousands of apple pies onto the bush ranch so he would understand a lot of mothers want some face time.

At any rate, I think she has put bush into a terrible fix and I think that is great. She is demanding some answers that we all should demand.

Rodger called me the other morning early and insisted I listen to Imus at 7AM on the radio. I wasn't able to since I was in the Bosque with the beagles. Today he sent me the transcript and I need to blog it to you. So, here it is!

On Friday morning 8/5,05, Boston columnist and radio talk show host MikeBarnicle was on the nationally syndicated Imus In The Morning radio program. Here is an exerpt of the discussion he was having with Don Imus:


I'd like to have you, Chris Matthews, anyone on these shows ask their guests, United States Senators, Congressmen .do you know who Natalie Holloway is? (She's missing in Aruba)

After they indicate they know who she is, then ask 'em if they know who Timmy Bell is?

Timmy Bell is the nephew of Buddy Bell, who's the Cleveland Indians manager. But, Timmy Bell was also a Lance Corporal in the United States Marine Corps, killed among the 14 the other day, all of them from an area south of Cleveland, Ohio. Fourteen members of the same Marine Corps Reserve Unit lost. and 6 more Marines lost.

We have a President of the United States who is playing semantic games with this deal. Is it a war or is it a war against global extremism? You know, they're fooling around with verbs.

The White House issues sort of behind the scenes proclamations that the President can't go to the funeral of a single soldier. That's why he hasn't gone to any funerals, because if he goes to one he'll have to go to many,
many funerals.

So I would ask the President of the United States this, through you, or through a United States Senator. "Would you go to a funeral where a whole state, or a whole region, or a whole city dies from the shrapnel wounds of this war? Would you go to that kind of a funeral?"

We have semantic games being played with this war through Karl Rove, through George Bush.

These boys died, the 14 of them died on the same day that the United States Senate and the President of the United States are going to sign this transportation bill a $216 billion dollar boondogle where people like Dennis
Hastert the Speaker of the House - his district is going to get billions of dollars for bridges that go nowhere, for deer crossings, for things that mean nothing to people.

Those soliders were traveling in a 20 year old amphibious vehicle that was hit so hard that it toppled over...blew25 tons right up in the air and toppled over. There are many many units in Iraq still without the proper armaments and they are going to sign a $216 billion - with a b - appropriations bill for things that people don't need because people really haven't been told we are at war.

Go to any gas station, go to any coffee shop this morning, there is no sense for this war other that a place like south of Cleveland where 14 are going into the ground early. That's why I'm pissed.


There have been about 2,000 young men and women killed in Iraq, and I would bet, and you can check it out, that in the past 5 or 6 years the President has gone to that many fund raisers.

What would be wrong with the President going to every one of these funerals?

Mike Barnicle:

There would be nothing wrong with it. He's a nice guy and I like him? He's not a bad guy.


How about that crazy son-of-a-bitch over there at the Pentagon? How, why doesn't he go to them?

Mike Barnicle:

If he worked for any company in corporate America he would have been fired years ago.

How about taking Karl Rove to some of these funerals?

How about taking some of these God Damn cheerleaders to these funerals?

How about taking Rush Limbaugh to these funerals? He's on radio and TV every day with the pon-pons .. "This is the greatest thing we've every done!" Go to a funeral! Take a look at the parents. Tell'em, " made a great sacrifice."

They use the word sacrifice like baseball announcers say double play every night. They don't know what sacrifice is.

Timmy Bell is never coming back. He's not coming back. he's

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Plains of San Agustin

This is one of the massive radio antennas at the Very Large Array Radio Telescope on the Plains of San Agustin West of Socorro, New Mexico. I visit the place every few years because it is a beautiful scene that has blended a great landscape and science. Read about the VLA here.
Many people have seen this facility in the movie "Contact", which is one of my favorite sci-fi movies. It was based on a book by Carl Sagan. The VLA holds open houses every year and it is really worth the two and a half hour trip to take the tour. Like the space shuttle, this place needs a lot of updating to the digital age, but I understand that is underway. It is a powerful tool for unlocking secrets.

I got to thinking about the VLA today after reading an intersting book review in the New York Times of "Abducted, How People Come to Believe They Were Kidnapped by Aliens," by Susan Clancy, Harvard University Press. The review says, "At a basic level, Dr. Clancy concludes, alien abduction stories give people meaning, a way to comprehend the many odd and dispiriting things that buffet any life, as well as a deep sense that they are not alone in the universe. In this sense, abduction memories are like transcendent religious visions, scary and yet somehow comforting and, at some personal psychological level, true."

I also recently read that researchers have discovered a "religion gene" and that it accounts for about 40% of the variabiilty of a person's religiousness. Read about it here.

So it seems that some of us are just sort of hardwired for spirtuality and beliefs.

I think this makes it easier for me to understand some people's convictions that President bush and his crew are doing the right thing for this country. They are just hard wired to be believers I guess and there is no amount of debate that will change them. Altough bush's poll numbers continue to nosedive there are some that will stick with him no matter what. So, why fret too much about them? Forget them as the Congressional mid term elections approach. We can't change their minds because they are hardwired. Lets concentrate on everyone else voting to make us a great country again and a member of the International community.


There is a national peanut surplus. First Clovis looses an airbase and now Portales will face a glut of peanuts. Read it here.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Hold Out

I am still an AARP hold out. I started getting direct mail from them before I turned 55. I am not convinced they are really in the corner of our senior citizens because I get way too much sales material from them. Are they a lobbying group or and insurance and credit card company? My friend Rodger is a member because he says the savings on AARP discounts with hotels and rental car companies are pretty good.

I was reminded of all this today when I stopped to get my car washed at the trusty Rain Tunnel at Rio Grande and Central. This sign is actually pretty funny to me. I will be sixty in about a month and will then enjoy a $1 discount from my car wash price tag. I am getting a dollar because I lived to be sixty?

Well, it is the thought that counts and little things like this might really be important before long. There are a lot of people who are going to need every penny they can get their hands on because private pension plans are underfunded and failing. I think it is mostly because of incompetence in the Business and Labor sectors.

I am a member of the Public Employees Retirement Association in New Mexico. It is the public employee retirement system for state, city and county employees and others. It is without a doubt a very good system and it is well funded. I have cobbled together 20 years of service under the system and that means at the age of 60 I can retire. It will provide me with a decent retirement check every month and a great survivor benefit for Bobbi if I check out before her. I could actually retire in January if I wish, but that is up in the air right now. I enjoy working with Bill Richardson. There is a good article on him in today. See it here.

Government employees all over the country should be pretty thankful. Most government retirement plans are in a solvent state, so they will undoubtedly become a target for the right wingers who think only of their corporate bottom lines. Yes, their tax money helps fund these systems. Keep your guard up! They might shift their focus from Social Security to Government pensions.

This is Luisa Casso, one of my former sacrificial communications officers when I was Mayor. She is now the President of the Downtown Action Team and is one of those folks largely responsible for the creation of the Downtown Business Improvement District.

I had to chuckle when she made the comment that if she were to look for new challenges it would either be running for Congress or selling condos in Puerto Vallarta. Everyone should have options like that.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Love-Hate Relationship

When ever I go to Starbucks on Rio Grande on Sunday mornings with Brian I always run into someone I know. Take a look at this gentleman. He looks like your everday guy but he isn't. (Drum roll music here.) He is , the Editor of the Albuquerque Journal Editorial Page! His name is Steve Mills and he ascended to his post after Bill Hume left that same position to become senior policy aide to Governor Bill Richardson.

I have known Steve for many years and have sat across a conference table from him many times while arguing with him or agreeing with him. Mostly, I argued with him when I was Mayor. I always liked him though and felt he had a really difficult job. Editorial Boards are like any other group of people. Everyone has their opinion and I know there is usually quite a bit of debate as they decide to take a position on some issue or political endorsement. I think you can see that happen in many endorsements of candidates when the endorsement spends half its allotted space talking about everything that is wrong with a candidate, before endorsing them. Just look at the Journal endorsement of george bush last election. But, make no mistake about it, it is the Journal Publisher that always makes a final call on high profile endorsements. Although I don't agree with many of their endorsements and editorials I do appreciate we still have a locally owned newspaper. There are not many of those left in this country. I think that is why we get so little really diverse views in Journalism anymore. I just wish our Journal did some hard hitting editorials on the bush administration.

One thing that has surprised me recently about the Journal is its more moderate editorial stance on many environmental issues. This has been evident over the last two or three years and it is a good thing all the way around. I don't think the Journal gets high marks on growth issue editorials however. Maybe in time that will change too.

Saturday, August 06, 2005


Last night Jose and his buddy, the carpet guys packed up and left. The carpet guys did a great job by the way and I would recommend them to everyone. Not one thing got broken the two days they were here and they were really efficient. They work for High Desert Flooring.

I got a called by a friend to come over for wine and cheeze with some of our mutual friends. So we all met over at my friends home on Morningside North East. When I arrived I noticed a strange looking bumper sticker on my host's car. It was just a little square piece of vinyl with the letters FW on it. I wondered what it meant and the only thing I could think of was possibly an expletive involving our President. Nah, I thought. My friend never seemed too overwrought about bush so I asked what it meant. Yep, I was right. There was one sticker left. HMMM!

The thing about this that gets my attention is that a lot of people we might have thought were a little apathetic about what is happening in this country might not be so nuetral after all. Maybe, many folks were just staying quiet or they have regained their critical thinking skills after paying $3 per gallon of gas. The latest polls are beginning to indicate this big time. Now, we just need to get some real political energy behind these pent up feelings in preparation for the mid term Congressional elections.

Thnking of Tom Delay's leadership we can understand why Will Rodgers once said, "This country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as when the baby gets ahold of a hammer."

I got a note from my sister Carlota. She said she was not going to use the word progressive any more. People have been using that word to describe their political views because they are embarassed to call themselves liberals. She says that buys into the messaging framework of the conservatives. I agree with her. Here is Websters definition of the word.


(Lib"er*al), n. One who favors greater freedom in political or religious matters; an opponent of the established systems; a reformer;

Friday, August 05, 2005

Mayor's Campaign

The City of Albuquerque will appeal a Judge's ruling that reinstated candidate Judy Espinosa's nominating signatures. It isn't to hard to figure out why erstwile City Attorney Bob White has been ordered to do this by the Mayor. If Marty can keep Judy off the ballot then his chances of getting 40% of the vote and escaping a runoff are much better. Judy's votes, if she has any left after having to resort to this gambit to get on the ballot, will scatter to all the candidates. Sure, many will go to Eric Griego or Brad Winter, but some may also go to the Mayor and that will inch him towards the 40%. Both Marty and I had barely 30% in the last two Mayoral elections, but there was no runoff in place then. Meanwhile, the campaign staggers along with very little debate about the future of our city. Of course, this may not be entirely the candidates fault since the media has not signed on to any indepth coverage. Come to think of it, the only coverage I have really seen is surrounding the signature controversy. This is predictable because of the state of the media, especially the broadcast media. Albuquerque's sustainability from the stand point of growth, water and airshed are something that we all are eventually must debate.

I am reminded of this after recieving word today that one of the movers and shakers of the City's downtown revitalization has taken on new and impressive duties. I am talking about Chris Leinberger. Although he is still heavily involved in our city he has moved on.

Leinberger recently was named as a visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC Now comes word that the University of Michigan Board of Regent's approved a graduate real estate development program which is a joint venture of the Stephen Ross Business School,Law School and the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. They have appointed Chris as the Professor of Practice and Director of that program

Spelling Bee

Heather from EricGriego's campaign sent proof that my correction on the spelling of 'canceled" yesterday was only partially right. Apparently, you can spell it with one or two L's. It just doesn't look right to me. My apologies to Heather.

So, CNN has decided to give Robert Novak some time off because he walked off a live show with James Carville and said that horrible word, "bullshit." Read about it here. I wish that CNN had been as concerned with his outing Valerie Plame at the CIA. Have all newsroom ethics gone into the crapper? And why the hell is he not in prison?

More later after I finish my domestic hell duty with the carpet guys. They are doing great work. The dogs haven't even noticed. The cat came home to eat, sniffed the carpet and immediately left the premises.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Mayor's Race, Toyota and the Carpet Guys

There was a lot of coverage in the media this morning about the Mayor's race in Albuquerque and controversy over the nominating signatures of candidate Judy Espinosa. See my blog earlier this week about that whole process. I can't support Judy's backdoor attempt at getting qualified for the ballot by going to court to get her paltry few signatures approved. Why didn't she just collect enough signatures so that she could qualify like everyone else? I don't think this is helping her candidacy that much because it shows a lack of planning and execution.

I got an email early today about Eric Griego holding a news conference about setting up wireless Internet Service for the city. I thought that showed some good thinking on his part, although wireless is only a partial answer. It really is an amenity, but a good one.

Then two hours later I got another email saying the news conference was cancelled. The word cancelled was incorrectly spelled. Of course, I never misspell in this blog, do I?

There are eye opening stories on the business page of the New York Times today about Toyota and their business philosphy. Read it here and here.

Essentially, Toyota's expected profits were down a bit because amongst other things they are investing in hybrid engine technology. The key word is investing here. You know, research and development. We used to do that in American industry.

The Times says, "A strong yen, high steel prices and investment in hybrid engine technology forced profits down for the second consective quarter. Kurt Sanger, Japan automotive analyst from Macquarie Securities and other analysts predicted that Toyota’s profits would start rising again in the second half of this year."

I had a great conversation last week with a very successful businessman who said the entire management team at General Motors should be fired for being stupid. My son Justin said pretty much the same thing after attending a meeting in Washington at which a GM manager gave a speech that made him look clueless about the future of transportation. Add to that the bottom line mentality over the next quarters profits and it looks like the American automobile industry might be doomed.

Well, the carpet guys are here. This a picture of Jose and his partner who are full time employees of the carpet company I am using. They are both from Michocan, Mexico and have been working with the company for five years. They are doing work that many Americans won't do and they say are happy to be doing it. There was a great article in the New York Times today about the plight of retired Mexican workers. While most of these workers have paid taxes for Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid they likely will not get any benefits. How fair is that? Read the story here.

They will be working here for two days and they are working very hard.They managed, somehow to cram all of the furniture from two bedrooms, the dining room, and living room into the kitchen.