Friday, March 30, 2007

Manny and Ken

Every blogger is talking about this today. So will I. First, The enormity of the money involved in Manny Aragon's and Ken Shultz's corruption case was staggering. Over $4 million siphoned off from the Metro Court House Project is mind blowing. Unbelievable!

I first came into contact with these players when I ran for Mayor back in 1985. Shultz beat me by 2000 votes after an especially nasty campaign engineered by him and the Aragon family. They were spreading rumors that my wife and children didn't have my name because they were ashamed it was a Hispanic name. This stuff just killed my campaign in the last weekend. They distributed stuff on windshields at all the Catholic churches in the valley areas about this and also alleged that I had a plan to make Albuquerque a center for Gay people. I had the support of many Gay organizations.

I was Mayor when the Metro Courthouse was in the planning stages. I had some serious differences with the administrator, Toby Martinez, because he kept insisting that the court house was going to leave downtown for the north I-25 corridor. Little did I know that he was going steal $2 million on the deal. In reading the indictment I noticed he invested it in a Casino Boat in the Gulf of Mexico. The Court House stayed downtown.

One hard thing to swallow in the indictments is Architect Mark Schiff's contention that he was forced into doing this by fear of losing contracts. His firm has built a lot of projects and understands politics too well for me to believe he was a victim.

Now, everything involving the firing of David Iglesias, the interference of Pete Domenici and Heather Wilson, and this case itself is all jumbled up. It is hard to make sense of it. I hope everyone will look at all of this corruption and then ask their legislators why no ethics and campaign reform bills have passed in Santa Fe. I am begging Senators Mike Sanchez and Linda Lopez, people I like a lot, to see the light. Get it passed. The Governor should keep calling Special Sessions until they do.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Chaco Canyon Redux

As I expected, even Pat Lyons decided he couldn't endanger Chaco Canyon by allowing an oil and gas company from Colorado to drill within site of the National Monument. I am glad he made his decision and I cant help but notice he has a new speech writer because his statements in the media today were thoughtful.

There are some remaining perplexing things about this situation. How could the Land Office put up a lease in the area in the first place? If only $10,000 was paid for it then it should have been obvious that this wasn't worth the endangering the monument. Did the Land Office send anyone to the site before granting the lease.? Its that whole thing of due diligence. (What ever happened to the "Worlds Largest Solar Plant" near Deming that Lyons failed to check out. Remember that group was comprised of con men and felons.) Also, who will make sure that the land that is provided to the oil company in exchange will be of equal value? Did this company donate money to Lyons in the last campaign. Probably, every oil company did.

At any rate, Lyons made the right call here and he should be recognized for it.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Chaco Canyon

I had heard several weeks ago that the State Land Office was going to allow oil and gas drilling within sight of the Chaco Canyon National Monument. Frankly, I couldn't believe it.

I had thought about calling the media about it, but decided it would come out soon enough. Once again, under the leadership of Pat Lyons, the only thing that matters to the Land Office is how much money they can make. Yes, that is their job, but it should take a back seat to possibly ruining a national treasure. I am hopeful that some common sense on Lyon's part will prevail. I know he has it in him and this is a fight he really wouldn't want.

So, Pat can be the hero or the goat on this. Let's hope he is the hero.

This picture of my son Justin and daughter Noelle was taken at Chaco around 1990. It is my favorite picture of them because it says so much about their relationship.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Ethics as a Victim

As we sat over coffee on Sunday at Starbucks the conversation inevitably turned towards the Special Session of the New Mexico Legislature and the Senate's inability to work for a few more days. Being the political animal I am, I felt that a lot of New Mexico residents are upset with the situation. I was brought back to reality by one of my caffeine addicted friends who said, "People don't even know it is going on or do they care. Hell, they don't even vote." I think he is probably right. The reason that this is so sad is that meaningful campaign finance reform legislation is once again left in the paper shredder. A bipartisan effort put it there. People are turned off by corruption and the power of money in our political system, so they just drop out.

I have come to the conclusion that any legislator who voted against the reform bill is in fact unethical. Some of these legislators are smart and thoughtful people most of the time. Some of them are people I like. I just can't think of any good reason for allowing unlimited campaign contributions to exist in our system any longer.

Ethics is nothing else than reverence for life.
Albert Schweitzer

Friday, March 23, 2007

Griles Grilled

Steven Griles is another disgraced bush appointee. The former high profile oil and gas lobbyist who was appointed as the Deputy Secretary of the Interior has pled guilty to his lying about his relationship with Lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

This whole affair could have been predicted. Griles was the oil and gas inside guy from the moment he stepped into the Department's offices on C Street in Washington. It falls right in with the whole operation of the bush administration and their willingness to deal with big risks. Griles was a big risk and they went with him and his sweetheart deals for the oil and gas industry on our country's public lands.

I have a theory about risky behavior in the bush administration. Since bush, cheney and the rest of that cabal are oil and gas guys they all have had to deal with high risk in their businesses. Drilling for oil and gas is a very risky proposition. There are big payoffs when successful and big losses when you hit a dry hole. The difference between that and running a government was lost on these guys. When you drill a dry hole you just shrug your shoulders and move on to the next drilling play. When you do something in government, think Iraq, and it comes up a dry hole, you cant just shrug your shoulders and move on. The problems you created don't just get filled with cement and forgotten. You have to deal with the consequences. In this case it will probably be the next administration that has to deal with them and of course the cost of this war will be paid by our kids.

Thursday, March 22, 2007


Just like clockwork my two day after a plane ride cold has arrived. Stack that on top of the Juniper allergy and I am in respiratory distress. I am also on a Nyquil crash. Everything is going on in slow motion. I am too sick to write a blog but not sick enough to stay in bed. You all know what that is like.

So, here is this really cool video that my daughter Noelle sent to me. It involves a seventy nine year old man and three kites.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Hamsters, Pandas and Iglesias

The Albuquerque Journal has stories today on Hamsters and Pandas. Apparently is it now illegal to race Hamsters in Albuquerque. We are all safer, right? And the Mayor, who will never miss a chance to be identified with a warm and cuddly critter is taking his upteenth trip to China to talk about a Panda for the zoo. Panda diplomacy is as good a reason as any I guess.

The New York Times has an OP-ED by David Iglesias that pretty much regurgitates his testimony on Capitol Hill a couple of weeks ago. It is a national shot at Heather Wilson and Pete Domenici. This whole thing is turning into a nightmare for bush and company. David Igelsias is certainly getting in his licks and I have to admire him because I have been in his shoes. When I left the Interior Department as Director of the BLM I stayed pretty much quiet about the affair although I did take some shots at Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt for being a wimp in dealing with the U.S. Senate on Public Land Reform.

The real thing of interest to me in this current U.S. Attorney thing is how Iglesias is doing emotionally. I can tell you it is not easy to be in his position. He is feeling hurt, betrayed, and highly retaliatory against people he considered allies. I feel bad for him personally and for his and his family's future. Where does he turn to for a job now that his has taken on the White House and the right wing conservatives who handed him his head?

These are things he has to deal with in the real world. Can he get a job with a big law firm? Doubtful. Can he find another career? Maybe. It seems to me that he has only a couple of easy options. One is to run for office and the other is to form a non profit entity to push for ethics in the Justice department! I am serious about this.

I respect him for his courage in shooting back at his attackers. I could never support him for a public office because of his ultra conservative and religious approach to government. I would send his non profit watchdog agency some money though.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

San Francisco

I will be in San Francisco for a couple of days at a Wyss Foundation Meeting. It is one of the most fun boards I serve on and I look forward to our deliberations.

I will be back Wednesday. The Governor's special session will be heating up by then. The one item that should be considered and passed is the campaign finance reform bill. Limits on campaign contributions are a must if we are to keep any sense of morality in our system. Any legislator who doesn't see that might deserve to be shown the door.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Gutsy Bill

I actually respect Bill Richardson more everyday. His courageous stand on pushing through legislation on legalizing medical marijuana usage is one reason. He feels it is the right thing to do and understands the right wing will use it against him in the election.

One of the most prominent industries in the world is the Pharmaceutical complex. They sell drugs in every store on every street corner from Walgreens, 7-11's, Albertsons and Walmart. Many of these drugs can be abused, and are abused. But, this strange fixation on using marijuana to ease the suffering of many people is something that has always perplexed me. Remember, this stuff used to be sold over the counter too. It might just be that the biggest fear here is that the criminal justice system is the loser on this debate. Fewer restrictions on marijuana means smaller appropriations.

Anyway, Richardson shows a real compassionate streak when he can do something like this that may not be best for him.

Finally, for a good laugh go to Senator Domenici's web page and see who is standing beside him. I think Pete must be worried. Actually, the reason for the picture is one of the reasons I admire Pete sometimes. He is a great proponent for helping the mentally ill.

Thursday, March 15, 2007


So, every day there are a few more tidbits about the firing of US Attorney David Iglesias. Anyone who still might believe the dismissal was because of competency issues can lay that notion to rest. Now that right wing New Mexico Republicans Pat Rogers and Micky Barnett have chimed in about their wishes to see Iglesias gone it should be a dead issue. Those two guys have never done anything in the political arena that wasn't extremely partisan in nature. I believe they wanted Iglesias out because they perceived him as too soft on Democrats. They say it was because Iglesias wouldn't move on voter fraud issues. We all know how good the GOP performs on those issues. Remember Florida and Ohio? I might be wrong, but I haven't heard of any Democrats wanting Igleisias' head. That would have at least made things look bi-partisan.

My friend Ned Farquhar started his regular column on the pages of the Albuquerque Journal today. It is refreshing to see his progressive take on things. It certainly will not be as strident as John Dendahl's rants in the Journal. Remember he left New Mexico in a snit after losing to Bill Richardson.
Finally, I did attend the State Air Quality hearing on the lame brained idea of burning Pinon Trees to power an electrical generating plant in Torrance County. The meeting was held in Estancia at the Community Center. The Center was built by the WPA in the 1930's.
You can see the beautiful hand hewn beams from the trees that were taken from the Manzano Mountains.

While the adobe building is beautiful it is totally lacking in acoustics. Even with my hearing aids in action I could not understand a word being said due to the echos set up by an inadequate sound system. Note to the Environment Department. Find a place where people can hear what is being said. The hearing was successful in that needed questions were asked on this whole fiasco.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Religious Discrimination

The New York Times had a couple of fascinating stories this morning. The Pope has reemphasised official discrimination against Gay people with his apostolic exhortation. At the same time the far right fundamentalists Christians are asking for the head of their lobbyist in Washington because the lobbyist is spending to much time on the climate change issue.

I have figured it out. The far right wants global warming to wipe out life on earth as we know it as a way of purging the planet of gay people and straight people who aren't married and have sex anyway. Oh, wait, doesn't that mean all the straight married Christian fundamentalists will melt too?

Life is too short!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


I am going out to Estancia today to sit in on an air quality hearing concerning the harebrained idea for a power plant that will burn Pinon trees as fuel. It is being heralded as a 'biomass' and renewable energy source. I always feel that when something seems ridiculous that it probably is. This is one of those times. Think of it. Years of overgrazing lead to an explosion of the Pinon-Juniper forests in Torrance County and now as a favor for irresponsibility the State Land Office has decided this is a good way to clear the land for more grazing.

No doubt, there could be some thinning done, especially of the prolific Juniper trees, but to cut down Pinon trees that produce cash crops of nuts is crazy. Also, as I understand it the decisions on where and how many of the trees are to be cut will be made by the grazing lessee.

Stay tuned.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Google Fame

I just Googled David Iglesias' name and came up with 2,200,000 hits in .023 seconds. I Google my name occasionally and today it got 2,370,000 hits in .027 seconds. (How does it do that so fast?)

At any rate, David Iglesias will surpass me by weeks end as this story grows on his firing and Pete Domenici and Heather Wilson try and figure a good way out of this mess. I don't think there is a good way out for them. When Pete Domenici's phone etiquette become front page news you know he is in for a hard time. After all is said and done it is just plain rude to hang up on people. What a strange quirk for our senior Senator.

Bobbi and I went to see a great movie this weekend. "The Lives of Others" is a German film about the Stasi, the secret police in East Germany prior to the wall coming down. It really shows how authoritarian governments can just ruin lives for no reason. It was a timely movie since just the night before we talked with a loved one who for some strange reason was put on a watch list by the Federal Government when it comes to flying. Knowing this person, there is absolutely no reason whatsoever for them to be put on that list. Someone, somewhere, in the ever increasing internal security apparatus of the bush administration just decided this person had a strange name, or maybe didn't like the websites they were visiting, or heaven knows what and decided that they should be hassled at airports. This really is maddening but it wont stop until our Congress takes aggressive action on this kind of 'secret police' activity.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Ned's Tool Shed

I kid Ned Farquhar about his tool shed. Actually, it is a Tuff Shed that he had delivered to his beautiful 6 acres along a river north of Ojo Caliente. Arturo Sandoval, Ned and I ran up to see his "home" on the river. It certainly is in beautiful country and I know where to go fishing this year.

Ned had the large Tuff Shed delivered to the site in December where it was assembled. He had two lofts built in, one for girls and on for boys, and he put in insulation and a good wood stove. He has lots of furniture and stuff in there as well as lots of canned and dried food for the "bird flu" season. Ned, the survivalist!

He has a nice beaver dam right on his portion of the river and a nice piece of land for horse grazing.Places like this remind me of how lucky we are to live in New Mexico. It was nice to get away from the city for a few hours.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

So Much Stuff

The Newspapers this morning were chock full of stuff. Scooter is guilty for obstruction of Justice. Pete Domenici hangs up on a lowly U.S. Attorney, (he did it to me when I was Mayor), when he feels the person on the other end of the phone is no longer useful. Heather Wilson, who cried on national television because of Janet Jackson's exposed breast during the Super Bowl has been ominously quiet. And the hatred of some legislators for Albuquerque, "the imperial city", continues in Santa Fe.

The one that bothers me a lot is the attitude of many legislators towards our nice city. It turns out they want the revenues from Marty's red light cameras. (I don't like them, but my wife Bobbi says they make traveling safer.) I actually think some of the legislators logic is okay on the issue because of very real funding issues, but their attitude is not much better than some middle east rhetoric. They just don't like Albuquerque. Why? Who knows? It is probably a way of engendering political strife and political support. It is shameful. I wonder if the Albuquerque haters feel that way when they come to our Isotopes games, our hospitals, UNM, CNM, our airport and our museums and parks.

What bothers me most is that many legislators from Albuquerque hate their own city too. I remember Mayor Harry Kinney used to lament that fact when I worked for him. I found it was true when I was Mayor. Maybe, people just don't like big successful things. I for one love my hometown and I hope city leaders will start letting the all New Mexicans know we all benefit from the services our metropolitan area provides for everyone in the state.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

My Friend Has It Figured

My friend Geoff Webb from Santa Fe sent this to me this morning before the Congressional hearings began in Washington on Pete Domenici and Heather Wilsons calls to the U.S. Attorney. I think he was right on. Geoff said,
  • in her defense, wilson says she complained about the pace of the investigations, but didn't ask about the timing of indictments.
  • in his defense, domenici says he asked about the timing of indictments, but didn't complain about the pace of the investigations.
  • in her defense, wilson says Iglesias's dismissal occurred "without input from me."
  • in his defense, domenici says he complained to DOJ superiors about Iglesias before the call now being investigated
this isn't going to end well for one or both.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Renewable Progress

I ran up to Santa Fe today to attend Governor Richardson's signing of landmark legislation in the renewable energy area. Senate Bill 418 will dramatically increase New Mexico’s Renewable Portfolio Standard and our use of clean electricity. House Bill 188 creates a Renewable Energy Transmission Authority to promote clean energy jobs and help New Mexico both develop our clean energy resources and market them to other states.

New Mexico can rightly lay claim to being one of the top states in the nation when passing legislation aimed at making us energy independent and dealing with global climate change. These bills were worked on by a lot of different groups as you can see in the photo above. Both industry and environmentalists toiled to make the bills a reality.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Censure at Least!

As a friend pointed out to me today over coffee, Heather Wilson was one of only 90 members of the House of Representatives to vote for all of the impeachment counts against Bill Clinton in 1998. She did so because she said every elected official should be above reproach and have Honor and, well you perfect.

Now, after Pete Domenici's confession that he did indeed call U.S. Attorney David Iglesias about pending investigations and indictments against some Democrats prior to last November's election, Heather is sticking out like a sore thumb for her avoidance of saying what Pete said. In other words, "I did it and I am sorry." Of course, it now appears that a contrition might not be enough since there is an indication that both Pete and Heather actually broke the law with the Ex Parte communications. As I recall, when Heather voted to impeach Bill Clinton for his character flaws and cover up, she didn't feel his contrition was enough.

Heather Wilson should be censured at least by the House Ethics Committee. (yes, that's an oxymoron) Pete should just try and end his great career at the end of his term with as much grace and dignity that he can. He deserves to be remembered as a great Senator.

The bush administration's callous disregard for Law, Justice and Civil Liberties seems to have rubbed off on a lot of people who know better. All of this is a perfect example. And when you think about it, it is really serious stuff. Think about it, two elected officials calling Justice Department officials to obliquely or directly suggest they hurry up and indict people before voters go to the polls. Sheesh!

One more thing. For some strange reason the Albuquerque Journal keeps bringing up the fact that David Iglesias went to out of state media folks with his story. Is that important? After all, this is a story of national significance. The Journal is doing a good job on this story even if their favorite politician, Pete, is involved. They were nice to him today showing a front page picture of him in front of the American flag.

Friday, March 02, 2007

TV News....Surely Half Vast

This is a picture of me back in the days in the late 60's and early 70's when I was a reporter at KOAT TV, Channel 7. I anchored the weekend news along with my good friend Rodger Beimer and we both filled in during the week whenever there was a need. I also functioned as assignment editor. In that position I could call upon many of our 'stringers' around the state. We would supply them with Bell and Howell 16mm cameras and they would cover stories we assigned to them or they could cover breaking news on their own. They would then put their film on a Greyhound bus for delivery at the bus station. We had runners that would run the film to the lab and we could be editing the film within an hour. It was nerve wracking and fun at the same time.

The point is that we would cover the state news by having these stringers around when we needed them. That is a thing of the past now. KOB TV announced today they are closing their news operations in Farmington and Roswell. That is sad for a few reasons. Among them, lots of folks lose their jobs and the local residents can be pretty much assured that their local news will no longer be covered by Albuquerque TV. They will now be treated to the crime of the day or the sex oriented story of the day in Albuquerque, rather than their own crime and sex stories.

As some one said, "Television used to be a vast wasteland, now it is only half vast."

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Smoking Gun

Pete Domenici and Heather Wilson may have a smoking gun to deal with. It looks as if former U.S. Attorney David Iglesias might out them in Congressional hearings related to the firings of numerous U.S. Attorneys around the country. While Iglesias hasn't named them by name yet we will find out which two of our congressional delegation called him to apply pressure to get indictments against some Democrats prior to last year's election.

This is pretty serious stuff. Damned serious. It could bring down both Heather and Pete not because they broke the law, which they may not have, but because it certainly makes them look ethically challenged. If they did call Iglesias you can pretty well kiss Heather's run for the Senate goodbye when Pete drops out at the last minute. Also, this opens up a whole new can of worms for the federal prosecutors on these corruptions cases because the defense might argue the cases were politically motivated. Rumor has it that the Grand Jury has already indicted some folks on these cases, but the indictments are sealed.