Thursday, January 31, 2008

Ted for Barack in the Valley

I took a couple hours of annual leave this morning to go by the Obama for President Rally with Senator Ted Kennedy. This was a standing room only crowd with some people spilling into the hallways at the National Hispanic Cultural Center.

Former Attorney General Patsy Madrid and husband Mike Messina, who were big John Edwards supporters in New Mexico have now come over to the Obama Campaign.

One of the things that Kennedy said that made me feel warm and fuzzy inside was, “One year from now george bush will not be President.” That is a wonderful thing when you think about it.

It is hard for a lot of us old politicos to get a good feel for what will happen next Tuesday when so many states vote in primaries and caucuses. I am not really sure who comes out on top. Once again, Hillary Clinton’s organization is superb but at the same time Obama’s undercurrent of rising support is there. He raised $32 million in the last month.

One thing is for sure, this actually wont be decided until later in the year. That means plenty of time for folks to sign up to help.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008


I have been on a real reading frenzy of late. I discovered a new SciFi author, Michael Flynn, and I am now digesting all of his books. I just read Eifelhiem. It is set in the middle ages in and concerns stranded interstellar aliens in a forest next to a village. The priest and villagers adopt and protect the aliens, who look somewhat evil and the aliens help them out of a few scrapes and then nurse them through the Plague years. It is a great story about the value of welcoming outsiders into the fold. I imagine Lou Dobbs, America's Mexican baiter, would not like this book.

Right after that I picked up a book Bobbi had purchased. It is called the "Pillars of Earth" by Ken Follett. (the first Oprah selection I have read) It also is set in the middle ages and revolves around the construction of a cathedral. It is not great literature but it held my interest because it showed the practicality of the church in those days and the cruelty and politics of the Kings and nobles.

I am now into Flynn's book called "In the Country of the Blind". It is about a secret cabal that manages the outcome of history via assasination and political intrigue. Kind of like bush and cheney have unwittingly done for this country's image in the world.

I read another one that was really good about earthlings finally getting serious faster than light drive and visiting a planet 30,000 light years away. It was a planet that had sent out messages asking, "Is anyone there?" So we visit the planet it came from and it inhabitants had stopped interstellar explorations because they couldn't find any answers to the meaning of life. They were spending all of their time watching reality TV shows.


Something that is not funny is the fact is that Bobbi and I will not be able to vote in the Caucus on Tuesday. We had been scheduled to go to Washington, DC on Wednesday, but had to make it a day earlier this weekend. No problem I thought. We would just go vote early this week since it was to late to get an absentee ballot. Now the Democratic Party tells me there is no early voting. That sucks.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Slow Burn

After spending my lunch hour reading the cover story in the New York Times Magazine from Sunday I had to convert my anger to a slow burn over just how imbecilic the bush administration has been over the last 7 years. I really hope everyone can read this. It is long and takes concentration but you will be near tears at the end. The one inspiring thing in the last page is author Parag Khanna’s call for the formation of an American ‘Diplomatic/Industrial Complex’. That is a conspiracy I could support.

Every young person should especially read this so that they will understand the kind of world we are now facing, a world where the United States may well be a bystander instead of an influential superpower.

I am convinced more than ever after reading this that Barack Obama is the one that can make things right. I still can’t forget that Hillary Clinton voted to invade Iraq.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Misc Gridlock

Hidden amongst the headlines today is the fact that five more Americans died in Bagdad yesterday. That gets trumped by the Screen Actors Guild awards, Kennedy’s endorsement of Obama(Hooray), and the Paseo del Norte sink hole.

I want to see the candidates start talking about Iraq again. I sense the American public needs to hear about it as I noticed today that the chances for retaining a Democratic congress is becoming questionable. The Democrats are losing ground according to many polls and that may be a result of not standing up to bush and cheney and their whole Iraq strategy and plans for permanent American presence there. Gridlock!

Also, one has to chuckle what one sinkhole can do the movement of traffic around the city and county. My wife Bobbi works over in Journal Center and we had a discussion over coffee early this morning about how she might best miss the chaos caused by the closing of this one road. Now I see the Sheriff is saying he will help the Albuquerque Police Department manage the gridlock in the next few commutes. Darren White, the republicans great hope for retaining the Congressional District held by Heather Wilson, war supporter, is strangely opening himself up for criticism. I can assure him no one will appreciate his efforts after sitting in traffic for a few hours.

There is no doubt that any western city is just as vulnerable to traffic and economic shutdowns caused by a few road closures. I have always thought it would be easy for 20 protesters to close down all of Albuquerque’s commute. Whenever anyone wants to perform a public suicide attempt and jump off an overpass you can witness what happens. There must be a better way.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


Just as my friend foresaw yesterday, the pundits and media are saying that Obama has to get more of the white vote in order to win. Didn't he win Iowa which is 93% white and come close in New Hampshire which is also 93% white? Also, his victory in South Carolina is staggering and that means a lot of white voters there voted for him too.

At the Starbuck's Sunday morning gathering today everyone we talked to was an Obama supporter. Essentially they mostly say they just are tired of the DC BS they have been getting for so long. There doesn't seem to be a lot of one issue stuff.

I am worried that like most Presidential candidates Obama knows zero about the West's big issues surrounding public lands and water.. He will need a good transition team to help set the course. Also, a western Governor like Bill Richardson as his VP would really help since he throughly understands this stuff.

One of my buddies would warn Obama, after watching him last night give his long victory speech, that he sometimes borders on "professorial arrogance". Still, he will vote for him.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Santa Fe

I spent the day in Santa Fe yesterday taking care of some state business and stopping by a news conference for people supporting Barrack Obama for President. The trip to Santa Fe and back is becoming almost unbearable and dangerous. My brother said there was a bad wreck on La Bajada yesterday morning and on my way back in the afternoon the State Police were cleaning up wreckage from a fatal accident near Sandia Pueblo. That closed northbound I-25 for hours. That train up to Santa Fe looks better and better every day. I ran into Lawrence Rael yesterday, he is head of the Middle Rio Grande Council of Governments, and he says the train will start running at the end of the year. I hope so.

The Capitol building was mobbed yesterday. Lobbyists, including Archbishop Sheehan(I wonder if he has to register as an agent of the Church?), senior citizens, high school groups, veterans and tourists were taking up every square foot of the place. The only peaceful places were in the House and Senate Chambers. I wish they would work on campaign financing reform. The cause for public financing of campaigns is probably lost because so many legislators fear it would cause people to run for office who had no access to big money. That means opposition. I watched one interesting talk by a Senator who was listing the gifts he had received that day. He was sarcastically listing the bag of peanuts, toy windmills, and other trinkets that show up on Legislators desks. I think the message was that some ethics bills were going to far.

Of course outside the Capitol there was no place to park. Another good reason for the train stopping nearby.

Monday, January 21, 2008

For What It Is Worth

I am not sure if one person endorsing a presidential candidate means much to anyone. It probably doesn't influence people who don't like you, think you are a radical, have an axe to grind, or they think you are always wrong about things. Certainly even your friends wont agree with you many times. About all the people I know can agree on is that electing another republican war monger will kill this country's image for good. As I announce my pick for the Democrat I have to say that I think Bobbi might agree with me. My politically active son Justin might, but I haven't asked him. I am not sure what my daughter Noelle is thinking about this. I know a lot of my friends are pretty much split as are a lot of New Mexico Politicos.

I am endorsing Barrack Obama. I do so knowing that the organizational expertise of the Clinton campaign might be the spoiler for him. Although, the only visit to our door so far has been by a couple of nice Obama volunteers. If Hillary Clinton wins the nomination I will certainly do everything in my power to make sure she is the victor.

I am endorsing Obama for the simplest of reasons. I don't want to see two families controlling the United States for almost thirty continuous years. This is a democracy, not a plutocracy and we should remember that. These families get to feeling they are entitled to take over from other family members. That sense of entitlement scares me. This is a way of taking action. I am also not supporting Hillary because she voted to invade Iraq when deep down I suspect she knew better. That smacks of worrying more about ones image than the good of the country.

I also think that Obama is smart and is an agent of change. His election would send a great message to the world that America truly is a place where everyone has a shot at success. I think Obama is very likely to appoint great people to his administration and that they would bring a fresh approach to domestic and international affairs. I was disappointed in last nights debate on CNN when Obama started pandering to the religious fanatics.

I also don't think Obama will fall back on what the bush clan and Clintons have done. That is to blame either the right wing or left wing for all their problems.

Revenues Plummet?

I hear from friends who are in the know that the City of Albuquerque is about to suffer a dramatic and debilitating drop in revenues because of the housing bubble burst and the beginning of a recession. Building permits have dropped 60% and all of that gross receipts tax income which the city so heavily depends on will melt like an Albuquerque snow.

The administrations of Marty Chavez, with the concurrence of the City Councils, have led the Duke city government on a spending spree over the last six years. The budget has soared above inflation trends and the city sprawled and crawled its way to the Rio Puerco. Unlike the State of New Mexico which has a much wider revenue stream, think oil and gas revenues, the city depends mainly on that sales tax. It is cyclical and the bad times are always sure to come sooner or later.

When I was elected Mayor in 1997 I came in just as a recession started. It forced me to curtail spending to less than the rate of inflation over four years. I followed Marty Chavez' first administration which occurred during good times. I was mainly left with shortfalls and was reviled for the budget cuts I had to make.(Like closing the Zoo on Mondays) Now Marty and the Council will face those choices too. My advice is to not give in to keeping the pork going for every little special interest group that lobbies for and then takes the city money. Then they usually tell the city to butt out. Watch the City Council closely too as they will all scratch each others back to keep their own pet projects going.

This will keep Albuquerque bloggers and reporters in stories for a while.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Accounts and Accountability

Bobbi and I are watching our 401 and 457 retirement accounts pretty closely these days. Like many people in our age groups we have religiously put a way a little money every pay day into these funds. Bobbi has always had a good head for what funds to put the money in and when to reallocate them into other funds as the market changes. However this current meltdown in the stock market has affected us to no small amount.

Every time one of these financial giants announces a multi billion dollar loss the nation's middle class takes it in the ear. I would like to see something similar start happening to the corporate Boards and CEOs of these groups. The Boards usually stay invisible on these things but they should be held accountable too. The CEOs shrug their shoulders, resign, and leave with millions or tens of millions or hundreds of millions of the share holders money.

The Boards condone these actions which are all brought on by the next quarter's 'bottom line' which they say the stockholders only care about. I wonder if that is really true. In many cases I don't think it is.

There needs to be accountability but there wont be. If we can't even get the New Mexico Legislature seriously interested about conflict of interest and accountability and ethics laws, then how can we expect corporate America to ever do so.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


I had coffee with a good friend yesterday morning. He was describing to me a conversation he had with a well known local businessman who is a right wing Republican and Christian fundamentalist. This man said he had been talking with some Air Force full Bird Colonels who were predicting that with in 5-10 years there would be a military coup in this country. After the coup there would be a cleansing of moderates and liberals who are soft on defense.

I would have just chuckled about this except for the story I saw on CNN a few days ago. A reporter was interviewing an Air Force General about the grounding of America's F-15 Fighter fleet because of metal fatigue. Hundreds of these venerable front line fighters will need to be replaced. The General said he wanted to do so with the F-22 fighter. The reporter pointed out that these cost a quarter of a billion dollars each.

The General blew a fuse and seemed to me to be out of control that anyone would question his judgment. If his behavior is normal for a high ranking officer in our military then I wonder if they are our defenders or if we need to be defended from them.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Greenwashing Thing

Mayor Marty Chavez gave a 'lateral arabesque" to the head of the City's Environment and Health department after it was discovered all of their claims on Albuquerque being a "green city" turned out to be highly overstated. Marty used those claims to get him self some awards for being a great environmental Mayor. Will he give those awards back?

In Marty's defense it is easy to become the victim of over zealous aides and bad math. I remember I was the victim of bad math when I was Land Commissioner. We had calculated some bad grazing fee numbers because a decimal point was in the wrong place. A simple math check would have fixed it and from them on we had a math expert check all of our numbers. Then we started using computers shortly after that and things got much better. I remember getting the first PC in the land office. I sealed myself up and learned the Lotus program and then input all the financial statements that were regularly handed to me. None of them added up correctly so the accountants spent the night finding the errors.

I was always skeptical of the numbers that the Mayors office was using on their claims, but I had assumed Marty's folks had checked them. It has turned into an embarrassment. This greenwashing by politicians should always be subjected to analysis. The important thing is to make progress on slowing global warming and not pad a politicians resume.

Monday, January 14, 2008


So this Olympic athlete gets six months in prison for taking steroids and lying about it while bush and cheney who lied to the American people about the reasons for going to war in Iraq are still in power. This is the kind of thing that makes many of us think there really is no justice. The athlete’s actions didn’t kill tens of thousands of people.

I was really surprised to see Lt. Governor Diane Denish endorse Hillary Clinton today. That kind of flys in the face of politics when you are thinking about running for Governor. There are many folks out there who will resent it, but I admire her for taking a stand. I may not agree with her endorsement at this point because I still cant get over Hillary voting for the war.

I actually thought Marty Chavez would be endorsing Hillary by now. He might want to be looking for a job in a couple of years. I think Marty will have a lot of explaining to do about his ABQ PAC scandal. No one really looked into that matter in a diligent way but you can be assured that the FBI will be all over it before any job that requires Senate confirmation is approved.

The Governor’s announcement today that Schott Solar of Germany will build a new solar component manufacturing plant at Mesa Del Sol is great news. They will situate near Advent Solar which is fabricating solar panels. I still wonder what ever happened to the world’s largest solar development that Land Commissioner Pat Lyons suckered the press with right before the election in 2006. He was in cahoots with convicted felons on that one and the press never really followed up on it. Sad.

I don't know about the rest of you but I am tired of this cold weather.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Arthur Sussman

New Mexican artist Arthur Sussman was a good friend for over 30 years. He passed away on Thursday. I met him when he came to Channel 7 as a movie critic back in the early 1970’s. I was working as a reporter and weekend news anchor and his reviews were done on Saturday nights. We hit it off immediately and I started to buy his paintings on installment plans. We have many of his works in our home.

"The Magic Tree" by Arthur Sussman. I bought this painting shortly after our daughter Noelle was born in 1985.

He came to our annual Christmas Eve party this year and spent a little time in front of each of his paintings in our house. He was commenting that evening that he had done a great portrait of Governor Richardson and wanted me to talk to the Governor about whether he liked it or not.

Queen Esther from Arthur Sussman's Old Testament Paintings.

Arthur was never afraid to give his opinion on any issue at any time. He was both left wing and right wing at the same time and he was always fun to invite over for dinner with his beloved wife Judith. Arthur was always passionate about his work. I would often visit him at his studio and would notice that he would be working on the same painting for many months, put it aside and then come back to it when he had new inspirations. He was a much disciplined artist.

New Mexico has lost one of its treasures and I have lost a good friend.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Governor Richardson Leaves Presidential Race

Governor Richardson entered the Rotunda of the State Capitol for his news conference about 1:00PM

He stepped in front of the lights and gave a heartfelt speech about the campaign and the people who helped him
There was a good turnout of supporters and campaign staff who heard him say that he had no immediate plans to endorse any of the remaining candidates.

Congressman Tom Udall introduced the Governor who said he is fully behind Udall's race for the U.S. Senate
Now, Udall's daughter, Amanda, will most likely start managing the Congressman's campaign after toiling away for Richardson for the last five years. She is quite an organizer.

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008


A friend of mine left me an email last night saying I should eat crow for predicting that Hillary Clinton was probably toast. After last nights shaming of pollsters and Hillary's 6500 vote margin I am not yet willing to eat the crow. Don't forget just a few weeks ago Obama was 20% behind Hillary, so I am not so sure he is a big loser. We are all surprised at this however, mainly because the pollsters really did blow it this time. It is unusual.

If Obama had won by a thousand votes last night he would have been declared the winner for the nomination by just about everyone. Stop and think about that. A 7000 vote swing in a small and non diverse state gets all of us pundits saying something different. The Zogby poll guy says that Iowa proved that Clinton wasn't the anointed and New Hampshire said folks weren't full out ready for Obama. Kicking the tires I guess!

Now, we all watch to see what Governor Richardson will do. What ever he does I think he has done New Mexico a lot of good by making this run.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Political Wisdoms

Most everyone I have spoken with over the last few days are really jacked up over the Iowa and New Hampshire votes. The main theme seems to be that Hillary Clinton is toast. I tend to agree with that but I am not making other predictions on the finality of Barrack Obama's campaign yet. I think he could go all the way, much as the young upstart John Kennedy did in 1960. Kennedy had legions of young people excited about the possibilities of politics back then. He was relatively inexperienced too, and it showed once he was elected when he gave the go ahead to the Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba. But, he learned quickly as I am sure Obama would do.

On the Republican side my friends really don't have any opinions on who may carry the nomination. Most of them simply don't care to waste time on figuring that one out. Most say it doesn't matter anyway since this country just won't go with the GOP. I think that is probably true, but just about anything can happen to 'sure things' as Hillary has discovered.

On another issue, I had to chuckle this morning when I saw that Sherman McCorkle's PR machine, Technology Ventures Corp., had laid off most of its employees. McCorkle always put his picture in the paper in full page ads with money from that group about some new award he had received for his great work in business development. This stalwart group of conservative business folks were receiving most of their budget from the Federal government while at the same time deriding the government for other subsidies to poor people and groups. He supposedly got a lot of support from Lockheed-Martin, a large defense contractor who acted as a conduit for much of the money. I guess since the Feds don't want to give money any more they feel their support isn't needed either.(They have made lots of war profits by the way.) I think McCorkle's gravy train has dried up now that Senator Pete Domenici will be leaving Washington.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Listening---Not Strong Arming

I had to go to Santa Fe on Friday and attend a budget meeting in the Governor's office. On the way out of the capitol I was waylaid by a Hillary Clinton functionary insisting that I switch to Hillary once Bill Richardson left the race. (That might be some time off) This person peered into my eyes and made it look like I would be a fool if I didn't do so. Well, I can say honestly that if Hillary Clinton is the nominee I will support her totally, but I may not be supporting her immediately if Bill ends his heroic campaign. Edwards and Obama look refreshing.

I watched Hillary's speech after her surprisingly poor performance in Iowa. On the stage with her was the same old gang. Madeliene Albright, Wes Clark(who I like), and other former Clinton functionaries. Hillary's speech was uninspiring at best. I then watched Obama do his thing. No one is going to out speechify him. Lots of people I don't know were standing with him. And I decided that Edwards or Obama would be much more likely to listen to people than Hillary. New people with new ideas are always good. At the same time I do worry sometimes that Obama might be 'all hat/no horse.' That is a valid worry for all of us, but I think Obama must be a good listener since he had to take advice on how to win Iowa.

I know that as a politician that I should have listened more on many occasions. Things would have been calmer for me, for sure. And so I know first hand that we don't need someone like bush who never listened to anyone but his dad's old appointees. Old ideas there, and dangerous ones as we have all found out.

Friday, January 04, 2008


I do think it is momentous that Iowa, 92% white, gave a victory Barrack Obama. It is a message that may well carry over in many other places that the country can't just be run by old white guys anymore. I had originally thought that Edwards could win Iowa but a tie for third is respectable. I think Hillary Cllinton's campaign is in big trouble.

Bill Richardson is indefatigable. He was on a plane for New Hampshire before the bars closed in Iowa. He actually got about 10% of the caucus goers voting for him but because of the weirdness of the formulas he didn't show it when the delegates were distributed. He is right to go on and work hard through Super Tuesday. The fund raising will be harder but he has fought that all along. His performance in the debate this week is crucial. I would advise Bill to get a day of rest before that one.

Four weeks from now things will really gel. During that time I think Obama must show he is substantial on foreign policy. We know he stands for change and I hope he will map out what that means, if the media will carry the message for him. Maybe the will, but don't hold your breath.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Home Again

I got back home New Years day from the freezing mid west. I know there must be nice weather in Iowa at some time during the year. I talked with a lot of folks this morning early in Iowa and spoke with some Sierra Club Chapter members who returned my calls from last week. They are all commiserating over the bone chilling cold. They all seem to be getting weary and I think tonight's caucus tallies will end this madness where 150,000 Democrats get to pick a 'winner' for the rest of us. Still, those who are involved in the Iowa caucuses seem to be really nice people. But they are a minority of the population which mostly is indifferent.

This is so sad. I had a good friend who was observing the election in Kenya. He left shortly after the process was finished. It is sad to see Kenya now melting down over the election. One thing we should admit is they are more invested in politics in that third world country than we seem to be.

I got a note from my sister Carlota last night just before she boarded a flight back from Uganda to the U.S. She had been up to Kenya for a day or so before the election and was really saddened to see what transpired afterward. She is pessimistic about many African countries being able to pull it together any time soon. She thinks the only victories that might be had for people there are small ones, such as contributing to AIDS programs and orphanages that will educate their kids.

On a final note today, I want to express my admiration for Governor Bill Richardson and his hard fought campaign for President. What ever transpires in Iowa tonight, no one can say he didn't give his total energy to the last year's campaign. He is relentless and tireless. I know something good will come out of it for him.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Parade Float

Bobbi glues flowers to the float.

As I had mentioned, while I was in Iowa for six days my wife Bobbi and sister in law Jan were in Pasadena helping to decorate the New Mexico Rose Bowl Parade Float. Rodger Beimer was there too while his wife Connie was in Iowa helping Governor Richardson's efforts. Here are some photos of their hard work. A lot of New Mexican volunteers spent their New Years Week in California to help with this. Their work won the Grand Marshall Trophy for Creativity and Design. Click on the photos to enlarge them.

Jan works on pinning vines.

Rodger hangs out in the scaffolding

Detail work was beautiful

Bobbi and Jan at the Judging of floats

Happy New Year

I am at the Kansas City Airport on the free wireless service they provide. It is handy, just like the one at Albuquerque. I should arrive back Monday evening.

Talk about cold. I drove down to Kansas City through St. Joseph's, Missouri today. The temperature never got above 12 degrees and the wind was gusting to 40MPH. Instant freeze on the window washer fluid.

I came through St. Joseph's to visit my mother's grave site. She died of Alzheimers back in 1993 after a long illness and after the services in Albuquerque we abided by her wishes to have her interred beside her parents.

Sadly, since there was so much snow I could not find her marker but I was in the general vicinity. My mom's name was Dixie and she had many friends in Albuquerque. She had a long career with the Atomic Energy Commission and the Department of Energy before she retired in 1978. I was glad I could be near her today.

The trip to Iowa was well worth it and there are a lot of dedicated people there working for Governor Richardson and the rest of the candidates. I think the Iowa caucus will deliver a few surprises on Thursday.

The great volunteers that went to Pasadena to decorate the New Mexico 'Alien' float were rewarded when it won the Grand Marshal's trophy for creativity and design. So much for all the whiners in New Mexico who didn't like it!