Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year

Well, 2008 pretty much sucked. Our hapless and evil leaders, bush and cheney managed to leave at a low point. Compare that to where President Elect Obama starts....yes also a low point for the country but looking at a positive future. I mean how can things get worse?

Many of us are somewhat insulated from the 'worse.' Our family is all doing well as most of our relatives are doing well. However, as the New Year starts there are many families on the edge of desperation and they are going to need everyone's help. Now is the time to help charities rather than cut back. I am sending money to some of them today. Sending some money to the Road Runner Food Bank is a sure bet.

I will cut back on donations to some of the environmental groups I support in favor of organizations that help the newly destitute.. Not all of them, but some enviro groups that I think are quick to criticize the new President's cabinet officers before they even have sat down at their desk. It is almost like they are so cemented into adversarial roles that they cant look up from their own desk to see what is going on.

One thing is for sure. 2009 will be an interesting year.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Front Page Juxtaposition

Two stories of tragedy on the front page of the Journal today. One is a young girl who was shot in the head because she got a name wrong of some two bit little ganger. The other story was about rockets and bombs flying between Gaza and Israel killing hundreds.

I seem to care more about the young girl being killed than the hundreds in the Middle East. I have just had it with them. Maybe I am soul less about it, but the warring factions in the middle east just can't live any other way. Thousands of years of tribalism and violence is a culture and they just aren't going to change. It is their way of life and since the people don't stop it I have no sympathy. They are all to blame. Both the Palestinians and the Israelis. Sorry, that is the way I feel and it is probably simplistic. Maybe our only job is not to let it spill over and affect neutrals.

Monday, December 29, 2008


I have worked for many years as an "exempt" government employee. I have also worked as an Elected Official who hires these kinds of employees. These 'exempt' employees work at the pleasure of the elected official and are not covered by the normal protections for state government employees.

So it should be no surprise to anyone that Lt. Governor Diane Denish, soon to be Governor if all goes as planned, has asked for letters from all state exempt employees which requires them to state their wishes about staying on with her when she ascends to the top job. It is totally within her power to keep those folks on or not. That is the way it should be.

I am currently one of those exempts. I sent her my letter and will do what ever she wishes. So should all of the rest of our political appointees.

She has somewhat of a difficult call on this issue. Some of us will go and some of us will stay. I know she will treat everyone fairly but if some go they may go with a chip on their shoulder. Hopefully, that wont affect her race in two years. I don't think it will actually and I am going to support her strongly no matter what. I actually think there won't be many changes right now. Two years from now is when she will truly concentrate for a few months on her own administration's workforce. I am pretty sure she will win.

Meanwhile, Bobbi and the erstwhile volunteers from NM are working on the Road Runner Coyote Float. It is sure to be a hit with the kids.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Glue, Seeds and Flowers

Bobbi and many other New Mexican volunteers are hard at gluing on seeds and flowers for the Coyote Road Runner Rose Bowl Parade Float. See more pictures here.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

NM Float Progress

Bobbi will be posting pictures of progress on the decorating of the New Mexico Rose Bowl Parade Float to the blog she set up. See it here.

She and the other 100 or so volunteers will be up to their lips in flowers and glue for the next five days.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Rose Bowl Bobbi

Bobbi got on a plane this morning to go to the Rose Bowl Parade preparation for the State of New Mexico Float. Bobbi volunteered to manage the 100 volunteers that will travel to Pasadena to decorate the float. She will be working in a cold tent for 14 hours a day.
The Float this year should be a hit with kids and the media. Yes, it the Road Runner and Coyote!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays

Jerry the Cat has the right idea about this time of year. He found a hiding place from the Beagles under the Christmas Tree.

I hope everyone enjoys friends and family over the next few days. We have a house full of guests and I will make Posole and steam the tamales. Then we all head off for Old Town Plaza around 10PM. There are no hassles because of the late hour. I will take a few days off from blogging unless something really moves me.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Senate Cofirmed Positions

I know a couple of New Mexico people who are considering taking high ranking jobs in the Obama administration. These would be Senate confirmable positions. The reasons to accept a job like that are as numerous as not accepting a job like that.

Here are some reasons for accepting the job.
1. You would be part of a historic transfer of power from a bunch of clowns to a bunch of smart people.
2. You would be able to influence good policy for the well being of the nation.
3. You would add to your resume and a brighter future for your career.
4. Your family would experience a new kind of living in the East
5. You would go to the White House often for receptions and meetings.
6. You would generally be on the A-List for everyone who cares about the issues you work on.
7. You will travel a lot in your job.
8. You will have done something not many people get to experience. Its the top of the game.
9. By New Mexico standards you will make a decent salary.

Here are reasons not for accepting the job.
1. You will be worked to death trying to fix what those clowns did to the country.
2. You will get frustrated when the good policies you espouse are gutted by high paid lobbyists.
3. You may have to stay in DC to take advantage of your new career opportunities.
4. Your family would experince a new kind of living in the East.
5. The time spent at White House receptions is really work, not fun.
6. You will eventually not be on the A-List as everyone is pissed at you for caring about the right issues.
7. You will travel a lot in coach, in the middle seat, because no matter how important you are you are just a government passenger to the airline.
8.You will have done something not many people experience and some of them might be thankful.
9. Although you make good money in these positions they are not at all adequate in the DC area for supporting a family as well as in New Mexico.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Dirty Pork

Mayor Chavez and his administration wrote up a list of pork projects they would like funded by the Federal stimulus package that President Elect Obama is espousing and which is necessary. Now I read this in the Albuquerque Journal this morning.

Ed Adams, Albuquerque's chief administrative officer, put it this way: "If they expect to have the cities and the counties move these projects forward, they've got to streamline the environmental process. They can't run these projects the way they've done in the past."

So, I can only assume that Ed Adams and the Mayor feel that skirting the laws that protect air, land and watersheds are worth filling city coffers with much needed cash. I am surprised by this since Marty has discovered that he gets good press by talking 'green' all the time. Maybe it really was just 'greenwash.' after all.

I can't believe that there are not projects that are already vetted and ready to go that won't require the skirting of environmental impact scrutiny. As they are identified we should all get behind them so people can be put to work and then provide for their families. That is one thing the Mayor and the Council can agree upon.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Inauguration Not

Bobbi and I decided not to go to the Inauguration yesterday. We canceled our airline tickets(which we will use at Cherry Blossom time), car rental and notified our friends not to clean up their spare bedroom for us.

I am not doing this because Obama has asked Rick Warren to pray at his swearing in. That really pisses me off by the way. Having a guy like Warren who openly wars on Gays and also feels that a woman's uterus is not hers to supervise is not exacly what I expected. The bigger question is why have any religious ceremony at a government funded event at all?. Oh well, that is the issue we can never win I suppose.

No, the reason we are not going to the big event, which I am still happy about, is that you will not be allowed to take an umbrella on to the mall between the capitol and the Washington monument. Also, they will close the restrooms in the metro stations. Also, they don't know where to park 10,000 buses. The list could go on. It makes sitting in front of the TV with an Irish coffee and a fire going seem much more attractive.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Rail Runner and Road Tax

I think one thing that will happen when people think about the Rail Runner is that they will always remember that Governor Richardson built it. I talked to two more folks yesterday who used it to go to Santa Fe and they were thrilled. Except there is not near enough parking at the stations. We could all see that coming.

People still remember that I sweated as Mayor over getting the new baseball stadium built. After I left office Marty Chavez put his name on the plaque in front of the stadium. It is the one thing I resent about him. Isotopes Park is making money for the city instead of being a black hole.

The other thing I worked hard for was the Transportation tax that has done a lot of good for the city's infrastructure. It has enabled the rebuilding of our streets and the expansion of the bus system. It benefits the older parts of town over sprawl development. We went to the public on a vote for that tax. It won by 700 votes after a blistering attack by republican city councilors. The ten year tax, which brings in 35 million dollars a year is due to expire and now some current city councilors want to extend it for six months without a vote. I say go for it and then put it to a vote at the next municipal election. I can't understand why this deadline has crept up on the administration like this.

It is really important that the Council and city auditor make sure that money is being used for intended purposes. I have suspected that it has been raided in the past for other purposes.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Senator Salazar at Interior

I think that Senator Ken Salazar of Colorado can rise to the occasion and make a good Interior Secretary. Some of my friends in the environmental community are upset with his selection. Right now a moderate seems like a godsend for the Interior Department. The real meat here will lay in the selection of strong BLM and Fish and Wildlife Directors, and courageous Assistant Secretaries who wont be afraid of taking strong messages to the Secretary’s office and the White House. Do not forget that we once again have a Democratic President who knows nothing about western public land policy. Nor does his close aides and staff. But we do have a very smart man coming into the White House and I have hopes he won't hang us out to dry for the oil and gas, livestock and mining industries. Time will tell.

One last thing Senator. Lose the cowboy hat. It does look a little dorky in DC.

Border Violence

I have a very good friend who has been married to a woman from Chihuahua, Mexico for 30 years. They have a great family here and in Mexico. Bobbi and I have visited them. They hold dual citizenship in the US and Mexico. Every Christmas our friends , and thousands like them, journey to the family home in Chihuahua City for Christmas. They have done it without fail for thirty years, but not this year because of the danger of violence on the border.

This year more that 4300 have died in gang/drug wars in Juarez and the border states. About equal to the Americans who have died in Bush's war in Iraq. There are also gangs preying on everyday citizens, tourists and businesses. Extortion and kidnapping are common place. Children are also killed in the cross fire. Lots of them.

Yet, we hear little about this violence just 250 miles from our city of Albuquerque. We have an estimated forty thousand Chihuahuan natives living here with family south of the border and yet the media here ignores this heartbreaking story.

We may like to think this is Mexico's problem, but it is also our problem. If this lawlessness continues our own safety is also diminished. Of course the violence is caused mostly by the drug wars and culture that it inspires. Think about this. The fastest way to stop this culture is to legalize drugs. Will it happen? Not anytime soon because our criminal justice system seems built around criminalization. However, taking the profit out of drugs would do a lot of good overall. It is just common sense.

This escalating violence and the failed government it has engendered in Mexico can not be ignored any longer. Our country must assist in helping our neighbors to the south.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Rail Runner

This is the video I produced of the Inaugural run of the Rail Runner on Monday. It was a fun trip.

Let the video load a bit before you start it. If it stalls, just wait a while.

Train Ride

My friend Roy Soto and I will take off on the inagural train ride of the Rail Runner to Santa Fe this morning. This should be fun and I will take my video camera to catch some scenes for this blog later today.

We saw "The Day the Earth Stood Still" on Friday evening. As I suspected it was pretty lame in comparison with the 1950's movie, but it did have a good message and scary ending.

Friday, December 12, 2008


I had a nice comment on yesterday's blog on Motor Trend Magazine from John Fleck. He said reading a Motor Trend Magazine wouldn't provide enough data to say that American automakers are still primarily into muscle cars. John is right. Just go visit a car dealership and see what they are offering. Find me ten American built cars that get 30mpg in city driving.

Last night I watched the original movie, "The Day the Earth Stood Still." It is still a poignant classic and one of my all time favorite movies. Tonight Bobbi and I will go see the new one which probably wont be as good, but any serious scifi movie is okay with me.

If you are interested in a 12 minute video/photo montage of our trip to New Zealand and Australia, here it is as produced on my MacPro.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


I stopped by my Barber's yesterday to get a haircut after getting home from Santa Fe. I have been going to Gene Varoz for forty years now. That is hard to believe.

I got there a little early and picked up the December issue of Motor Trend Magazine. After perusing it for about ten minutes I was more certain than ever that the Big 3 auto makers in America are run by a bunch of idiots. All I saw were critiques and advertisements of gas guzzling muscle cars that are being ballyhooed by Detroit. Big engined heavy cars dominated the magazine as Detroit's latest offerings. It was nauseating. Do they deserve a bailout? Hell no, but we better do it anyway.

What I don't understand in all of this is why the Republicans don't want to support this. It was their philosophy, along with Michigan Democrats, that put bottom lines first in the auto world. They resisted research and development and high mileage standards that have led to the current mess. Now they don't want to help protect badly needed jobs. Yes, the featherbedding by labor unions have not helped either but they seem to understand now it is time for concessions.

These currently cheap gas prices will disappears rapidly as soon as the economy heals. Then the Big 3 better show us some new thinking or they should be hung out.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Honestly, how do goofy people like this Governor from Illinois get elected? Do people just totally sign out on who they vote for? This guy must be delusional to offer so blatantly to sell the Senate seat of the President the highest bidder. Apparently he was facing other looming indictments and knew well that his phones may be tapped. One of my friends mentioned this morning that maybe the guy isn't an idiot or delusional. That maybe he was doing this on purpose to seem an idiot and delusional so he could make a plea on his other problems that he was 'crazy'. Who knows for sure?

In the meantime this kind of stuff just makes people distrust government even more. Other important things get left in the dust. Like Obama and Gore's meeting on Climate Change. What a shame the press could not spend a little time on that.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Unsolicited Advice

I am hearing things about the Obama transition that have me a little concerned. These things involve the Department of Interior and the Bureau of Land Management specifically. Don't get me wrong. I am elated we have a new President and that he has a big brain. However, as usual, we have a President who knows little of the western public land issues that we deal with every day. I was talking to some friends in some Conservation groups yesterday who are hearing that there is a move afoot to appoint a career civil service employee as Director of the BLM. I am against this totally.

First off, it will highly please the 'Lords of Yesterday', the oil and gas, ranching and mining boys, since they know what I know. A career person won't move to change things dramatically and that suits them just fine. Even if that career person has all the right intentions it will be hard to buck the bureaucracy that has become entrenched over 8 years of bush/cheney. It is time for some visionary leadership and strong political will to change the management of these public lands.

If there is a really good career person with the 'right stuff' then they should be made Deputy Director of the BLM. That will enable a politically knowledgeable Director the time to push the Secretary of Interior and the administration into a logical and well paced regime of reform.

Monday, December 08, 2008

New Zealand Photos

I posted a few photos of our New Zealand-Australia trip. The photo above is Melbourne, Australia. Its a beautiful city on the sea. We had a great time overall and were really happy to hear some comments from a New Zealand couple and an Australian couple we had breakfast with on our last day of the cruise. They said, "You Americans have made a wonderful investment in your future by electing Obama as President. You have been outsiders on the International scene for eight years. Now you are back with intelligent leadership and hopes for a better world." This really happened.


It was sad to get back home Saturday evening and find out that Alice King was in critical condition from a stroke. Sunday she passed away.

I first met Alice King in the 1970's when I was a reporter for KOAT-TV. I was covering a Governor's Conference in Oregon and followed Governor King around for a day. Alice was really helpful to me on what was important about the conference. It was then that I realized she was much more than a ceremonial First Lady.

Some years later I went to work for the King administration as News Secretary. I worked with the Kings through one statewide campaign and two administrations which launched me on a career in politics. Alice King was always helpful and understanding and she always looked out for the Governor's office employees and Cabinet Secretaries. She knew the issues and was also Bruce King's most trusted and respected adviser.

Alice King cared about people. She cared about children and the poverty stricken. She was a loving and involved person and we all mourn her loss.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Back in the USA...

New Zealand kids are just like kids anywhere....Having fun.

We had really nice flights back to L.A. from Sydney and Auckland. Good weather and good food on the plane. I had always though that the term 'air plane food' was an oxymoron, but not on Air New Zealand. They also have polite flight crews.
This is one of the more interesting places we visited outside of Dunedin. These boulders pop out of the cliffs as a result of erosion eating away at the shore line. Sometimes they break open.

They are accretions that took millions of years to form.

Friday, December 05, 2008


We spent our final two days in Sydney.   What a fantastic city.  Home Saturday night.