Saturday, January 31, 2009

Chronic Behavior and Chronic Placement

The chronically unhappy faculty at UNM is upset with the President and some Regents. If you look back over the last half dozen or more UNM Presidents the faculty has always been unhappy. Always. And the Albuquerque Journal always seems gives them placement on the front page, as they did today. It is all very negative and nothing new really. But this morning there was good news too! It got relegated to the back pages. That was the fact of UNM's growing enrollment. That is pretty positive for the crew running the University and maybe it should have been on the front page too.

Academe is the toughest game of all. It may be worse than modern day politics.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Grass is Greener

Yesterday I attended a luncheon round table at the McCune Foundation on the subject of water law and policy in New Mexico. I opined that there is little infrastructure built around protecting water when you are up against the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, the Farm and Livestock Bureau, the Cattle Growers Association, the Mining Association, Real Estate developers and Contractors. The agricultural interests are getting easier to work with, but still the odds are against seeing water in rivers as a beneficial use of that water. New Mexico is pretty much the only western state behind the times on this concept.

Then we read in a Pew Research Survey today that most Americans would much rather live in western rural areas and cities than anywhere else. Yes some like the South too.

That makes it even more important to come up with a way of seeing water as a resource to be protected rather than just a commodity for development. I argue that the best way to do this is by hiring lawyers and suing to protect long term health of watersheds and rivers. Others think that cooperation will get it done. I wish that would work by itself, but I have watched things just get worse because the good policies and laws are not in place.

One reason we beat back the bush administration on disastrous public land policies was because of timely and well fought lawsuits. I think that may be New Mexico's only hope when it comes to water. The problem is there is not near enough funding for groups like the New Mexico Environmental Law Center to do it.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Student Loan Ripoffs

I have been talking with folks who kids are really suffering from outrageous interest rates on their student loans. WTF!

I am getting ready to lock in to a 4.3% mortgage rate and these kids are paying upward of 8% for their 50K student loans. This needs attention. The feds are bailing out the banks who then turn around and charge these usurious rates to kids who only wanted to get good degrees at good schools. Where is the Justice in this? Shouldn't our delegation look into this?

Add to that the fact these kids are underpaid or have no job at all and are going to have bad credit ratings because they cant make payments on time, or ever be able to put money aside for buying a home or starting a family. This is in addition to the deficit the kids will face paying off due to the greed of these bankers and Wall Street creeps. Where are the tar and feathers?


The "Stimulus Package" has $329 million set aside for New Mexico Schools K through 12. I am not sure what they can spend that on but I have a few suggestions. Technology infrastructure that will make the schools more energy efficient, technology infrastructure that puts a computer station on every desk, and improvement to school buildings that make the learning experience easier. Math and Science concentrations for kids who show promise. Also, just give all kids free lunches for a few years. This cheese sandwich foisted on kids who parents are in arrears is silly.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Dear Pete and Ed

Dear Pete Dinelli and Ed Adams,

First Pete, I have always liked you. And you too Ed. Pete was a great city councilor some years ago. He now works for Mayor Chavez as Chief Public Safety Officer. . Ed, you are an excellent administrator and your work, which I assigned you, on building the Isotopes stadium was flawless. I am sure you are a good CAO.

So, I hate to see you guys get used by a Mayor who requires you take the heat for everything controversial and bad, while he does news conferences on softball issues that make people feel good and that's about all. Maybe that is why he is such a good pol.

Cases in point. Ed, you took the heat for signing a contract with the red light camera guys. So much heat as a matter of fact that the entire Journal editorial railing about it today was taken out on you, rather than the guy who told you to do it, the Mayor. Of course Mayor Chavez can do no wrong where the Journal editorial crew is concerned. I often wonder if someone upstairs at the Journal has a search and delete program on the words "Martin Chavez" for every story that might be negative.

And Pete, you are constantly on TV being a belligerent for the Mayor in attacking city councilors or anyone else who draws his ire. This doesn't exactly bode well for you in the future if you stick your foot into politics once again. are being used.

I actually respect the Mayor more everyday as he gets away with this stuff. The public still gives him good grades because he has fall guys around. He is masterful.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Shoe on the other Foot

The story on the Second Chance drug and alcohol rehab program that is being thrown out of city owned facilities is one of hypocrisy on steroids. Apparently a large part of the criticism is due to the fact that the organization has donors from the Scientology religion/cult. If these donations were coming from well heeled donors in other religious groups, would the Mayor and his attack dog mascot Pete Dinelli be so fast to give them the heave ho? What if the Second Chance donors were Catholics, Baptists, Lutherans, Methodists, Hindus, Moslems or any other God fearing group? Would Marty and Pete take them on too? Hell no, because it is easier to get people to dislike the Scientology crowd than the Archbishop. Isn't it?

And then in a slap to the revered face of Pope John XXIII. the current Pope is welcoming back into the tent a bunch of rightwing clergy that had been banished some time ago. One of them debunks the holocoust and thinks 9-11 was a US Government conspiracy to gin up a reason to invade Afghanistan. How does this help the church that I was raised in and educated in? It is 2009 and we are not in the cauldron of the Inquistion. Can someone answer that?

This is still a religion that makes as much sense as all this stuff.

Friday, January 23, 2009

On the Beach

Item....public support in America for tackling the warming of the climate has declined greatly. See this.

Item....Trees in the forests of the western United States are dying twice as fast as they were twenty years ago...because of a warming climate. See here.

We are in a race here with the end game being the dying off of countless species, humans included, if we don't make sacrifices now. The race is complicated the horrendous economic calamity affecting most countries. That makes it hard to ask for more sacrifices from people who are already stressed. I am actually getting frightened by all of this.

At least we have a smart man running this country now. Hopefully, he will find time for this issue. It really is the one that defines the future for us since it affects everyone...everywhere. I feel like I am watching that great movie, "On the Beach". Except I am living in it.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A New Crew

I have seen a few people who have worked in Presidential administrations over the last few days. One of them is me as I look in the mirror while shaving. We all look a little forlorn along with looking older. Everyone loved their moment in the sun serving in Washington, DC. I did too.(although mine didn't last long.)

I can see that some of the folks, not me, have the look of waiting for a call that will never come. Obama is looking for new blood. Not old fogies like us. Yes, he has recycled a few Clinton people into the full cabinet, but I have a feeling that the sub cabinet where the real policy is made and carried out will be filled with young and tireless wonks. Most of those appointments will be made over the next four to six weeks.

Sooner or later we all have to realize that our time is gone. That may be a good thing for the country because like tires, recaps just aren't as good and new ones.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


From our friends Rachel and Booth.

Dear World:

We, the United States of America, your top quality supplier of the ideals of liberty and democracy, would like to apologize for our 2001-2008 interruption in service. The technical fault that led to this eight-year service outage has been located, and the software responsible was replaced November 4. Early tests of the newly installed program indicate that we are now operating correctly, and we expect it to be fully functional on January 20. We apologize for any inconvenience caused by the outage. We look forward to resuming full service and hope to improve in years to come. We thank you for your patience and understanding,


Baca's Believe It or Not!

I am going to start this Believe it or Not thing once in a while. Here is my first entry.

The new State GOP Chairman Harvey Yates, the oil and gas man from Artesia, has called on Governor Richardson's non profit political committees to announce who gave them money. That's okay really. But coming from the Yates petroleum tycoon it is almost laughable. This oil company, its executives, employees and political action committees have heaped untold amounts of money on republican pols to carry the oil industry's baggage for years. The money has been funneled in and out of so many cubby holes and camouflaged groups that it defies imagination.

I know this is true because Yates money poured in against me in my last race for Land Commissioner a couple of years ago. I would assume they managed to gather and fund my oil and gas mascot opponent, Pat Lyons, to the tune of several hundred thousand dollars. They did pretty much the same thing for other republicans.

So, Mr. Yates. Why don't you fess up to that before calling on the Governor to do so?

And, can you believe the morsel that President bush served up. He said he carried out his duties with "conviction." Now it would be nice to serve him with one too! Actually, although it would be a just thing to do, we will be to busy cleaning up his horrendous legacy.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Great Day

This picture shows the reaction to Barack Obama taking the oath of office today. We gathered at Roy Soto and Rita Longino's house in Corrales.

This young lady is Franchesca Bardacke, of the Students for Reproductive Justice at UNM. Yes, she is Paul Bardacke's daughter. We have known her since she was a baby. She did an interview with Channel 7 who showed up to watch us watch the speech.

This is Bobbi with Sarah Weddington of Austin, Texas. Sarah was a young lawyer in the 1970's. She argued and won the Roe v. Wade case in front of the Supreme Court. That of course is the case that won women the right to control their own bodies, rather than the religious fundamentalists.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Quick Trip

Bobbi and I ran up to Santa Fe on the Rail Runner this morning. While she had coffee with my sister Carlota, my staff and I had coffee with a legislator who will help us with some important work this session. I think this new Senator, Stephen Fischman, will be a great addition up in Santa Fe. He is experienced in business, an environmental champion, and a reformer. He defeated Leonard Rawson down in Las Cruces. That was a big upset and I am happy for it.

Note to Mayor Chavez. Why was the Alvarado Transportation Center closed this morning? Yes it was a holiday but there were still a lot of people riding the train. Thankfully, the weather was alright.

Note to Lawrence Rael. Would it be possible to clean the windows inside and out on the train every couple of days? I know parents should not let their kids paw the windows, but they do. It was pretty bad on car 1009 today. The train ride was great. It was filled to capacity on the way from Santa Fe to Albuquerque. It looked like a jumbo jet unloading when we reached the station downtown. Bobbi and I went into a cafe and right behind us the disembarking passengers filled up eateries all over downtown.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Ambassador Dennis Jett

My high school classmate Dennis Jett just penned this for the Christian Science Monitor. It is a great read.

In praise of pragmatic foreign policy

US presidents often swing between realism and idealism. Obama should reject both.

President-elect Obama will soon take charge of a government that is materially and morally depleted. One thing he will not be short of, however, is advice on how to run the world. Among those most willing to offer him guidance on foreign policy will be the proponents of realism and idealism. He would do well to ignore both and instead seek an approach that reflects another "ism" – pragmatism.

When not offering advice, the realists and idealists are usually found debating each other. The realists – exemplified by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger – say it is anarchy out there so every country must put its own interests first. They see the accumulation of power as essential to ensuring a country's survival, even if that negatively affects other countries.

The idealists – exemplified by President Woodrow Wilson – believe, a bit like Rodney King, that all nations ought to be able to just get along. They say countries should cooperate because all will be better off and that, in today's ever more globalized world, no country can go it alone.

To be sure, the realist/idealist debate is not the only one in international affairs. The experts place themselves in many camps as they do battle over a world with which some of them have had little contact. But they are the two colors journalists and pundits often use when painting a picture of foreign policy.

George W. Bush was described as coming to power as a hard-nosed realist who scorned enterprises such as nation building. Now a common story line has him leaving office as an idealist who believes there is nothing a good dose of democracy – spoon-fed by massive US intervention, if need be – won't cure. Bill Clinton, on the other hand, was said to have arrived in Washington as an idealist, only to leave as a realist. Having to confront the limits to which other countries are willing and able to cooperate can make a leader feel mugged by reality.

Can a president's worldview really change so radically? Or is it just a change in tactics and the rhetoric used to disguise them? Regardless, Obama should avoid the grand theories and base his policies on pragmatism. Pragmatism does not rigidly adhere to any ideology, but instead simply asks: Will this work? That does not imply ignoring our principles, but it does require an appreciation for the art of the possible. Pragmatism, like bipartisanship, is promised far more often than it is delivered. Hillary Clinton asserted in her confirmation hearings this week that the new administration will have a pragmatic foreign policy. That won't be easy, as it is more likely to produce results in the long run than sound bites for the next news cycle. And her effectiveness abroad may be limited by the pressure she'll face to respond to interest groups at home. It will also lead to criticism from realists and idealists. Consider missile defense and NATO expansion. Missile defense is popular with realists because it fits their philosophy and because they are often found in think tanks supported by defense contractors. It is a system that does not work, however, to combat a threat that doesn't exist. $10 billion a year is being spent to deploy it in the US, and the Bush team has pushed strongly for sites in Poland and the Czech Republic. That has irritated both our European allies and our potential adversary, Russia.

The administration has also pressed for NATO membership for new democracies such as Georgia and Ukraine. But those two countries have demonstrated that it takes more than an election to make a real democracy. The institutions that are the foundation of democracy cannot be built overnight, and NATO membership is not going to create them instantaneously.

Georgia and Ukraine should therefore undergo a long trial period before they are considered for NATO membership – especially since the former treats its minorities poorly, harasses the opposition press, and started last summer's confrontation with Russia. Contrary to what Senator McCain proclaimed during the presidential campaign, we aren't all Georgians now. If we were, we would either be reduced to making hollow threats or risking a confrontation our military can't afford.

While Russia clearly overreacted in Georgia and is showing antidemocratic tendencies, the US needs Russia's cooperation on a host of issues far more than it needs more weak members of NATO. Some armchair generals would rather confront Russia than let it have its own sphere of influence, but there is little real choice.

The main reason these policies are being pushed is that they are part of Mr. Bush's attempt to set a legacy. Like Guantánamo and torture, Mr. Obama should end them as soon as possible, whether or not the realists or idealists like it.

Dennis Jett, a former US ambassador to Mozambique and Peru, is a professor of international affairs at Penn State's School of International Affairs. His most recent book is "Why American Foreign Policy Fails: Unsafe at Home and Despised Abroad."

Find this article at:

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Everyone is waiting anxiously for a federal stimulus package to be passed. Why wait? Where is the leadership on the local level for getting people to work. What has the Mayor and current city council done to put people to work, if even for only a few weeks? This is stuff that has to happen immediately. No waiting around for glamorous things on the Mayor's wish list for stimulus money. Those things wouldn't happen for years. We need immediate leadership.

I know that local government could probably put 1000 people to work on city clean up and other much needed projects if there were a leader telling someone to get it done. When you see that 2500 people show up for 100 jobs then you know that they really want to work.

Figure this, 1000 people working for $100 a day. Day wages, yes, but money in the pocket. That would cost us 500 K a week. Over ten weeks that comes to 5 million. That is a drop in the city's budget bucket but you might actually do some good by finding the money to do it. It would give people hope. Where would the money come from to do this? How about the reserves? This is an emergency, isn't it?

Why isn't it being done? It might be controversial? It might be difficult? The lawyers wouldn't like it? It might endanger someone's political chances at being elected or reelected Mayor?
I think it would be a winner actually because it would show some innovation and dealing with reality by such a leader. It might be able to bridge enough time for 1000 people to work, hope and provide for their families until the federal stimulus arrives.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


The next census will be cranking up before long. The Federal Government has started hiring 1,000 people to help us count ourselves in New Mexico. That will all occur in 2010. Then the data will be compiled and be taken in by states to figure out how much they get in way of payments from the Feds for the next decade.

The state legislatures will receive the data and start their process for reapportionment of Congressional and legislative districts. New Mexico will use those reapportioned districts for the election in 2012.

That is probably why we already see our newly elected Congressional delegation out shaking the trees for money just a few days after being sworn in. They have to run in their old districts one more time in 2010 before the political process in a highly Democratic controlled legislature reforms their districts to work better for them. If the Republicans have any chance of defeating them, it will be easier in 2010 than any other time for the next ten years. So, the Democratic delegation is getting an early start to protect their total control in New Mexico. Who can blame them? The timing is difficult to be asking for more money, but it is probably necessary given what is at stake.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Governor Gary Johnson

Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson received literally tens of thousands of dollars and eventually over a million, when he got the design-build program for Highway 550 and the other major highways passed by the legislature in '97.

These contributions are within days and weeks of Johnson's signing legislation allowing design/build contracts, and just Koch Industries, which of course is a major right-wing force nationwide ended up with most of the 550 design-build contract. For a look at Koch Industries PAC contributors see this site from Open Secrets.

This will show you where Koch gathered money for Johnson and others. Not all of these people gave for Johnson.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Budget Fight

In the grand scheme of things I think the budget fight in Santa Fe during the legislature will be pretty much blown out of proportion by everyone. Usually what happens is that it looks like major meltdowns are occurring when in fact most of the fighting is over one or one and a half percent of the budget. It might be a little worse than that this year, but we really are in better shape than most states.

Oil prices are rising again and will continue to do so over the long run. That is good for New Mexico for a while, but what the legislature needs to do is figure out how to permanently replace those oil and gas revenues in the future. Just like the live stock and mining industry, the oil and gas money will eventually, and maybe even quickly, shrink to a insignificant portion of budget revenues. That will happen as renewables come on board.

Thank our founding fathers for the concept of our Permanent Funds. They have been battered by the economy lately, but it is still a great revenue source for the future. The total permanent funds for the state has been up around 16 billion at a high point. Now they are just over 11 billion. Ouch.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Human Terms

Unemployment is up to 7.2%. That is a statistic that those who have jobs look at and shake their heads. But few spend much time considering the angst of the people in that boat. Despair is the real word here. I have been in that boat a few times in my life where I thought I would lose everything and that my kids would be living in some run down apartment complex rather than a comfortable home. It is a miserable feeling in which self doubt, panic and inability to relax are constant.

This is happening to a lot of people right now and I wonder how we can help. I am in a position to donate money to non profits that can help, but not many can do that. I would like to see some leadership from political leaders on getting real help to these people. Not just money but hope and friendship can mean a lot. Neighbors helping neighbors. I see little leadership in the media and local government for setting up such a program. How about it Mayor Chavez, County Commission, and others? Could the neighborhood associations help with this? Has anyone thought of this?

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Mayoral Race

I am starting to get phone calls offering a cup of coffee if I go meet Mayoral candidates in Albuquerque. I guess they want my support. I will go to coffee with them because I want to give them all a message. That message is "THINK BIG".

A few us sat around lunch yesterday trying to figure out what Mayor Chavez has accomplished in the way of "Big Things" in the last seven years. We could not think of one thing. I will now blow my own horn. During my administration the "BIG THINGS" were downtown revitalization, a new baseball stadium, passing a quarter cent tax for increased transportation services, and the Art Summer Institute for talented kids in High School. We pulled them all off.

If you look at how people view a city they look at these kinds of projects and get a feel for leadership that enables it. The leadership is recognized because these aren't easy things to do. They are hard things to do and they add to political baggage to your career. I have decided that is one thing that Mayor Chavez doesn't like and that is why he doesn't go for the big vision thing. It might endanger his continuance in office.

We will remember Governor Richardson for the Rail Runner. What will we remember Chavez for? And so I would like to see all of the candidates talk a little about their big vision for our city.

Add a comment if you wish.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


So, the more I think about it the more absurd it seems. Roland Burris, appointed by that crazy Illinois Governor Blogoyevich, will get to take his US Senate seat. Al Franken, who was certified winner of his election in Minnesota, may not get to take his Senate seat. So, the guy who wasn't elected gets seated while the guy who was elected does not.

Mondo Bizzaro.

Delta Airlines

A note from my wife Bobbi to Delta Airlines.

OK, I'm trying to get through to the promotions desk to make reservations for travel in 5 weeks. I am trying to use a companion ticket so I HAVE NO ALTERNATIVES other than using the 1-800 number on the companion ticket. Last evening I waited nearly 2 hours, I exhausted my portable phone battery twice and nearly exhausted my cell phone. Out of desperation I contacted regular reservations and asked them what the wait/hold time might be 82 minutes, can you believe that. 82 MINUTES!!!!!!!!!! And they were going to shut down operations for the night in 30 minutes! So I called this morning waited another half hour, you are put on immediate hold by the way with no indication of how many calls are ahead of you or the approximate wait time so I could make a decision as to whether or not to wait. I again call regular reservations and ask what the approximate wait time is, they are put on hold and can't even answer the question. I call corporate customer care and said it is extremely high call volume but they can't provide me any indication as to the best time to call and I need to get to work. I supervise employees at a call center and my head would be on a platter with this type of "CUSTOMER SERVICE" it should be la belled "CUSTOMER FRUSTRATION".
I have been a very loyal Delta customer for many years, I like flying Delta and want to continue to fly Delta. But if I can't make a reservation how can I even get on a plane?

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

New Mexico in the Cold

New Mexico going for President Elect Obama was a huge victory. It mirrors what happened in Colorado and Arizona. Both of those states will send people to work in Obama's cabinet. New Mexico is now out in the cold after Governor Richardson withdrew his nomination as Commerce Secretary.

This is a situation that needs to be remedied for New Mexico's sake and also the future political fortunes of President Elect Obama. He needs to take control and make sure New Mexico is well represented in higher positions within his administration. New Mexico, it seems, will continue to be a state whose five little electoral votes can make a difference.

At least we have our new Congressional Delegation garnering good committee assignments. Martin Heinrich will serve on the House Armed Services committee. That is a real plum considering its importance to New Mexico's large defense industry. I just hope Martin will tell the military industrial complex not to waste money on obscenely expensive and unneeded procurements. The F-22 Fighter is one. At 400 million dollars a copy that is something we just don't need right now. Upgraded F-16s, F-15s and FA-18s would do the job at a lot less price. Especially when there are really no new fighters coming out of belligerent countries to dog fight with. Pretty soon everything will be remotely flown anyway.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Murmurs & Marty

There is a lot of murmuring about Bill Richardson being investigated by a Federal Grand Jury. That has now resulted in him voluntarily pulling his name from the Commerce Secretary nomination by President Obama.

I have always been fearful of Grand Juries. There are no defenses put on in a grand jury by the accused since the the juries are led around with a leash by prosecutors who may or may not want to make a name for them selves. I don't know if this is the case in this current investigation but I have been told that the US Attorney's Office has been after the Governor for a long time. Is this all part of the Bush Administration's vigor in finding Democrats to prosecute? Who knows?

I know one person who was questioned by the grand jury on whether or not his appointment to a 'run of the mill' board was the result of this person's political contributions to the Governor's campaign. This appointment was nothing special but the prosecutors tried to make a big deal out of it in front of the jury. Nothing came of it, but how did it influence the jury?

There are now rumors that Marty Chavez might ascend to the Commerce Post. One can only wonder what his ABQPAC controversy will bring to the table during vetting. What ever happened to all that money anyway?

Sunday, January 04, 2009


We returned from Phoenix where we had a great time with Noelle on her 24th birthday. We ate dinner at an Indian Bistro, The Tandoori Times, and I have to say it was the best food I have had in a long time. I don't know why I don't eat more of it.

Then we walk in the door from the airport about 11:15 Sunday morning to get a call from a friend on rumors about Governor Bill Richardson pulling his name from nomination to the post of Commerce Secretary. It is true. This a profound moment in Bill Richardson's life and I feel very bad for him. I think he has been a great Governor and leader for this state and I know this is something that must be very hard for him. I think it will also be hard on the State as Bill could have really helped out our New Mexico economy as the Secretary.

This is Historic.

Friday, January 02, 2009


I am off to Phoenix to take my daughter to dinner for her 24th birthday. Noelle will also show off her new house. It is brand new and borders South Mountain in Phoenix. She just bought it and made a really impressive deal on it. Someone said there are 50,000 homes for sale in Phoenix so I guess it is a buyers market. Noelle beat Bobbi and me in the house buying game. I think I was 33 before I actually signed a mortgage.