Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Back and Forth Triple Dippers
This back and forth routine might not be all bad...or all good. I just don't know. But I will not buy the argument that it makes for better relations between the city and county because of the knowledge base of these 'triple dippers'. I don't believe relations have improved that much between the city and county.
There is always an argument for new blood in any organization. This is probably true in this situation.
Monday, March 30, 2009
The Big Fence
After that Bobbi and I had a lazy weekend to celebrate her 57th birthday. We ended up at the Museum of Albuquerque on Sunday to look over the exhibit on the Alvarado Hotel. It was a great look at that historic place. I remember I was a reporter back in the early 70's when the Alvarado met the wrecking ball. I filmed the destruction and always felt it was a big loss for the city. As a child my parents would take us to Sunday brunch occasionally and I would hang around the large fountain. We would go there to catch the train for our trips to Washington, DC where my mother's parents lived.
There was a impressive crowd at the museum Sunday. Lots of folks my age were there, but also students taking notes. It is really a nice museum and the new addition that I funded as Mayor makes a great statement. Actually, the people of the city funded it with their vote and they are the ones that deserve the credit for doing so.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
The Big Picture
It is still early in the Albuquerque Mayor's Race. However, not one of the candidates so far has given us the 'BIG PICTURE' of what our city would be like after four years of the next administration. What is the overarching goal? Will everyone, as ususal, fall back on crime reduction as the major issue? Or will someone just lay out for us their vision for a better city?
The Mayor has not done so. Richard Romero has not done so. The republican candidate seems to be running on one issue only, and that is that he is a republican.
Big ideas have a place in politics. President Obama knows that and used it in his campaign. It would be nice for the candidates for Mayor to clue us in too.
I might also add that candidates for Governor better be doing the same thing. So far, they haven't either.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Thanks to our Senators and Congressman
Minutes ago, the US House of Representatives voted 285-140 to pass H.R. 146 as amended in the Senate to include the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009. This historic legislation, the most significant conservation bill in over a decade, will go to the President’s desk in the coming days. Senator Jeff Bingaman deserves much credit for moving this along. Congressman Martin Heinrich actually worked in the non profit sector to get this done. Congressman Harry Teague showed courage in voting for it. Congressman Ben Ray Lujan will get protected areas in his district.
The bill designates more than 2 million acres of wilderness, establishes three new national park units, a new national monument, three new national conservation areas, more than 1,000 miles of national wild and scenic rivers and four new national trails. The package also includes the National Landscape Conservation System Act, enlarges the boundaries of more than a dozen existing national park units, and establishes 10 new national heritage areas. Over 160 bills were included in the 1,294-page package.
The New Mexico Congressional delegation, everyone of them, deserve our thanks for voting for this bill on its long and arduous journey to passage. New Mexico's increased federal land protections will mean much to future generations. I am also proud to serve as a member of the Wilderness Society Governing Council, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and the Wyss Foundation which helped build support for this effort.
My friend Rodger Beimer and I were talking about the future role of Public Information Officers who work for government agencies this morning. What happens to them when newspapers cease to exist? Who picks up the news releases for publication? Some of these releases offer valuable information on programs and policy and have been traditionally used by print media as a starting point for stories. Of course, you will still have many web sites and blogs that will carry this stuff, but mostly it will be spread out and dissemination to the public will be splintered. Forget TV News....they are not set up to do it.
Right now a couple of things should happen.
- Governments need central websites that do nothing but run these news releases. All in one place and not spread over umpteen departments websites. This will make it much easier to track information.
- Some enterprising out of work journalist should design a site that takes those news releases and separates the wheat from the chaff. We all know many news releases just exist to get some one’s name in print.
Actually, this should all be done whether we lose our daily newspapers or not. It is kind of surprising it hasn’t been done before.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Monday, March 23, 2009
Stem Cells and a Mayor
At the same time I watched the Archdiocese of Santa Fe flexing its muscle to kill stem cell research legislation in New Mexico. I don't know if Mayor Huning agrees with this or not. However, it is hoped that stem cell research can lead to cures for diseases like Parkinson's disease.
It is perplexing that the Catholic Church would be so against the death penalty but be cavalier about saving lives by fettering science's ability to find cures through stem cell research. It is just bizarre.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Hell Freezes Over
The legislature passed campaign contribution limits. Hell has frozen over! It is a great day. Now the oil and gas industry will have to act in bad faith when they purchase land commissioners and other elected officials via the campaign contributions that they could make under the old law. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations by very few people will now be more difficult. Subterfuge will need to be used, and undoubtedly will, but still this is a great thing the legislature did.
In another bill the legislature has decided to create subclasses of state government employees with their law aimed at stopping double dipping. If the state wants to stop this practice that is fine. (Remember, I am a double dipper.) That might be a good thing and it might not. But what the passed legislation does is make it possible for some employees to return to work with out being monetarily effected while others are severely constrained. You can be sure any policeman who wants to return to work after retiring with 20 years service will be allowed to do so with little effect on their salaries. But a sanitation worker, (who statistically has a more dangerous job) would not be allowed to make more than $30K if he goes back to work. This hardly sounds like equal protection. The way I look at this is that both occupations deal with the health, safety and welfare of the public.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Oil and Water
The Wall Street Journal has a great story on the oil and gas industry gobbling up junior rights on the Colorado River. Their information comes from Western Resource Advocates. You can read their report here.
The oil boys are waiting for the moment to use all the water it can get its hands on for oil shale development. One million people in New Mexico are currently supported by water from the Colorado.
A barrel of oil will require about four barrels of water to extract it from the shale. This is water that could be taken out of uses that wont speed climate change. This doesn't even address the resulting wrecked landscapes from developing oil shale regions.
New Mexico must protect its interests in this water grab.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Marty's Impact Fee Wish
Anyway, a great opportunity has been lost as the "PIT" undergoes major renovation. They city and the University should have talked to each other about this a long time ago. If both entities had just put a little effort into it, we could have had a world class all purpose arena built that would have ultimately saved a lot of money in the long run. But of course, that would have meant that some one's turf would need to be ceded a little. I remember when I was Mayor I tried to interest UNM in building some of their dorms downtown. It was actually closer than some of UNM's parking lots to the main campus. They told me to stuff it.
The lack of vision on the part of UNM and the City/County governments seems to have worsened. They all act like separate sovereign entities that would rather fight that create a little synergy.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Memo to U.S. Attorney
Now the US Attorney should use another accountant to investigate State Land Commissioner Pat Lyons on 'Pay for Play' issues. That accountant would be the State Auditors Office under the leadership of Attorney Hector Balderas. The story in the Albuquerque Journal today quoted Balderas as saying, 'the audit will cover instances of financial benefit in exchange for land transactions; transactions executed between government employees and appointed officials; and whether transactions were improperly influenced by relationships between parties."
This sounds serious and once again points out the need for modern day checks and balances to be applied to the State Land Office. I think this time there will be a serious look at Lyon's administration of the Land Office. Will the U.S. Attorney finally notice?
Of course Lyons is saying this investigation is occurring because he is a republican.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Cadigan Was Next
We could actually end up with no one running for Mayor before this is over.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Who is next?
It is incredibly hard to get someone to just sign a nominating petition. Pile on top a $5 'fee' and it gets into the realm of impossible. Unless of course your volunteers illegally put in the $5 themselves. Is anyone checking on this?
We could end up with very few in this Mayor's race.
Friday, March 13, 2009
Here is a little something someone sent me that is indisputable mathematical logic. This is a strictly mathematical viewpoint....it goes like this:
Thursday, March 12, 2009
I Like Newspapers
Cheeseburger and a Glock
Now, with over 17,000 people carrying concealed handguns in New Mexico we will have to alter those signs to this. "Guns allowed only if ordering cheese burgers." I guess the cooks better be on their toes.
In the meantime it was reported that hundreds of concealed weapons carriers in the southern part of the state were improperly trained, or not trained at all by instructors who certified them. Are they still carrying? Who is paying to retrain them? Not the government I hope.
No, I am not anti gun. I have lots of them for sporting and defense. I just don't think concealed weapons in a movie theater is a good idea. If it was a good idea why do legislators not allow them in the capitol building in Santa Fe?
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Then two guys who have been cooling in jail for murdering a northeast heights couple are now going to be set free because it appears the evidence doesn't show they committed the crime.
I know police work is tough but this shows that a reassessment of practices and procedures at local law enforcement agencies might be a good idea. It doesn't mean any one is guilty of malfeasance, it just means that some scrutiny is due. So far, I haven't heard the Mayor, City Council, Sheriff or County Commission calling for such an effort.
It is about time that this be done.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
I should say here I am one of those double dippers. I retired from State service with 20 years in 2006. I returned to my old job 15 months later when my replacement, Martin Heinrich, resigned to run for Congress. Well, he won and I am still doing this job as State Natural Resource Trustee. I had planned on staying here for the rest of Governor Richardson's term to see out a couple of big cases we are working on, but if this law passes I will have to say adios in July. Under current law I did nothing wrong in that I was gone for more than a year before I returned.
The Channel 13 Larry Barker series on 'fake retirements' are something else again. Those are illegal. Mayor Chavez knowingly let it happen in City government and then after seeing bad publicity aimed his way he threw his employees under the bus. He also said he wouldn't allow retired folks to come back and work for the city at all. Well, some of the employees....Police and Firemen can continue to do it. Everyone else is second class I guess. I wonder if there are constitutional problems here.
Finally, the truth is out on the MIddle Rio Grande Conservancy Districts sweetheart deal with its manager Shubas Shah. Watch it here on Channel 13.
I have been tryng for years to get some one to run with this story in a serious way. It finally happened. When I was General Manager of the MRGCD I tried to get Shah fired by the board for unethical practices. I was fired instead along with the agency attorney. We won a wrongful termination suit.
Monday, March 09, 2009
Curry would take that sense of good public policy to Dallas where he might be working soon.
Sunday, the media made a big deal out of the fact that the developers had contributed 62 thousand dollars to legislators. I had to chuckle about that when I compare it to the hundreds of thousands that the oil and gas industry has contributed to their candidates for legislature, the State Land Commissioner and the Republicans Party. The developers donations look like small potatoes.
What is amazing about this is the legislature, if they passed meaningful campaign and ethics reform would stop most of this campaign money controversy cold in its tracks.
Friday, March 06, 2009
Mercy for Some
Travel back in time a couple of weeks and you would see the Archbishop sitting in a legislative committee supporting the view that a domestic partners bill was evil. You know, health insurance, medical care, visitation rights, happiness and all that goes with it for gay people was not worthy of support of the church he leads in this Archdiocese. I just find this almost to hard to bear. Especially when the church seemed so good at looking after the well being of pedophile priests by relocating them to new parishes after their 'counseling'. Oh, and lets not forget the willingness to bring back to the collar a Bishop who had been excommunicated for denying the Holocaust ever occurred. (He also thinks women should only wear dresses.)
Thursday, March 05, 2009
Certainly we cant lay every responsibility on the federal government. Local and state governments have to start gearing up for relief efforts too. Non governmental organizations and church groups don't seem to be preparing and it will be hard for them since their contributions will dry up too. Still, they must involve themselves asap.
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
City Elections and Elephant in the Room
The elephant in the room for the Mayor's race is the dismal city financial outlook. After Mayor Chavez and the City Council have had nothing but double digit budget increases over the last 7 years the pain will now be felt. Big Time! The general fund budget revenues could contract by 10% or even more. Pile on that the overly generous raises for police and fire and you have a real mess on your hands. Some one needs to talk about this in the race, but I think it may well be a submerged issue. Even so, it could be used effectively against the incumbent. Of course, with all the people in the race he may win. There would be poetic justice there in that he will need to deal with the budgetary disaster of his making.
Meanwhile the only issue I see being discussed is the fact that public financing might be used for buying beer for campaign volunteers. The loudest screamers are city councillors who helped get us into this budget mess.
Tuesday, March 03, 2009
While we were gone I see that the body count on the West Mesa has gone to 13. How could these murders and disappearances happen with out the police agencies realizing that something was occuring? Has anyone started asking questions of the Chief, Sheriff, Mayor, County Manager etc.?
It is hard to believe this many people could be off the map when they disappeared. You could maybe see this happening with two or three folks.....but thirteen? Are there any mechanisms within local law enforcement that might have caught this? I hope we get answers soon.
Monday, March 02, 2009
This was taken in Secretary Ken Salazar's office at the Department of the Interior. The young man on the right is Ray Rivera of New Mexico who was appointed by Salazar as head of inter governmental affairs for DOI. He has a big job ahead of him.
Ray was an intern for me when I was Mayor. He was a very hard worker. I knew then he would go on to bigger things. He ran the Obama campaign in Colorado and did an incredible job. This guy could come back to NM and run for high office some day. He is smart and capable. I will send him his first donation.
Snow Job in DC
Sunday, March 01, 2009
The mood here in DC is generally really upbeat. How hard can that be to sustain with bush/cheney being gone? In the meantime I see that rush limbaugh is now the hero of conservatives and is being called their leader. Just what they need, another bloated crazy man carrying their flag.