Thursday, April 30, 2009


I was ready to put a 3 kilowatt solar array on top of my house. The new tax credits made it feasible to do so with a 10 year payoff and the concurrent lessening of green house gases being put into the atmosphere. And then I begin to worry about how the county assessor would be required to look at the value of the solar installation.

Bernalillo County Clerk Karen Montoya told me that the County would have to come reassess the house because of the building permit being issued to install the system. That means a sizeable increase in taxes.

She said that Representative Mimi Stewart tried introduced a bill a couple of years ago to fix this, but that it got nowhere. Montoya said they would only assess the value of the solar system and not the whole house, but that will still cause an increase of $400-$500 a year on my property taxes. This makes the payout time increase by 50%.

If the Governor calls a special session this needs to be fixed. Iwill not install this system until this is fixed. This means that green jobs and development suffers. It is a true disincentive.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Otero Mesa

A federal appeals court is telling the Bureau of Land Management that their position on allowing the drilling of Otero Mesa in Southern New Mexico is seriously flawed. This means that the Yates Petroleum Company, whose head guy is New Mexico Chair of the Republican Party, can not drill for oil and gas until the proper environmental laws are followed. Maybe it is time for new management of the BLM in New Mexico.

The role of Governor Richardson, Attorney General Gary King and others were crucial in this fight. Environmental groups deserve a lot of credit too. It should be a lesson to all of us on the importance of electing sound leaders who understand the importance of New Mexico's landscapes, water supplies and air sheds.

This comes on top of the EPA's decision to take another look at the proposed and ill advised Desert Rock coal fired generating plant in San Juan County. It has been a good week.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Back from DC

It was really great being in DC for a couple of days despite the heat and swine flu news. People in the airports today were wearing masks!

I had good meetings with a bunch of New Mexico Obama appointees. We got together for lunch to talk about non official things. We went over to view Ned Farquhar's basement apartment in George Town. He has great views of people's ankles as they walk by on the side walk. Ned is working as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals at the Interior Department. He is working 16 hours a day.

There is generally a good feeling in DC that the nation is being ably lead. Reflect on that while you read this great piece by former Ambassador to Peru, Dennis Jett. He is a career diplomat and hales from Albuquerque.

Torture: Way to resolve this debate is obvious

Published 04-26-2009

It looks like the nation is in for a long debate on torture. There is, however, a simple solution that will quickly end much of the argument.

The debate will be long because each day there is a new revelation that adds fuel to the controversy. A confidential report by the International Committee of the Red Cross concludes prisoners at Guantanamo were subjected to torture. A Spanish judge suggests he intends to indict six former Bush administration lawyers who wrote opinions finding the procedures used to be legal. The four Justice Department memos that laid that out are declassified and made public. A footnote in those memos reveals one suspected terrorist was waterboarded 183 times in one month.

The four memos were stamped "Top Secret," which means they contained information "whose unauthorized disclosure would pose the gravest threat to national security." Three of them were also marked NOFORN, which means they could not be shared even with our closest allies. Those three also carried another caveat, which itself was classified and blacked out — meaning they were shown only to those officials specifically cleared to read them. Now they are available for anyone to read on the ACLU's and other Web sites.

Conservatives fired back with their arguments in support of such practices. Former Vice President Dick Cheney wants more Top Secret memos declassified in order to show how much valuable intelligence was supposedly elicited by such treatment. President Bush's chief speechwriter asserted the techniques worked and provided vital information that foiled future plots.

Rightwing media pundits have long claimed that the treatment was no worse than fraternity hazing. At the same time, they defend the procedures because they are so effective. They point out the great detail in the Justice Department memos shows how much care and thought went into the techniques used.

The way to resolve this debate is obvious. Those who favor such tactics and think they are not torture should volunteer to be submitted to them.

The six lawyers and rightwing media personalities such as Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Karl Rove, Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh should all be eager to be first given how patriotic they are. If nothing else, it would be an interesting experiment as it might determine if education affects attitudes toward torture. Four of the six lawyers have degrees from Harvard. All of the talking heads except O'Reilly dropped out of second- and third-rate colleges.

These procedures are also something that can be done at home. If there is anyone in the neighborhood who doubts torture has been committed, simply strip them naked, slap them around, stick them in a small box for a few hours with whatever insect they like least, throw them against a flexible wall thirty times, keep them awake for eleven days, make them stand leaning against a wall with their weight on their finger tips and provide constant loud music, bright lights and cold temperatures.

Finally, tie them to a board with their feet elevated and pour lots of water on a cloth that has been placed over their nose and mouth. Then do it again and again and again until they not only admit all that amounts to torture, but they also confess to being agents of al-Qaida. If repeated enough times, they will.

While the former administration officials and media bobble heads are probably not working for al-Qaida, that doesn't matter. The purpose of the procedures is to get them to talk so something can be reported back to the higher ups who have demanded action and information.

And while it may not be factually true that they are working for a terrorist organization, it is clear that they are giving aid and comfort to the enemy. FBI and military interrogators have pointed out that use of such tactics has been a very useful recruiting tool of terrorists.

One former Air Force officer, who questioned dozens of insurgents in Iraq, even estimated that half the American casualties in that country were caused by foreigners who had been motivated to fight by the harsh treatment of prisoners by Americans.

So even if they are innocent, they are guilty, which is a logic that would appeal to the apologists for and architects of torture.

Monday, April 27, 2009


I will be in Washington, DC for a couple of days doing some nonprofit work. We arrived yesterday afternoon to 90 degree weather. It is dry here so it is not to miserable. I guess if one were going to get the swine flu it would be here.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Irate & Misc

The New York Times has a must read article today which may or may not get you as angry as I am. It concerns corporate America's and the Oil and Gas Industry's campaign to discredit science's global warming theories. This was going on even though the front group that they had set up was ignoring its own scientists conclusion that those theories were correct.

Now think about this country's outrage at some of the corporate malfeasance in China. The CEO's of those countries are actually put on trial and some suffer the death penalty for endangering consumers. (Yes, China has lax oversight too.) But, at least when someone is found guilty they pay the price. Can you imagine that ever happening here? Well, it should happen here.

Its a miracle! As election season approaches Mayor Marty Chavez has found enough money in the budget to give non police and fire employees a raise this summer. Don't you just love miracles? Actually, I am happy they will get a raise but this manipulation is almost comical. In the meantime the Mayor's budget person, Anna Lamberson, is leaving city hall. I saw her the other day and she said she had taken a contract to go to Iraq for a year to help build up financial and accounting systems for the government. They need to replace the ones that bush/cheney blew up with shock and awe. Anna is a great lady. She has done a good job for the taxpayer.

The dumbest editorial of the year by a newspaper has to go to the Albuquerque Journal today for condeming President Obama for posing for a photograph with the President of Venezuela. Hugo Chaves is a bit over the top, no doubt, but he is a leader of an important Latin America country and we should be on speaking terms with them. I think it is good Obama is trying to make friends with our current adversaries. What could the Journal be thinking about? Comments appreciated.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Mr. Sun

I have some folks coming over to the house today to give me some estimates for putting 3-5 kilowatts of Solar panels on the roof and then hooking it into the grid. The new tax incentives will immediately pay for 40% of the cost and PNM incentives will also be very lucrative. If the city and county move quickly they can also take advantage of new legislation that will further sweeten the deal. Although they don't seem to be publicizing the process so far.

No, it wont pay for itself completely but it will cause less coal to be burned to power our home.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Grudge Report

One of the first fantasy/horror books I ever read was "The Metamorphosis" by Kafka. That is the one where some guy slowly turns into a cockroach.

It seems certain now that the Albuquerque Journal is undergoing its metamorphosis too. It is good to see them reacting to a metamorphosing newspaper business. The Journal is turning into a blog. I am not saying that is all bad but I am beginning to think they should change their front page blog name to the "Grudge Report." I say that only because many of the 'blogs' seem to be aimed at Governor Richardson.

They also seem pretty fixated on the role of non profits in politics. That is fair game, but so is the role of the oil and gas industry in politics. You don't see many exposes on that. But you do see full page ads from the oil and gas industry propagandizing the readers of the Journal to not allow any tax increases on that poor industry. Didn't Exxon Mobile just report a $45 Billion dollar net profit for 2008? That is just one company. How much did Yates Petroleum of Artesia make in net profits? Their leader is currently the Chairman of the New Mexico Republican Party.

Don't get me wrong, there is nothing bad about making a profit. What is bad is not paying adequate taxes and windfall taxes when appropriate. Especially in times like these.

Life is too short.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Bad Form

I happened to watch some local TV news last night. I was surprised to see a story that didn't involve sexual deviates or drunk driving checkpoints. What I did see was some incredibly bad form shown by City Councilor Mike Cadigan. He apparently ran to the press after being visited by an FBI agent who was asking questions about Mayor Marty Chavez's dealings with a contractor with the City Aviation Department. All of that aside, I was disappointed in the interviews that Cadigan gave regarding the meeting with the G-man. It just looked to me like sour grapes from a Councilor who doesn't like the Mayor. I have always liked Cadigan because I think deep down he always wanted to do the right thing. This however showed little class. Hopefully, it wont endanger the investigation. If there is anything to it then it will come out soon enough.

In the meantime it looks like the Mayor's ability to raise money from city employees is impressive. What gets promised in return? Check in at union negotiation time.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Good Read

One of my fellow board members on the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance has written a really good essay on economic collapse and ecological ignorance. This is something I always thought was intertwined from the view of how systems work. This piece by Chip Ward, former Director of the Salt Lake City Library System, is really worth the time to read.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

New Verb

As we were tramping through the bosque this morning on the Rio Grande my friend and I decided to change a noun to a verb. A few examples of this might be the word was changed to googled, as in "I used google to google you." Or, the noun screw....'they turned the screw on him to they really screwed him."

Now we have decided one good way to really discredit FOX news and all the assholes who work there is to turn the word FOX into FOXED. As in "the fox ate the rabbit to, that rabbit really got foxed."

Now when ever FOX news and its right wing nut employees and editors do a character asassination on anyone in the center or left....or even moderate right, everyone should say the victim was FOXED. Lets make that word stand for the idea of putrid journalism. If this could catch on then every time you used the word FOXED it would be an insult to Fox news and its network. Lets turn their logo and name into a negative. We need to do such a good job on this that it gets into the Webster Dictionary as a new verb.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Get Over It

Any one who thinks that President Obama's overtures to Cuba are wrong just needs to get over it. Holy Cow! We have a President who is aware there is a country just 90 miles from our borders who we might be able to work with. This whole thing about Cuba, which has been engendered by Republican Cuban operatives in Florida(and probably some Democrats too) has just got to end. Just like the economic embargo.

It is also pretty obvious that if we bring Cuba into the Organization of American States we might make some more friends in Latin America too. As one of those leaders said, this wall will come down too!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Connect the Dots

The ultra conservative group Freedom Watch organized yesterday's 'tea parties' around the country. It is headed up by former and disgraced right wing nut Congressman Dick Armey of Texas. Oil companies run Texas and their delegations. A half page ad in today's Albuquerque Journal from the oil and Gas industry decries the though of higher taxes on fossil fuels. The state Republican Chairman, Harvey Yates is a big time oil and gas producer in this country and was quoted as saying we have to stop spending money or taxes will go up. I just love conspiracy theories where you can sort of connect the dots.

Think about it. The last GOP chairman in this state, Allen Weh, made millions from the Iraq War by chartering airplanes for the government. Heather Wilson, former Congresswoman, is making big bucks working for defense industries who she supported so strongly while in office.

The last eight years of the republican administration under bush and cheney got us into this mess. Now the ultra conservatives are trying to stop Obama from getting us out of this mess. I could ramble like this forever.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Pirate Killing Graph

Obama may be good at this.


The front page story in the Albuquerque Journal today in which a reporter states that the state's jet airplane is a symbol of the Richardson administration is just hubris. I am thinking the Rail Runner train is actually that symbol.

Is the jet airplane owned by the publisher of the Albuquerque Journal also a symbol? It has been parked in its hangar for 18 months I am told.

The reporter complains that increased fuel costs are making the plane more expensive to fly. Yes, that is true. But would the reporter turn around and say if the plane were in the hangar and not being used that it would be a waste of resources? You bet. So you can't win I guess.

I also note that the New Mexico State Fair, or. make that EXPO, will be getting its 4th state fair manager in four years. One wonders if the problem might be the Commission rather than the managers.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Memo to the GOP

It might be time for the Republican Party of New Mexico to update their website. They are still listing all of their elected officials as being in office from last year. You know, Domenici, Pearce, and Wilson. I know the Republicans like to stick their head in sand sometimes, (dont we all) but really after 100 days they just need to deal with reality. It is like their attitude with Climate Change. Their head is in the sand while other orifices in their body continue the mantra of 'drill baby drill.'

There is a frightening story in the Albuquerque Journal by John Fleck today on research into the die off of our Pinon forests. The researchers indicate that the warming climate is responsible. That spurred me to go to the GOP website to see what they think about climate change. I guess they don't think about it. So then I went to the Democratic Party website. There was nothing on climate change there either. Their elected official list was mostly up to date, although I saw nothing there about Congressman Ben Ray Lujan.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Student Loan Reform

Yes...yes....let Obama be successful in his plan to reform the student loan industry in America. Let us get the usurious banks out of this equation and make this a government program. Isn't this a basic government responsibility anyway? Making affordable student loans to assure a competent work force for future America?

Right now kids are having an awful time repaying loans in this recession. Some of them are paying rates of 8% and more. This is what the banks have done for us. Now think of the kids who will be graduating this year. No jobs at all for the most part. What will they do?

And at the same time, the Universities and Colleges around this country continue to raise tuitions. UNM just did so in the midst of this recession. WTF? Aren't things tough enough? Couldn't they wait a 18 months to do this? The Governor could be a hero on this one by marching into the offices of the State's Regents and telling them to get real.

I know this is all an oversimplification of the problem. But if Obama's plan will ultimately save 90 billion over ten years and reinvest that into scholarships then it makes sense. I hope our delegation votes with him on this one.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Easter Weekend

Much of the family is gathering for Easter weekend. Even us agnostics. It is always good to see everyone. Noelle came in last night and we made a beeline for the Frontier Restaurant so she could get her vegetarian burrito. That plate had not one single molecule of food left on it when she was finished. That is the way she is about everything. It made me think again of one of my favorite photos of her. This is when she was six years old and was taken on the beach at Cancun. She stood up to that wave rather well as I remember. Fearless Noelle.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Sign or Veto

I think the Governor is showing good judgment in his consideration of legislation this year.

This morning I had coffee with a very good friend who has a long time history of activism in Hispanic affairs. Back in his most active phase it was called Chicano affairs. Now you might argue it is Latino affairs. The word stuff always evolves.

Anyway, he doesn't want the Governor to sign the bill that would set up the Hispanic Affairs Dept. in state government. He feels that it would 'ghettoize' the great progress made in the last 30 years. I agree with him. Despite the fact that a few activists now call for such a department, that is all that it really is. Just a few activists. They are well intentioned and maybe living in the past a bit. They are good at threatening the Governor if he vetoes the bill but most Hispanics are pretty apathetic about such a department. They are to busy trying to succeed in a tough economic era, like everyone else.

I hope the Governor does veto the bill, but I realize he will be damned both ways. It is a tough decision. Finally, if we need to do anything in the way of new Cabinet departments in state government it might be in the area of Legal Justice (for all) and Immigrant affairs. That is an area that needs scrutiny.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009


It looks like Mayor Marty Chavez has appointed himself historian for the city. He has ordered the portrait of former Mayor Ken Schultz be removed from the portrait wall in City Hall. This is because of Schultz's guilty plea for being the bag man in the court house kickback scandal that also sent Senator Manny Aragon to prison. This move reminds me of Orwell's book 1984 where Big Brother expunged history when ever he felt like it. I was told that Chavez had my portrait changed from color to black and white when he took office. C'mon Marty, let history judge people and you just do the job.

While I was Mayor I attempted to appoint my friend Ned Farquhar to the City Planning Commission. He was the director of 1000 Friends of New Mexico at the time. That was a group that was a proponent of good city planning. The city council said he would be in a conflict of interest and refused to agree to the appointment. Of course, they always put land and real estate sprawl developers on the board. Isn't it nice to see that Ned's credentials as an energy expert were not held against him when the Obama administration and the Interior Department needed an energy guru?

In the meantime the major oil and gas companies have said F**K You! to renewable energy research and development. They are still banking on oil and gas providing 80% of energy needs in the year 2050. They are taking the attitude that the Dutch and Spanish maritime industry did when they didn't move to coal and steam engines to move their ships. They were smothered by the Brits. Then there were all the folks that didn't want to switch from steam engines to internal combustion engines. They became failed superpowers too. Now maybe the oil and gas companies may lead us into the same 'failed state' status with their influence in this country. Don't forget they hijacked the whole republican party with 'drill baby, drill'. They now control the NM GOP, well Yates Petroleum does anyway.

Life is too short!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Interior's New Mexico Connection

The Obama administration's Interior Department has an impressive lineup of New Mexicans serving in it. My good coffee partner Ned Farquhar has arrived in Washington to take up his post as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals. He will actually be serving as Assistant Secretary until his new boss is confirmed by the Senate. Probably in late spring. Ned was Governor Richardson's energy and environment policy advisor for five years before going to work for the Natural Resources Defense Council as an renewable energy guru. Ned will be an influential member of the energy team and will help over see the Bureau of Land Management's policies.

Hilary Tompkins, the former general counsel to Governor Richardson will become Solicitor for the DOI. This is an extremely powerful position for which she is well prepared.

Deanna Archuleta, currently a Bernalillo County Commissioner and the regional director for The Wilderness Society in New Mexico will become the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Water and Science at DOI. She will probably depart for DC around the first of May.

Ray Rivera, my former intern at the Mayor's Office, is heading up DOI's External Affairs and Intergovernmental relations office. He ran Obama's campaign in Colorado.

We have good solid New Mexicans working at DOI now. They are all qualified and have a great land and environment Ethic. This is good news for the west.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Home Again

We had a great weekend in Austin. Excellent Bar B Q at a local dive. Driving around hill country. A really nice hike down a creek for about 5 miles ending up at a Whole Foods for coffee. (The mother of all Whole Foods by the way)

The best time was spending time in a museum that reminds one that times never change. They just repeat. The LBJ library is a step back into the 60s. It traces LBJ's career from childhood to death, but it really emphasizes the political turmoil and change of that incredible decade. Walking through the exhibits and arriving at the year 1968 I was reminded of the horrible events of that year. Every time something happened that would make you think things couldn't get any worse, they then promptly got worse. The Tet Offensive in Viet Nam, Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy, Chicago Riots....sheesh.

Looking at what we have going on in this country right now doesn't look quite as bad when compared to that year. And we have an intelligent President out amongst world leaders. That helps improve things too.

If you get to Austin you should make time for that museum and library.

Friday, April 03, 2009


Bobbi and I will join up in Austin for the weekend to see friends and tour the LBJ Library. He is a President who has always fascinated me. We will stay with friends and seek out good Bar B Que. Austin is okay. It is the left leaning center of Texas. Yes, they spawned george bush, but Austin claims innocence.

Thursday, April 02, 2009


The Justice department has admitted Prosecutorial misconduct in its case against former Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska. They have asked to have the guilty verdict returned by a jury set aside. The US Attorney's offices around the country must be taking a long hard look at any high profile cases it has against politicos right now. Think Pete Domenici, Heather Wilson and Governor Bill Richardson. These are all cases where much has been made of alleged wrong doing, but so far after a long PR campaign in the media there has been no indictments and no word of when the process will wrap up. Is there evidence or not?

After a year or so of innuendo, the US Attorney's office here should say either way. One of the worse things about this process is the constant 'leaking' of information to the media. It can really ruin peoples reputations with out ever having to go to trial. Having said that, things have been very quiet the last few weeks. Maybe the Obama administration has insisted that these leaks cease?

Wednesday, April 01, 2009


The Mayor is taking the right course in the budget for the City of Albuquerque. After his orgy of spending in the last 7 years he has now been forced to curtail the double digit budget increases. His new found austerity is really being forced on him and he has handled it well, or should I say his budget director Anna Lamberson has handled it well. But, he deserves credit for stepping up to this predicament.

I just cant understand why, as usual, the police and firefighters are receiving such high pay increases, especially in a year like this. The rest of the employees will wait for any raises for an extra six months. You could really argue that no one should get a raise until the economy steams up a little. Once again, if the argument is given that the police have the most dangerous municipal jobs and should get high raises, well that just isn't true. In fact, nationally the job of policeman or fireman doesn't even rank amongst the top ten most dangerous jobs. Lets face it. They just have good PR in getting these raises and strong union browbeating of politicians.