The Piercing Truth

This is right from the dictionary and seems to describe Albuquerque, Berry and Schultz. Fascism (f ash ,izem) noun An authoritarian right wing system of government and/or social organization. (in general use) extreme right wing, authoritarian, chauvinistic and/or intolerant views or practices. Fascism tends to include a belief in the supremacy of one group over another, national, ethnic, especially social strata or monetarily; a contempt for democracy, an insistence on obedience to a powerful leader, and a strong demagogic approach. Compliments of one of our Eyes

Feb 28, 2007

Red Light Cameras: Councilor Winter To Hold Town Hall Meeting

We just got our Eyes on a press release from Councilor Brad Winter's office. Councilor Winter has decided to hold a Town Hall Meeting Tuesday, March 6th to discuss the issue of Red Light Camera enforcement. Councilor Winter brings up the egregious fines, the extreme penalties for late payment and the problems with the appeal process. The councilor is apparently "really concerned about the appeals process," and goes on to site the recent departure of the City's hearing officer Albert Chavez, that we told you about here. He also said, "people have the right to have input on how they are policed."

We couldn't agree more... The Town Hall will be held downtown at City Hall in the City Council (Vincent E. Griego) Chambers. The full text of councilor's press release is posted below.


City Councilor, Brad Winter (District 4) will conduct a Town Hall Meeting on Tuesday, March 6, 2007 to allow citizens to voice their concerns regarding the Safe Traffic Operations Program Ordinance which allows for the use of photo red light cameras and electronic speed detection equipment.

“Since the ordinance went into effect the Council has been bombarded with complaints and concerns from the citizens of Albuquerque,” said Councilor Winter, “I just want to make sure that everyone’s voice is heard regarding this matter.”

An item of great concern is the amount of the fines and the 100% increase to the fines imposed when there is a delay in making payment. Councilor Debbie O’Malley and Councilor Ken Sanchez have introduced legislation to address this issue. The process to appeal violations has also been repeatedly questioned. “We need to assure that all citizens are being granted due process,” said the Councilor, “I’m really concerned about the appeals process.” The City’s hearing officer who hears appeals of violations has resigned his position.

“People have the right to have input on how they want to be policed,” stated Councilor Winter, “I think it’s time we listened to how the public feels about the laws we are imposing on them.”

The Town Hall will be held on Tuesday, March 6, 2007 from 5:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. in the Vincent E. Griego Chambers, City/County Government Center. Parking will be provided in the underground lot in Civic Plaza. For more information call 768-3101.

Feb 27, 2007

Albuquerque Gets a Laurel

The wonderful thing about the Internet is that there is sooo much information out here in cyberspace. The terrible thing about the Internet is that there is sooo much information out here in cyberspace. While surfing around we found a blog called Laurels and Lances, a blog devoted to transit. Lo and behold who do we find gets a Laurel for derailing the Trolley back in November... yep, the residents of Albuquerque. (Read about it here.)

Of Trolleys, Arenas, and Pandas

It seems that everyday there's another headline in the Journal about how the Mayor's going to spend our money. One day it's a trolley, another a 16,000 seat downtown arena, and today a cute and cuddly rented panda. (ABQ Journal - Subscription Required)

We understand that these are all capital projects but it's still our hard earned money. Plus, each one of these projects will require money to operate, because they cannot be self-sufficient. The panda alone will cost at least $890,000 a year to maintain (possibly more like $1.3 Million a year), not to mention a $1.2 Million habitat that may be empty after just 2 years. This is yet another example of "How NOT to Plan for a Budget Shortfall." Blogger Mario Burgos shows you another one here. (Thanks for the Hat Tip)

In today's article BioPark Director Ray Darnell said, "The mayor is realistic. He doesn't want to pursue this forever..." Why are we pursuing this at all?

Feb 26, 2007

The Legacy of The Evidence Room Scandal

How Government Grows and Politicians Prosper

The Evidence Room scandal should be a long time in our rear-view mirror. The problem with scandals like this is that they have long-term consequences. If you remember, Sergeant Cynthia Orr and Captain Marie "Sisi" Miranda came forward with accusations of misconduct in the evidence room. Evidence was missing, reports gone, cases placed in jeopardy, and all going on right before the 2005 Mayoral Election. The Mayor promised that heads would roll and Chief Gill Gallegos got the axe.

In order to restore confidence in APD and provide cover for the administration, Mayor Marty hired retired Bernalillo County Sheriff Joe Bowdich to serve as interim chief while a search for new APD chief. The administration worked quickly to hire a new Chief and brought in (or back) Ray Schultz to fill the post. Once Chief Schultz was hired Joe Bowdich stayed on as Schultz's 2nd in command and holds the title of Deputy Director, a civilian position making somewhere around $100,000 a year. (ABQ Journal - Subscription Required)

Our Eyes on the Inside tell us that Joe Bowdich is hearing the call of retirement once again. After all he was called out of retirement and has since done his duty to god and country. Now he probably wants to do the things that retired people do, like well retire. So we're going to have a high paying job opening up for a civilian... what to do?

Well if you're in politics, you hand the job to an ally and if necessary you re-write the job description in order to make it fit. That's exactly what our Eyes are telling us is going on with Joe's position in order to fit recently retired APD Captain Rob Debuck. The real question is, how many chiefs does APD really need?

Maybe you can make an argument that creating a permanent position for Joe Bowdich was a good idea... maybe. But we've got 3 Deputy Chiefs, a Deputy Director and a Chief AND Deputy Chief Administrator Nick Bakas. How many Chiefs do we really need? This is how government grows and politicians prosper. Create a position with a big title, bigger paycheck, and limited responsibilities, then stick a friend in it. The beauty of it all is everybody wins... except us.

Here's an idea... in light of the projected $22 Million budget shortfall, ($15 Million is attributed to increasing payroll costs) perhaps we should just eliminate the position? Government gets smaller, we save around $100,000 a year AND the Mayor avoids allegations of cronyism. What do you bet it doesn't work out that way?

Feb 23, 2007

Red Light Cameras: Billing Pressure

Anyone who has ever worked around attorneys or architects has heard about "billing hours." Each attorney or architect keeps meticulous records of the hours worked for a particular client. Attorneys routinely charge for phone calls and even lunch. There's pressure in each of the firms to rack up those billing hours. After all, that's how they stay alive. No billed hours, no paycheck.

Apparently, the same type of pressure is building down in the bowels of City Hall. You see, they've got a license to print money... or at least siphon it out of the pockets of drivers, at an astonishing rate. Photos are snapped, bills are sent, and $5 million is dumped into the general fund. There's only one problem, the system isn't quite as automatic as Mayor Marty would like it to be.

You see anyone snapped in one of these Red Light Districts has a right to an administrative hearing. Our Eyes tell us that over 1,000 Red Light Camera "citations" have been dismissed by the city's hearing officers. That's over $100,000 that didn't make it into the city coffers. Sure, that's only 2% of the total take but when you're projecting a $22 million shortfall (ABQ Journal - Subscription Required), every penny counts.

You can almost see the pressure building in every department. One of the easiest ways to get "free" revenue is to make sure that as many traffic camera "citations" as possible are upheld by the city's hearing officers.

Our Eyes on the Inside tell us that the administration is putting pressure on the hearing officers in the City Attorney's Office to deny as many Red Light Camera appeals as possible and that the pressure to wrongly deny dismissals led directly to the resignation of Hearing Officer Albert Chavez. Our Eyes tell us that Mr. Chavez (the Hearing Officer, not the Mayor) has a reputation for fairness and is known for being compassionate and firm. According to our Eyes, he resigned after being threatened with termination if he didn't stop dismissing so many "citations."

This episode illustrates one of the biggest problems with traffic camera systems. Your hearing officer works for the complainant, in this case The City of Albuquerque and more specifically the Mayor. The interests of the Mayor can easily compromise the fairness of your hearing. It's an awful lot like going through a divorce and having your spouse act as the presiding judge... Kiss the house, the kids, your car, your paycheck, and your @#$ goodbye! At the very least this is a conflict of interest; at most it could be a violation of your Constitutional rights.

Feb 22, 2007

The Politics of Money

Headline: Council President Took Developer's Cash!
(We just had to add the exclamation point!)

Looks like a headline from the Enquirer or from the golden age of yellow journalism. Another public official caught with their hand in the till. Another Robert Vigil taking money for favors. Who was this Council President? Who was this criminal giving away your farm for their own personal gain? None other than Council President Debbie O'Malley.

Now before you think you've found yourself on Joe Monahan or the Duke City Fix, hear us out. We have serious differences with Councilor O'Malley. Particularly her belief that the city should become a landlord in the name of affordable housing... but that's another story. In Thursday's Albuquerque Journal (a.k.a The Yellow Pages) they all but accuse the councilor of taking a bribe.
"...a financial report filed with the City Clerk's Office shows that Forest City Covington recently gave O'Malley a political contribution of $450, which O'Malley says is the most that can be contributed to a council campaign. She's up for re-election this year and says she has been collecting money to cover old campaign debts."
Lest you forget councilors receive a salary that's 1/10th of the mayor's, which is somewhere over $9,000 a year. The City Charter stipulates that a councilor or candidate for council can only receive a campaign contribution from any one person or corporation of 5% of their total salary. That's somewhere around $465 these days. The contribution in question is just $450. In other words, perfectly legal.

So why run a story that isn't a story? One of the first rules of damage control is to accuse the accuser. In this case Councilor O'Malley was highly critical of the $80,000 "donation" given to the city to finish Marty's My-centennial... uh, Tricentennial towers, saying "We have a large developer in negotiations with us ... essentially bailing the city out of a quandary in terms of money. I don't think that's very good policy."

There's absolutely no doubt that the Mayor was hurt by the publicity surrounding the Tricentennial Towers cost overruns. First supposed to cost less than $500,000, then no more than $840,000 (ABQ Journal - Subscription Required). Eventually, they needed a private donation of $80,000 to finish the project. That donation came from Forest City Covington.

Now, we're not against private donations for projects like the Tricentennial Towers. In fact, we would prefer voluntary contributions as opposed to taxpayer funded monuments to... whatever they're supposed to be a monument to. In fact, if the project had been run by a private company that relied solely on donations, we believe that the final cost would have been somewhere near the originally estimated $500,000 if not less. We mean the towers are nice but...
If you add up all of the money spent on just those two towers it equals $920,000, almost $1,000,000. Do you think the residents of Martinez Town could have used even $840,000 to fix the failing pumps that kept their homes from flooding last summer? We do.
(End Sidebar)
So, who do you really think is going to be more influenced by Forest City Covington's contribution? A councilor whose social and political positions are already in favor of the type of development proposed by Forest City Covington at Mesa Del Sol? Or a Mayor, whose pet project and monument to... whatever, is running over budget and still needs another 80 grand? Let's see $450... $80,000. Even by ABQ PAC standards that's a lotta' cash. What's more, who do you think Thursday's hit piece in the Yellow Pages benefits?

That's right... our illustrious mayor. The Journal either was fed a story and failed to think it through or were willing accomplices to Marty's spin machine. That's the politics of money and the way to turn the accuser into the accused.

---------- CORRECTION ----------
We must have had something in our Eye because we originally indicated above that the salary of a City Councilor is 1/3 that of the Mayor. That is incorrect. A City Councilor's salary is 10% of the Mayor's. Oddly enough, Councilor O'Malley sponsored a ballot initiative in 2004 to increase the council's salary to 1/3 that of the Mayor's making a Councilor's salary over $30,000 a year. The voters rejected that idea and it remained the 10% figure currently in place. All of the other figures above are correct.

Here We Go Again...

First it was the red light and speed cameras, now it’s your cell phone. In reality, another tax... and they're all for your own good. (Or at least the city's good.)

As you know by now, you're not allowed to talk on your cell phone without a hands-free device while driving. If a you're caught, your first offense is $100.00 and your second offense is $200.00. More money for Mayor Marty, more money for the City Council, less money for you. Remember we're adding this to the over $5 MILLION that has already been taken in by the Red Light Camera Program (a.k.a. Marty's Money Makers).

Mayor Chavez and the administration love to tout Albuquerque's recent ranking in Fortune Five Hundred Magazine. We just wonder... do you think that when the administration was schmoozing the folks at Forbes they told them about the increasing cost of simply moving from place to place? Probably not.

On to more important matters... What to do if you're pulled over. Remember, you're allowed to make emergency phone calls without a hands free device.

Here are a few helpful suggestions:

1. I think I left the oven on.

2. I forgot to lock the front/back door.

3. My child is sick at school.

4. I can’t make it to pick up my child/children.

5. My dog ate my homework?

Ok... we know that's a bit crazy. However, the City has to prove you were not conducting an emergency phone call and a Law Enforcement Officer does not have the right to check your phone without a search warrant. Federal Law protects your cell phone records and the City has no legal authority to interfere or have access to them. Quite a quandary for the prosecution and for the city. If you claim you are using your phone for emergency purposes how do they prove you were not?

Now, most honest law abiding taxpayers will go ahead and cop to the "offense," and pay the tax... uh, fine. Now if you happen to be on an "emergency" call...

Remember, the system was overloaded with taxpayers challenging the red light and speed camera citations and over 1,000 were dismissed. Who knows what could happen?

Feb 20, 2007

Tricks for Trolleys

If you happened to be perusing the Metro Section of today's Journal you will note that the administration has had to admit that the Transportation Infrastructure Tax is still in place. (Something we told you about last week.) So, what happened? Wasn't the repeal tabled?

The answer is yes, it was tabled. And yes, unless Councilor Winter's bill (which he plans to be re-introduced on Wednesday) passes, the Transportation Infrastructure Tax will remain in place. According to the Journal Council President Debbie O'Malley indicated that they were "behind a rock and a hard place. ... I don't think we have any choice except to repeal it." (ABQ Journal - Subscription Required). In addition, Mayor Chavez is now pushing for a repeal stating, "it rightly ought to be repealed."
Hey Marty, we're with you on this one! But, forgive us if we're not quite buying it. First, you try with the aid of your accomplices on the council, to railroad us by ramming it through council the day before a hotly contested national election. Second, our Eyes on the Inside tell us you agreed to accept a repeal only after Councilors Heinrich and Benton let you know that the issue was too hot for them and they were pulling their support. Third, one of your biggest supporters Councilor Sally Mayer, manages to get the repeal tabled in the council's finance committee last week. What's the saying? "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me THREE TIMES..."
(End Sidebar)

The fact is that Mayor Chavez is bound and determined to have a trolley and he'll use any trick that he can think of to make sure it will happen. It's legacy building writ large and payed for by our tax dollars. One thing that the Mayor didn't count on is organized and determined opposition to his plan.

Our Eyes tell us that SWAT (Stop Wasting Albuquerque's Taxes) sent out an action alert to a huge number of members, and civic leaders over the weekend. That email ended with the following appeal:
"We ask you to email all of the city councilors and the mayor and reiterate your objection to this project without an unbiased, comprehensive study and the direct consent of the voters. Let them know in clear terms that responsible voter-taxpayers passed the original tax, that we haven't approved a street car system, and that we demand the this issue be decided by voters at the municipal election this fall."
Apparently, their efforts generated enough heat to have Mayor Chavez in damage control mode on Monday, claiming that he sent a letter last week to the council asking for a repeal, and for the Council to feel "boxed in." If the Mayor truly wanted to have the Transportation Infrastructure Tax repealed he could have done it with a phone call to Councilor Mayer (a.k.a. The Mayer) and to Councilor (Remember I Held a $500 a Head Fundraiser To Pay Off Your Campaign Debts) Harris, and at the very least gotten it through committee.

The bottom line... Tricks for Trolleys. This isn't the first one and if history is any indication, it won't be the last one.

Feb 19, 2007

The Trouble with Telling Tales

In a recent post we told you about the finding of a City of Albuquerque Employee Equity Office investigation into the hiring of DMD Security Manager Mark Shepherd. In short, the investigation found that Mr. Shepherd had misrepresented his work experience, the city had failed to verify that experience, and there were significant interview irregularities involving candidate scoring documentation and a conflict of interest on the part of Nick Bakas who was on the interview team and was also listed as one of Mr. Shepherd's references. You can read the complete post here.

We have gotten our hands on a transcript from a hearing in August of 2006 where Mr. Shepherd was deposed. When asked about his job history Mr. Shepherd replied:

"I headed up the security division for a large corporate office and a company, private company based out of Boulder, Colorado."

Here's the problem... the 2004 EEOC investigation found the Mr. Shepherd had not been involved in "security-related work." Whoops! This is the trouble with telling tales particularly when the tale is the basis for your employment... you have to keep repeating it. In politics this often works. If the tale is told loud enough and often enough people start to believe it. In this case, it doesn't really work because there's a finding that says in essence that you lied on your employment application and a judge that can potentially bring you up on charges.

The Eye doesn't know all of the details of the hearing where Mr. Shepherd was deposed. We have no idea whether the claims being made are factual or not. However, this incident points out the reason you can be denied employment by the city if you do a little fibbing on your application. Managers who end up in these types of cases can and will have their credibility challenged. If you continue to propagate the same story, when it has already been shown to be a "misrepresentation," you are putting the city and yourself in jeopardy, regardless of the merits of the case against you. If you are under oath, you can also be charged with a little thing called perjury.

Feb 16, 2007

Anonymity: A Fair Question

The Eye received a post by Ched MacQuigg asking us to "please respond to the wmqb's (Wednesday Morning Quarterback) observation that [we] blog anonymously." We believe that the question of Anonymity is a fair one, and frankly we try to answer all of the questions directed our way. The simple answer is the appalling way the city treats whistleblowers. Sergeant Cynthia Orr and Captain Marie "Sisi" Miranda (the two APD officers that courageously blew the whistle on the evidence room) know exactly what it's like when uncomfortable truths are revealed (See Our Post From December 16th). In some cases, the whistleblower is even accused of a crime that destroys their career even when they are exonerated. Our anonymity adds one more layer of protection to our sources, some of whom risk more than just their jobs.

The Eye is interested in what goes on behind the scenes in this city. That includes any large governmental agency and APS. Anonymity provides us with a way to observe administrators and public officials in their more candid moments. There may come a time when The Eye is unveiled, until then we will continue to work to verify all of the facts that come our way with multiple sources and/or supporting documentation.

On that note... If you've got something that you'd like The Eye to look into you can contact us at

Ched, thanks for your question and keep'em coming!

Feb 15, 2007

The Big Flush: More Than Just Water Down The Drain

Coming to the council near you... Starring Martin Heinrich, The Big Flush! No it's not a movie rather another effort by the City Council to insert themselves into your life and your wallet. In less than a year we've had red light cameras, animal husbandry, cell phones, and now your bathroom.

The Eye has learned that the intrepid councilor from District 6 is eying all of the fixtures that use water in your home in a proposed bill that will come before the council March 5th. The ordinance (O-06-41) if passed, will require the buyer of virtually any home to replace all of the non-low flow water fixtures (you know the kind that actually work) with their low flow equivalents within 90 days of purchase and file a Low Water Use Fixture Certificate with the County Clerk. By the way, if you don't you can be charged $100 per fixture, per month, for each month past the first 3, that you are found to be non-compliant.

Now... that doesn't sound so bad. After all we live in a desert! And besides, it doesn't take effect until 2010! The Eye would argue that you couldn't be more wrong and you'll be finding that out the next time you try and buy or sell a house that is required to be retrofitted, meaning any home not built in the last 5 or so years. No matter how you slice it, this ordinance will add approximately $700 to $1,000 to the price of your home.
Ever notice how the city loves these unfunded mandates?
(End Sidebar)
Water is an important commodity in Albuquerque, we've been fighting over it for years now. We've also had voluntary conservation programs in place for over a decade. In fact, the City of Albuquerque website claims that we've reduced water consumption by 34% since 1995. If that weren't enough, we're now subjected to sin taxes for over use in the form of a "conservation charge," and both time of day, and day of the week watering restrictions. And if THAT weren't enough we've got the water police armed with their cameras and citations to charge us if we have the temerity to let water spray onto a sidewalk.
Has anyone noticed that despite an extraordinarily wet July and record snows this winter, we haven't heard a thing about rescinding the water restrictions imposed by the City/County Water Authority? Don't hold your breath.
(End Sidebar)
So what's the deal? As a community we've done an outstanding job conserving water. We're being told that the San Juan - Chama diversion project will be coming on line in the next year or so and will provide enough water for another 80 years. Why do we need Martin Heinrich in our bathrooms? The fact is, we don't.

The Council has gotten it in their heads that they need to control everything in our lives. It doesn't even matter if it makes any sense. How long before they decide that everyone should use florescent bulbs, and stop eating french fries or ice cream? How long before they decide what kind of car you can drive, or where it's safe for you to work? It's for your own good! Sounds a bit Orwellian, but it's a real danger. Every time these knuckleheads decide to do something like this, they take away one of your choices, they take away one of your freedoms.

Ronald Reagan said "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'" Watch out anytime the city mandates something for your own good... it usually costs you money and freedom.

Feb 13, 2007

Trolley Still On-Track: Tax Extension Still In Place

About a month and a half ago we were told by City Councilor Martin Heinrich and Mayor Martin Chavez that they would seek to repeal the extension of the Transportation Infrastructure Tax (O-06-49) that had been passed in order to fund Albuquerque's trolley. (ABQ Journal - Subscription Required) Councilor Brad Winter introduced a bill to do just that and to force any extension of the tax to go before the voters. The problem... Councilor Winter's bill was tabled in the Finance Committee last night by Councilor Mayer a supporter of the tax extension and founding member of the Chavez 3.

It's common knowledge that the mayor has set his sites on a shiny new trolley and is determined to get one at any cost (to us). His first step was to hire a slick snake oil salesman to promote his dream in the form of Transportation Director Greg Payne. His second was to try and railroad the voters by slipping a tax extension (tax hike actually) through the City Council the day before the November election (ABQ Journal - Subscription Required). Now, despite promises of repealing the tax extension, task forces, and placing the issue before the voters, the bill that does exactly that, is tabled.

So as of right now, the passed and signed extension of the Transportation Infrastructure Tax is the law of the land with no change in sight. And the light you see at the end of the tunnel is really a trolley on the fast track... again.

Center OF or FOR Domestic Violence?

There seems to be a bit of a disagreement over the new family justice center announced by Mayor Chavez last week. (ABQ Journal - Subscription Required) Seems that the Mayor failed to sign legislation over a year and a half ago that would have done the same thing. Our fellow blogger over at the Wednesday Morning Quarterback gives a great play-by-play analysis (Read it Here) of what happened. Believe it or not, there might have been politics involved... that couldn't be true? Could it?

Who cares who gets the credit anyway? As Councilor Winter was quoted in the Journal as saying, "It doesn't matter who takes credit for realizing the need for the creation of the center." We wholeheartedly agree. There's just one problem... seems that the point man on this whole affair has been accused of, you guessed it... domestic violence.

Our Eyes on the Inside tell us that the former high-ranking APD officer that has been doing the preliminary work on the center has allegedly been accused of felony domestic violence while in uniform. Our Eyes tell us that there are two tapes of the alleged victim making a report to an APD officer that detail the incident. More importantly, this officer was ordered not to file a report and to get rid of the taped interviews! Seems that the accused officer held sufficient rank to warrant protection from their higher-ups.

Our Eyes tell us that the incident is widely discussed in APD circles and that the officer involved has protected himself by making sure that copies of the tapes have been stored in safe places including with his attorney. If our Eyes have the story straight, there are a few questions that need to be asked. First, why in the world would you put someone in charge of a domestic violence center that has been accused of domestic violence? Second and more importantly, what was APD doing ordering an officer not to file a report and to destroy evidence?

You can be sure that The Eye will be looking into this further.

Feb 12, 2007

Making The Call (or Not): A Look at the Cell Phone Ban

By now everyone knows about Albuquerque's newly passed and signed cell phone ban. For the next 60 days or so you'll be given a stern warning by Albuquerque Police if caught using the electronic trouble maker. After that you'll be fined $100 for the first offense and $200 for each subsequent offense. The good news is that you will still be able to read the paper, put on make-up, or yell at your kids while weaving down the road without fear of prosecution. Ok... so maybe that last part's not strictly true, but there's no specific law against it even if you can be ticketed for reckless or distracted driving.

So where does this idea that we need to have a specific ban on cell phone usage come from? Look no further than the Mayor's office. The cell phone ban was introduced by West Side Councilor Ken Sanchez. It was supported in council by Police Chief Ray Schultz. Councilor Sanchez is closely associated with Mayor Marty, having served as his campaign treasurer before being encouraged to run against former councilor Miguel Gomez. Ray Schultz in essence serves at the pleasure of the Mayor, ergo this ordinance was supported by the administration from the very beginning.

The claim that signing the ordinance was "a very difficult decision for him," (ABQ Journal - Subscription Required) made by Councilor Sanchez appear to be disingenuous at best. You can be sure that Marty was on-board before Chief Schultz appeared before the Council on February 5th. Meanwhile, rank and file officers adamantly insist that the cell phone ban will never be enforced, a reality that Schultz was forced to admit last Thursday.
"Albuquerque Police Chief Ray Schultz said he doubts the cell phone law will be used often as the primary reason a motorist is pulled over." (ABQ Journal - Sucription Required)

So we have established that Marty was in all likelyhood, in on this from the beginning and that officers not only do not want to enforce the cell phone ban, but will not be using a cell phone violation as a primary reason to pull someone over. If this is indeed about erring "on the side of public safety," (ABQ Journal - Subscription Required) as Mayor Marty contends why is his Police Chief admitting that they're not going to enforce it? The answer to that question look to the 5-4 vote in council.
"All five of the supporters are Democrats, and the four opponents are Republicans." (ABQ Journal - Subscription Required)
Political posturing. The cell phone ban in Albuquerque is the type of meaningless legislation that appeals to certain segments of the population. In practice, it has very little effect on daily life, it doesn't cost the city anything to enforce, has the potential to bring in millions of dollars to a heavily burdened city budget, and it puts a Mayor with his eye on the Governors office in ink and on TV. You'll note that the Mayor even signed the ordinance on his weekly GOV TV call in show. In other words, there's no down side for the Mayor or the council members who voted on this issue. And as usual, we pay the price for their posturing and publicity with our frustration and our hard earned money.

Feb 8, 2007

Red Light Cameras: Spray Away Your Troubles

Necessity is the mother of invention and to prove it one enterprising company claims to have found a way to blind the unblinking but brightly flashing eye of the red light cameras. One of our Searching Eyes emailed us with this story that was apparently aired on WBAL channel 11 and is now posted on YouTube...

Hey, we don't know whether it works or not and we don't encourage you to go out and start running red lights just to see if it does. However, we have ordered a bottle for The Eyemobile and hope to never find out that it doesn't work.

Feb 7, 2007

Marty's Minions: Mark Shepherd

A few weeks ago we suggested in a sidebar that one way to determine if developer Jason Daskalos had just had dinner with Mayor Chavez was to ask his bodyguard and driver. The mere reference to Marty's current shadow elicited a number of comments regarding his former bodyguard Mark Shepherd. In that post we commented that we had a hard time buying the Mayor's comment that "nobody gets special treatment from my administration, not even my mother." (Albuquerque Journal - Subscription Required) Turns out that Marty's assertion wasn't strictly true, particularly in the case of now Security Manager, Mark Shepherd.

To bring you up to speed Mark Shepherd was an APD officer assigned to protect Mayor Marty from... well something or someone, and drive him from appointment to appointment. Following his retirement from APD, he applied for and was awarded his current job as Security Manager for the Department of Municipal Development. In essence, he became the top man in the agency that is tasked with keeping an eye on all of the city owned facilities.

So far, nothing seems amiss. However, after being awarded the job no less than two complaints were filed with the City of Albuquerque Employee Equity Office alleging that Mr. Shepherd was hired for the position of DMD Secrity Manager even though he was not qualified for the position. The allegations triggered an investigation into the claims.

The investigation found that Mr. Shepherd had not "truthfully represent his work experience," and that "city officials should have scrutinized Mr. Shepherd's statements regarding his work experience more carefully." The investigation also found irregularities in the interview process. Apparently Mr. Shepherd listed Deputy Administrator Nick Bakas as a reference on his application. Turns out Mr. Bakas was also on the interview team. The investigative report found that "at best, this could be considered to have the appearance of impropriety. At worst, it appears more than likely that one of the interviewers was predisposed to hire Mr. Shepherd."

The report concluded:
1.) Mr. Shepherd "knowingly made false statements in his application," a violation of the City of Albuquerque Personnel Rules and Regulations which states that "applicants aare ineligible for City employment for reasons including, but not limited to... any fraudulent for false statement on an application."
2.) "City officials improperly accepted Mr. Shepherd's improbable representations of work experience and did not properly evaluate his work and supervisor experience."
3.) "An individual named as a reference improperly served as a member of the interview panel."
4.) "Interview benchmarks do not support the choice of Mr. Shepherd over [redacted]"

Further, the investigator found that they "must conclude that the irregularities in this hiring process support" the allegations made by the claimants.

The real question here is given this information, what did the city do? Our Eyes tell us that the city settled the claims with terms undisclosed and Mr. Shepherd is still serving as Security Manager. Looks an awful lot like a break to us... just not for the Mayor's mother.

Red Light Cameras: Ohio Case Challenges Constitutionality

We've all felt a little creepy about the whole idea of big brother watching us, particularly when that results in an automatic fine. Now an Ohio woman is challenging the constitutionality of red light and traffic cameras on the grounds that the tickets deny due process (Read About it Here). The case has made it all the way to the Ohio State Supreme Court. What impact their decision has on Marty's Money Makers is unclear, but what is clear is that people are becoming more and more concerned about the egregious fines imposed by these photographic toll booths.

Feb 1, 2007

Red Light Cameras: How to Beat'em

A number of posts ago we promised to let you know what to do if you find yourself starring in one of Mayor Marty's red light movies. We've had our Legal Eye working on the problem and had him create a couple of documents that we suggest you use to help defend yourself. Remember, ask for a hearing! (A little disclaimer here... The Eye is not an attorney and we don't want anyone out there thinking that we are practicing law, so if you're not sure and have questions please contact your attorney.)

The basic idea here is for you to require the city to produce all of the information pertaining to the operation of the camera system (The first letter). You have a right to this information as part of your defense and the city has an obligation to produce the information for your review. This letter goes to the Chief of Police, the Director of Traffic Engineering, the Director of Public Safety, and the City Clerk. It is in essence a public records inspection request. You also have the right to discovery of evidence pertaining directly to your case (The second letter). This second letter goes to the City Attorney and the City of Albuquerque City Boards and Commissions. Remember, when sending these letters, send them via registered mail with a return receipt. It's more of a hassle and costs a little more but, the city will not be able to claim that they didn't receive your requests.

There are some other things to remember with regard to your hearing. First, the city must hold a hearing within 90 days. Second, when you arrive at your hearing (be early) make sure you check in and give notice that you will only wait for 30 minutes after the scheduled hearing time. At that time you will begin charging the city $150 per hour, plus attorney's fees (if you have one) which you will bill to the city. Our Eyes on the Inside tell us that people are waiting 3 and 4 hours for their hearings, which in our opinion is intolerable.

Our guess is that the city will be unwilling to supply all of the requested documents. There's a lot of information that would be revealed that would hurt the camera program should it become public. For example, how the monitored intersections are chosen. The Eye maintains that they are most concerned with revenue and have chosen intersections based on the area's overall income rather than its history of traffic accidents.

We've posted these two documents here so that you have some idea of what you can do to defend yourself.

1. Initial Letter
2. Informal Discovery

----- UPDATE -----

We got a couple of questions regarding the red light cameras and thought it would be good to include the answers to these questions right here. Some of this we've discussed in previous posts but here goes.

The way APD and the administration get around the requirement that a law enforcement official witness a misdemeanor is simple... being caught by one of Marty's toll cameras is a civil offense. You won't be charged any points against your license and you won't serve any jail time. You'll be charged or more accurately taxed for your offense.

Another question was, when does the 90 day period begin for setting your court hearing? Our Eyes tell us that the clock starts ticking at the time of the "offense."

Thanks for your comments and if you want to contact The Eye, email us at