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

Jun 29, 2007

Whose Foolin' Who

There it was right there on the front page of the Tribune, Marty Called Out. The essence of the story is that Marty was caught with his microphone down by Councilors O'Malley and Cadigan when as part of his weekly call in show on 770 KKOB AM a caller named "Linda" called in to bash the council and pledge her support for Marty's vetoes. The only problem, "Linda" is actually Marty's CFO, Gail Reese.
This is also the show that set off Mt. Villanucci the following Monday, when the mayor in essence called anyone who had timed the yellow lights at photo enforced scam-era intersections kooks. You can hear the whole show here.
(End Sidebar)
This tactic is nothing new for the mayor on high. Mayor Chavez or his confederates actually tried to skew the results of the Eye Poll just a couple of weeks ago. Later that same week the 11th floor was trying to orchestrate a call in campaign aimed at talk show host Jim Villanucci. The objective of the campaign was to try to fool listeners in to believing that Marty's scam-eras enjoyed wide support out there in radio land.

Villanucci and producer Richard Edes were not fooled for a moment and dropped all of the lines in order to allow a more representative sample of the general population to get through. In other words, callers without Marty's talking points.

It should come as no surprise that since the mayor tried to stack the Villanucci deck; he would have his cronies call in to his show as well. That's exactly what happened June 16th. We've uploaded the call in question so take a listen. You'll notice a couple of things about the call, the distinctiveness of the caller's voice and the condescension oozing out of the mayor.

When the Trib reporter Peter Rice confronted Ms. Reese about the call you'll note her first response was to spin saying, "I might have, yes." Then to make the ridiculous claim that, "[i]t's not something I would necessarily remember doing." Rrrrright.... We often call radio talk shows and find it hard to remember calling.

When Ms. Reese realized that she'd pretty much been caught cold, she fell into defense mode and claimed that "Linda" is her "alter-ego name." Alter-Ego name?! Now Ms. Reese seems to have a dual personality to go along with her poor memory.

What is it about the Chavez administration that requires its members to spin or everything from scam-era crashes, to yellow light timing, to call-in shows? Does the Almighty Mayor think so little of all of us peons down here that he can believe that we'll buy all of this? If you've got 40 minutes, listen to the entire show. Listen carefully to the mayor's attitude. Listen to how he treats his critics. To us it's offensive and couldn't be more condescending.

A couple of things are absolutely sure... The council and the mayor are heading towards an all-out war, and the public is on to the mayor's act. Seems like for the first time since Marty took office (the first time and the second) he's beginning to lose control of the public and the media. More importantly, he's not foolin' anyone... for a change.

Jun 28, 2007

Clean Campaign or Campaign Con?

Back in 2005, voters passed what was supposed to clean up municipal elections here in Albuquerque. This is the first year that the Albuquerque Open and Ethical Elections Code will be in effect for qualifying candidates.

Aspiring councilors will have the opportunity to apply for public financing of their campaigns. That means we will be footing the bill for their campaign staff, mail pieces, signs, and even event tickets. (Read the complete set of regulations here.) Qualifying candidates will receive $1 for every registered voter in the district in which they are running.

One "ethical" candidate would get almost $37,000 of our money to spend pretty much as they choose; and that's just to start. Should a non-participating candidate raise more than the participating candidate we taxpayers will helpfully match their hard work with our money. Matching funds also extend to Measure Finance Committees who campaign against a qualifying candidate by name. Every dollar a committee raises will be matched by us.

You may be sitting there thinking well that sounds fair... after all, how would an "ethical" candidate compete if they could be out spent by candidates and committees with deep pockets and effective fundraisers. Without going into the lunacy of that concept, the whole Open and Ethical Elections Code pre-supposes that candidates receiving taxpayer money are ethical to start with.

Paulette de'Pascal is running against incumbent Councilor Brad Winter for the district 4 council seat. She announced on her blog that she has qualified for public financing of her race against Councilor Winter. We're all paying for her campaign even though most of the people in the city can't vote for her or against her. We're trusting her with our money... even before she's been elected.

That's really where the rub is. You see according to public records, Ms. de'Pascal is right in the middle of a bankruptcy proceeding that cannot be discharged due to civil embezzlement claims. She is also in the middle of a divorce that if court records are any indication, appears to be somewhat messy. In all such cases, information that one might wish to remain private has a way of finding the public; especially when one of the parties involved is running for office.

According to the documents, embezzlement allegations are being pursued by Dr. Ronald Ziemann a local dentist and estranged husband of Ms. de'Pascal. According to court records, Ms. de'Pascal served as Dr. Ziemann's "dental office manager." She was in charge of all receivables, payables, bank accounts, hiring and firing of employees, purchasing, etc. In short, she had control of the money both personally and professionally.

Dr. Ziemann alleges in court documents that Ms. de'Pascal failed to file and pay CRS-1 taxes due to the State of New Mexico resulting in a claim from the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department of $46,000. In addition, Ziemann alleges the Ms. de'Pascal "wrote business checks for the purchase of personal items for herself" amounting to over $60,000.

The court documents are, shall we say extensive. Later allegations include a claim that Ms. de'Pascal "stole another approximately $41,969.32 in cash from the business."

We have to take into account that the case has not yet been fully adjudicated. For all we know the allegations could be false. In fact, we're quite sure that Ms. de'Pascal will deny them.
We can't understand why someone would submit themselves to this kind of scrutiny after a messy divorce that included allegations of embezzlement... much less running for public office at a time when court proceedings are still pending. A candidate's dirty laundry will always be hung out for public inspection and there's none dirtier than divorce linen.
(End Sidebar)
With New Mexico's recent history of public corruption, Montoya, Vigil, Aragon - indicted and awaiting trial (Subscription), is it really a good idea to give taxpayer money to people who are not even public officials? There's really nothing stopping an "unethical" candidate from pocketing the money... your money. As with all legislation of this type, it often has the opposite effect from the one intended (See McCain-Feingold). The result, instead of a clean campaign we end up with a campaign con.

Jun 26, 2007

Ethical Lapse or Missed Button?

The Albuquerque Journal reported today (Subscription) that besieged Councilor Don Harris has had an ethics complaint filed against him regarding a fundraiser held in June of 2006. (We mentioned the fundraiser here.) According to the Journal Harris failed to report over $30,000 in campaign contributions raised at the event held at Scalo Northern Italian Grill. Harris claims that he forgot to "finalize" his report after entering the data last year.

Our Eyes tell us that campaign reporting requires the candidate, councilor, or measure finance committee to finalize the report before the report is accepted as being properly filed. The system allows the reporting party to enter contributions and expenditures in the system as they occur which keeps them from having to enter all of the data right before the deadline. It's really a practical solution to a very real reporting problem. Without it, candidates and committees would allow reporting data to pile up and would bog down the system in the hours right before the deadline resulting in even more late reports.

Could Councilor Harris have forgotten to press the finalize button... sure. It's also possible that the councilor would have preferred not to have the fundraiser closely scrutinized by his constituents. After all, the councilor ran against former Councilor Tina Cummins at least partially on the claim that Councilor Cummins was too closely aligned with Mayor Chavez. A fundraiser orchestrated by the Almighty Mayor's fundraiser Teri Baird shortly after taking office would have looked suspicious to say the least.

Plausible deniability... a term used by ethically challenged politicians to describe the ability of their supporters to believe even the most irrefutable evidence. It's plausible that the councilor screwed up (one of many) and didn't finalize the report. It's just as plausible that he preferred keeping the fundraiser somewhat below the radar with his constituents and entered the information with the intent of claiming a "mistake" should the uh... "error" be discovered.

The interesting part of this whole recall is the fact that it is rumored that the mayor is really behind it in the first place. We haven't been able to find any direct evidence of 11th floor involvement, but we're quite sure that the mayor would jump at the chance to name Harris' replacement. In fact, we wouldn't be surprised if former councilor and current transportation director Greg Payne had a behind the scenes roll. Payne is a clever and ruthless campaigner and is probably still smarting from his failure to railroad taxpayers with Marty's Folly Trolley.

No matter how this ends up, no matter who's behind it, the folks in district 9 are in a conundrum. Throw the current guy out who's been inconsistent at best, and get a councilor whose allegiance is to his honor the mayor, or keep the current guy who's not likely to forget the recall effort. Either way, it's not a pretty situation and the wheels are already in motion.

Jun 25, 2007

Eye Poll: Get Rid of Them

We weren't really surprised by the outcome of this week's Eye Poll. Frankly, it wasn't ever close. Even with two opportunities to keep the program, Eye On Albuquerque readers overwhelmingly preferred getting rid of Marty's scam-era's. Of the 377 participants, 73% preferred system removal, 14% wanted to keep the cameras, but lower the fines, 12% wanted to keep the program as it is, and 1% didn't care. (See the final results here.)

Remember, this is an un-scientific poll and Eye readers may be predisposed to disliking the scam-eras but... It still amazes us that Mayor Marty is willing to spend soooo much political capital on a program that can only be characterized as unpopular. It's obvious that the city's making huge amounts of money (some reports place the numbers at over $9 MILLION). But in light of Marty's willingness to change the smoking ban to allow golfers to ruin their lungs, this fight to the death attitude makes little sense. What's keeping the mayor so solidly behind this program? It can't be public safety, and it's surely not public opinion. It has to be something else.

Jun 22, 2007

Lies, Damn Lies, and Spin

All in all, it hasn't been a very good couple of weeks for Albuquerque's Mayor Martin Chavez. In fact, we can't remember a time in his ten years in office, that the Teflon Don of the 11th floor has been hit with this much criticism all at the same time. No doubt his honor can relate to General George Custer at the Battle of the Little Big Horn (except Custer was almost 6 feet tall).

It all started Friday June 8th, when APD spokesperson Trish Hoffman tried to spin her way out of a Journal story (Subscription Required) about favoritism shown to former AFD Captain Ralph Ortega; who is also AFD Chief Ralph Ortega's brother. In addition to some other fairly ridiculous statements, Ms. Hoffman claimed that the reason officer Bret White was ordered to transport Ralph Ortega directly to the Westside MDC instead of the PTC (Prisoner Transport Center), was that the PTC was closed on Tuesday nights; a statement that was quickly reported as untrue by our ever faithful Eyes. The PTC is in fact open on Tuesdays but only to DWI arrests.

The following Monday afternoon, an above the fold story in the Albuquerque Tribune told readers about the crackdown on license plate covers (one that we told you about back in mid-April) that had resulted in 500 citations for "obstructed plates." 770 KKOB AM afternoon drive-time host Jim Villanucci picked up on the story and added information supplied to him from the county (and indirectly the PRC) that indicated that not only had accidents not gone down at "photo enforced" intersections, most of the intersections actually saw an increase.

The next setting down at city hall was Spin Mode. Tuesday afternoon, Marty sent out four henchmen and a handler (Kevin Broderick, John Castillo, Joe Bowdich, Ron Hetes, and John Walsh) to try and put down this radio rebellion by appearing on Villanucci's afternoon show. Their performance was soooo poor and unconvincing that we ended up doing our first live blog! For the rest of the week, red light scam-era irritation had become unrestrained anger as callers vented along with the show's host and co-host Richard Edes.

If all of this weren't enough, Marty decided to snuff-out smokers on city property; a move that resulted in lighting the fuse of his own recall movement. Plus, our Eyes told us about a scheme hatched on the 5th floor to jigger scam-era intersection numbers to exclude accidents that didn't occur inside the box formed by the crosswalks.

We thought that Saturday would provide an escape from the red light scam-era story, if not from the scam-eras themselves. WRONG! The Almighty descended from his perch on the 11th floor to do his weekly show over at 770 KKOB AM and took with him a very large can of gasoline to pour on Jim Villanucci's fire. During the weekly Saturday show (1pm), the mayor chose to term Villanucci's personal timing of yellow lights and their subsequent change the previous Wednesday, "hogwash."

Monday saw yet another 4 hour erruption of Mt. Villanucci followed Tuesday by the Journal revelation that the 30% to 40% reduction in accidents at scam-era intersections "was strictly an estimate" (ABQ Journal - Subscription Required). APD spokesman John Walsh went on to tell the Journal about the overtime "effort" to look at every intersection and "examine" every crash. We simply called it Cooking the Books. The Journal posted the uh... "raw" numbers here (Subscription Required).

To say that the last two weeks were crazy would be an understatement. We were subjected to so much "spin" that our next purchase at our local hardware store will be a very large shovel. Chief Schultz is famous for emphasizing truthfulness. He tells all of his managers that APD has no use for people that lie. We wholeheartedly agree with the chief and believe that it applies to everyone in government.

APD spokespeople, city department heads, and the mayor himself have all been caught over the last couple of weeks at the very least "spinning" the truth. Right now, if someone from the administration or APD's 5th floor told us that the sky was up, we'd get a second opinion. Many of our city officials have lost credibility (Subscription Required) because of their lies, damn lies, or their "spin."

Jun 21, 2007

Crisis - Calls for Service

Call for service - that's how APD describes your call for help. One of the problems over at APD is that they don't have enough officers. APD claims 998 sworn officers; our Eyes tell us that number is really closer to 800.

Recently APOA President Ron Olivas was speaking to a Westside neighborhood association meeting. He was telling the association members about the manpower shortage that is edging toward a crisis and how there are too few officers available to take calls for service. About that time he noticed Deputy Chief Michael Calloway was in the room.

Shortly after that observation, Sergeant Harold Medina showed up and towing the APD company line, refuted everything officer Olivas had to say. We imagine that the neighborhood association members were confused to say the least.

Fast forward to Wednesday night... An urgent call goes out from APD dispatch. There are over 70 (that's seven zero) calls for service waiting and dispatch is urgently calling for help from every specialized unit citywide - DWI, SWAT, K-9, everyone - to take calls for service.

You see, every officer assigned to take calls, your calls for help, was already helping another person in need, another person who called for help. Our Eyes tell us that they had never even heard of this type of urgent request being issued. In fact, the action by dispatch Wednesday night was unprecedented.

Manpower problems are not exclusive to APD. The city of Santa Fe has gone so far as to consider helping immigrants get green cards in order to serve as SFPD officers. As police protection is the most basic and fundamental function of government, it's time that APD, the council, and the mayor all get a handle on this manpower crisis before someone loses their life due to the inability to send an officer to their aid.

Jun 20, 2007

Dangers or Dollars

The smoking ban went into effect Friday... the first exemptions went into effect by Tuesday. Mayor Marty decided that smoking was no longer dangerous on the city's public golf courses. In an interview with KOB's Stewart Dyson, the mayor said "I’ve retracted that part of the order because that’s consenting adults away from kids where others aren’t going to be impacted.” The Almighty One went on to say that since there's plenty of space between smokers and other golfers, there's plenty of space for the smoke to dissipate.

We've been concerned about this from the beginning. The implications of government stepping in to save you from yourself, your habits, your choices, are absolutely staggering. (Read our take here.) In fact even anti-smoking advocates have been somewhat tepid in their reaction to the mayor's executive order.
Nathan Bush of the American Cancer Society said Albuquerque's ban "is the broadest measure that I've seen in New Mexico that addresses outdoor areas." - ABQ Journal (Subscription Required)
Bush went on to term the ban a "prudent step." Prudent step?! You'd think that the Cancer Society would be jumping for joy! Perhaps they understand that from a public perspective banning outdoor smoking is going too far; taking away one too many freedoms.

But let's assume for a moment that the mayor is right... that it's possible to harm another's health by smoking a cigarette or a cigar while outdoors. Why would you exempt any outdoor public spaces regardless of how fast the smoke dissipates?

The answer could be simpler than you think. Golf is an expensive sport. The city makes quite a bit of money from golfers playing the city links. The nature of the sport also dictates that golf devotees (or addicts) have large amounts of expendable cash. Could it be that Marty is exempting those who are most likely to write a check to his campaign?

City parks, the zoo, and even Civic Plaza, are not all that different from any golf course you care to name. Most of the time, they're not crowded so dissipation really isn't an issue. However, the mayor probably doesn't get all that many checks from Summerfest attendees.

All of which makes us wonder... is this really about dangers or dollars? The mayor is obviously currying favor with the vociferous anti-smoking crowd. Yet he's not quite willing to anger a demographic that by definition, has a lot of potential campaign cash.

Jun 19, 2007

A Credibility Problem

Today's Journal confirmed what we've been telling you... APD has a numbers problem. Back in early April we told you about a request made by County Commissioner Michael Brasher that the PRC investigate the City of Albuquerque's accident numbers with regard to the red light scam-era program. (Read about it here.) The request was simple, if the PRC could verify the city's numbers, then the drivers in Albuquerque should receive a break on their insurance rates.

The numbers are coming in and just guess what happened... not only did accidents not go down, in a number cases they actually went up (ABQ Journal - Subscription Required). What's more important is that APD cannot support the 30 to 40 percent decrease that's touted on the city's website.
APD spokesman John Walsh conceded Monday that he didn't know whether crashes decreased at red-light camera intersections in 2006 and said his department is conducting an analysis to answer that question.
He said the percentages quoted on the department's Web site and at numerous news conferences were based on an estimate of how many crashes would occur in the final three months of 2006 at two of the city's 20 red-light camera intersections.

We told you about the effort to cook the books going on down at APD. Our Eyes told us that Chief Schultz wanted the statistics "analyzed" to exclude accidents that are outside the crosswalks of the intersection, effectively eliminating almost all of the rear-end collisions at the intersection.
[L]ast weekend, Albuquerque police employees were called in to work overtime, looking at every single crash reported at the intersections.
The analysis will examine the causes of each crash to determine whether it was related to red-light running. Other factors such as weather, driver inattention and construction, are included in prior analysis.
APD spokesman John Walsh seemed to be saying that the PRC is incapable of analyzing the data that was given to them because it was "raw" and of a "different level" than the numbers that APD has. Now they're "re-analyzing" the data.

For the past year, city officials lined up in front of TV cameras and the city council to tell us about the "success" of the program. The numbers were not originally presented as an estimate, they were presented as fact.

APD has already, well... LIED about a decrease in accidents. Now they're claiming the numbers were only an "estimate."
Why would anyone believe anything the city has to say?

Let's review... The mayor and council have set up a system that increases accidents while raking in MILLIONs of dollars. They then proceed to lie about crash statistics and complain about lowering the fines. In addition, they set up a "judicial" system that denies due process.

The mayor and his entire administration have a credibility problem. They've proven that they can't be trusted to tell us the straight truth and in so doing, lost the trust of the public.

The mayor has seemingly staked his political career on a scam-era program that is ineffective and becoming more unpopular with every photo taken. It leaves us wondering why. Why would a politically savvy mayor spend so much of his political capital on a system that looks to be threatening his political future?

Mayor's Recall Not Welcome at Isotopes Park

We were contacted by Mayor Marty recall (ABQ Journal - Subscription Required) organizer S Pyke yesterday evening. Apparently, while doing an interview with KOB-TV at Isotopes Park, an Isotopes official kicked him off city property.

In 2005, it was a common practice for candidates for mayor to gather signatures at city events. Eric Griego's supporters were spotted at Zoo Music events and we specifically witnessed Chavez supporters gathering signatures at Isotopes park.

Isotopes Park is owned by the city just like the Zoo, Civic Plaza, the Balloon Fiesta Museum, etc. Did we miss an executive order from the 11th floor banning political activity in public spaces on public property or is Isotopes Park only available for the Party of Marty and supporters?

Like it or not, Mr. Pyke is a taxpayer and member of the public. His political activity should not be curtailed on public property as long as it remains peaceful and does not interfere with public safety.

Mr. Pyke has now set up a website where you can get your copy of the official recall petition. It can be found at

------ Update -----
KOAT TV did a story on Mr. Pyke's recall effort that aired on the station tonight. You can view it here.

Recalls and Raises

Mayor Chavez got it half right last week when he vetoed the Councilor Protection Act and the council's pay raise ballot initiative last Friday (ABQ Journal - Subscription Required). There's absolutely no justification for making it harder for the public to remove a councilor regardless of the reason.

As we told you a couple of weeks ago, the council used the cover of the $9 MILLION gift to the county and the budget brouhaha to pass R-07-243 the Councilor (and Mayor) Protection Act. The resolution places a City Charter amendment on the October ballot that would make it nearly impossible to remove a city elected official by limiting cause to "malfeasance or misfeasance" as determined by the city clerk. In addition the signature requirements would be jiggered to make sure that the maximum number of signatures would be required.

Our Eyes told us that this resolution was the brainchild of one Don Harris, who faces a recall uprising in his own District 9. Harris convinced a short-timer with nothing to lose, Councilor Craig Loy to sponsor the amendment.

Last night Mayor Chavez had his veto over-ridden in a 7 to 1 vote with only Councilor Winter dissenting. The first dead of night vote was 8 to 1, again with only Councilor Winter dissenting. The difference in the two votes was that Councilor Harris conveniently heard the urgent call of nature (or some such) and "took a walk" in order to avoid voting.
Trust us Councilor Harris, you're not fooling anyone with the "I voted for it before I found a convenient reason not to vote for it again," act. It's obvious that this charter amendment is crafted to address your specific situation. At least have the courage to vote.
(End Sidebar)
Moving on to the other over-ride... In our opinion the only councilor that should be eligible for a pay raise is Councilor Winter. He's the only one that understands that councilors are in essence, at will employees of the people. The Almighty's veto of the resolution placing the council raise on the October ballot is more than likely about striking back at the council for their collective temerity in over-riding Marty's budget and tax cut.

Being a councilor requires a large commitment of time, not just for meeting 3 Mondays a month, but for committee meetings, constituent relations, attending city functions, and neighborhood meetings. In meetings and gatherings alone, it's a full time job. $10,000 is not nearly adequate compensation for the amount of time and effort goes into even being a bad councilor (which we have far too many of - Harris, Mayer and Loy you know who you are).

We don't mind if they ask for a raise, if they don't mind being turned down for the 11th time. We do have a problem with the idea of giving these yahoos a raise and giving them a four year job guarantee at the same time. Talk about arrogance!

Jun 18, 2007

No Mayor Shall be a Judge in His Own Cause

We've been screaming about the Red Light Scam-era program for sometime now (read about it here and here). One of our first and most important observations was that the "hearing" system set up to "judge" STOP violation appeals was inherently biased towards the state (Mayor Marty and Co.). In other words, how can someone's due process rights be observed when they cannot appear before a fair and unbiased arbiter?

In addition to the class action suit that has been filed by the Branch Law Firm, attorney Paul Livingston contacted us with information about a client he is representing in one of Almighty Marty's kangaroo courts. The defendant in the case (or rather the person whose irresponsible vehicle became a "nuisance" in one of Mayor Marty's Money Makin' Movies) is Mary Patrick.

Ms. Patrick retained attorney Paul Livingston to represent her (and her no-good vehicle) at her "hearing." As part of the defense Mr. Livingston moved to disqualify hearing officer Marty Esquivel for conflict of interest; a point that should be patently clear to anyone above a single-celled organism.

Hearing officer Esquivel ordered Ms. Patrick's attorney, Mr. Livingston to prepare a brief supporting his motion for disqualification, and to have it back in 24 hours. (Read the full brief here.) In our opinion, the brief provides more than enough support for disqualification. Further, Mr. Livingston's argument would apply to each and every "hearing officer" employed by the City of Albuquerque.

According to the disqualification brief, "no man shall be a judge in his own cause" is the first principle when determining whether or not a "hearing officer" holds a fundamental bias towards one of the parties involved. In another case, the court found that "no man is permitted to try cases where he has an interest in the outcome." Yet a third case established that hearing officers "cannot be blind to the interest in that issue of the party which selected him or her and pays the fee..."

We don't believe that any sane person would argue against the principle of having an impartial judge. Mr. Livingston's brief establishes that the very fact that the hearing officer is in the employ of the mayor whose interest in the case dictates a finding of "guilty," precludes the hearing officer from rendering a fair and impartial decision. Therefore, the accused (and their dastardly Dodge, Chevy, Pontiac, Ford, or import of your choice) is "deprived of [his or her] constitutional due process right to a fair hearing conducted by an impartial hearing officer."

Naturally, Hearing Officer Esquivel refused to consider the brief because he didn't receive it within exactly 24 hours, which to Mr. Esquivel's esteemed legal mind meant the morning after the original hearing not end of the day. Of course, he didn't make that clear... could it have been intentional?

Our government requires the consent of the governed. Our consent should only be given when we have faith in those that run it; faith in their wisdom and faith in their impartiality. When those governing lose our trust, our consent for their continued governance in any capacity, should be rescinded. That's what elections are for.

The red light scam-era program and its attendant shadow court are proof that we should not trust those who continue to support it. Their arguments for public safety ring hollow when heard with the echo of partiality and bias. "No man shall be a judge in his own cause," and no mayor should be allowed to be judge, jury and prosecutor.

Jun 17, 2007

Eye Poll: Pushin' Back - Mayoral Disapproval

Despite an attempt to push this week's Eye Poll, Mayor Martin Chavez received an overall Disapproval rating by Eye On Albuquerque readers. In this unscientific poll of 463 participants, 44% Approved of the job the mayor is doing, 54% Disapproved, 2% Didn't Care and 2 participants Didn't Know.

We're really curious about what really happened here. We monitored the site after the blast email went out and sure enough voting picked up and Mayor Marty led most days until after 6pm. Generally after 6pm disapproval voters closed the gap and on some days overtook the approval votes. That ended Friday night when the disapproval gap took over.

We haven't heard about an approval poll done on Mayor Marty in some time; maybe as far back as the last election. We fully expected the mayor to end up with a majority voting for approval, especially after the push email went out. Surprisingly, that's not what happened.

Perhaps the mayor's involvement in cell phone bans, the MDC spat with the county, and the most harmful program of all - the red light scam-era program, has hurt him with Albuquerque voters. Only time will tell what this means to his gubernatorial ambitions and his ability to govern here in Albuquerque.

This week we're polling the Red Light Camera system. Don't forget to vote!

Jun 15, 2007

Recall - Not Just for Councilors Anymore?

We got an email yesterday from a reader who has gotten so mad at Mayor Marty over his smoking ban that they have decided to start their own recall effort, targeting the mayor himself. According to the emailer known only to us as S. Pyke (, they've filed the appropriate letter of intent with the City Clerk and received their official petitions to begin the recall.

The emailer claims that their crusade is not just about smoking, but that it Marty's executive order was the last straw. Last night Mr. Pyke spent the evening downtown gathering signatures for his recall effort. He claims that he was well received and that people were "lining up" to sign the petitions.

We don't know whether this email if for real or not. It could very well be a hoax and we'll be using our Eyes to try and verify this story. If it is for real Mr. Pyke's effort would require the signatures of "more than 25% of the total number of votes cast at the election of the officer whose recall is proposed." Mr. Pyke claims that number to be officially 21,823 valid signatures of registered city voters. That's a tall order.

Jun 14, 2007

Cookin' the Books - Restricting Access to the Ingredients

On Tuesday, 770 KKOB AM afternoon drive time host Jim Villanucci confronted city officials with statistics that indicated that the number of accidents at intersections with photo enforcement has actually increased since the scam-eras were installed. The performance by the 5 "heavy hitters" (Kevin Broderick, John Castillo, Joe Bowdich, Ron Hetes, and John Walsh) was less than stellar. When confronted with Mr. Villanucci's statistics, not one of his guests could refute their accuracy. The show left listeners even more suspicious of the scam-era program and the city's motives.

If you're in government and your sacred cash cow is threatened by statistics that prove the cow's milk is sour... what do you do? The answer is simple, come up with your own set of statistics. In other words, cook the books.

Our Eyes tell us that Chief Schultz has the 5th floor working on changing the criteria used for counting accidents at intersections. Under this new scheme, only accidents that take place inside the box formed by the crosswalks would be considered accidents at that intersection. The rest would be reported as occurring on the street leading to the intersection.

As you can tell, the new criteria would drastically cut down on the number of accidents that are attributed to a specific intersection by eliminating almost all rear end collisions. This approach makes scam-eras look more effective because rear end collisions increase dramatically at photo enforced intersections.

Statistics can be made to say whatever you want them to. The Eyes have it that the 5th floor's master plan is to re-work all of the red light scam-era accident statistics under the new criteria, and then get back on to the Villanucci show in a couple of weeks to "prove" that photo enforcement works.

We all understand the concept of apples and oranges here. These "new" numbers will be worthless as a true comparison because they are intentionally framed in such a way as to make them create the impression of a predetermined favorable result. Sometimes we call this "spin." (here's another example of spin that came from our pictured chef Trish Hoffman) Other times - like in grade school - we simply call it lying.

Restricting Access to the Ingredients
Apparently there are too many cooks in APD's kitchen and not all of them will cook the books the way the 5th floor wants them to. This week's furor over the scam-eras has APD brass worried about leak containment. We're not talking about information about on-going investigations... we're talking about information regarding what's going on in the rarified air of the 5th floor; information regarding policy that should be available to the public.

So in order to stop the leaks, information will now only be given to those ranking lieutenant or higher. Everyone below will be on a need to know basis only.

We'd remind APD brass that this centralized control model was used for decades by the Soviet military and their client states. Ultimately, it was proved ineffective because the troops in the field were unable to make decisions without consulting higher-ups.

Effective decisions are most easily and accurately made by those in the field, not those ensconced in an area command. Giving those officers all of the training and information they need (the necessary ingredients) is essential to efficient and effective department operation.


We've been struggling with posting this ever since we heard it Wednesday. Some may claim that it's self-aggrandizing, but we have no reason to doubt our Eyes on this so... here goes. According to our Eyes, Chief Schultz is so upset with information leaving the 5th floor and finding its way into cyberspace and onto this blog, that he's decided to start polygraph testing to try and find out who's been "leaking."

It's unclear who the Chief has targeted with his polygraph, but if this is true and if the Chief does start administering these tests, the Eyes have it that there will be serious legal consequences. That means lawsuits folks.

Aren't there better things to do than chase leaks of information that should be public anyway? We thought that open government was a priority with Mayor Marty. Perhaps "open" means - open to the information that he wants us to know about, when he wants us to know about it. But is that really open at all?

Jun 13, 2007

Class Action Radio

Jim Villanucci is interviewing Richard Sandoval, the attorney from The Branch Law Firm who has filed a class action lawsuit seeking damages from the city and the cessation of the Red Light Scam-era system. The basis of the suit is the inherent conflict of interest when the prosecutor and the judge are essentially the same person. As we've said before, there's plenty of process it's just not due process.

Listen in live at:

Pushin' the Poll?

A few minutes ago we were forwarded an email from one of our Eyes. Apparently the email was sent to supporters of Mayor Chavez and encouraged them to vote in our Eye Poll. We want to welcome the mayor's supporters and urge them to get an Eye full after voting. We've copied the text of the mayor's email below.
From: Mayor Martin Chavez
To: undisclosed-recipients
Subject: Your Vote Needed
Date: Wed, 13 Jun 2007 09:10:16 -0600

Hello Everyone,

I believe under my leadership, and with your tireless help the City of Albuquerque has grown into the world class city that we have all dreamed of.

A local blog in town, is asking Albuquerque residents if they approve of my job as Mayor?

Every small poll such as this counts, please take thirty seconds to vote in this local blog.

Best Regards,

Martin J. Chavez
We just wonder... is this an attempt to push the poll in favor of job approval? Last night at about 10:30 the poll was dead even with 48% approving of the mayor's performance and 48% disapproving. Admittedly the Eye Poll is an unscientific poll, so it will be interesting to see if the final numbers from this week's poll are skewed heavily toward approval as they should be; or if they are not what does that really mean?

----- Editors Note -----
When we first this was first posted we forgot to include the email header from the message forwarded to us - that has been corrected above. Could this have been a faked email... easily. However, since we have received it from multiple sources we believe it to be at least someone working on behalf of the mayor. If you received this email, feel free to forward it to us at

Jun 12, 2007

Spin Mode

The Mayor's got his troops out defending the scam-era system... right now on 770 KKOB AM. According to host Jim Villanucci, John Walsh contacted him at 2:15 pm this afternoon offering to send over a few guests to talk about the system. Could this be in reaction to the Rising Tide? We think so.

This is no doubt damage control and the troops from the city are doing their level best to spin this. So far, when pressed on issues like rear-end collisions these "heavy hitters" from downtown are doing a less than credible job of making their case. Take a listen at If nothing else it's entertaining listening.

----- Update 4:00 pm -----
Who knew this would turn into a live blog? It's hard to tell who's saying what, but one thing is clear... these guys are tasked with supporting this policy and defending it is difficult for them. Remember, they all work for Marty and their job is to salute and carry out his honor's orders. One example in particular is Captain Hetes. APD SOP requires him to support any ordinance regardless of his personal feelings on the matter when he represents the department. He is literally prohibited from speaking out against established policy.

----- Update 4:30 pm -----
This is what happens when the discussion doesn't include anyone who has the authority to make policy. The city crew can't admit that there could be a problem. Meanwhile, the public picks up on their defensiveness and the perception is that they are being spun. It stops mattering whether the "heavy-hitters" from the city are telling the truth or not... trust is already lost.

----- Update 5:00 pm -----
We're surprised that these guys made it through two whole hours without a call from the 11th floor. Antagonistic, defensive, unresponsive... all describe the city's performance. No surprise that they're not staying for a third. They've done very little to reassure the public that the scam-eras are function properly, that they save lives, or that they're NOT ABOUT THE MONEY.

----- Update 5:20 pm -----
Need we say more. Jim Villanucci was offended by the "heavy-hitters" from the city Kevin Broderick, John Castillo, Joe Bowdich, Ron Hetes, and John Walsh. He's gone so far as to call them liars. What's more important, callers weren't fooled by their performance either. Note to the 11th floor... leave spinning to the professionals and thanks for sending them out!

----- Update 6:00 pm -----
An interesting factoid has come out of today's Villanucci show... the time for a yellow light across the city seems to be close to or right about 3 seconds. Host Jim Villanucci timed the lights today himself, finding the lights up and down Montgomery were set to 3 seconds for a yellow light on through traffic. Anecdotal evidence from callers seems to support Mr. Villanucci's timing.

Now people are becoming suspicious that the city will alter the timing long enough to prove that they're 4 seconds (as maintained by traffic engineer Kevin Broderick) to the media and then switch them back. Who knows what they'll try... after all today's attempt to spin sure hasn't worked for them.

Rising Tide

Last month Chief Schultz told the Tribune that it generally takes "three years" for the furor over the red light scam-era system to die down. We have likened that eventual acceptance to the Stockholm Syndrome, the phenomenon where captives eventually come to accept their captivity and even love their captors.

The first cameras were installed in 2004, so this year marks the third year that the program has been in operation. If yesterday was any indication, the public is not only rejecting the scam-era system and its inherent injustices, there's growing anger and resentment towards the program. In political and media circles, this story could be identified as one that has got "legs."

Yesterday, the Tribune led with a front page article entitled "Plate-Cover Crackdown." In it, the Tribune reporter Michael Gisick asked the question "are the devices really illegal?" The answer from city attorney Greg Wheeler was "we don't know... it hasn't been tested."

The Trib article seemed to trigger KKOB AM's afternoon drive time talk-show host Jim Villanucci. He spent the majority of his show talking about the plate cover enforcement and the underlying scam-era system noting that (among other things) traffic light timing is more effective at preventing intersection accidents than the photo enforcement scam-eras. In addition Mr. Villanucci read statistics that came from APD that showed an increase in overall accidents at photo enforced intersections in their first full year of operation.

Richard Edes, Villanuci's on-air sidekick and show producer, pointed out something that we've been saying for months... police officer's almost universally are opposed to the scam-eras. After 3 hours, the general consensus of both callers and hosts was that the system was about money and not safety.

Further underscoring Mr. Villanucci's argument that the scam-eras are about money and that yellow light timing has an impact on both accidents and revenue, is reporting (hat tip NewMexiKen):
Mesa [Arizona] has struggled with earning a significant profit from its program since November 2000 when the city increased the duration of the yellow warning signals at left-turn intersections from 3.0 to 4.0 seconds -- in violation of a Lockheed Martin IMS contract stipulation that mandated no timing improvements be made. As a result, red light violations dropped 72 percent at those intersections and never returned. The cameras lost significant amounts of money.
Today the Tribune is back at it again with a story about a class action lawsuit that aims to put an end to the scam-eras and force the city to refund all of the money collected from scam-era victims.

The lawsuit argues that the camera program conflicts with established state traffic law and sets up an illegitimate, quasi-legal hearing process for people who challenge their tickets.

"They've essentially set up a parallel court that has no legal standing," Sandoval said.

All of this activity in just a 24 hour period. How long will it take for the council and the Almighty Marty to get the point that for a whole host of reasons people don't like the scam-era system? Just in case you've forgotten the system's short comings, here's a partial list:
  • Due Process (nonexistent)
  • Accuracy (KOAT Employee Gary Williams pointed out the system's flaws.)
  • Scam-eras collect money - not about public safety
  • Revenue based enforcement (500 citations for plate-covers that aren't even illegal!)
  • Most police officers hate the system
To us this story and the issue that created it is not going away. In fact, it looks like supporters of the system (Mayor Chavez, Chief Schultz) are facing a rising tide of public opposition.

----- Eye Alert -----
Our Eyes are telling us that 770KKOB AM is promoting Bob Clark's morning show for Wednesday morning. Apparently, Mr. Clark's topic will be the red light scam-eras.

Up in Smoke

By now everyone has heard... starting Friday, no one will be allowed to smoke on city property either inside or outside (ABQ Journal - Subscription Required). We guess this has been coming for a long time now. The dangers of second hand smoke are well known and every politician is trying to one-up every other politician and grab some headlines. According to the Journal article, the mayor isn't even trying to hide the fact that the timing coincides with the new state smoking prohibition for restaurants and bars.
A quick disclaimer here... we're not a smoker. So this post is not about protecting our tobacco habit. We are however, concerned with individual liberty and personal responsibility - commodities that are increasingly in short supply.
(End Sidebar)
Freedom is the concept behind the founding of our country. The history of the United States is replete with examples of men and women giving their lives to protect that simple concept. We are the beneficiaries of their sacrifice.

Freedom is not a concept that stands alone. Responsibility is freedom's inseparable companion. When a person's responsibility is taken away, so too is their liberty.

Mayor Chavez unilaterally imposed a smoking ban on all city properties including outside spaces in order "to give you the initiative to quit." Is this really the mayor's responsibility and if it is whose freedom has he appropriated?

There's no doubt that the city is growing in power and authority. The mayor and the council continue to insert themselves into our everyday lives, assuming more and more responsibility. HEART Ordinances, cell phone bans, smoking bans, Big Box Ordinances, Red Light Scam-eras, even "Living Wage" laws all transfer responsibility from the individual to the state.

Our concern is simple... how much responsibility do we really want to place in government hands? How much of our freedom do we want to see go up in smoke?

Jun 11, 2007

Front Page News

The plate-cover crackdown that we've been telling you about made front page news this afternoon.
According to the Albuquerque Tribune, APD has written over 500 citations in the last few months to motorists that choose to protect their license plate and their rear-end with plate-covers. The story asks the question, "are they really illegal?"

Our research indicates that there is no direct language that outlaws plate covers. (Read our take here and here.) The Tribune article featuring your friendly neighborhood Eye, asks the question but Assistant City Attorney Greg Wheeler told the Trib, "It hasn't been tested. The law was clearly meant to apply to the human eye, but I think that it could evolve to include a camera."

Evolve?! What Mr. Wheeler apparently means, is that the city hopes that a judge will rule that a plate that restricts a license plates viewing angle to the height of a human is an obstruction. Or perhaps he hopes that the council will move to create an ordinance that protects the scam-era revenue.

Either way cracking down on license plate covers is clearly designed to protect revenue, not lives.

----- Eye Alert -----
If you're near a radio or reading this blog Monday afternoon tune into 770 KKOB. Jim Villanucci is ripping the scam-era system with data from a county source that indicates that accidents at photo enforced intersections have steadily increased since the system's installation. You can listen live at

Jun 10, 2007

Eye Poll: Tax Cut Before Jail

It was close all week with most Eye on Albuquerque readers voting to fork over $9 Million to the county for the Metropolitan Detention Center. Starting Friday, the numbers started to swing towards the January tax cut. When it was all over the nays outnumbered the yeas. With 111 votes in our unscientific poll, 50% of participants felt that the city should not give $9 Million to the county, 42% thought that the city should, 5% didn't know and 4% didn't care.

Frankly, we were surprised at how close this one was considering the tax increase already imposed by the county to pay for the jail. It does indicate that the public is always concerned with public safety and law enforcement in particular.

This week we've set our Eye Poll on the 11th floor. Let us know your opinion on how Mayor Martin Chavez is doing by voting in this week's Eye Poll.

Jun 8, 2007

You Don't Have to be Paris in Albuquerque

We first told you about the DWI stop of Ralph Ortega in a post from April 27th. Today, the Journal finally ran the story (Subscription Required) regarding allegations of "special conduct" for Ortega, who is a retired AFD Captain and the brother of Fire Chief Robert Ortega.

The short version of the incident is that Ralph Ortega was stopped for lane violations and suspicion of DWI. When it was determined that Mr. Ortega was most likely intoxicated DWI officer Bret White was called to handle field sobriety testing and Ortega's arrest. Enter the 5th floor...

Standard procedure dictates that the arresting officer books the offender and then takes them to the Prisoner Transfer Center downtown. The PTC then transports the prisoner out to the Metropolitan Detention Center. On the night of April 17th according to officer White's report, he was ordered to personally take Mr. Ortega to MDC.

Today's story featured the runaway bride-nabber herself, APD spokeswoman Trish Hoffman. Ms. Hoffman made a concerted effort to spin this in order to protect her bosses on the 5th floor. As a result she gave out some information that is both contradictory and misleading.

First the ridiculous... "We didn't want the fire chief's brother to be in danger at the PTC because of his position... You just never know what might happen to anyone in law enforcement or with a high-profile family member if the other inmates learn who he or she is." Danger?! Ms. Hoffman MUST be kidding. Firemen are probably the only city employees that are universally welcomed when they arrive on scene. Who's not happy to see firemen when their house is burning to the ground? Therefore, the likelihood of Mr. Ortega being in danger is pretty darn close to zero and certainly no higher than say a doctor or a lawyer. (Well, maybe a lawyer would be in danger, but they aren't generally accorded any special treatment.)

Next the blame shift... We are expected to believe that Chief Schultz gave no instructions as to the handling of a "high-profile case," AND that Ms. Hoffman took it upon herself to give instructions to officer White's sergeant to personally transport Mr. Ortega to MDC. Look, officer Hoffman may be famous but she doesn't have the rank or authority to ask anyone to violate standard procedure. Further, The Eyes have it that officer White's sergeant was never involved. Rather, it was the acting lieutenant of the Valley Command who notified officer White of the changed orders and that they came from the Chief.

The Misleading... In today's article officer Hoffman claims that the PTC was not in use on the night of Ortega's arrest, which is technically true... or at least half true. On Tuesday nights the PTC is funded by grant money which means it is only available for DWI offenders. Other offenders must be transported out to MDC by the arresting officer. Mr. Ortega was accused of DWI, so Ms. Hoffman was spinning the facts to make the reader draw the conclusion that Ortega could not have been transported by the PTC anyway.

The truth is officer White was so irritated by what he deemed special treatment, that he put the order in his report. His act served to protect him against being accused of deciding to give Mr. Ortega special treatment on his own, but it also left a record that the 5th floor has to defend.

To make matters worse, when the Journal got hold of officer White's report, they decided to try and spin their way out. There's an old adage that says that "it's not the crime, it's the cover-up stupid." [Ok, we added the stupid part.] It just goes to show you that you don't have to have millions of dollars and be named Paris to get special treatment in Albuquerque. And no... that's not a good thing.

-----Editors Note-----
Oops! We really do like the headline to this story. Unfortunately in our enthusiasm, we misspelled Paris not once but twice! The post has been corrected but those that subscribe by email undoubtedly are thinking "what the heck do they mean by pairs in Albuquerque?"

Biopark Vandalized - Again

We just found out that tanks at the BioPark have been vandalized... again. Back in April a field trip to the BioPark by students from John Adams Middle School left an indelible mark (or two) on the park's tanks (Subscription Required). The vandals were arrested and the city sued to recover $4,000 from each parent/guardian of the minors involved (Subscription Required).

According to our Eyes, the tanks have been struck again. Both the $1 MILLION shark tank and the $30,000 jellyfish tank were vandalized with graphitti and this time the vandals got away clean.
It seems that the security cameras that were installed to protect the tanks have been broken for some time. A fact that was called to the attention of DMD Security Manager Mark Shepherd some time ago.

We would think that Mr. Shepherd the Almighty's former bodyguard and retired APD officer, would have taken steps to remedy the situation after April's incident. After all, since the cameras were not operating, it was sheer luck that the John Adams Middle School vandals were caught.

Jun 7, 2007

While We Weren't Watching: Councilor Protection Act

While everyone was looking the other way Monday night - watching tax cuts and jail funding, the council acted to reduce its exposure to recall. Last year The Mayer (AKA Sally Mayer) faced a recall. This year disgruntled District 9 residents have put together a recall for their councilor, Don Harris.

The resolution (R-07-243) would make recall possible only in the case of "malfeasance or misfeasance" as determined by the city clerk, would up the up the required qualifying signatures to 33.33% of the total number of voters in the last regular election, and make a recall impossible in the last 6 months of a councilor's term. Currently, a recall election can be triggered by the signatures of 25% of the number of votes cast in the last election, can be triggered at anytime, and councilors can be recalled for any reason.

If you take a look at this legislation, it is specifically designed to prevent the type of recall that Councilor Harris is subject to. The current language makes him somewhat more vulnerable than the average councilor due to his runoff with Tina Cummins. In Councilor Harris' case a recall election requires only 922 qualified signatures because there were only 3,689 total votes cast in the runoff election, which was the election in which Harris won his seat.

If the signature requirement is changed from 25% of the total votes in the last "election of the officer whose recall is proposed" to "thirty-three and one third percent of the number of persons who voted in the last regular municipal election [emphasis added] for the position the official was elected," the signature requirement jumps to 2,806 signatures.

R-07-243 was the last item acted upon by the council last Monday night. A review of its legislative history reveals that the bill was introduced on Monday, quickly amended twice and passed by a vote of 8 to 1 with Councilors O'Malley, Mayer, Sanchez, Benton, Cadigan, Heinrich, Loy and Harris voting for, and (not surprisingly) Councilor Winter voting against.

The Eyes have it that these changes are actually the brainchild of none other than one Don Harris, who upon learning of his imminent recall effort wrote this charter amendment after learning that a simple ordinance change would not be enough to protect him. He has been shopping this amendment for some time and finally found a stooge... uh, sponsor with nothing to lose (Councilor Craig Loy - Who is not running for re-election).

It's important to note that there has NEVER been a successful recall of a city councilor, which means the current system provides adequate protection for councilors who will face opposition from one group or the other during their tenure. Councilors need to have enough protection to allow them to make judgments that are bound to be controversial. They should not be guaranteed a seat without fear of consequences.

In our opinion even voting for legislation like this is reason enough to recall a city councilor. In fact, two of the bill's supporters (The Mayer and Cadigan) have faced recall. Councilor Harris' involvement in writing this amendment has given his opposition yet another reason to throw him out.

Councilors serve at the pleasure of their respective constituents. They work for them, not the other way around. It's ironic that they are asking for a raise at the very time they are asking us to make sure that we cannot have them removed for displeasing us. Shame on the council for ramming this through in literally, the dead of night; and shame on us if we let them get away with it.

Jun 5, 2007

Officer of the Month?!

Our Eyes just told us that there was a special "Officer of the Month" from the Northeast Area Command for the month of May. What crime fighting skill did this officer (who shall remain nameless) demonstrate with such skill? What sort of villain ended up receiving the fruits of their misdeeds?

Captain Bill Henz decided that the award for "Officer of the Month" should go to an officer whose dedication to making sure that Marty's Scam-eras remain safe (and profitable), is unsurpassed. May's "Officer of the Month" following the directives from on high, cited 40 hardened driver's for... covering their behinds with the suddenly illegal license plate covers.

It wasn't rape, murder, or even armed robbery... covering license plates with covers that foil the red light Scam-eras and protect a drivers wallet. What's more, NO ONE seems to be able to point to a specific law ANYWHERE that makes these covers illegal. Yes... that includes the city's Code of Ordinances!

(A) It shall be unlawful for any person to park or to operate a motor vehicle on a roadway unless there is attached to the rear thereof, a license plate for the current license year, unless the state of issuance requires two license plates, in which case such plate shall be affixed to the vehicle as provided by law of the state of issuance; such license plate or plates to be maintained free of dirt, emblems, trailer hitches, or any other obstruction so that the color, state of issuance, years and license number or letters thereon are clearly visible.

(B) No person shall display upon a vehicle any registration evidence, registration plate, or permit not issued for such vehicle or not otherwise lawfully issued.

(C) No person shall display upon a vehicle a license plate altered from its original markings.

('74 Code, § 9-5-20.4) (Ord. 65-1974; Am. Ord. 7-2003)
Where in that language does the city ordinance 8-6-4 give authority to law enforcement to cite and/or confiscate offending plates? As long as your plate is "maintained free of dirt, emblems, trailer hitches, or any other obstruction so that the color, state of issuance, years and license number or letters thereon are clearly visible," you are not in violation of the city ordinance, period.

Our Eyes tell us that city attorneys are furiously making deals with those dastardly drivers who have been cited for the afore mentioned infraction, in order to keep the citation from going to court. The Eyes have it that the city will drop the charges if the accused agrees to remove the plate cover from their vehicle. Looks to us like the city would rather not have an independent judge make a ruling regarding the legality of the "enforcement" action.

APD Public Information Officer has maintained that the Scam-eras can see through such plate covering devices. Mayor Marty has assured us that the Scam-eras are all about public safety. In light of the determined effort to punish dastardly drivers for covering their @%$, we don't see how either could be true.

More importantly, don't Captain Henz, Chief Schultz, and the Almighty Marty, have better things to do... more important criminals to capture? We'd argue that license plate covers rank up there with j-walking as far as law enforcement priorities are concerned. Perhaps Captain Henz should consider tasking his officers with more important duties, as opposed to protecting Marty's sacred cash cow.

Eye Told You So

The Mayor lost and won. Monday night the city council overrode Marty's veto (ABQ Journal - Subscription Required). The taxpayers of Albuquerque will have to wait until July 1, 2008 to get their tax cut and Marty will be busy posturing as a man of the people for the next year.

Curiously, Mayor Chavez has now decided to impose some sort of accountability from Bernalillo County with regard to how the $9 MILLION appropriation is spent. We're the first to want accountability in government and from government, but exactly how is the mayor going to get more accountability from the county with less money and no operational control? It was after all, the mayor who decided terminate the joint operations agreement with the county (ABQ Journal - Subscription Required).

Meanwhile, the council won and lost. By overriding Mayor Marty's veto the council sent money to the county and imposed their will upon the 11th floor. That money is our money and it's bound to come back to haunt the councilors (O'Malley and Winter) in their upcoming re-election bids. In truth, it will hurt Councilor Winter the most since he presents himself as a fiscal conservative. However, it's unlikely that Pauline de' Pascal will be able to build a campaign on a single partial misstep, particularly against a two term incumbent.

Jun 4, 2007

In the Crosshairs - Councilor Harris Faces Recall?

We've been hearing the rumblings from District 9 for months now. A councilor with a seemingly unerring ability to alienate just about everyone has left some in District 9 longing for Tina Cummins and her bolero (ABQ Journal - Subscription Required). Now at least a few of his constituents have decided they would like to see the back of him (ABQ Journal - Subscription Required).

Councilor Harris was elected in a run-off election against incumbent councilor Tina Cummins. One of the primary complaints about the former councilor was that she was too aligned with the main man on the 11th floor, Mayor Martin Chavez. Harris, after wracking up debts in two successive elections almost immediately jumped on Marty's money train allowing the mayor to host a $500 a plate fundraiser in early 2006 to help pay off the afore mentioned campaign debts.

It looked to our Eyes that Mayor Marty had just bought himself a councilor and no doubt his highness thought so too. His honor was disabused of that notion when Councilor Harris voted against Marty's trolley. Of course the Mayor still had the necessary 6 votes to pass the Transportation Infrastructure Tax extension and true or not, many suspected that Harris was allowed to vote against the trolley in order to placate his more conservative constituents.

Meanwhile Councilor Harris has been busy making a name for himself with legislation aimed at everything from public comment to cell phone towers. In addition, he's irritated almost every neighborhood association in the city with his plan to re-write the city's neighborhood association recognition ordinance. They all believe that he's out there with his ad hoc committee and is determined to stick his nose into their associations.

Most recently, the councilor that couldn't step straight was featured in an ad that condemned him for voting against Marty's January 1 tax cut in favor of a July 1st, 2008 tax cut.

In short, Councilor Harris has been so inconsistent in his voting and his legislation that no one seems to trust him. That's a real problem for an elected official who is supposed to represent any group of people. Harris has become the George Costanza of Albuquerque politics.

Complicating matters for George... uh, Don, is the relatively small number of signatures needed to force a run-off. Just 922 valid signatures is all it would take according to the Journal and if the recall effort is well funded and organized it wouldn't be all that hard to get the required signatures in 60 days. Remember, that's just a couple of hundred more than were required for Harris to qualify for the ballot in the first place and our Eyes tell us that some of the people involved in the recent radio ad campaign are from Harris's District 9, so funding is probably not an issue.

To our knowledge, there has never been a city councilor recalled. Councilor Cadigan faced a recall shortly after his first election and last year Councilor Mayer survived a challenge. Will Councilor Harris survive? Who knows... but this could be the most winnable recall that we've seen.

If recall proponents are successful in their efforts to oust Harris, they had better remember that they will definitely get a councilor who is a card carrying member of the Party of Marty as his honor will be selecting their next councilor. One way or the other, the next couple of years will be interesting for District 9.

Jun 3, 2007

Polling the People

We're not the only ones polling these days. One of our Eyes let us know that they received a phone poll on Saturday. They weren't sure who paid for the poll but it sounded an awful lot like a poll from on high because it touched on all of Mayor Marty's pet projects. Questions included the downtown arena, a new downtown hotel, the 19th Century Streetcar, etc.

From what our Eye told us, the questions were often of a "push" nature and were designed to elicit favorable responses. Like the hotel question which we were told included a long explanation of how the hotel wouldn't cost the taxpayers.

We've got a better idea for a new downtown hotel... let developers bear the cost and the benefit of a new hotel if the market will support the venture. The very fact that they're polling on the subject means that the city has some plan afoot to use tax payer money in some fashion to support the it.

Eye Poll Results: Heinrich Scores Poorly

The results of our first Eye Poll are in and the numbers won't be good news for District 6 Councilor and Congressional hopeful Martin Heinrich. Granted this poll is not by any means scientific but Eye On Albuquerque readers gave the Councilor poor marks with only a 30% approval rating and a 43% disapproval rating - 10% of those polled said they didn't know and 16% indicated they didn't care.

If this poll is any indication, Councilor Heinrich faces an uphill battle if he wishes to unseat incumbent Heather Wilson in next year's 1st Congressional District race. Not only has Congresswoman Wilson shown herself to be a formidable campaigner, but she managed to hold on to a seat in the last election cycle despite what turned out to be a Democratic "wave" that unseated numerous Republicans and gave control of the House to the Democrats. Disapproval and apathy... not a way to start a campaign.

This week we're talking budget and more specifically the $9 MILLION gift to Bernalillo County.