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

Dec 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

The other evening as we sat around with family and friends old and new, we were reminded of what Christmas is all about. In these troubled economic times, it's easy to focus on what you can't do or are afraid to do.

Questions of the future plague our thoughts and dampen our spirits. Will the new year bring unemployment? Will our retirement be blown away by collapsing investments or hyper-inflation? Paralysis sets in as we focus on our fears.

The truth is that we are a resilient people, with a heritage of beating the odds. George Washington beat the odds in 1776 when he crossed the Delaware River in the rain sleet and ice only to win an important victory at Trenton New Jersey. The soldiers with Washington had nothing but rags to wear and little to eat. But they had each other and an enduring faith in their cause.

Christmas is a time for friends, family and faith. You may have decided not to spend as much this year. You may be worried about your job, your retirement, your future... but family, friends and faith aren't subject to economic booms or busts. They endure, and give you the courage to face the future with a clear purpose and optimism.

Those soldiers back in 1776 were bound by brotherhood and belief. As you visit with family and friends know that they are the true gifts of Christmas and will enable you to face the challenges of the new year.

Merry Christmas! May the season bring joy to you and yours no matter who you are or what beliefs bind you to the important people in your life.

Dec 17, 2008

Lessons in Freedom

For a country whose founding principle was liberty, it's amazing how often that very principle gets thrown in history's dustbin in the name of some greater good. Sometimes these transgressions are obvious - like rounding up Japanese Americans during World War II. Other times they are more insidious and subtle. Such is the case with most campaign finance and reporting laws.

Wednesday's Albuquerque Journal ran a story about a group of non-profit organizations who are suing the Secretary of State alleging that the state is curtailing their freedom of speech by requiring them to disclose a list of donors to their various organizations. These are the same non-profit organizations whose political activities were called into question by a number of incumbent Democratic officials who were defeated due to these non-profit's unlawful campaign activities (read it here).
Registering with the state would violate their First Amendment rights, states a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque.

The lawsuit was filed by New Mexico Youth Organized, which is an arm of the Center for Civic Policy; and Southwest Organizing Project.

The groups mailed out glossy fliers to voters earlier this year that cast a negative light on a group of mostly veteran incumbents. All but one legislator was up for re-election, and five of the eight targeted in the fliers were ultimately defeated at the polls.
The U.S. Supreme Court has held that money is a form of speech. The donations received by these affiliated non-profit political action committees could be and should be considered an expression of support by those who wrote the checks. The question is - does the State of New Mexico have the legal authority to require registration and the disclosure of the names of these political organizations' benefactors? The Secretary of State and the Attorney General seem to think so.

What concerns us is that should the courts rule in favor of SWOP and NMYO, they would by definition extend rights to non-profit political organizations that the rest of us don't enjoy. Why should a group of political operatives be able to hide their supporters beneath a non-profit corporate shell, when private corporations, grass roots organizations, and individuals are required to register with the state and to report the sources of their funding?

As is often the case, the Southwest Organizing Project and New Mexico Youth Organized are not fighting for free speech they're fighting for extended rights that benefit only their cause. In our opinion, you cannot separate the two. If campaign finance law requires the registration of political organizations and disclosure of donors and assuming that law is indeed constitutional, then it should apply to everyone. If on the other hand, New Mexico law is abridging the free speech rights of non-profit political organizations then it is also abridging the free speech rights of every organization and individual.
(Sidebar)
Don't even get us going on McCain/Feingold. If you want to know why Republicans stayed home this last election, look no further than this misguided attempt at keeping money out of elections. The result has been some of the most expensive elections in history and the rise of 527s.
(End Sidebar)
Freedom is an all encompassing concept that abhors special exceptions and favoritism. Each of us is guaranteed the right to free speech in all of its forms. Extended freedoms should not be conveyed upon a group simply because they file some paperwork with the IRS. If state law is a violation of anyone's free speech rights, then it's a violation of everyone's free speech rights. A narrow application of liberty is no different than tyranny.

Dec 15, 2008

Easy ID

We've long been concerned about providing drivers licenses to "undocumented aliens." It seems to us that the State of New Mexico is aiding and abetting the commission of a crime... that of being in this country illegally or should we say "undocumentedly."
Karim Shaaban Kassem Ibrahim, who is now facing charges of forgery and identity theft, came to the attention of the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department after he applied for a job at Talin Enterprises, a grocery store at Louisiana SE. He applied using the identity of Rami Al Nasa, an Egyptian man living legally in North Carolina.
We'll admit that when we read the name Karim Shaaban Kassem Ibrahim we were more than a little concerned that Ibrahim had more than a job at the Talin Market in mind when he assumed the identity of Rami Al Nasa. After all, it's not like Ibrahim made a run for the border and ended up here.

In fact with our history of being attacked by certain people from a certain part of the world, it would be less than prudent to ignore the possibility that someone might exploit our state's propensity to provide drivers licenses to anyone with a pulse for terrorist purposes. Fortunately for us, Rami Al Nasa was worried about protecting his identity even if the state is not worried about protecting us from the identity crime of others.
New Mexico is one of the states that don't require proof of U.S. citizenship to obtain a driver's license...

Al Nasa subscribes to a service that alerts him whenever a credit check is run in his name, and was alerted when Talin Enterprises ran such a check. He contacted the sheriff's department and said he had never applied for a job in New Mexico.
The fact is that the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department would never have known about the illegal use of Al Nasa's identity here in New Mexico if Al Nasa hadn't contacted them. The Legislature and the Governor in the infinite and suspect wisdom made it legal to provide identification regardless of legal status.

Our Eyes Behind the Badge tell us that they stop holders of these legal illegal IDs on a nightly basis. It's hard to believe that all of these folks are innocently trying to make their way regardless of their illegal status. It's more likely that at least a few of them have shall we say less than honorable intentions. With that in mind, is it really any surprise that Albuquerque is experiencing a crime wave led by gangs?
Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White said New Mexico's lax laws on driver's licenses are making the state a magnet for illegal immigrants.

"We attracted sex offenders when we didn't have a Megan's Law, and now we're attracting people who are here illegally because of how easy it is to get a driver's license," he said. "I would strongly urge the Legislature to revisit it to see if there should be some changes."
In some cases the blind eye that New Mexico turns towards identification verification aids a struggling immigrant simply yearning to breathe free. In others, it aids less honorable immigrants in their desire to do harm to the very people that the state is sworn to protect. In both cases, the State of New Mexico is aiding criminals in the commission of a crime... that of being in this country without permission.

Dec 14, 2008

Failure to Act

District Attorney Kari Brandenburg lived a charmed life... that is until this past election when challenger Lisa Torroco made an issue of the DA's judgment or lack thereof. In fact, the election revealed an alarming pattern of what appears to be erratic decisions and questionable calls.

The Almighty Alcalde got into the act this weekend criticizing Brandenburg for her penchant to plead repeat offender DWI cases.
"There has been a dramatic drop in the number of these (enhancements) being brought. They are being plea-bargained out. The end of that is that sentences are lenient and so people are committing ... these violent felonies with a modicum of impunity," Chávez said.

"That is simply not acceptable. You can't plea-bargain out habitual offender status."

But Brandenburg said the statistics released by the Mayor's Office are not valid and called Chavez's plan "insane."
DWI is certainly a problem but the DA's questionable calls extend beyond the field of intoxicated driving and right into homicide prosecution.

You may have heard or read a story about the Ngyuen brothers. They were accused of murdering 17 year old Aaron Ferrell in 2007. Our Eyes tell us that back in 2007 the Ngyuen brothers were present while there friend was involved in an altercation over a girl with the victim Aaron Ferrell at Mariposa Park in Taylor Ranch.

According to our Eyes The Ngyuen's friend wasn't faring so well so Linh and Tam Ngyuen went to their car and retrieved a 9mm handgun and returned to shoot Ferrell. The two continued to fire on bystanders as they retreated to their vehicle and even after driving off. Shell casings from the weapon lead from the scene of the shooting all the way back to the parking lot and out into the street.

When officers arrived, Ferrell was alive and managed to indicate to officers who had shot him. Later officers managed to get a positive ID from witnesses using a line-up.

Our Eyes insist that the investigation and identification of the Ngyuen brothers as suspects was done by the book and that APD handed the DA a solid case. Friday, the DA's office told Ferrell's family that they intend to drop murder and other charges against the pair.
The family told News 13 that prosecutors are recommending that the Nguyens only be charged with firing a gun from a moving vehicle.

"That's the only charge they feel they can get right now," Ferrell's cousin Carla Serna Darling said. "Basically all the other charges, the first degree murder charges, the tampering with evidence, the hiding the gun, they've all been dropped."
Last week the family spoke out in a heavily edited letter to the editor in the Albuquerque Journal.
OUR SON, Aaron, was killed on Aug. 30, 2007, in an altercation ... at Mariposa Park in Albuquerque. We met with prosecutor, Judith Faviell. ... We were told that in her professional opinion she has no case to prosecute ... because an adolescent on our son's side shot first.

We asked many questions and they were all answered with “self-defense.” We still have many questions and we feel that “self-defense” cannot be the only answer. We sincerely believe that the case involving Aaron's death should be decided by 12 jurors after they hear all facts and statements by witnesses. ...

We are not asking for favors. We are asking that all facts and witnesses be heard by 12 jurors, and that they be allowed to determine if the accused was acting in self-defense or if he is totally innocent. We ask this for peace of mind for both families.

MARY DUNEMAN The Family of Aaron Ferrell, Albuquerque
We don't know where this issue of self-defense came from. According to our Eyes the Ngyuen brothers left the fight, went to their car and retrieved a 9mm (possibly two) and returned to the fight where they shot Ferrell. There's absolutely zero chance that the Ngyuens can plead self-defense when they had ample opportunity to get in their car and leave the scene safely. By definition they were not in imminent danger, and therefore their claim of self-defense is specious at best.

What's worse is that Brandenburg's office isn't even willing to present the case to a grand jury. They'd rather let two alleged murderers walk than tie up the courts with a difficult case. On the other hand, Brandenburg is more than willing to prosecute a decorated Marine who never disengaged from his assailant and was forced to use his weapon after doing everything possible not to do so.

The DA's job is to prosecute crime - not to protect the system. The Ngyuens are of course innocent until proven otherwise, but it should be up to a jury to decide the issue not a DAs office that seems to be unwilling to face a trial that actually involves criminals.

Dec 11, 2008

Eye Wide Open

Some of you may have been wondering what has happened to your friendly neighborhood Eye. To put it simply we've been getting a little shut Eye. It's been a long couple of years with over 400 posts. It was simply time to step back, take a breath, and get ready for the years to come.

December 16th, 2006 was our first post. Our job was and continues to be to keep an Eye on what happens down at city hall. With the city heading into financial crisis and its leaders hell bent on building monuments to themselves, our job is far from complete.

We thank you for your years of readership and support. EyeOnAlbuquerque.com is a place where opinions can be voiced and inside information can be shared. Your participation is vital to our success. Thank you again for being here... and rest assured that The Eye is Wide Open.

Nov 19, 2008

Whispers in the City Halls

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the electoral waters... it's time to start ramping up for not one but TWO elections in 2009. February features the little noticed (except by teachers unions) APS School Board election and coming in October is the first publicly financed mayoral fiasco.

It may be early but our Eyes downtown have ears and they're starting to hear the whispers of ambition echoing through the halls of city power. There will be five council seats on the ballot and The Almighty Alcalde will either have to defend his 11th floor office or ride into the green sunset.

Our Eyes have it that The Almighty Alcalde is hoping to land a high paid gig with the Greens in Washington. Apparently the Greens on the national tree haven't heard about Marty's flirtations (some might say collusion) with the development community - a partnership that came to a screeching halt once Marty decided to run for Governor... uh, Senat... aw hell mayor looks good.

Marty's leftward lurch was no doubt an effort to appease his more liberal detractors. The move doesn't appear to have worked as that's the very group that damn near dragged Tom Udall out of his northern Congressional district to make him New Mexico's next Senator.

Never one to be out of options, Marty made sure that he wouldn't have to rely on the Greens for employment by suing the city that he runs to overturn the City Charter's prohibition on third terms. In one of the most bizarre displays of court room unity the plaintiff (Marty), the City (defense attorneys hired by the city run by Marty) and the Judge all agreed that term limits were unconstitutional under the State Constitution. So... The Almighty Alcade has the option of becoming His Honor for life.

Our Eyes tell us that Marty has been heard to say that if District 5 Councilor Michael Cadigan were to run then the Greens would have to find another Washington lobbyist. We think that the Green thing and the whole Candigan ploy is hhhhhhogwash. Marty's running because no one else wants him and the Greens have probably figured out by now that the "greening" of the Q is more about the gaining of political power for The Almighty Alcalde.

Which brings us to Councilor Cadigan... The District 5 two termer is looking to move up to the 11th Floor and probably figures that after three terms Marty fatigue has got to have set in. He's also no doubt banking on the recent rejections by Democrats of the current 11th floor occupant to give him a leg up with city Ds.

Meanwhile, there's another unlikely whisper careening through downtown halls - Councilor Sally Mayer. Councilor Mayer has been consistently supported by the development community and who knows... if the Ds are busy duking it out in the Duke City she might just pull an upset.

Meanwhile down in the council chambers there are the echoes of two past councilors who could be seeking a return to city hall. Interestingly, both are current County Commissioners whose terms would end in 2010. Our Eyes tell us that Alan Armijo and Michael Brasher may have designs on returning to their respective council districts.

Thankfully, the 2009 election season is still a few months off. But, 2009 promises to be an intriguing year none the less even if it begins with a few whispers and not the thunderous explosion of Senator Domenici's cataclysmic retirement.

Nov 17, 2008

Misleading

Sometimes you've got to wonder whether or not the Albuquerque Journal is handling public relations for APD's 5th Floor. Today's little timely story about APD response times comes just three days before Chief Ray Schultz faces an APOA no confidence vote. More disturbing is that this little piece of journalism leaves readers with the wrong idea.
Police have been getting to your door faster — but Police Chief Ray Schultz has been getting heat for that.

Schultz changed the work schedules for most officers in April, assigning them to work five days a week instead of four 10-hour days. The main reason, he said, was to improve response times.

As a result, officers have been vocal in opposition of the change, criticizing Schultz at staff meetings and on Internet blogs.
- ABQ Journal (Subscription)
(Pray tell what "Internet blogs" could they mean?!)
The Journal's police beat reporter, T.J. Wilham, would have you believe that since officers have gone to the new 5 day a week - 8 hour a day schedule that they are arriving on your doorstep faster than they used to.
Since 2002, response times have increased. Last year, on average, it took APD 8.9 minutes to get to top priority calls. It took an average of 24.5 minutes for all calls combined.
Since the new schedule was started, APD has been averaging 7.8 minutes for top priority calls and 15.2 minutes for all calls.
What Wilham doesn't tell you is that these average response times are from the time an officer is dispatched to the time they arrive on-scene. It absolutely does not mean that an officer will arrive 7.8 minutes from the time you call for help.

APD dispatch is kind of like a triage unit. They prioritize calls based on how dangerous the situation is to the caller and whether or not a crime is in progress. Dispatch holds lower priority calls and dispatches to high priority calls first. The problem is dispatch only has so many officers to work with. As a result, even Priority 1 calls stack waiting for officers to clear.

video
"Folks when I started this job [2]7 years ago, we were stacking calls. When Joe Bowdich started his job they were stacking calls. Who cares? Who cares if calls are waiting? I don't care if calls are holding."
As you can tell, Chief Schultz isn't overly concerned about waiting calls - just how long it takes from dispatch to arrival. Sure those numbers are important, but they're just part of the picture.

Our Eyes behind the badge tell us that the primary reason that the average dispatch time has been reduced is because the 5-8 schedule allowed Ray and Company to staff a 6th Area Command. That 1.1 minute reduction in "response time" is primarily due to geography. Officers simply don't have as far to go to reach their destinations.

You're probably thinking that the move to 5-8s could be considered a success - it isn't. Marty and Ray simply exchanged officer fatigue and morale for a minimal gain in response times that may have nothing to do with the schedule changes.

The move to 5-8s was a desperate move to conceal the fact that APD is understaffed - a situation that despite new contracts and advertising campaigns, The Almighty Alcalde and the 5th Floor have failed to rectify. The fact is calls are still stacking and people needing help are still in danger despite the Journal's misleading story and despite the Chief's misleading numbers.

----- Correction -----
We originally indicated that the move to 5-8s was to allow the staffing of a 5th area command. Ooops! We meant 6th area command. It has been corrected above.

Nov 16, 2008

Legacy and OPM

At a time when Congress, President Bush, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reed, and President-Elect Barack Obama are busy either spending $700 BILLION or asking for even more, Comrade, uh... Councilor Benton and Councilor O'Malley have the temerity to ask for another $400 MILLION to pay for an undersized arena with no anchor tenant at a time when we just approved a RailRoader tax and are generally afraid that we may not have a job come Monday.
(Sidebar)
Ok... that's probably the worst run-on sentence we've ever seen. Even we admit it's somewhat ridiculous. But, we're not asking for $400 MILLION for an un-needed arena when almost everyone else is worried about the next dollar they may, or may not be able to earn - that's truly ridiculous.
(End Sidebar)
Somehow, somewhere, the council came up with almost $1 MILLION to for a "feasability study" that looked at whether or not (or rather whether without the not) we all should cough up $400 MILLION for a new downtown arena.
Dale Lockett, president of the Albuquerque Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the city risks losing convention business without the project. The city already provides a roughly $1 million subsidy to the Albuquerque Convention Center, a consequence of not having enough hotel rooms for big conventions, he said.

"Cities after cities are lining up to do these projects," Lockett said. "It's our competition. ... We are in serious jeopardy of being completely out of the convention industry."
So, we're dumping $1 MILLION a year into the Convention Center, all because we don't have enough hotel rooms. Hmmm... Have you ever noticed that we have a somewhat large event every freaken year that's ten times the size of any convention we've ever seen? It's called the Balloon Fiesta and we seem to be able to handle that "convention."

There was a time when finding a room anywhere from Belen to Santa Fe during the Balloon Fiesta was near to impossible. However, the market provided and now we have all sorts of hotels all over town and a fair number of entrepreneurs who put their own homes up for rental - and it didn't cost taxpayers a dime. It's hard to believe that we don't have enough hotel rooms for a any convention that might be held in The Convention Center.

This sounds an awful lot like the AIG bailout... "we're in danger of being out of the convention business." Lockett's solution is for the city to go into the hospitality business. In other words we need to have another money pit to go with the Balloon Fiesta Museum, The Convention Center, and the Bio Park - all because we're "in danger of being out of the convention business." The government is too big to fail.
Benton also said a mail-in ballot might be the way to quickly get the issue before voters. Waiting until October might not work because the group that owns the First Baptist Church — part of the planned site — could sell it before then to someone else.

"The sooner we deal with this, the better," O'Malley said.
O'Malley and Benton's idea to have a "special" or "mail-in" election is nothing but a ploy to reduce turn out and tilt the odds in favor of a new city funded arena/hotel complex. They understand that a municipal election that includes the Mayor historically generates a larger turnout - a turnout that has repeatedly said "no" to raises and taxes not related to public safety.
October might not work because the group that owns the First Baptist Church — part of the planned site — could sell it before then to someone else.

"The sooner we deal with this, the better," O'Malley said.
At this point we're really stunned that anyone in government would ask for more money and higher taxes in order to build an arena and hotel complex that the city doesn't need. If the folks over at First Baptist Church decide to sell their property to another buyer before the general election they're probably doing "the Lord's work."

The arena isn't something we asked for and it's not something that we need. Spending other people's money on a project that can't possibly pay for itself is easy - particularly when you've just spent $700,000 on a marketing... feasability study that shockingly tells you to go ahead with the project despite an economic downturn.

What's hard is for elected officials to resist the temptation of paying for huge projects with our money in order to have some kind of legacy - some proof that they held office. Of course their legacy is built with Other People's Money.

Our first post-election Eye Poll concerns the Legacy that O'Malley and Comrade Benton seek to build. Arena yes or no... Don't forget to vote!

Nov 12, 2008

A Way Out

The fallout from last week's national election continues. While Democrats vie for positions on Congressional staffs and/or the Obama administration, Republicans have seen their crushed under the weight of Hurricane Obama. APD Chief Ray Schultz falls into that latter category.

According to our Eyes, the beleaguered chief had his sights set on a position on the White Congressional staff. Of course there's only one problem with Ray's plan - the White Congressional staff ended up being the Heinrich Congressional staff.

The Eyes have it that Schultz has become shall we say weary of leading New Mexico's largest police department. It's understandable that the chief would be looking for Congressional parachute considering the rumors of yet another APOA no confidence vote, increasingly tense relations with the Almighty Alcalde, and well... a bothersome little blog known by APD brass as "the site."

Schultz's tenure hasn't exactly been without controversy. He was responsible for bringing the RedFlex Scam-era system to our fair city. Property crime and violent crime have been on the rise. He has repeatedly failed to meet staffing goals. There are rumblings of yet another Evidence Room Scandal. And who can forget his move to 5-8s to um... "reduce response times."

It'll be interesting to see if the Chief finds another way out. He leads a department that by and large would like to see the back of him and works for the Almighty Alcalde who will show him the door if he becomes a political liability. Times are tough and we're not just talking the economy here.

Nov 4, 2008

Congratulations

We extend our congratulations to Senator, now President Elect Barack Obama. He is the result of years of hard work by countless Democrats and his unfailing eloquence. For once we truly hope that we are wrong and that Mr. Obama is more than he appears and deeper than his rhetoric.

Democrats will have the opportunity to lead with a House firmly in their control and Senate where they hold sway. The responsiblity for their governing for - good or ill - will be their own. Ultimately it's our responsiblity to hold them accountable and to remember their campaign, their promises, and this night.

For Republicans it's a time to rebuild, to re-engergize, to find their way. Unlike many pundits who keep claiming that Republicans lost because they were too conservative, we'd argue that Republicans lost because they lost their way. Republicans need to find the core values of limited government, lower taxes, lower spending, and liberty. They lost not because they were too conservative, but because they became too much like their opponents.

For now... congratulations President Elect Obama. Our grand experiment in democracy continues while we peacefully transfer power as we have for over 200 years.

Nov 3, 2008

Beware the Redeemer

History is replete with examples of men who have sold themselves as redeemers. People look to these leaders to restore their pride, save them from enemies, or assuage their guilt over a past sin. Desperation is the common thread. The more desperate or scared the public is, the more willing they are to look past clear indications of danger.

For the past eight years, Democrats have been beating the drums of fear and pointing the finger of blame. For 9/11 it was why didn't we connect the dots? Their demands resulted in the Patriot Act. Iraq was a heralded as a danger to the free world and developer of WMD's (which by the way they were - chemical weapons count) by both Republicans and Democrats. When we invaded, we were doomed to fail (Remember quagmire?). When we deposed Hussein (the dictator not the Senator) the drums beat failure because we hadn't captured the dictator that went to ground - quite literally.

Of course the saga continued with Democrats gleefully counting our honored dead and screaming for more troops. When we sent more troops as part of the surge, they screamed for their immediate departure. At every turn they were the purveyors of doom and fear preparing the way for an articulate man from Illinois to rise out of the fog of dirty Chicago politics - a redeemer to save us from war, a mortgage crisiss, and our past guilt.

Barack Obama was the perfect candidate to act as a redeemer. He undeniably has charm and charisma on a level never before seen in politics, and the ability to beguile an audience with a message of hope, while hiding a core of wealth redistribution, central government control, and associations with domestic terrorists.

Unfortunately, what began as politics as usual has effectively created a pervasive environment of fear - an environment that history shows can give rise to a despot in redeemers clothing. What concerns us is not Obama's skills, or even his terrifying belief in "economic justice," but the blind devotion he inspires in his followers.

In the 1930's another charismatic leader offered redemption to his people - redemption from an economy in shambles and a badly wounded national pride following a traumatic war. Like Obama this redeemer used the media to great effect even creating one of the most famous propaganda films of all time - Triumph des Willens.

Obama has sold himself as a redeemer in a time of economic trouble and eight years of negative propaganda from a party desperate to regain its political power. Now like the Germans of the 30's Obama's followers are ignoring what he has said and who he has associated with in favor of who they would like him to be.

We're not trying to say that Obama is the next great despot. He may be simply a misguided community organizer with uncommon communication skills propelled to national prominence through a series of dirty tricks and uncanny luck. However, Obama has positioned himself as a redeemer - a savior - which is incredibly dangerous when it inspires blind allegiance. Beware the Redeemer for he can bring damnation as quickly as salvation.

-----Update-----
We wrote the above post last night before we had seen what turns out to be a more complete analysis of what the Obama campaign and his handlers have been peddling. Like our post, Claude Benson makes comparisons to 1930's Germany.
Goebbels made famous the utility of the Big Lie. If a lie was big enough and told often enough, people would more easily accept it and themselves make it stick. Axelrod has made Obama’s entire history a Big Lie. Much of Obama’s biography, record, goals and intentions has been staged and structured to fit our wishes rather than our scrutiny. Axelrod has kept much of his history from his birth certificate, his true background, the funding possibly from the likes of an advisor to Saudi Prince Awaleed bin Tal for his Columbia and Harvard education, what he wrote at Harvard and elsewhere to his deep relationships with radical revolutionary Saul Alinsky, ACORN, Raila Odinga’s campaign, and others hidden from true independent clarification.
It's a great read and details how the public can be manipulated when the conditions are right and when a charismatic leader emerges. We'd urge you to read the complete post (here).

Some of the comments we have received tried to compare Regan to Obama. Regan was no doubt charismatic, but the major difference was that Regan ran a campaign based on reason that created hope for the future. Obama peddles undefined "change" and "hope" without reason. His followers believe what they want to believe despite his past and regardless of what he says.

Oct 31, 2008

Shenanigans

We're starting to get some reports of voting shenanigans. It seems that voters who have already requested an absentee ballot are turning up at voting sites in large numbers and are asking to vote. So far there's no problem.

The law provides that voters who have requested an absentee ballot may vote as long as they sign an affidavit declaring that they had not previously voted absentee. Instead of receiving a regular ballot those voters are supposed to receive a provisional ballot. It's then up to the clerk to verify whether or not those voters had already voted absentee. If their absentee vote had been received, the provisional ballot would be discarded.

The problem is that early voting sites are allowing these "absentee" voters to cast their vote on a regular ballot, thereby making it impossible to remove an illegally cast vote. Our Eyes tell us that the Presiding Judges had been instructed by the County Clerk to handle these voters using regular ballots and that even though they agreed that the state statute directed otherwise, they had no choice but to continue until they received instructions from the clerk's office.

We don't know whether this is some coordinated effort to poison the voter well, but Presiding Judges shouldn't need the clerk's approval to follow the law. We'd remind anyone thinking of stealing someone else's vote by voting more than once that it's a felony to vote multiple times.

Oct 29, 2008

Desperation or Dementia?

This late in any campaign things start getting strange particularly when an incumbent who has never been seriously challenged finds herself on the downside of an election. In Tuesday's Journal incumbent DA Kari Brandenburg commented on the fundraising disparity between herself and challenger Lisa Torraco. It seems that Torraco has outraised the incumbent by over $50,000.

Brandenburg went on to question some of Torraco's donations - specifically ones that the challenger for District Attorney received from eight bail bondsmen.

Brandenburg said she has never accepted contributions from bail bondsmen and calls doing so unethical."I would not take money from bondsmen. That is a clear conflict of interest," Brandenburg said. "(Torraco) has been out on the campaign trail promoting low bonds. That raises potential conflict.

"Is she going to be the law-and-order district attorney that wants what's best, or is she going to be promoting low bonds because she has support from the bail bondsmen?"
There are a few things that are just odd about that statement. First, the Journal reported that the total amount of the contributions to Torraco's campaign from all 8 bail bondsmen was $1,600. We don't know what the individual contributions were but that average is $200 each.

Second, how is accepting donations from bail bondsmen any different from accepting donations from attorneys? They both have criminals for clients and they both get paid for their services.
People who donated $1,000 or more to Brandenburg's campaign include attorneys Sam Bregman, Randi McGinn and Charlotte Rich; the law firm of Sanchez, Mowrer, & Desiderio; and physician James R. Shiveley.

More than $23,000 — nearly half — of Brandenburg's contributions came from attorneys. [emphasis added]

"It's clear I have support from a lot of attorneys," Brandenburg said. "They are familiar with the system and are in the position to understand the job I have done."
What's clear is that Brandenburg is trying to create the illusion of impropriety by trying to link Torraco to our local Dog the Bounty Hunters. As one of our Eyes pointed out today, if Torraco wants to lower bonds she wouldn't be doing the bail bondsmen any favors.

You see... Bail bondsmen are really a kind of insurance. Bondsmen put up the court ordered bond in exchange for certain personal and financial guarantees. In addition, they charge a fee - generally about 10% of the court ordered bond.

If the accused shows up, the bondsman keeps the fee and releases any financial guarantees made by the defendant or on the defendant's behalf. If the accused chooses to jump bail, the bondsman hires a bounty hunter to deliver the defendant to the court and collects on any financial guarantees. If the bounty hunter fails to find the fleeing felon, the bondsman is forced to fork over the court ordered bond - not something they are fond of doing.

The point here is lowering bonds are not in the best interests of bail bondsmen. A lower bond means a lower fee and believe it or not, these guys aren't running charities.

Which brings us back to the question - is it desperation or dementia? It's desperation if Brandenburg is simply making a ham fisted attempt to tie her challenger to one of the seedier industries in society. It's dementia if Brandenburg really believes that bondsmen want to see bonds reduced and would donate the astronomical sum of $200 in order to influence a potential DA. Hey, you decide. But after Brandenburg's comments about dancing in the office and root beer float day...

Something to Think About

This little presentation was sent to us... you might want to think about it before you vote.

Don't believe for a second that it couldn't happen here. Liberty once lost, can only be restored through great sacrifice and loss of life.

Oct 28, 2008

Endorsement: Torraco

We don't often agree with the Albuquerque Journal's Editorial Board. However, this time we find ourselves in complete agreement. Tuesday, the Journal officially endorsed Lisa Torroco to replace incumbent DA Kari Brandenburg.
Crime stories have been stealing the headlines in recent months, making it clear the district attorney is a key position in local government, and the race for the top prosecutor slot a critical question on the ballot.

The Journal endorses Lisa Torraco for the job.

Torraco, a Republican, says one reason she is running is because she sees resources squandered on cases that should not be prosecuted — resources that could be used to manage Bernalillo County's huge caseload more effectively, reducing delays and increasing the conviction rate.

Her candidacy is motivated by cases that shouldn't be prosecuted, but are. Charging DWI when breath tests fall below the presumed level of intoxication can often fall in that category. Torraco thinks there's plenty of work to be done at the .08 limit and above.

Worse is the injustice committed against a young man with an IQ of less than 65. He should not have lost 24 of the 32 months he spent in jail awaiting trial for murder, while all the DNA evidence pointed to another person who went unidentified until June.

Then there are cases that should go to trial but are plea bargained, she says, like the career criminal who, thanks in part to a deal, was adding to his list of homicide victims instead of being in custody.

And, in too many of the cases selected for trial, the conviction rate indicates prosecutors don't have the evidence — or the trial skills — to prevail. Torraco argues these examples are symptomatic of poor assessment of cases presented to the DA.

A member of the bar since 1991 who has worked on both sides of the criminal justice process and taught prosecution skills at the University of New Mexico, the challenger has experience.

Just as important, Lisa Torraco has the potential to shake up the District Attorney's Office.
The District Attorney's job is to protect the public... not to protect the system. Kari Brandenburg's obsession with her early plea program may have reduced the number of cases that judges and juries have to hear, but her inability to tell the difference between a first time offender and a serial killer have cost the lives of far too many. Lisa Torraco not only has the experience to prosecute criminals, but the will to see criminals kept safely away from their potential victims.

----- Correction -----
For some reason we just can't seem to spell Lisa Torraco's last name right or even the same way twice. We spell it with one R or two Cs, an O instead of an A - all in the same paragraph! We apologize to Ms. Torraco for the continued mutilation of her last name. We hope we have at least four years to get it right.

Oct 27, 2008

Eye Poll: Marks

Eye readers decisively chose incumbent PRC Commissioner Jason Marks in last week's unscientific Eye Poll (view it here). It's always hard to unseat an incumbent because name ID is generally the major factor. If Commissioner Cummins hadn't had his recent plumbing problems, we'd bet that this poll would have tilted in his favor.

There were relatively few participants with only 135 votes. That's unfortunate because the Public Regulatory Commission oversees everything from insurance to utility rates. They have more impact on your daily life than any other board or commission in the state.

The national election is down to the final week... What better way to drive you absolutely crazy than to ask for the 5,024,678th time who your going to vote for just one week from now? Yep, its a Presidential poll, but this time we're adding a companion poll. Don't forget to vote (twice)!

Oct 26, 2008

Associations

One of the problems we have with the Albuquerque Closed and Un-Ethical Elections Ordinance is that the election financing scheme created by the ordinance also creates an ideological iron curtain that effectively hides the groups supporting a candidate. It's important to know just who influences candidates for office on every level and it's even more critical on down ballot races. After all, it wasn't all that long ago that a certain candidate for President started his political career in the living room of an admitted and unrepentant domestic terrorist.

What we're saying is that a candidate's associations are important. They provide a clear indication of what one's true beliefs and/or positions really are regardless of what they say in TV spots, campaign literature, or in debates.

Martin Heinrich has been trying to sell the voters of the 1st Congressional District the idea that he's a moderate. The truth is that Martin Heinrich is one of the most liberal candidates ever to run for Congress in the 1st Congressional District. Look no further than his voting record and the legislation he sponsored while serving on the city council.
(Sidebar)
The City of Albuquerque's website is a great place to do some research. Go to http://cabq.legistar.com/legislation.aspx and search Heinrich to see all of the Legislation that the former councilor sponsored.
(End Sidebar)
By now, we all know that Heinrich has never held a job of consequence. Sure he served on the Albuquerque City Council. Sure he was an unregistered lobbyist (a violation of New Mexico law) for a number of groups that Heinrich has yet to reveal. Sure he operated a "consulting" business illegally. What we don't know - and what the Heinrich campaign would rather you not consider - is his association with Eli Il Young Lee.

If you'll remember, Lee is the target of a lawsuit alleging voter fraud. The lawsuit - filed by three Democrats - alleges that Lee used 501 c(3)s and 501 c(4)s to illegally influence the outcome of the spring primaries by spending some $180,000 in unreported campaign cash to benefit three candidates - Eric Griego, Tim Keller, and Eleanor Chavez.
Soltari Inc. specializes in strategic consulting and field operations for progressive political candidates, nonprofit organizations and small businesses. Whether you are running for office or advocating for an issue, Soltari Inc. will craft a winning strategy for your campaign. We can also coordinate your field operation, emphasizing the most effective form of voter contact -- live interaction, through doorknocking and phoning. Combining the science of research and data analysis with the art of persuasion and strategy, Soltari Inc. formed in September 2000 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The word Soltari comes from sol, the Spanish word for sun, and tari, Korean for bridge. We have a saying at Soltari - "our work speaks for itself."
-Soltari Website (recently pulled down)
Soltari was Lee's first foray into local politics. They're political business model was to recruit a far left candidate that was generally unknown to the public, raise their money, create their mailers, and run their campaign. Soltari was a one stop shop for ideologically pure leftist candidates. One of Soltari's first fair haired boys was none other than Martin Heinrich.

Lee and his Sotari crew snatched up the camp counselor and made him a city councilor back in 2003. That year they also managed to install Debbie O'Malley and Eric Griego in the council chambers.

Lee is now involved in a network of non-profits whose only objective is to see far left candidates put in office by any means necessary (read it here and here). A few months back Peter St. Cyr interviewed State Senator Shannon Robinson. Robinson makes some serious allegations against Lee's non-profits and their coordinated effort to throw him out of office. Listen to the full interview here.

What it comes down to is that Martin Heinrich is Eli Lee's creature. Lee created him and put him in a position to run for Congress. From this and other associations it's easy to determine what Martin Heinrich's positions really are.
The Iraq War - Withdrawal at any cost even if that cost is failure for our troops and chaos in the Middle East.

Taxes - Don't believe the ads. Heinrich has a history of raising taxes on everyone. There's nothing but campaign rhetoric to indicate otherwise. In fact, taxes reached their highest rates locally while Heinrich presided over the Albuquerque City Council.

The Bailout - Heinrich hasn't take an "official" position on the bailout but his support of government mandates like the city minimum wage and the $240 MILLION trolley lead one to believe that Heinrich is for more government control and using taxpayer money to pay for it. In other words... socialism.
When you're trying to figure out who to vote for, don't look at the ads, the mailers, or even the media. Find out who supports them, what they've done and why. Once you know these things you can make an intelligent choice - a choice based on associations. A choice based on who these candidates really are.

Oct 24, 2008

Special O-ccommodations

Looks like Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse-Oliver is getting ready to make some special accommodations for the Anointed One's Saturday rally. Our Eyes tell us that the clerk plans to increase the size of the early voting site from 25 booths to 70 booths to allow for the Obama acolytes to cast their votes. In addition, the clerk plans to expand the hours from the 10am to 6pm specified by state law to 9am to 8am - coincidentally overlapping the start of the Obama rally.

Long lines have been a problem this year at a number of early voting sites including the UNM site.
The University of New Mexico and the Northeast Heights locations — especially Integrity Plaza on Wyoming and Market Center on Lomas — have been the busiest. The South Valley and Downtown locations have been the lightest.
Understand we want everyone to have an opportunity to vote... ONCE. What we're concerned about is what appears to be the special accommodations being made for one candidate for office over another. To date the County Clerk has made no attempt to expand voting sites around the city to handle this year's heavy turnout. However, when an Obama rally comes to UNM's Johnson Field presumably drawing with it a large crowd of The One Named O's supporters - the clerk expands the size and hours of operation at the last minute of a polling site that's next door to the rally.

From our understanding of the law, Toulouse-Oliver has the discretion to increase the size of a polling place as long as it is not moved. However, state law explicitly determines the times of operation.
NMSA 1-6-5.7(A) Early voting may be done at an alternate location from 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, and 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Saturday through the Saturday immediately prior to the election.
By law, Toulouse-Oliver cannot extend the hours - or for that matter change them in any way.

The peaceful transition of power from one elected official to another - from one party to another - requires the public's faith in the accuracy of the tabulation and their ability to cast a vote and have it counted. To that end, even the appearance of partiality poisons the public's faith that the outcome of an election is based on the collective will of the people.

There's no way that an objective person can look at the last minute changes being made by the clerk to one polling site and believe that these changes are not politically motivated. Consistency breeds confidence and Toulouse-Oliver's actions are anything but.

We suspect that there has been pressure brought to bear on Toulouse-Oliver to make these special accommodations. After all, she's a Democrat whose husband works for the Governor who just so happens to have endorsed Obama. However, voters expect a clerk to act in a consistently and without regard to their party affiliation.

In short... The Bernalillo County Clerk should not be making changes to the times, place, or size of polling places based on the appearance schedules of either one of the candidates for President or their campaign schedule. Making O-commodations undermines the integrity of the election process by poisoning the faith that voters have in the process - a faith that has taken nearly 250 years to build.

----- Update -----
Our Eyes tell us that the Republican Party of New Mexico has agreed to the extension of hours and the expansion in the UNM polling site as long as all of the early voting sites have similarly expanded hours.

First and most importantly, the RPNM does not have the authority to allow the county clerk to violate the law. And while they may be patting themselves on the back for cutting a good deal, most voters won't know about the expanded voting hours and therefore their "good deal" will be worth very little to them.

Folks, we have laws for a reason. It's unconscionable that the clerk and the RPNM are colluding to violate the law for what they both see as a benefit - real or not.

Brandenburg: No Confidence

Yesterday, the membership of the Albuquerque Chicano Police Officers Association took a unanimous vote of no confidence in DA Kari Brandenburg.
To: Kari Brandenburg
From: Chicano Police Officers Association


Ms. Brandenburg:

In light of recent events, the membership of the Chicano Police Officers Association has been concerned with the leadership and prosecution of recent high profile cases by you as the Bernalillo County District Attorney. In response, the membership assembled at the October meeting approved a motion expressing a unanimous vote of No Confidence on you, Kari Brandenburg, as the District Attorney of the 2nd Judicial District in Bernalillo County.

If there are any questions regarding this matter, please contact any Chicano Police Officers Association board member.
-Email Release from the Albuquerque CPOA
If you're interested in what the rank and file APD officers feel... the CPOA Thursday vote should give you a good indication. Unlike the APOA, the CPOA does not negotiate with the city and is therefore not subject to the same political pressures that are an inextricable part of other law enforcement associations.

Oct 21, 2008

16 Reasons

We're beginning to understand just what the problem in the 2nd Judicial District Attorney's office is... The DA's primary concern is with preserving the system. Granted, our judicial system suffers from a chronic lack of funding and heavy case loads. However, that fact in and of itself does not justify moving criminals through the system as the main goal of "New Mexico's largest law firm."
At least 13 people sentenced to probation in the past five years have been charged with committing homicide while serving their sentences, according to a survey of court records.

Two of them have been charged with multiple killings while on probation, bringing the total number of deaths to 16.
Even more disturbing is that the DA didn't seem to know that so many of her sweet plea deals had ended up going sour.
"I'm surprised by that number," she said. "I would be interested to know what the circumstances are. Whenever something like that happens, I want to go back and say, 'What happened? How did we miss it?' "

Clifton Bloomfield is the poster child for bad pleas killing no less than four people while out on probation - the result of a plea deal that reduced a potential 40 years in prison to 200 days of community arrest. Yeah, that's what we thought.

To make matters worse, our Eyes tell us that Bloomfield's most recent plea that saves him from the needle and moves him out of state, actually sends him to Idaho to be closer to his Aryan Brotherhood cohorts. Bloomfield is allegedly bragging that he has committed 1o additional murders that authorities don't know anything about.

There's little doubt that extending plea bargains is part of what the DA does. However, Brandenburg makes the system her top priority while ignoring the safety of her constituents.

Moving criminals through the system places them right back in society endangering innocent people. Like it or not, incarceration is a far better solution. At the very least prisons keep criminals away from their victims and their potential victims.

There are as many as 16 people who lost their lives simply because the DA put the criminal justice process before our protection, 16 families who mourn the loss of their loved ones, and 16 reasons to send Brandenburg on her way.

Torroco

In our second poll of Eye readers, Candidate for 2nd Judicial District Attorney Lisa Torroco once again trounced her opponent, incumbent Kari Brandenburg, by 34 points. In our unscientific poll 31% preferred Kari Brandenburg, 65% Lisa Torroco, and 3% didn't know (view it here). The results mark a slight trend towards Brandenburg as Ms. Torroco received 71% of our readers support the last time around (view it here).

We've had a number of posts asking where law enforcement stand on this race. Our Eyes tell us that the rank and file everyday officer on the street is either voting for Torroco or against Brandenburg - despite the Brandenburg endorsement by their unions.

In the case of the APOA, the endorsement is determined by a board and not the rank and file. In addition the APOA's endorsement came way before anyone knew there was a for real DAs race. The FOP endorsement on the other hand was a recent event involving the membership of the Sheriff's Office. Our Eyes tell us that Brandenburg won by a razor thin 4 votes and that the endorsement meeting was well attended.

The bottom line here is that the incumbent DA is under siege by an under funded opponent and that by itself should give you pause. Brandenburg's performance in office should be judged by how well she has protected the public not by how she has reduced the burden on the judicial system.

To date we have virtually ignored the race for PRC. There are two candiates running for the position - incumbent Jason Marks (D) and challenger Tim Cummins (R). The Eyes have it that County Commisioner Cummins enjoys a slight lead over the incumbent, what say you? Don't forget to vote!

Oct 16, 2008

Manny Era Gone - The Patron System Lives On

The era of Manny Aragon has come to an end. The once all powerful Senate Pro Tem who ruled the Senate with an iron fist and sticky fingers, pled guilty to pocketing over $600,000 of taxpayer money (ABQ Journal - Subscription).

This was one of the cases that former U.S. Attorney David "I'm not in my officer right now, please leave a message" Iglesias was sitting on two years ago. This was one of the performance issues stupidly referred to by former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. This is one of the cases that didn't get moving until after Iglesias was sent packing... but we digress.

The patron system in New Mexico certainly lost a power player in yesterdays proceedings. Federal attorneys contend that the conviction sends a strong message to public officials who might be lining their pockets with public money. However, the deterrent effect is somewhat lessened by the fact that this case fell into the Fed's lap and without a civil court case where two contractors were fighting over company assets, Manny and company would have gotten away clean.
(Sidebar)
A note to Kari Brandenburg... This is how you plea bargain. The U.S. Attorney brought down Aragon's house of cards by flipping defendant after defendant. Unlike your "deal with the devil" the pleas entered into by the U.S. Attorney included agreements to testify against Aragon. Meanwhile two potentially innocent men sit in prison accused of killing Pak and Pung Yi. If you believe the two were involved your deal with Bloomfield should have included testimony.
(End Sidebar)
We have a dismal record prosecuting public corruption cases in New Mexico primarily because government has been dominated by one party for over 80 years. The pressure on elected officials to "go along to get along" is enormous. Particularly when they run in the same circles and count on each other's support to keep their jobs. Even honest officials don't want to cross someone as powerful as the former Senate Pro Tem was at the height of his power.

The fact is that although the Era of Manny is over, the fastest way to clean up the system is to wash out the players who use their political power for everything from the petty to the profitable. We can't count on the Feds to get lucky and we can't expect elected officials who play on the same team to prosecute their teammates. And so... the Patron System lives on.

Oct 15, 2008

$10 MILLION in the Hole

Everyone is starting to come up a little short. From banks to state governments the current economic situation is starting to take its toll. Wall Street got $700 BILLION, California is asking for $7 BILLION to cover a $15 BILLION shortfall, and no one knows how much Massachusetts wants from Uncle Sam's threadbare taxpayers.

Now right here in Eyeland, Bernalillo County is facing a $10 MILLION revenue shortfall. In a memo (read it here) to county officials, County Manager Thaddeus Lucero blames the shortfall on four things - a $3 to $5 MILLION drop in property tax collections as a result of foreclosures and inability to pay, a $3 to $5 MILLION drop in Gross Receipts, a $1.3 MILLION decline in Zoning, Building and Public works fees (a drop of 60%), and a $260,000 decline in motor vehicle fees and gas tax collections.

To offset the projected revenue shortfalls the County Manager recommends the following 6 actions:
1. Immediately begin intense quarterly budget reviews.
2. Cease the purchase of new vehicles until revenues are stabilized.
3. Cease all out-of-state travel that is not approved by the County Manager.
4. Implement a selective hiring freeze on all non-public safety positions.
5. Monitor all grants and contracts to ensure payment prior to contract expiration.
6. Immediately freeze the implementation of new programs.
We don't know about you, but that doesn't look like $10 MILLION to us and a couple of those - like items 1 and 5 - should be standard operating procedure. Unless county officials are spending extravagant amounts on out-of-state travel or buying Hummers for the Sheriff's Office, they're gonna' need to find some more cash.

If you'll remember we told you about the spending spree that the county has been on for the last four years - more than doubling county spending from $220 MILLION to $521 MILLION (read it here). And just last August the county not only voted to purchase a $42 MILLION palace for their royal... uh, selves, but sold the bonds in a lightning move to avoid those pesky voters.

Somethin' just aint right over at Bernalillo County. They've managed to dig themselves a gaping $10 MILLION hole and are trying to refill it using a hand shovel.

Oct 14, 2008

Kari in Wonderland

There's a point in every campaign where a candidate for office does something or reveals a piece of information so strange that you can't help but wonder about their sanity.
Brandenburg's office doesn't exactly fit the "Law & Order" mold.

She has several plush animals in her office that sing, including a bear rug and a deer head on the wall. She is known to dance to the animals as they break out with such tunes as "Sweet Home Alabama."
Huh? Dancing in her office while the deer and the bear rug play? Never mind that the DA's office has been a no show on voter fraud. Never mind Brandenburg's single minded obsession with putting the innocent behind bars. Never mind her plea before prosecute mentality. It's quite possible the District Attorney for the 2nd Judicial District is insane.
In the corner of her office is a large refrigerator. On top is a case of A&W Root Beer and inside the freezer are gallons of ice cream.

"I don't like soda," she says. "We were having root beer float day for everyone in the office."

Brandenburg prides herself on being able to improve morale. It was part of her platform when she first elected eight years ago.
What?! Hey, we like an occasional root beer float as much as the next Eye, but shouldn't one of our top law enforcement officials be more concerned about putting criminals in prison?

This is just bizarre and more than a little alarming. We've got a DA dancing in her office while her stuffed animals sing and serving up root beer floats while repeat offenders like Clifton Bloomfield are cut pleas and set loose on the public. It's like Alice... or at least Kari in Wonderland.

Terrible Job

Chief Schultz has never done well with Eye readers and last week's Eye Poll was no exception. 70% of readers felt that the unpopular chief doing either a not so good job or a terrible job, while only 20% felt he was doing either a good or excellent job. Those are not the kind of numbers that any politician or government official would like to see if they plan on staying in their job.

In our unscientific poll of 359 people, 13% felt the chief was doing an excellent job, 7% a good job, 8% a fair job, 13% a not so good job, 1% didn't know, and a whopping 53% thought that the chief was doing a terrible job (view the results here).

This week we take another look at the race for district attorney. There have been a lot of stories lately on the activities of incumbent DA Kari Brandenburg. We have a hard time believing that Torroco could improve upon the 70% that she received earlier, but most of the publicity hasn't been exactly flattering for Brandenburg (or her stuffed animals). But one thing is sure, the DA's race is now receiving the attention that it deserves. Don't forget to vote!

Oct 11, 2008

Questionable Judgement

After the arrest but before the courtroom District Attorney's are charged with making decisions about who will be prosecuted and who will not. We got our Eyes on the motion filed yesterday by alleged murderer Clifton Bloomfield... you know the one charging DA Kari Brandenburg with prosecutorial misconduct. It's interesting reading to say the least, but it all boils down to this claim:
The Statements Provided by Clifton Bloomfield were Provided in Furtherance of Plea Negotiations and are Barred from Disclosure by the Prosecution, yet some of the Contents were Leaked to the Media, in Violation of the Rules of Evidence and Professionalism.
-Liane Kerr, Attorney for Clifton Bloomfield (Request for Dismissal)
According to the filing, inadmissible and confidential information concerning three murders was leaked to the media in violation of a confidentiality agreement covering plea negotiations. Further, Kerr's motion alleges that Brandenburg kept changing the terms of the plea agreement.

We all know that District Attorney Brandenburg has a history of heading straight to a plea bargain - do not pass a judge, do not see a jury. But Clifton Bloomfield is suspected of as many as SIX MURDERS - at least two of which have DNA evidence linking him to the killings. If Bloomfield is guilty of killing even one person - he shouldn't be in prison he should be under it.

We'd argue that it's her job to try the case not to plead it - particularly when the accused has such a long criminal record and most people would consider him nothing less than a serial killer. There's little doubt that Clifton Bloomfield is a danger to society and should be permanently removed from society. In addition, we'd argue that he's the type of career criminal that the death penalty was meant for.

Now, because a DA in a hotly contested election leaks information to the press there's a possibility that a serial murderer could go free. It reminds us of another DA in another jurisdiction using a racially charged rape case as a vehicle to victory.

Brandenburg may even be playing fast and loose with the facts in order to save her political career. In a recent New Mexico Bar Association Forum she made two claims that our Eyes tell us were not factual regarding the Elton John Richard case. The first that the fleeing felon Daniel Romero was shot in the back and the second was that before being shot he was yelling "put down the gun."



You'll notice in the video that Brandenburg uses "back" and "under the arm" interchangeably. With all due respect there's a huge difference. If Romero was shot in the back he was fleeing. If on the other hand he was shot under the arm, then it's far more likely that Romero was lunging for Richard at the time he was shot.

The other problem with Brandenburg's statement at the Bar Association Forum was the claim that Romero was yelling "put down the gun." There were no witnesses at the scene of the shooting that could have heard any statements by either party. Brandenburg seems to be playing a game of spin the facts to make them fit her actions in order to justify prosecuting a Marine whose actions made us all safer.

Challenger Lisa Torroco made the argument that if the evidence showed that Richard chased Romero a quarter of a mile and shot him in the back - Richard should have been charged with 1st degree murder. On the other hand, if Richard chased Romero for a quarter of a mile attempting to detain the felon and shot him under the arm defending himself, then the case against the former Marine should have been dropped.

Whether it's the case of mentally retarded Robert Gonzales who sat in jail for 3 years for the murder of an 11 year old girl despite exculpatory forensic evidence, the case of a decorated Marine defending himself and his family, or the case of an alleged serial murderer (subscription) who could be set free due to questionable actions by the DA herself, Brandenburg's head-long rush for an easy conviction is punishing the innocent and endangering the lives of all of those who reside in the 2nd Judicial District. Questionable judgment? Absolutely.

----- Update ------
Yesterday, Clifton Bloomfield cut a deal with the DA's office and his attorney withdrew her motion to dismiss. In the deal, Bloomfield admitted to killing five of the six people he was linked to murdering (ABQ Journal - Subsription).

DA Brandenburg called it a "deal with the devil," and in this case we agree. The question remains, if Bloomfield did it why are Lee and Rowley still in jail? If Lee and Rowley were part of any of the six murders, why didn't the plea agreement include testimony against the pair? APD announced there would be more arrests next week, if that's the case we're talking a real criminal enterprise here.

If Lee and Rowley were involved, they need to have a date with a needle. If holding the two and promising more arrests is a ploy aimed at job security then the DA is playing with Constitutional fire that could burn her even if she manages to hang on to her job.

----- Correction -----
We initially named a Richard Gomez as the mentally retarded man accused of rape and murder. Thanks to a reader who sent us an email correcting our mistake. The accused was Robert Gonzales. It has been corrected above.

Oct 9, 2008

Principle

From time to time our vocation gets in the way of our avocation. In fact, we haven't even had the opportunity to watch this week's Presidential Debate. Don't worry, we have it tucked away on TIVO and will be reviewing both candidates performances for ourself.

Apparently, John McCain brought up the idea of adjusting principle amounts for "toxic" loans purchased by the government under the bailout bill. We've been challenged by our readers over the issue and rightly so. Most of the comments went something like this one:
Eye are you planning on ever addressing the fact that McCain directly proposed adjusting mortgage principals to match current market values during the second debate? Do you actually care about this issue or are you just casting about for things to attack Obama/Biden on?

It must make you feel pretty dumb when you go out on a limb to write an attack piece in support of your candidate and then your candidate comes out in favor of and even more extreme version of what you attacked his opponents for, doesn't it?
It's a fair criticism... sort of. The fact is we don't care which candidate or party supports readjusting the principle value of a loan whether that loan is "toxic" or not. Wealth redistribution is wealth redistribution regardless of the party proposing it and regardless of the reasoning behind the move. It's immoral and it's wrong.
(Sidebar)
You'll note that we haven't been blaming either party for the current mortgage debacle. The fact is they both had a hand in Fannie and Freddy's irresponsible trade in "affordable housing" loans - loans that were made to people who could never repay them.

Whether it was President Bush and his "culture of ownership" or Jimmy Carter's affirmative action for loans - government policies directly harmed the financial markets and all of those who were given those "toxic" mortgages.
(End Sidebar)
If the government purchases a "toxic" loan at full value and then lowers the principle, tax payers are giving the mortgage holder not only the difference in principle but the difference in the interest that would have been collected over the life of the loan. To the taxpayer it's an immediate loss followed by a long-term earnings loss - all with the stroke of a politician's pen.

This is the type of "maverick" crap that drives us crazy. McCain is consistently inconsistent and a good portion of the time he betrays his own party in the process. Democrats and Independents have always loved him for it - while conservatives are busy pulling the knife(s) from their backs.

This isn't the first time that we've been on the sharp end of one of McCain's knifes and we're quite sure that it won't be the last. However, McCain's failings don't make Obama fit to be President. Wealth redistribution through government spending and regulation are at the core of Obama's philosophy (or at least at the core of whoever it is that's pulling his strings).
We're going to have to drag Senator McCain over the finish line, and then deal with what he does in the Oval Office. We have to save the country from Obama, and then save it (and the Republican Party) from whoever McCain puts in his cabinet. We're going to have to do it one step at a time. Do not throw in the towel.
If you want "maverick" - McCain is your choice. If you want limited government, restrained spending, and personal freedom - McCain is your only choice despite his propensity to betray each of those principles from time to time.

Our principles on the other hand, will not change. Biden was wrong when proposed resetting principle values. McCain was wrong when he proposed doing the same.

For now it's more important that we save the country and ourselves from a man who would make the biggest corporation in the world, larger, more wasteful, and more intrusive - while taking our money, our liberty, and endangering our lives. Without doubt that man is Barack Hussein Obama - an anathema to liberty and prosperity.

Oct 6, 2008

Eye Poll: No Bailout

Eye readers were overwhelmingly opposed to bailing out Wall Street. Last week's unscientific poll had 69% of Eye readers saying no way to a bailout, 22% absolutely supported the move, 8% didn't know, and another 1% didn't care (see the results here).

Congress passed the plan that our readers so overwhelmingly rejected on Friday of last week. The pork infested bailout was supposed to be good news to the markets, but so far today we've seen the Dow off over 600 points. Pundits and politicians will have us believe that the market hasn't seen the taxpayer moolah and won't for a couple of months yet therefore the bailout isn't reflected in today's selloff.

Perhaps Wall Street has figured out that all the bailout does is transfer bad debt from financial institutions to government institutions. Instead of having financial institutions collapse we're placing a long-term burden on taxpayers at a time when the Baby Boom Bomb is getting ready to explode. Of course, what is $700 BILLION compared to the TRILLIONS of dollars the social security debacle will cost all of us.

Last week's post on the APD Citywide briefing (read it here) incited a number of passionate responses. It got us thinking about the chief's job performance and whether or not you approve. So that's this week's Eye Poll. Don't forget to vote!

Oct 5, 2008

Obamination: Theft As A Policy

The policies of wealth redistribution and market control are and have been the foundation of Democratic economic thought since FDR and The Great Depression. Progressive taxation is one of the vehicles for transferring money from producers to non-producers.

One of our readers pointed out a comment by Senator Biden in last week's Vice Presidential debate that called for extending the authority of government to not only buy up toxic assets but to reset the value of the principle owed. This isn't the first time we've recently heard Democratic leaders talking about changing principle values. It's predictable really and just an extension of the core philosophy of Progressive thought.

The reasoning behind the move is to adjust principle values for properties that were bought at higher market values to current market conditions in order to protect those who are "upside down" in their homes. In other words, these property owners are in a situation where they owe more than the property is worth.
(Sidebar)
Over the past few weeks the concept of a free market has taken somewhat of a beating. The fact is that we are the market. Our freedom to negotiate the exchange of goods or services is a foundational part of our individual liberty. When we lose the freedom of exchange we lose the freedom to be rewarded for our achievements.
(End Sidebar)
It's the type of policy that warms the cockles of most Progressive's hearts. But it's also the type of dangerous policy that - despite the $700 BILLION Bailout and Pork-fest passed by Congress - would ultimately make money harder for home buyers to get.

Say for example, you and your neighbor engage in a voluntary transaction where you loan your lawn mower and your weed whacker to them. The neighbor agrees not only to repay (return) your lawn mower and weed whacker but to refill their gas tanks and provide you with an additional gallon of gas.

The lawn mower and weed whacker are the principle, the gas is the interest. Along comes Barrack Hussein O'Biden who decide that the extra gas is really asking for too much. In addition, your neighbor who can't afford to maintain their lawn really needs your weed whacker to help them. So the O'Biden boys change the terms of your agreement forgiving them the additional gallon of gas and allowing your neighbor to keep your weed whacker.

What do you think will happen the next time your neighbor shows up on your doorstep to borrow something? That's right... you're not gonna' give him the time of day fearing the O'Biden boys will show up and make you pay for it.

Government intervention in a private transaction never benefits either party. The lender loses money and stops lending. The borrower ultimately ends up unable to borrow what they need. The only "winner" is the politician who convinces the borrower that they're getting something for free and that their benefactor is the intervening politician.

In addition, Obama and Biden are hawking a "progressive" tax scheme that they claim only raises taxes on those rich people who make over $250,000 a year. Like the O'Biden idea of allowing the government to reset principle amounts, this Robin Hood tax policy is appealing until you take a look at who actually pays.

Who are these evil "rich people" that should be required to pay more of their earnings? As you drive around town take a look at all of those local businesses that line the major streets. They're hardware stores, lock smiths, beauty salons, pet groomeries, and restaurants. These are your friends and neighbors that have invested their money, time, sweat, and tears in a business that they believe in. These are the people that make Albuquerque unique - not the big boxes, department stores, and chain restaurants that can be found in any city anywhere in the country. And these are the very people that O'Biden propose to increase taxes on.

When faced with increased taxes small businesses look at the increase as an increase in the cost of doing business. Their only choices are to absorb the increased cost of doing business, increase prices to their customers, or go out of business. So you see, the middle class - those who Obama and crew claim to be protecting - really face higher prices or the loss of goods or services.

If that sounds familiar that's because it's no different that the lender who makes a contract with a borrower to lend a specific amount of money for a set amount of profit who has both the profit and the amount to be repaid arbitrarily set by some politician.

You'll hear The Anointed One and his chief acolyte Biden talking about fairness. What is fair about forcing someone whose hard work earns them an amount of wealth that is in excess of some arbitrary line? What is fair about changing the terms of a freely and legally negotiated contract?

What Obama proposes is no different than the local hoodlum stealing your wallet at knifepoint. Make no mistake, if Obama becomes President he will work to take from those who have earned in order to give to those who haven't. The middle class will pay for that redistribution through higher prices for goods and services, and shortages caused by small businesses that are unable to absorb Obama's small business hold-up.

Democratic leaders have long advocated this type of theft as a policy - stealing from one group to give to another in exchange for political power. In this way (as in many others) Obama isn't change - he's the logical result of class warfare politics, the stock and trade of the Democratic Party since the '30's.

We don't believe that your everyday Democrat truly believes that it's right to steal. We believe that they're good people who want to see everyone succeed. The problem is success cannot be given, it has to be earned. And while there's little doubt that Republicans lost their way... It is certain that an Obama Presidency would be a gigantic leap toward more government, more taxes, and less liberty.

Oct 2, 2008

Pale-in Comparison

We just finished watching the debate... you know the one, between the mocked Sarah Palin and Senator Joe Biden. We wish that we could have been as excited about the last debate between The Anointed One and John McCain, but really there wasn't anything all that exciting about a stodgy senator and a stuffed suit. Both were predictable and both were infuriating for different reasons.

Tonight's debate couldn't have been better prepared for a Palin victory. What made it all the sweeter was all of the prep work was done not by the McCain campaign "lowering expectations" but by the irrational hatred of John McCain's running mate Sara Palin.

The far left - frothing at the mouth - spent the last few weeks trying to turn the Governor from Alaska into the idiot sister of the village idiot. They were wrong then and tonight they were proved wrong once again. Sarah Palin did a credible job representing her ticket and herself.

To be fair, Senator Joe Biden didn't do a bad job he just didn't do anything to distinguish himself. Biden did exactly what people expected. He was smooth, he was congenial, he came off knowledgeable, but all of those things are expected from a thirty year U.S. Senator.

Meanwhile, Biden's opponent looked the public directly in the eye and told them about her core values. There was no condescension or superiority, there was simple expression and acceptance. She showed who she was, and she was loyal to her ticket.

Sarah Palin's energy and her ability to be herself is her strength - she showed that tonight. The contest left Senator Biden pale in comparison.