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

Sep 30, 2008

Citywide - Who Cares?

Every year or so, APD holds a citywide briefing for each shift. The briefing is intended to address issues that concern the 5th Floor and to allow officers to ask Chief Schultz some direct questions. The briefings are long and apparently boring since Deputy Director Bowdich and Deputy Chief Calloway were spotted napping during this latest event.

The most recent briefing was held September 12th. Chief Schultz told officers how wonderful the department was and officers queried the chief on issues that concern them like the dangerously slow Tiburon system. Turns out the Tiburon computer aided dispatch or CAD system requires a lot more bandwidth and computing power than APD currently has available (read about it here). Oops!
(Sidebar)
You'd think that APD would hire someone to find out whether or not the existing infrastructure is compatible with the new CAD system. Information is critical for officers not only when protecting the public but also in order to protect themselves.
(End Sidebar)
Of course the Chief and company promised that the department was working furiously to replace obsolete computers and acquire the necessary bandwidth necessary to operate the system properly. We're not sure that all the bandwidth in the world and new computers for everybody would fix some of the systemic problems inherent to the system. But at this point one thing is sure, the system doesn't work well and is putting officers in danger.

The other elephant in the room of 200 or so officers was of course the move to the 5/8 schedule (5 days a week/8 hours per day - read about it here). Graveyard officers are paying a particularly high price due to the sleep deprivation caused by mandatory court appearances in their "off" hours. The issue was raised a couple of times the first questioner saying that 5/8s "suck." (In case you haven't noticed, most officers are pretty direct.) Chief Schultz brushed off the comment claiming that the move had shaved a whole minute off response times.

The second time the hated schedule was brought up; it was in connection with calls waiting. It's not uncommon for calls to be waiting for over 90 minutes. Our Eyes tell us that even domestic violence calls can wait up to an hour. Chief Schultz basically responded "who cares."

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."
- Chief Ray Schultz, September 12, 2008 Citywide Briefing
We can tell you who does care... each and every one of the citizens who called their police department needing help, each and every victim of a crime, and each and every person whose life is in jeapordy. These are the people who care. These are the people represented by every waiting call. And these are the people who each and every officer - including the Chief of Police - is sworn to protect.

----- Update -----
The volume on the original audio clip was a little low. So... using a little Eye magic, we turned up the volume a bit to make it a little easier to understand.

Sep 28, 2008

White

Last week's Eye Poll took up the 1st Congressional District race between Sheriff Darren White and former Councilor Martin Heinrich. In this poll Sheriff White extended his lead over the former councilor by two points resulting in a 16 point lead. 57% of Eye readers preferred Darren White, 41% Martin Heinrich, and 1% didn't know (read this week's poll here).

Several weeks ago we ran the same poll with similar results. Sheriff White led that poll by 14 points with 210 votes registered. Last week's poll registered 50% more votes with only 4 voters undecided (view the previous poll here).

So what's the significance? The 1st Congressional District race is certainly attracting more attention and at least with Eye readers, their choices seem to be already made. In the final analysis, this race will come down to how well each candidate gets their supporters to the polls. A large Obama wave would certainly help Heinrich, but Democratic waves have broken on the rocks of the 1st CD before.

This week we'll take a look at the Wall Street bailout. As you might have surmised, we have serious reservations about the ability of politicians (Republican or Democrat) to effectively fix a situation that they are largely responsible for. We'd like to know what you think about Washington's willingness to spend HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS of our tax dollars to buy up loans that shouldn't have been issued in the first place. Don't forget to vote!

Sep 24, 2008

Are We Learning Anything?

On this site you'll read on a regular basis our views on liberty and government interference in the market. A free market based on two parties mutually agreeing to provide goods and/or services to one another for a mutually agreed upon compensation does not include a third party controlling or artificially setting the conditions for the exchange.

Our current financial crisis was caused by a third party setting artificial conditions in the market place that ultimately weren't in the best interests of either of the original parties. Of course the third party we're talking about here is the federal government and the politicians that set policy based not on the long term financial health of lenders and borrowers, but on their own short term political health.

Thomas Sowell calls it stage one thinking - the concept that politicians generally think no further than their next election. As a result they're reluctant to head-off a crisis that won't occur until well after the next election. The looming social security crisis is a perfect example of an impending catastrophe that elected officials will not act to avert.

The simple explanation of the current situation and how we arrived here is that politicians interfered in the market place through the quasi-private Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac organizations making it profitable to lend money to people who could not afford to repay the loan. The government backed Freddie and Fannie bought loans from lenders that gave loans to people that should not have them. Where there's a guaranteed sale someone will come along with a product to sell.




To make matters worse, interest only loans were being handed out like candy on Halloween. These loans were sold to people as a way to get into a bigger home for a payment that they could afford. The scheme worked fine as long as property values continued to rise. When values leveled off and then fell precipitously, property owners and the financial institutions holding the note were upside down.

Now we have politicians trying to decide whether or not to spend close to a TRILLION of our tax dollars to fix the mess that they created in the first place. The lesson to be learned here is that quasi-government entities run by political appointees with near limitless financial power have no place in a free market.

Political interference created this mess it's insane to believe that increased government involvement will be the long-term solution - mainly because a good portion of the politicians running the government aren't thinking beyond November. Our fear is that we haven't learned anything and that this whole experience will result in a vast expansion of the federal government into a market that is becoming less and less free.

KNME Debate Back On

We received word that the on-again off-again KNME televised debate between DA Kari Brandenburg and challenger Lisa Torraco is back on. Kevin McDonald over at KNME told us via email that the debate will be taped Sunday, October 19th at 10:00 am and will air the following Friday, October 24th at 7pm. McDonald also told us that he plans to post the debate at NewMexicoInFocus.org as soon as possible after the taping but before the program airs the following night.

We still think the Brandenburg folks are trying to keep their candidate sealed for as long as possible, but at least there will be some opportunity for the voters of the 2nd Judicial District to see the two candidates before they cast their votes.

----- Correction ------
We really ought to consult our calendar before posting. The debate will be taped on Sunday not Thursday as originally posted. Keven McDonald sent over an email setting us straight. The debate will be posted for nearly a week before the airdate. Thanks for the correction!

The Bite Heard 'Round the World!

Ok... so maybe we got a little carried away with the title. It's hard to make anything grandiose out of a dog bite case. But in this case, it may have brought attention to a District Attorney's race where publicity has been sorely lacking.

Two years ago, District Attorney Brandenburg's cute and cuddly little K-9 bit one of her neighbors -Elaine Hazelrigg- on the face causing some bleeding and a chipped tooth. When Animal Control officers arrived they found that the DA's pooch was an illegal! Yep, Brandenburg's perp pet was unlicensed and found not to be current on their rabies.
Hazelrigg, who lives on a street of high-end homes, said she decided to sue Brandenburg after the DA denied fault for her injuries and refused to pay her medical and dental expenses.

"There was no remorse whatsoever. Zero," she said. "I wasn't in it for the money."
As happens in many civil suits, the case was eventually settled and the two parties went on their way. So far, there's really nothing particularly remarkable about the case. In fact, the only thing that is remarkable about the case is that Brandenburg and her attorney asked that the case be sealed - and the court helpfully obliged.
Attorney James Johansen, who represented Brandenburg in the suit, said no. He said the case was sealed because of concerns by the DA that file documents revealed the location of her home.

"There has to be a balance here in protecting public officials and letting the public know what officials are doing in their private lives," Johansen said.

But Brandenburg's home address is easily and widely available from public sources. [emphasis added]
That last bit is the problem. If Brandenburg's address is readily available then sealing the record is unnecessary and unwarranted.
...Don Kochersberger, a lawyer for Hazelrigg, said one document in the case file — a summons issued to Brandenburg — had previously been sealed because it disclosed the DA's home address.
This wasn't a nasty divorce where very personal and embarrassing details about the sex lives and personal habits of the contestants find their way into the public record. Without doubt there are times when sealing a case is both appropriate and necessary.
(Sidebar)
You'll no doubt remember an infamous child custody case where the alleged sexual habits of a candidate for U.S. Senate were made public after the Chicago Tribune sued in California for the release of those sealed records. The improper release of those records resulted in Jack Ryan ex-husband of actress Jerri Ryan withdrawing from the race a mere 3 months before the election and Barrack Hussein Obama becoming the Junior Senator from Illinois.
(End Sidebar)
In the Brandenburg Bite case, it appears that the court had more options than to seal the entire case. Paperwork that included the DA's home address had already been sealed so the only real reason to seal the case would be to avoid public scrutiny.

Folks, most of the time the cover-up is what gets you into trouble. Is it important that DA Brandenburg was engaged in a civil contest with her neighbor? Was it important that the licensing and vaccination of her dog had lapsed? Generally speaking... No. There probably isn't a pet owner anywhere that hasn't missed sending their fees in or been a little late getting to the vet.

The elephant (or donkey if you prefer) in the room here is that DA Brandenburg received special treatment that worked to her political benefit by sealing a case that would normally have been of little consequence or public interest. It's the cover-up stupid! But the action taken by the DA to seal this case gives an indication of the DA's integrity and her willingness to hide even the smallest of embarrassments from the public. It's the bite heard 'round the world - or at least around town.

----- Update -----
A number of posters have complained about our take on this particular case. Let's be clear here... We don't have a problem with maintaining a certain amount of informational security where law enforcement officials are concerned. In this case - a minor civil suit - the DA chose to ask the court to place the entire case under seal when all that was truly necessary was to place documents that revealed her home address under seal.

When an elected official (even one in law enforcement) decides to extend the privilege of secrecy beyond the point where it's absolutely necessary, their actions invite suspicion. After all, civil court is a public proceeding and therefore rightfully a part of the public record. There were alternatives here and the DA chose a path that would protect not only her physical person but her political self - the latter of which has no right to the court's protection.

Sep 21, 2008

Not Even Close

Last week we ran our Eye Poll on the 2nd Judicial District Attorney's race. It wasn't even close. Challenger Lisa Torraco ran away with the voting taking 71% of the 239 votes. Incumbent Kari Brandenburg received 25% and 4% didn't know (view the results here). Our results mirror a poll that was run by the APOA three weeks ago where Ms. Torraco received 70.54% of the votes (read it here).

The question remains, if Brandenburg consistently loses by wide margins in these unscientific polls why isn't the local media picking up on the story? It's pretty apparent that a large number of Eye readers have law enforcement ties. It's more than a little concerning that the general public has no idea just how much the law enforcement community seems to dislike our current DA.

We have received word that DA Brandenburg has agreed to debate hosted by the UNM Law School October 23rd. Of course, the debate won't take place until early voters have been voting for more than two weeks. The debate timing looks to us like another move by the Brandenburg camp to protect the DA from what could be a poor performance.
UNM School of Law Bernalillo County DA Candidate’s Debate
October 23, 2008, UNMSOL, Room 2402, 12:30 to 1:15
This week we train our Eye Poll back on the 1st Congressional District. You know the race between form councilor Martin Heinrich and Sheriff Darren White. Don't forget to vote!

Sep 19, 2008

Biden Remorse?

After the thunderous entry of Sarah Palin into the Presidential race, Democrats may be feeling a sense of buyers, or at least Biden remorse. Obama's safe pick turned out to be a less than inspiring choice, particularly when compared to McCain's coup.

With one decision the Arizona Senator nearly wiped out Obama's convention bounce and put the wind in his campaign sails allowing him to close on the Democratic frontrunner and surpass him in some polls. Now we're hearing whispers that Obama and the Ds are considering a veep swap.

The rumor - which could be just that - goes that Biden will step down citing health problems. Obama will then choose his vanquished opponent Hillary Clinton to replace the ailing Biden. All of this is timed to happen after the October 2nd debate.

Remember these are just rumors but if true, Biden could become a rabid attack dog during the debate without risking a public backlash. We believe that Democrats have been looking with envy at the McCain pick and would be willing to do just about anything to get Hillary back on their ticket.

Sep 16, 2008

Prevent Defense

In football they call it the prevent defense. You hear about it mainly when one team - we'll call it Team D - has a lead over another team - say Team R. The idea is that Team D plays conservative defense designed to minimize mistakes. The problem is Team R is hungry and playing from behind and is free to take the initiative away from the cautions even fearful Team D.

We'd argue that Democrats expecting another Democratic storm surge are playing their own version of the Prevent Defense. So far, two high profile candidates are busy trying to protect their lead or a perceived lead by preventing their candidates from appearing in televised debates with their opponents.

We told you about Kari Brandenburg backing out of a KNME channel 5 debate last week (read it here). Now, Congressional hopeful Martin Heinrich has joined the DA in the Democrat's undisclosed location.

Apparently, Heinrich has withdrawn from a KRQE/AARP debate that would have been televised on the CBS affiliate.
“After agreeing to the debate, and even after both campaigns agreed to change the date to appease Martin Heinrich’s ‘busy schedule,’ today Martin Heinrich surprised no one and declined the opportunity to debate Darren White on the important issues of the day,” White spokesman Stephen Schatz said. “Martin must have reconsidered after his abysmal performance at the other candidate debates and forums and awakened to the fact that his liberal politics are out of touch with the independent voters of the First District.”
Like his fellow Democrat, Heinrich has a number of recently revealed questions to answer like why he never registered as a lobbyist when he was admittedly engaging in the practice and getting paid to do so. The former councilor's company Heinrich Consulting allegedly lobbied both state and federal agencies and in doing so broke state and federal lobbying laws by not registering.

Worst of all, it sure looks like Heinrich was a... LOBBYIST! That's a lot like a "community organizer" only he's getting paid by special interests to "organize" state and federal law makers and officials. You can bet that like a lot of other lobbyists, Heinrich's efforts weren't about saving your money.

Team Democrat doesn't want these types of uncomfortable questions being asked of their anointed candidates. As a result, they're sent to the bunker to hide out and wait for the anticipated Obama storm surge that they believe will flood the voters and carry their candidates along to victory.

As most football fans will tell you, Team D better be careful when they employ the Prevent Defense. A good portion of the time the Prevent Defense prevents a team from winning.

----- Update -----
We had hardly pressed publish on this post than we received a news release from the Republican Party of New Mexico that included a link to a statement from Martin Heinrich to the media that included the all important question of whether or not he was going to release his lobbying records (listen to it here). His answer was, well... not yes.

The former councilor talked about the White campaign "owing" $5,000 to the taxpayers for the President Bush fundraiser on White's behalf. And when pressed on releasing his lobbying records the councilor from an undisclosed location talked about his "work" with groups to "protect" the Ojito Wilderness. In political speak work equals lobbying and the answer itself means "hell no I'm not going to answer your question!"

More importantly this little media appearance was a pitiful attempt to change the subject. Presidential visits are expensive affairs and we taxpayers generally pick up the tab no matter who's in the White House. But that wasn't really the point of Heinrich's idiotic statement.

Heinrich's real objective was to use Bush and White in a sentence together in an attempt to remind voters that Darren White worked on the Bush campaign. Ok... guilty. Darren White is a Republican. Darren White worked on the Bush campaign. Done being surprised now?

We'd bet that Heinrich supported Clinton and he probably would have supported Jimmy Carter had he been old enough to do so.

Here's another reminder... For the past two years, Democrats have been in charge of Congress. We know that comes as a surprise to many, but the truth is that every one of the talking points that Democrats ran and won on two years ago - including immediate troop withdrawl from Iraq - have been virtually ignored by those same politicians.

Democrats have an obsession with President Bush that is only surpassed by their recently discovered meniacal hatred of Sarah Palin. They will attempt to run against him at every opportunity even though there's not a single ballot that he will appear on ever again. If they're not careful, it will be their undoing.

Sep 15, 2008

Publicly Financed Pigs

Monday the Albuquerque Journal editorial department cautioned all of us that once the study is complete on The Alcalde Arena - we need to take "a cold, hard look" at the study. Their reasoning was sound as there's an inherent conflict of interest when the "study" group includes those who stand to benefit financially from a publicly financed arena/hotel complex.
The developers who would build the 12,000-seat arena and an adjoining 450-room Downtown hotel are taking part in the study.
What the Journal fails to tell you is that this isn't the first time the city has formed "study" groups that include those who have a vested interest in seeing the project approved and financed with taxpayer money. Marty's Trolley to Nowhere Taskfarce is similarly packed with members whose interests lie with seeing a central street car (read about it here).

The problem is with the formation of these "study" groups and "taskforces" whose only mandate is to provide cover for politicians. The truth is that neither one of these projects are commercially viable and will require huge amounts of taxpayer money to build and even more taxpayer money to maintain and operate.

Folks, these large developments can be great money makers for the developers who build them - sometimes they can even be successful. It doesn't matter how much taxpayer money is spent on a "study" it can't change the fact that neither of these proposed Marty-World developments can make money or even support themselves. These two projects are simply pigs attempting to feed at the public trough. (We were going to say something about lipstick but... you know.)

Firming Up

An interesting thing happened in last week's Eye Poll on the presidential race... nothing. Well, not exactly nothing. We originally ran an unscientific presidential poll the week of August 10th that poll resulted in an 18 point victory for McCain (view it here).

At the time McCain had begun to close on Obama but neither the Democrats nor the Republicans had had their respective conventions. Not to mention the fact that Hurricane Sarah hadn't been spotted making her way from Alaska.

We figured with all of the brouhaha generated by the Palin announcement McCain would have increased his lead over The One Named O by at least a point or two. Surprisingly that didn't happen. McCain came out victorious once again by the exact same margin that he had back in August - 18 points (view it here). That's not to say that there wasn't anything interesting or different about last week's poll.

Polls are most useful in identifying trends. In our little poll there were a couple of things that caught our Eye. First, the number of undecideds had dropped from 4% to 1%, which means to us that the undecided portion of our readership is making up their minds. Second, the number of readers voting for third and fourth party candidates dropped. Nader dropped 4 percentage points and independent candidate Bob Barr garnered only one vote.

Most importantly, the number of participants in our little poll went up significantly from 194 the first time around to 338 the second. Put it all together and you start to see that the presidential contest is starting to firm up. The coveted independents are making their choices and there are fewer and fewer undecided votes to be gotten by either campaign.

This is a very close race and we don't believe that McCain's 18 point lead in our unscientific poll represents a national or statewide trend. However, RealClearPolitics.com's average of daily tracking polls shows the Arizona Senator trending positively while his Democratic rival is falling from his post convention highs (view them here).

If our little poll is any indication, the election is firming up and the outcome will be determined by how many people from the respective camps show up to vote on Election Day.

This week the Eye Poll takes a look at the race for the 2nd Judicial District Attorney. Don't forget to vote!

Sep 14, 2008

Curious

The Journal is reporting today what we told you about last night - Officer Daniel Guzman is gone. According to the Journal, Chief Schultz "studied the case all last weekend," and decided to terminate the star of photographer Rick Foley's tape (ABQ Journal - Subscription).

What's curious to us is that Officer Levi Chavez who may have had a hand in his wife's death - you know a homicide - is still on the force. Actually he's being paid by the force not to come to work. Most of us call that vacation.

The allegations against Chavez don't just include well... murder - they include financial difficulties and insurance fraud. At the time of his wife's untimely demise, Chavez was a probationary officer which means he can be terminated for just about anything. We've said it before, but wouldn't the circumstance of Tera Chavez' death qualify as a reason to send Chavez packing?

It seems that the Chief's idea of punishment is inversely proportional to the seriousness of the offense. Stupidly (and wrongly) rough up a local news photographer and you're history. If you're implicated in your wife's murder - you're on vacation.

Sep 12, 2008

Guzman Gone

It appears that Officer Daniel Guzman has been terminated. We spotted a comment earlier today and had our Eyes verify that Officer Guzman had been let go.

If you'll remember, Guzman created a flap when he starred in a short feature by KOB-TV photographer Rick Foley. Officer Guzman arrested the photographer when Foley failed to leave a crime scene. Of course Foley wasn't in the crime scene at the time. At the end of the day, APD took a black eye and all of the charges against the KOB photographer were dropped. (Read about it here.)

At the time the 5th Floor promised to retrain all of the officers on the force including Guzman. Yeah... that's what we thought too. Retraining the entire force to deal with the media more effectively and without handcuffs seems just a little ridiculous. It was also an empty promise designed simply to placate the media. But we digress...

Our Eyes tell us that Officer Guzman was terminated by the IRO on the grounds that he wasn't truthful. Apparently, the IRO insisted that Guzman be terminated despite being cleared by Internal Affairs. The Eyes have it that IA found that Guzman's belt tape supported his story but the IRO insisted on termination.

Our Eyes tell us that under the city ordinance, citizens have the ability to appeal the findings of the IRO, but officers do not. So at least for the time being, Guzman is gone. But don't count on this thing going away. It looks like the APOA is going to take the decision to court... stay tuned.

Sep 11, 2008

Playing Defense

It's a time honored tradition for candidates to avoid exposure to public scrutiny when riding a political wave or defending their seat. Two years ago Patricia... uh, uh, uh... Madrid lost an election when she debated Heather Wilson and couldn't answer a simple question on taxes. Madrid's eleven second gaff more than likely cost her more than the 700 or so voters that eventually became Heather Wilson's margin of victory.

Campaign managers will do everything in their power to keep an incumbent away from the public and the press because there's little chance of improving their situation and a huge potential for a fatal mistake.

District Attorney Kari Brandenburg finds herself in that exact situation. According to our Eyes, the incumbent DA is playing defense and has just recently canceled a scheduled debate with challenger Lisa Torraco. The debate was to be taped today at PBS affiliate KNME TV (channel 5).

Brandenburg's cancellation marks the second time the DA has backed out of a debate with challenger Torraco. The first time Brandenburg didn't even bother to call ahead she simply failed to show up.

Meanwhile, our Eyes tell us that the District Attorney is making the local small meeting circuit where she can talk to groups, look official, and never be challenged. According to our Eyes, DA Brandenburg loves to tout her plea-bargaining program where offenders are almost instantaneously offered a plea. The DA claims that some 60% of these plea offers are turned down, but that means 40% are accepted.

Brandenburg's rational is that by offering an early plea she is reducing the burden on an already overburdened court system - which may be true. But her primary function as DA is not to reduce the burden on the courts but to make sure that criminals are prosecuted for their crimes.

We have always maintained that jail time isn't about punishment or rehabilitation - it's about keeping criminals who would victimize the innocent out of society. Prison gives a kind of absolute protection for the rest of us. Qui Feng Chen found out the hard way what can happen if criminals are allowed to run loose.

In July, Ms. Chen was allegedly killed by Donte Power, who our Eyes tell us had been arrested May 19th for DWI and cocaine possession. We wonder whether a quick plea ultimately cost Ms. Chen her life.

What we're talking about here is judgment. A district attorney has a tremendous amount of discretion when it comes to prosecution. If a DA feels that there's not a strong case, then it will never see a grand jury. In our opinion, District Attorney Brandenburg has a number of questions to answer about cases that she either chose to prosecute or chose not to.

I. Ms. Brandenburg pursued mentally retarded Robert Gonzalez for three years despite over 60 scientific tests that failed to link him to the crime scene and two APD officers disputing parts of Gonzalez' "confession" - a confession that was thrown out by the court. Ultimately, the CODIS system found a DNA match to Mexican national Israel Diaz and Gonzalez was released after serving 3 years in jail (Subscription).

II. In the Elton John Richard case, DA Brandenburg insisted on prosecuting a decorated Marine for attempting to detain Daniel Romero - a convicted felon - after Romero attempted to steal Richard's Bronco. Unfortunately, Romero died in the altercation when he attempted to attack Richard one too many times. Our first post on the story was called Choices. We maintained that Romero chose to attempt to steal Richard's, he chose to flee justice, he chose to attack Richard that last fatal time, and Brandenburg chose to prosecute Richard to the fullest extent of the law regardless of the circumstances.

III. Initially, the DA's office chose not to pursue charges against former officer Ben Kirby for his role in the Jason Daskalos DWI paddy wagon escape attempt. A year later, just after Kirby filed suit to get his job back the DA's office indicts the dismissed officer. No matter how you slice it Brandenburg did the City of Albuquerque a favor (and perhaps The Almighty Alcalde) by indicting Kirby (read it here). It's hard to sue to get your law enforcement job back when under indictment.

IV. DWI and Domestic violence charges are the only misdemeanor offences prosecuted by the DA's office. Our Eyes tell us that DWI cases - even aggravated DWI cases - are routinely dismissed because the DA's office fails to prosecute the offenders within the required 6 months.

V. The case of Dr. Michael Flax whose DWI arrest was plead down to careless driving even though he'd been involved in an accident and blown a .08/.07 after failing a field sobriety test. Dr. Flax it turns out was also Kari Brandenburg's doctor (read it here).
So you see, the DA has a number of questions to answer - questions that are most properly asked in public and during an election. However, Brandenburg has decided to play defense and avoid uncomfortable questions. Since Albuquerque's media doesn't seem particularly interested there's little chance that she'll be required to answer any of them.

Scam-eras in the City Different

The City Different has decided to be the same as Albuquerque. Wednesday night the Santa Fe City Council decided they wanted a piece of the action and approved their own red light scam-era program.

The Santa Fe Scammers plan to rake in about $1.1 MILLION a year from the program (ABQ Journal - Subscription). All that's left to do is find someone to install the equipment and run the program. Tell you what... we'd be happy to sell you some lightly used (Ok, there was that paint ball incident), universally disliked scam-eras at a rock bottom price. Simply contact The Almighty Alcalde perched high atop city hall for information.

What'll be even more entertaining is the number of legislators that have their photos taken by the scam-eras during next year's sixty day legislative session. On second thought, that might be the fastest way to put an end to this type of traffic travesty.

Sep 9, 2008

Suckers

In a matter of just a few days the Bernalillo County Commission not only approved the sale of almost $41 MILLION in bonds to pay for a new home for themselves but sold the bonds. We've never seen government work quite as quickly as the commission did in this particular case. It's been our experience that when government works with this kind of alacrity it's either under attack from terrorists or doing something that the voters wouldn't approve of.

Tuesday, the Journal decided to do a little story on the purchase that questioned whether or not the property was worth the $40.8 MILLION (plus another $1 MILLION for the art) the county was so quick to pay. Apparently the property has increased $21.1 MILLION in just eight years. That's almost twice the building's year 2000 value (ABQ Journal - Subscription).

We're not really questioning the value even though it appears that the county is paying almost $12 MILLION too much. The owner of the building has the right to sell their property at whatever price the market will bear and as P.T. Barnum once said, there's a sucker born every minute - in this case four of them.

The county claims that it can raise $30 MILLION by selling their half of the current City County Government Center to the city. But unlike the owner of the property at 500 Marquette, the county has only one buyer that would be interested in purchasing their share of the property. If the city is smart (you can stop laughing now) they'll simply wait until the county is desperate to sell and get the other half of the government center at a rock bottom price.

The value of the property is just one problem and believe it or not it's not the most distressing one. The biggest problem is that the county is acting as if they found the building on the checkout isle at Wal Mart. They neither studied the purchase nor demonstrated a need for the property. Makes one wonder who has studied it and who really benefits from what can only be called a $42 MILLION impulse buy.

Whoever brokered this sale has all of the talents of P.T. Barnum himself. They've managed play the county and the county commission for suckers. Unfortunately, we're the ones paying the price of admission.

Sep 8, 2008

Hiding

Last week the Attorney General came to an agreement with New Mexico Youth Organized not to enforce the Secretary of State's order to disclose donor information like every other lobbying organization is required by law to do (ABQ Journal - Subscription).
The office reached an agreement with attorneys for the nonprofit New Mexico Youth Organized allowing the group to hold off on filing while its attorneys fight the order in court, Attorney General's Office spokesman Phil Sisneros said Friday.
It strikes us as interesting that these groups who claim that support open and ethical elections (meaning taxpayer funded candidates) work so hard to keep their supporters hidden behind the iron curtain of a 501(c)(3). The Secretary of State and AG are simply requiring that these groups - whose primary function is electioneering - to reveal who their supporters are.
(Sidebar)
This type of shroud is one of the main objections we have to the Albuquerque Open and Ethical Elections ordinance (taxpayer financed elections). Candidates for office fund their ambitions with taxpayer money while shrouding their associations behind a curtain of money provided at taxpayer expense. This election scheme is neither open nor ethical.
(End Sidebar)
As odd as it sounds, we don't have any problem with groups lobbying their legislators. Our system was designed to specifically allow groups of people to band together to petition their government. We generally don't agree with the types of things that NMYO, SWOP, The Center for Civic Policy, and others lobby for but we defend their right to do so. However, their non-profit status should not be a shield that allows them to protect their supporters and thus their political associations any more than lobbyists for oil companies should be allowed to withhold their benefactors.

These non-profit political organizations have a lot of questions to answer - chief among them is why are they hiding and who?

Sep 7, 2008

Eye Poll: Palin

Last week's Eye Poll was one of the more interesting to watch. We started it just following the announcement that Sarah Palin as John McCain's running mate. Over the weekend and early last week, the press (and the Daily Kooks) were busy emptying Governor Palin's closet along with that of her 17 year old daughter. So it was no surprise that the Obama's safety net took an early double digit lead.

By the end of the week, following Ms. Palin's powerful speech the numbers in our unscientific Eye Poll changed and changed big. At the end of the day, Governor Palin was chosen as the best Vice Presidential pick with 55% of Eye readers selecting the Governor from Alaska, 41% selecting Senator Biden, 5% insisting that neither was a good choice (read it here).

Interestingly, there wasn't a single reader that didn't care which candidate was the better choice. Could the race be tightening up? Have Republicans finally found the excitement they've been lacking? It's certainly possible.

Before the Democratic and Republican conventions we ran an Eye Poll on the presidential election. We hoped to be able to see if either candidate picked up any momentum coming out of their convention. We're running the exact presidential poll again this week. Don't forget to vote!

Sep 5, 2008

Little Brother

You've heard of Big Brother, the dictator in George Orwell's 1984 whose benevolent face stared out at the public from state owned telescreens found in every public place and in every home - Big Brother is watching you. Albuquerque has its own version of Big Brother - we'll call him Little Brother (for obvious reasons). Yep... The one, the only, The Almighty Alcalde himself - Mayor Martin Chavez.

Little Brother is watching you with his red light scam-eras, he lives in your radio with his "Q-Tips," he saves city employees from nasty tobacco, and now he's going to tell you what snacks to eat.
"Ultimately this affects everyone's pocket book. It's not just free choice, it's the whole pocketbook of the nation and the costs of healthcare," said Mayor Chavez.
In the name of healthcare, in the name of what's good for you, Little Brother is telling those who frequent city vending machines what they can buy by restricting what the private vendors can sell. Predictably, the vendors are none too happy about Little Brother's interference in their market place. Greg Trapp Executive Director of the New Mexico Commission for the Blind told the Journal, "[w]hen we try to implement an all-healthy-choice option ... the sales just fall through the floor," (Subscription). Duh!

It's simple common sense. If the vending machines don't carry products that the public likes, they won't buy the products offered and the owners of the machines won't make money. If the vendors don't making money, then there won't be any vending machines. Regulation of a free market place for any reason results in shortages, period. The Soviets found that out the hard way and even the Chinese have discovered the power of the free market.
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By state law, vending contracts for vending machines on city property are required to be issued to contractors who are blind first. So... Little Brother's attempt to save city employees from evil junk food will starve the blind contractors who sell it. Unintended consequences are damn inconvenient sometimes.
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APS instituted a similar ban on school campuses in order to combat childhood obesity. According to Pepsi, vending machine sales have dropped by 70% since 2002. What do you bet that childhood obesity rates haven't changed at all?

Never mind that government has no business dictating what can and cannot be eaten, people will find a way to purchase the products that they want. If it's not offered by the vending machines at APS or on city property, they'll buy it somewhere else. We'd suggest the hot dog stands and sandwich shops downtown start carrying a healthy supply of unhealthy snacks.

More frightening than junk food depravation is the underlying attitude exhibited by The Almighty Alcalde. Somehow he believes that it's his right to dictate what others consume all in the name of lowering healthcare costs.

Can you imagine what would happen if Little Brother were in charge of healthcare? The freedom to choose what to eat, how much to weigh, how much to exercise, what drugs to take, what medical procedures to have, perhaps even the choice of whether or not to live or die... gone.

Little Brother says "it's not just free choice." The hell it isn't! What's at stake is not a few vendors or some junk food, it's our liberty. When government is given the responsibility to save you from yourself, you necessarily loose your ability to make a choice contrary to government doctrine - doctrine arbitrarily determined by politicians looking out for themselves not you. Little Brother is watching and he's stealing our most precious possession - our freedom... One Twinkie at a time.

Sep 3, 2008

Race Against Crime

It's a fact that Albuquerque has a crime problem. We're not talking about dastardly Dodges running read lights, or cell phone addicts. We're talking about violent crime.

Just last year an analysis by the Albuquerque Journal revealed that Albuquerque ranked in the top 13% for property crime (ABQ Journal - Subscription). When asked about the Journal's findings Chief Schultz replied "I feel safe" and went on to blame all of us for reporting crime too often (read our take here).

Our Eyes behind the badge told us last year that the real problem with high property crime rates is that they're a leading indicator of violent crime. Sure enough, just one year later according to the FBI's Preliminary Uniform Crime Report, Albuquerque has seen an across the board increase in violent crime over last year. Murder alone is up a whopping 38%.

It's easy to target Chief Schultz when he's busy making idiotic statements and make no mistake the Chief and his boss The Almighty Alcalde bear quite a bit of the responsibility. But there is another elected official that should also shoulder their portion of the blame - 2nd Judicial District Attorney Kari Brandenburg.

We told you about Ms. Torraco's entry into the race back in February (read it here), but we really hadn't heard much about the race until our Eyes told us about an unscientific poll being run over at the Albuquerque Police Officers Association website. The poll simply asks, "[w]ho would you support for the District Attorney in the upcoming election?" To our surprise, Ms. Torraco beat out the incumbent by a margin of almost 3 to 1 (Brandenburg 25.89%, Torracco 70.54%, Other 3.57%).

Granted, this is an unscientific poll but you've got to take into account who visits this website on a regular basis. It seems that the men and women of the Albuquerque Police Department - the rank and file - are sending a loud and clear message that it's time we did something about crime in this city. After all these are the people that deal with the DA's office on a regular basis. These are the officers who see their cases plead down or dropped. These are the officers who've become frustrated that no matter how hard they work, criminals are sent back into the community where they continue to endanger the people that the officers are sworn to protect. For that reason and that reason alone, this poll means something.

As frustrated as we are with the 5th Floor and The Almighty Alcalde, they are just part of this problem - a part that we as voters cannot do anything about until next year. However, there is a DA's race this year and it's a race against crime.

Sep 2, 2008

Courage, Fire and Fantasia

At times we are very critical of APD's 5th Floor and occasionally individual officers who screw up or betray the public's trust. But by and large, the officers whose job it is to protect and serve do so with courage and honor that is rarely acknowledged publicly.

You may have already read about the APD pursuit that ended in a fiery crash early Saturday morning (ABQ Journal - Subscription). Officers were called to the Fantasia night club early Saturday morning reference a disturbance where an elderly man had been beaten. Upon arrival, officers observed an orange and white GMC Sierra pickup leaving the scene.

Officers issued an attempt to locate on the vehicle but moments later the orange and white pickup returned and tried to hit an officer at the scene. The officer managed to get out of the way but the truck proceeded to run down a woman in the parking lot. Officers believe that the driver of the pickup intended to hit the woman because it turned around and hit her a second time.

The truck then left the lot at a high rate of speed and headed west on McLeod to Jefferson running lights and almost hitting other vehicles along the way. A short time later the pickup was spotted turning onto the southbound I-25 on ramp by Officer Dawn Roberto. A pursuit was authorized and officer Roberto gave chase.

Officer Roberto pursed the truck through the Big-I where it nearly flew off the flyover to the sixth street exit where the driver of the orange and white truck was unable to negotiate a left hand turn striking the bridge and bursting into flames.

This is where the extraordinary courage of ordinary officers came into play as pursuers became life savers. Despite the fact that moments before this same truck had tried to kill one of their own and had run down an innocent woman, officers on the scene risked their lives battling the fire in the engine compartment to save the lives of the driver and his passenger. While waiting on AFD to arrive the officers emptied five of their fire extinguishers in the engine compartment to no avail.

Our Eyes tell us that the driver's side door was collapsed and the truck was in a position that made it impossible to access the cab directly. However, an officer noticed movement from the passenger and despite the height of the vehicle, and the fire beginning to enter the cab, Officers Zachary Floyd, Chris Romero, and Isaac Maes managed to pull the passenger - a 16 year old that reeked of alcohol - from the burning vehicle.

As it turns out both the driver and the passenger carried Mexican national IDs. Our Eyes tell us that they suspect the two are (or were as the case may be) in this country illegally and could be involved in illegal activity (other than being here illegally in the first place) because they were both carrying large amounts of cash.

Which brings us back to Fantasia... Our Eyes tell us that the club - an all ages night club - is suspected of catering to illegals and of turning a blind eye to shall we say, recreational pharmaceuticals. According to our Eyes the reputation of the club had been known for some time in law enforcement circles, but every time they attempted nuisance abatement or enforcement action they were shut down. Our Eyes believe that the club was being protected because politicians didn't want to look like they were targeting a club that caters to Mexican nationals. Some even speculate that the club was receiving political cover from Santa Fe.

In early August, another well known all ages night club - Club 7 - was raided by BCSO and APD (ABQ Journal - Subscription). Our Eyes tell us that this is another case where APD had been shut down because The Almighty Alcalde didn't want a black mark on downtown. In other words, the perception that downtown is a safe fun atmosphere is more important than underage drinking, rampant drug use, and fire code violations that could have ended over 500 young lives.

It's interesting that in politics perception is reality even if the reality is that with a little investigation lives could be saved. Unfortunately, politicians rarely show the courage demonstrated by officers on a daily basis. They're generally more interested in not looking bad than in not being bad. Even when they know that operations like Fantasia and Club 7 are endangering lives, they'll look the other way as long as the media doesn't pick it up.

It really is too bad that we don't have more politicians like officers Floyd, Romero, and Maes who when faced with a choice between what is right and what is easy, have the courage to risk their own lives to save another who just moments before was their adversary.

Eye Poll: Udall

Last week's unscientific Eye Poll saw Tom Udall take the honors by a solid 14 point margin (read it here). The results are a bit surprising considering what is going on with energy and the lack thereof - a lack that can be directly tied to Tom Udall's votes in congress. Candidate Udall is busy telling the voters that he's for more oil production, but Congressman Udall has a long history of voting to block domestic oil production.

If oil becomes the deciding factor in this race and if Congressman Pearce is able to claim it as his own, Udall will have a hard time selling his new found attitude about drilling.

Over the long holiday weekend, just about everywhere we went the conversation centered on Sarah Palin. It seems that the McCain Campaign caught everyone by surprise with the Alaska Governor's selection for Vice President. So far, we like the choice and respect Governor Palin's fire and tenacity but in our conversations Obama supporters seemed to be absolutely incensed.

By contrast, Joe Biden's selection brought a collective yawn from most people we talked to no matter who they were supporting in the election. We don't really believe that a Vice Presidential Candidate can win an election but they can lose one. Tell us who you think was the better choice in this week's Eye Poll!