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

May 30, 2009

Letter to The Eye: Outrage

As you know from time to time we post letters from readers and even pull comments out of the comment section from time to time. This week we received a Letter to The Eye from Sergeant Paul Heh.

The sergeant has been the topic of a number posts both supportive and well... not so much. Like him or not one thing is sure, the veteran sergeant has an opinion and isn't afraid to share it.

A year ago, sergeant Heh spoke out during a city council meeting against the newest contract which earned him a visit to IA. This time it appears that he's none too happy with the APOA leadership.

No stranger to controversy, we're pretty sure this Letter to The Eye from Sergeant Heh will stir things up.


Sergeant, Paul J. Heh

When I write something I believe in it so I put my name on it. This is Paul J. Heh, APOA member for 22 years and at the risk of being targeted yet again, I have a few things to say.

First let me say that you Ron Olivas and you Joey Segalla are representatives of the members of the APOA. You work for the members, you are not above them. If what was reported on The Eye On Albuquerque is true, it is quite possible that a criminal investigation should be started by an outside agency such as the FBI. Joey, it is not up to you to decide if an investigation is warranted, it is the up to the members of the APOA. If it is true that you made the statement "I will resign before I do another cop," then resign. What about the hundreds of cops you are doing by not starting an investigation?

How can either of you justify paying for memberships for Calibers for all of SID? Calibers is a fine organization. I belong myself and I paid for the membership myself. Does this mean when my members hip expires in June the APOA will pay to renew it? Does this mean that all APOA members and non-members even non-sworn members will now have memberships to calibers paid for by the APOA? I have no problem with paying for memberships to calibers as long as everyone is treated the same.

Can you please explain why the APOA paid for Ken, Russ and their witnesses' trips to Arkansas for their criminal defense? Who were the witnesses? I respect both Ken and Russ, but again what about all the other officers, APOA members accused of crimes, where was their financial assistance? And please explain how a credit card belonging to ex-APOA President Pete Dwyer was used to pay for the trips.

There is much more just now coming to light, such as out of control spending. Is it true that you Joey are spending between $6,000 and $7,000 a month on your APOA issued credit card? I would like to know the answer and so would the membership. Please tell me the rumor is false. How much was put on the credit card from the recent trip to Washington, DC?

I will close by saying this. We are police officers, for me that means being about honor, integrity and ethics. I believe the APOA members feel the same. A full accounting of APOA finances going back ten years needs to be started at once by an accounting firm with no ties to the APOA and approved by the APOA membership.

This is my opinion I would like to hear yours.

Organizations have problems because there are people in them. The problems aren't really the issue unless you don't do anything about them or even worse, if you try to cover them up (just ask the 5th floor). If leadership doesn't work to solve the problem, then they are the problem.

People often wonder how elected government leaders like convict Manny Aragon get started? The answer is they cross a line on something small and no one does anything about it. Before long they're syphoning MILLIONS from the public coffers.

The members of the APOA are entrusted with policing Albuquerque. The question is are they capable of policing themselves?

May 28, 2009

If Only...

It's the type of story that makes "good" news. Readers and viewers can't seem to get enough of the "Baby Angel" story.

Thursday, the local media was all a twitter about the latest development - Tiffany Toribio had tried to turn herself in at a Coronado Mall substation. With her was her three year old son Tyrus - "Baby Angel." (ABQ Journal - Subscription)

Apparently, Toribio had been notified that a warrant had been issued for her arrest for failing to pay a $259 fine for not having insurance. When APD's CAD system was checked for a warrant, the search came up empty.
Our Eyes down at APD tell us that it's not exactly surprising that a warrant search didn't find Toribio's arrest warrant. Tiberon APD's new CAD system is known to regularly miss outstanding warrants. In this case, it might have prevented a death. In the future, it may cause one.
[End Sidebar]
Contrary to popular belief in some circles, police officers generally don't arrest members of the public without a warrant and without reason. In this case, the officer involved didn't have a warrant and didn't have any reason to believe that young Tyrus was in any danger.

Here's where the media plays the implicit game of "if only." If only they could have found a warrant. If the officer involved had looked a little harder. If only APD had arrested Toribio, then Tyrus would still be with us.

The truth is that even if a warrant had been found, there's a pretty good chance that without any indication of danger they would have told Toribio to take care of her fine and let her walk. Believe it or not, it's hard to take a mother from their child on a traffic warrant when there's no indication of danger.

What really gave this story "legs" is that APD apparently tried to keep the substation visit under wraps. They wanted to avoid the types of questions that now (thanks to their own horrible media skills and aversion to bad press) theyhave to answer.

To make matters worse, the Eyes have it that it was the Almighty Alcalde himself that let the cat out of the bag on his weekly I Love Me some Marty Gov TV show. Marty had Chief Schultz on for a chat and trying to capitalize on tragedy, the two discussed what Toribio should have done and the services that were available to her. They even went as far as saying that she should have shown up at a police station. Turns out she did.

What's readily apparent is that the mayor and the chief have absolutely no idea how to handle the media and that their fear of facing negative press leads them to try and bury it. Their actions make the department look foolish and partially responsible for the death of "baby angel." Nothing could be farther from the truth.

No one knows the answer to all of the "if only" questions. But one thing is sure - Tiffany Toribio killed her son with her bare hands. It's too bad that Chief Schultz didn't come clean at the outset then APD wouldn't look partially responsible. If only...

May 26, 2009


The Albuquerque Journal reported Tuesday that (as we've been telling you) The Almighty Alcalde is back on track to build his choo choo. Like a child whose mind is set on a shiny new toy, Chavez is desperately trying to find an argument that will convince the public and the council that he should have the object of his desire.
The streetcar would run along Central Avenue, then by Isotopes Park on its way to the airport.

Adams said the project would help tourists get around the Rio Grande Valley without stepping into a car. They could fly in, take the streetcar to Downtown Albuquerque, then ride the Rail Runner to Santa Fe. Or someone from Santa Fe could come down for a ballgame without having to drive.
Previously, Marty was arguing that the trolley would service the throngs of mythical riders along Central Avenue and provide another way to get across the river. Now, he's arguing that tourists need a $130 MILLION way to get to the ballpark!

If you're a parent these shifting arguments probably sound familiar. Next little Marty will probably argue that "everyone else is doing it." Uh, wait... never mind, he's doing that too.
Chávez said cities across the country are launching rail projects. He predicted Albuquerque will join them, even if it doesn't happen while he's in office.
Fortunately, there seem to be some adults on the council who have rightfully determined that the public isn't all that hot on the idea of spending over $130 MILLION to ferry tourists to ballgames.
"Unless somebody drops $300 million on us, it's going to go to the voters some day," City Council President Isaac Benton said in an interview. But "I don't see any immediate movement on it."

Councilor Sally Mayer said her Northeast Heights constituents are "angry that we're even considering it." She said that even if the federal government gave Albuquerque $50 million, that wouldn't pay for two miles of track.

"This is extraordinarily expensive, and I don't see a need for it," Mayer said.

Councilor Brad Winter said the city should focus on other transportation needs, such as the reconstruction of the Paseo del Norte and Interstate 25 interchange.

"I don't think we need another study," Winter said of the streetcar. "It ought to be dead."
Councilor Winter brings up a good point - one that we have maintained for some time. Even if $300 MILLION should fall from Obama on high, it should be spent on transportation issues like the Paseo del Norte I-25 interchange that services hundreds of thousands of Albuquerque taxpayers on a daily basis not some tourist trolley for people who don't pay to keep the city afloat.
O'Malley said the route of the system shouldn't be "subject to somebody's whimsy. We're talking about millions of dollars."

Actually, we're talking about HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS not only to build it but to run it in perpetuity.

Even if Councilor O'Malley favors building a $400 MILLION money pit, errr... arena, she's got the right idea here. The Valley councilor is planning on introducing legislation to force the tracks of any trolley to go directly through the council chambers.

Any unnecessary expenditure that will obligate taxpayers to hundreds of millions of dollars of debt and operation costs should at the very least be approved by the people upon whom that obligation will be laid.

The Almighty Alcalde up on his perch on the 11th floor simply doesn't get it. It's unbelievable that an elected official would so blatantly ignore the wishes of his constituents. Of course, that can be fixed this October.

May 25, 2009


Other People's Money... government at all levels gets tons of it. They use it for any number of things some of which are shall we say... questionable. But there are other organizations that receive your money some of them voluntary contributions, others come in the form of dues. These non-governmental organizations can be well run institutions or self-absorbed financial disasters just like government.

The Albuquerque Police Officers Association is one such organization. If you are a police officer in the Albuquerque and you're below the rank of Commander, the APOA is your collective bargaining representative. They will also provide representation in other non-criminal situations. For this service, the union collects dues from its members.

The APOA has a set of bylaws that control its operation and dictate its structure which includes a group of officers elected from the group's membership. The structure is designed to insure that money collected from members and used for the benefit of the entire membership.

About a year ago, we told you about some questionable credit card expenses incurred by then APOA President, Ron Olivas (read it here). To us the expenses looked to be more of an everyday benefits package for an APOA officer who had access to the union credit card.

Our Eyes down at the APOA are telling us that Olivas' spending wasn't restricted to his own union credit card. Apparently, Olivas got a hold of former APOA President Pete Dwyer's credit card or credit card number and used it to purchase transportation to Arkansas for Officers Ken Ronzone and Russ Carter.

The two K-9 officers were involved in a bar altercation in Fort Smith, Arkansas back in November of 2007. Arkansas authorities issued warrants for the arrest of the pair on felony charges. According to our Eyes, Olivas used Dwyer's credit card to pay for $7,000 worth of travel for Ronzone and Carter, and their witnesses.

There are a couple of problems here. First the pair were charged with felonies and the APOA does not use union money to defend felonious activity. Second, the charges made by Olivas were made on Dwyer's union credit card. It appears that Ronzone and Carter received preferential treatment in the case and that Olivas attempted to obscure his use of union money to defend the pair by using Dwyer's card.

Olivas apparently wasn't done spending union money. He also wrote a union check to Calibers for $5,800 to pay for memberships at the indoor shooting establishment. The memberships went to everyone in the Special Investigations Unit - including non-sworn, non-union personnel.

None of the expenditures were approved by the APOA board and some of the money went non-union members who don't pay APOA dues.

The whole thing is creating a political problem for incoming union President Joey Segalla. It seems that Segalla is unwilling to expose the almost $13,000 in unauthorized and potentially fraudulent expenditures made by Olivas saying he'd "rather resign than do another cop."

We understand an officer's reluctance to go after a fellow cop. Everyone likes to think that everyone wearing a badge serves honorably and honestly - the vast majority do. But the truth is just like in any institution, there are a few that tarnish that badge and make it harder and more dangerous for other officers to do their job. Officers need to be above reproach not above the law or the public loses faith in the very people that are essential for their safety.

As President of the union, investigating potential abuse of union dues by a prior president isn't "doing" a fellow cop - it's doing your job both as president of the union and as a sworn law enforcement officer. If former President Olivas truly abused union funds while president of the APOA, then he's already "done" his fellow officers by using their compulsory dues in ways not authorized by the union's bylaws. Except for the number of zeros, how is that any different than siphoning off a few million here and there on a construction project?

It's the lure of other people's money and the temptation to use it for your own gain especially when you know that you will never be held to account. The APOA needs to be better than those they investigate on the job. The good men and women of the Albuquerque Police Department deserve better.

May 17, 2009

Eye Poll: Keep Your Arena

Not surprisingly, Eye readers overwhelmingly rejected the idea of a downtown arena in our most recent Eye Poll. It's a project that would certainly pay tribute to the mayor of Albuquerque but would do it's citizens little good and shackle them with an almost unending drain on their tax dollars.

69% of Eye readers said no to an arena (a few said "hell no") in our unscientific poll while only 28% said yes (view it here). As usual, a few people (3%) didn't know.

This week we're looking at what seems to be the interminable years of the Chavez administration. As expected for so long a reign, there have been a number of scandals involving The Almighty Alcalde. Pick your favorite in this week's Eye Poll!

Which gives us an idea... If you've got a favorite Chavez administration scandal, send it to us at We'll publish our favorites in the coming weeks.

May 14, 2009

Still on the Payroll

Before we get started here we've got to make it clear that we are all for the concept of innocence until proven guilty. That being said, we're also for the equal application of justice. Thursday's Albuquerque Journal picked up on a part of a story that we told you about last week - the update on the Tera Chavez case (read it here).

One of our many concerns was that Officer Levi Chavez was still on the payroll some 18 months after being placed on administrative leave. Again, Chavez is only a "person of interest" (ok, suspect) in his wife's untimely demise. But, Chief Schultz routinely terminates officers for far less.
Albuquerque Police Chief Ray Schultz said Wednesday that he is frustrated by how long the investigation is taking. Schultz said his hands are tied because, if he starts an internal investigation into Chavez and disciplines him, it could taint the criminal case.

"This is upsetting. Unfortunately (Valencia County investigators) have put us in an untenable position," Schultz said. "They have made the allegations that Levi Chavez is a suspect in a homicide investigation and in a fraud investigation. I can't in good conscience put him back to work protecting the community with those allegations out there looming."
What's upsetting is that a Chief who has an officer whose actions have already triggered numerous criminal investigations hasn't seen fit to start his own internal affairs investigation - even though he has a habit of starting IA investigations and leaving them open... until???
Valencia County District Attorney Lemuel Martinez said Schultz could conduct his own internal investigation and discipline Chavez without tainting any criminal case, because anything Schultz finds out could not be used in criminal proceedings.
As you can see, the DA in Valencia County isn't at all worried about an APD Internal Affairs investigation because its findings cannot be used in a court of law.

It seems as if Chief Schultz has not even initiated an investigation of Chavez even though the APD officer seems to have been implicated in not one but two criminal investigations. Our question is why? Why is Chavez still on the payroll when other officers have been terminated for far less? And Why is Schultz so willing to protect Chavez?

May 13, 2009

The Trolley that Won't Go Away

After almost 12 years of the Chavez administration, one thing we've all gotten used to is the Almighty Alcalde's increasing inability to get along with the council. He's also displayed a disturbing single-mindedness that reeks of ego.

There are countless examples of Marty's increasing desire to build a legacy on the backs of city taxpayers. Wading lagoons, downtown arenas, balloon museums, trolleys, even Pandas have all been on the mayor's personal agenda. Some have been realized while it took the Red Chinese to kill other.

Our point? No matter how many times the council or the public says no, The Almighty Alcalde will continue to pursue his agenda either overtly or covertly. "No" is simply a temporary inconvenience to be endured.

Marty's choo choo train has a long history of trying to slip past the public. Monday, November 6th 2006 - the day before the hotly contested 2006 election - the mayor tried to slip his trolley by the public with the aid of the council. Since that time we've been treated to task farces and propaganda designed to make a trolley with the capacity to serve a very small number of people at a price tag of $240 MILLION plus look cost effective and environmentally friendly.

At least it seems that the council has started to get the message. Last week the council sent up a resolution to the mayor directing him not to use Obama's spending, uh... stimulus money on a trolley (read it here). Unbelievably, the measure was sponsored by none other than our socialist in chief, Councilor Isaac Benton.
Obama and his accomplices insist on calling the $750 BILLION spending package ARRA - the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. In reality it's the American Repugnant Redistribution Act. It's bad enough when these yahoos in Washington wastefully spend our tax dollars but it's simply repugnant to be blowing tax dollars that haven't even been collected yet. In other words... borrowed.
[End Sidebar]
What The Almighty Alcalde actually did was to use his line item veto to take out language that modified the Transportation Improvement Plan so that a 19th Century Street Car - no matter where the money came from - would have to go to the voters before the city started railroading the public.
I have exercised my authority as Mayor of Albuquerque to line item veto the portion of R-09-229 that prohibits the use of federal monies to build a modem rail system in Albuquerque. I believe that Albuquerque should no longer remain one of only a handful of D.S. cities without a diverse transportation portfolio including modem rail. I have agreed that a city funded system should be a matter for the voters of Albuquerque. I disagree that either the Regional Transportation District or the federal government with their own funds should be similarly restricted.
- Mayor Martin Chavez Veto Message
There are a number of problems with Marty's logic here. First of all, nothing is free even if it comes from the federal government. Second, using that borrowed money to build a tiny trolley to serve a few people moving from downtown to the airport. A trolley that would make an already congested area worse by taking up space needed for vehicle traffic.

Third and worst of all, even if the trolley were free it creates a long term operational drain on the city's general fund. This is exactly the wrong kind of project to waste borrowed money on. If we're gonna spend Obama's money, we're far better off spending it on projects like the I-25 / Paseo Del Norte interchange - a project that serves tens of thousands of people daily. Something Marty's Tiny Trolley will never be able to do.

Meanwhile the council plans on sticking an extension of the Transportation Infrastructure Tax on the October ballot without funding for a trolley. Here's the problem... that 1/4 cent tax can be easily reprogrammed by the council at anytime. So what's sold to the taxpayers as roads, bike paths, and buses magically becomes a source of revenue for a 19th Century Streetcar.

It doesn't seem to matter who pays for it or how much it costs, Marty will have his trolley. Of course if voters decide to send him packing after 12 years, maybe, just maybe we can put a stake in the heart of the Trolley that Won't Go Away.

May 12, 2009

Swearing In

Ok... this thing's been all over the board. First Monday, then Wednesday, now today! For now, it appears that the new District 3 County Commissioner will be sworn in at 3:00 pm. Apparently, the new commissioner will be... (drum roll please) Maggie Hart Stebbins.

We don't know the soon-to-be commissioner and there doesn't seem to be much in the way of information on her aside from the fact she's a 1985 Harvard graduate. Who knows the way the Guv has been jumping around on this one it could be someone else. But it seems that most of the D blogs are reporting that Dan McKay is reporting (yeah, we know) that Ms. Stebbins is the winner. If not, we won't be the only ones swearing... this time.

May 11, 2009

Big Bill's Choice

It looks like The Guv is ready to make his choice. Our Eyes down at the county have it that Governor Richardson's staff is pushing to make sure that all of the remaining Bernalillo County Commissioners are present at today's 2:30pm MRCOG meeting. Rumor has it that Richardson is ready to announce his choice to replace the departing Deanna Archuletta.

The meeting of the Middle Rio Grande Council of Governments was scheduled so that Big Bill could tell various governmental entities in the Middle Rio Grande Valley how much of Obama's spending, uh... "stimulus," uh... recovery cash that they would have to play with. Apparently he's got something more in mind, because his is pushing hard to make sure that Commissioners Armijo, De La Cruz, Wiener, and Brasher attend the meeting personally.

Last week no fewer than nine commission aspirants interviewed for the position vacated by Archuleta. You can bet that there wasn't a single one with an R next to their name as the district (District 3) would be considered a safe Democrat seat.

----- Update -----
We got word this afternoon that we have some readers up in Santa Fe that weren't too pleased that the cat got let out of the bag before the big announcement today. As a result, the Guv and his staff decided to move the official announcement of Commissioner Archuleta's replacement to Wednesday.

The grapevine has it (not surprisingly) that the winner of the Commissioner 500 will be a Hispanic woman. If you were on the Guv's interview list and you don't fit that demographic, you're probably not the name that's going to be read come Wednesday. But who knows? That may change too... now.

May 7, 2009

Update: Tera Chavez

From time to time we receive emails from folks who want to know what ever happened in the Tera Chavez case. If you'll remember, Tera Chavez was the wife of APD Officer Levi Chavez whose October 2007 death was originally called a suicide. The cause of death was later changed to "undetermined" and suicide was ruled out (read it here and here).

Unfortunately (except perhaps for Levi Chavez), there has been little movement on the law enforcement front. That's more than likely due to the arrival of several APD officers at the scene shortly after Ms. Chavez' death - even before the Los Lunas Police showed up. Of course, the officers didn't have any business entering a potential crime scene in another jurisdiction but that didn't stop them from mucking up the criminal case from the get go.

As usual in these suspicious death cases, a civil suit is filed and often runs parallel to the criminal case. Sometimes due to screw-ups or incompetence, the civil case is the only way for families to seek justice (think O.J.).

The Tera Chavez Estate filed suite back in Augusts of 2008 (read it here). The suit names Levi Chavez II, Chief Ray Schultz, Lt. Shawn O'Connell, Sgt. Ron Olivas, Sgt. James Silver, and "APD Officers John Does 4-6." (Read the original filing here.)

In a wrongful death suit, the plaintiff's attorney hires their own investigator to dig up evidence to support their case. It looks as if their investigation is starting to bear fruit for attorney Brad Hall and his clients.

According to our Eyes, a forensic analysis of Officer Chavez' city issued and owned computer - the one used in his vehicle - revealed that Chavez had been doing a little research on how to commit murder and make it look like a suicide. In addition, Chavez seemed to be stocking up on cold medicine by purchasing 6 bottles right before Tera's death. Toxicology found that Tera Chavez had three times the recommended amount of cold medicine in her bloodstream.

Is it possible that Tera Chavez had a thirst for cold medicine and that Levi just happened to be doing research about making a murder look like suicide? Sure. But anyone can see that it doesn't look real good to be running around with other women, taking out insurance policies, keeping marijuana on the premises, buying copious amounts of cough medicine, and researching how to make a murder look like suicide.

Remember under our system of law unless you've received a scam-era citation, you're innocent until proven guilty. But in civil cases, the burden of proof is "preponderance of the evidence" not "reasonable doubt" - a considerably lower standard.

What has really gotten us annoyed at this point is that our best information is that Levi Chavez is still on paid administrative leave. We are all paying for Chavez to do, well... nothing. And he's been doing nothing since November 19th, 2007.

The standards for termination at APD are even more difficult to defend than the standard in a civil trial.
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?
How long are the taxpayers of Albuquerque going to have to continue to pay an officer not to be on the force when there seems to be plenty of reason to take him off the payroll regardless of his guilt or innocence in his wife's death?

May 5, 2009

Make it a Three-way

Last week, Councilor Cadigan announced is return (after no time at all... really no time at all) to city politics by re-entering the race that he had left when he left the mayor's race due to an inability to qualify for public financing. The two-way race between Jeremy Toulouse and Dan Lewis became a three-way race.

Not surprisingly, a Democrat has surfaced to challenge the two Republicans interested in the District 9 seat. Our Eyes tell us that Democrat David Barber - who registered as a Democrat in the district in 2007 - plans on challenging the two Republicans.

It'll be interesting to see what effect the addition of a Democratic challenger has on the race. If it's anything like four years ago, Barber's participation will only have the effect of extending the election and perhaps handing it to the candidate who's not the incumbent. Runoff elections tend to favor the anti-incumbent crowd. If Barber makes a respectable showing in the October election, chances are Brasher would win the run off - that is assuming he doesn't win the election outright.

Meanwhile, two more candidates have eschewed (Yes, eschewed. Look it up.) public financing. The Eyes have it that Commissioner Brasher has decided to forgo using involuntary contributions from taxpayers in favor of using voluntary contributions from supporters who have decided that he's the best candidate for the job.

The other candidate who has according to the grapevine, decided to eschew public financing is none other than the former "clean" mayoral candidate Councilor Michael Cadigan. If true, Cadigan's change of heart may have something to do with the fact that he figured out that the new "ethical" elections ordinance does nothing but keep potential candidates out of a race.

There's little doubt that Brasher and Cadigan have the ability to raise the $30,000 or so necessary to compete against their taxpayer funded counterparts. What will be interesting to see is if the two (and Commissioner Armijo) decide to push beyond the dollar per voter limit set by Albuquerque's Unethical Elections Scheme thereby funding their opponents. If so, they'll be hurting their campaigns but potentially setting the stage for a 1st Amendment challenge to Albuquerque's public financing system.

We don't know whether either candidate will take on the city during an election year, but it's clear that the Albuquerque Open and "Ethical" Elections Ordinance is has some real Constitutional problems that need to be addressed by the courts.

Make it a three-way in two of five districts. The game is on and it's only early May! It'll be a fun election season to say the least.

----- Correction -----
We were rightly chastised for identifying the Republican candidate in District 5 as Dan East - who was the CD3 Republican candidate last year. Of course the candidate for city council is Dan Lewis. We got our Dans mixed up. It has been corrected above.

May 4, 2009

400 MILLION Reasons

The Sunday Journal reported that a group of "marketing, advertising, and other professionals" is pushing to get another city boondoggle on the October ballot. Apparently, this group of "other professionals" doesn't include an accountant, banker, or anyone with a business major. The arena and hotel that ad guy Steve Wedeen would have us build would cost no less than $400 MILLION tax dollars.
"The impact is phenomenal," Wedeen said in a recent interview. "This is really an economic-stimulus package that invests in a smart, sound industry."
The impact to the tax payer is obvious... higher taxes. As for whether or not the arena without-a-team business is a "smart, sound industry"... we beg to differ. More to the point, Wedeen would have the City of Albuquerque follow the "City of Vision's" lead and build an arena that loses money. If that weren't enough, Wedeen and his group would have the city go into the hospitality business by building a publically funded hotel.
Business leaders also want more analysis of whether the project would generate adequate operating revenue and question projected attendance figures for minor league sports teams that would play in the center.

The Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce wants a more detailed financial analysis before announcing whether it would support such a project.
You know you've got problems when even the Greater Chamber of Commerce has reservations about your business plan. Worse an attempt by private investors to build a downtown arena has already failed because no one would give them the money. And that was back when they were giving money away to people who could never pay it back.

This is a plan that only an advertiser would try to sell. An undersized arena with no proven anchor tenant next to a perpetually struggling convention center. If Wedeen is so taken with the idea then he should put together an investor group, build it with private money and prove us all wrong. If he's successful, he'll be fabulously wealthy (at least until Obama and Co. get a hold of him) and he should be.

There are 400 MILLION reasons not to build a new Downtown Boondoggle and each one comes from "investors" who have no direct control over the enterprise. Talk about greed! When someone asks for their dream to be built not through their own efforts and abilities but on the backs of his fellow citizens... that's greed and the worst kind of greed.