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, 2009

Has-Beens and Desperation

Marty in the Middle's desperation is showing. The Almighty Alcalde was humbled by the 2nd (and maybe even 3rd) place showing in Sunday's Albuquerque Journal poll and now he's pulling out all of the stops.

Prior to the release of the Sanderoff poll, Marty had been aiming all of his vitriolic might at R.J. Berry. Since Sunday, Marty's Minions have been alternating attacks between Romero and Berry. Monday featured an email from Councilor Ken Sanchez aimed at trashing Romero by associating him with Republicans.

Yesterday, Howard Dean hit the phones with Democrats on behalf of the beleaguered mayor and today, former Councilor (and card carrying Marty-crat) Craig Loy was pestering Republicans.

So what's this all about? Until Sunday, Marty believed that at the very least he was in 2nd place. The Journal poll shocked The Almighty Alcalde by showing that not only was he in 2nd place, but could very well be in third behind Richard Romero - which would put Marty out of any possible runoff.

The sudden change of strategy indicates that Marty is desperate to find a way to at least hold on to 2nd place. Right now, it doesn't look as though anyone will be able to reach the magic 40% even though with 19% undecided it's certainly possible.

Marty not only needs to bring down Berry, but he needs to put some distance between himself and Romero. The only problem with his new approach is that unlike previous years, Marty has finite resources. If he splits them, he may not be able to achieve either objective and may be (or perhaps already has been) overtaken by the hard charging Romero campaign.

With only 5 days left in the campaign, a single mistake could cost any of the three candidates the election. Bringing in a couple of has-beens like Loy and Dean and attempting to attack both opponents may very well leave Marty on the outside looking in.

Misinformation

The Ahrensfield/Olivas story has been all over the place today. First it was a burned FBI drug investigation. Then it was an investigation into the APOA. Now, it's back to being an investigation of a used car dealer who's moonlighting as a drug dealer.

Before we go forward, all of the information we received came from solid sources that we have used many times in the past. This time around things were complicated by the fact that The 5th Floor was engaging in a misinformation campaign. But like a lot of things lately, they screwed it up.

According to our Eyes, the APOA story was a red herring thrown out to keep the spotlight off of an SID officer (Olivas) burning an FBI investigation. However, SID inadvertently leaked the correct story to the department and apparently were chewed out this morning for their lapse.

What really bugs us is that we've unintentionally aided their subterfuge by spreading misinformation. We're not crazy about it but there it is.

All of our sources now agree that the original story above was accurate and that the burned investigation targeted a used auto and drug dealer. Brad Ahrensfield received information about the investigation from Ron Olivas in SID. Ahrensfield then notified a relative who worked at the dealership who passed the information on to the owner.

These are serious allegations and we want to make sure that all of our readers understand that they are just that - allegations. No one has been convicted of anything. In fact, no one has even been officially accused.

That being said... Our Eyes tell us that the 5th Floor is in disarray. It's so bad that even they can't keep their stories straight. We'll keep our Eyes on this and let you know if there are any further developments.

Red Herring?

Last night we told you about the chaos over at APD. The 5th Floor has found itself in the middle of yet another scandal and has suspended former APOA President Ron Olivas and officer Brad Ahrensfield over the affair.

APD mouthpiece John Walsh refused to tell KOB TV reporter Jeremy Jojola why the two had been placed on administrative leave. But yesterday, we found out from our Eyes that the two had burned an FBI investigation. The target of the investigation was supposedly a 4th Street used car dealer that was dealing something other than cars to users.

Today we're hearing our Eyes that the FBI investigation didn't involve drugs at all, but rather white collar crime - as in embezzlement and tax evasion. The target of the investigation was and/or is the Albuquerque Police Officer's Association.

Apparently, the leak about the drug investigation was an attempt at misinformation in order to keep this thing away from the APOA until after next Tuesday's election.
[Sidebar]
Our Eyes tell us that Chief Schultz has flown into an almost uncontrollable rage. Apparently, he's afraid he'll lose his job and should one of the two mayoral challengers take the mayoral throne from The Almighty Alcalde, odds are he will lose his job particularly if indictments are involved.

Should the Chief lose his job before he's been in place 5 years, he would lose his 2nd PERA pension. Chiefs of Police qualify for a 2nd pension after 5 years of service. Our Eyes tell us that a Chief's pension is based on 80% of chief's pay and is a double dip. Schultz is already receiving his full pension based on his retirement at Deputy Chief's pay.
[End Sidebar]
If you've read this blog for any length of time you know that there have been numerous questions about the APOA's use of member dues (read it here). Former union boss Ron Olivas was smack dab in the middle of these questionable activities.

Our newest information is that Aherensfield heard about the FBI investigation into the APOA and tipped off former APOA President, Ron Olivas.

It's possible that both sets of allegations are true and Olivas and Ahrensfield are simply caught in the middle of a perfect sh#% storm of their own making. However, we'd guess that our most recent information is correct and the information on a drug investigation is a red herring.

We know that the APOA has been involved in what can only be characterized as questionable financial activities - some of which could be considered criminal. So it simply makes sense that the APOA would be under the FBI's microscope.

Folks... the FBI is looking into something and it allegedly involves Ahrensfield and Olivas. What you can be sure of is that the FBI won't move on anything that could impact the upcoming city election - at least until after the votes are cast next Tuesday.

Sep 29, 2009

Burned

KOB TV reporter Jeremy Jojola has been poking around APD recently. What's got the TV reporter asking questions – and a bit miffed – is information he received that APD has placed officers Ron Olivas and Brad Ahrensfield on administrative leave pending an investigation. The problem is APD won't say what the two officers are being investigated for.

After numerous phone calls and emails to city officials, Albuquerque Police spokesperson John Walsh finally told me today (Monday) that Officers Ron Olivas and Brad Ahrensfield are on "paid administrative leave pending an internal affairs investigation."

Walsh told me the two officers were placed on leave sometime last week.
According to our Eyes, the two APD officers were placed on administrative leave for allegedly burning a federal investigation into a Valley used car dealer that was dealing in more than used cars. Apparently, Ahrensfield knew the dealer in question and received information from Olivas that the FBI was about ready to make arrests in the case. Allegedly, Ahrensfield tipped off his dealer buddy who promptly changed the emphasis of his dealing activities back to automobiles.

The 5th Floor has gone into what can only be called an apoplectic fit over the possibility that the allegations against the two officers might find their way to the public or into the media. (Oops!)

In case you haven't noticed... there's an election going on and the boss ain't fairing so well. Stories on yet another APD scandal won't help The Almighty Alcalde in his bid to keep his seat on the 11th Floor – particularly since the leak came from the Special Investigations Division (SID).

SID was the source of the Reserve-gate scandal where APD officers were falsifying civilian time sheets and sending Reserve Officer David Young out undercover illegally. Ron Olivas – the immediate Past President of the APOA – received his assignment to the unit only recently and rumor has it that Olivas got the assignment as a reward from The Almighty Alcalde for his “help” with the union.

Remember, Chief Schultz threw the entire reserve program under the bus rather than admit that a couple of his favored senior officers falsified time sheets and illegally paid a reserve officer for police work.

The 5th Floor doesn't want news of yet another investigation out before the election. And don't look for the FBI to do anything that might influence the election.

Since the whole Senator Ted Stevens debacle where the Justice Department was very publicly chastised for prosecutorial misconduct, the DOJ and FBI are extremely reluctant to file charges right before an election. The DOJ eventually dropped the indictments and Stevens' conviction was overturned. But the damage to Senator Stevens' political career was done and he lost his seat in the U.S. Senate.

Burning an FBI investigation is never a good idea – and understandably the Feds are none too happy. It's a particularly bad idea when the match is struck by a couple of law enforcement officials who not only should know better, but should probably do everything in their power to stay away from "friends" who are the target of an FBI investigation. If the allegations against the two are true, Olivas and Ahrensfield could even be charged criminally.

In addition to burning and FBI investigation, the two officers may have burned Marty's chances of closing the gap with mayoral challenger R.J. Berry. For years now APD has made a habit of sweeping it's dirty laundry under the rug. Now theirs more dirt than rug and the public is beginning to get the idea that it's time for a good cleaning - starting with The 11th Floor.

Sep 28, 2009

Crossing the Line

Councilor Ken Sanchez is well known for being a major supporter of The Almighty Alcalde. Today that support may have gone too far. Councilor Ken Sanchez has sent an email out to Bernalillo County and city employees attacking Richard Romero.

From: Ken Sanchez [mailto:info@martychavez.com]
Sent: Monday, September 28, 2009 3:37 PM

Subject: Romero Gave $21,300 to Republicans


Dear Supporter,
Over the last five years, Santa Fe Lobbyist Richard Romero has given or funneled $21,300 to Republican politicians. Why did a self described "progressive" Democrat become a Santa Fe lobbyist and use his position to funnel tens of thousands of dollars to right wing Republicans that they use to bash Democrats and advance their right wing agenda? That's not principled and it's certainly not courageous.
It gets worse. Richard Romero didn't just use his own money or his lobbying clients' money to help fund campaigns of right wing Republicans - Romero used money from his 2004 Congressional campaign account to help Republican candidates!
That's right, Richard Romero took money donated by Democrats to help defeat Heather Wilson and used it to help fund Republican candidates. He took the money donated by Democrats to help defeat Heather Wilson and gave it to Republican legislators Jane Powdrell Culbert, Tom Anderson, Bill Rehm and even Richard "R.J" Berry. That's just wrong.
SEE THE FULL LIST OF RICHARD ROMERO'S REPUBLICAN CONTRIBUTIONS!
Over the last five years, Richard Romero donated $21,300 to 28 different Republican members of the legislature. This isn't something from deep in Richard's past - he was giving money to Republicans as recently as June 20th of this year!
Richard Romero is a political chameleon. In 2009, he's calling himself a "progressive," but, in 2004, when he was running against progressive Democrat Miles Nelson in the Congressional primary, Romero positioned himself to the right, using the word "centrist" to describe himself.
We don't need an unprincipled politician in City Hall. Vote 'No' on Richard Romero.
Thanks so much for your time.
Sincerely,
City Councilor Ken Sanchez
Marty has clearly figured out that he needs the support of every Democrat to win in October. This latest email is yet another sign that the Chavez campaign is nothing short of desperate He's even willing to sacrifice one of his closest allies - Councilor Ken Sanchez.

Look, it's not illegal for a councilor to support a mayor. The problem is that the target of the email message is exclusively county and city employees - lists that come from the councilor and former commissioner's time in city and county government.

At the very least, Councilor Sanchez has crossed the line with the voters and the source of his transgression is none other than The Almighty Alcalde.

Sep 27, 2009

Marty in the Middle

Last week's Eye Poll started out with R.J. Berry holding a significant lead over the incumbent Alcalde. By the end of the week, Marty moved to within one vote of the leader. In our unscientific Eye Poll Berry and Chavez both sat at 39% with Berry holding a 1 vote lead. Meanwhile the other challenger Richard Romero, rounded out the poll with 23% of the vote (view it here).

Historically speaking, it's not above supporters of The Almighty Alcalde to push a poll. In fact, we've had it happen before (read it here). In this case, we don't have any evidence of 11th Floor tampering but we wouldn't be shocked if it occurred. We're quite sure that Marty and his minions are more than a little sensitive about any poll these days.

In case you missed it... The Sunday Journal featured an above the fold story on the most recent Sanderoff poll that showed R.J. Berry leading in this year's mayoral derby by 6 points with 31% of the vote. Chavez followed Berry with 26% followed closely by Romero at 24%. 19% of respondents in the Journal poll were undecided and the margin of error was a rather large plus or minus 5 points (ABQ Journal Subscription).

The fact is that despite the Journal headline - "Berry Has Slim Lead Over Chávez, Romero, With Days To Go" - R.J. Berry is that at worst leading Chavez and Romero by 1 and 2 points respectively. On the other hand, Berry could be leading Chavez by as much as 11 points.

There are a healthy number of undecided voters - in this case 19%. If the undecideds break hard for either Chavez or Romero, Berry could see his lead evaporate quickly. However, it looks as if the majority of undecided voters come from the NE Heights - traditionally a Republican stronghold and the wellspring of Marty's past victories.

Meanwhile, Romero is drawing Hispanic votes and Democrats (particularly liberal Democrats) away from The Almighty Alcalde.

None of this is particularly surprising. Politics is often situational. From the beginning, the situation favored R.J Berry - a Republican - since Democrats Chavez and Romero would tend to split the D vote.

In the end it will come down to turnout. Romero with the backing of the Eli Lee machine will effectively get their vote out. Marty will work his city hall machine between now and the election to make sure that every employee both votes and knows that their career is in his hands.

But in the end, the election will be decided by Republicans - many of whom have faithfully if misguidedly supported The Almighty Alcalde in the past. For the first time in a long time, Marty is being squeezed making him - in a statistical sense more than in a political one - Marty in the Middle. If independents break hard for Berry, Albuquerque's unemployment rate will go up by one.

Sep 23, 2009

Bode Back on the Radar

Last February, Bode Aviation filed suit against the City of Albuquerque and Mayor Martin Chavez. The suit alleges misuse of public funds, safety issues created by city actions, and well... extortion. In addition, Bode alleges that the city has failed to recognize their right to extend their lease. You can read the complete filings here and here.

The complaints tell an interesting story that starts with the company's refusal to provide free air service to provide free or discounted air service to the Almighty Alcalde's Senate campaign - that is before his own party ran him out of the race. According to the complaint, Bode Aviation had notified the city of their intent to extend their lease when they were approached by the would be Senator Chavez' campaign to provide the free or discounted service to candidate and his campaign.

Bode refused to provide free services - which if provided, would have placed them in squarely in violation of federal campaign law. A short time later, a number of safety concerns arose out at the Double Eagle II Airport as well as concerns that the city was misusing FAA grant money.
At a meeting on August 21, 2007, Plaintiffs were told by representatives of Defendants that because of concerns raised by Plaintiffs about the charter school, the “mayor’s gotten involved, and you guys are back on the radar,” and that Plaintiffs were “back at risk.” When Mr. Bode asked, “at risk for what,” he was told the Defendants were considering “another FBO” at the airport. These representatives also reminded Plaintiffs that the representatives had “been successful up to now keeping the politics out.”
The above claim is supported by surveillance video recorded by Bode - video that is now all over the web. And we just hate to be left out so here it is.



The above clip was edited by the Romero campaign, but it's no less damning for all that. In the clip you can clearly hear Aviation Director, Nick Bakas and Planning Manager for Business Development Jack Scherer discussing the unwanted attention that Bode was receiving because they were back on the mayor's "radar."

Now our Eyes tell us that The Almighty Alcalde and his brain trust including the aforementioned Nick Bakas, have approached Doug Christian CEO of Enchantment Helicopters to take over as FBO at Double Eagle II.

There's only one problem with all of this... Well, OK there are a lot of problems with this whole thing. In fact, this whole thing stinks. Bode has a contract that the city lead by The Almighty Alcalde refuses to honor because Bode refused to be extorted and raised legitimate concerns over safety and the use of public money.

Folks, none of this would have happened if Bode had been willing to tote the mayor around the state on their dime. None of this would have happened if they wouldn't have raised a red flag over security problems at the airport. And none of this would have happened if Bode had looked the other way when public money was being misspent.

Pay to play is alive and well in Albuquerque and Bode's back on the radar because they decided not to play.

Sep 21, 2009

Phone Slime

Since last week's KNME debate, two different "polls" have been spewing slime all over those unfortunate enough to pick up the phone. It's not like these things are really polls. They're not even push polls. They're autodial phone messages masquerading as a poll by asking the poor unfortunate souls who are stuck listening to this garbage to press 1 or press 2 depending on how much of a scoundrel you believe RJ Berry is.

The problem is, there's no mechanism for collecting the response. The auodialer's message barrels on regardless of the answer.
Poll: "5 a : a questioning or canvassing of persons selected at random or by quota to obtain information or opinions to be analyzed b : a record of the information so obtained"
So, according to Merriam-Webster a poll requires that data be collected - without it there's nothing to analyze. Therefore, these "polls" aren't polls they're campaign communications. And in this case, they're unidentified campaign communications - a violation of the City of Albuquerque's campaign laws.

KOB-TV is reporting that all 3 campaigns are denying any knowledge of the illicit phoners. We think we can absolutely rule out the Berry camp - as they're the target. And to date, Romero hasn't been targeting Berry. By process of elimination, that leaves Uncle Marty and his merry band of campaign cronies as the most likely culprits.
The polls used some information, sometimes nearly word for word, from a Chávez hit piece — a mailer — questioning Berry's reputation as a fiscal conservative, among other things.
The funniest part of this whole thing was the Chavez campaign's response from spokesperson Joan Griffin.
Chavez campaign spokesperson Joan Griffin repeatedly said they didn't know whose poll it was, but at the end of the message she added:

"I believe that polls are not required to have disclaimers,"
So, according to Ms. Griffin - we don't know a thing about whose "poll" it was, but if we did it was legal because polls don't have to have disclaimers. Read it again. That's what she said... Really! (We'll now pause for you to finish laughing...)
The lack of disclosure violates city election and campaign codes, interim City Clerk Randy Autio said Monday. Autio's office should have been given transcripts of the calls, and whoever is doing them should have registered as a measured finance committee — the city's version of a PAC.
Lying to the public isn't exactly new for the Chavez administration. They've been fibbing about the number of officers on the street, the effectiveness of the red light scam-eras, and spewing noxious emissions about greenhouse gas. So... who don't you believe here? Press 1 for Berry, 2 for Romero, or 3 for Chavez.

More importantly despite the fact that the Chavez cronies made every attempt to block the caller ID of the party making the illegal autodialers, our Eyes tell us that there's evidence that the source of calls was the same as the source of Chavez' other identified campaign phone communications.

Let's review... the calls sound like Chavez radio ads running on local stations. They are denied, but defended by Chavez spokeswoman Joan Griffin. Chavez has a history of, well... bending the truth. And, there's evidence that the calls came from the same source as other Chavez campaign phone ads.

Looks to us like the slime coming from your phone originates over at the Chavez campaign office. But given the history of the Almighty Alcalde the source of slime isn't all that surprising... is it?

Sep 20, 2009

Eye Poll: Not Safer

Apparently, the only person in Albuquerque that feels safe is Chief Sergeant Schultz who seems to know nothing about the paper work he signs and even less about how dangerous Albuquerque has become. In our unscientific Eye Poll, 71% of readers don't feel as safe as they did just four years ago. 27% of Eye readers felt safer than they were four years ago and 3% didn't know.

The truth is that Albuquerque is a more dangerous city, particularly if you are a woman. While the number of murders per year hover between 34 and 53 per year, forcible rape has gone almost straight up since a 2004 eight year low of 234. Last year there were 370 forcible rapes in Albuquerque an increase of almost 60% in four years.

Our Eyes tell us that there have already been 38 murders this year - not counting the 12 Westside serial killer victims. Armed robbery is up 28% since 2003 with 1,350 incidents just last year. Meanwhile, burglary is up 13% and motor vehicle theft is up 15% since 2002. These numbers aren't a national secret - they're available from the FBI.

Crime is becoming the signature issue in this year's election - as it should be. Since the Chief of Police is an at-will employee of the mayor, the mayor is directly responsible for his performance or lack thereof.

Not surprisingly Marty won't take responsibility, but he's more than willing to show up at the next ribbon cutting sporting his smarmy smile.

This week, we're taking our second look at the mayor's race. Let us know who you want to be Albuquerque's next mayor!

Sep 16, 2009

KNME Forum - Tonight!

KNME Channel 5, KUNM, The Alibi, and The New Mexico Independent are hosting a mayoral forum at the National Hispanic Cultural Center this very evening. The forum starts at 7:00 pm and will be streamed live on knme.org and will be aired on Channel 5 on Friday at 7:00 pm.

The venue and the sponsors are really Chavez-Romero friendly. If you're a Berry supporter it would probably be a very good idea for you to get up out of your easy chair and head down to the National Hispanic Cultural Center and view the debate live rather than watch it online or wait for the broadcast Friday.

All of the campaigns will be working to get their supporters out because they know that the forum will be broadcast. This is really a very easy way for you to help your candidate pick-up a few votes.

Sep 15, 2009

Politics As Usual - Marty Misleading... Again

We've been amused to hear some of The Almighty Alcalde's recent radio ads defending some of his core positions and of course, claiming that his opponents are "desperate." As usual, claiming the other guy is desperate is a sign of your own desperation. As usual, defending long held and widely unpopular positions in an Ad usually results in an ad that's full of sh... uh, distortions.

video

Note the first claim that The Almighty Alcalde doesn't support a Trolley. Trolley is a term that opponents have used to characterize what Marty and his streetcar minions call a "modern streetcar" - and Marty has a loooong record of supporting one. It may be true that Marty has never referred to the streetcar as a trolley and therefore has never supported a "trolley," but Marty will do anything to get a "modern streetcar" - voters be damned.

The second li... uh, misleading statement is that The Almighty Alcalde supports a "modern light rail, but only if passed by the voters." Marty may very well support a "modern light rail" if approved by the voters, but a light rail system is not the trolley or "streetcar" system that Hizzz Honor, Marty the Misleader and his accomplices has been trying to get past the public since November 6th, 2006 (read our take here).
Why not a Light Rail system?

Unlike light rail, which requires the entire reconstruction of underground infrastructure to support the weight of the heavier light rail cars, streetcar rail is embedded into the street. Because of the lighter weight of streetcars, most modern streets can already support a streetcar. Construction of a streetcar line can be as basic as removing enough concrete in the road for the rails to seat, less disruption than repairing a simple underground water line.
What's worse is that Marty knows the difference as evidenced by the city's own website and is trying to make you believe that any Central streetcar or trolley will only be built after the public votes on spending $30 to $50 MILLION per mile.

Next in the litany of li... uh, distortions in Marty's radio ad is an attempt to deny Marty's mandate that turns the City of Albuquerque into a defacto sanctuary city. The current APD Standard Operating Procedure - which was changed twice on August 14th 2007 - states: "Officers shall not inquire about or seek proof of a person's immigration status unless the person is in custody or is a suspect in a criminal investigation."

So... If you're an illegal immigrant and an officer pulls you over for say, suspicion of drunk driving and you have a New Mexico drivers license thanks to Big Bill's stupidity, and when your drivers license is run it doesn't come up with a social security number (which often happens with illegals), and you speak with a heavy Gaelic accent, but you're not intoxicated - you're free to go and the officer is restrained from even asking about your immigration status.

Now we understand that our little illustration is a bit farfetched - after all a sober Irishman?! But, Albuquerque has a problem with illegal immigration and crime - property crime in particular. According to FBI statistics, incidents of property crime rose 9% from 2007 to 2008 - a 6 year high.
[Sidebar]
Our Eyes report that The 5th Floor is playing a little game with the numbers. As of August our Eyes maintain that there had been 38 murders in Albuquerque. Well... sort of. You see, there had been 38 murders if you don't count the 12 serial killer victims found back in February. According to the preliminary FBI statistics for 2008, there were 38 murders in Albuquerque all of last year.

The 5th Floor brain trust has decided not to report the 12 Westside murder victims until after the election. But even if you don't count the murder victims of a serial killer, Albuquerque is well on its way to another 6 year high. This is just another example of Marty and his minions cooking the books (read it here).
[End Sidebar]
In Marty's little misleading radio ad, Marty talks about truth - something he has yet to be acquainted with. The truth is that Marty is feeling pressure from an opponent who is making crime, immigration, and little Marty's trolley campaign issues. These are long held positions by The Almighty Alcalde and it's simply insulting to think that he believes that we're dumb enough not to remember the positions he took and the beliefs he still holds. Talk about politics as usual!

Harris Landslide

We've long been lamenting the lack of competition in this year's council race. Frankly, the only race that's close is the District 5 race between incumbent Michael Cadigan and challenger Dan Lewis. So it comes as no surprise that Councilor Harris took his October opponent David Barbour in a landslide in our most recent unscientific Eye Poll. 75% of Eye readers prefer Councilor Harris, 25% of readers prefer David Barbour (view it here).

This week we take a look at one of the core issue in the mayoral race - public safety. Do you feel safer that you did four years ago? Chief Schultz does, do you? Don't forget to vote!

Sep 11, 2009

Slumber and Change

Eight years ago the slumbering giant that is the people of the United States was rudely awakened to the reality of Fascio-Islamic terrorism. Sure... there had been a number of indications that there was an organized group of nut cases out there who wanted nothing more than to destroy everything that this country stands for, but we chose to believe we were safe - that we weren't at war for the simple reason that we did not want to be at war.

September 11th, 2001 changed all that. Even the most ardent denier was forced to admit that war had been brought to our shores taking the lives of over 4,000 innocent civilians.

Thus began the finger pointing. A new Republican administration was immediately blamed for not "connecting the dots" by an outgoing Democratic administration that was working hard to protect their legacy. There are a number of indications that the Clinton administration failed to fully understand the magnitude of the threat posed by Islamic terrorists. However, no one before 9/11 believed that Mohammed Atta and his merry band of terrorists would turn airliners into missiles and fly them into buildings killing thousands of Americans.

Of course, we hadn't been living in the Middle East where terrorists regularly straped on explosives - walked into pizza parlors and discos only to kill as many innocents as possible before going off to meet Allah. We were stunned... much of the rest of the world merely waited for our reaction.

Our reaction came swiftly. President Bush declared that if a nation harbored terrorists within its borders, then that nation was itself a terrorist nation. The idea was to fight them over there so that Americans didn't have to die over here. Whether you agree with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq or not, you have to admit that the strategy worked and at the cost of very few American lives from a historical perspective.

Unfortunately, our successes may be leading to failure. Despite our best efforts, Islamic terrorism has not been defeated. They're still out there waiting for us to return to our misguided slumber. And the politicization of the Iraq War and the resulting changes in Congress and the White House have all but erased the hard earned knowledge earned at the cost of over 4,000 American lives on September 11th, 2001.

Prosecuting CIA operatives who were acting on orders and in good faith that their methods were both necessary and legal, diminishes their willingness to work in the field. More importantly, prosecution diminishes our ability to "connect the dots."

Turning a war in to a police action by mirandizing terrorists captured on the field of battle and expecting soldiers to act like law enforcement, exposes them to danger and us to terrorists. Guantanamo Bay - the much demonized detention facility located safely and securely on the southwest tip of Cuba - is to be closed. The terrorists it holds moved to be held amongst us.

President Obama has shown us his true colors. He is an American apologist who either doesn't know or doesn't understand the nature of our enemies. He believes that he can talk his way out of anything and the public and his enemies into anything.

Make no mistake - we are at greater risk today than we were just eight short months ago.

We're not saying that President Bush got it all right. The Patriot Act went too far, he hung too much on WMDs in Iraq and probably was overly optimistic about our ability to a remove a government and replace it with a democracy - lessons we should have remembered from Japan and Germany. But, President Bush understood the nature of his enemy. Anyone who is willing to die for a cause will ultimately take an unacceptable number of innocent lives while trying to achieve their objective.

Last November, Americans voted for "hope" and "change." Let's hope that change hasn't lead to the same type of slumber that resulted in the deaths of over 4,000 Americans. We owe them and the soldiers that have died in two wars far more than that. At the very least, we owe them and our countrymen the vigilance that is but one of the prices of our freedom. If we forget 9/11 we will be doomed to repeat it.

Sep 9, 2009

Impact Tax - Tonight

The much deferred debate over Impact Taxes is once again on the city council agenda tonight. In short, the proposed ordinance O-09-69 would temporarily drop impact taxes on so called "green path" development and reduce them by 50% for all other development.

The arguments against the moratorium generally take one or both of the following two paths:
  1. Lowering impact fees would lead to a loss of tax revenue.
  2. The cost of extending city services to undeveloped areas (i.e. Westside businesses and neighborhoods) should be borne by those who directly benefit from those services.
The first argument is really a non-issue. The reality is when there's no development, there's no revenue from the impact tax. Worse, there's no potential revenue generation from the taxes that would be paid if the empty lot had a commercial or residential revenue generator (development) in place.

More insidious is taking the point of view of government itself and viewing taxes as belonging to the government. Taxes and the government belong to the people not the bureaucrats and politicians that spend our hard-earned wealth. Remember, developers don't pay taxes - consumers do.

The second argument is a little harder to knock down. Not because it's in any way more substantial, but because it appeals a core value that individuals should pay their own way. If you build a home or a place for your business to operate, you should bear the brunt of the costs of the infrastructure required to develop that facility.

The problem is that developers and property owners were already paying for that infrastructure through utility expansion charges and unpredictable exactions. That's why groups like NAIOP supported the institution of impact fees. What they got was system of Impact Taxes in addition to all of the other fees and Impact Taxes were designed not to offset the cost of infrastructure extension but to achieve the infill objectives of New Urbanists.

Of course, the inequitable system of taxes known as "impact fees" only pushed those looking for their affordable piece of paradise out of the city and into surrounding communities creating more sprawl, more pollution, and less tax revenue for the City of Albuquerque. But impact fee proponents don't really care about the actual impact of their policies they simply want to control development with an iron fist - control that all of us pay for. Sounds a lot like the proposed government controlled health care scheme doesn't it?
* Main Entry: com·mu·ni·ty
* Pronunciation: \kə-ˈmyü-nə-tē\
* Function: noun
* Inflected Form(s): plural com·mu·ni·ties
* Usage: often attributive
* Etymology: Middle English comunete, from Anglo-French communité, from Latin communitat-, communitas, from communis
* Date: 14th century

1 : a unified body of individuals: as a : state, commonwealth b : the people with common interests living in a particular area; broadly : the area itself c : an interacting population of various kinds of individuals (as species) in a common location d : a group of people with a common characteristic or interest living together within a larger society e : a group linked by a common policy f : a body of persons or nations having a common history or common social, economic, and political interests g : a body of persons of common and especially professional interests scattered through a larger society
You'll notice that community is a group of people with common interests living in a particular area. Those interests include things like security, fire protection, sanitation, roads, and basic infrastructure. To be a part of that community, its members agree to pay reasonable taxes to the community's governing body in order to pay for the infrastructure required to provide those services.

The idea that one part of the community should pay more for the same infrastructure provided to another part of the community is simply wrong - fiscally and morally. Moreover, it fractures the tax base. The "pay your own way" argument simply won't work as there's not a neighborhood in town that could afford to pay for its own infrastructure and maintenance.

The best kind of taxation is broad and shallow. Impact Taxes as implemented by the City of Albuquerque back in 2005 are neither. Reducing impact fees is a step in the right direction even if the reduction is less than equitable because of the "green path" provision.

In the long run, the City of Albuquerque needs to readdress its system of Impact Taxes, exactions and other fees in order to make them equitable and predictable. Fair, equitable, and low taxation leads to individual economic prosperity. Tonight, the council has an opportunity to take a step towards a stronger local economy. The question is whether or not they will have the courage to do so.

Sep 8, 2009

Rampart APD Style

Almost a decade ago, the Los Angeles Police Department was rocked by yet another scandal. This one involved the Rampart Division's CRASH (Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums) program. CRASH was an anti-gang initiative created by Chief Darryl Gates in the 1970s.
CRASH officers were required to get to know gang members--their names, habits, friends--to keep on top of gang activity. The units were successful, city-wide, in reducing gang related crime. But some critics, especially after Rafael Perez's allegations surfaced, believed that CRASH administered rough street justice--harassing and abusing suspects and falsifying reports.
Our Eyes have maintained for some time that APD's Special Investigations Unit (SID) - the unit where David Young was playing detective and fondling hookers - was out of control and bore a striking resemblance to the Rampart CRASH unit at LAPD.

According to Our Eyes, last week Nick Riccardi from the Los Angeles Times was poking around APD. Apparently, he met with Chief Schultz and others involved and is preparing a three part series for the LA Times. Word is, Riccardi found numerous similarities between the Rampart scandal and the SID debacle.

Should the Times run with the story they'll bring national attention to APD and the mayor who is directly responsible for their actions (or lack thereof). The worst thing for the Almighty Alcalde would be for the story to break before the October election. Should Marty manage to keep his police department out of the headlines until after the election and should voters choose to send him back to his perch on the 11th floor, he'll be in a far better position to defend himself and he'll be in direct control of at least one investigatory agency.

The Rampart story and subsequent investigation by the Feds was triggered by a story in the LA Times. Since it seems as if the FBI is already looking into the allegations and cover-up over at SID, a national story would serve to put pressure on a Justice Department still smarting from the very public political payback of dropping the indictments against Governor Richardson and his shakedown artists.

The Eyes have it that Chief Schultz believes that he has cut a deal to keep Riccardi's series out of the Times until after the election. However, their information is that the story will run before the election as early as this week.

If you think about it, there's no reason for the LA Times to throw a bone to the Chief and his boss The Almighty Alcalde. They're a national paper that doesn't have the cozy relationship that Marty enjoys with The Journal. They don't depend on Marty for access so there's very little that The Almighty Alcalde can do to hurt them. And sitting on this kind of story increases the chances that some other paper will pick it up and beat them to their own story.

Worse for Mayor Marty and his Minions, they won't be able to count on the cover so freely given to Richardson because besides being drummed out of not one but two elections by his own party last year, The Almighty Alcalde backed the wrong horse in the last election. Should allegations become indictments, you can bet that these indictments will go forward regardless of whether or not Marty is still mayor.

----- Update -----
Is our Eye red!!! We sat on the story about the story longer than the LA Times sat on the story itself! You can read Nick Riccardi's story here.

Our understanding is that there are two remaining parts... we shall see. By the way Sergeant, uh... Chief Schultz, it's not October.

For those of you who might have information for the LA Times' intrepid reporter, you can reach him by email at nicholas.riccardi@latimes.com.

Sep 3, 2009

Payoff?

In the land of Pay to Play, the pay is done by the taxpayers and the play by elected officials. The game is to cover each others, uh... backside and pick up some cash along the way. Wednesday, The Almighty Alcalde and the Queen of Root Beer Floats - Kari Brandenburg - held a news conference to announce that the city was going to pop for a couple of attorney's and a civilian staffer to work in the DA's office ostensibly to help prosecute those that have been prosecuted before.
The city of Albuquerque will start paying the District Attorney's Office $275,000 to prosecute repeat offenders.

At a joint news conference Wednesday, Mayor Martin Chávez and Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg announced that a team of prosecutors will be formed targeting suspects who have multiple convictions. The city will provide funding for the team for one year.
Of course Mayor For Life Marty didn't bother to get council approval he simply committed the money without all of that legal mumbo-jumbo required by the City Charter. More interestingly, the money comes almost a week to the day after Kari's major flip-flop on investigating APD.

Last Thursday the Journal quoted Brandenburg as saying...
"I think it would be prudent for it to be turned over to an investigatory agency so they could look at it," she said. "We are interested in any injustice being done. I would certainly think the circumstances warrant for an independent investigation."
By Friday...
District Attorney Kari Brandenburg said Thursday she will look at the cases her office prosecuted. She also said she feels APD can investigate the allegations involving the reserves making arrests.

She previously said an independent investigation was warranted, but clarified that APD should do its own independent investigation.
Perhaps Brandenburg was no longer interested in "justice being done" because Marty got out the city's checkbook in order to dump $275,000 into the cash strapped District Attorney's office. In the process Marty gets to go out and look like he's doing something to discourage repeat offenders.
One of Chávez's opponents in the October mayoral election, Richard Berry, issued a statement after the news conference saying the announcement was "disingenuous."

"This is nothing more than a $275,000 smokescreen," Berry said in the statement. "In the last weeks of the campaign, Chávez is scrambling to appear tough on crime in the hope that voters will forget his record, but after 12 years as mayor, he has been unable to solve the problem."
Of course none of this makes any sense. The city is going to provide two lawyers and a civilian for one year at a cost of $275,000 in order to get the DA's office to pursue repeat offender sentencing enhancements that they should be pursuing already. Exactly how does it cost more money and require three people to pursue a sentencing enhancement? The previous DA seemed to be able to do so.

The only way this makes any sense is in the context of a payoff. Brandenburg knows that she's facing a shrinking budget (No root beer floats for you!). Marty knows that an independent investigation of APD will turn up all sorts of embarrassing problems with The 5th Floor. The Almighty Alcalde simply can't afford to have a sitting elected official - particularly the DA - calling for an investigation of his administration.

The funny part is that we'll bet that Brandenburg has been had. The money ain't Marty's to blow and by the time the $275,000 doesn't show up the election will be over along with the mayor's incentive to fight the council for it.

Even more funny is that we're hearing rumors that outside parties are already poking around in the PD's past. Marty's move was most probably a payoff - one that Brandenburg will never receive.