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

Feb 24, 2010

The Intersection of Healthcare and Cap and Trade

by Marita Noon

"I can’t wait until we get government healthcare. I hate working with these insurance companies," said a healthcare worker tasked with getting his hospital reimbursed for the services they provide to Medicaid patients.

What he didn’t realize is that the United Behavioral Health subsidiary with whom he is dealing is "government healthcare."

Privatizing the delivery of services to Medicaid recipients has been a trend long before healthcare "overhaul" became a priority. Companies such as United Behavioral Health—the specific company being vilified in the aforementioned conversation—simply respond when the government puts out a Request for Proposal (RFP). Basically the lowest bidder gets the contract. The ability to offer such services for the price quoted is not taken into consideration, just how cheaply can the obligations be met. The contractor does what the government outlines for them. And, ideally, they make money from the services they provide—allowing them to stay in business and offer job security.

Those responsible for getting the hospitals paid for the services acknowledge that getting money from the private insurance companies is much easier than from the companies getting funded through government.

How does this connect to cap and trade?

First, understand that cap and trade is a government plan to deal with so-called man-made global warming. While the entire climate change issue is challenged due to the acknowledged data forgeries, and plummeting public concern over climate, governments are still moving forward with cap and trade plans. President Obama’s appointee as Administrator of EPA, Lisa Jackson, is ready to regulate CO2 as a pollutant in case Congress does the right thing and doesn’t pass cap and trade legislation. Here, in New Mexico, Governor Richardson is pushing for a statewide cap and trade program using an Environmental Improvement Board stacked with conflicts of interest.

Cap and trade supporters have touted the fact that many energy companies signed on to a cap and trade plan as proof that climate change is a real issue. Here is where healthcare and cap and trade intersect.

I am in the camp that believes that climate change is not a crisis, and if it is, there is nothing humans can do to change what has been going on for millions of years—long before human emissions were an issue. From this mindset, I have been speaking out against cap and trade. However, if we are going to have some type of climate change legislation, a carbon tax is a much more honest approach.

Like the privatization of Medicaid services, the unwary consumer will not realize that the energy price increases are as a result of a government program. Like an insurance company being blamed for the difficulty, the energy company will bear the brunt of the consumers’ wrath. Like an insurance company’s bid to get the government contract hoping to make a profit, the energy companies have signed on to what they (prior to climategate and the collapse of the theory) once viewed as inevitable. They expected to profit from cap and trade, while, the citizens are burdened with the higher energy costs.

Instead of cap and trade, a climate tax is more transparent. Citizens know that a "tax" is a government action. We know that the government collects the tax. It, too, will up our energy costs, but like the taxes on our phone bills, it will have a line on the bill stating exactly how many dollars of the bill are due to the carbon tax. Instead of being mad at the energy provider, the anger gets directed toward the government—and the energy companies have no chance to profit from the action.

When you hear conversations about cap and trade—especially those who support it as a way to stop so-called manmade global warming, suggest transparency; support the idea of a carbon tax. It is more honest. And, no one wants more taxes.

Better yet, now that the forged data has been exposed and more revelations are taking place on an almost daily basis, encourage your elected officials to block any climate change legislation. Support companies like ConocoPhillips, BP American and Caterpillar who have jumped ship before it sinks America. With public outcry, maybe more companies will see the light and pull out of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership.

CARE (Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy) is the nonprofit, member-based organization advocating for citizens’ right to energy that is affordable, abundant and available. Based in Albuquerque, CARE addresses energy issues statewide, region-wide and nationwide. For more information visit

Feb 21, 2010

A New Revoltion? Maybe Not

On Saturday Bernalillo County Republican's held their largest convention in quite some time. The party faithful were joined by a large group of energized newcomers.

Our Eyes tell us that the crowd was excited but orderly even though organizers had to overcome significant obstacles created by the huge crowd including long registration lines, preregistration snafus, and even a visit from the fire marshal.

So will the excitement extend through an election and create revolution in government? If history is any indicator, probably not.

We may be getting a bit ahead of ourselves here as November is a lifetime away in politics, but if Republicans succeed in their quest to oust the Hopeless Change crowd they'll be faced with the painful reality of governing.
While voters are angry with the many excesses of Mr. Obama and the Democrat majorities in Congress, it would be a grave mistake to view Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts as an endorsement of the big government, high spending Republican political class who led the party to resounding defeat in 2006 and 2008. Voters remember what these geniuses did, and have not forgotten it.
After a victory, the clarity of a campaign is transformed into the murky business of running a government. Republicans have a recent history of abandoning principles of limited government, liberty, and low taxes in favor of political expedience.

Should Republicans nationally or here in New Mexico regain power, they need to remember the lessons of the past two election cycles. The public responds to clarity and simplicity. The clear principles of a campaign must be implemented when governing. Otherwise, Republicans become pale reflections of their Democratic rivals. If 2008 showed us anything it's that Americans will vote for the genuine article - even if it is a genuine socialist - over its knock-off approximation.

Feb 18, 2010

Barking Up the Wrong...

Threats, guns, the law, even incarceration don't intimidate determined criminals. However, a police dog and his handler strike fear into the most hardened criminal.

APD has a well-trained K-9 unit. It's police dogs and the officers that handle them work on a daily basis to clear buildings and capture suspects. Police dogs are dedicated, unstoppable, and generally non-lethal. More importantly, police dogs keep officers from having to go into dangerous situations to apprehend dangerous criminals. In short, police dogs save police officers' lives.

Unfortunately, whenever force is employed there is the potential for collateral damage. If an officer must fire his weapon to protect his life and the lives of civilians there's the potential that some innocent bystander will be injured or even killed. When a police dog is used to find and apprehend a suspect, there's a possibility that the suspect, a bystander, or even another officer will be hurt.

The case of Officer George Gabaldon is one such example. Officer Gabaldon was injured by an APD police dog while apprehending a suspect.
In November 2006, Albuquerque police officer George Gabaldon and a fellow officer pulled over a truck on Candelaria that had careered around a corner in the wrong lane, nearly hitting Gabaldon's police cruiser head-on.

The truck was riding on its rims, and it turned out to be stolen.

Although Gabaldon called for backup to make the arrest of the two men he had seen inside the truck, he told a judge Wednesday that he didn't expect an APD canine unit to show up.

And Gabaldon certainly didn't expect that he would be the one that "Doc" sank his teeth into, sending him to the hospital with a severe bite wound and keeping him off the job for weeks.
It's important to understand that Officer Gabaldon was injured in the line of duty. The City of Albuquerque has an obligation to make him whole. However, Gabaldon is suing the city not just for his injuries but for an order that requires the city to muzzle its police dogs.

Muzzling police dogs will not only endanger the dogs by removing their only defense, but will endanger officers who will have to engage criminals without effective backup from their K-9 partners.

Ultimately, were all in greater danger if police dogs and police officers are muzzled. Officer Gabaldon deserves compensation. However, by attempting to muzzle his K-9 counterparts he's endangering his fellow officers, himself, and the citizens that he's sworn to protect. In other words he's barking up the wrong... tree.

Feb 11, 2010

The State of Energy: Hope and Change vs. Fact and Reality

by Marita K. Noon

From the words of Obama’s State of the Union address, presented here as annotated quotes, we can extrapolate the state of energy.

“Passing a comprehensive energy and climate bill, ” was stressed. It would be good if we had an energy bill—or even a plan. The insecure state of energy stifles development and quells investment in business in America—which, of course, includes energy.

Energy is central to America’s economy. In fact, energy is the economy. GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and energy usage track side-by-side. Our GDP goes up, so does energy usage. Make energy expensive or unstable, GDP declines, we borrow more money from China, and our national debt goes up.

This is despite cooling temperatures, regardless of continuing evidence that the global warming is, as India’s Open Magazine states, “unprecedented in its deceit.” Still, Obama clings to hope of a climate change bill—imperiling the American economy.

No treaty was signed in Copenhagen—largely due to the fact that China refused to play. Unlike our leadership, China knows that energy is the economy and they are playing catch-up. They know not to turn down energy when they are turning up economic development and increasing the standard of living.

Referencing an energy and climate bill, Obama stated it is, “The right thing to do.”

“Our nation has always been built to compete, ” Obama crowed. This is a good concept. But how can we compete in the global marketplace when our energy policy is based more on hope and change than fact and reality? Is trying to “change” the energy that works for one that we “hope” will work “the right thing to do?” When did damaging our economy in a recession become the “right thing to do?”

Obama also claimed that, “Energy is ripe for innovation.” Energy has been the leader in innovation. We can now drill for oil and gas using a much smaller footprint than ever. We can access more of our resources, cleanly and efficiently, than ever before. Mining is different from what it was in the 50’s when unknown dangers were prevalent.

During the State of the Union, the virtues of bio-fuels and clean coal were mentioned. China is criticized for their increasing number of coal-fueled power plants, yet the new facilities are cleaner than anything we have. There is such a negative tone in America regarding coal, that getting any coal-fueled power plant permitted is nearly impossible—no matter how clean it is.

Listeners where surprised with the comment about “building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants.” Sadly, his actions indicate that he does not believe that nuclear power is “safe” and closure of Yucca Mountain insures that he can sound like he is for nuclear power while preventing it from ever really becoming a broad-based reality.

His statement on “opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development” was also unexpected. This is a great idea and America generally wants to “drill, baby, drill.” However just a few short days after this suggestion, his actions show that he doesn’t really mean what he says. Obama’s federal budget, released on February 1, has massive new taxes on the industry that may cripple domestic oil and gas production. This is on top of the already increased user fees and proposals that will discourage investment in new American production.

Considering the above, one might be hopeful over this: “It's time to get serious about fixing the problems that are hampering our growth.” Sadly, when it comes to energy, the “problems” are in the Obama Administration. People like Lisa Jackson and Ken Salazar are enacting policies that are creating an unstable energy environment and thwarting investment.

Here’s another line on which we can probably all agree: “America must always stand on the side of freedom.” Yet, when it comes to energy, on our own shores, we are living with energy socialism. A citizen who owns minerals is not allowed to access them as the government controls when, how, and if a well can be drilled or a mine can be dug.

The State of the Union address was one of the longest in recent history. Despite all those words, no plan was outlined for dealing with terrorism. The best attack for defeating our foes could be to stop funding them through the importation of foreign oil. We have enough resources here to supply our needs while developing the next generation of fuels. Meanwhile, we need to “drill here, drill now.”

Marita Noon is the Executive Director at CARE (Citizens' Alliance for Responsible Energy), the nonprofit organization working to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom and the American way of life. Find out more at

Feb 10, 2010

Letters to The Eye: Albuquerque Firefighters Deserve to be Heard

As most reader know, we've been critical of IAFF 244 Union President Diego Arencon. Unions are not all that different than governments in that they have the power of coercion when it comes to taxes or dues. How they use those funds are extremely important to those they represent.

We recently received a letter from Firefighter and Union Steward Matt Blanchfield seeking to correct an article published in the Albuquerque Journal. As you can see from our forums, it's our policy to put all of the information out there (along with our humble opinion) and let our readers decide and even mix it up.

Albuquerque Firefighters Deserve to be Heard
by Matt Blanchfield, IAFF 244 Steward

I am writing to address facts missed by the Albuquerque Journal in it’s front page article on Monday, January 28th, 2010 and other articles run by the Journal recently about Mr. Diego Arencon, the President of IAFF Local 244. IAFF Local 244 is the union which represents all but one of the firefighters in the Albuquerque Fire Department and all but one of the firefighters in the Bernalillo County Fire Department. It is my hope that the Journal will publish this letter in the spirit of fairness to fully inform the residents of Albuquerque.

I will begin with a quote from Monday’s article, ”The union took the matter to court after Berry objected to the higher salary.” This statement is absolutely not true. The prohibited practice suit Filed by IAFF Local 244 was filed prior to Mr. Arencon having confirmation that his pay was going to be reduced in violation of the current memorandum of understanding or MOU with the city.

IAFF Local 244 filed a prohibited practice suit in Bernalillo County District Court when Mr. Diego Arencon was ordered to report to Fire Administration for assignments to be determined by the Albuquerque Fire Chief, which would not include conducting union business 40 hours per week. Removing the president of IAFF Local 244 from his daily union duties was in direct violation of the long standing practice of city bargaining unit president’s working full time on union business and our current contract. Our current contract states in plain english, “To develop a more cohesive relationship between the Union and the Albuquerque Fire Department ,upon request of the Union President, to place the Union President on a 40 hour work week for union business.” I was present when the information was first given by the Albuquerque Fire Department administration to Mr. Arencon that Mr. Arencon was to have has his ability to conduct union business while on duty removed. It is my opinion, that AFD Administration had no desire for Mr. Arencon to be removed from his long standing union duties, but that decision was not theirs to make. The decision to remove Mr. Arencon from his contractually agreed upon right to conduct union business came from the Mayor’s office.

IAFF Local 244 filed the prohibited practice suit to stop the Mayor’s Office from hobbling our union by inhibiting our ability to conduct day to day business. The city contended that it believed a bargaining unit president receiving his or her regular salary to perform union business was in violation of New Mexico statute. So my question is this, if that is the case why was only AFD’s union president ordered to stop conducting union business while the other union presidents employed by the city continued business as usual? If the Mayor’s Office believed it was against state statute for union presidents to receive their regular pay while conducting union business shouldn’t the Mayor’s Office have ordered all their employees to cease such activities?

The Mayor’s office was attempting to test the waters to see how far they could push IAFF Local 244 by effectively removing AFD’s union president from his ability to represent the union. The Mayor’s Office has attempted to combine the issues of the contractual right of IAFF Local 244’s union president to conduct business with the publicly unpopular idea of paying a union president in excess of his or her regular salary to conduct union business. These are two entirely separate legal issues. It is just a devious strategy on a part of the Mayor’s office to combine the two issues. The city is attempted to conceal their real motives, which are to weaken the city unions. If the city had succeeded in it’s effort to take away IAFF Local 244 president's contractual right to conduct union business while on duty, they would undoubtedly have done the same with the other city union’s presidents.

The Journal also failed to report that Mr. Arencon volunteered to give up his additional pay and the city refused his offer. Instead the city insisted on attempting to get a ruling that it was against state statute for Mr. Arencon to conduct union business even without his additional pay. Albuquerque tax payers would have appreciated knowing that information. And what happened during the hearing? Judge Baca found no discrepancy between New Mexico statutes with union presidents doing union business while receiving their regular pay.

Union business is city business and the city benefits from union business. The Mayor, the CAO, Darren White, the Chiefs of both AFD and APD, the heads of every department and all city managers conduct business with city unions everyday. By the city’s argument all of the before listed individuals would be in violation of state statute when they received their regular pay while addressing any business having to do with unions. The city obviously did not think that to be the case.

IAFF Local 244 members work for the community on and off duty. Our members recently stood with the community in front of the City Council, all of them off duty, to work towards getting a new paramedic rescue unit added to District 8. IAFF Local 244 helps keep city employees safe by assisting the city maintain a safe work environment and assuring safety equipment is provided and kept up to national standards. IAFF Local 244 members sit on the Albuquerque Fire Department Safety, EMS, Accident Review and various other committees helping the department meet all of it’s goals. One of our members was on television just last night receiving recognition from the Mayor for saving the city two hundred and fifty thousand dollars annually!

The city’s unions insure fair representation to city employees, due process, good benefits, fair wages and much more. IAFF Local 244 members coach and sponsor children’s teams in Albuquerque, volunteer their time, found organizations such as Random Acts. This organization provides amazing community services on their own time and with their own money. The contributions made to the City of Albuquerque by the men and women who belong to unions and work for the City of Albuquerque are huge. The City of Albuquerque is the largest employer in Albuquerque. The city’s unions help the economy which could never be more important than now. Five thousand employees making good wages and having job security contribute a tremendous amount of financial stimulation to the local economy.

The Journal seems to be of the opinion that Mr. Arencon and our former Mayor, Martin Chavez had some sort of secret relationship that was contrary to the best interests of the City of Albuquerque. This assumption could not be farther from the truth. During the years that Mayor Chavez and Mr. Arencon worked together there was not one single issue which came before the local or state labor boards, or before a court; Not one! This absence of expensive litigation is unheard of with a union the size of IAFF Local 244. Mayor Chavez understood that the City of Albuquerque is it’s people, and more than five thousand of it’s people are city employees. Mayor Chavez also understood that he could accomplish a better working relationship with the city’s employees by bargaining in good faith with their unions. Mayor Chavez experienced that by bargaining in good faith with the city’s unions that the city’s employees desired to work with the city on any issue. During the former administration when there were issues that needed to be dealt with, city management and IAFF Local 244 sat down and honestly and openly hammered things out. It appears those days are over.

Since coming into office, Mayor Berry has contracted with Management Associates. Inc. I would like to ask the residents of Albuquerque if they have any idea what Management Associates, Inc. is. I am willing to bet that there are sitting City Councilors who don’t know either. Management Associates, Inc. is a firm known around the State of New Mexico as being an anti-labor, union busting firm. Mayor Berry has contracted with this firm to “negotiate” with the city’s unions and to advise his administration. The residents of Albuquerque don’t know about this because the Mayor has been giving interviews for television telling the people of Albuquerque he wants to sit with the leaders of the city unions and ask us for our ideas on how to address the City’s budget problems. He must have just forgotten to mention that he had already contracted with the most anti-union organization in the state to “discuss” our ideas. The Mayor also didn’t mention that his CAO has canceled multiple meetings with Mr. Arencon. Mr. Arencon has made multiple appointments to do exactly what Mayor Berry stated he wanted to do with the unions, sit down with us and discuss solutions for the city’s financial short falls. IAFF Local 244 wants to work with the city to address the needs of the city, the fire department and union members. The city has thus far refused to meet with IAFF Local 244, but that is not what Mayor Berry is telling the public.

Mayor Berry also failed to mention that he contracted with Management Associates, Inc. for $55,000, which is the limit the Mayor is allow to spend without the City Council’s approval. When Management Associates, Inc. has burned through $55,000 of the city’s money, the Mayor may extend another $20,000 of city funds without the Council's approval. Is that fact something the Mayor desires to keep secret? Management Associates, Inc. has no vested interest in the City of Albuquerque and the unions working together to solve Albuquerque’s budgetary problems. The opposite is in Management Associates’s, Inc’s. self interest. They make money when management and labor fight and that is exactly what they have accomplished in two short months after many many years of positive relations between management and labor in the Albuquerque Fire Department. IAFF Local 244 has never distrusted City Hall more than now. This atmosphere of mistrust is a detriment to the residents of Albuquerque.

I can assure the residents of Albuquerque that the administration of the Albuquerque Fire Department and the Executive Board of IAFF Local 244 want to work together. We are brother fire fighters. We have risked our lives together to protect the residents of Albuquerque. All of us want nothing more than to expand on the excellence of the Albuquerque Fire Department, to better serve the residents of Albuquerque and to be good fire fighters. Chief Breen and every Deputy Chief in AFD were members in good standing in IAFF Local 244 prior to being appointed to their current positions. Actually, one Deputy Chief was an Executive Board member. The unions problem is not with the administration of the Albuquerque Fire Department. IAFF Local 244’s problem is with City Hall and even more specifically with Management Associates, Inc.

The public should also know that since the new administration has taken office, every single workers comp claim filed by an Albuquerque firefighter has been denied. One was denied to a firefighter after being approved by the former administration. Albuquerque is self insured which means the City of Albuquerque approves or denies it’s own workers comp claims. One of our brothers was burned in a house fire this past week. I wonder if the City of Albuquerque will deny his claim? Maybe not after this article! Is this one of the new Mayor’s ideas as to how to balance the budget, by denying the workers comp claims of firefighters? How are we supposed to react to this kind of outrageous situation? What am I supposed to tell my brother and sister firefighters when the physical injuries they sustain on the job are summarily denied after a new administration takes office? What would you think if you were in our shoes? How much would you trust your boss if he was on television saying he wanted to work with you while his people refused to meet with you or even answer your calls, if he contracted with the most well know anti union firm in the state, if he removed the leader of you organization and misled the public as to why he had done so, if he had denied your friend’s medical claims for injuries they received while serving their community? What would you do?

What I did was write this letter to ask for your help. Mayors come and go. The Albuquerque Fire Department has been here one hundred and ten years! The men and women of the Albuquerque Fire Department will respond to your emergencies no matter what the Mayor’s office and Management Associates, Inc. does to us. I ask you to call City Hall and to call your City Councilor to demand that the city use city employees to manage the city. City administration should work with the city’s unions not a legal team who profits from turning our unions against the Mayor. The damage already done with the advise of Management Associates, Inc. is grave. Continuing to do business with Management Associates, Inc. is not the way to handle labor relations within the City of Albuquerque.

I also ask the Journal to give IAFF Local 244 the opportunity present our side of things when it comes to the current and on going struggles between the Mayor’s Office and labor. By doing so the public will be far better informed.

----- Post Script -----

For the record, we don't agree with Albuquerque taxpayers paying for a full-time employee of the union and we never agreed with Mr. Arencon's uber-pay deal cut with Marty Chavez. No other union president receives similar treatment and the position isn't supposed to be full-time.

Be that as it may, yesterday a judge ruled in favor of both parties who subsequently declared their individual victories. Mayor Berry got the money and President Arencon got the time.
The president of Albuquerque's firefighter union isn't entitled to a higher salary because of his role as a union leader, according to a decision issued this week by state District Judge Theresa Baca.

Instead, the president, Diego Arencón, should be paid according to his regular rank as a firefighter first class. The ruling changes his salary from about $81,000 a year to roughly $49,000.

Baca's ruling also says the city must permit Arencón to devote his full 40-hour weekly schedule to union business, as called for in the firefighters' union contract.

On point lost in all of this is that the IAFF 244 president doesn't just represent firefighters in the city, but also those in the county. Yet the city is footing the bill for a full-time union president whose benefits are shared by the county.


One of the more bizarre stories to hit the air this week was KOB TVs Monday story about Councilor Don Harris' pilfering of drummer David Garibaldi's drumsticks (see it here). According to the story, Harris left with his pilfered prize after inviting himself back to the band's dressing room prior to the Hispano Chamber's La Noche Encantada.

Garibaldi gave his tepid approval for the councilor to make off with the sticks but later was troubled enough by the encounter to write a scathing letter to every member of the Albuquerque City Council. KOB's story included a few excerpts from Garibaldi's letter, but we managed to get our Eyes on a complete copy of the missive.

David Garibaldi here. I'm the drummer with the Tower of Power,and we met Saturday evening at The Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce gathering. Ever since our meeting I was troubled by what transpired, so I thought I'd drop you a line and express my thoughts to you.
Just to recount the events surrounding our meeting...

Prior to our show, you and your son came into our dressing room without asking and introduced yourselves to me, our guitarist Jerry Cortez, and trumpet player Mic Gillette. You wanted your son to meet us, which we were more than happy to do. We spoke for a few minutes and you mentioned that you were a lawyer and a politician and that you played saxophone at one time, had studied music and when you began to play after graduating, you said music wasn't a very good life.

You expressed this to some folks who have been very successful musicians all their lives. I'm 63 years old and have been playing the drums since the age of 10, and a working musician since the age of 17. As a boy, my dream was to travel the world playing the drums...I'm living my dream. My work is well documented and my reputation speaks for itself.

After the show I again saw you and your son backstage, and you showed me a pair of drum sticks that you had taken off of my drum set. I was pretty surprised and said that your taking them wasn't a good idea. i didn't want to make a scene and allowed your son to keep said something about not knowing what the "protocol" was. Then, in the dressing room in front of most of the band members, you asked me why that wasn't ok...I replied "because you didn't ask".

Again, I didn't want to make a scene and embarrass you in front of your son and said he could keep them, but in retrospect, I should have asked for the sticks back and said what I'm saying now. Our dressing room is our sanctuary before shows where we can relax and focus on our performance, so I wasn't expecting to have to deal with you in that way.

That "protocol" you mentioned isn't really's my property, and you had no right whatsoever to to my property. You're a lawyer and should know this. Obviously, the rules don't apply to you. The dressing room was our private area, and you had no right to be there without permission. Again, I guess you thought because you're a city council member, you can go where you want, and take what you want. Sorry. You took my property without my permission, and thought it was ok. Your now son thinks it's ok too. Where did you get this idea that you could take what's mine without asking?

You came into our dressing room without an invitation, ate our food without asking, and also took my drumsticks without my permission as a prize for your son. Yes, it only a pair of drumsticks, but sir, they're my drumsticks and they mean something to me...they represent my life and all I've worked for.

I hope we don't meet're what wrong with politicians today. You represent yourself and your own interests and definitely showed how little respect you have for what I do. You're not welcome at our shows. We've been doing this for 42 years, and are serious about our craft. We're also serious about the impression we leave behind.

Your bio says you studied the saxophone with the late Jackie of the greats. I'm a fan of his and often listen to his recordings. You studied with someone who understood the tradition of the instrument and respected it. Based on your behavior, I wouldn't include him on your bio...if he knew what you were up to, he probably wouldn't approve of it.

It was an embarrassing moment, totally unacceptable and I have no recourse but to write you, and to Cc your colleagues on the city council, so they'll know what kind of person they're working with, if they don't already. If I knew any media people there in Albuquerque, I'd be including them here as well.

Aside from this, it was a tremendous event, staffed and attended by some very nice compliments to a very professional Joe Bufalino and his crew for making us feel welcome.


David Garibaldi
Drummer - Tower of Power
You really have to read the full letter to understand how strange Saturday's councilor meets drummer encounter really was. We don't know what the councilor was thinking but his spokesman - Councilor Ken Sanchez - told KOB that Harris would be sending the drumsticks back while Councilor Harris refused requests to go on camera.

Our bet is that for his service above and beyond the call of being president of the city council, Ken Sanchez will be owed a very important favor.


As happens from time to time, putting food on the table takes precedence over indulging in our passion for politics. As a result, we get a bit behind in our posts... for that we apologize.

However, our Eyes recently got wind of a rumor that a certain high placed public official claimed to have "shut [us] down." Nothing could be further from the truth.

Eye On Albuquerque provides an important forum for those who are interested and/or concerned about local government. We appreciate our reader's support and emphasize that any rumors of our demise have been greatly exaggerated.

Feb 2, 2010


Ever since Manny's courthouse scam conviction and Richardson's near miss encounter with an indictment, it's become popular for Democrats to repeatedly introduce ethics legislation at just about every level. Currently, there are no less than 5 "ethics" bills working their way through the New Mexico legislature all of them introduced by Democrats.

It's not that ethics ordinances are a bad idea. After over 70 years of single party rule in New Mexico that instilled patron politics and eschewed ethics, it's become very apparent that elected officials need a refresher course in what's ethical.
ethics [ˈɛθɪks]
1. (Philosophy) (functioning as singular) the philosophical study of the moral value of human conduct and of the rules and principles that ought to govern it; moral philosophy See also meta-ethics
2. (functioning as plural) a social, religious, or civil code of behaviour considered correct, esp that of a particular group, profession, or individual
3. (functioning as plural) the moral fitness of a decision, course of action, etc. he doubted the ethics of their verdict
The problem with ethics legislation is that it's just as slippery as its definition. The temptation is for legislators to try to codify a set of dos and don'ts in an ordinance defining what is ethical. The dilema is how to create restrictions on government employees and elected officials without violating their Constitutional rights and without providing cover for unethical behavior.

January 12th, the Bernalillo County Commission passed its attempt to do just that. Commissioner Maggie Hart-Stebbins sponsored the County's revised ethics ordinance. What's in the ordinance isn't all that troubling - particularly since the commission pulled Stebbins' original language that would have restricted county employee's first amendment rights. But what's not in the ordinance is telling.

The Bernalillo County Code of Ethics as adopted deems all of the following "ethical":
1. It is "ethical" for elected officials can take a job with county or be a contractor for the county immediately following their term. In practice, the job or contract could be created by the outgoing official only to be filled by them.

2 It is "ethical" for candidates or elected officials to appear on publicly funded commercials on any radio or TV station within 90 days of an election.

3. It is "ethical" for commissioners to remove ethics board members to have "their" member on the ethics board.

4. It is "ethical" for candidates and elected officials to receive "educational materials" or "honoraria" as long as the value of each occurrence is under $100.

5. It is "ethical" for candidates and elected officials to receive contributions from entities that have applied for or received TIDD or any source of public financing.

6. It is "ethical" for commissioners to act as a reference for those seeking employment with the county.
As you can see in addition to prohibiting "unethical" activities, ethics legislation often creates a situation where unethical behavior is considered ethical. A County Commissioner can create a job for themselves and take that job or contract immediately after leaving office.

At the state level, it's "ethical" for Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish to spend her over $2.5 MILLION campaign kitty for this election but on November 3rd, the same activity is prohibited.

The truth is ethics legislation won't stop unethical behavior. Many times the introduction itself is used by politicians as a way to look ethical sometimes in an attempt to rehab their own ethically challenged past. Hardly ethical.

Commissioner Stebbins herself has been engaging in some ethically questionable behavior. She continued to hold her position with MRCOG while serving on the Commission. She's been all over radio and TV in attempt to raise her name ID for her 2010 election. And She was even made Vice Chair of the commission to help her credibility with her voters.

The MRCOG job was a clear conflict of interest as Commissioners serve on the board and would essentially be her boss. It was also a potential Hatch Act violation if she were running for a partisan position.

The last two are less clear and deemed "ethical" by the ordinance. But if county funds and positions are being used to further her election, then there's little doubt that her actions are unethical despite being allowed by the "Ethics" Ordinance.

For these reasons, we're not a real fan of ethics legislation. It can protect unethical behavior while making the public wrongly believe they have an ethical government. No matter what laws are passed, elected officials can and all too many will act unethically. It's up to voters to hold their representatives accountable. To trust only to ethics legislation to enforce ethical behavior is more than an ethical lapse, it's an abdication of voter responsibility.

APS Bondage

"Your taxes won't go up... not one single penny." So says the ads running on radio and appearing on school billboards throughout the school district. Of course, your taxes won't go down either.

APS is just one of the many governmental entities with taxation authority and they get to have their own elections with convenient voting locations for everyone who is most likely to vote for continued bondage. The Albuquerque Public Schools are asking us to authorize $616 MILLION in property taxes to pay for things like a $38 MILLION West Side sports complex.

Before you go an vote for this thing or don't vote at all - which is the same thing - consider for a moment the fact that rewarding APS by giving them more money is the wrong message to send to an organization who continues to fail when it comes to educating our kids. It's like giving APS a social promotion even though they're earning a failing grade.

One of the groups promoting APS Bondage is a group of contractors. The argument goes that approving the bonds would stimulate the economy by creating construction jobs. Of course the jobs are far more temporary than the taxes that support them. Government does not create wealth, it redistributes it or destroys it.

By taking our money and giving it to a group of contractors to build sports stadiums in an economic downturn, you may be stimulating a few select businesses but you're not stimulating the overall economy.
...Paul Gessing, President of the Rio Grande Foundation says the average homeowner would then see a ten to fifteen percent reduction in property taxes. "That is a lot of money when you're talking about over the span of 12 months and moving into the future," Gessing said.
The last time an APS Bond package failed was in 2002 and it took a drunk superintendent and an inept school board to make voters mad enough to reject the proposal. Since that time the only constants have been continued approval of bond packages like this and failing students. Perhaps it's time to send another message to APS... we'll keep our money until you do your jobs.