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

Mar 31, 2010

Update: Bad Choice

A week ago Tuesday, we told you about APD's newest cost-cutting measure. The 5th Floor has administratively mandated that officers who pick up suspected drunk drivers are to handle the testing, arresting, transportation to and booking into MDC (read our take here). By Friday, KOB-TV had picked up the story.

Admittedly, the move will save the department money and APD has a chronic overtime problem. However, the new policy has resulted in a dramatic reduction in DWI arrests. In fact, our Eyes tell us that both MADD and the DA's office are saying that arrests dropped by 73% last week.

That means almost three quarters of the potential DWI suspects were left driving around last week as compared with the week before. You can bet the folks over at MADD are... well... mad or at least a bit miffed.

Mar 30, 2010

Scam-era Misinformation

A couple of weeks ago, the New Mexico Transportation Commission ordered the City of Albuquerque and every other scam-era city to shut down the scam and remove the scam-eras on state roads. Tuesday, the Albuquerque Journal reported Mayor Berry's response.
"It is my understanding that the state does very little in the area of traffic enforcement along these roadways ... ," Mayor Richard Berry wrote to Transportation Secretary Gary GirĂ³n on Friday. "Therefore, given the (state Transportation) commission's recent decision to adopt a policy directly affecting the safety and enforcement of traffic laws within the city of Albuquerque, I would like to discuss with you a potential plan for the State Police to assume additional responsibilities for the safety and enforcement of these roads."
 Actually Mayor Berry, the Albuquerque Police Department does very little in the area of traffic law enforcement on any of the 20 intersections where scam-eras are present. In point of fact, scam-eras themselves don't enforce traffic law as a criminal violation but rather alleged violations by a vehicle of the city's civil code.

The city's STOP program is based on civil nuisance abatement. Citations issued by Redflex on behalf of the city are not - repeat NOT - criminal citations. Despite that very inconvenient fact, Mayor Berry, Public Safety Director, Darren White, and Chief, Ray Schultz are intentionally mixing criminal law enforcement with civil code enforcement by asking for the State Police as a replacement for the state road scam-eras.

Look... there has been no independently verified data that proves the scam-eras increase public safety. What we have seen is repeated attempts by the city, APD, and Chief Ray Schultz (read it here, here and here) to sell the program as a form of law enforcement and public safety. In fact, the only independent data provided by the PRC at the request of Bernalillo County Commissioner Michael Brasher indicated that accidents had initially increased at a number of intersections (view the data here).
In an odd bit of irony, the 2007 story that exposed the initial lie... uh, exaggerations of APD's public safety claims was written by none other than APD's current Public Information Officer, T.J. Wilham. You can read the Journal story here (subscription).
[End Sidebar]
Unfortunately Berry's response to Transportation Secretary, Gary Giron sounds an awful lot like a letter that would have been penned by the Formerly Almighty Alcalde. It's a mixture of misinformation and mischaracterization aimed at making the public think that somehow scam-eras make them safer despite any proof.

Worse... Mayor Berry is defending a program that is supposedly under review by the University of New Mexico. This staunch defense of the STOP program during the study makes it look as if the study's outcome is a foregone conclusion and that the new mayor same as the old mayor intends to keep the scam-eras. Despite a new lead singer, the city's still singin' the same old tune. What a shame.

Mar 24, 2010

Another One Bites the Dust

Another one of Marty's parting shots has itself been shot down. In a flurry of MOUs that bought everything from a police retirement to a permanent job as an overpaid city employee, Marty's deals were meant to cause nothing but trouble for the man who was to replace him. One of the most egregious of these was Marty's MOU that changed the city's DWI policy but only for firefighters.
Firefighters arrested on suspicion of first-offense DWI will no longer be immune from losing their jobs.

Effective immediately, city officials will stop honoring an agreement with the local firefighter's union that kept those firefighters on the job. Instead of termination, they faced demotion and lost $1 of hourly pay but were eligible to have it reinstated after a year. They also had to complete a counseling program.
Of course almost everyone else was subject to termination. But Marty - in one of his more stupid and petty attempts to cause Berry trouble - made a quick agreement with IAFF President, Diego Arencon that allowed firefighters to go largely unpunished.

It's obvious that the MOU was patently unfair to other city employees and just plain wrong, but the MOU itself could obligate the city to abide by the Formerly Almighty Alcalde's agreement. The question is - will the IAFF return to court in order to protect a few drunken firefighters from termination?

We'd be willing to bet that Mayor Berry and Public Safety Director Darren White would be more than happy to defend the decision in court and in the media.
"It's clear that this pilot project was a miserable failure because it has not stopped the number of DWIs," Public Safety Director Darren White said Tuesday.
"We want to protect the public's trust," said Fire Chief James Breen. "That's why we're taking this stand."
 Frankly, the move is the right thing to do. Creating disparate groups subject to different punishment for the same offense will cause nothing but problems and is probably not legal anyway. Kudos to the administration for taking a stand and striking down another MOU.

Now... if they were only willing to take on the other infamous MOU that allows former CAO, Ed Adams to keep working over at DMD at his CAO salary. Hey, we're just sayin'.

Mar 23, 2010

Bad Choice

APD's DWI Unit has been given new orders... Get your own drunks. In an attempt to cut costs, The 5th Floor has issued orders directing all officers in the field not to turn over suspected drunk drivers to the DWI unit.

Until the latest orders from on high, officers taking calls for service would handle the initial contact with suspects and then turn them over to officers from the DWI unit for further testing and booking returning the original officer to service. Under the new policy, field officers are ordered to handle DWI suspects from beginning to end which in many cases entails hauling suspects out to Metropolitan Detention Center.

MDC is 27 minutes from Downtown Albuquerque, about 37 minutes from the heights. And that's one way. In an 8 hour shift field officers will be spending almost 13% of their shift just transporting their suspect. On 10 hour graveyard shifts that's 10% burned in transport. None of this includes the time needed to fully field test, write reports, and book the suspect. Even with the PTC in operation, officers in the Foothills, Northeast, and Northwest Area Commands can expect to have spend at least 40 minutes transporting.

In reality, field officers will be 10-7 (out of service for the uninitiated) for a minimum of two to three hours every time they make a DWI arrest. That means these field officers - whose primary responsibility is to respond to calls for service - will be unavailable all in an attempt to cut down court overtime.

You see... when a field officer makes a stop for suspected DWI and calls in a DWI officer, both officers are required to appear in court. That's twice the overtime. Now that the department has prohibited field officers from calling in DWI officers, APD will only be on the hook for one officer's overtime.

The problem is the new policy takes field officers out of the field for extended periods of time. It takes supervisors out of the field by requiring sergeants to leave the field when making a DWI arrest. And it leaves DWI officers casting about the city looking for drunks on their own. All of this assumes that field officers continue to make the same number of stops - which they won't.

Our Eyes tell us that sergeants and field officers are more reluctant to pull over suspected drunks when calls for service have begun to stack. Meanwhile, DWI officers - who are supposed to be DWI specialists and having lost their steady stream of DWI work - are so bored that they're taking calls for service. So... Instead of 100 or so officers actively looking for DWIs, there are but a handful.

The new orders signal a fundamental shift in APD policy. In the name of saving a few bucks, The 5th Floor has chosen to sacrifice your safety. Officers now have to choose between taking a drunk off the street or responding to domestic violence calls, burglaries, assaults, rapes, and murders. Either choice is a bad one.

----- Update -----
We've been rightly chastised for using the above 10-7 code for officers toting DWI suspects to the MDC. The technically accurate code is 10-6 - On Non-Dispatch Activity. But for those folks who are calling for help while officers are busy hauling someone down to MDC instead of responding to calls for service, that officer is functionally out of service.

Mar 21, 2010

Kill the Bill

If you read Sunday's Albuquerque Journal you'll find a quaint story about anti-war protesters holding a "peace" rally Saturday afternoon down at Civic Plaza. What you won't find is a story about over 200 Tea Party Patriots rallying in front of Congressman Heinrich's office in 1st Plaza to kill the healthcare bill.

Democrats like Nancy Pelosi's arm candy - Martin Heinrich - don't seem to believe that they will pay a price for screwing up We the People's healthcare. The turnout of 200 strong for a rally organized via email on Friaday shows how very wrong they are.

Folks, elections have consequences and Obamacare is just one of the consequences of the 2008 election. There will be more.

We are seeing an unprecedented assault on freedom and liberty. Not since patriots threw the original tea party in Boston Harbor, has this level of arrogance and tyranny been so patently obvious.

Mar 18, 2010

Not on Our Roads

The New Mexico Transportation Commission has done with one vote what thousands of New Mexican's have failed to do... shutter the scam-eras. A Thursday morning ruling by the commission gives cities in New Mexico including Albuquerque - the birthplace of the scam - 60 days to pull the scam-eras and the scam-era van off of state highways.
The commission said there's no convincing proof such cameras make streets and highways safer.

"While the true safety impact of the use of these cameras is still murky at best, one thing has become clear to the commission — more and more New Mexico cities seem to be putting driver-generated revenues ahead of sound traffic management techniques," Commission Chairman Johnny Cope said in a statement. "Frankly, that concept really troubles me."
Troubling indeed. Revenue and results - scam-eras have been rich in the former and devoid of the latter. Three years ago, County Commissioner Michael Brasher asked the state's Superintendent of Insurance whether or not the city's scam-eras were reducing accidents and if so, shouldn't car insurance rates be dropped? (read it here)

Take a few moments to look at your insurance rates. We'd bet that you've never seen a reduction in your rates since the scam-era installation.

Understand that the ruling only affects two of Albuquerque's scam-era intersections - scam-eras on Paseo Del Norte and on Coors. In Santa Fe, the ruling directly affects the most profitable roads.
[T]he [City of Santa Fe] was awaiting permits from the Department of Transportation before putting up cameras along Cerrillos, St. Francis and St. Michael's roads, where the largest number and most severe crashes occur in Santa Fe.
Unfortunately, the ruling will not affect the other 18 intersections afflicted by the scam. Hopefully, the UNM "study" group will discover what is patently obvious to us. Scam-eras don't improve safety, they don't save lives, and they aren't Constitutional. Don't hold your breath.

Mar 14, 2010

Not in the News...

You know that Martin Heinrich is the incumbent Democrat Congressman from Congressional District 1. You know that no other D has stepped up to run against him in the Democrat primary. What you don't know is that Martin Heinrich - the only Democrat candidate for CD1 - didn't get all of the votes.

Our Eyes tell us that Robert Aragon, former Democrat ward chairman organized a group of 37 delegates at the D's Buffalo Thunder state convention to cast their vote for Republican Jon Barela. The group of 37 renegade D's placed stickers over the name of Martin Heinrich when casting their vote for the Democrat nominee.

We're sure that Barela's performance at the Democrat State Pre-Primary Convention wasn't announced to the faithful Ds gathered or to the media for that matter. And we're quite sure that Monahan won't be talking about it. But as recently as 2 years ago, it would have been impossible to even contemplate a single delegate vote for an R at a D convention much less 37.

The winds they are a changin' whether or not you read it in the news.

Mar 11, 2010

Mixed Messages

54.6 MILLION dollars - that's the hole that Marty dug for the City of Albuquerque taxpayers - it's the legacy of unchecked ambition. Mayor Berry stuck with a $54 MILLION pit and not enough dirt to fill it.

The first thing Berry did when building his team at city hall was ask most of the new appointees to take a 10% to 20% pay cut. As a result the Berry administration is about 13% leaner at the top than the Chavez administration was. The problem is Berry is sending mixed messages to the public and to city employees by hiring a few select positions at considerably higher salaries than their Chavez era counterparts.

Worse... Berry seems to be protecting former CAO Ed Adams who along with his $147,000 a year salary was transferred to DMD where he is a "special projects manager" (whatever that is).
[Mayor Berry] rejected a council resolution that would have forced the city to legally challenge the $147,000 annual salary drawn by former top administrator Ed Adams.

Berry said although he disagrees with the salary, the legal expenses and the possibility of a countersuit make going to court a bad deal for taxpayers. He proposed amendments making it clear no similar salary deals can happen again.
Berry is right that the council needs to clarify the city's ordinance regarding unclassified political appointees returning to classified positions and the commensurate salary. But that will never fix the Ed Adams situation.

Right now we're paying for two CAOs (actually more than two since CAO Campbell pulls down $159,000 a year) and getting the work of one. Over at DMD the city gets to pay for a CAO that does "special projects." All of this at a time when Berry would like city employees to accept a pay freeze.

Berry's mistake is only considering the legal cost of defending Adams' pay reduction. What about the cost of having to fight the city's public safety unions over a pay raise that - like Adams' sweetheart side deal - was agreed to by The Almighty Former Alcalde?

Berry took on union President Diego Arencon and successfully returned the firefighter to the pay of a firefighter. What's the difference between a firefighter and the former CAO? Nothing.

They both had side agreements with Marty. The message that Berry sent with his veto is that high ranking administrators have a different set of rules than rank and file employees. How much long-term trouble has Berry bought by "saving" a few bucks on legal fees?

Hopefully, the council will save Berry from his own misguided veto. Otherwise the mayor's mixed messages will land him in stormy seas at a time when he needs calm waters.

----- Correction -----
I have been rightly chastised for mixing up my union presidents. In point of fact the IAFF local President is Diego Arencon not Joey Sigala, Segalla, Sagala the APOA President. It has been corrected above.

Is our Eye red! Yet another correction. Uuugh! First Joey now Diego. Not Joey not Garcia. The IAFF union President is Diego Arencon. Really, really, we've got it right this time!

Mar 8, 2010

Protecting the Scam

Red or green, stop or speed, city scam-eras will make you pay. Last week, District Court Judge Theresa Baca struck down the green. Video from the city's green light scam-eras have been ruled inadmissible in the case of Joel Widman vs. the City of Albuquerque.
In a state Appeals Court case, N.M. v. Henderson, justices ruled that a particular photo was admissible, but they set out certain standards for permitting such evidence. They ruled that photo evidence can be admitted if the photo "speaks for itself" or if someone with personal knowledge can testify that it's a fair and accurate representation of what occurred.

Widman argues that traffic-camera videos don't meet that standard, at least for speeding violations. In his case, for example, he said the video simply showed his vehicle driving down the street. It wasn't clear he was speeding, Widman said, and no one would have personal knowledge that he was.
Admittedly, this is a hole in the scam that we hadn't considered. The video in and of itself is not proof of speeding. The system uses ordinary speed radar to detect the speed of a vehicle. Unlike the radar's criminal cousin, there's no one present to testify to the green light scam-era's calibration or even which vehicle actually triggered the violation.

Frankly, we're surprised that the city even let this thing go to District Court. Our Eyes tell us that the city's first and best defense of the scam has been to dismiss the citations of those who are determined to appeal scam-era "court" to real courts with real judges. In fact, the city's trying to remedy the Widman problem by retroactively dismissing his citation.
The city dismissed Widman's citation "because of issues with the record" that were entirely unrelated to his appeal.
"Issues with the record?" Reeeeeaally? The issue with the record is that the city and City Attorney Bob White got their, uh... hind quarters handed to them by Judge Theresa Baca. (Yet another example of White's legal prowess.)

It's clear that the city DOES NOT WANT a real court to set a precedent that would shutter the scam-eras and they'll do anything protect the scam - even re-write history.

Mar 3, 2010

New Counsel

The race for the city attorney slot appears to be down to two - Democrat Randy Autio and Republican Rob Perry. Autio is currently serving as interim city clerk but has also served as an assistant city attorney. Perry is in private practice and has previously run for the state AG's post.

There's very little question that current City Attorney Bob White needs to be shown the door. His legal analysis of the Ed Adams "contract" was questionable at best and his most recent appearance in Scam-era Scare Wars on KOAT last Sunday night left one more than questioning his legal acumen. In fact, in legal circles the city's performance in court is often the punch line for a joke where taxpayers are left footing the bill.

Understand that the city is sued on a regular basis by unions, by companies, by developers, by citizens, by cops, and by crooks. Sometimes the lawsuits have merit, others not so much.

So you see... A mayor must have a talented city attorney - one who can be trusted and who shares his core philosophy of government. This appointment - more than just about any other - will be one where Mayor Berry and his appointment must be on the same page.

Will the next city attorney share Berry's Republican beliefs or will the mayor be getting his legal advice from someone who doesn't share them? Either way, Mayor Berry will be getting new legal counsel and our Eyes tell us we'll find out what kind of advice he will be getting by Friday.

Mar 1, 2010


It's been quite a while since we talked about Marty's Scam-eras. Since that time, the tireless mechanized shutterbugs have been snapping away at Albuquerque drivers. Sunday night, KOAT reported that the scam was owed some $8 MILLION because it seems that according to the city some 25% of drivers are either ignoring the tainted tickets or aren't receiving them in the first place.

City Attorney Bob White told KOAT that the "tickets" will be turned over to a collection agency and that failure to pay would result in potential harm to the owner of the vehicle's credit rating. Remember, scam-era citations are sent to the owner of the vehicle not to the driver of the vehicle - seemingly under the theory that you are your Chrysler's keeper.

Understand that the scam has been running since 2005. Over the past 5 years 25% of drivers have simply ignored the shutterbug citations leading to $8 MILLION in unpaid fines. While the city claims that unpaid citations are sent for collection - and they may be - we have yet to hear of a case where a collection agency has sued on behalf of the city in order to collect an unpaid scam-era fine.

You see... the city and any collection agency have a number of a problems when it comes to collection of fines alleged by scam-eras - not the least of which is proving that the violation ever happened. The debt alleged by the city has never been acknowledged by the owner of the vehicle or proven by the city in court - even to the lower civil standard of preponderance of the evidence. The owner of the vehicle has not contractually agreed to pay the fine and there is no civil version of implied consent. There's not even any proof that the owner of the unruly vehicle received notification. In short, the city doesn't have a case.

Just try taking your neighbor to court over an unpaid debt without any proof whatsoever that your neighbor ever borrowed your money or even knew about the debt in the first place. That's the predicament that the city finds itself in when vehicle owners don't respond to the citations.

There are also a number constitutional questions regarding the constitutionality of underlying nuisance abatement ordinance - the ordinance upon which the scam-era program is built. But suffice it to say, the city's enforcement of scam-era citations has relied on voluntary compliance and the threat of attacking someone's credit rating.

We all live in fear of some miscreant stealing our identity and ruining our credit. Restoring one's credit takes an inordinate amount of time and can prevent us from obtaining credit to buy a home or a car, and can even prevent someone from getting a job.

Just imagine the liability of the agency that attacks your credit rating on behalf of the City of Albuquerque based on a claim of an outstanding debt with no supporting adjudication or shred of evidence that the accused received notification of said debt. If someone was prevented from getting a job because of an action alleging an unverified or adjudicated debt, exactly how much would a jury award the victim?

Sunday night's story on KOAT just smells bad. Our Eyes tell us that while overall the number of scam-era unpaid scam-era citations is 25%, the current number is around 33%. That means that the number of people voluntarily paying citations is decreasing. Further, our Eyes tell us that most of the scam-era revenue comes not from red light violations but from green light speeding violations.
Our Eyes also tell us that falling revenue from scam-era intersections has become problem. As a result, The 5th Floor has lowered the triggering speed from 10 mph over the posted speed limit to 4 mph over the posted speed limit. Remember, this is supposed to be about public safety.
[End Sidebar]
The scam-era system has been built on the false premise of law enforcement and fueled by the voluntary cooperation of the general public. In our opinion, The 5th Floor was using KOAT in an effort to scare the public into voluntary compliance knowing full well that their scam can't stand. In other words, it looked a lot like a bluff.

Eye Poll: Domenici

Last week's Eye Poll echoed the results of the Democratic leaning Public Policy Polling in at least one category. Eye readers favored Pete Domenici, Jr. over the rest of the Republican field. Domenici received 36%, Doug Turner 17%, Janice Arnold-Jones 16%, Alan Weh 13%, Susana Martinez 9%, and coming in dead last was Lt. Governor Diane Denish with 8% (read the results here).

It's not overly surprising that Domenici lead the field in our unscientific Eye Poll due to his superior name ID and his campaign's get out the vote effort late last week. What was interesting was how poorly Diane Denish fared.

The Eye Poll skews right, but Denish certainly commands comparable name ID to Domenici, Jr. and one would think that based on name ID alone she would have made it up the polling ladder a bit.

This week we're going to take a look at the "generic ballot." When faced with a choice between candidates that you don't know, which one are you most likely to vote for? Don't forget to vote!

----- Post Script -----
We apologize for misspelling Lt. Governor Diane Denish's last name in our Eye Poll. Unfortunately, there's no way to correct it on the poll but we don't think that readers or voters were confused by the addition of an "n" to the Lt. Governor's first name.