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, 2008

Defending the Colors

Peter Ryan Lynch heads to trial Tuesday morning to defend himself for his September defense of the colors of the United States of America. As you will recall, Lynch found the Mexican national flag being flown unaccompanied by the U.S. flag in front of Scholes Hall at UNM. He notified the ROTC and an hour and a half later when nothing had been done to correct the violation of the U.S. Flag Code, Lynch - a military veteran - took matters into his own hands by tearing the flag down (read our posts here).

Almost immediately The Center of the Race (El Centro de la Raza) started crying hate crime while taking no responsibility for their role in the Great Flag Flap of 2007 (read about it here). Lynch denied any racial motivation and posted a letter right here explaining his actions (read it here).

What has been absolutely stunning to us is that the DA chose to prosecute this case in the first place. But of course anything is possible when our DA chooses to prosecute people like Elton John Richard for trying to enforce the law and protect his property and family... but we digress.

Despite offering to replace the ripped Mexican flag - an offer refused by The Center of the Race - Mr. Lynch will find himself facing a DA and undoubtedly representatives of El Centro de la Raza whose main objective is not the administration of justice but rather the continuation of the victim status racial politics that gives them their power.

Mar 30, 2008

Is Rome Burning?

"What's that smell?" More than likely the question that Nero asked when his fiddling was interrupted by the flames licking at his toga. While the Almighty Alcalde may not quite have the flames burning his loafers, there's certainly a large amount of smoke in the air and it's coming from fires burning all over the city.

Our first fire was started some seven or so years ago when the Chavez administration began what can only be called a spending spree.
Budget growth has been substantial since Mayor Martin Chávez took office in 2001. Annual spending is ahead of inflation by $125 million.
That Journal story was from over a year ago. At that time the city was projecting a budget shortfall of $22 MILLION for 2008. Today we found out that that shortfall has grown almost three times to a whopping $65 MILLION (ABQ Journal - Subscription). To put that in perspective last year's budget was some $490 MILLION, $65 MILLION is over 13% of last year's budget.

Worse, even though the mayor and the council knew about a $22 MILLION shortfall, they continued down the road of blowing our tax dollars on $9 MILLION gifts to the county and the inclusion of Trolleys in the city's Transportation Improvement Plan or TIP. Marty was even back in the hunt for a teddy bear (read it here).

Talk about ignoring reality! Of course at the time the Almighty One still had aspirations of becoming governor, then senator, then mayor... You get the idea.

Another smoldering city situation is our increasing problem with property crime. Back in September the Journal did a little statistical analysis and found that Albuquerque was one of the most dangerous places to live in the country (Subscription). But never fear Albuquerque's top cop (that's not an elected official) Ray Schultz feels safe and besides we just report crime too often.

Which brings us to our most dangerous governmental conflagration - the almost total and complete meltdown of Albuquerque's police department. APD is in crisis and if you've spent any time at all reading the comments of various police officers on this site you know this to be true.

A series of moves ranging from 5-8's to a new contract designed to pit officer against officer, the Chavez administration has managed to divide a dysfunctional department against itself. Folks, we already had a crime problem. Marty's move against the department's senior officers has the potential to make an already bad crime situation worse.

Now, don't think for a second that these officers would neglect their duties... they won't. They took an oath to protect the rest of us and they will fulfill that oath regardless of the utter stupidity of the 5th and 11th floors, not to mention the foolishness of the APOA board. However, there are consequences. First, as soon as it is possible for them to do so they will leave - either through retirement or by finding a better department that appreciates experienced law enforcement officers.

More importantly, almost the entire force is busy arguing over a contract that nothing short of poison for APD unity. It's a HUGE distraction for officers whose attentions should be more properly directed at reducing crime. Frankly, we don't blame them. It's hard to focus on your job when you're caught between management and the APOA who have agreed on a contract that will cost you money in just a few short years.

Meanwhile, younger officers are busy trying to hang on to a gain that they probably should have never gotten. In a few years they'll find themselves in the same position as the current senior officers - looking for a department that appreciates them for their experience or trying to hang-on until they reach their retirement. The only problem is they won't be just a couple of years away from retirement - which means today's rookies will never be tomorrow's seasoned APD officers.

We haven't even begun to talk about the other fires burning down at city hall like red light cameras, falsified animal adoption numbers, or inflated "green" statistics. If you're smelling smoke it's because there's a fire. All we need to do now is buy the Almighty Alcalde a fiddle and probably get him some lessons.

Mar 27, 2008

The Road to Invalidation

Tonight was the first meeting of the Albuquerque Police Officer's Association since the recent narrow approval of a controversial three year contract designed to lure more new officers to the beleaguered department. The contract itself incentivized joining APD at the expense of staying with APD. We believe that there's a deeper play here. The Almighty One would only benefit by getting rid of the department's more senior officers that know better in favor of less experienced officers who frankly... don't.

In tonight's full house, the issue of the contract was sure to come up and indeed it did. Following an impassioned speech by 20 year Sergeant Paul Heh, the streetwise sergeant made a motion to invalidate the recently approved contract based on the numerous irregularities surrounding the contract and its approval process.

More specifically, Sergeant Heh moved to declare the approved contract null and void. A new approval process would then be instituted with the new contract to be distributed to the membership for review. The review period would last a week to ten days and then the membership would vote on whether or not to accept the current contract.

We don't know about you, but we won't sign a FedEx tablet without reading it first, yet the officers were asked to vote on a three year contract without having a contract to review and voting began immediately after the contract was presented (read it here). In addition, non-union members and probationary officers were allowed to participate in the APOA vote - something that our Eyes tell us has never happened before and could easily explain the 59 vote approval margin. Particularly when you take into account the fact that no one had seen the contract.

Sergeant Heh's motion was seconded and eventually tabled for 30 days to allow for notification of the APOA membership.
We find it amazing that the APOA would present a contract that affects the financial futures of some 800 officers and ask them to vote on acceptance immediately when almost every other motion requires a 30 day membership notification.
(End Sidebar)
At present, the only thing that will stop this divisive contract the passage of the sergeant's motion and a subsequent "no" vote by the membership or a city council intervention. Since this is a multi-year deal, it requires the approval of the council; which we believe they would be wise to withhold if for no other reason than the current contract is dividing the department and putting the general public at risk because of that division.

Mar 24, 2008

Money Money Money

If there was ever any doubt that the City of Albuquerque's Red Light Scam-era program was all about the money (there wasn't) it's completely gone now. According to KOB-TV Marty's former treasurer and perhaps closest political ally on the council has had the bright idea to shutdown the scam-eras in intersections that aren't turning the profit that they used to (KOB-TV).

Apparently, Councilor Sanchez spent a little time reading a report on about the city of Dallas' plan to turn off their scam-eras (read it here). The city council in the lone star state has figured out that while the public safety benefits are negligible not to mention in dispute, the monetary benefit is that was initially substantial starts to dwindle if for no other reason than people are generally smarter than the council and simply avoid the stationary revenue generators.
At the heart of the discussions taking place in city councils and county commissions is tension between the twin benefits that were touted when local governments began installing cameras about a decade and a half ago. Officials were promised that the cameras — which take snapshots of busy intersections, capturing the license plates of any cars that are running the light — would simultaneously save lives and generate millions of dollars in extra fines. [emphasis added]
Now that revenue is down - way down - the City of Dallas is considering shuttering as many as a quarter of their installed cameras and Councilor Sanchez wants to look at following their lead. We also don't think it's a coincidence that Sanchez's move comes just after the legislature voted to confiscate the profit from The Almighty Alcalde's scam.

What is particularly alarming here is that people like Councilor Sanchez will shutdown the cameras in a second if they fail to bring home the bacon but could care less about the little things like due process, liberty, justice, and The Constitution for that matter. They claim that their overriding concern is public safety, but when the crash reduction efficacy of the scam-eras cannot be proven those same politicians continue to support its continuation - right up until the revenue dries up.

It has always been about the money. It will always be about the money. And now these yahoos in the city councils of both Dallas and right here in Albuquerque are all but admitting that the only thing that will end the scam is a lack of... money. They should be ashamed of themselves and we should think twice before we send them back their respective legislative bodies.

Mar 22, 2008

Eye on the Grapevine: Another Marty Mishap?

The rumor mill may be working overtime this evening but there's a doosey floating around out there about none other than the Almighty Alcalde. We spent almost all of last week telling you about the mayors March 9th hit and run. Well, tonight our Eyes tell us that APD is buzzing about a mayoral arrest.

Details are a little unclear but the rumor is that the mayor was picked up for some sort of moving violation that may have involved alcohol. We haven't been able to completely nail this thing down but there are a large number of 34's talking about the incident that frankly may not have happened at all. We'll keep you posted if this thing turns out to be anything more substantial.

Mar 21, 2008

Plugging Leaks

The 5th floor has begun an investigation into the mayor's alleged hit and run. Of course it's not the kind of investigation where they're trying to get to the bottom of what actually happened Sunday, March 9th - it's an investigation designed to find out who had the temerity to release public information about allegations involving the mayor.

Our Eyes tell us that Ray and company held a meeting today in which it was decided that the brass needed to find out how we got such detailed information that included dispatch timelines, CAD numbers, and the incident's case number. We told you about the bizarre meeting in which officers were threatened with termination if they released information to the press (or to your lovable Eye) about something that they wouldn't name (read it here).

In the meantime, the 5th floor brain trust decided that the best way to handle questions about the alleged mayoral mishap (and run) was to claim "mistaken identity" - which Chief Ray did on 770KKOB's Bob Clark show this week. Normally a claim like that would almost be irrefutable - except for the fact that we were able to get our hands on the call detail and our Eyes have evidence in their possession that the mayor admitted to being at the scene but claimed there was no damage.

Now, APD has been busy fielding questions about an incident that they never wanted to talk about and in fact, made every effort to keep locked down. The fact is that the mayor and the police department have tremendous power to investigate crime which also gives them the almost unchallengeable ability to cover it up. You need look no further than the 2005 evidence room scandal that cost Chief Gallegos his job and brought Chief Schultz into the picture.
Our Eyes tell us that Chief Schultz was in charge of the APD evidence room at least part of the time that evidence was disappearing. It's ironic that he was the one tapped to clean up the mess and restore confidence in the department.
(End Sidebar)
Now their investigative authority - authority granted them by all of us - is being used to plug a leak that may reveal felonious activities in the police department. If the original allegations are true (and we believe they are), Marty's mishap and run would be a misdemeanor. Anyone involved in attempting to cover-up that misdemeanor could be guilty of a felony. If the mayor is personally involved in the cover-up he would also be guilty of a felony.

It's time that an outside agency takes a long hard look at APD from the evidence room to Marty's mishaps. APD is not Marty's personal police force tasked with protecting him both physically and politically. They work for us... and their job is to keep the public safe from those who disregard the law, even if it's the mayor himself.

Mar 20, 2008

5-8's Equal 24-7 - APD 10-7

It's been APD all the time this week. We promise once the foolishness stops we'll move on to other pressing concerns. But until then we'll be busy telling you about the almost non-stop stupidity flowing from the 5th and the 11th floors.

This could have been one of the worst weeks for APD and The Almighty Alcalde. From divisive contracts to potential felonious corruption the 5th floor seems to be in a complete meltdown. If all of this weren't enough the brain trust decided it was time to change the basic operational structure of the entire department.

Chief Schultz announced Thursday through the Journal's T.J. Wilham that the new bid and operational model for APD will be for 5-8s (ABQ Journal - Subscription). For the uninitiated that means that officers will work 5 days a week for 8 hours a shift. Currently, officers work 4 days a week for 10 hours per shift. The reason given for the unprecedented change - response times. We'll get back to that concept later.

Our Eyes tell us that the real reason behind the move is the Almighty Alcalde's desire to open a sixth area command on the northwest side of town. Now, we don't disagree that Albuquerque needs more officers and even more area commands, but this administration's perception over reality approach has made our city one of the more dangerous places in the country to live even if Chief Schultz feels safe.

Let's take a look at the current 4-10 shift schedule. In addition to picking up bad guys forty hours a week, officers have additional responsibilities that neither they nor their superiors have control over most of which have to do with the less than optional obligation of appearing in court. At present the 4 day 40 hour work week doesn't mean that officers have a full three days off, it means that if their days off happen to be during the Monday through Friday work week they'll more than likely end up in court on their day off.

Typically court won't last a full eight hours and sometimes they won't be scheduled with any court obligations - whether those are court appearances or pre-trial hearings. However, most officers are lucky to get one full day off a week once their non-shift obligations are taken into consideration.

We believe adding an 8 hour shift and reducing four of the other shifts by two hours will not only create a situation where there are fewer officers on the street, but will end up making law enforcement a 24-7 endeavor where officers are either on the street or in court. In addition to the unwieldy burden placed on officers and their families, we also must consider the effect of fatigue on an officer's judgment. Poor judgment results in poor decisions. Poor decision making results in offenders going free and endangering the public in ways that we don't even want to contemplate.

Let's get back to "poor response times." Right now we live in a dangerous city, poor response times are a result of a lack of officers on the street, high crime and we believe poor policies instituted by the 5th floor and the Chavez administration. Chief Schultz's 5-8 scheme stretches an already insufficient force over an increasingly large area. What it doesn't appear to do is reduce response times or reduce crime. After all, the same number of officers will be working the same number of hours. Do we really improve the quality of law enforcement by stretching them to their limits, spreading them over an increasing large area, and wrecking their family lives?

In just a week APD has managed to divide the rank and file against itself, and get rid of one of the most attractive benefits that APD provides its officers - the 4-10 work week that really means maybe a full 24 hours off. We've got to admit, that's quite an accomplishment if your goal is to wreck an already struggling department.

Chief Schultz and crew aided and abetted by the APOA have designed a contract that encourages senior officers to retire or leave APD for better opportunities. The change in operational structure to 5-8s will further encourage senior officers to leave and/or retire early - a situation that neither makes us safer nor helps APD reach its arbitrary goal of 1,100 officers.
We're already hearing rumors of a "blue flu" and of increasing officer retiring by July 1st. Our Eyes tell us that the intrepid brain trust of the 5th floor plans to keep all of the departing officers on the roster as long as possible in order to minimize the appearance of force degradation. In other words, the plan is to lie to the general public - not exactly new when it comes to APD and numbers.
(End Sidebar)
In the end all that will be accomplished is more officers leaving the department, deteriorating morale, and an increasingly inexperienced police force. In the end APD will be 10-7 as an effective law enforcement agency.

Mar 19, 2008

Mistaken Identity or Arrogance?

This morning APD's Chief Ray Schultz fielded a call asking about the mayor's weekend hit and run. In either an ingenious move or a very stupid one, the chief claimed that this was a rumor running around the blogs and that it was a case of "mistaken identity."

We've been chasing this story for a number of days now. Thus far there is nothing... we repeat nothing to indicate that anyone but the chief was mistaken. Let's take a look at the timeline from Sunday March 9th.
17:39 - The first call comes in to the 911 dispatcher. The caller advises that his vehicle on 2nd Street between Marquette and Tijeras had been hit and that the driver of the other vehicle had left the scene. The caller also advised that a witness claimed that the driver of the other vehicle was Mayor Chavez.

17:33 - Caller advises that he did not witness the accident.

17:41 - Public Safety Aid Valerie Torres is dispatched to the scene.,

17:44 - Sergeant S27 (Sergeant Apodaca) acknowledges the call.

17:46 - G242 (Officer Mark Landavazo) is dispatched.

17:47 - Dispatch requests G242 call S27 (Sergeant Apodaca)

17:48 - G242 comments that he'll need a written witness statement.

17:55 - G242 (Officer Landavazo) arrives on scene.

17:59 - G225A (Officer David Fox) provides backup.

17:59 - G242 advises his new location is 3rd Street and Tijeras at convention center.

18:00 - G242 advises he's trying to make contact with the witness.

18:01 - G242 advises that he was unable to make phone contact with the witness and only got her answering machine.

18:39 - A case number is assigned - AP080100070

19:08 - G225A (Officer David Fox) is cleared.

19:09 - G242 (Officer Landavazo) returns to the North Valley Sub-Station.

19:52 - G242 requests a field investigator go to Rio Grande and El Nito (We assume Mayor Chavez's residence).

22:01 - G242 goes to Coors and Montano (we assume to interview the witness).

23:34 - G242 returns to the North Valley Sub-station.

00:10 - Call cleared.
It's pretty standard fare really. The timeline certainly doesn't indicate any kind of conclusion, but our Eyes maintain two very important things - first that the witness identified Mayor Chavez as the driver of the offending vehicle and second, that the mayor admitted to hitting the vehicle.

We're concerned that APD's chief is in a hurry to come to a conclusion that our Eyes tell us the evidence doesn't support. The job of the police department in any city is to gather evidence in order to prosecute crime not to gather evidence in order to bury it.

Could it be a case of mistaken identity... perhaps, but we don't think so. If we're correct, APD's brass could be engaged in felonious activity and we're quite sure that that's not what we're paying them for. Think about it this way... if APD will risk a felony to cover for a misdemeanor what else is going on? Is it really mistaken identity or the arrogance that no one will ever be able to prove otherwise?

Numbers Please

Here are the important numbers associated with the March 9th call:
Case Number: 08010070
CAD Number: 080691101
FI #1 CAD: 080691166
FI #2 CAD: 080691243

Mar 18, 2008

Locking It Down

The 5th floor held a meeting yesterday that was so vague in content that it left many of the attendees scratching their heads asking what the heck was that meeting was about. The main message of the meeting was keep your mouths shut and don't talk to the media - the about what part was left intentionally vague while the consequences were made crystal clear... termination.

As you know, our Eyes (from different parts of the department) tell us that Marty was allegedly involved in a hit and run Sunday, March 9th. We now know the exact time - 5:29 pm (read about it here).

As we told you, the reports from the field investigators were gathered up by Commander Romero on his day off and yesterday's 5th floor meeting makes it all too clear that APD's official policy is to bury this one. If APD is actively covering for the mayor we've all got a serious problem.

Most of the time, it's not the original offense that gets you into trouble - it's the cover-up. If the mayor was involved in a hit and run accident he's guilty of a misdemeanor and liable for damages (which we get to pay for). If anyone at APD buries the incident by tampering with public records, then they're committing a felony. One might even consider conspiracy charges.

Committing a felony to cover-up a misdemeanor is arrogant and stupid particularly when there was a witness to the incident who doesn't have anything to gain by keeping their mouth shut. One of these times an officer or a citizen is going to stand-up and do the right thing. When that happens, the mainstream media folks will have to run the story and the administration's house of cards will come tumbling down.

Those granted power by the electorate have a higher responsibility to adhere to the laws and policies of the government they lead. That means staying at the scene of an accident even if there are no injuries or damages. That means facing the consequences of the mistakes you make (like hitting parked cars). That means not using your power to subvert the very laws that you've sworn to uphold.

Integrity is what you do when no one is looking. In this case it appears that someone was looking and now we just need that someone to step forward.

Mar 17, 2008

Hit and Run

We normally don't do stories about traffic accidents. Let's just say that they're all too common and none too interesting. However, when the accident involves a city vehicle and an elected official then the incident grabs our attention.

Sunday, March 9th APD's 911 dispatch received a call from an irate citizen who claimed that they had just witnessed an accident involving a parked car and a city vehicle at 2nd and Marquette. The driver of the vehicle got out, took a look at the damage and drove away. What had this caller upset was that they recognized the driver of the city vehicle as none other than the Almighty Alcalde himself - Mayor Martin Chavez.

According to our Eyes, Marty's bodyguard Sergeant Louie Sanchez was contacted about the crash who brought in another officer - Sergeant Apodoca - to supervise the investigation. When contacted about the crash the mayor allegedly admitted that he had hit another vehicle but claimed that there was no damage so he left the scene. Field Investigators were dispatched to the scene and apparently to the mayor's home in order to collect photographs and information. After the reports were written, Commander Paul Romero showed up to collect the reports and we assume the photos.

There are a few questions that need to be asked. First of all, why was the mayor's bodyguard involved? Our understanding is that he wasn't with the mayor when the accident occurred otherwise he would have been driving. Second, why did Commander Romero show up to collect the reports? Sunday is normally the Commander's day off and we have a hard time believing that the Commander normally shows up to collect reports pertaining to minor traffic crashes - even in the case of a hit and run. More importantly, our Eyes tell us that this isn't the first time that a high ranking officer showed up to collect police reports involving the Almighty One.

It seems that the mayor's crash warranted special attention from APD brass - and perhaps that's as it should be. After all the mayor is the city's top law enforcement official. If the intent here is to gather evidence in order to prosecute a sitting mayor for leaving the scene of an accident (a misdemeanor) then we've got no problem with the special attention. However, if the intent is to find a way to shield The Almighty One from the press and from prosecution then we've all got a real problem.

It really doesn't matter that the mayor hit a parked car (unless of course he was impaired in some way). What does matter is that he chose to leave the scene. If as the mayor maintains, there wasn't any damage done it's still incumbent upon an elected official driving a city vehicle to notify the police and the owner of the parked vehicle and to wait for the police to arrive. We should expect a higher standard from our elected officials especially since your average city employee would be terminated for leaving the scene of an accident involving a city vehicle.

Our Eyes believe that this thing will simply disappear. Perhaps we've grown a bit cynical ourselves because we wouldn't be at all surprised if they were right. However, in this case there's a witness who's none too happy about the mayor's abrupt departure and doesn't have a stake in covering it up.

The law applies to everyone including and perhaps especially sitting mayors. It may have been a minor crash but it speaks volumes about the character of a man who is currently trying to change the rules in order to run for a third consecutive term.

Mar 16, 2008

Divide and Conquer

As you know by now, the APOA membership approved the latest contract with the City of Albuquerque by a mere 59 votes (ABQ Journal - Subscription). The contract - which no one seems to have a copy of - targets new recruits and young officers. We've long been of the opinion that APD would have less trouble recruiting new officers if the organization's pay were more competitive. Apparently, someone was listening on the 5th or 11th floors or both. However, this contract is not what we had in mind.

Look, for APD to be competitive in the market place it needs to offer competitive pay and benefits, top notch training, and most importantly a working environment where officers are respected and where they have the backing of their department. This contract may be worse than any contract that has come before for the simple reason that it divides the rank and file and sets officer against officer - "a house divided against itself cannot stand."

The Almighty Alcalde has a history of offering a new contract to the members of the Albuquerque Police Department in the year before a mayoral election. Our Eyes suspect that the mayor's pattern of contract negotiation has more to do with election year politics than with compensating Albuquerque's finest.

If you take a few moments to review the comments from various 34's on this website, you can't help but notice a growing animosity. The division is not between the city and the rank and file, but between officers. Don't think for a moment that this is a coincidence. There's only one person that this particular division benefits - the Almighty Alcalde himself.
We found it somewhat humorous that accompanying the article about the approval of the new APD contract was an ad for Las Vegas' Metro Police. Just who do you think they were targeting with the timely ad?
(End Sidebar)
Unfortunately, the general public is caught in the middle. The most experienced officers are being encouraged to leave the department while their replacements are inexperienced officers fresh from the academy. The imbalance is likely to cost us all and don't think for a moment that the mayor and his cronies won't be busy telling us things like "this package shows our commitment to public safety" (ABQ Journal - Subscription).

Here's the long-term problem in a nutshell. Marty can't and won't achieve his goal of 1,100 officers by front-loading contracts to benefit younger officers. More experienced officers will simply be leaving the department once their pay flattens out and departments like Metro will be making APD's officers an offer they can't refuse. Who can blame them? Remember, today's young officers are tomorrow's old salts. Under this contract, APD's experienced officers will be other department's new recruits - all at our expense.

Mar 14, 2008

One Every Minute

"Big Incentive" trumpets the Albuquerque Journal in today's above the fold article on police pay. It seems that the City of Albuquerque and the APOA board have come to an agreement on what and how APD's rank and file should be paid (ABQ Journal - Subscription). The contract was presented to the membership last night and is being voted on today.

As you know, the 5th floor has been absolutely incapable of finding enough recruits to field 1,100 officers. 1,100 is Marty's magic number yet despite years of promises and claims, even APD is admitting that they're steadily losing officers not gaining them by admitting that as of yesterday, they had just 969 officers. We'd wager that even that number includes everyone with a badge and a pulse and a few that have neither... but we digress.

According to our Eyes (and the Journal for that matter) the contract appears to be heavily front-end loaded - designed to specifically attract new recruits. The big jump in pay is targeted a new officers who will receive almost a 22% pay increase. More experienced and higher ranking officers receive a substantially smaller "raise."

You see the contract - which no one seems to have an actual copy of - gets rid of longevity pay. As a consequence, even though sergeants and lieutenants may be getting an hourly raise of 12.5% and 11.6% respectively, with the loss of longevity pay senior sergeants would receive almost nothing and some lieutenants actually lose money.
We find it ironic that the new APD contract gets rid of the very thing that AFD has just fought for and received - longevity pay. Not everyone will achieve rank, nor should they and some simply don't want to climb up the ladder. The question is should they be rewarded for their long service despite choosing to remain a Patrolman First Class or should they be penalized for choosing to continue to work in the demanding field of everyday police work?
(End Sidebar)
Like a lot of things associated with the Chavez administration, this contract appears to offer more enticement than benefit. The Almighty Alcalde was quoted in the Journal saying "[t]his is the type of raise you give when you are rolling in the dough, not when you are hurting for money." According to our Eyes behind the badge, there's as much show as there is substance to this contract that creates an enticement for new officers while simultaneously encouraging more experienced officers to leave.
Perhaps getting rid of more experienced officers is part of the idea here. New recruits are less likely to give the 5th floor a hard time where long-time APD officers can still remember what things were like before the current regime.
(End Sidebar)
One other little problem we see here and we alluded to it earlier... no one seems to have a copy of the contract. Our Eyes tell us that there was a motion at the APOA meeting last night to delay today's vote so that the rank and file would have time to get a copy of the contract that they are being asked to accept. They were told by union President Ron Olivas after consultation with the union attorney that last night's meeting didn't constitute a regular union meeting and therefore no motions could be accepted from the floor.

What's strange here is that wouldn't the union be better representing its members by making sure that the contract was available and fully understood by the membership? We'd think that a more measured approach would benefit the union leadership and the members unless of course, there's something more going on here.

Rumors are already circulating that there's a deal in place to reward union President Ron Olivas with a city job - much like former APOA President Lawrence Torres. Justified or not, these types of rumors always get started when the membership feels like a contract is being rammed down their throats.

In the end, members of the APOA are voting on a contract that substantially changes the way that they are paid and how much without having the opportunity to personally review the contract themselves. P.T. Barnum once said that "there was a sucker born every minute," and it may be that both the union and the city are hoping those suckers are wearing the uniform of the Albuquerque Police Department.

Ask any lawyer whether you should sign a contract without first reading and understanding its terms. Ask yourself if you would vote for a candidate without knowing their names. Entering into an employment contract without having your very own copy of the agreement before voting on its ratification seems to us like simple common sense. Otherwise you'll be proving P.T. Barnum's point.

Mar 12, 2008

Breaking: Judge Griego Removed from Bench

Details are a little sparse but our Eyes tell us that Metropolitan Court Judge J. Wayne Griego has been removed from the bench by the Supreme Court. We can't help but believe that the rally outside the courthouse played at least some part in the court's decision. The Center for Family Justice started their rally calling for a grand jury investigation into Griego's shenanigans just yesterday and have reportedly gotten 250 signatures on a petition calling for a grand jury investigation.

We believe that a grand jury investigation is not only warranted but necessary even if Griego is permanently removed from the bench. Our judges and elected officials should be held to a higher standard not a lower one.

Mar 9, 2008


After a great deal of consideration and consultation with our Eyes behind the badge, we posted our first take on the Elton John Richard II case (read it here). Shortly after that post we received an email from Mr. Richard's father-in-law - which after obtaining permission we posted here.

Today, the Albuquerque Journal revisited the story and managed to do nothing to advance the story and plenty to muddy up the water (ABQ Journal - Subscription). From the moment we saw the front page above the fold story complete with photographs of the victim (Richard) and the deceased (Romero), we were irate. The Journal published photos of both men - one showing Richard accepting judgment, the other a happy "family-man" photo of Romero complete with smiling faces provided by Romero's family.
In defense of the Journal, an editor's note explained that the "The family of Elton John Richard asked the Journal not to publish a family portrait, citing privacy and safety concerns."

That should tell you something right there. The family of the felon feels it's perfectly acceptable to publish family photos with a convicted felon (Romero). They see no shame and there's no stigma attached - kind of like a badge of honor. Meanwhile, the family of the victim (Richard) is afraid to have their photos published.

At the very least the Journal could have found a photo of Romero with less spin and more appropriate to the situation. Let see... maybe a mug shot?
(End Sidebar)
The Journal's sub-head (Ex-Con's Cocaine Habit Catalyst in Run-In With Vet) was even worse as it provided a sympathetic excuse as to why an convicted felon was out doing what all too many convicted felons do - break the law. Although the rest of the story did a pretty good job of describing the lives of both men, the bias had already been established so the damage was already done.

The problem with this type of human interest story posing as news is that when you get right down to it the details of the lives of the two men are immaterial. Who cares that Romero had helped people on the roadside - he could have just as easily been robbing them. Who cares that Romero owed $400 to a drug dealer. Who cares that he was a coke head. None of those factors are pertinent to the fact that he chose to attempt steal Richard's vehicle. He chose to threaten Richard. He chose to attempt to avoid arrest. He chose to attack a determined Marine that knew how and when to use the weapon he carried.

The sad fact is that if Romero had simply waited with Richard in his front yard for the police to arrive he would be alive today. But that's not the sad part. The sad part is that he would have probably been out of jail the next day and out of prison by now.

It comes down to the fact that the why really doesn't matter. The fact is Romero was breaking the law, fleeing prosecution, and endangering the lives of others - period. We really wish that this thing had gone to trial. We believe that the DA's case would have boiled down to the word of a decorated Marine vs. that of a dead felon.

Think about it. Richard ran 1400 feet down streets, across fields, and over fences in his socks just to end the life of Romero a convicted felon? As a jury member it would be hard to believe that Richard ever intended kill Romero. At best the scenario that the DA would have presented at trial would have been hard to believe not to mention that the forensics were not at all conclusive. What's easier to believe - that Richard ran 467 yards to kill a man or that he ran 467 yards to take him into custody?

Prisons are great place for people like Romero who repeatedly endanger the lives of those around them and somehow believe that they have the right to take what they need regardless of the reason. In our opinion that pretty well fits the definition of a sociopath - someone who's utter disregard for those around him allows them to justify just about any action.

Elton John Richard II is clearly not a sociopath or a criminal for that matter. It serves no purpose for the state to send him to prison. And it serves no purpose for Richard to have to pay off the Romero family whose kindly ministrations allowed Romero to continue his criminal ways. Now the Romero family is busy trying to collect more blood money by pursuing a civil wrongful death suit.

We've all been the victim of petty theft. It's an invasion that leaves you insecure in your own home - even if that theft takes place in your driveway. Richard did a job that the system failed to do... keep us safe from people like Daniel Romero. He should be thanked for his determination to apprehend a common criminal. He certainly should not be treated like one. If ever there was a case deserving clemency or pardon this is it.

----- Post Script -----
We haven't done an Eye Poll in quite a while. However, the more we've learned about the Richard's case, the more we've moved toward a complete pardon by Governor Richardson. We'd love to know what you think. Weigh-in on this week's Eye Poll.

Mar 7, 2008

Judgement Rally

Center for Family Justice to Rally for Judge J. Wayne Griego Indictment

Metropolitan Court Judge J. Wayne Griego was recently brought before the Judicial Standards Commission for fixing tickets for court staff and family (read our take here). This is the second time that the Judge has played fast and loose with the law and we don't believe he's qualified to continue in his capacity as a Metro Court Judge.

The Center for Family Justice (find their website here) agrees with our position and has decided to do something about it. They're holding a three day rally (Tuesday, March 11th, Wednesday March 12th, and Thursday, March 13th) calling for a grand jury investigation into Griego's ticket fixing activities and collecting signatures for a petition to force a grand jury to be empanelled. CFJ President Leslie Cumiford explained their reason for pursing a grand jury investigation in an email we received yesterday.
Griego[], as a judge, has a charge and a duty to the People of NM and he has utterly failed in this duty. Additionally, he has violated the law and acted in a conspiratorial manner from his official judicial offices.

The Constitution of the State of New Mexico allows the People, by petition, to convene a grand jury to consider indictment of an offiical for criminal behavior. In the absence of any real oversight in this state over misdeeds of the judiciary, it is time for the People to lawfully take this matter into their own hands and convene a grand jury regarding Griegos' actions. We do so under the New Mexico Constitution, Article II, Section 14 which states in part: "A grand jury shall be convened upon order of a judge of a court empowered to try and determine cases of capital, felonious or infamous crimes at such times as to him shall be deemed necessary, or a grand jury shall be ordered to convene by such judge upon the filing of a petition there[of] signed by not less than the greater of two hundred registered voters or two percent of the registered voters of the county, or a grand jury may be convened in any additional manner as may be prescribed by law."
-Leslie Cumiford, President Center for Family Justice
If you have a problem with Judge Griego's continued disregard for the law and his position, the center asks that you drop by the Metro Courthouse Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, between the hours of 9:00 am and 3:00 pm. There'll be a petition available for you to sign and a sign for you to carry if you have a few moments to take part in a little protest activity.

Cave In - Sauzo Back at the Academy

Late yesterday the 5th floor and the Almighty Alcalde appear to have caved and re-transferred Commander Sauzo back to the Academy. The move was apparently in response to the mass exodus taking place in the recruiting department. The administration also offered to cancel all of the transfers of any officer who would stay.

You know it was probably a smart move. After all, it'd be even harder to reach 1,100 officers without anyone to recruit them.

Mar 5, 2008

Recruiting Meltdown

1,100... the magic number sent down from on high (or at least the 11th floor) by the Almighty Alcalde. Marty has been promising year after year that APD would have 1100 officers by (fill in the blank - this year, next year, last year, etc.). The illusive 1,100 has been a thorn in his side and a major black eye for a mayor that governs by news conference.

Now in addition to having to recruit new officers APD is recruiting recruiters. Last Friday the "commander" in charge Commander Sauzo, was transferred out of the recruiting department that he headed. Our Eyes tell us that he was transferred for refusing to allow a substandard recruit into APD's academy. In addition, Our Eyes tell us that APD initiated an Internal Affairs investigation targeting Commander Sauzo for "inappropriate" questions during the interview.

APD brass is somewhat infamous about its use of the IA investigation to control officers. These conveniently timed investigations give the 5th floor something to hold over an officer's head. If the targeted officer complies and keeps his or her mouth shut the investigations tend to go away.
Our Eyes behind the badge tell us that they seriously doubt that Commander Sauzo would make the mistake of asking an inappropriate or improper question during a cadet interview as his APD service includes Internal Affairs. Commander Sauzo's transfer along with Marty's tongue lashing, job threatening February tirade (read about it here) has created a mass exodus in recruiting.

So far, 2 detectives and a lieutennant have transferred out of the department and our Eyes tell us that the unit's Sergeant will be transferring out as well - all because of the pressure to recruit 1,100 officers at any cost. Marty's mandate borrows the APS policy of everybody gets in and everybody passes.

We don't know about you, but we've got a problem with just anybody getting police powers. There have already been too many examples of police officers crossing the line of late and that's with the previous standards. APD should be raising standards, pay, and respect for officers on the force. Make APD the best agency in the state for officers to work and you'll have a line out the door trying to get in. Make intimidation your tactic and standards optional, and you'll continue to have record retirements every year and you'll make the bottom of the barrel your recruiting pool.

----- Correction -----
Ooops! We originally posted 2 of 4 lieutenants - that was incorrect. It was supposed to read 2 detectives and a lieutenant. Sorry for the error, it has been corrected above.

The Smear Echo

If you spend much time in the blogosphere you learn to spot what we call echoes. But unlike echoes the longer they last the louder they get. Such is the case with the "vote buying" allegations made by former Republican Governor Dave Cargo against both Heather Wilson's Campaign and Darren White's Campaign.

Democrat and Liberal bloggers have been trumpeting Cargo's allegations with a glee that goes beyond reason and credulity. Of course that's their job and they understand that tarring Wilson and White also tars the Republican Party. Heath Haussamen does a great job of analyzing this story that isn't (read it here).

These types of silly rumors get started every election, national or local, primary or general. It's only natural as candidates and their campaigns have generally worked very hard and become emotionally invested in the outcome - that makes them a bit paranoid and sometimes drives them to cross the line.

Both of these campaigns are run by competent, experienced people who understand that there's no upside to buying votes at a county nominating convention and a heck of a lot of downside. You also have to remember that the only thing at stake even in the state convention is ballot position - particularly when there are only two candidates (Wilson and Pearce) running and they are both well known. There's little to no chance that either candidate would fail to get the 20% required to get on the ballot. The same thing holds true for the White/Carraro race. It would be hard (not impossible) for White to get over 80% of the votes with only two in the race - ergo nothing to gain.

These are things that former 770 KKOB reporter Laura McCallum failed to take into account about allegations that she could not corroborate. However, our problem isn't with Ms. McCallum or even blogger Denis Domrzalski who "broke" the story. Our problem is with an elected official and a former Governor that should know better.

Governor Cargo is like a kindly old uncle that once brought honor to the family through his position - sometimes he spouts off at the dinner table and embarrasses the family. Unfortunately when that uncle goes to the media with some crackpot assertion he's believed because of his former position. That's the trap that Laura McCallum fell into - one that her boss at 770 avoided.

State Representative Janice Arnold-Jones who apparently corroborated the Domrzalski story is currently back-pedaling telling Haussamen that she wasn't quoted accurately. Domrzalski should have been suspicious of Ms. Arnold-Jones simply because she's none too happy that her dreams of succeeding Representative Wilson were cut short by lack of funding and the unpleasant truth that she wasn't the best possible candidate to hold the seat for the Republicans. Can you say sour-grapes?

In any case, both of these people should have known better. Both have held or currently hold office. Both have been involved in numerous county and state conventions. Both have at least a passing familiarity with the media. And both are doing more damage to their party than any Democrat could think of doing. At the end of the day there's nothing but a smear and it's ever-increasing echo.

----- Update -----
We listened to Brad Friedman, Laura McCallum, and former Governor Dave Cargo try to explain their allegations of "vote-buying" at the Bernalillo County Republican Party Convention today on KRXA 540 AM in Monterey California. Frankly, it was an embarrassment. Friedman was dead set on illegal activities even though there were none. McCallum was quite sure that campaigns paid the entrance fee of at least five attendees; which also isn't illegal. And former Governor Cargo was quite sure that he polled well with Hispanics and was treated poorly by 770 KKOB's Pat Frisch on Thursday's Jim Villanucci Show.

Surprisingly, fired U.S. Attorney David Iglesias decided to withdraw from the segment. It seems that even Iglesias thought better of being associated with The Smear Echo team.

Ultimately what made this fiasco possible is the decision of the party to charge admission - no money, no scholarships - no scholarships, no opportunity to smear. Charging admission to these affairs is something that Republicans should reconsider and now. The worst thing that can happen is that there's not enough space. On the other hand, the best thing that can happen is that there's not enough space.

Mar 4, 2008

Letters to The Eye: A Word from Elton Richard's Father-In-Law

We received an email from Wade Harless Elton John Richard II's father-in-law regarding our Sunday post entitled "Choices" (read it here or just scroll down). The email said some favorable things about our commentary (which we appreciate) but that's not why we're posting it here.

We asked permission to publish the email because it shed some additional light on the events leading up to Daniel Romero's shooting. After reading the email it made us even more convinced that Mr. Richard had no other choice but fire his weapon in self-defense. We believe it was self-defense because despite Richard's pursuit of a fleeing felon, he never fired his weapon until he was being attacked by the deceased.

A Word from Elton Richard's Father-In-Law

Dear Sir:

First of all, thank you for one of the best written articles about this incident I have read to date. Both sides of the coin were discussed and presented.

I would like to clarify some of the facts that some of the bloggers either do not have access to or they have heard some of the rumors which are not based on fact about the case. Just to lend credibility to this email, I am Elton's father-in-law and was present the first five days after this occurred, and have been following this case with every detail.

Running Romero Down to Shoot Him
Elton fought Romero in his yard while being beaten with a sledgehammer and other tools. Romero then progressed to back Elton down the street and into the corner of the cul-de-sac. As a Marine and as a Federal Officer, his training was to maintain a visual on the assailant and not lose the man until help arrives. Therefore, as his training kicked-in, he followed Romero as 911 had been called and the police were on their way.

After crossing the street and into the dark area, the shooting took place. I have never asked Elton specifically what happened up there, but having known Elton for many years, the only reason he would shoot another human being is due to fear for his life or the life of his family. Romero had already made the comment that he would be back when Elton was not there.

The autopsy report shows the angulation of the bullet such that determined that Elton was in a crouching position and Romero was over him with his arms out in a lunging position. Even without knowing the detail, this tells you there was a danger to Elton's personal well being.

As a trained sniper in the Marines, trust me, if Elton had intended to kill Romero at any given point, there would have been a bullet hole between his eyes.

Out on Bail
For three (3) years, Elton has been out on bail and was allowed, by the DA's office, to move home to Texas so he could be around family who could help them through this time. During that time they have had to sell their house, he lost his job, lost his benefits, have lost all of their savings and Elton's retirement and have gone into debt to pay defense expenses, etc. If he was such a "felon", why would he be allowed to leave the State? By the way, he called every week and followed the conditions of his bail for the entire time.

No Contest Plea
The "no contest" plea was agreed to as an assurance Elton would not be away from his son and wife. He did this knowing that he was pleading to something he did not do, but was not willing to chance adding further stress and torment to the life of his family. He also did this knowing that this would follow him all of his life. Even though this was not what I thought should have been done, we, the family supported him, without question, just as we have supported him in this since day one.

Now, with some of the facts, this young man has suffered for three (3) years in relation to the consequences of his actions. Yes, taking a life is a terrible thing. However, when you truly feel you are protecting your family and yourself, the resolve remains for a lifetime. None of the years can come back and Romero cannot be brought back, but the punishment should be based on factual information and not "he did not feel remorse". Thank goodness all of the judgements are not based on that. Most of the time the people on trial can lie better than most of us can tell the truth.

Thank you for allowing me the ability to respond to this blog. I appreciate your responsible reporting by providing all sides of this situation.

Respectfully submitted,


----- Post Script -----
If you take into account the sequence of events and the forensics, there can be little doubt that Mr. Richard felt his life was in danger when he made the decision to fire his weapon. The red herring in this case was the initial confrontation in Mr. Richard's front yard. If Romero had tried to steal his wallet and ended up dead we doubt that Richard would have ever been prosecuted.

Just because he pursued Romero with the intent to take him into custody, doesn't mean that Romero didn't threaten his life at the end of that pursuit. Again, if this had been a police officer giving chase it would have been deemed a justifiable homicide no matter how far the perp ran. The choice to turn and attack the officer (again) would have been enough to justify using deadly force.

Manifest Necessity

"Manifest necessity" - it sounds like some political philosophy or foreign policy. Unfortunately, it was the actual reason given by Judge Benjamin Chavez for the recent dismissal of a DWI case being heard in his courtroom.

The facts of the case are fairly simple. According to police reports, Alicia A. Cleary was arrested May 9, 2007 for Aggravated DWI (3rd or Subsequent), Leaving the Scene of an Accident, and Careless Driving. She had been observed hitting a pole on Academy and APD issued an attempt to locate bulletin on a Corvette last seen headed East on Academy with debris hanging from the vehicle.

Not too long after the advisory the Corvette was observed turning West on Osuna Rd from Eubank. APD officer Locke followed the Corvette to an apartment complex just West of Osuna where he initiated a traffic stop. At the time there was a male driving the vehicle who exhibited signs of intoxication. He told the officer that Cleary had been driving and had hit a pole on Academy - an assertion that was confirmed by Ms. Cleary.

A DWI officer was called and a DWI investigation ensued whereby Ms. Cleary was administered a field sobriety test which according to police records, she failed. Ms. Cleary later refused to take a breathalyzer test but was arrested on the strength of the failed field sobriety test.

Ms. Cleary wisely obtained defense council (which by the way we recommend). You see this wasn't Ms. Cleary's first rodeo, at the time she had 2 prior DWI convictions and 4 prior arrests. The attorney chosen to represent Ms. Cleary was David Crum.

So far, there really isn't anything particularly remarkable about this case. We've got a defendant with 2 priors grinding her way through the system that lands her in court February 28, 2008.

Our Eyes tell us that the case proceeded normally right up until the prosecution rested. At that time Defense Attorney Crum objected to the state not calling any witnesses from the car - which by the way they don't have to do. The state is only required to call witnesses for their case. They are also required to turn over any and all evidence in the state's possession to the defense.

The defense has the ability to call any witnesses including any passengers that may have been in the vehicle at the time of the alleged DWI. Therefore it is not incumbent upon the prosecution to call witnesses for the defense.

You'd think that there would be a short discussion of the motion, it would be denied and the trial would proceed normally. In this case, you'd be wrong. According to court documents, Judge Benjamin Chavez declared a mistrial for "manifest necessity."

We're still trying to figure out what the heck that's supposed to mean, but there might be a clue in the fact that it appears that attorney David Crum is a financial supporter of Judge Chavez's campaign for District Court Judge.

It seems that Chavez (the one in a robe, not the one from on high), has decided to set his sights on District Court. Our Eyes tell us that David Crum has been a supporter of the judge in the past and was all set to host a fundraiser for Chavez that very night.

If true, Judge Chavez's necessity has become manifest with a questionable decision involving a habitual offender for an attorney who's supporting him financially. At best the decision creates an appearance of impropriety. At worst, he could be guilty of misconduct. After all, there's very little difference between fellow Metro Court Judge J. Wayne Griego fixing tickets for family and friends and Judge Chavez apparently having an alternate and personal consideration when issuing a mistrial.

We understand that MADD was in the room and that they were well... not happy. We'll see if anything comes of this but if true, we certainly wouldn't want to see Chavez continue in Metro Court much less District Court.

Mar 2, 2008


Life is about choices - big and small, the fateful and the inconsequential. After an unspeakable tragedy, we spend a great deal of time examining the choices that led to a fateful event. Most of the time, we’re trying to lay blame or attempting understand events by playing “what if” or “connect the dots.” Each dot is a pivot where the choices made could have led to a very different outcome. Thought’s like “if I’d just left a few minutes earlier I would have avoided the accident” or “if we’d just noticed a large number of middle eastern exchange students taking flight lessons with no real interest in landing a plane” become obsessions.

The Elton John Richard II case is a perfect example of what happens when someone arrives at one of these pivot points and fails to recognize the predictable outcome of a simple choice. It’s only fitting that we examine some of those points – points where different choices could have led to a far less tragic outcome.

It all started years ago when Daniel Romero chose to involve himself in activity that could only be described as risky and one that ultimately led to his demise at the hands of a determined Marine. Make no mistake - Daniel Romero sealed his fate when he chose a life of larceny. His family argued at sentencing that Romero had helped people along the way - it's probably even true - but the simple fact is Romero chose to make stealing from others a part of his life.
Folks, armed robbery should be a dangerous occupation. One should certainly give serious consideration before deciding to go into the field. Societies' mistake is that we’ve created a system of laws, legal precedents, and administrative rules that serve to protect offenders and endanger the rest of us.

If you’ve ever wondered why we’ve got such a huge problem with auto-theft in the Albuquerque area the answer is simple – APD is not allowed to pursue a criminal that is fleeing in a stolen vehicle. The result is predictable, somewhere around 600 vehicles are stolen every month. More importantly, criminals know about the policy. So what do you think they do when an officer attempts to pull them over… what would you do?
(End Sidebar)
Perhaps Romero's worst choice and biggest mistake was to try and steal from a man who had the training and the determination to protect his property and his family. His last choice was to try and flee from justice and the detention that he rightly deserved.

Now take a look at the actions of Romero's victim. Yes, victim. There's no other way to describe a man who will be serving a two year prison sentence for making sure that Romero would never pose a threat to society again. Remember, Romero is dead today because he chose to flee from justice – that choice cost him his life.

From all accounts Richard made every attempt to take Romero into custody – repeatedly ordering Romero to stop and lay on the ground. If Richard had simply wanted to execute Romero it would have been far simpler to shoot him in his yard. Richard chose to protect his property, he chose to protect his family, and ultimately he chose to protect the rest of us.

There were other choices along the way... The DA chose to prosecute, the defense chose to enter a no contest plea, and the judge chose to sentence Richard to two years in prison and order him to pay the family $500 a month.

This is where we believe Judge Murdoch erred. The admission of guilt inherent to the no contest plea gave the judge a tremendous amount of discretion. Unlike Romero, Richard chose to remain at the scene, he chose to enter a plea accepting the consequences under the law, and he chose to face a judge without remorse, accepting the consequences of his actions.
Is it just us or does it seem strange to pay the family of the deceased (not victim) $500 a month for five years when they're at least partially responsible for the choices that Romero made? It's kind of like life insurance for thieves designed to replace the income lost from their ill-gotten gain. Talk about theft - Richard kept his Bronco and thanks to Judge Murdoch now has to pay the family of a thief enough to buy them one.
(End Sidebar)
Now Governor Bill Richardson faces a choice. Whether or not commute the sentence of a Marine whose only crime is serving justice by attempting to detain for prosecution a convicted criminal. We think the choice is an easy one. Commute the sentence to time served and drop the AFLAC for felons provision. Crime shouldn’t pay - not for the criminal not for the criminal’s family.

It's too bad that Romero ended up dead. But the truth is Romero's record of armed robbery indicated that his fate would more than likely have been the same even if he'd faced a less competent adversary. More importantly, it's hard to predict how many innocent victims Romero would have created along the way and how many bodies might have been left in his wake.

As a society we need to take a very long hard look at the laws governing administration of justice by civilians. We as a people have a right and a duty to do everything within our power to protect our families and our property from people who would take them from us unlawfully. If we truly want to be safe, we need to take part in our own protection. The Constitution guarantees us that right and there’s little doubt that the founding fathers intended that we play a role and take responsibility for our own safety.

In the meantime, we need to address the immediate concern of Elton John Richard II. Under the law he may be guilty of a crime (and has admitted as much), but to us he's a hero that made all of us just a little bit safer.

----- Post Script -----
We've seen a couple of references to the lack of remorse that Richard showed at his sentencing. Why should this be an issue at his sentencing? It seems to us that Mr. Richard faced his sentencing in the same manner as he faced a felon attempting to steal his property and flee... with clarity of thought and without emotion. Otherwise, Mr. Richard would have simply shot the offender in his yard and avoided a mile and a quarter run.

You need to ask yourself whether or not a police officer involved in the exact same sequence of events would be required to feel remorse. First of all, he would have never been prosecuted, but should he have felt remorse anyway? We'd say absolutely not.

Remember, there's right and wrong and then there's the law and they don't always overlap. Mr. Richard may have been guilty under the law but in our opinion, his actions were not wrong and completely justified. We applaud Mr. Richard for facing his sentence without pretense and without a false display of emotion even knowing that such a display would more than likely have reduced his sentence. That takes courage and the conviction that you did everything right and shouldn't be held against him.

The executive powers of pardon, clemency, and commutation were meant for cases like this. The founding fathers understood that the law is not always applicable and created a safety valve to be used by executives to right a wrong in specific cases where the law cannot or should not apply. Governor Richardson wields that power here in New Mexico - he should use it to right the wrong perpetrated by the courts in the name of a law that should not have been applied.