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

Dec 28, 2009


Former Mayor Martin Chavez is becoming legendary for his little side agreements with his loyal minions. Firefighter's union President Diego Arencón signed an agreement with the Formerly Almighty Alcalde guaranteeing himself a hefty $90,000 a year salary despite holding a position as a Firefighter First Class (read it here). Ed Adams - Marty's right hand man - recently produced one of these little pieces of paper signed by former CAO Bruce Perlman that basically says that Adams has the right to keep his sweet salary ($147,000 a year) no matter what job he holds with the city.

Now our Eyes tell us that in the spirit of spreading the wealth to other Minion Alums, Lawrence Torres has produced a memorandum of understanding signed by former CAO and current Municipal Development employee Ed Adams that moved the former union president back to APD as a Patrolman 1st Class and like Adams Torres managed to keep his over $80,000 a year salary. The move was specifically designed to allow Torres to retire from APD.

You see, APD has a 20 year retirement. Despite the fact that Torres spent only around 15 years in open space, his service in HR (a non-public safety position) counts towards his PERA retirement if he retires from a public safety agency. The problem is according to our Eyes, Torres' allowed his state certification to lapse which would make him ineligible to return to APD as a sworn officer.

Our Eyes have it that back in late October, Deputy Chief McCabe spent some time over at the academy with Torres' file after which the file was noticeably bigger. It doesn't take a genius to guess that the additional forms might have something to do with Torres' certification.

Torres is set to retire later this week. It looks like he'll be able to use his salary from his job as "Employee Relations Director" to determine his retirement benefit and the fact that he's retiring from APD to make him eligible for a 20 year retirement.

The mistake that Adams and company may have made is in allowing Torres to take his former salary back to APD as a P1C. Our Eyes tell us that there are a number of officers who are none too happy that one of their fellow P1Cs was making roughly double their salary - even if it was for just a couple of months. Those officers are considering a lawsuit based on a violation of the APOA's collective bargaining agreement.

These little side agreements were standard operating procedure for the Chavez administration. What concerns us is that APD is still lead by those who have a vested interest in keeping these shenanigans under wraps. So far, three of Marty's closest Minions have been able to produce these MOUs. In the Torres case, Chief Schultz is directly responsible for allowing the move and potentially responsible for altering public records.

It's entirely possible that the Torres transfer was completely legal. But if Mayor Berry truly wants to create a transparent city government, every contract, every expense, every MOU needs to be easily accessible to the public. Taxpayers have to pay these bills... We should at least know what the bills are for.

Dec 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

Somewhere along the line those two words - Merry Christmas - became controversial. Perhaps they were caught up in the wash of political correctness that flowed from the mindless (or mindful) discrimination perpetrated against the smaller ethnic and religious groups that have always been a part of our society. Perhaps it was the direct result of certain anti-religious elements whose faith dictates the removal of religion from the public square. When all is said and done, the reason doesn't matter when the result is increased intolerance in the name of tolerance.

Since its founding, our country has been a majority Christian nation. That's not to say that these Christians agreed on everything. It seems that there were as many different flavors of Christianity then as there were religions in the world and perhaps more; the same holds true today.

Because of these differences our founding fathers were wise enough to construct our Constitution on the foundation of liberty and freedom. They envisioned a public square not with an absence of religion but rather with a riotous tapestry of religious thought and expression; even if that religion was based on the faith that there's no God at all.

What these men from various religions and varying degrees of faith were most afraid of is that the government would choose one religion over the others even if that religion were a form of Christianity.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Unfortunately over the last twenty or thirty years, one religious voice has gained a measure of dominance over the others. In the name of religious freedom this voice has worked tirelessly to reduce or even remove the voice of Christianity in the public square.

It's ironic but often true that groups will use the banner of freedom and tolerance to in fact restrict the freedoms of others. The freedoms of religion, speech, the press, and assembly are freedoms designed specifically for the expression of thought even or especially when that thought is religious in nature.

We've often held that if you do not allow your views or beliefs to be challenged, perhaps you need to re-examine those beliefs and the reasons for them. The same is true for religious belief. If your faith can not withstand the simple expression of "Merry Christmas," then perhaps you should re-examine your own faith - even if that faith is a certainty in the absence of God.

So... to those of you of the Christian faith (no matter which one) who will be celebrating Christmas, we wish you a very Merry Christmas. For those of you who are of different faiths - what ever they may be - we wish you a Merry Christmas as an expression of our faith not as an attack on yours.

----- Editors Note -----
This post first appeared December 24th, 2007. On this Christmas Eve when our freedom is under attack by the very people who have sworn to protect it, our expressions of faith are more important than ever.

Celebrate your faith and take joy in your freedom. Those things that go uncelebrated will exit our lives. Merry Christmas!

Dec 23, 2009


The New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy Board is another one of those myriad of governmental boards that you've probably never heard of... unless of course you're a law enforcement professional. The board is essentially responsible for setting training standards for officers in the State of New Mexico. They are also responsible for officer certification and "revocation or suspension of certifications for officer misconduct" (read it here).

State law enforcement agencies forward the cases of officers who have been found guilty of a crime or found responsible in a civil proceeding to the NMLEA board for review. The board can then suspend an officer's certification or revoke it. When the state suspends or revokes an officer's state certification, they can no longer work in law enforcement at any police or sheriff's department in the State of New Mexico for as long as they remain uncertified.

The Albuquerque Police Department regularly forwards the cases of officers who have been found responsible for civil rights and other violations to the NMLEA board for review. However, there is one notable exception - Raymond D. Schultz.

Almost a month ago (November 25th), a jury found state certified officer Ray Schultz responsible for violating former Officer Sam Costales' Constitutional right to free speech (ABQ Journal - Subscription). Despite costing the City of Albuquerque almost $1 MILLION, APD has not sent the case to the NMLEA board.

Our Eyes tell us that APD officers who have been found responsible for violating someone's civil rights have not only been forwarded to the NMLEA board for action but have had their certifications pulled for costing the city far less than the approximately $862,000 awarded to Costales.

It's not really all that surprising that the chief's case wouldn't be forwarded to the state for review - after all, the chief's the one making the decision. But the Eyes have it that folks up in Santa Fe are somewhat surprised that no one else has filed a complaint. At the very least one might think that Sam Costales and/or his attorney would make an issue of the finding.
Interestingly, Chief Schultz sits on the NMLEA board. We would assume that the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy would have in place policies to prevent the accused from participating in making decisions in their own cases. But it does bring to mind the question of whether or not Schultz participated in determining punishment for officers that APD had forwarded for review.
[End Sidebar]
Our understanding is that anyone can make a complaint that an officer was found to have violated someone's civil/Constitutional rights. The complaint initiates an investigation that may or may not result in action by the board.

Should the board determine - as the jury did - that Schultz violated someone's civil rights, the board could recommend revocation of his certification. Revocation would make Schultz ineligible to work in any law enforcement capacity.

It's pretty obvious why the chief wouldn't forward his own case to Santa Fe despite having done so with other officers in very similar if not identical situations. A jury of his peers has already found him responsible for violating Sam Costales' 1st Amendment rights costing us over $800,000. A similar finding by the NMLEA board could cost him his job and his Chief's pension.

So, the chief will remain undisciplined and the rank and file will see yet another example of disciplinary inequity.

Dec 22, 2009

The Small Things

Mayor Berry is leading by example. The Albuquerque Journal is reporting that Berry declined the city's offer of a new mayor mobile.
Instead, Berry wanted a used vehicle out of the city's fleet.

"These things don't get you $50 million" in savings, Berry told the Journal recently. "What they do is set the tone."

The mayor ended up in a 2006 Chevrolet Tahoe LS. It has about 41,000 miles.
The mayor is absolutely right... every employee and every citizen looks to the mayor to set the "tone." If the mayor is driving a brand new set of wheels while having to slash the bloated budget, people have a hard time believing that the cuts are necessary. More importantly, people rightfully question his integrity.

The other element is consistency. Sure... taking a vehicle from the city motor pool is the right thing to do, but people won't forget the $12,000 a year raise he gave the new CAO. David Campbell makes roughly $12,000 a year more than his predecessor Ed Adams - who also managed to keep his $147,000 a year salary due to a backroom deal with the recently departed Almighty Alcalde.

The good news is that by saving the city some $40,000 plus, Mayor Berry just about broke even with Campbell and all it cost him was a new car.

Shining the Spotlight on Energy

by Marita Noon

The flurry of Christmas activities, shopping, and parties may occupy more of your brain space than news events. Even if you follow the news, health care fills the political reporting as it should. It has the potential to radically change an enormous portion of the American economy. However, there are other issues that need frequent attention lest, as the Wall Street Journal cites, the legislation quietly "rolls through."

I refer to the various energy policies, legislation, or regulation that are currently on the table. While healthcare may represent 1/6 of the economy, energy is the economy as energy usage and GDP go hand-in-hand. There are three major energy issues that require diligence: Cap and Trade, Climategate/Copenhagen, and Carbon Rulings.

Cap and Trade has been a news item, reaching its current pinnacle in July, when the House passed the Waxman-Markey Bill-under which US producers (primarily energy sources) would receive tradable permits to emit greenhouse gases. It aims to cut manmade emissions from the United States by 83% by 2050. Remember, energy use and GDP are intricately connected. Energy cuts will have an economic impact and reduce jobs. The Waxman-Markey Bill turned out to be unpopular once the public got wind of the significant costs. Those who voted for the bill were booed back at home. Now, the Senate is unenthusiastic about its own version of Cap and Trade. Many say it is "dead on arrival." If it comes up in the Senate at all, most are suggesting that it will be late spring. I called Senator Bingaman's office and they could not give me a potential date. Instead, they said, we are "doing healthcare now." Udall's office did not respond.

In the midst of the quiet on Cap and Trade, days before the start of the Copenhagen Climate Conference, e-mails were leaked from the Climate Research Unit--now known as "Climategate." These e-mails bring the entire issue of "climate change" into question. One has to wonder, why would the scientists hide or adjust data if they were as convinced of the strength of their case as they claim to be? The e-mails show a blacklisting of dissenting opinions, manipulating of peer review, and avoidance of freedom of information requests. Despite this, the Copenhagen Climate Conference is going full-speed-ahead in the hope of coming away with a treaty that will change the world as we know it.

Hope springs eternal. While on his Asian tour, Obama acknowledged that the best one could hope for is a political agreement. He is going back to the Scandinavian region with the promise of an 83% cut in US greenhouse gas emissions--about which WSJ says, "are only possible when everyone knows they will not happen." If the goals of the Copenhagen Conference are achieved, they will have America paying reparations for an imaginary climate debt accumulated while building the greatest economy of all times. There is little "hope" that China, India and even the Gulf Arab States will comply, thus making Copenhagen just a massive fossil-fuel-burning, carbon-emitting dog and pony show.

With the above scenarios as accepted fact, the Environmental Protection Agency had to do something to give President Obama cover. On December 7 (the opening day of the Copenhagen Conference), they announced that greenhouse gases "threaten the public health and welfare of the American people." Using the Clean Air Act that was written decades ago and was never, as the author agrees, intended to apply to carbon, EPA has given Obama a meaningless piece of paper to wave around in Copenhagen. While many businesses have sided with cap and trade thinking it will be less onerous than EPA regulations, it is widely agreed that the Clean Air Act is the wrong vehicle for the task. As Congress is in the midst of addressing the issue, the EPA's saber-rattling is typical administrative overreach, violating statutory authority. The ruling gives EPA's non-elected bureaucrats the ability to threaten business and recalcitrant Democrats--making it clear that they'd best toe the line. Meanwhile, the EPA decision will be tied up for years--if not decades--in the courts.

Whew! While energy is not dominating the news cycle, it is still charged up. During this Christmas season, hang your lights, cook your feast, and stay warm inside! If each of these issues moves forward without push back, it may be your last year to do so.

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

----- Editor's Note -----
It was more than just a little humorous that President Obama was forced to cut short his Copenhagen Catastrophe Conference on global warming in order avoid getting stuck chilling in Copenhagen due to a major east coast snow storm.

The climate has always changed and it always will. This is not consensus it's simple fact backed up by empirical data. How did some of us become so arrogant as to actually believe that we could destroy the planet by burning carbon based fuels? Sheesh!

Dec 21, 2009

Ethical Dilemma

Last Wednesday, the Journal reported that State Senator Linda Lopez (D) was essentially handed a job with Bernalillo County to work on "regional jail initiatives and other assignments." It was a job that the county was paying MRCOG to do on their behalf and Lopez was apparently the doer at the COG.
[Lopez] makes about $26 an hour, the same amount she made at the COG, for 15 to 20 hours a week, officials said.

Lopez, a South Valley Democrat who is seeking her party's nomination for lieutenant governor, said her role as a state lawmaker didn't affect her hiring.

"I felt that since they were paying my salary ... it made sense to work for the county," Lopez said. "The money was already being funneled straight over to the COG."
The Journal felt that the problem was the fact that Lopez got the job with the county without a proper posting - and that's certainly a part of the problem. The bigger problem is that as a state senator, Lopez is one of the officials that control state funding for the county not to mention that by hiring Lopez, she could be in violation of the Hatch Act.
The Hatch Act applies to executive branch state and local employees who are principally employed in connection with programs financed in whole or in part by loans or grants made by the United States or a federal agency.
The Hatch act governs behavior of employees of governments whose agencies receive federal funding. Bernalillo County - like most governmental agencies - receives a healthy amount of federal funding. As such, Lopez is a covered employee according to the Office of Special Counsel.
Covered state and local employees may not-

* be candidates for public office in a partisan election
* use official authority or influence to interfere with or affect the results of an election or nomination
* directly or indirectly coerce contributions from subordinates in support of a political party or candidate
Not only is Ms. Lopez a state senator, she is currently seeking the Democratic nomination for Lieutenant Governor both of which are partisan elections. To be fair Senator Lopez' previous employer - MRCOG - was also a governmental agency that receives huge amounts of federal dollars, so she was probably already in violation.

But there's another potential county violator - Commissioner Maggie Hart-Stebbins. You see, Commissioner Hart-Stebbins works for the Mid-Region Council of Governments or MRCOG.
Hart Stebbins currently serves as the Special Projects Manager for the Mid-Region Council of Governments, where she has been an integral part of many projects including the New Mexico Rail Runner Express.
Ms. Hart-Stebbins was originally appointed by Big Bill, so there's a pretty good argument that she hasn't technically violated the Hatch Act... yet. However, when she becomes a candidate for the Bernalillo County Board of Commissioners she will be working for an agency that receives large amounts of federal funding and will be a "candidate for a partisan election."

More ironically, the district 3 commissioner may be in violation of her own proposed ethics legislation (read it here). The commissioner's legislation has a pretty broad definition of prohibited source. One of which is "any person or entity who has interests that may be substantially affected by the performance or non-performance of the officials duties of the elected official, volunteer or employee."

The county has three seats on the MRCOG Board of Directors. The board members are county commissioners. And even though Commissioner Hart-Stebbins is not one of MRCOG's board members, she certainly has influence with the commissioners who are. More importantly, Commissioner Hart-Stebbins has an interest or interests that may be substantially affected by the commissioners serving on MRCOG's Board of Directors.

There's really no end to potential conflicts of interest when government employees also serve as elected officials whose interactions affect one another. There's also no end to the number of temptations.

Voters need to feel that the officials they elect have the best interests of the electorate at heart. When personal interests can be affected by the vote of an elected official, that official's integrity and ethics should rightfully be called into question. Both Lopez and Hart-Stebbins present an ethical dilemma created by their employment for government agencies and power entrusted to them as elected officials.

----- Correction -----
An Eye reader rightfully took us to task for our creative spelling of the word "dilemma." It has been corrected above.

Dec 14, 2009

Eye Poll: Wrong Move

After several weeks and almost 1,000 votes, Eye readers have spoken... Keeping the Old Cheif (Now New Chief) was a mistake. In our unscientific survey, a whopping 73% of participants felt that keeping APD Chief Ray Schultz was not the right decision. Only 23% felt that keeping the chief was the right move and 4% didn't know (view it here).

There are reasons that incoming executives clean house - particularly after a formerly entrenched administration. If you truly want to change the rules of the game you have to change the players.

Mayor Berry is confronting at least a $24 MILLION deficit created by the Chavez administration's out of control spending. Without a rapid recovery, there will have to be some difficult cuts - cuts that will not be popular. How do you fix a spending problem when many of the spenders are still in positions to spend?

Fortunately, the new mayor has run a business and does understand finances. However, only time will tell whether he will be able to clean up the mess over at APD - a mess that the chief has an interest in keeping hidden.

Dec 8, 2009

The Road to Tyranny

The greatest threat to our freedom isn't some Islamo-Facist group training in the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan (although they remain a threat to our security), it's the internal threat created by good intentions. Whether it's global warming or healthcare these crises of convenience are serving to render liberty a quaint reminder of our past.

Our individual liberties are being consistently eroded by our good intentions. As a country and a society we are a generous people who want to see those less fortunate provided with an opportunity to better their lot in life. We also want to be good stewards of the environment in which we live. Our response is to give ever increasing authority to government eschewing our own responsibilities and delivering our liberties to those who are the most likely to abuse them and us.
Gov. Bill Richardson has issued an executive order today that contains a slew of new emission reduction directives designed to combat climate change, which the governor described as "the most critical environmental issue of our time."
In addition, the executive order specifically calls for reducing greenhouse gas emissions that stem from coal-fired power plants and mining operations.
Never mind that the global warming "scientists" are far too willing to substitute consensus for evidence. Never mind that the historical record indicates periods of global cooling and warming long before man's discovery of the useful nature of carbon based fuels. Ever increasing regulation will strangle innovation and for a state dependent on oil and gas revenue that has regulated itself into a $600 MILLION deficit, more regulation equals economic disaster.

American success is built upon American freedom. Whether it's regulating a gas created by every mammal on the planet in the name of saving said planet or creating a new health insurance system that will inevitably lead to poorer care and fewer choices, our personal and economic freedoms are under attack.

The Tea Party movement is a direct response to our government's attack on freedom. They understand that when government spends our money and binds us to financial commitments that cannot possibly be repaid for generations. Each dollar spent by government, each financial obligation incurred necessarily our economic options - our economic freedom.

If we continue down this road of empowering government rather than insuring liberty we will achieve the ends that are the goal of our country's Islamo-Facist enemies, economic collapse and governmental tyranny.

Dec 3, 2009

First You Laugh, Then You Cry

"There is more logic in humor than in anything else. Because, you see, humor is truth." Victor Borge

Saturday Night Live has received widespread acclaim for their recent skit called "China Cold Open, China would like their money back." (Google that it if you have not seen it.) NBC's website features page after page of praise for the great skit. One calls it an “instant classic.” Another proclaims that with this skit, SNL has been “reborn.” Surely, they hit the ball out of the park with this one. It has been talked about around water coolers, posted on FaceBook and passed around via e-mail.

It is truly laugh-out-loud funny. However, after you laugh, you cry. Like the Victor Borge quote, it is truth. SNL knows to base humor on truth. The rest of us need to acknowledge China's prominence as truth.

Unfortunately, as the skit highlights, America is in no position to lecture China on their shortcomings. We are borrowing their money, but have no way to pay it back. As the skit makes clear, we cannot pay it back in “clunkers.”

In the current economy, China holds all the cards.

Some important news items relating to China have been buried by all the noise about healthcare.

One is in regard to rare earth minerals— things most people are totally unaware of, but things that are essential to modern life. Rare earths include names that most of us cannot pronounce like neodymium, dysprosium, and terbium. (Perhaps that is why no one talks about them.) But these unfamiliar words represent essential components of things as everyday as computers, cell phones, and television as well as less obvious necessities like magnets, CDs, and infrared equipment. The China connection is that China controls 97% of the world’s rare earth market and is working to take over more—a move that was struck down by Australia's Foreign Investment Review Board as they realized the geopolitical danger of China's control. Add to that the fact that China just announced that they will discontinue the export of rare earths as their own needs are exceeding production. This means that all items requiring rare earths will have to be manufactured by China—giving them full market dominance. Unless, America quickly moves forward on accessing our own rare earths that we have in abundance. An important thing to note is that China’s rare earths are essential for the widely touted "green energy."

Next, China is rapidly moving past us when it comes to energy. We hear a lot about how many new coal-fueled power plants China is building and we hear about China's pollution. But we are not reading between the lines of those two news tracks. Yes, China has polluted their skies and waters—much like we did in the early seventies. And, like we did, they are now working to clean them up. However, unlike America, they understand the direct connection between energy, manufacturing, and economic development. So, while they know they need to clean up, they are investing in clean energy that works. They know they need the large-scale power that comes from coal and nuclear and their new power plants are multiplying like rabbits. We all know that nuclear provides clean energy, but what most do not realize is that coal has cleaned up its act. The power plants that are being built in China—and that could be being built here—are now as clean as a natural gas-fueled power plant. The difference is that China is building them and in America we are busy demonizing coal. Professor Michael Economides, author of the new book Energy: China's Choke Point, says “If China and America decided to do something on the same day, two years later America would still be mired in the permitting process and China would have it done.” They now have the “can-do” attitude and America keeps saying we “cannot.”

While China is building the power they need, America is trying to move off of what works and hopes supplemental, intermittent energy can carry the load—when many of the parts needed for wind and solar energy and hybrid cars come from China.

China is loaning us money that we have virtually no hope of paying back. China will also be holding all the cards when it comes to energy. They'll have all they need and we won't have enough. China will be laughing and Americans will be crying. First you laugh, and then you cry.

Marita Noon is the executive director of the Citizens Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE), a nonprofit organization that operates from the platform of “Energy Makes America Great” and supports all domestic energy development. She can be reached at or

Dec 1, 2009

A New Beginning

Today the City of Albuquerque will experience something that we have something we haven't had in 8 long years... a new beginning. Marty will be handing over the keys to the city and taking many of his merry band of minions with him.

We've been critical of some of Mayor-Elect Berry's choices - particularly Chief Schultz and David Campbell. However, they are Berry's choices for good or ill. The major difference between the outgoing mayor and the incoming mayor is that R.J. Berry is making choices that he believes are good for the city - people who can keep the governmental lights on and keep the buses running on time.

Monday, the Albuquerque Journal ran what can only be described as a puff piece - fortunately the final puff piece of the Chavez tenure. Predictably, the Journal's focus was on the Chavez Legacy.
"I think, when all is said and done, people will say Mayor Chávez got things done," Chávez said Friday in a telephone interview. "The city is dramatically different than it was, I believe, when we started."

He added that he had help from city administrators: "I can't take full responsibility for everything."
The article goes on to list water conservation, the Montaño Bridge, the Paseo extension, graffiti removal, blah, blah, blah. Marty said himself that he couldn't take full responsibility - and that's probably the first absolutely honest quote we've read in a very long time. And one other thing... the mob gets things done too.

The fact is Marty had a lot of help from a lot of different elected officials. Moreover, how many of his legacy accomplishments would have been accomplished under another mayor? (Ok, maybe not Jim Baca.)

Marty's true legacy will be one of self-service and ever-increasing tyrannical behavior. Which brings us back to our new beginning.

If you'll remember, the Chavez campaign ran a whole slew of misleading commercials trying to portray Berry as less than honest. (Berry's new Chief of Police participated in a similar attack on Berry's character implying that he was somehow responsible for the crimes perpetrated against him.) The fact is the reason Marty was attacking Berry's honesty is because Mayor Berry is an honest man and as such he will honestly administer city government and we're all better for it.

Don't kid yourself... government is never pretty. Generally speaking, governments are made up of competing interests, beliefs, and agendas. Some feel that the ends justify the means and will do anything to advance their agenda. As a result, there will be bumps in the road and embarrassments for the new administration. The difference will be in how those bumps are handled by the mayor himself.

In October, the voters restored integrity to the mayor's office. We have high hopes for the future and for the new beginning that Mayor Berry brings with him.

Nov 26, 2009

The Blue Barrier of Fear

It's been a very bad couple of days for Chavez' old chief now Berry's new chief. Tuesday, Sergeant... uh, Chief Schultz received the bad news that his five years of serving as Albuquerque's top has earned him the dubious distinction of overseeing the metro area's rise to number eight on the list of the nation's most dangerous cities (read it here).

For Mayor-Elect Berry the news was an embarrassment because candidate Berry ran on a platform of fixing the crime problem created by the Chavez administration and presumably Marty's Chief Minion, Ray Schultz. In point of fact, the selection of Schultz itself made Berry look rather less than honest and both the media and the public can easily spot hypocrisy and/or political expedience.
A new mayor has not only the power but the duty to surround himself with "his" people. Chief Schultz was but one of the early missteps made by an inexperienced but ultimately honest politician.

Berry's mistake? Listening to his soon-to-be Public Safety Director. Darren White has been working with Schultz for more than just the past 5 years, but since he was a new APD patrolman and young Darren's first sergeant. Our Eyes tell us that White promised his first boss that he'd be staying on within hours of the election.

In his naiveté, Berry failed to realize the very real political implications of the Schultz choice - implications that should have been readily apparent to both White and Berry's other top appointment, David Campbell. It appears that both White and Campbell are busy following their own agendas.
[End Sidebar]
Late Wednesday afternoon things got even worse for the new chief (same as the old chief). For the past two weeks a lightly covered law suit was going forward in U.S. District court in Santa Fe. In it former Officer Sam Costales was suing APD and Chief Raymond Schultz for retaliating against Costales for giving testimony for the defense in the case of State of New Mexico vs. Unser.

Costales claimed that Schultz and the department created an atmosphere where he feared for his life and was ultimately forced to leave the department. Wednesday afternoon the jury found for the plaintiff and Costales was awarded $662,000.

The jury found that Chief Ray Schultz personally violated Costales' civil rights as did the Albuquerque Police Department. In addition, the jury found that there is a "blue wall of silence" and that the actions of Chief Schultz were retaliatory.
The lawsuit also named Sheriff Darren White and police union official James Badway, but claims against them have been settled.
The jury finding makes it look like the entire department acts in unison to close ranks and protect their own even if the "offender" is one of their own. The reality is a little more subtle than that and a hell of a lot more dangerous.

Our observation is that while rank and file officers are regularly drawn and quartered publicly, while the favored few - the good ol' boys - are regularly protected from the consequences of their own screw-ups and misdeeds. Our Eyes even tell us that some of Ray's Favored have even been protected from allegations of criminal conduct.

It's no surprise that when Sheriff Darren White called Schultz to complain about Costales' testimony in the Unser case, Chief Schultz sprang into action to punish the officer who had the temerity to testify against the Sheriff's deputies. It's not a "blue wall of silence" as much as a blue barrier of fear where the mighty Favored Few are protected at all costs and the rank and file never know when they might be sacrificed to "prove" that the department is capable of policing itself.

All of which brings us to another of Berry's campaign promises... transparency. How can APD operate transparently when officers fear retribution? Transparency requires honesty and honesty is the first casualty of fear. Officers shouldn't face retribution for telling the truth, speaking their minds, or doing what's right. They should be rewarded not retaliated against.
It's telling that there was only one currently serving officer courageous enough to testify for the plaintiff. Our Eyes tell us that Sergeant Paul Heh testified yesterday much to the chagrin of Chief Schultz. Part of his testimony was that he feared 5th Floor retribution simply because he was called to testify.

If you're on the street and run into Sergeant Heh, tell him thank you and watch his back. You can bet that Schultz and crew will be looking for some payback.
[End Sidebar]
Until December 1st, Chief Schultz, his cronies and his cover-ups belong to the little vindictive outgoing mayor. Before Mayor-Elect Berry has even taken office, Chief Schultz has become an embarrassment to his administration. That's two strikes in as many days. After December 1st, the mess that is the APD 5th Floor will be owned by Berry.

The only questions remaining are how many strikes will Berry allow Schultz, how much more political capital is Darren White willing to burn on his favored friend, and how long will it take for the new mayor to figure out his mistake?

Give Thanks for Energy

by Marita Noon

During a recent trip, a flight attendant asked me where I was going. She smiled and asked, “Vacation?” “No,” I said, “I’m giving a speech.” She wondered about my topic. "Energy," I replied. "Great, I used to be a nutritionist," She responded. I told her that it wasn’t that kind of energy.

As we head into Thanksgiving, you may think you need lots of her type of energy—and you’d be right. But without my kind of energy, you’d need a whole lot more of her kind of energy to create the "old fashioned" Thanksgiving that so many of us picture when we think of the nationwide holiday.

One of the big traditions of Thanksgiving is the entire multi-generational family gathered around the table. Back in the day of the picture perfect holiday, travel meant hitching up the horse and wagon. Today, to accomplish this, family members often have to travel great distances to get to the site of the big meal. Thanksgiving is reported as the busiest travel season—whether by auto or air. But even before the travel takes place, energy is a big part of the picture.

The travel has to be planned. Air travel takes a visit to one’s favorite travel website. Travel by land often requires a Mapquest search for the best route. Both need energy to function. Then when the actual travel takes place, regardless of the method or distance, fuel is needed to make the trip possible.

Even the big meal takes more energy than one might assume. First the turkey has to be raised (I’ll not belabor each phase of energy used there). Then to get it to the store in a safe and sanitary manner, requires refrigeration and transportation—both are energy dependent. Once at the store refrigeration is, again, important. To go to the store to make your selection demands fuel.

Let’s jump to the big day. Most people stuff the bird and cook it in the oven—though the fried turkey has increased in popularity. Either way, energy is required for cooking—natural gas, electricity or propane. And, that does not include the veggies, the mashed potatoes (that need a mixer), or the freshly baked rolls. The Thanksgiving feast typically includes some sort of salad. At my great aunt’s home in Massachusetts, salad was green Jello with chopped celery and a dollop of mayonnaise. In modern homes the salad is usually lettuce based. Again energy is needed to keep things fresh and cool.

Once the meal is ready, many people use an electric knife to cut the turkey and a hot plate to keep things warm while the final preparations are made. Both need energy.

Around the table, the ambiance may be created the "old fashioned" way with candles and a flickering wood-fueled fire. But even fire is energy—the first used in civilization. But maybe you have music playing on the stereo—tunes downloaded from iTunes (thanks to energy).

Post meal, fat and happy, many households will retire to the sofa to watch the big game of the day. Once again energy is a central feature. It gets all the on-site participants to the stadium—lit by energy. Energy powers the television cameras. Perhaps the image gets to your home via satellite or cable. Neither is possible without energy. Once in your home, that flat screen TV needs electricity and rare earth to give you that great picture. Whatever you are drinking is hot or cold thanks to energy.

But it is not over yet. In most homes, while the men watch the game, the women clean up. Whew! The dishwasher makes it so much easier. And the hot water coming straight from the tap is expected. Once again, energy.

If you are the cook, by the end of the day, you are ready for all of those people to head home. You are lacking energy and are ready to crawl under your electric blanket—all warm and snuggly.

Once you start thinking about it, you can see myriad other ways that energy makes your Thanksgiving the picture-perfect event of which you’ve dreamed. Maybe your digital camera was used, your computer to view the shots, your printer to print out copies for everyone. You get the picture.

When you come to the table and bow your head to give thanks for the family, friends and food—don’t forget the energy that made it all possible.

Marita Noon is the executive director of the Citizens Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE), a nonprofit, membership-based organization working to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom and the American way of life. She can be reached at or

Nov 18, 2009

Ghosts of Mayors Past

On election night we were thrilled when The Almighty Alcalde went down to defeat and the city chose a new mayor in R.J. Berry. We believed that the new administration would bring with it a whole new crop of leaders who would - that the very least - open up the doors of government and let a fresh breeze blow through the stagnant recesses of city hall. Barely a month and a half later, one of the chief architects of cronyism and cover-up was introduced as the new chief of police.

Yep. The new is old again and like Dickens' Ghost of Christmas Past, Ray Schultz appeared at last night's news conference dragging his chains of scandal and was introduced as the new - now old - police chief. The chief's links of cronyism, cover-up, spin, and scandal are plain for all to see - except it seems the mayor-elect.

When asked about the obvious contradiction between campaigning against The Once Almighty Alcalde on crime and hiring Marty's top cop, Mayor-Elect Berry answered that he'd "sit down with his team" after December 1st ( Huh?!

Meanwhile, The Ghost of the Chief Just Past (and apparently future) indicated that he " look[s] forward to is having the opportunity to sit down and talk to him about what we are doing for property crimes" ( In other words, Chief Schultz is planning to drag his chains of propaganda back into office and try to convince his new boss that property crime is down when property crime is up, less is more, and the sky is green.

The truth is that keeping Chief Schultz makes about as much sense as keeping Marty on as CAO (or Ed Adams as COO for that matter). Further, our Eyes tell us that the decision to keep Chief Schultz was never vetted by the team that was in charge of the APD "seven hour grilling" as Monahan put it.
It appears that Ed Adams will be staying as the new/old COO. Apparently, Adams has a clause in his contract that stipulates that he has to be kept around at his full CAO salary of almost $150,000 a year. If true, it's yet another example of one of Marty's despicable deals. But while the city may have to pay Adams, Mayor-Elect Berry doesn't have to give him any real authority.

How about sending him over to the pound to clean up cages, or make him low man on the totem pole in Council Services? Councilor O'Malley would more than likely loooove to order Ed Adams around and the pound always has some s#%t that needs cleaning. Hell, he's been waist deep in Marty's muck for years.
[End Sidebar]
It seems like Mayor-Elect Berry is taking advice from a very small group of individuals - each with their own agenda, each with their own motives and all with various working relationships or ties to the Chavez administration. So it's no surprise that Berry's choices are looking more like the old and less like anything new.

Appointments like Chief Schultz drag with them the weight of the chains that they have forged with the previous administration. Each link was created either at the direction of the previous mayor or through their own bad acts. The full weight of these Ghosts of Mayors Past will be firmly attached to the new administration on December 1. Worse, those who carry those chains have no interest in opening the doors of government and ushering in a new and open administration.

Nov 16, 2009

Days of Diego

A little over a week ago, The Albuquerque Journal did a front page story on AFD union boss Diego Arencón (Subscription). According to the Journal, Arencón pulls down $81,000 a year as a Firefighter First Class.
The increased salary was negotiated as part of union agreements adopted in 2008 and goes to whoever serves as president.

It's intended to motivate rank-and-file firefighters to try for the job, said Diego Arencón, the union president. He's held the position for the last 2 1/2 years.

"It's an incentive for the lower ranks to get involved," he said.
The article implies that Arencón's super salary is part of the collective bargaining agreement between the City of Albuquerque and the firefighter's union. The problem is that the CBA does not address the salary of the union president. Our Eyes tell us that Diego's enhanced pay is the result of a side agreement with Mayor Martin Chavez - an agreement that Chief Ortega refused to sign.

Our Eyes also tell us that Arencón makes a bit more than the $81,000 revealed by The Journal. Once longevity pay is added to the mix, Arencón pulls down right around $90,000 - a tidy little sum by any standards.

In addition, Diego is given a Monday through Friday 8 hour a day schedule. More importantly if you have a fire at your home or business while Mr. Arencón is on duty, you can be sure that the Firefighter First Class won't be there to fight it. Diego's days are spent exclusively working for the union.

But wait... it gets better!

The President of Local 244 also receives a stipend, all expense paid trips, and a union debit card. This is where it really gets fun because our Eyes got a look-see at Diego's debit card.

In addition to having a sweet double your paycheck deal from the city, in 2008 Arencón spent over $41,000 on his union debit card - over 42% on food alone. Yannis, Starbucks, Imbibe, The Q Bar, Flying Star, The Gold Street Cafe, Maloney's Tavern, McGraths - they're all on the union dime. Even Lowe's was listed as a food expense and that's just too weird to contemplate. There were even a few unexplained MasterCard reimbursements (view the report here - credit numbers redacted).

Some of the expenses were justified like dinners with The Almighty Alcalde, Imbibe-ing with Commissioner Archuletta or the Mayor's office assistants, and Sushi with Lawrence Torres. There were also a few expenses justified for various fire stations and individual union members. There was even a "labor relations expense" for "mediations" incurred at Jubilation Wine and Spirits for $55.56 (that's one way to lubricate negotiations).

Starbucks was by far Mr. Arencón's favorite caffeinated watering hole visiting the coffee outlet over 152 times. What's concerning about the repeated Starbucks expense, or the bar tabs at Imbibe or the over $4,300 in credit card reimbursements, is the overwhelming lack of expense justification.

A review of the expenditures makes Mr. Arencón look like he's living and partying on the union's debit card - which means that his $91,000 taxpayer funded salary is subsidized by a union stipend and as much as $41,000 in union debit card purchases. That's over $132,000 in potential income. And remember, anything that's not directly attributable to union business could be considered income by the IRS.

Look... as a taxpayer we have a real problem with Martin Chavez buying a union president by doubling his taxpayer funded salary for union only work. This may sound funny, but we kind of expect firefighters to well... fight fires. It may be legitimate to allow the union president to have time to do union business, but we certainly shouldn't be paying him more than other firefighters to do it - that should be the responsibility of the union.

On the union side... What the hell?!! Over $41,000 on the union debit card?! Most disturbingly, there's little justification for many of the expenditures.

IAFF Local 244 members elect their board and their president. We haven't seen the organization's bylaws, but we'd bet that spending by the board has at least a few restrictions. More importantly, anyone who spends union dues for any reason has the responsibility to its members to justify each and every expense. You know... dates, times, who, what, when, and where.

We'd bet that days of Diego's sweet mayoral deal are about to evaporate like a number of Marty's Minions' city jobs. But it's up to the members of IAFF Local 244 to hold their leaders accountable and to demand justification for spending their dues.

Nov 12, 2009

Sheriff Shuffle: Callaway Hatch Act

The race to replace outgoing Sheriff Darren White is heating up and with over 30 applicants, candidates are pulling out all of the stops. The truth is that whichever candidate lands the selection will be miles ahead of the other contestants in the upcoming 2010 election.

One of the aspiring Sheriffs is Conrad Candelaria and he's getting support from one of the top APD cops - Deputy Chief, Michael Callaway. Candelaria is a Commander with the Albuquerque Police Department in charge of the Southwest Area Command.

It's no surprise that Candelaria is getting support from The 5th Floor Brass at APD. What is a surprise is that Deputy Chief Callaway decided voice his support by sending a letter of recommendation to each of the commissioners on the Bernalillo County Commission.
November 10, 2009

Bernalillo County Commission
1 Civic Plaza
Albuquerque, NM 87102

Honorable Commissioners:

It is with great pleasure that I am offering this letter of recommendation for Commander Conrad Candelaria for appointment as the Sheriff of Bernalillo County. Conrad Candelaria is an experienced, executive-level law enforcement professional who possess the requisite knowledge, skill and capabilities to effectively lead the Bernalillo county Sheriff's Department.

I have known Conrad for the past twenty years as our careers have been parallel throughout the ranks of the Albuquerque Police Department. Under Conrad's leadership, the Albuquerque Police Department and the Westside community have built positive relationships and worked collaboratively to improve the quality of life within the community. Conrad has also been responsible for influencing, implementing and developing several strategic initiatives to effectively address problems and concerns. I am certain Conrad possesses a unique vision for the Bernalillo county Sheriff's Office to further the County's goals and objectives.

In summary, Conrad is a conscientious, dedicated, knowledgeable individual who has earned the respect of his community and criminal justice colleagues alike. Thank you for your consideration and service to the citizens of Bernalillo County.


Michael D. Callaway
Deputy Chief of Police
Albuquerque Police Department
We know what you're thinking... And??? The personalized letter was provided to each county commissioner on official APD letterhead - a potential violation of the Hatch Act (view the letter here).
Prohibited Activities

Covered state and local employees may not-

* be candidates for public office in a partisan election
* use official authority or influence to interfere with or affect the results of an election or nomination
* directly or indirectly coerce contributions from subordinates in support of a political party or candidate
Bernalillo County Sheriff is a partisan elected position. The Bernalillo County Commission will be appointing or nominating the next Bernalillo County Sheriff. By sending a letter of recommendation to Bernalillo County Commissioners, Deputy Chief Callaway is using "official authority or influence to interfere with or affect the results of an election or nomination."
Penalties for Violating the Hatch Act

If the Merit Systems Protection Board finds that the violation warrants dismissal from employment, the employing agency must either remove the employee or forfeit a portion of the federal assistance equal to two years salary of the employee. If the Board finds the violation does not warrant the employee's removal, no penalty is imposed.
We suspect that Commander Candelaria solicited Callaway's endorsement, but you never know. It's possible that DC Callaway was acting on his own initiative. Either way, there's something just plain wrong with campaigning for a law enforcement position using a letter of endorsement that clearly violates the law.

----- Update -----
We got so carried away with what appears to be a blatant violation of the Hatch Act that we completely forgot about other potential violations. One of our Eyes quickly reminded us of our omission, so... After a little digging we found that the Deputy Chief has indeed crossed at least one more line.

In addition to the Hatch Act, it appears DC Callaway has violated Administrative Instruction No. 7-19 - which contains a list of compaing no-nos.
B. Activities Prohibited No City Employee Shall:

1) Become a Candidate for any elective City office;

2) Actively campaign for or against a Candidate for any elective office while on duty or represent a Candidate while on duty. Volunteers assisting in City functions under the supervision or direction of City employees shall not campaign for a Candidate while performing such duties for the City; [emphasis added]

3) Receive, disburse or account for assessments, contributions or other funds for any Candidate;

4) Receive or offer to receive any money, gratuity or benefit from any candidate;

5) Wear on one's person political badges or buttons while on duty or while in a City uniform at any time;

6) Take either a position for or against any Candidate for elective office while representing either that such position is an official City position on such Candidate or that such position is taken in one's official capacity as a City employee;

7) Circulate nominating petitions within or on City property while on duty, at the place of one's employment or at any time or any place while in City Uniform;

8) Serve as an election judge or clerk in a City election;

9) Use any City-owned properly, equipment, supplies, vehicles or space either to campaign for or against a Candidate. [emphasis added]

10) Display or distribute any political stickers, posters or materials on or from City-owned vehicles or City property;

11) Display or distribute any political stickers, posters or material for or against any Candidate while on duty or at the City employee's work place, other than bumper stickers displayed on the employee's private vehicle, including vehicles parked in City owned parking lots; or

12) Use the employee's position or status to influence the support of other City employees or City officials for or against any Candidate or issue. [emphasis added]

C. Hatch Act Any City employee whose principal employment is in connection with an activity which is financed in whole or part by loans or grants made by the United States or a Federal agency is subject to the provisions of the Hatch Act in addition to the prohibited activities set forth in this memorandum. Each City Employee is responsible for determining if Hatch Act prohibitions apply to his or her employment with the City.
You might want to look at items 2, 9, and 12. Looks like Deputy Chief Callaway has some more splainin' to do.

Nov 10, 2009

Golden Parchutes - Welcome Back Lawrence!

Many of our readers have been buzzing about a transfer of former APOA President Lawrence Torres from the HR department back to APD. We've had our Eyes do a little digging and all of the rumors have been confirmed. On November 4th Lawrence Torres became a member of the Albuquerque Police Department... again.

Torres took a job in the Human Resources department about 3 1/2 years ago after serving as APOA President. According to our Eyes, his new (now old) job as Employee Relations Director was viewed as a reward for working with The Almighty Alcalde on union issues while serving as the APOA President.

The Eyes have it that Mayor-Elect Berry has been told expect a greater than $30 MILLION budget shortfall next year - despite Chavez administration claims of $12 MILLION. Torres' HR position was unclassified and with a looming deficit and a salary of over $82,000 a year... his job was certainly on the chopping block.

The problem for the Berry team is that Torres managed to take his $82,000 a year salary with him even though he's classified as a Patrolman 1st Class. P1Cs typically make between $48,000 and $51,000 a year.

There's yet another problem for the newly acquired patrolman, he may have let his state certification lapse. Our Eyes tell us that there has been some scrambling by The 5th Floor to make sure that Torres is still certified. They question whether or not Torres kept up his certification after his departure and note that his file down at the training academy suddenly grew after a hasty visit from Deputy Chief McCabe.

Torres isn't the first of Marty's Minions to be transferred from an unclassified position to a classified one and the Berry team is busy compiling a list of folks like Torres who have gotten special deals from the departing Alcalde. Some of these golden parachutes are going to be extremely hard to find and even harder to do anything about.

The Torres Transfer doesn't appear to be one of them even though Chief Schultz signed off on the transfer. Compensation for P1Cs is covered under the collective bargaining agreement and our Eyes tell us that sending Torres $82,000 salary with him is illegal.

Torres started his career as a member of the APOA. He left the union for the greener pastures of the Chavez administration - a move many members viewed with contempt. Now he's back in the union complete with an $82,000 a year parachute. Welcome back Lawrence!

Nov 6, 2009

Congressman Teague Has A Split Personality On Energy

Marita K. Noon

If there is one thing T. Boone Pickens knows how to do, it is make money. When T. Boone gets behind something, financial gain is the incentive. There is nothing wrong with making money, but his motives cannot be viewed as purely altruistic. When the price of natural gas was high, he advertised converting the world to wind power as wind power needs back-up base-load power and the only source that can ramp up and down quickly is natural gas. Now that natural gas prices are lower, he no longer promotes wind power. He is, however, pushing a new scheme to increase natural gas usage. Natural gas is a clean-burning fossil fuel, so using more natural gas is good.

However, when T. Boone partners with Congressman Harry Teague, one has to look askance. At best, Teague appears to be a bit schizophrenic.

While we do not currently know what version of cap and trade will pass through Congress-or even if any form will pass, we know that Teague voted for the Waxman/Markey Bill (AKA cap and trade). The purported goal of cap and trade is to get America off of fossil fuels by making their emissions taxable in some form-and therefore more expensive for the consumer. One variant of cap and trade basically eliminates coal from America's energy portfolio, which means our coal-fired power plants that provide about half of our base-load energy needs will all have to be converted to natural gas--additionally upping the price. So Teague has essentially voted to make natural gas--a fossil fuel his company helps produce--more expensive and then supports a bill (H.R. 1835) that would use taxpayer money to underwrite the conversion of vehicles from gasoline or diesel to natural gas. We the taxpayers will get hit on both sides of his efforts.

In addition to his apparent split personality, the opinion editorial produced jointly by the Teague/Pickens team has several other flaws.

In their proposal, they recommend tax incentives for converting fleets to be fueled by natural gas. On the surface this sounds good-we trade an imported fuel for a domestic one. The use of natural gas has already been tried in agricultural and oil field vehicles since the 60's and was not reliable.Yet, this is being tried in several government agencies as a way to be more environmentally friendly--even though the infrastructure is not there. To solve this, Teague/Pickens then encourage opening more NGV fueling stations. This will take years and years to make happen due to right-of-way issues, environmental regulations and excessive costs--which their approach would have underwritten by the taxpayer (as are, or course, the aforementioned tax incentives). By the time a NGV infrastructure could be functional, something totally different could be in place.

Another flaw is their idea that NGV will reduce our dependence of foreign oil. We currently use foreign natural gas and their plan would increase natural gas use--therefore using more from foreign sources. I am all for natural gas use and I support getting off of foreign fuels of all kinds. But switching our vehicles to NGV will not do that. What we need is to open up drilling options-for both natural gas and oil! Their op-ed cites a study indicating that the continental United States has enough natural gas reserves to last 118 years. That may be true, but how much are we currently allowed to access? Much of America's natural resources are off-limits due to environmental NIMBYism! With all of the nonconventional fuels coming online, I believe we could be almost energy independent now--or at least have energy security (meaning we get our fuels from friendly countries such as Mexico and Canada). But we must be able to access them.

Additionally the Teague/Pickens piece claims that natural gas burns cleaner and produces "virtually no particulate emissions." I agree that natural gas burns cleanly, but so do most other fuels today. America and Canada derive the largest single percent of energy from coal, yet they both have some of the cleanest air of the industrialized world. Wasn't Waxman/Markey about CO2, not particulate emissions? Come on Harry, make up your mind.

Teague's action in voting for Waxman/Markey was a vote to shut down fossil fuels when the next generation of fuel--whatever it may be--is not yet available. After all, as they state, "Wind and solar are not helping you drive to work in the morning."

Marita Noon is the Executive Director at CARE (Citizens' Alliance for Responsible Energy), the nonprofit organization working to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom and the American way of life. Find out more at Note: The above is in response to a previously published op-ed

Nov 5, 2009

Eye Told You: Back in the Saddle

There's a lot going on during the final days of the Chavez Administration as all of Marty's Minions are working to save their as, uh... career posteriors. Outgoing CAO, Ed Adams is furiously squirreling away favored unclassified employees in classified positions.

Back in October we told you that The 5th Floor planned to move Commander Joe Hudson and Lieutenant Rob Smith back to the SID playpen (read it here). When the little scheme was revealed, The 5th Floor brain trust decided that it was a good idea to wait (read it here).

Well... the wait is over and Hudson and Smith are back in the saddle over at SID. Meanwhile, the entire reserve program is still on hiatus.

Look, the reserve program was never the problem. Reserve officers work under the direct supervision of paid, sworn, and certified APD officers. State law clearly indicates that they cannot be paid. If a reserve officer is paid, they're no longer a reserve officer and by law they must be state certified. When David Young started posing as a "John" and started playing with the equipment of suspects, he was acting as a police officer not as a civilian technician.

Hudson and Smith should have known that just as they should know exactly how far any officer can go in furtherance of their duties. One way or the other, Hudson and Smith screwed up. The 5th Floor is busy doing what it always does... acting like it never happened.

Nov 3, 2009

Eye Poll: Time to Go

We rarely see this kind of landslide in an Eye Poll. Last week, Eye readers sent a loud and clear message that it's time for Chief Schultz to go.

In our unscientific, poll a whopping 78% of readers said "yes, absolutely" when asked if APD needs a new chief. Only 17% of readers wanted to keep the chief, while 4% didn't know (view it here).

There are a lot of reasons why readers are ready for a change over at APD, but a lot of it comes down to the chief's inability to keep politics out of the police department.

Police officers are hired to do a job - a difficult, tedious, dangerous, and all too often thankless endeavor. When the primary function of the chief becomes anything other than protecting the public, he loses the trust of the public and just as importantly the faith of the men and women he leads.

Oct 27, 2009


The state calls them "exempt." The city calls them "unclassified." No matter what they're called they're employees who are beholden to the elected executive official that hired them. These employees can be hired and fired by the governor or mayor for just about any reason.

According to the Albuquerque Journal, Governor Richardson has 760 "exempt" employees - over 500 in the executive branch alone. Richardson's exempts became one of the popular targets of legislators in the recent emergency session.
There are 760 exempt employees in New Mexico government — about 500 in executive branch agencies — and the number has risen sharply during Richardson's two terms in office.

“The growth in exempt positions has been significant,” Cote said.

A similar proposal has also been introduced by Sen. John Ryan, R-Albuquerque.

Some legislators have criticized the growth in government spending under the Richardson administration — about 40 percent in the past six years — and the growth in exempt employee numbers in particular.
One of the fun things about a transition of power is the transition shakes things up and tends to expose a few things that have been heretofore almost impossible find out. Once such thing is a complete list of all of the city's unclassified employees and how much they make - a list that fell smack dab into the lap of one of our Eyes.

The city of Albuquerque has 1427 "exempt" - or as the city calls them - "unclassified" employees. Understand that a large number of these unclassified positions are part-time or seasonal and pay between $7.50 and $19 per hour. But there are 124 full-time positions in Marty's unclassified world that earn more than $50,000 a year that's over $15,000 more than the state's median income for a single wage earner (view it here).

Combined those top 124 unclassified positions cost us $5,098.21 an hour, $203,928.40 a week, and $10,604, 276 a year. If you thought the mayor was the top dog, you'd be wrong. The top three unclassified wage earners are CAO Ed Adams, Fire Chief Robert Ortega, and Chief of Police Ray Schultz at $147,742, $140,733 and $140, 733 respectively.

The mayor's pay - previously set by the council and soon by some "independent" committee - makes a paltry $109,325 and only ranks 14th on the unclassified pay scale. Councilors by contrast, are at the bottom of the 1400 plus list earning a meager $5.26 an hour (based on a 40 hour week).

There are currently 6 director's positions that are either vacant (like Jay Evans who skedaddled back to Open Space and reportedly took his director's pay with him) or have "acting" directors whose pay won't show up on the unclassified list. Included in the list is soon to be former Transit Director Greg Payne whose salary and job will continue until November 30th.

You may be wondering why all of this matters. It's not really surprising that Marty's Minions were making shall we say... healthy salaries. They certainly were and in some cases the job justifies their pay. In other cases such as a position like say... director of senior affairs (a job Marty's paying $107,910 for) is really hard to justify. Do you really want your senior affairs person making more than your economic development person, your HR manager, or the director of finances?

The more one analyzes the list of unclassified employees, the more you begin to see Marty's pattern of rewards for loyalty. Pay and responsibility often have nothing to do with one another.

Let's face it - there are some positions that will simply go unfilled if the pay isn't adequate. Take the city attorney's office for example. A good attorney can make upwards of $150 an hour. You can't just pay $35k a year and expect to fill the position - at least not with a competent attorney.

The point here is that Mayor-Elect Berry has an opportunity to save the city money by removing unnecessary positions and adjusting pay of necessary positions to more accurately reflect the position's responsibility.

A new mayor should have the opportunity to surround himself with people they trust and people that they feel are best qualified for needed city positions. After all, the mayor should and will be judged not only by his performance but the performance of those he surrounds himself with .

Mayor Berry has the opportunity to make some real structural changes to his unclassified list that will make government more transparent, more efficient, and save all of us money at a time when money is hard to come by.

Climate Change is Obama’s Iraq

by Marita Noon

This year, amidst reports of cooling temperature, the climate change debate had apparently cooled as well. Then the Waxman/Markey Bill, pushing cap and trade as the solution for global warming, was introduced. Now, with President Obama addressing the UN and calling for extreme measures to prevent catastrophic consequences, suddenly it’s front page news again.

On the same day that Obama was presenting his dramatic message to the UN, the New York Times published an article acknowledging “global temperatures have been relatively stable for a decade and may drop in the next few years.” Clearly the debate is not as one-sided as our leadership wants us to believe.

While Obama and his “alarmist” science czar, John Holdren, are moving forward, the polls repeatedly show lack of public and scientific support. Aggressive climate change measures rank last on almost any list of current crises; people do not think the issue is one on which our government should be focused.

I predict climate change will be Obama’s Iraq.

Bush, it is widely accepted, went into Iraq based on his advisors’ belief that weapons of mass destruction awaited them. There seemed to be consensus. Even Democrats voted in favor of war. Once there, no WMDs were found. But Bush did not pull out. Instead we spent billions of dollars and lost thousands of lives with minimal results—all based on bad advice. The public did not like the war. They did not want it. He had great plans for overthrowing Saddam, but the Iraqi military was no where near ready to take over—leaving us foundering between being occupiers and advisors. The failure in Iraq defined the Bush presidency, turning even his own party against him.

Obama’s advisors are telling him that climate change legislation is imperative. They believe there is consensus. But the temperatures have stabilized and dropped—despite increased CO2 emissions. Even the NYT admits that the declining temperatures will make legislation a hard sell to the public. But Obama is not backing down. He is willing to kill off the American economy based on bad advice. The people do not want it now and they will hate it later. We’ll spend billions of borrowed dollars for minimal results. He is focused on overthrowing hydrocarbons, but renewable energy is many years away from being ready to take over—leaving us floundering between the light and freezing in the dark. The folly of climate change legislation will define his presidency and turn citizens against him.

Both Presidents succumbed to a type of herd mentality. When people pursue the same avenue all together, they tend to shut out all other ideas and those avenues are not always the right ones. The “facts” become propaganda—forced into a pattern that is preordained, making them look firmly established.

You can see this in the Iraq war decision. But how does it apply to climate change?

Twenty years ago, in the Journal of Scientific Exploration, Dr. Thomas Gold of Cornell University presented the hypothesis that science was reaching the place where new ideas were not being accepted. He stated, “A critical attitude is clearly required of every scientist. Whenever the established ideas are accepted uncritically, but conflicting new evidence is brushed aside and not reported because it does not fit, then that particular science is in deep trouble.” He postulates that, “there are long periods when uncritical acceptance of established ideas was a real hindrance to the pursuit of the new.”

Appling his ideas to today’s situation, I suggest that we are there now.

From a scientific viewpoint, when other motivations come into the act, judgment becomes cloudy, and decisions are not based on the ideal of evidence-based reasoning. This is where the problem lies. If support from peers and moral and financial consequences are at stake, then staying with the herd is the successful policy for the individual who is depending on them, but not the successful policy for the pursuit of pure science. If a large portion of the scientific community in one field is guided by the herd instinct they cannot adopt another viewpoint. The justification becomes, “I believe that because everyone else does.” About the herd, Gold commented, “The sheep in the interior of the herd are well-protected from the bite in the ankle by the sheep dog.”

This has happened with climate change. The man-caused warming model has become the established fact—new evidence is “brushed aside.” Those scientists and others questioning the validity of the models are vilified as skeptics and deniers.
Hence bad science is “established.” Public policy is based on it.

Just like the herd agreed that there were WMDs—when there were not—the herd has decided that climate change is caused by man’s use of CO2 when, in fact, it is likely just the normal cycle of nature. We are attempting to battle climate change based on bad advice.

Marita Noon is the executive director of the Citizens Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE), a nonprofit, membership-based organization advocating for citizens rights to energy freedom. She can be reached at or Note: Several concepts featured here are culled from the Australian Institute of Geoscientists Spring Newsletter.

Oct 26, 2009

Eye Poll: Corruption

Corruption comes in all sizes. Sometimes it's big (see the State Investment Council and Manny Aragon). Sometimes it's small. Eye readers overwhelmingly said that corruption was the major issue in the city's October 6th election. An overwhelming 49% of readers said corruption was the major election issue, 21% said crime, 13% the economy, 8% each said term limits or change, and 1% didn't know.

Crime was certainly an issue - one that the Berry administration would do well to remember - but the Eye readers are more worried about the criminals in government than those on the streets.

The new mayor will have his opportunity to clean house and restore trust in government. He'll have to do it despite his predecessors attempts had hiding a few nasty newly classified surprises. It's important that the new administration clean house and do so publicly.

In politics, public perception is reality. The way to change perception is to get rid of those who've created the reality.

Oct 22, 2009

Marty's Freebie Firearm Deal

The Albuquerque Police Department under Chief Ray Schultz and soon-to-be former Mayor Martin Chavez has decided change the department issued weapon from the Glock 9mm to a Smith and Wesson 9mm. The move has upset a number of officers who view the Smith and Wesson as an inferior weapon.

In fact, a number of line officers complained about the move citing the Glock's reliability and historic performance. Anyone who complained was summarily shut down and cadets will begin training on the Smith and Wesson next week.

It's not unusual for Chief Schultz his 5th Floor to ignore officers, but this time Smith and Wesson gave the Chief, Deputy Chief Castro, and The Once Almighty Alcalde a little extra incentive. According to our Eyes, Schultz, Castro, and Mayor Chavez all received complimentary weapons a couple of months ago courtesy of Smith and Wesson. 30 days after the "gifts" were given, APD decided to drop the favored Glock.

Officers have been carrying the Glock for years. The double action pin-fire weapon has a track record of firing under almost any circumstance and when your life is on the line you want your weapon to go boom when you pull the trigger.

Look, we're not against APD evaluating their side arms from time to time. And we're not against the department making a change. But this time, it looks as if the decision was at least partially based on the freebie firearm given to the decision makers.

We've got serious reservations about Marty packin' heat - that's just all kinds of scary. But more importantly, elected officials and their cronies shouldn't be accepting gifts from contractors. If Smith and Wesson popped for a few pistols, what else did they do to sweeten the deal?

It really doesn't matter what the value of the "gift" was - though most 9mm handguns cost over $1,000 - accepting a gift from a vendor prior to awarding a contract looks dirty and is dirty. It may be petty corruption, but it's corruption none the less.

This is just one more example of why all of the current occupants of APD's 5th Floor need to be shown the elevator. First and foremost, effective policing requires the trust of the public. Taking a goody gun from a vendor and handing them a contract undermines that trust and puts both officers and the public in danger.

Oct 21, 2009


It's a favorite trick of outgoing politicians - give one last payoff to those who have supported your administration. The Albuquerque Journal reported Wednesday that the Chavez payoffs have begun as the Once Almighty Alcalde takes a stab at paying off his people and a shot at the man who will replace him.
Scott Forrester, an assistant to Mayor Martin Chávez, whose term ends Nov. 30, saw an increase in his annual salary from roughly $48,000 a year to a little under $80,000, officials said.

Greg Smith, an attorney, received an 8 percent increase in pay — to about $111,000 a year — and was transferred into a different job. He used to work as an attorney for the city and is now a contract manager in the Department of Municipal Development.

Danny Nevarez, an information technology official in the Environmental Health Department, saw his pay boosted about 48 percent, to around $102,900.
Frankly, no matter what excuse is given these raises are appalling. Our Eyes tell us that since the Once Almighty Alcalde lost the election earlier in the month, Hizz Honor has been busy squirreling away his minions and busily trying to reclassify his unclassified friends. One such reclassification was Director of Parks and Recreation, Jay Evans who was recently moved from his unclassified directors position in Parks and Rec to an over $80,000 a year classified position running Open Space.

The intent of the Chavez administration is to protect their minions while leaving them behind as land mines ready to explode on an unsuspecting Berry administration.

Moving Marty's Minions doesn't exactly protect them from termination. Moving someone from an unclassified position to a classified position doesn't remove the probationary period where the city can let the "newly acquired" classified employee go for pretty much any reason in the first 90 days. Marty's moves only make it more difficult, not impossible.

In light of the current economic situation, the Berry transition team needs to take a hard look not only at Marty's many minions but at the positions that were created to reward them. Now's the time for many of these positions to disappear along with their occupants - which would save all of us a boat load of money.

More importantly, Mayor-elect Berry would be setting a good example for the rest of the city by trimming his at-will staff before he even takes office despite Marty's attempt to trap him into keeping Marty's Minions.

The Sheriff Shuffle

The pending resignation of Sheriff Darren White in order to take the Public Safety post with the city has created a bit of a diemma for the Bernalillo County Commission - which is charged with appointing someone to fill out the term. According to our Eyes, state law requires an appointment before White's departure in order to prevent a sheriff's gap.

What's complicating things is that next year is an election year and no fewer than 9 Democrats have thrown their badges into the appointment and election rings. The Bernalillo County Commission is controlled by Democrats, so there shouldn't be a problem... right?

Wrong. Commissioners - particularly Commissioners Armijo, De La Cruz, and Hart-Stebbins - are reluctant to choose any Democrat who's actually planning a run for Sheriff. At the very least, appointing one of the 9 would give that candidate a decisive edge in the Democratic primary. And since there isn't a single Republican that has asked for the appointment (perhaps an opportunity there), the Democrats on the commission are looking elsewhere for potential candidates.

According to our Eyes, commissioners are looking at the old old sheriff to replace the soon-to-be new old sheriff. Former Sheriff Joe Bowdich is currently serving as the "civilian chief" over at APD - it's a job without a job description, responsibilities, or duties but it pays well. Commissioners have hit on the idea that Bowdich would be the perfect interim-Sheriff and frankly we don't disagree. It might even save the city over $100,000 by vacating a position that has outlived its usefulness.
Nothing against Bowdich but, he was in fact brought in to provide cover for the evidence room scandal. The former sheriff was certainly a respected former law enforcement officer but his purpose as a "civilian chief" was to lend needed credibility and restore confidence in APD. Bowdich's position was created for political reasons - to provide cover for the Chavez administration - not functional reasons.

Like most government positions created for political purposes, their usefulness is short lived except as a position to reward supporters.
[End Sidebar]
More importantly for the Democrats on the commission, it allows them not to be seen as choosing the next sheriff. Of course there's nothing to guarantee that any of the 9 Democrats who have asked for the appointment will win the job next year or even that the next elected sheriff will be a Democrat, but at least the Armijo, De La Cruz, and Hart-Stebbins, won't be accused of favoritism or blamed for a November loss.

No matter how it pans out, it looks like the sheriff shuffle will result in a sheriff who really doesn't want the job - at least not long-term. After all, county commissioners are politicians and they're not going to willingly hurt their political future.

Oct 20, 2009

Partying Like it's 1999

Budget shortfalls are everywhere. Unless you've been out of the country or in a coma for the past year, you know that every level of government is scrambling to find a way conserve resources as tax revenue dwindles. Sometimes our elected officials talk about reducing spending - meanwhile others are talking about increasing taxes.
Bills that would cut spending all over the state government map and eliminate some political hires were among proposals continuing to stream in as lawmakers remained divided over how to solve the state's worst budget crunch since the 1980s.

Some Democratic members, so far overruled by senior leaders, are pushing consideration of tax increases or repeal of tax cuts as ways to raise revenue and avoid cuts to education and health care programs. Educator unions strongly back the tax hike moves, wanting to avert any reductions in school spending.
The fact is we find ourselves in a crisis. It's a crisis created by uncontrolled spending during a time of relative plenty. Like the Roaring 20's, there were abundant indications that the largess of economic prosperity would not last forever. But like their early 20th century counterparts, they partied like it was 1999 (Sorry, couldn't help the Prince reference) and spent as if there would always be plentiful sources of tax revenue - there wasn't and there isn't.

Most governmental agencies have been forced to recognize the fact that it's imperative that they get a handle on their spending. Apparently, the Bernalillo County Commission didn't get the memo. A little over a week ago at their October 13th meeting, the Bernalillo County Commission was presented with a plan to freeze hiring.
In an effort to proactively deal with declining revenues while avoiding more drastic measures such as layoffs, mandatory furloughs or reduced work hours for its employees, Bernalillo County is proposing a strategic freeze on hiring non public safety related personnel.

Along with a freeze in hiring of new employees, Bernalillo County will focus on reducing nonessential expenditures and careful monitoring of expenditures. Finance Division staff will carefully monitor economic trends and notify the County Manager when revenues appear to be stabilizing and the hiring freeze may be re-evaluated.
The resolution was defeated 3-2 with Commissioners Armijo, De La Cruz, and Hart-Stebbins voting to party like it's 1999 - while Commissioners Wiener and Brasher voted to institute the hiring freeze.

Not to make this a partisan issue but just guess which party the 3 nay votes belonged to. If you said Democrat, you'd be spot on.

It's not like Republicans haven't been guilty of spending like a collective group of drunken sailors - they have. But in case you haven't been paying attention, Democrats on the national level have spent more in the first six months of this year than all of the preceding U.S. governments combined. In fact, Democrats on the national level have made their Republican predecessors
look like Congressional Scrooges when it comes to spending.

New Mexico has been under single party rule for over 70 years. They've dominated almost every elected body, every state department at almost every level for almost all of those 70 plus years. The Bernalillo County Commission is no exception.

When presented with a resolution to freeze spending at a time where tax revenues are on the decline, what do the Democrats on the commission do? They vote to continue to hire non-public safety personnel as if there were no tax revenue problems.

Yeah... It's delusional and totally ignored by the local press. Every level of government should be working to find ways to reduce its spending. The County Commission - at least 3 of the 5 members - clearly haven't figured it out and clearly don't get it. They're partying like it's 1999 and can print money in the basement. Unfortunately, we're the ones who will have to clean up their mess and pay the tab.