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, 2009

Fear and Division

Fear... it's nothing new in political campaigns. Last year we saw a bumper crop of candidates using fear as a weapon against their opponents. Sometimes those fears are justified. Other times fears are completely manufactured.

One of the easiest ways to scare one group is to identify an opposing candidate with another group. It's part of defining your opponent. This one's a conservative, a Republican, a developer. That one's a liberal, a Democrat, an environmentalist. The idea is to scare people into voting against someone simply because they're not like the group they identify with. One of the easiest ways to create these divides is to interject race into the discussion.

Of course, no one will admit to using race in a campaign - that would be repugnant, reprehensible, and something only the other campaign would do. But if you can get a surrogate to make race a topic of discussion...
Developer Rob Dickson could be the long-shot to watch.. Although liberal-leaning, as an Anglo candidate Dickson could help Chavez by peeling some NE Heights votes away from Berry.

City Hall watchers are now framing the race this way: Chavez is positioned to get 40% of the vote and avoid a run-off election. However, they see the fly in the ointment as Rep. Berry, but do not see him as the strongest Chavez challenger. They see Berry in the role of spoiler, peeling conservative and Republican votes away from Chavez and boosting Romero, giving him a chance to hold Marty below the magic 40% and forcing a run-off election.

Naturally, the Berry camp and the R's disagree with that analysis saying Berry can consolidate conservative and Anglo votes and force the run-off between him and Chavez, leaving Romero in the dust.
Don't believe for a moment that Monahan's racial mentions are an accident. The Democrat blogger could have easily identified the Northeast Heights as conservative or leaning Republican - which would be more accurate - rather than making his description based on race. Further, the implication is the R's injected race into the discussion.

We're not saying that Monahan is being racist. That accusation is being thrown around far too frequently and in our experience it's generally thrown around most often by those who harbor racist views themselves. What we're asserting is that Monahan is using race to support an analysis that is fundamentally flawed and perhaps wishful thinking.

What terrifies Democrats like Monahan is that two strong Democrats facing a single strong Republican will deny the mayor access to the very voters who are responsible for his past victories. If you'll remember, Marty ran his previous campaigns as a business oriented Democrat - a moniker that he has since tried to lose by courting the far left through his "green" initiatives.

Do the math. Even if Democrats manage to garner 60% of the overall vote the odds are pretty good that neither one of the two will reach the magic 40%. Unless of course there's some kind of wild card introduced into the campaign - something to polarize voters and set one group against another.

The Chavez administration has become increasingly overbearing and vindictive. Romero has aligned himself with one of the most liberal activists in the state, Eli Lee. With the growing crime rates, budget deficits, and out of control spending that both candidates are associated with, Berry should easily be able to make a convincing case to conservatives and Blue Dog Democrats that he is the man for the big chair on the 11th floor.

In the meantime look for the two "major" Democrats to attempt to create divisive wildcards that have nothing to do with major issues like red light scam-eras, term limits, crime, and out of control spending. Wildcards that are designed for one purpose and one purpose only... fear.

Mar 26, 2009

Greed and Liberty

A few weeks back we received a "video" featuring the late Milton Friedman. Friedman was a Nobel laureate economist whose basic economic premise was one of individuals acting in their own self-interest. He argued that the best system was one where individuals were allowed to choose their own paths - ones that were beneficial to their futures and in their own interests.

Some call Friedman's theories a defense of greed. We'd argue that greed only exists where there's an absence of the ability to choose another course of action - an absence of liberty.

In a market driven society, parties enter into agreements voluntarily - agreements that benefit the self-interests of both parties. If one party fails hold up their end of the bargain thereby harming the interests of the other party, their transaction fails. As a consequence, the failing party is punished by a market that will increasingly refuse to enter into transactions that benefit their interests.

There's an old saying in business... make a customer happy and they'll tell ten people - make a customer unhappy and they'll tell a hundred. Such is the nature of the market. Punishment is meted out almost immediately, while good reputations are earned over time.

Government cannot and does not stop the natural human pursuit of self-interest. In fact, government amplifies its effect. By definition, government employees and officials have authority over the governed. Each and every one has the ability to impose their individual will upon those whom they are supposed to serve. Sometimes they are serving the "public good." Other times, they are following orders. And still other times they are following some arbitrary whim. But in each and every case, they are serving their own self-interest.

"The world runs on individuals pursuing their self-interests." It really doesn't matter whether or not you live in a communist, capitalist, socialist, or fascist, society - people pursue their self-interests as they understand them.

Often people wonder how so many Germans could stand by and watch so many Jews being slaughtered at the hands of blood-thirsty Nazis. The answer is simple. The German population, not targeted by Nazi hatred feared for their lives. They believed that it was in their self-interest to look the other way.

Unfortunately, we live in a time where those in power "never want a serious crisis to go to waste." We as citizens have chosen a group of leaders who believe that the answer to our county's crises is to take ever more control of our country's financial and business institutions. They've pointed the finger of blame at business while at the same time preventing those same institutions from bearing the consequences of their bad actions.

From bailouts to treaty violations (NAFTA) to healthcare to taxes on bonuses to global warming for God's sake, the answer is to give more and more authority to an ever more tyrannical government. And make no mistake - government is acting in its own self-interest.

Milton Friedman believed in freedom - freedom to choose and freedom from government. The more we ask of government, the more it takes from us in the form of money and in the currency of liberty. In the end, the only ones who are empowered to be truly greedy are those who are empowered to deprive others of their freedom to choose another course of action.

Mar 18, 2009

1/4 Cent for Your Thoughts

November 6th, 2006... the day before the election where Democrats took over both the House and Senate, the Albuquerque City Council passed an extension to the Transportation Infrastructure Tax. The Council and the Almighty Alcalde used the cover of the election to rail road the public and shove a tax hike through for the primary purpose of building Marty's little train.

The move outraged the public and a huge political brouhaha ensued. Months later bowing to public pressure, the council pulled the extension and created a marketing, uh... "task force" to sell, uh... "study" the trolley. All of that took place almost exactly two years ago.

Now like some particularly annoying and chronic condition, the Transportation Infrastructure Tax extension is back on the radar. The original voter approved tax is set to sunset at the end of this year, which means gross receipts taxes in the City of Albuquerque would go down by 1/4 cent at the end of this year.

The Chavez Administration and some on the council would have you believe that the revenue generated by the Transportation Infrastructure Tax is critical to maintain basic transportation services. First of all the public has spoken on this tax not once, but twice - once at the ballot box and once through the public outrage that resulted in the last extension's demise.

Second, it's not as if the end of this particular source of revenue was unforeseen. Ten years ago it was included in the original legislation. Two years ago, it was extensively discussed during the Trolley fiasco. We have little sympathy for the administration's or the council's cry of poverty - particularly in light of the current economic situation.

You see the administration and the council plan to put the Transportation Infrastructure Tax on the October ballot. However, since the tax ends at the end of this year they're claiming that they'd lose approximately $18 MILLION for the first half of next year due to the way the city receives money from the State Taxation and Revenue Department. Here they assume that the extension will pass and cry us a river - they knew this was coming and should have planned for it.

More annoyingly, it appears that the city has been collecting the tax and not using it. In fact, Councilor Cadigan seems to have found some $26 MILLION in "excess" revenue.
WHEREAS, since the inception of the Transportation Infrastructure Tax, large excess balances have accumulated which could be used to provide transportation improvements City-wide as well as provide an economic stimulus to the local economy;
Large excess balances?! Apparently, they've been collecting money and not using it for the projects they were directed to use the money for. In fact, the Eyes have it that Councilor Mayer has voiced concerns that the money hasn't been used properly.

So here it is... The voters voted for a tax that ends this year. They reaffirmed their position two years ago by raising hell with the council and forcing them to repeal the previous extension. The city probably isn't using the money it actually spends appropriately and they have "large excess balances" of more than $26 MILLION.

What's stunning to us is that there's actually any question how even the most whacked out big government liberal should vote. If the administration wants an extension they should put it on the ballot and make their case to the public. If it passes, they may lose $18 MILLION but thanks to their mismanagement they can cover the shortfall by using the $26 MILLION they've already collected. If it doesn't pass - which we suspect (and hope) will be the case - they spend the $26 MILLION on the projects they were supposed to spend it on in the first place and call it a day.

Two years ago, Councilor Mayer held a meeting to discuss this very issue. Just like the tax itself, history is repeating itself. The councilor is holding a meeting tonight (Thursday) at the newly remodeled Sheraton Uptown - 7 pm. She's asking for your thoughts on the 1/4 cent. She promises to have the Council Budget Director and Transit Director, Greg Payne. If nothing else, it should be a lively meeting since our Eyes tell us that at least a few disgruntled taxpayers plan to attend.

Mar 17, 2009

Grapevine: Payne-ful Election?

Every election breed rumors and they come in all shapes and sizes. Every now and again those rumors take on a more substantive character. The most recent rumor took shape Monday when our Eyes tell us that it's rumored that there could be yet one more candidate to throw his hat into the proverbial ring - Transit Director, Greg Payne.

The former District 31 State Representative and former District 8 City Councilor is known for his political ambition and his ability to campaign. However, this move towards the big chair on the 11th floor doesn't make any sense.

Directory Payne currently occupies one of those city dream jobs that pay exceedingly well - somewhere in the $100k range. Running against the boss isn't exactly calculated to enhance one's career and Payne is known for his political calculation. So, it's unlikely that the rumor has any merit. However, just because it's unlikely doesn't mean it isn't true.

If you consider all of the possibilities, a Payne run looks more plausible. After last weekend, Marty faces 6 challengers in the upcoming election - Donna Rowe, Richard Romero, Rob Dickson, Rudolph Serrano, James Thomas, and R. J. Berry.

Of course, not all of them will qualify for public financing. It's not easy to collect the 3200 plus signatures and associated $5 donations required as Councilors Cadigan and O'Malley found out the hard way. If we had to guess we'd say that the only candidates that end up qualifying for the "clean" money will be the Almighty Alcalde, Richard Romero, and R. J. Berry. Our guess is that there will be one, maybe two other candidates that decide to try and raise enough to continue the fight.

When you consider the makeup of the current field of candidates, it's quite possible that one or two of them will be Democrats or at least left of center. Marty has always depended on Republicans to win elections. He simply can't afford to face two opponents from his side of the isle. That's where Greg Payne comes in.

Payne is known as a vigorous and merciless campaigner. His entry into the race as a known Republican would siphon votes away from the lone Republican worthy of the name - R. J. Berry. At the very least, the Almighty Alcalde would force a runoff election - an election that favors the incumbent, just as the current Closed and Unethical Elections Code does.

If you take the possibilities even further, Marty could use his network of city employees to help his "rival" Greg Payne to receive public financing. If Payne makes his way on to the ballot with $328,000 he could do a great deal of damage to... Marty's rivals.

Ok... we might be a little too suspicious. But a loyal Payne on the ballot would make himself an incredible nuisance to anyone who became a threat to Marty. Consider for a moment a field of candidates with two Republicans - one loyal to the incumbent Democrat - and two to three Democrats. All of them have the same amount of money to spend, but two of them are coordinating their efforts behind the scenes.

The end result is that Marty would have twice the money and half the exposure. Marty can run a "positive" campaign, while his confederate takes aim at which ever candidate is causing him the most trouble. Yet one more way that Eli Lee and Eric Griego "Open and Ethical Elections" code can be used create a closed and unethical election.

Make no mistake, should Greg Payne enter the mayoral race it will not be for his political ambition rather, it will be for his personal gain. Payne owes his high paying job to Marty. It's simply in his best interest to remain Transit Director and continue to receive his $100k salary. Considering Albuquerque's new "ethical" elections scheme, it's going to be an interesting and perhaps Payne-ful election.

----- Correction -----
We originally indicated that Director Payne represented House District 32. That was one of our typos showing. He actually represented House District 31 until his deal at transit came through. Thanks to a poster for catching our mistake. It has been corrected above.

----- Update -----
We originally received this a couple of weeks ago. Due to some distractions from our vocation, we've been somewhat remiss in keeping up with our email. On March 18th we received the following email:

Like many rumors, the speculation that I might enter the Mayor's race is a fiction. I am not running for Mayor in 2009 in any way, shape or form.

I have two young children, a great job -- and absolutely zero interest in political office right now.

I personally know and like both Richard Romero (who was my principal at Sandia High School) and State Rep. R.J. Berry. However, it should come as no surprise that I am supporting Mayor Chavez in his bid for re-election. That support does not include my jumping into this year's mayoral election in a manner as the "grapevine" is suggesting.

Thanks and best regards,

Greg Payne
Director, ABQ RIDE
Surprising... not at all. After all, the mayor's job may come with all of the trappings and the big chair on the 11th floor, but it would mean a pay cut for the director. Not to mention severing ties with his boss - that is of course, if he were actually running against the Alcalde.

Mar 15, 2009

Two Down

This morning the Journal reported that Councilor Debbie O'Malley withdrew from the race for mayor because she would be unable to collect the necessary $5 contributions. This afternoon we're getting word that yet another Democrat is done... Councilor Michael Cadigan.
Like my good friend Councilor Debbie O'Malley, I have concluded that it will not be mathematically possible to meet the 3200 five dollar contribution threshold by the end of this month. Therefore, I am withdrawing from the race for the Mayor of Albuquerque.
- Cadigan Email to Supporters
Open and Ethical... two words that have nothing to do with the new publicly financed election scheme. Four years ago we were told that the scheme would take money out of politics - both candidates have dropped out because of money. We were told that scheme would be ethical - what's ethical about using city employees as a campaign force? We were told that the scheme would be open - the system has already limited our choices long before we ever got to make our selections.

We were wrong. We thought that at least one of the two councilors would be able to gather the necessary signatures and $5 donations. Now both are out of the race due to a campaign system that they both supported.

Double Dippin' and Poltical Pay-Offs

Last week Double Dippin' Gate exploded through the city's blogs and airwaves. We've been watching the controversy with a fair amount of interest because the stories and debate have all mixed legitimate return to work and what we believe to be simple fraud.

The first story from KRQE's Larry Barker targeted what we would call fraud. Powerful government officials from different agencies using their position to orchestrate return to work deals
for favored employees - a.k.a. cronies.

The problem here is not that city employees retire and then come back. The problem is that they either come back to the same job that they supposedly retired from thereby receiving both their salaries and the pension, or they receive cush jobs unavailable to those around them. The practice depends solely on the willingness of a well placed supervisor or elected official and requires absolute loyalty to the patron dolling out the benefit.

In the cases of Vickie d Herrera and Felicia Giron, that patron was none other that the Almighty Alcalde himself.
KRQE-TV reported on Friday that City Hall had been rehiring retirees — in some cases through a "temporary agency," apparently an attempt to skirt the 90-day rule. In other cases, employees worked as volunteers during the 90-day period.
As you can see it benefits you to become one of Marty's Minions. If you can't afford to take off the required 90 days, they simply shift your position to a temporary agency where you permanently take the position.

There are a lot of problems with this system. Most importantly, the mayor and other public officials use the PERA retirement program as a political patronage program. If you are eligible for retirement and would like to almost double your pay, you better be a card carrying member of Marty's Minions. Otherwise, you'll end up like former Officer Dennis Patrick or former Lieutenant Steve Tate... denied.

Of course if you're one of Marty's buddies (Nick Bakas) or Chief Schultz' running pal (Rob Debuck), you'll find yourself with a job making more money that you ever have in your life regardless of whether or not you are qualified to hold the position.
Our Eyes tell us that the 5th Floor is concerned that it will come to light that over 10% of the current force is made up of rehires. That means that some 80 to 100 officers are "double-dippin."
(End Sidebar)
Look... we don't have a problem with someone earning their retirement, retiring, and then going back to work - private sector executives and workers do it all the time. That is of course, providing that the person in question acutally retires. Our problem is the system of using taxpayer money to pay-off political cronies. It's certainly in the long tradition of New Mexico corruption and pay-to-play governance, but it's certainly not in the best interests of the taxpayers and those governed.

Mar 10, 2009

The Closet Candidate

We've been watching his honor the Almighty Alcalde for almost 12 years of his stewardship of the city. One of the most obvious patterns is Marty's propensity to show up for good news. Parks, new buses, the opening of an aerospace facility... all are places where Marty's bound to be seen. In fact, be careful not to come between a camera and Marty's "winning" smile.

On the other hand, when things aren't going so well the mayor is either a no show or arrives with a "solution" designed to simultaneously create the perception of action and innocence. As we've noted before, there's more to leadership than favorable photo-ops.

The mayor is the only candidate who has managed to gather the necessary $5 contributions qualify for public financing. He is also the only candidate - well... that isn't a candidate. Which begs the question... why?

The answer to the question is found in Marty's long history as mayor. Look no further than the recent headlines - "Body Count: 13"(Subscription) or if you prefer Larry Barker's "Paper Retirees." The last thing his honor wants to see is his smiling face next to either of those two headlines.

Our Eyes tell us that the main reason that Marty has not officially announced - even though he's sued the city to keep his seat and used city employees as his own personal campaign crew - is none other than the negative headlines themselves. In fact according to our Eyes, Marty and his 5th Floor henchmen are furiously trying to brush Albuquerque's serial killer under the closest rug in order to avoid publicity that would reflect poorly on the mayor.
We can't begin to tell you how reprehensible it is to ignore the existence of serial killer for the sole purpose of creating positive press. Marty's image is of no importance compared to the security and the lives of the citizens of Albuquerque.
[End Sidebar]
Monday's announcement that the city will no longer "allow" double dipping (subscription) is part of Marty's plan to get negative news off the media front page. The concept is to appear to address the issue - "fix it" if you will - then move on to positive news and a public announcement of his candidacy. Until that time, look for candidate Marty to remain firmly ensconced in his 11th floor closet.

Mar 6, 2009

Tense Times, a Job Search, and Lack of Leadership

It's amazing. Every four years or so something happens over at APD - right at the start of an election year - that threatens the, shall we say... job security of the city's top cop. Last time it was the evidence room scandal where the folks over in the evidence room were helping themselves to valuables being held by APD and BCSO. This time it's a serial killer that has been - and perhaps still is - operating in the metro area.

Last time the Almighty Alcalde was embaraced right before an election, Chief Gil Gallegos found himself out of a job. Our Eyes tell us that in light of his predecessor's fate, Chief Schultz isn't waiting for Marty's pink slip he's simply looking for a new job.

It seems that the Chief and his honor the mayor aren't on exactly good terms these days. The mayor is a bit peeved that he can't travel around the country talking up the city when he's toting a serial killer in his wake. Meanwhile, Ray can't seem to carry out the Almighty Alcalde's directive that there shall be no serial killer in Albuquerque even though there are 13 witnesses testifying to the contrary.

Meanwhile, our Eyes tell us that Marty has already collected his 3,200 plus $5 contributions and is ready to announce his bid for an unprecedented third consecutive term - perhaps as early as today. Not that it's any surprise that Marty would run for the office that he sued the city to be able to continue to hold. But, there have been numerous rumors that the Alcalde was headed to Washington to take jobs with the Greens or even with the big Hill - Secretary of State Clinton.

It appears that the enmity between the Chief and his boss centers on the very real possibility that he will lose the upcoming election. Look, neither Chief Schultz nor Mayor Chavez can be held responsible for the actions of a serial killer. However, they certainly can be held responsible for how they have handled the tragic revelations from the southwest mesa.

Claiming that Albuquerque doesn't and never had a serial killer, throwing out non-suspects in an attempt to mislead the public into a false sense of security are desperate, political acts that could actually place the public in danger. These are acts that can and should be held against the Chief and the current administration... and the Chief knows it. In fact, our Eyes tell us that Schultz will be gone either before or after the October election.

Four years ago, Marty promised that heads would roll over the evidence room scandal. Of course, only one head rolled and his buddy AG Patricia Madrid couldn't find enough evidence - or lack thereof - in the evidence room to pursue charges. Make no mistake, anything that embaraces the mayor especially during an election year, will at the very least result in a job search.

It's a disturbing pattern, brushing real problems under a rug made from the hide of a scapegoat. It's a pattern devoid of leadership, and one that we have come to expect from Chavez and his administration.

Mar 4, 2009

When $2.3 BILLION Isn't Enough

$2.3 BILLION... $2.3 BILLION that's what the state of New Mexico spends each year on education - at least that's what Representative Mimi Stewart asserts in her letter to the editor in Wednesday's Journal. Of course, Representative Stewart doesn't come right out and say how much we actually spend rather - she claims that we need 14.5% or $335 MILLION more in order to provide a "sufficient" education.
The public expressed concerns about adequate funding for rural schools, for non-tested subjects (like music, art and physical education), for native language and heritage. The public also emphasized that local school boards make decisions about local schools.

Educators called for a longer school year; more support staff to help at-risk students; lower staff-pupil ratios; and programs geared toward retention of native languages and cultures.
We'd love to actually see AIR's study. It's really hard to believe that little things like reading, writing, and arithmetic weren't found in the responses, yet "native language and heritage" were. What people value in education is different from group to group and person to person. Public schools are not equipped - nor can they be equipped - to be all things to all people.

One person's "sufficient" education is another's woefully inadequate education. Relative terms like "sufficient" are meaningless since they don't have objective definitions. They are however, useful when attempting to make an argument for expanded funding for programs that already receive some 38% of the state's annual budget - especially during an economic crisis.
[The American Legislative Council's] recent study, the 15th edition of their "Report Card on American Education," shows that New Mexico's K-12 government-run education system is not only behind other states, but is falling further behind as time passes. According to the New Mexico-specific pages of the study which can be found here, The Land of Enchantment has fallen from 43rd to 48th since 1998 in ALEC's overall ranking. This, despite a more rapid increase in per-pupil spending than was found in other states (42% to 36.6%). Of course, this has not deterred New Mexico's educational establishment from demanding still more money to pour down this rat hole.
According to Stewart, $335 MILLION dollars would provide a "sufficient" education for our children. Forget for a moment that we've already got a $500 MILLION budget shortfall. The Albuquerque representative would have us pour more money into a failing system.

For years we've been pouring BILLIONS of dollars into education. For years it seems that New Mexico has ranked near the bottom in education when compared to other states. We don't need to spend more money on education. We need to spend the $2.3 BILLION we already spend annually more effectively.

The easiest way to make education more efficient is to introduce competition. Yes, that means school choice... that means vouchers or something similar. Competition encourages excellence and punishes mediocrity. Monopolies that have access to virtually unlimited funding, promote mediocrity or worse. Our current public school system is nothing short of an education monopoly insuring that no matter how much we spend - $2.3 BILLION, $2.6 BILLION, $5 BILLION, or even $10 BILLION - that it will never be "sufficient."

Mar 3, 2009

Second Site

Some of you may remember the scene from the movie Animal House where Kevin Bacon in a ROTC uniform stands screaming "all is well!" as pandemonium breaks out around him. Not to be out-done, Albuquerque's Chief of Police is busy trying to "reassure" the public by insisting that there's not an "active" serial killer operating in the metro area as the evidence and the bodies continue to pile up around him.

So far Marty and Ray have been somewhat successful in their endeavor. The public is treating the site at 118th and Dennis Chavez, SW as more of a curiosity than a concern. After all, the murders are at least four years old and they're just prostitutes... right?

We'd argue that APD should be concerned when anyone is found dead regardless of whether the remains are new or old, or whether they're from a prostitute or an upstanding member of the community. No one should be a throw-away person for law enforcement.
Our Eyes tell us that the Missing Persons Unit is little more than a database. When an officer receives a missing persons report, that report is sent to the Missing Persons unit where it is filed away and promptly forgotten.

Missing Persons is manned by civilians and has no investigative authority. They only come into play when a body is found somewhere and authorities are looking to narrow the identity search down to more manageable numbers.
[End Sidebar]
Now our Eyes tell us that Marty and the Chief have a bigger problem. Apparently, the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office is working another site where more bodies have been found. Further, the Eyes have it that Sheriff White - not Chief Schultz - brought in the FBI.

Who knows, perhaps the two sites are unrelated. Maybe there have been two serial killers working the area or maybe people have been going to these two locations, digging a hole and dying on their own. Certainly Marty and the Chief would prefer that you believe the latter.

Instead of being honest with the public, instead of doing their jobs, the Almighty Alcalde and Chief Schultz have chosen to spin this as positively as they can. In fact, our Eyes tell us that the Chief has issued a gag order. Under threat of termination, no one is allowed to speak "negatively" about the investigation.
This business about portraying the city in the best possible light is nothing new. Marty threw out TV shows like COPS because he didn't want Albuquerque to look crime-ridden to a national audience.

Our Eyes tell us that two detectives from the Homicide Unit told incoming Chief Ray Schultz that there was a serial killer operating in Albuquerque. Chief Schultz refused to act on the information because he was more concerned about the city's image (or maybe Marty's image), than he was about a serial killer.

With the department's history of fudging numbers and cooking books, we wouldn't be surprised if the 5th Floor decided not to count these deaths as homicides. After all, we'd hate to tarnish our image.
[End Sidebar]
Look, these are the facts. There are at least 13 bodies that ended up in a field on the Southwest Mesa. They are four to nine years old. There is now a second site where multiple bodies have been found. Just based on the evidence released to the public, there has been at least one serial killer operating in the metro area.

We don't expect the chief to divulge information from an on-going investigation. However, it's stupid and dangerous to assert that there isn't a serial killer operating in Albuquerque. They've thrown out two conveniently dead non-suspects as red herrings in an attempt to "reassure" the public, but our Eyes tell us that there is no forensic evidence linking either of the dead men to the recovered remains.

Through this whole thing Mayor Chavez has been a no show and Chief Schultz has been living in fantasy land. Leadership means leveling with the public particularly when it could save lives. If the body count continues to grow and evidence shows that the killer is still working the area, there will be two people responsible for the inept handling of the case - Mayor Martin Chavez and Chief Ray Schultz.

Mar 2, 2009


One of the many problems that we've had with Marty's Redflex Money Makers has been the inability of defendants to challenge the veracity of the evidence presented against them. As we've shown you the Redflex system is hardly infallible. From the scam-vans issuing 1300 or so tickets to vehicles exceeding 55 MPH even though they were driving a 65 MPH zone, to the wild flashing of the scam-eras at San Mateo and Montgomery (read/see it here), drivers have plenty of reasons to challenge the accuracy of Redflex scam-eras. Now there's at least one more.

It seems that the Australian company has been using unlicensed radars in their speed detection units. [Hat tip to an Eye reader who sent us this story] The funny part is that Redflex was turned in to the Feds by a competitor.
In August [2008], rival camera vendor American Traffic Solutions noticed that Redflex had imported and was using German DRS-3 and British AGD-340 in violation of a federal law (47 USC Section 302a) requiring the devices to be certified by the FCC. The FCC standards are designed to ensure that devices that transmit radio signals do not interfere with television and radio reception or with critical public safety systems such as air traffic control (view ATS complaint). The Redflex response was, in effect, that it had made an honest mistake (view Redflex response). ATS continues to challenge the validity of the contract the Arizona Department of Public Safety entered into with Redflex while the company was legally unable to offer speed camera ticketing services.
Here's the problem... Redflex systems have issued thousands of tickets to thousands of people in districts all over the country using unlicensed equipment. That means that potentially MILLIONS and MILLIONS of dollars went into government coffers all over the country using illegal radar equipment. If the FCC in the regulatory capacity found that Redflex was operating these systems illegally, it wouldn't take long for some industrious attorneys to start suing the governments using the equipment for the return of the collected fines, attorney's fees, and perhaps punitive damages. Who knows, Redflex could have even found itself on the wrong end of a class action lawsuit.

No matter what happened, there'd be hell to pay for Redflex and more importantly, governmental entities all across the country. So instead of doing their duty and enforcing the law as well as their own regulations, the FCC entered into a consent agreement that ended an uncomfortable investigation and sent Redflex on their scam-era way after they made a "$22,000 donation" to the U.S. Treasury.
In express reliance on the covenants and representations in this Consent Decree and to avoid further expenditure of public resources, the Bureau agrees to terminate its investigation and dismiss the Complaint.
"Expenditure of public resources" - that pretty much says it all. The FCC would have you believe that they are trying to save money by ending an investigation. What they were really doing was protecting a bunch of local governments from being sued and potentially losing a whole bunch of money (read resources).

It seems back in December the FCC determined that just like AIG, Redflex and their governmental clients are all too big to fail. Hey, it really doesn't matter if they all were operating in violation of the law... does it?

----- More on the FCC Decision -----
Arizona Resumes Freeway Speed Camera Use -
Redflex Pays FCC $22,000 for Illegal Radar Use -
FCC Conspires to Protect Ticket Camera Corporation -

Mar 1, 2009

Prisons Before People

A constant of political/social discourse is the topic of what to do with those elements of society who chose to treat the rest of us as prey. Most arguments revolve around either punishment or rehabilitation. We'd argue that neither is all that important... more on that later.

One constant is a lack of space to house these dangers to society. Jails tend to fill up and governments have a hard time keeping pace with the demand - particularly when they're buying $40 MILLION buildings or theaters for the profitably challenged... but we digress.

Programs like the Community Custody Program were created to relieve the pressure on jails by putting these predators back in society - supposedly with careful monitoring and close supervision. To date judges have been setting the who and how of the CCP with input from jail officials.

One consequence of the county's CCP program was the recent release of a violent criminal Jamie Alderete. Records indicate that Alderete had been arrested no less than 32 times since 1990. Despite his violent history, Judge Albert "Pat" Murdoch decided that the best place for Alderete to be was back in society, back with a plentiful supply of victims.
On Tuesday, Alderete was charged with beating his pregnant girlfriend while wearing his ankle bracelet. According to a criminal complaint, the victim told officers that Alderete began punching her head, then rammed his knee into her stomach and punched her in the back.

Alderete said he was going to make the victim lose her baby. She is two months pregnant, according to the complaint.

Conditions of Alderete's custody allowed him to be outside his home between 11:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. to attend school, MDC spokeswoman Heather Lough said.
As you can tell, Mr. Alderete is a real gem and from the Journal's description of his criminal history his actions are hardly surprising. What's troubling is that Judge Murdoch despite previous run-ins with the criminal felt compelled to send him back out into society to continue his criminal career.

Now the Legislature wants to stick their collective noses into the issue. It seems that some folks are upset about Judges releasing criminals like Alderete over their objections, so in their less than infinite wisdom they would like to transfer the decision making process over programs like the CCP from judges to jail officials.
Twin bills being discussed in state House and Senate committees would give jail administrators, rather than judges, final say in determining who gets placed on CCP.

Jail director Ron Torres has said that the collaboration between the judges and jailers "always seems to be on thin ice," because some judges have reservations about the program, while others order it over the jail's objections.
Like the argument over punishment or rehabilitation the argument over who chooses which criminals to release back into society misses the point. Prisons weren't created to punish or rehabilitate, they were created with the express purpose of keeping criminals away from the rest of us. Sure, taking away someone's freedom could be considered punishment and that punishment might cause some to rehabilitate, but those side benefits are nothing when compared to the very real benefit of protecting the general public from dangerous predators.

Look, the problem is the program. We don't doubt that we have an overcrowding problem and if the program has to exist, we'd prefer a judge be calling the shots not some unelected bureaucrat. However, programs like the CCP put the concerns of prisons before the safety of people. Violent offenders like Alderete have no business being allowed access to general society. It's time to realize that the best place for them and for us is not in the community, but rather behind bars.