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

Jul 28, 2009

Eye Poll: No Government Takeover of Healthcare

Eye readers spoke loud and clear last week - no way to government run healthcare. A stunning 76% of Eye readers rejected the Obama/Pelosi/Ried takeover of your insurance, your doctor, your life. 20% were for the ill-advised plan, 3% didn't know and 1% didn't care.

Make no mistake, this government takeover of our healthcare system is the biggest threat to your liberty that has ever come out of any party in America. If passed, government will be able to dictate everything from how frequently you have children, to how long you live, to the medications you receive, and the procedures you are eligible for. Not to mention the inevitable shortage of doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals.

In the end, we will all have coverage... but will we want the coverage we have?

This week's Eye Poll features the impending mayoral race. It's hard to believe that voters will be casting votes in just over a month! Who's your choice to be our next mayor? Don't forget to vote!

Jul 24, 2009

Shrewd Move

Wednesday night's "Heart of the Heights" mayoral forum ended in a two-fer for The Almighty Alcalde - he dodged questions from a hundred constituents and managed to get a little payback from former loyalist Councilor Sally Mayer.

The story in a nutshell is that The Mayer invited the mayor and his challengers R.J. Berry and Richard Romero to her semi or sometimes monthly constituents meeting. The meeting is routinely promoted by the city using email and postcards paid for by, well... all of us. Of course the two challengers agreed to attend, but the candidate, who wasn't a candidate, but is a candidate now didn't respond until late Wednesday evening.

Predictably, The Almighty didn't descend from his perch on the 11th floor to communicate directly with the councilor, but sent a message through PR flack Joanie Griffin. According to our Eyes, the mayor (through Griffin) asserted that the use of taxpayer funds to promote a political event was an ethics violation and that one would be forthcoming. As of this morning, no complaint had been filed.

As many readers may know, we've been critical of Councilor Mayer on a number of occasions for a number of reasons. If Wednesday's event is a violation, then any appearance by any elected official promoted using city resources is an ethics violation because a politician cannot be separated from politics.

Actually, the whole non-affair is pretty funny. Think of it. Martin Chavez, the man whose face graces every city billboard, every city television commercial, every ribbon cutting, and park opening, is worried about a few hundred bucks used to promote an event where some of his constituents would have a chance to question him and his competitors.

Marty certainly didn't worry about spending HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of dollars on the city's Tri-Centennial Celebration - which he conveniently turned into campaign events by starting the celebrations a year early. As every city logo proudly declares, Albuquerque was founded in 1706. A majority of Marty's Tri-Centennial Campaign, uh... Celebration events took place in 2005 - coincidentally, an election year.

The truth is, attending a forum where an incumbent is on stage with their opponents carries with it a significant risk - a risk that most campaigns will want to minimize. That's because the only way for an incumbent to go is down.

At the same time, The Almighty Alcalde was able to damage Councilor Mayer by generating the specter of an ethics violation. That move benefits his choice for District 7 - challenger Michael Cook.

Two years ago, Marty got heavily involved in the council elections. All of his Martycrat candidates - Katherine Martinez, Paulette de Pascal, and yes... Joan Griffin - were soundly defeated. This year the mayoral hand has been a bit more subtle, but that doesn't mean that he isn't trying to influence a couple council elections.

Our Eyes tell us that this time around the mayor is working through attorney and political strategist Doug Antoon. Mr. Antoon is running two candidates - District 5's Dan Lewis and District 7's Michael Cook, and is associated with Marty's Fundraiser-in-Chief and ABQPAC Bagwoman Terri Baird.

Mr. Antoon first cut his teeth in Republican circles back in 2007 when he ran the successful recall defense of Councilor Don Harris. He also served on the Executive Committee of the Bernalillo County Republican Party in 2008. Oddly enough, according to Antoon contributed $200 to the Martin Heinrich campaign while ostensibly promoting Republican candidates in the 2008 election. Our memory may be a little fuzzy here... but we're pretty sure that Heinrich wasn't a Republican and we're damn sure he wasn't the Republican nominee last year.

Antoon's duplicity concerns us. Even though $200 is a piddlin' amount - particularly in a Congressional race - his responsibility while serving on the Bernalillo County Republican Party Executive Board was to support Republican candidates.

The District 5 race and the District 7 race feature either a filed ethics complaint or a threatened ethics complaint. We don't believe that it's a coincidence that Mr. Antoon is involved in both of those races.

Ironically, Antoon had to deal with an ethics complaint against his client two years ago when he represented Councilor Harris. Apparently, he's learned that an ethics complaint generates a fair amount of earned media. Earned media is the name of the game when you're tied to a fixed amount of taxpayer provided money.

All in all, Marty's refusal to attend Mayer's Wednesday forum was a shrewd move. It protected him from uncomfortable questions and from himself, while advancing the campaign of one of his confederates. It looks like The Almighty Alcalde was campaigning Wednesday after all...

----- Another Thought -----
Just like any citizen, Mr. Antoon has the right to support what ever candidate he chooses, in what ever way he chooses. Our criticism is about his choice to support a Democrat in an important race over a well qualified Republican at a time when he held a partisan position in the Republican party.

We would have the same criticism if a member of the Democratic party chose to support a Republican candidate. At issue is the job they volunteered to do and the appearance of giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

Working for either county party carries with it the obligation to support the slate of candidates selected by the party. If nothing else, it looks bad to have an executive committee member supporting a candidate from the other side.

Just this week, Democrats removed Robert Aragon from his position as a ward chairman after he endorsed Republican Jon Barela in next year's 1st Congressional District race. If you hold a partisan position of leadership, expect the troops to be a little put out when you support a high profile member of the other team.

The same goes for elected officials. Everything is partisan at one point or another and a partisan challenger may make an issue out donations that cross the isle. However, elected officials represent constituents from both parties while party executive committee members are elected to serve the members of their own party exclusively.

The whole thing is more than a little annoying. Republicans are not going to have substantive gains in New Mexico until they can figure out what team they're on. We've heard more than one Republican say that they'd support Cadigan over Lewis, or Chavez over Berry. Frankly, we would prefer Lewis and Berry to win. But if Chavez wins, we don't want Lewis to be another councilor in Marty's pocket.

The Almighty Alcalde owes his 12 year occupation of city hall to Republicans. He has masterfully manipulated the Rs on the council and in the public. At this point, all indications are that the man behind the D5 and D7 curtain is no Doug Antoon but Marty Chavez by way of Doug Antoon.

Making Heh

Our Eyes tell us that Sergeant Paul Heh presented the APOA with a formal request for union credit card statements going back to December 2008. There have been a number of rumors of inappropriate use of union funds through APOA issued credit cards and Sergeant Heh seems to be determined to get to the bottom of it.

Back in May we told you about former President Ron Olivas, who allegedly used former APOA Pete Dwyers to purchase transportation for two APD officers accused of felonies in Arkansans as well as buying Calibur's membershis for the everyone (APOA members and non-members) over in SID (read it here and here).

We don't know whether anything will come of the request. After all, the union may decide not to comply. But the request itself is likely to cause APOA President Joey Segalla, Sigala, Sagal a bit of heartburn.

Jul 22, 2009

Mayoral Question and Answer

There's a little mini-mayoral forum going on this evening over at the Sheraton Uptown. Councilor Mayer's "Heart of the Heights" meeting is rumored to feature all three candidates - although since Mayor Chavez hasn't announced... oh yeah, he did. We'll we wouldn't be too sure that the current occupant of the 11th floor will show - particularly since exposure to questions from the public usually is not in an incumbent's best interests. But this could be a good opportunity to meet two of the three candidates in a small venue.

If you've got the time, we'd recommend you turn out. The forum is at the Sheraton Uptown at Menaul and Louisiana, starting at 7pm tonight. Who knows, if Marty shows there could be some real fireworks!

Jul 21, 2009

How the Hell DO You Spell Sagala, Sigala, Segalla?!

An i, an e, two lls, an a... So far we've seen no less than three spellings of the current APOA President's last name on the web, in print, and in The Almighty Alcalde's propaganda emails. The first spelling was of course ours - "Segalla."

As a result, we were feeling all kinds of bad last night for misspelling the APOA top cop's name. Since then, we've received a third spelling of "Sigala" - this one from the Mayor for Life's own campaign site (view it here while it lasts).

Then there's the Albuquerque Journal whose reporters got the name as "Sagala" (view it here - subscription).

Then there's the Mayor's propaganda email that spells it like the Journal - "Sagala."

All of this leaves us wondering... How the Hell DO you spell President Joey's last name?! One would think that Mr. Segalla, Sagala, Sigala would know how to spell his name, yet he does so two different ways in two different missives that come straight from the Chavez campaign. One would also think that the Journal's reporters who were interviewing Mr. Sigala, Segalla, Sagala, would have gotten the name right. So... until we find out for sure how President Joey's name is spelled, we're going to spell it any damn way we want to. Perhaps "H-A-C-K" would work best.

Jul 20, 2009

Shocker!!!! APOA Endorses The Almighty Alcalde!!!

Yeah... we know. You're still catching your breath after this startling turn of events. The public consummation of APOA President Joey Sagala's back room deal with the devil took place today a little before noon. 770's Peter St. Cyr has some pretty good coverage over on his blog (read/hear it here) complete with interviews from both R.J. Berry and Richard Romero.

We've told you how Sagala fixed this thing from the very beginning (read it here). Mayoral interviews were held in January when the only announced candidate was Michael Cadigan. Our Eyes tell us the APOA Political Hack-tion Committe run by Sagala only extended an invitation to one of the current candidates who spent all his time talking about being "green." Just guess who that candidate was.

One would think that if Marty were really concerned about public safety, he'd take the opportunity to talk about, ohh we don't know... public safety to those whose job it is to keep the public safe. Instead, the mayor for life talked about recycling. We sure feel safer.

Look these endorsements don't mean anything when they're the result of strong-arm tactics and back room deals. Only time will tell what deal Joey cut and whether it will help Marty win. But the APOA ought to start considering who's representing them and whether or not they really do represent them.

----- Correction -----
One of our Eyes just sent us one of The Almighty Alcalde's press releases touting the above back room deal. We immediately noticed that we had been misspelling APOA President Sagala's last name. We want to apologize to Officer Sagala and any other Joey Segallas out there for our mistake. It's been corrected above and we'll work to correct it in our other posts.

Jul 19, 2009

Common Sense & Healthcare

We've been watching with a fair amount of alarm as Obamacare works its way through the House and Senate. The mantra from Democrats is that since something needs to be done we should get the government to do it.

To be fair, these guys have been campaigning on government run healthcare since 2006. So their rush to ram their socialized "public" insurance scheme down the public's collective throat is predictable if not understandable. Unfortunately, none of the Democrat's claims square with reality.

You don't even have to be an economist to understand that a government run program will be hugely expensive and fraught with waste and corruption. When has government done anything more cost-effectively than the private sector?

Government isn't subject to the harsh realities of the market place so it's insulated from the consequences of failure. To make matters worse, spending every last budgetary dime is encouraged. If governmental departments fail to spend their share of our tax loot, chances are they won't receive as much for next year. In other words, they are punished for their good behavior.

Supporters of the Public Option Insurance Co. love to claim that administrative costs for Medicare recipients are less than for the privately insured. They often quote the talking point that Medicare administrative costs are 2% of the total payout while private insurance administrative costs are in the 20% to 25% range.

Besides being absolutely counter-intuitive, the comparison is of the administrative costs as a percentage of the overall payout. Medicare's population is generally older and in poorer health than their privately insured counterparts. As a result, Medicare recipients generally cost (pay out) more per person than the privately insured.

Someone who's insured, healthy, and never sees a doctor has an administrative cost of 100% in the model used by supporters of Obamacare. In other words, all of the money paid out by the insurance company goes to administrative costs. If it costs $100 per person per year for an insurer to administer this person's health insurance, then the cost as a percentage of the amount paid out ($100) is 100%.

On the other hand, someone in the late stages of their life, who has multiple serious medical issues costs the insurer (in this case Medicare) thousands and thousands of dollars per patient making administrative costs seem low as a percentage of the total amount paid out for that patient. If in this case, the cost of administering the insurance is $100, but the amount paid out for medical care is $5,000, then the cost as a percentage of the amount paid out ($5,000) is 2%.

In reality, the cost for administering a privately insured person is about $453, while the administrative cost for a Medicare patient is about $509 (read it here). Medicare administrative costs are an average of 12% per person higher than private insurance. Now that makes sense.

A lot of folks complain about their health insurance. If you've ever had to make a claim due to some kind of illness, chances are you've run into a buzz saw of rules, regulations, and bureaucracy. Most of the time these experiences are pretty bad at a time when you're not exactly at your best. You might even develop a bit of animosity towards corporate America.

We think it's fair to say that many liberals (there's nothing progressive about self-labeled "progressives") both dislike and distrust corporations in general and health insurance companies in particular. However, it's nonsensical to believe that getting money for care out of the largest "corporation" in the world - the United States government - would be easier than getting care from one of the 1,000 plus private insurance companies.

When exposed to the market, bad insurance companies ultimately fail while a government insurance company has the closest thing to eternal life. Regardless of care, regardless of performance and in stark contrast to those it serves a "public option" government run and funded health care "option" would be almost impossible to challenge.

The 536 and a half board members of Public Option Insurance Co. not only run their insurance scheme, but have the ability to set the rules of engagement with their private sector competitors.
We say 536 and half because you have 435 members of the House of Representatives, 100 members of the U.S. Senate, President Obama, and Joe Biden. The Vice President only gets to vote when there's a tie in the Senate and if you've spent any time listening to Gaffster-in-Chief, you understand the half part. Perhaps they should consider keeping Biden in an undisclosed location? We're just sayin'...
[End Sidebar]
Common sense tells you that the referee shouldn't be a member of one of the competing teams. Although New Mexico's recent history seems replete with examples of competitors slipping the ref a few bucks for favorable calls... but we digress.

One of the issues that repeatedly pops up is - how are we going to pay for this intrusive and massive government program? Estimates put the various "public option" programs at anywhere from $1 TRILLION to $1.6 TRILLION of borrowed money. Democrats have numerous schemes designed to pay for the Public Insurance Co. that they claim will be "revenue neutral." However, none of them seem to be able to point to a TRILLION DOLLARS worth of savings anywhere and the dirty not so little, not so secret reality is that they will be raising taxes on big business and small business to pay for it.

Remember, when business costs rise (and taxation is a cost of doing business), they either charge more for their products and/or services or they stop providing their good and/or services. It's really pretty simple. Would you pay your employer to work for them?

If a business can absorb the new costs artificially imposed by government, they'll do it by charging more and lowering other expenses. That means they'll be trying to charge more and letting people go in order to protect their interests. Businesses cannot and will not pay you to provide their goods and/or services to you - which means you will pay their costs and taxes or they will close their doors.

The most vulnerable businesses are small businesses. Small businesses provide most of the jobs in this country. They also tend to fall into Obama's definition of "rich people" because they tend to be sole proprietorships, LLCs, or subchapter S corporations.

In Albuquerque, restaurants are a visible example of small businesses that cannot survive Obama's chopping block. They employ thousands of often relatively unskilled, somewhat itinerant workers and generally do not have the margins to allow their operators to provide healthcare.

If Obamacare with its "public option," penalties, and taxes, becomes the law of the land, many of these restaurants will not be able to keep their doors open. And it will be the local operators that will be affected first and worst. One local operator recently told us that should Obamacare pass, they will close all of their locations.

Obamacare will provide "public option insurance" to a bunch of people who because of Obamacare can't afford food or shelter. It doesn't take a genius to see that Obamacare will create an exponential downward spiral as small businesses shut down and government revenue drops across the board.

This doomsday scenario is not as far fetched as you think. The current economic crisis coupled with the borrowing and spending of Obamanomics has already stressed our economy to the breaking point. Common sense indicates that a massive spending program like Obamacare could easily send us over the edge into the economic abyss.

Alarmingly, the Gaffster-in-Chief and the Obama Administration as a whole don't seem to understand what they've done in a few short months and what could be the result of their actions.
“Now, people when I say that look at me and say, ‘What are you talking about, Joe? You’re telling me we have to go spend money to keep from going bankrupt?’” Biden said. “The answer is yes, that's what I’m telling you.”
The debate over healthcare has been astonishingly devoid of common sense. We currently have a system that isn't perfect but still manages to provide the best care and by far the greatest number of medical innovations in the world. Why we would throw the baby out with the bath water in order to insure a group of people who are already assured care is beyond belief.

Most tellingly, the very people (like Senator Jeff Bingaman) who are the most enamored with Obamacare want nothing to do with it when it comes to their personal healthcare. Every amendment that forces Congress to be the first enrollees of the Public Option Insurance Co. is faced with fierce opposition from the very people who would like the rest of us to end up on its rolls.

All of this leaves us with one very practical, common sense question... If it won't save money, we can't afford it, will end competition, and even the politicians who want this for us don't want it, why should we?

Jul 17, 2009

Term Limits

We were wondering when term limits would become an issue in the race for mayor. We've long argued that term limits for the executive branch are not only advisable but necessary. Last year, the Almighty Alcalde challenged himself in court in order to overturn his term limit (read our take here). Now we're being subjected to a potential 4th term and it looks like Chavez has a FDR like retirement in mind.

If you ask us, this is the issue in the mayor's race. Do we really want a 4th helping of the Almighty Alcalde or any mayor for that matter? Chavez is gathering power to himself on a scale reminiscent of that other Chavez named Hugo.

----- Correction -----
When we wrote this post we forgot to go back and add a link to our original post on The Almighty Alcalde's term limits victory. Thanks to an astute Eye reader it has been corrected above or you can just click here.

----- Another Thought -----
In the above KOB story, Stewart Dyson indicates that Marty took his term limit challenge to the New Mexico Supremes. There's no indication that The Alcalde's challenge ever went beyond District Court. In fact, the council term limits challenge never went beyond the Appellate level.
Term limits for city councilors were struck down following a 1995 challenge by former councilors Vince Griego, Alan Armijo, Steve Gallegos and Marion Cottrell. That case was decided by the New Mexico Court of Appeals. The state Supreme Court declined to review the ruling.
It looks to us as if a new mayor (we know the current mayor can't seem to get another job) would be able to appeal Judge Vanzi's ruling in order to reinstate term limits for the city's executive branch. It's a torch that one of the challengers can and should pick up.

Brasher Withdraws

The wait is over for District 9 Councilor Don Harris. The former councilor and current county commissioner Michael Brasher, has officially withdrawn from the district 9 race. In an email sent to your humble Eye, the commissioner states his intention to stay in his current position (read it here). Brasher's letter doesn't give a reason for his withdrawal only an indication that he would like to serve in the future.
July 16, 2009

Ladies and Gentlemen:

I have decided to remain in my position as Bernalillo County Commissioner for District 5, ending in December 2010. Accordingly, I will not be a candidate for the office of City Councilor for District 9 this fall. I look forward to running for another public office in the future after completing my service on the Bernalillo County Commission.

As always, I would like to take this opportunity to give my sincerest thanks to so many of you for your support of me.

Very truly yours,
Michael Brasher
Brasher's exit leaves incumbent Republican Don Harris facing Democrat David Barbour in the "non-partisan" race. We're sure that Councilor Harris welcomes today's development as it removes a formidable barrier to his re-election.

While the move may seem somewhat shocking, there have been indications that the commissioner might decide not to run for his old seat on the council for some time. First of all, Brasher never formally announced his intention to run. It's true that he had collected enough signatures to qualify him for a ballot position but, at some point a candidate has to step up and tell the public that they're really in the race.

More importantly, our Eyes tell us that a member of the commissioner's family is having some health problems and that he feels this just isn't the right time to be out campaigning.

It looks like the District 9 race has become a whole lot less interesting. A competitive race has become Don Harris' to lose - which could happen, but is highly unlikely. Unless Councilor Harris does something to shoot himself in the, uh... campaign, he'll be taking his second oath of office this December.

Jul 13, 2009

Livin' the Dream - Paid to Not Work

Back in January we told you about the impact that the downturn in the economy has had on the city's building inspectors. Actually, the inspectors were probably not complaining as they were being paid to not work (read it here).

Apparently city pay for nothing has spread to the Human Resources Department. KOAT-TV is promoting a Wednesday story by Target 7's Melissa Vega on "City Workers Getting Paid for Doing Nothing." It's pretty obvious that with the economic downturn and the utter failure of Obamanamics, departments that thrive during a healthy economy would see a drastic reduction in work.

Unfortunately, our Eyes tell us that pay for nothing has spread to the specialized units of the Albuquerque Police Department. It seems that a number of these units have begun a practice of having early briefings, going home for a few hours, and then returning to work the remainder of their shift. In some cases, they'll even clock over-time when their jobs take them into the wee hours of the morning.

We can almost understand why HR personnel and building inspectors are left with nothing to do. When there's no work to do, there's no work to do. That doesn't mean that we should pay for workers to do nothing. In fact, the practice is a colossal waste of taxpayer money.

However, there is no excuse for officers in these specialized units to be riding and hiding especially during challenging economic times. Shifts for APD's specialized units need to coincide with the times when they are expected to be needed. Briefings should take place immediately before the rush hours and should we all be lucky enough that they're left with nothing to do - they should make themselves available to take calls for service. After all, these are sworn officers being paid to do a job we shouldn't be paying them not to work.

Jul 9, 2009

AFSCME Endorsement Furor Eerily Familiar

The New Mexico Independent has been doing some pretty good reporting on the controversy brewing in halls of AFSCME Local 624. For the first time the union that represents the city's blue collar workers has endorsed The Almighty Alcalde.

Historically the union has shunned mayor-for-life Chavez in favor of shall we say... more liberal candidates like former councilor and mayoral candidate Eric Griego. But something changed this year when the Local 624's parent union AFSCME Council 18 endorsed non-candidate Chavez - who didn't bother attending their mayoral forum - back in May.
It appears the blue collar workers want their voices to be heard on the question of who they think should be mayor.

So the blue-collar workers are going to poll the workers and then release the results to see who they truly think should be running the city.

Every time I hear about the AFSCME endorsement of Chavez, I remember back to the mayoral candidates forum where Chavez sent a representative instead [of] appearing himself.
It all came to a head last Thursday when two union leaders apparently came to blows (or blow) and APD was called.
According to Sanchez, the union needed 10 percent of its members to vote last Thursday in order to make the vote a legitimate representation of the membership. Ultimately, 91 members voted out of a total of 850 members.

Things got heated, Sanchez alleged, when the local’s president, Steve Griego, tried to impede the effort by calling members and telling them the voting would be over by 3 p.m.
After the vote was completed and the police reports filed, 100 or so members of Local 624 had cast their votes. Wednesday night those votes were to be counted, but union President Steven Griego shut it down.
“It’s gotten out of hand,” Griego said, referring to his fellow union members. Some of those members shouted angrily at Griego as he walked out of a large conference room without acknowledging their taunts.
- New Mexico Independent

The vote wouldn’t have amounted to an official endorsement, or lack thereof, by Local 624, but it would have allowed members to express themselves on the mayor’s race.

“I said let’s get the members, let them have a voice,” said local 624 treasurer Lawrence Mora.

“It’s our local. They’re shanghai-ing this thing,” Jake Romero, another member, said referring to Council 18.
The endorsement furor reminded us of the "fix is in" attitude over at the APOA. Our Eyes tell us that APOA President Joey Sagala has decreed that His Almightiness "will receive" the union's endorsement.

Like AFSCME, endorsements at the APOA are generally determined by a political action committee. The sizesof these committees vary, but the general membership has no input on the final say so.

The APOA political action committee has traditionally held interviews with candidates to determine which candidate will receive their endorsement. And this year was no different... except that the interviews were held back in January when there was but one announced candidate - Michael Cadigan.

According to our Eyes the only candidate interviewed that is still in (or not yet in) the race is one Martin Chavez. Apparently, union President Sagala told committee members that he would send out candidate questionnaires, but to date no one has seen the questions or the answers.

More importantly, the endorsement vote was held in the union offices with but a few hours notification. Even committee members don't know who was present, how many voted and for whom even though the vote was supposedly "unanimous." But it seems that having a fair and accurate vote is less important to current President Sagala and Past-President Olivas than making sure that the endorsement goes to Marty.
We've been hearing allegations for years that the path for a police officer without rank to a comfortable position with the city is through the APOA presidency. Consider Lawrence Torres who used to negotiate contracts for the union, now negotiates on behalf of the city or Ron Olivas receiving a "cush" job over at SID.

It's too bad that term limits have been ruled unconstitutional. The longer an executive sits in office the more power they garner to themselves and the more self-seeking and unscrupulous people try to curry favor.
[End Sidebar]
Looks like a couple of union votes have been shanghaied so far and our Eyes tell a tale of similar happenings over at the Albuquerque Fire Department where they've endorsed un-candidate Chavez, yet many of the rank and file are reportedly supporting Berry.

So... when you see the smiling faces of the APOA's Joey Sagala, Albuquerque Area Fire Fighters' Diego Arencon, or AFSCME's Steven Griego, understand that even in the best of times their union endorsements don't represent the opinions of all of their members. In this case, in this election year, it seems as if the fix is in and the endorsements they present to the public are nothing more than the result of a rigged process designed to favor a mayor that would be king.

----- Correction -----
We originally spelled APOA President Joey Sagala's last name "Segalla." The error has been corrected above.

Jul 8, 2009

A COG in the Government Works

The Mid-Region Council of Governments... a quasi governmental agency made up of indirectly elected officials. The members are actually elected officials from regional governments like the City of Albuquerque, The Village of Los Ranchos, Bernalillo County, etc.

MRCOG was the brain child of the New Mexico Legislature and its "intent" was to create a body where regional governmental agencies could meet and create a coordinated policy for things like transportation.

The concept sounds good, but in practice MRCOG and other quasi governmental agencies simply serve to provide cover for elected officials. In fact, it's not unusual for the appointed members representing to send alternates rather than attend themselves even when they're deciding to spend $350 MILLION in "stimulus" money.

A week ago, we talked about the "common sense" that broke out over at MRCOG when the body's Metropolitan Transportation Board (MTB) decided that fixing the I-25/Paseo Del Norte interchange was important enough to make it a priority for Obama's borrowed money (read it here).

The post started a bit of a brouhaha in the comment section about which governments sent representatives and which of their elected officials felt that spending $350 MILLION wasn't worth their time.

We got our Eyes on a copy of the MTB Action Summary from the June 25th meeting. We found that indeed the three members from the Bernalillo County Commission (Commissioners Armijo, De La Cruz, and Wiener) were not present and didn't feel that $350 MILLION was worth sending even an alternate.

The City of Albuquerque was well represented with Councilors Cadigan, O'Malley (Chair), and Benton attending personally. Councilor Sanchez sent Tom Menicucci, and Councilor Harris sent his policy analyst Isaac Padilla.

We won't bore you with the rest of the guest list but suffice it to say that even with the alternates they just barely had a quorum (read the action report here).

Attendance is just one of the problems. MRCOG is just one branch of a bureaucratic canopy that gives cover to the politicians below. They decide how to spend hundreds of MILLIONS of taxpayer dollars in virtual darkness with little or no public comment and with little public scrutiny except for a press release, a post on their website, and a short story in the Journal - all talking about the wonderful job MRCOG is doing spending our money.

Another little issue is one of representation. Sure the members of MRCOG are elected officials, but not every taxpayer has one of their representatives on the committees that are making decisions that cost each of us and in this case... our children.

Last we checked we fought a war about taxation without representation. Of course, that was 233 years ago since that time governments and politicians have gotten a whole lot more creative when it comes to taxing us and hiding their involvement.

Unfortunately, there are far too many cogs in this governmental wheel - all of them working together to reduce the accountability of our elected officials.

------ Another Thought -----
Our contention is that these quasi governmental agencies largely fly "under the radar" and receive little public scrutiny. One indication of just how little the public pays attention to cogs like MRCOG is that in the two meetings that we have action summaries for, there wasn't a single member of the public who made a single statement... not even Geraldine Amato.

Ms. Amato - the Queen of Public Comment - spends most of her time at city hall extolling the dangers of "international banking conspiracies" to the City Council and their County Commission counterparts. If you've ever attended a meeting of either body, you know who she is.

The fact that not even Ms. Amato speaks out at MRCOG meetings shows just how hidden the body's activities are. Of course, now that we've pointed it out meetings at MRCOG may be getting considerably longer.

Jul 6, 2009

Abating the Abaters

The City of Albuquerque has an aggressive policy designed to get rid of substandard properties and unruly businesses. The idea is to use city resources and departments to basically harass a business or property owner until they either clean up their act, close their doors, or sell the property. The city's nuisance abatement team is a combination of code inspectors and law enforcement working together to become a nuisance to the nuisance purveyors headed by Chief Public Safety Officer Pete Dinelli.

Back in April, the Journal reported that three detectives and two inspectors had been suspended for passing around a "distasteful montage of pictures." We know what immediately springs to mind - a bunch of photos ala Abu Grab.
"We are taking extremely aggressive action," said Albuquerque Chief Public Safety Officer Pete Dinelli, who directly oversees the Safe City Strike Force. "The alleged conduct was inappropriate and unprofessional, but in no way was it criminal."

Police officials said Dinelli was informed about the montage of pictures after a meeting Tuesday. Police officials would not discuss specifically what was in the photographs.
The short story didn't really come to our attention until just recently when a different version of events reached us through our Eyes. Apparently, the Safe City Strike Force had a meeting back in April where the leader of the group Pete Dinelli instructed officers to obtain search warrants in every situation where they were conducting searches of "nuisance" properties.

That sounds right. Everyone who's ever watched a cop show knows that the police need a warrant to search a private property - unless of course the officers are invited in by someone who has the authority to allow a search - someone like a tenant.

In fact, the unit has always obtained search warrants in any case where they had not been allowed to search the premises by a party who had the authority to do so. In cases where an authorized party allowed a search, officers carried a form and only performed a search after obtaining the signature of an authorized party.

According to our Eyes, Dinelli wanted the unit to put the kibosh on the authorized but non-search warrant searches because it's an election year. Apparently, the Chief Public Safety Officer didn't have a problem with the searches until his boss' (and his) job is on the line.

Our Eyes tell us that the photo montage suspensions are just an excuse to let the officers know that they're to tow the line. More importantly, the Eyes have it that Dinelli knew about the photos which were of a card placed in a strategic location after a successful abatement.

Look, the whole nuisance abatement concept bothers us for many reasons - the most important of which is that it's far too easy for a unit designed to clean up crack houses and prosecute slum lords to be used to harass law abiding property owners. It can also be used to steal MILLIONS of dollars from motorists through red light scam-eras... but we digress.

If we're going to have a nuisance abatement unit, it better have strict procedures and be monitored closely for potential abuse. That being said, the process should not be determined by the calendar. More specifically, it should not be determined by whether or not The Almighty Alcalde is up for re-election (to his 4th term).

If the unit is operating effectively, within the law, and not being used to harass, bully, or blackmail property owners then its operation should not change simply because the boss is up for re-election. Abating the abaters for political purposes is an abuse of the system and just as wrong as misusing the city's nuisance abatement process to harass an innocent property owner.

Jul 3, 2009


233 years ago a group of farmers, lawyers, plantation owners, doctors, and businessmen risked their fortunes and their lives in order to dissolve the ties that bound them to a tyrant. Theirs was a quest for freedom - for liberty - and it started with a declaration of their independence.
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them...
These men well understood what independence was. They knew that they were facing one of the world's superpowers both on land and at sea. While they had hopes of forging alliances, there were no guarantees, no one to save them should they falter nothing but their own resolve and courage.
The state or quality of being independent; freedom from dependence; exemption from reliance on, or control by, others; self-subsistence or maintenance; direction of one's own affairs without interference.
These brave souls were renouncing a secure future in favor of freedom. They found freedom more appealing than tyranny and freedom cannot exist without independence.

It's not surprising really. People that came to the American Colonies at the time were independent by nature. They chose to leave the "civilized" countries of Europe, to risk it all in a land that was largely unexplored and under populated. A land where simple survival was often a daunting task. A land ill-suited to the faint of heart, but a land whose distance from Europe made it largely possible for one to chose their own destiny.

That was until the Old World started to exert its authority over the New in order to control its wealth. The colonials of the time got little from the English government, yet much was taken. For that reason and many others they severed their ties to a government and king who were becoming more and more tyrannical.

Ultimately, the English colonies in America won their freedom and formed the United States of America. Since that time, our spirit of self-reliance and our collective determination to succeed has made us the greatest nation in history. But it all started with independence from Great Britain.

Independence. Independence is more than simple freedom. It's the freedom to chose, freedom to succeed, and freedom to fail all wrapped up in one word. It means that you're responsible for every choice, every mistake, every victory.

Independence is the bedrock upon which our country was built and it is fitting that its declaration was the first step toward a new country built upon that very principle.

Unfortunately, independence itself is under assault. Its opponents would create a system of laws purported to achieve some elusive yet admirable goal - the effect of which is to create dependence on an outside party.

Whether it's global warming (or the absurd and cynical label of "climate change"), or health care, or the economy, the solutions proposed by the enemies of independence always create dependence on government. Dependence destroys freedom as no one can be truly free when they are dependent upon another.

There's little doubt that we live in a great country. But we wonder how long our freedoms will endure when dependence is not only being encouraged but forced upon the public. Independence built this country. Its demise will surely be its downfall.

This Independence Day, consider those things that you depend on and whether or not you have a choice. If you cannot chose to be independent you are not truly free.

Jul 1, 2009

Common Sense Breaks Out at MRCOG

While Marty pines away for his personal choo-choo, it looks like common sense has broken out over at the Mid-Region Council of Governments (MRCOG). The Albuquerque Journal (subscription) is reporting that the group's Metropolitan Transportation Board has directed MRCOG to apply for a federal TIGER grant - a part of the stimulus bill passed by Obama's Congress - to pay for the $350 MILLION interchange.
It is also about fixing a "failing intersection" that connects the east and west sides of the metro area and sits in the middle of a major job center.

About 170,000 vehicles a day pass through the I-25/Paseo del Norte interchange, and "there are 6,000 jobs that are accessed daily from this intersection," according to MRCOG.
Amazingly, the state DOT supports the move. So do we. After all, 170,000 vehicles a day, 200,000 plus people per day, and 6,000 jobs make the interchange an integral part of the city's infrastructure.

When you compare the interchange renovation ($350 MILLION) to Marty's trolley ($240 to $300 MILLION) to the Rail Runner ($450 MILLION) and the number of people and jobs this interchange serves daily, the Paseo/I-25 project just makes sense. That's why it will never, ever happen.

The Obama administration and his bobble-heads in Congress are dead set against anything that emits carbon. 170,000 vehicles burn a lot of gas and emit a lot of carbon. Plus, it's the type of "stimulus" that creates an immediately useful, tangible, object that has a relatively small long-term fiscal impact on local budgets. Again, it makes too much sense.

Look, we believe it's fundamentally wrong to use borrowed money to "stimulate" the economy which is made up of people who ultimately have to repay that money. But if Obama and Company are going are dead set on wasting borrowed money, at least let it go to something that is eminently useful and won't create huge future demands on local taxpayers.

For now, we'll hold on to the good feeling that there seems to be some common sense breaking out somewhere in government and forget about the fact that it follows incredible stupidity.