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 30, 2010

Who is the “God Father”? Does he have KRQE and KOAT Sleeping with the Fish?

The Eye is wondering if we have our own “Don Corleone” in City Hall. This is the story KRQE News 13 said didn't exist. Surprise! We have it! Unfortunately for them (and Darren White and his Taco Bell visiting right hand man, T.J. Wilham), The Eye found what this group of "dedicated news professionals" wanted to sweep under the carpet. The Eye has the story KRQE posted on their website before someone at the station decided the public it serves deserves to know about and pulled it. KOAT News 7 also posted a similar story before removing it. What is known is, KRQE reporter Katie Kim posted this story on-line at 4:09 pm. Then it was taken down shortly after going up and its very existence denied by station. Why? Why post a news story regarding an FBI investigate that involves the city's Chief Public Safety Officer and his wife; then pull it down in a matter of hours? Why deny its existence? If there was a legitimate reason for taking it off their website why not say so? Why engage in behavior that makes it look like a cover-up?

Here are other questions worth asking KRQE News 13 and KOAT News 7:

Did the fact that Darren White worked as a reporter at KRQE and still has friends there influence the station's decision to hide their own news story?

Would KRQE editor Paul Burt's repeated statements that he "would walk through fire for Darren White" indicate bias or lack of objectivity when it came to covering White or his current wife negatively?

Would the fact that mayoral spokesperson Chris Ramirez worked at KOAT News 7 as the City Hall reporter and also maintains relationships with his former employer have played a role in KOAT's decision to pull their own story?

Could former police beat reporter T.J. Wilham's friendships and personal contacts at the Albuquerque Journal be part of the reason the newspaper hasn't written a single word about the Ahrensfield defense motion or about Wilham's brand new city vehicle?

How incestuous is Albuquerque? (and we haven't begun to mention former KRQE anchor Erika Ruiz's role in all this)

Did Darren White, Chris Ramirez, T.J. Wilham or any other member of the Berry Administration contact personnel at either of these stations and demand that the news stories be pulled?

Is it news that when he was first asked who tipped him off that he was being investigated for selling drugs and other criminal activity that Shawn Bryan said it was Kathy McConnell, aka Darren White's then girlfriend/current wife?

Is it news that the FBI interviewed the current Mrs. White because she may have been texting information about the criminal investigation to Erika Ruiz, aka Mrs. Shawn Bryan?

If information was being exchanged between Mrs. White and Mrs. Bryan, where did that information come from?

How close was Darren White truly with Shawn Bryan before testifying that he barely knew him?

You can contact your KRQE News 13 here:

KOAT News 7 here:

Finally, who is the “Don Corleone” who is responsible for shutting down this news story? Were they made an offer that they couldn’t refuse? Or is it just some “Dirty Bird”? It might be a good idea for our local media to step out of the cooler and leave the fish alone; if this is what has transpired. Otherwise; something simply smells fishy.

Here is the story as it appears on the KRQE website:

Convicted ex-cop files motion to dismiss
Ahrensfield defense says key evidence left out

Updated: Monday, 20 Dec 2010, 4:09 PM MST
Published : Monday, 20 Dec 2010, 4:09 PM MST

• Reporter: Katie Kim
ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - A jury found former Albuquerque Police officer Brad Ahrensfield guilty of obstructing justice last week for tipping off a friend who was the target of a criminal investigation. But on Monday, his defense filed a motion to dismiss, arguing the government violated rules by not disclosing key evidence.

According to the defense, the evidence in question is at least one government-conducted interview with the business owner at the center of the investigation. The interview was taped in April after the first trial ended with a deadlocked jury.

Ahrensfield was still an APD officer when he told a friend last year that investigators suspected drugs and stolen goods were being peddled out of his business.

Ahrensfield always insisted he didn't tell his friend he was the one being investigated. The defense claims when the FBI interviewed the friend, he said it was then-Sheriff Darren White's girlfriend who tipped him off that he was the subject of the investigation.

According to the defense, it didn't know this interview was conducted until last week.
A federal judge said he needs transcripts of that recorded interview and the entire trial to make a decision. Ahrensfield's attorney told News 13 it will likely take one to two months before the judge decides on the motion to dismiss.

If the judge upholds the guilty conviction, Ahrensfield faces up to 20 years in prison.


Dec 28, 2010

Presenting: His Majesty and a Flawed Policy

For many years, police officers with the Albuquerque Police Department have been allowed take home vehicles. The “Take Home” policy is a benefit to the officer(s) and to the citizen(s) of our great City. The moment a police officer gets in his/her squad car; they are considered on duty. Here is the benefit; the officer gets to use the vehicle and the citizen gets the service of an officer without the officer being paid on the clock, while they are utilizing the vehicle. Officers are bound to stop for in progress crimes, traffic hazards, etc… Many times, police officers have been flagged down to take various actions simply because they were driving a police car. Officers understand and accept this, as it is part of the policy. Obviously, if they are already on duty, this is not anything above or beyond the call of duty. The presence of a police car provides a certain sense of security. In law enforcement it is referred to as an “Omni Presence.” The Mayor and his administration (in their infantile stage of an administration) believe that days of take home vehicles are over. Well, over for many, but not for all. Any police officer residing outside of city limits (within 11 miles of the Big I) can no longer use their take home vehicle. The exception to this movement is; if you’re a crony of his “Majesty” or part of the administration you are exempt and are bestowed this privilege.

What does this mean for those affected? They are forced to drive to work in their personal vehicles. Which may not seem like a big deal but it is more complex than it appears. Driving personal vehicles is a huge officer safety issue. There are people that have a disdain and hatred for police officers, and will do anything to get an officer in a position of disadvantage. Just ask those who have dealt with COPWATCH. Out of the six area commands, there is only one that provides a secure place for officers to park their personal vehicles. In the spirit of officer safety, the best action for the officer is to drive to his/her police substation and change into his or her uniform. None of the area commands have enough secured lockers or facilities for these officers to achieve this goal. In some of the substations, the plumbing barely works.

What about the civilians who are allowed to keep their take home cars and provide absolutely no benefit to the citizens? If the take home car policy was changed, solely for budget issues, why are civilians (none sworn employees) allowed to have take home vehicles? For instance, the police fleet manager has a take home car. He is not on call and does not respond during off duty hours. He has a desk job and keeps track of all city owned vehicles. TJ Wilham (who prided himself in bashing the City and the police while working for the local news paper) has a take home car. Now he is triumphant of the actions of the City and the police. The question is; for what reason, no one would give us a clear justification. The Mayor has two take home cars. Why? Many of Berry’s administrators have take home cars. Why? The Prisoner Transport Center supervisors have FULLY marked (lights, sirens, radio equipped) take home cars. Why? Darren White and TJ Wilham have been observed responding to incidents running code (full lights and sirens initiated and going through all intersections) in their take home cars. Why? Neither one is a fully sworn member of the Police Department. Only police officer may run full police equipment while responding to an emergency. If we are truly in a budget crunch, the Mayor needs to clean his closest before he starts cleaning someone else’s. This hypocrisy must stop and produce the product that was promised to the citizens by Mayor Berry.

Just this week, Chief Schultz was seen driving his City car with family, like personnel aboard. Although the citizens are appreciative that he followed traffic laws (turn signals and seat belts), why is he allowed to bend the rules? For those inquisitive minds, our Chief was eastbound on I-40 and exited at San Mateo, at approximately 11:00 A.M. One of our eyes sent us this information and a few photos. TJ Wilham was seen shopping at Walgreens and going for a bite in his take home vehicle, even though it is doubtful that this was part of his official duties. The photos we have does not show any crime tape or the mobile crime van. Maybe he was grabbing a quick snack for Mr. White or for the Mayor.

If the City Council is truly worried about the budget, they need to start at the top, and work their way down. Why is the City Council allowing the targeting of the police officers? Mayor Berry, Darren White, TJ Wilham, and others are certainly taking advantage of their positions and by proxy taking advantage of the City. The City Council definitely needs to do their homework. Our citizens elected them to be their voice; it’s time for the Council to voice the will of their constituents.

Although,the Eye is not a financial wizard and does not claim to be, here is one thought; pull the City vehicles from the administrators and City employees who do not need them. If by some “fluke” they are forced out to a scene, pay their per diem following the federal guideline. We all know that each entity within the City already has a chain of command on-call roaster that should be used. This alone could save a great deal.

The Eye has attached a few photos for your amusement only. Although the Eye is not the jester for his Majesty Like others appear to be; nevertheless this is entertaining.

Dec 24, 2010

Is There a Dirty Bird Involved?

The Eye came and conquered. For the majority, those who should be gone from City Hall were sent packing. The thought that Richard Berry was too good to be true did in fact become true. In the spirit of the Holidays, it was decided to give you an early Christmas present. THE EYE IS BACK! The Eye is in full force, stronger than ever, and the Eye is on it's next conquest... the errors that exist in the Berry administration! Sitting at the table, so many stories to give you, but the Eye’s welcome back story could be no other than what is going on with former Albuquerque Police Officer Brad Ahrensfield. For those of you who have no idea about the current events, let the Eye bring you up to date.

Brad Ahrensfield was a veteran police officer, serving many facets of APD including SWAT, Academy Training, and Field Services. Our Eyes tell us that Officer Ahrensfield is truly liked and admired throughout APD and that admiration still continues today. So what went wrong? Officer Ahrensfield was indicted for obstructing a federal investigation. The feds claimed Ahrensfield tipped off the owner of a car shop which they were investigating for various crimes, including drug activity. The perplexing question is, “Was it a coincidence that the car shop that provided services to APD and BCSO was led by Sheriff Darren White?” Officer Ahrensfield has always proclaimed his innocence but earlier this month; a jury found Ahrensfield guilty of obstruction of justice, and Ahrensfield took the hit for the feds allegations.

This is where it appears that the plot thickens. Two days after the conviction, our Eyes tell us that both KOAT and KRQE printed a story on their websites stating that Brad Ahrensfield’s attorneys had filed an appeal to overturn the conviction. The appeal, according to both news outlets, was based on the fact that key evidence was not given to Ahrensfield’s attorney; evidence that could provide reasonable doubt. Thus, allowing Ahrensfield to clear his name. Both stories stated that the whistleblower was “Darren White’s girlfriend.” Our Eyes could not believe what they read, how would Darren’s “girlfriend” have any information on any ongoing federal investigation? Less than an hour after being released, the stories were pulled from the websites, nothing left, not a trace. When the Eye went back to the hyperlink that had originally led us to the story on KRQE, this is what we were met with:

“Sorry, the page you requested was not found.

‘Please check the URL for mistakes. You can also try using the site navigation or search tool to find your content.’”

Click here to go to the home page.

Our Eyes called both news stations who adamantly denied any retraction(s). The Eye knew differently and observed it with its’ OWN EYES. The Eye is still searching for answers and will not stop until they are found.

The Eye has obtained the Motion to Dismiss filed by Ahrensfield’s attorney and the Eye is providing it to you. The Eye would take time and explain the Motion, but as you read it you will quickly discover it speaks for itself, no translation necessary. If these accusations against White’s girlfriend (now wife) are true, what will transpire out of this Motion? There are many questions to be asked, with little answers. Is this why White married Kathleen McConnell? After all, now she is White’s wife and does not have to testify against her husband. Does anyone find this odd or strange? This is a time when stellar leaders must step up to the plate and do what is right. Mayor Berry, do you see the issue here? To our new, incoming Honorable Governor, Suzanna Martinez; as a prosecutor do you see an issue here? We ask that our leaders do what is right and act accordingly.

Since the Eye enjoys spice; there is an e-mail included after the motion that was sent to Mayor Berry and other leaders. This citizen is concerned as the Eye is and hits the highpoint. Folks, it’s not just the Eye who wants to know; it’s the citizenry.

Enjoy your reading, Enjoy your Holidays, and most of all please know that the Eye will always seek out the truth!



... )
Plaintiff, )
v. ) 09-CR-3457
Defendant. )


Defendant Brad Ahrensfield, by and through his counsel of record, Bowles and Crow, hereby submits his supplemental brief in support of his motion to dismiss, and prays that this Honorable Court dismiss the indictment in this matter with prejudice, stating as follows:


As this Court is aware, on Tuesday, December 14, 2010, day two of the trial, the government disclosed for the first time a transcript of a recorded interview of the key witness in its case in chief. That interview took place back on April 27, 2010. On December 15, 2010, Mr. Ahrensfield filed his motion to dismiss based on a clear Brady violation, which included excerpts from the transcript of interview. The Court heard testimony on the motion to dismiss. That same day, on December 15, 2010, which was day three into the trial, the government disclosed for the first time that it also had a transcript of a telephone conversation between its testifying agent and the same key witness, Shawn Bryan. This conversation also took place back in April of 2010. The defense has never received a recording of either the telephone conversation or the interview. Mr. Ahrensfield’s motion outlined generally the exculpatory nature of the interview transcript.# As of December 15, 2010, the government still had not informed the defense that there was also a transcript of the telephone conversation with... Shawn Bryan. That issue was not known to the defense or addressed when drafting the motion to dismiss for the initial Brady violation. The government knew for sure on December 14, 2010 that the defense was not in possession of the “manila envelope”. It was not until December 15, 2010, that the defense learned of the transcript of a phone call that was also in the manila envelope, and only by testimony of Ms. Neda’s assistant. The transcript of that telephone conversation clearly shows the improper quid pro quo that took place between the agent and prosecution witness Shawn Bryan. Because of the prosecution’s withholding of this interview, even when Ms. Neda knew that the defense was not in possession of the “manila envelope”, Shawn Bryan could not be questioned about it.

There is no dispute about when the interview and the phone conversation took place, in April of 2010. Despite that, there was never a recording sent to the defense, nor was the defense ever notified about the existence of the recordings, or that recordings were being transcribed. Ms. Neda first stated to the Court that the transcript was “made available” to the defense on September 22, 2010. However, her legal assistant directly contradicted this statement by testifying that the transcripts were made available November 18, 2010. There is no dispute about when the transcripts of the recordings were received by the government, on September 21, 2010, as stamped. Despite that, the transcripts were not mailed or hand delivered.# In addition, the defense was never provided the FBI 302 interview reports from the interview or the phone call, which were no doubt created. In sum, the prosecution did not want the defense to know about their post-trial interactions with Shawn Bryan. The defense disputes that the government ever made the transcripts available prior to trial. And, in fact, only by happenstance during Ms. Neda’s examination of Shawn Bryan did the defense learn of the existence of a new transcript., arguendo, that the government’s story is true, that Ms. Murphy left the transcripts at the receptionist desk on November 18, 2010, this was a little over a week before the trial was set to begin on November 30, 2010. This begs the question as to why the government would knowingly hold on to clearly exculpatory evidence that it had since April, and not notify the defense until a week before trial about its existence. Problematically, the transcripts reveal several areas of investigation which the defense could and would have pursued, including apparent extensive text messages from Darren White’s wife to Shawn Bryan’s wife about details of the investigation into the Car Shop.

The testimony of Ms. Murphy also established that the government knew the transcripts would sit at the receptionist desk for 30 days, which would be after trial was set to be complete, before the transcripts would be flagged and sent back up to be mailed.

The evidence, however, better supports the fact that these transcripts were never there for pick up. As mentioned above, the government first said the transcripts were available on September 22, 2010. That could not possibly be true because the testimony of Ms. Garcia established that she picked up documents at the US Attorney’s Office on November 10, 2010, that she specifically asked if there was anything for the firm, and saw the receptionist look and say there was nothing. Then, the government’s story changed through its witness Ms. Murphy, who testified that she placed the documents there on November 18, 2010, when she also phoned and spoke with someone at Bowles and Crow, although she does not know who she supposedly spoke with about the documents. This is in direct contradiction of Ms. Neda’s statements that she provided the documents to the defense September 22. There was no email to anyone at Bowles and Crow about the documents. According to Ms. Murphy, there was no “follow up phone call” about the documents. Ms. Zamora answers the phones at Bowles and Crow and testified that she never received a call about Ahrensfield discovery on November 18. Knowing trial was approaching in a week, the office would promptly pick up any documents if it were told about them.

Additionally, and most damning to the government’s second story, is that Bowles and Crow’s runner, Ms. Jordan Gull, testified that she went to the U.S. Attorney’s Office on December 1, 2010 to deliver Christmas invitations and check if there was anything to pick up for the firm. Ms. Gull was told there was nothing. Moreover, there is suspiciously no date stamp of when those documents were supposedly left at the reception desk, despite that it is the usual policy for there to be a date stamp. There is suspiciously no cover letter included with the documents, although it is the usual policy for documents left for pick up to include a cover letter. The transcripts also were suspiciously not Bates stamped, although discovery from the U.S. Attorney’s Office is routinely Bates stamped to have a preserved record as to what was provided to the defense. The absence of any cover letter, Bates stamping, or dating of the envelope containing the two transcripts is very troubling and completely inconsistent and contradictory with Office policy.

Finally, during argument on this matter, Ms. Neda stated to the Court that she had sent an email to Mr. Miles Hanisee, counsel for Mr. Bryan, indicating that the transcript had been produced. However what Ms. Neda failed to inform the Cour...t of is that: 1) the email was sent December 3, 2010, 10 days before trial was to start, 2) she indicated that Sam [Bregman] may have provided the statements even though she knew on April 27 that Mr. Bryan indicated to the FBI that Sam no longer represented him, 3) counsel for Mr. Bryan is obviously not who she is obligated to produce Brady material to for the trial of Mr. Ahrensfield, 4) Mr. Hanisee stated to her in a reply email on that same day, that he in fact did not have the transcripts of the taped interview, and 5) Ms. Neda apparently never responded to Mr. Hanisee providing him with any transcript. Ms. Neda should have known by Mr. Hanisee’s response that she hadn’t disclosed the transcript to even her own witness to prepare him for his testimony, much less the defense. The email Ms. Neda referenced was nothing more than a calculated move in an effort to show the Court she had not acted in bad faith, when in fact she knew that the transcript was never provided to the defense. Thus, Ms. Neda misrepresented to the Court that Mr. Hanisee had received the transcript, when in fact he had not.

A Brady Violation is Undisputedly Established.

The arguments establishing the Brady violation were addressed in Mr. Ahrensfield’s Motion to Dismiss and will not be completely rehashed here. Suppression of the evidence is shown, at a minimum, by the undeniable timeline that was reinforced through the testimony at the hearing, and the fact that to this day, there has been no audio recording of the interview or the phone call disclosed to the defense. Mr. Ahrensfield was entitled not only to the transcripts, but also to the best evidence, the actual recordings. There are obvious differences between a transcript and an audio recording. Defense counsel could have much more effectively cross-examined Agent McCandless with the actual recording of his words rather than a transcript.# Favorability to the accused and materiality have been identified in the motion through citation to the withheld interview transcript, identifying the exculpatory nature of the interview of Shawn Bryan. The defense was denied the opportunity to pursue leads by subpoenaing the phone records of Shawn Bryan and his wife Erica, referenced in the interview, and were denied the opportunity to confront Darren White about those records, question Shawn Bryan and Joe Hudson, or use those highly exculpatory conversations as part of trial strategy. In addition, the recordings were not available to be played for the jury, for example, to impeach Agent McCandless with his own statements. The government’s primary attack at trial was to discredit Shawn Bryan. For example, in closing Ms. Neda repeatedly stated that Shawn Bryan was lying. During the trial she impeached him with his prior testimony. The texts Mr. Bryan referr...ed to during his interview with the government in April would have bolstered Shawn Bryan’s credibility. This is in addition to the fact that the texts would show that Darren White's wife was the source of much of the information Mr. Bryan was told. Given Mr. Bryan’s memory problems, it would be helpful to the defense to show that someone other than Mr. Ahrensfield had leaked the details which could have “derailed the investigation.”

As to the telephone call transcription, this Court did allow the defense to use the conversation when cross-examining Agent McCandless, who this Court ordered to be recalled because of the lack of disclosure. However, the defense was not able to cross Shawn Bryan. The suppression by the prosecution of evidence favorable to an accused upon request violates due process where the evidence is material either to guilt or to punishment, irrespective of the good faith or bad faith of the prosecution”. “The prosecution has an affirmative duty to disclose evidence favorable to a defendant”. Kyles v. Whitley, 514 U.S. 419, 433 (U.S. 1995) (emphasis added). These facts respectfully establish a due process violation; the next question for the Court is what should be the proper remedy.

Bad Faith Is Not the Only Standard for Dismissal.
As cited in the motion, dismissal is proper where there is a showing of willful misconduct, demonstrable prejudice, or substantial threat thereof. See, Virgin Islands v. Fahie, 419 F.3d 249 (3d Cir. V.I. 2005). In that case, the Court stated,
The United States Supreme Court is concerned with both prejudice and deterrence, and when both of those factors call for a particularly harsh sanction, dismissal--the harshest available sanction for a Brady violation--may be proper. Id., at 253. “[W]here a defendant can show both willful misconduct by the government, and prejudice, dismissal may be proper.” Id., at 254-255.

Thus, the Courts have stated that “willful misconduct”, “demonstrable prejudice”, or “ threat [of demonstrable prejudice]” could warrant a dismissal on a Brady violation. In addition, both prejudice and the need for deterrence could also warrant a dismissal.

Dismissal is also proper pursuant Rule 16(d)(2)(D), which authorizes a court to "enter any order that is just under the circumstances" if a party fails to comply with the discovery rule. Id. (Emphasis added) Here, the Court’s standing discovery Order was entered on December 17, 2009. That Order states, If, prior to or during trial, a party discovers additional evidence or material previously requested or ordered, which is subject to discovery or inspection under Rule 16, such party shall promptly notify the other party or that other party's attorney and the court of the existence of the additional evidence or material.

See, Doc 8 at 4. In a separate section, the Order required the government to timely disclose Brady material. Id. at 5. A trial court need not rely on Brady to justify dismissal of an indictment as a remedy for improper prosecutorial conduct; it may also remedy Rule 16 discovery violations under its supervisory powers. Id., at 258, citing, United States v. Restrepo, 930 F.2d 705, 712 (9th Cir. 1991) ("Dismissal of an indictment because of outrageous government conduct may be predicated on alternative grounds: a violation of due process [such as a Brady violation] or the court's supervisory powers."); see also, United States v. Ross, 372 F.3d 1097, 1107 (9th Cir. 2004). The purposes underlying the use of courts' supervisory powers are broad and include implementing remedies for violations of recognized rights and remedies designed to deter illegal conduct. See, United States v. Hasting, 461 U.S. 499, 505 (1983).

The government, at its own peril, made the decision not to comply, and it prejudiced the defense. Counsel for Mr. Ahrensfield, Mr. Bowles, had a lunch hour to attempt to digest a 106 page transcript of an interview and to attempt to distill all of the exculpatory points into a cross-examination. Mr. Ahrensfield was seriously prejudiced as a result of his counsel’s inability to have sufficient time to prepare. In Addition to the Particular Facts Here Implying Bad Faith, the Pattern of Such Misconduct Proves Bad Faith.

The inquiry into bad faith "turns on the government's knowledge of the exculpatory value of the evidence at the time it was lost or destroyed [or suppressed]." Ariz. v. Youngblood, 488 U.S. 51, 57 (U.S. 1988). "A prosecutor should not inte...ntionally fail to make timely disclosure to the defense, at the earliest feasible opportunity, of the existence of all evidence or information which tends to negate the guilt of the accused or mitigate the offense charged or which would tend to reduce the punishment of the accused" Kyles v. Whitley, supra at 437 (emphasis added); citing, ABA Model Rule of Professional Conduct 3.8(d) (1984) ("The prosecutor in a criminal case shall . . . make timely disclosure to the defense of all evidence or information known to the prosecutor that tends to negate the guilt of the accused or mitigates the offense").

In reviewing a trial court's remedy for an alleged Brady violation, an appellate court reviews conclusions of law de novo and reviews any findings of fact, where appropriate, for clear error. Virgin Islands v. Fahie, supra. “The intentional character of the government's misconduct affects the appropriate remedy”. Id., at
253,citing, United States v. Morrison, 449 U.S. 361, 365 (U.S. 1981). The Supreme Court in Morrison noted, for example, that a "pattern of recurring violations by investigative officers . . . might warrant the imposition of a more extreme remedy in order to deter further lawlessness." Id., quoting, Morrison, 449 U.S. at 365 n.
. “This statement suggests that the Court was concerned with both prejudice and deterrence, and that when both of those factors call for a particularly harsh sanction, dismissal - the harshest available sanction for a Brady violation - may be proper”. Id., see also, United States v. Isgro, 974 F.2d 1091, 1097 (9th Cir. 1992) ("Dismissal of an indictment with prejudice is the most severe sanction possible.").
In United States v. Mitchell, we held that while "as a legal matter, the question of good faith versus bad faith is a distinction without a difference in the Brady context," "the existence of bad faith on the part of the prosecution is probative of materiality because it is 'doubtful that any prosecutor would in bad faith act to suppress evidence unless he or she believed it could affect the outcome of the trial.'" 365 F.3d 215, 255 (3d Cir. 2004) (quoting United States v. Jackson, 780 F.2d 1305, 1311 n. 4 (7th Cir. 1986)). We believe that bad faith may be of additional relevance in the context of choosing a remedy for a Brady violation. Id. Dismissal is warranted "only where the defendant is actually prejudiced . . . the challenged activity was something other than an isolated incident unmotivated by sinister ends or . . . misconduct challenged has become entrenched and flagra...nt"); United States v. Costanzo, 740 F.2d 251, 257 (3d Cir. 1984).

A pattern of constitutional violations may indeed be used to show recklessness on the part of a prosecutor. See Sample v. Diecks, 885 F.2d 1099, 1117 (3d Cir. 1989) ("The existence of a pattern of constitutional violations may provide a basis for implying deliberate indifference."); Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 836, 128 L. Ed. 2d 811, 114 S. Ct. 1970 (1994) ("Acting or failing to act with deliberate indifference to a substantial risk of serious harm to a prisoner is the equivalent of recklessly disregarding that risk."); see also Morrison, 449 U.S. at 365 n.2 (noting that higher penalties may be warranted where there is a pattern of misconduct). Moreover, a constitutional violation that results from a reckless disregard for a defendant's constitutional rights constitutes willful misconduct. See Wehr v. Burroughs Corp., 619 F.2d 276, 282 (3d Cir. 1980) ("only three degrees of culpability are associated with the term 'willful': intentional, knowing, or reckless"); cf. United States v. Johnstone, 107 F.3d 200, 208-09 (3d Cir. 1997) (holding that "willful[]" in federal criminal civil rights statute, 18 U.S.C. § 242 "means either particular purpose or reckless disregard"); United States v. Frost, 999 F.2d 737, 743 (3d Cir. 1993) (holding that "in order to secure suppression of the fruits of [a search based on a misleading search warrant affidavit], a defendant must show . . . that bad faith or reckless disregard existed on the part of the affiant"); Polselli v. Nationwide Mut. Fire Ins. Co., 23 F.3d 747, 751 (3d Cir. 1994) (holding, in the insurance context, that "recklessness . . . can support a finding of bad faith"). Thus, reckless misconduct, if prejudicial, may sometimes warrant dismissal. Otherwise, a prosecutor who sustains an erroneous view of her Brady obligations over time will be inadequately motivated to conform her understanding to the law. Virgin Islands v. Fahie, at 256. As previously addressed, it is the prosecution’s affirmative duty to timely produce exculpatory evidence to the defense. The time frame alone, that even the government admits to, between when it had this evidence in its possession in April..., and when it claimed to have produced it a week before trial in November, could not point to anything other than the obvious conclusion that the government intentionally suppressed this evidence and did not want the Ahrensfield defense to have it before trial, knowing of its exculpatory nature. This is especially true given that the recordings were made in April and have never been produced to this day.

Other evidence of bad faith is that although the government knew on December 14th that the defense was not aware of the phone transcript in the “manilla envelope”, Ms. Neda still withheld that knowledge until December 15th when it was revealed at the evidentiary hearing by Ms. Neda’s assistant that there was also a phone transcript in the envelope. This absolutely establishes bad faith and an attempt to keep the defense from having Brady material to use at trial. The government did not want the defense to have either transcript because Ms. Neda knew they were detrimental.# This action absolutely prejudiced Mr. Ahrensfield because he couldn’t cross-examine Mr. Bryan on the telephone call transcript even though Ms. Neda knew the defense did not have this transcript during Bryan’s testimony.

Finally, Ms. Neda should no longer be permitted to waive the “no bad faith” flag to avoid the consequences of her misconduct. Concealing Brady material from the defense until trial is a pattern of conduct that Ms. Neda has engaged in for at least a decade in prior cases. In and about 2000, Ms. Neda withheld crucial Brady/Giglio documents that resulted in the Honorable Leroy Hanson vacating a jury verdict. James Baiamonte was the attorney in that case, and the style of the case was United States v. Jesus "Jesse" Monclova. See Affidavit of James Baiamonte, forthcoming. In that case, Ms. Neda withheld crucial agreements made with various witnesses, which were directly exculpatory. She denied to Judge Hansen that there were any deals with certain witnesses, but Mr. Baiamonte later proved that to be completely untrue, by happenstance, having received the information from the civil attorney working on a related aspect of that case. Detrimental to the prosecution, the very documents that Ms. Neda denied existed, bore her signature.

In United States v. Cayatineto, 49 Fed. Appx. 278 (10th Cir. N.M. 2002) (unpublished), Ms. Neda is the listed prosecutor where, at trial, an investigator testified that he took several pictures of injuries in a fatal vehicle collision. When defense counsel approached the bench, claimed that he was never provided with those photos, and requested production, “the prosecution explained that they had been misplaced.” Id. at 278. The Court determined that “because defendant failed to raise any objection to the prosecution’s failure to preserve the photographs, defendant waived his due process claim”. Id. at 281. Once again, as in this case, Ms. Neda claimed an innocent reason for the lack of production of important exculpatory evidence.

Ms. Neda, once again, was involved in a Brady violation case in United States v. Torres, 569 F.3d 1277 (10th Cir. N.M. 2009). In that case, Ms. Neda’s Brady violation resulted in a 10th Circuit reversal of a conviction. In Torres, Ms. Neda obtained impeachment evidence related to a CI, and failed to disclose it prior to the trial. The evidence there was crucial because it was impeachment evidence related to the CI in a case where the vast majority of inculpatory evidence was based on nothing more than the lone witness’s testimony. Id. at 1277. Ms. Neda’s indiscretions would have never been discovered if not for the Eye of a prudent defense attorney who noticed in discovery in a related case that the CI was retained in other cases and had picked up other drug forgery charges. The defense’s investigations led to the allegation that Ms. Neda “knew that the CI had continued to engage in freelance drug dealing and forgery” during the relevant period of time she was working on Torres’ case. Id. at 1281. In that case, Ms. Neda also suppressed a document reporting a conversation in which the CI made a misidentification. Id. at 1280. A state bar disciplinary complaint was filed by Joe Romero against Ms. Neda for her Brady violations in that case. Ultimately, the United States Attorney’s Office dismissed and didn’t pursue the case further but, implausibly, the defendant in the meantime spent over 2 years in prison.

In addition to misconduct for Brady, Ms. Neda was the AUSA in United States v. Oberle, 136 F.3d 1414 (10th Cir. N.M. 1998), in which the 10th Circuit found that she acted improperly, but that the prosecutorial misconduct did not deprive that defendant of a fair trial:

The government argues that it merely highlighted admissible evidence for proper purposes…The transcript reveals, however, that in making these arguments the prosecutor exceeded the boundaries of commenting upon the evidence…This is more akin to arguing propensity than it is focusing the jury’s attention on the evidence, and it was improper…Id. at 1414.#

Also in United States v. Ramirez, 63 F.3d 937 (10th Cir. N.M. 1995), Ms. Neda was the AUSA who again was accused of prosecutorial misconduct and the 10th Circuit and the district court agreed “that the prosecutor’s statement wa...s in fact improper counsel argument”, but that the error was harmless. Id. at 937. Again, in United States v. Howell, 285 F.3d 1263 (10th Cir. N.M. 2002), Ms. Neda was the AUSA on the case where the defense claimed prosecutorial misconduct and misrepresentation of the evidence.

This pattern is quite disturbing. The willingness of the “win-at-any-cost” prosecutor to violate every principal of fundamental fairness to obtain a conviction has increased exponentially. See, Lawless, Joseph F. Jr., Prosecutorial Misconduct, Second Edition (1985), 396. Some prosecutors believe that they won’t get caught and, even if they do, that nothing will come of it. Id., citing, United States v. Ramming, 915 F. Supp. 854 (S.D. Tex. 1996); United States v. Oxman, 740 F.2d 1298 (3d Cir. Pa. 1984).

Our Government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the Government becomes a law-breaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy. To declare that in the administration of the criminal law the end justifies the means -- to declare that the Government may commit crimes in order to secure the conviction of a private criminal -- would bring terrible retribution. Against that pernicious doctrine this Court should resolutely set its face." Olmstead v. United States, 277 U.S. 438, 485 (1928) (dissenting opinion).

Given the prior complaints of misconduct regarding this prosecutor on this very issue, the exculpatory nature of the evidence the government chose to secrete in this case and the substantial prejudice to the defense, this Court should respectfully find a pattern and practice of misconduct relevant to whether there was bad faith in this matter, and respectfully dismiss the indictment. At some point, a prosecutor’s repeated pattern of misconduct should result in discipline. At some point, a prosecutor’s pattern of misconduct which has literally cost people their liberty, should be singled out and sanctioned harshly, as discipline and as a deterrent. Thus, Ms. Neda’s reckless and prejudicial misconduct warrants dismissal with prejudice. Otherwise, Ms. Neda, who has sustained an erroneous view of her Brady obligations over time, will be inadequately motivated to conform her understanding to the law. See, Virgin Islands v. Fahie, at 256. If anything, our constitution guarantees that defendants will be provided key, material, exculpatory evidence, in a timely fashion, so that they can intelligently prepare a defense. That did not happen in this case.

In the Alternative, Mr. Ahrensfield Should Receive a New Trial.
The Fifth Amendment guarantees that no person shall be deprived of liberty without due process of law.

It is the manifest duty of the courts to vindicate those guarantees, and to accomplish that it is essential that all relevant and admissible evidence be produced. The allowance of the privilege to withhold evidence that is demonstrably relevant in a criminal trial would cut deeply into the guarantee of due process of law and gravely impair the basic function of the courts.United States v. Robinson, 583 F.3d 1265, 1269 (10th Cir. Kan. 2009). In Robinson, the 10th Circuit reversed and remanded for a new trial where the government did not disclose impeachment evidence regarding the defendant’s main witness tha...t was essentially uncorroborated. Here, there is no dispute that the government withheld impeachment and exculpatory evidence for 8 months. The defense asserts that the government never made it available until the second and third day of trial. This evidence, if provided to the defense timely as required, would have reasonably resulted in a different trial, with likely a different result. The defense was denied the time and opportunity to prepare and pursue multiple leads suggested by Shawn Bryan in his interview, including being able to subpoena text messages from the phone of Erica Ruiz suggesting that Mr. Bryan could have learned many of the details of the investigation from Darren White’s wife,# and including serious issues regarding the FBI’s proposed quid pro quo arrangement with Shawn Bryan. A defendant who seeks a new trial under Fed. R. Crim. P. 33 based on an alleged Brady violation must show that: (1) the prosecution suppressed evidence; (2) the evidence was favorable to the defendant; and (3) the evidence was material. United States v. Velarde, 485 F.3d 553 (10th Cir. N.M. 2007). At an absolute minimum, Mr. Ahrensfield has respectfully shown this through these facts.

WHEREFORE, Mr. Ahrensfield prays that this Court dismiss the indictment with prejudice due to Ms. Neda’s Brady violation, or in the alternative, to grant Mr. Ahrensfield a new trial.

Respectfully submitted,

/s/ Jason Bowles
Jason Bowles
B.J. Crow
Monnica Garcia
Bowles and Crow
P.O. Box 25186
Albuquerque, N.M. 87125-5186

I hereby certify that a true and correct
copy hereof was sent electronically this
19th day of December, 2010 to:

Tara Neda
Assistant United States Attorney

/s/ B.J. Crow
Bowles & Crow

Subject: BOTH APD/PSO and DMD both non-compliant-will file formal complaint with AG to make matter of record-is the PSO tied to the convicted Cop Brad Ahrensfield matter?

Ms Bailey

It’s pretty clear that neither DMD, APD/PSO and likely too many others in the Berry administration feels compliance with the 15 day NM Inspection of Public Records Act (IPRA) response requirement much less providing all IPRA requested information (particularly the incriminating documentation and recordings) is really something they have to do.

This is much like when in past years, both APD Chief Schultz and PSO Darren White (while he was BCSO Sheriff) decided the NM law governing evidence seizures somehow didn’t apply to them or their people. It’s was seemingly arrogance and dishonesty by both of them fueled by those above them who also believed NM laws were mere suggestions. We taxpayers paid dearly when both the City and BCSO essentially acknowledged guilt and settled both lawsuits against them.

This repeated non-compliance proves once again that the Mayor’s ABQVIEW promise of a new era of transparency and accountability is nothing more than a sick joke played on us trusting citizens.

I don’t know whether AG Gary King or his local people have advised Mayor Berry to not worry about complying about this State law-the NM IPRA, but I intend to file formal non-compliance complaints to make this a matter of record. Possibly it will be up to incoming Governor Susana Martinez to put teeth in this law and get us out of this third world culture of corruption that too many here seem used to.
Thanks for your past help but Mayor Berry has essentially relegated you to merely pushing paper there-not really allowing you to insist on compliance. That’s sad.
This was also true of your predecessor under Mayor Chavez.

(Citizen’s name was withheld to protect their privacy)

P.S. Related

I have been following closely and with interest the recent conviction of former APD Officer Brad Ahrensfield and recent appeal by his attorney. The defense claims when the FBI did the interviews they were told it was Sheriff/PSO Darren White's then girlfriend (now wife) who tipped Shawn Bryan the shop owner off that he was the subject of the FBI investigation and not Ahrensfield.

I wonder why both (who previously employed Darren White) and (who employed the Mayor’s Communications Director Chris Rameriz) suddenly pulled their website stories of Mr. White’s ties (through his then girlfriend) to the shop owner. Also recall that TJ Wilham the PSO’s PIO worked for the Journal before joining the Berry team-thus explaining much of the filtered news we receive there. I understand that BCSO undercover vehicles were also serviced at that same shop when Mr. White was Sheriff. This all seems so curious-but maybe not so in this City and State.

Maybe the cover-up culture permeates the entire Berry Administration-or maybe I just got bad information on all this. I assume Mayor Berry is also concerned-wants the straight story.

Jul 29, 2010

Business as Usual

John Dantis' desk isn't even cleaned out yet and the county is back to its old tricks again. Our Eyes tell us that County Manager Thaddeus Lucero has decided to create a new six figure Deputy County Manager position for HR Manager Renetta Torres.
From: Thaddeus Lucero
Sent: Wednesday, July 28, 2010 2:09 PM
To: Alan B. Armijo; Art De La Cruz; Maggie Hart Stebbins; Michael Brasher; Michael Wiener
Cc: [Commissioners' Assistants]
As you know, under the current County Management structure there are four departments, IT, Human Resources, Economic Development and PIO, reporting directly to me.  Over the past several months I have been giving thoughtful consideration to the overall structure.   In order to improve and enhance operations I will re-establish a previously existing division-Administrative Services-which will have IT, HR, Economic Development and Public Information under its umbrella.  I will appoint Renetta Torres, current HR Director to be Administrative Services Deputy County Manager.   As I have previously indicated, this will not involve the creation of a new position. 
Note that County Manager Lucero is notifying the commissioner that there "will" be a new Deputy County Manager. And despite Lucero's claims to the contrary, our Eyes tell us that the county has not had a Deputy County Manager of Administrative Services in at least a decade.

We'd argue that "re-establish[ing]" a position that hasn't existed for over a decade is no different than creating a new position. Just like "revenue enhancements" are no different from tax increases. Lucero is creating a new position and he's doing it on his own authority barely taking the time to notify his bosses on the commission before doing so.
Every family member hired by the county was done so with the approval and full knowledge of the County's Human Resources Department where Ms. Torres was the director. Instead of looking into the department's failings, Lucero is giving Ms. Torres a promotion.
[End Sidebar]
John Dantis should be hauling home the final boxes from his office Friday, but the county itself is back to business as usual.

Jul 21, 2010

Dantis Day

If you have any business with the county, you'd best either get it done before next Tuesday or plan on waiting until Wednesday. It seems the county is adding a day to go with the street that's already named for the retiring Deputy County Manager of Public Safety, John Dantis.

This Tuesday, July 27th will be John Dantis Day featuring not one but two parties to celebrate his retirement. All we need now is a proclamation from the governor or perhaps a declaration from the commission.

The first of the soirees starts promptly at 11:30 am and runs to 1:00 pm. Attendees are asked to bring 5 bucks and come in costume.  It's a potluck, but don't worry desert starts at 3:00 pm.

The second of the two soirees is a cake and punch celebration.  Ironically - and perhaps tellingly - this one will be held in the very chambers where the Bernalillo County Commission meets.

Look... John Dantis has undoubtedly has a number of friends that wish him well. However, these two little parties - some of which are clearly on taxpayer time - only serve to underscore the disparity between the powerful and the expendable.

When one's final act is a clear violation of policy and ethics, it's hard for the public to sit by and watch as his retirement is celebrated. Tuesday, July 27th will be Dantis Day - at least at the county. For the rest of us it will be a reminder of everything that's wrong with county leadership.

Jul 19, 2010

Welcome to 1873

by Marita Noon

The World Championship of Cowboy Action Shooting is held each year in New Mexico. The event, incorporating a Wild West Jubilee, is a multi-day costume party where participants stay in character while competing in the old west town that has been created in the dust east of Albuquerque. I was there as Cookie Krumm. I even won two awards for my costume and character.

Having had fun there all weekend, it was difficult to go back to the “real world” of problems and politics when it was over. Little did I expect the real world would include visions of miners with picks, pans and mules.

I received an e-mail containing the approval for the “Plan of Operations” for exploration of minerals such as tungsten, copper, silver, lead, and zinc. The Finley Basin Exploration Project is in Montana in the Flint Range Inventoried Roadless Area.

Back in the 70’s Union Carbide had drilled 10 exploration holes on the site “which is rated as having moderate to high mineral potential for the majority of the area.” Now, an Australian company wants to invest in America, bringing outside dollars in and creating jobs by exploring the Finley Claims.

This should be great news with America’s economy in need of jobs and investment—except it really is back to the 1800s.

The Forest Service’s approval granted to Finley Mining states that they will “use a team of mules” and that “hand tools will be used to level the drilling pad and clear rocks, debris and any small shrubs.” Additionally, “all disturbances would be reclaimed using hand tools.”  Can you say 1873?

Reading the Decision Memo, one gets the feeling that the Forest Service would rather not approve the mining proposal, but there are no real grounds not to. While explaining the “rationale” for the decision, the memo states that the company has the “legal right to conduct exploration activities” and that “The role of the Forest Service is to ensure that mining activities minimize adverse environmental effects. Congress has not given the Forest Service authority to unreasonably circumscribe or prohibit reasonably necessary activities under the 1872 General Mining Law that are otherwise lawful.”

Back in the 70’s Union Carbide did the original exploration with bulldozers and other mechanized equipment. But that was before the Roadless Area Conservation Rule was written and implemented in January 2001 by the Clinton administration.

Now to get approval, the plan had to incorporate mules. A Forest Service representative said that using mechanized equipment would have resulted in delays of multiple years as the proposal would have to go through Washington rather than being dealt with on the local level.

Mine operators will “camp” nearby on private property and “pack” into the site each day—walking on foot and using the mules whenever equipment weight requires their assistance. The Decision Memo also mandates that all equipment must be cleaned “prior to entry on the project area” and that they will use “certified weed free hay for the mule stock.” Additionally, they must remove all trash (“such as cans, bottles and other debris”) daily for “disposal in a state-approved landfill.”

How is America supposed to be competitive on a global scale when we are back to the 1800s, mining our natural resources by hand? This is environmentalism carried to an extreme. It doesn’t matter whether we are extracting tungsten, gold or uranium—or even oil or gas, current policies tie the hands of those who want to explore and make new discoveries, who want to create new wealth and provide real jobs for America. They’ve become like the bootleggers—an illicit business that has to be done under the cover of darkness.

If we want to move ahead in America and maintain our status as a world leader with a strong economic foundation we need to change our attitudes and encourage responsible extraction of our resources. Asking that mining be done with a pick and a mule is going beyond “reasonable”—it is punishment.

Modern methods can use equipment and machinery to extract the resource responsibly and then reclaim the land when the mineral is exhausted.

A crusty old miner with his pack mule is part of the charm of the Wild West Jubilee but they are no longer the real world. Today, we need a government that encourages, rather than punishes, those who are willing to take the risk of exploring, those who are willing to bring funds into the American economy and provide real, private sector jobs.

Marita Noon is the Executive Director at CARE (Citizens' Alliance for Responsible Energy), the nonprofit organization advocating for your right to energy. CARE is 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

Jul 10, 2010

Sarge in Charge

Odd things happen sometimes. Things that leave you scratching your head. Last week Valley Area Commander Rae Mason had to undergo an emergency appendectomy. That's not strange things like this happen and we wish Commander Mason a speedy recover.

What's strange is that despite having four lieutenants available to fill in for the ailing Mason, our Eyes tell us that The 5th Floor chose a junior Sergeant. Until Commander Mason is back on her feet Sergeant Joe Escquibel will be in charge.

So, I'm sure you're wondering... what's wrong with that? No disrespect to Sergeant Escquibel, but sergeants - particularly inexperienced sergeants - could create a few problems should events in the area overtake their ability and experience. One of our Eyes behind the badge was concerned that a Sergeant wouldn't be ready handle situations like an officer involved shooting. Commanders must take charge of the scene and direct how the investigation develops. Any mistake could result in serious legal consequences.

There's another more subtle problem. Until Commander Mason returns Sergeant Escquibel becomes his supervisor's supervisor. Once the Commander returns the sergeant will be supervised once again by a lieutenant that the day before he was supervising. Confusing huh?

Hopefully, Mason's recovery will go quickly and nothing serious will rock the Valley Area Command. But until then, the sarge is in charge.

Jul 8, 2010

Rate Increases - Another Opinion

by Jason Marks

As a PRC Commissioner for the past five years, I take PNM's proposed rate increase very seriously.  Marita Noon's recent commentary on it, not so much.   As a cheerleader for the fossil fuel industry, Noon would clearly like to believe that renewable energy policies (and their proponents such as me) are to blame for large PNM rate increases, but the actual facts say otherwise.

To begin, the 25% increase in PNM's rates thus far since 2007 was not driven by the state's renewable energy requirements.  It was the result of adding more conventional (natural gas) generating plants to the ratebase; converting a lease for a portion of Palo Verde nuclear generation station's output to an ownership interest (short term cost; long term savings); increased  coal, natural gas, and nuclear fuel costs; and other increases to supply costs and operating expenses.     These rate increases were approved in three separate PRC cases.  I voted for the 6% increase to base rates that we granted in May 2008, against the imposition of a fuel clause in June 2008 (9% effective increase), and against the 10% rate increase the PRC approved in May 2009.    I have written in some detail about these cases on

Renewable energy could not -- and did not -- have any material impact in these cases because, through May of 2009, the only substantial renewable resource on PNM's system was their 200 MW wind farm near Fort Sumner, and the price for that power was only $0.0275/kwh.    This price is only slightly more than PNM's average supply cost, and is actually lower than the market price of for new wholesale power from conventional sources.  

Now, PNM is requesting another 22% hike, and again, it is not related to renewable energy.   About half of the rate increase request relates to increased rate recovery for capital investment items.   PNM is asking for an increase in its rate of return on equity capital and also to be able to charge customers for $329 million in capital investments it has not yet made (but plans to make).   This $329 million does not include any renewable energy projects.   Other significant factors PNM mentions in their summary of the rate increase are increased costs for employee benefits and maintenance.  

As mentioned by Noon, there is a case before that could potentially add relatively expensive solar resources to PNM's system.  But, the rate case it filed in June for an average 22% increase does NOT include any of the costs of these potential solar programs and in fact has nothing to do with renewable energy standards.   Don't believe me?  Read PNM's own executive summary at     (By the way, I have been scrutinizing the solar case carefully, and will not be supporting components that can't demonstrate that they are a reasonable "deal.")

PNM ratepayers deserve better than  the partisan hogwash that Marita Noon delivered up regarding the proposed rate increase.  When so many families and businesses are struggling financially and will find it hard to absorb a large electric rate increase, they need to know what the real issues are, and the PRC needs to be looking at these real issues in order to determine a fair outcome.

PNM ratepayers are also entitled to a fair and informed discussion of the costs and benefits of greater use of renewable energy.  The fact is, PRC rules that I drafted, sponsored, and passed do require utilities to do more solar projects, but they also cap the bill impacts for renewable energy activities at 2% - 3%.   I think the benefits of investing in alternative energy supplies are easily worth cost impacts in this range.  Think about it: 3% on our electric bills to invest in our future versus 40% -50% to just support business as usual.    I've written more about renewables, climate change, and the risks of fossil fuel dependency at

----- Editors Note-----  
Yesterday we received the above rebuttal from Commissioner Marks. As you know, we believe in airing all sides to every issue and allowing readers to voice their own opinions. As such, we'll let Ms. Noon and Commissioner Marks air their opinions in their own words.

Understand that we haven't done any serious research on these specific cases, but have never seen government mandates that don't add to the cost of business - usually far more than the government projects (healthcare for example).

PNM is a regulated utility, a state protected monopoly. As such, market forces have very little effect while political forces mean everything. In this political environment and under this administration, PNM would not benefit from making an issue of the cost of "alternative energy" mandates. However, don't believe for a moment that these government mandates aren't reflected in the rates that you pay.

Jul 6, 2010

Get Ready to be Outraged

by Marita Noon

New Mexicans are rallying to fight a rate increase proposed by PNM—the largest electrical system in the state. It would be the third major increase in recent years. Previous increases raised rates for some customers by as much as 24%. A PNM representative told business leaders that this one would be “big.” It is: 21.2%.

New Mexico, a poor state by all indicators, will have to pay almost 50% more in 2011 for their electricity than they did in 2007. We all accept a gradual cost increase for most everything in life, but double in less than five years? David King, chairman of the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (PRC) calls the rate increase a “hot potato” saying that he’s received “a flood of calls from ratepayers.”

How can this be? In a state like New Mexico, this will leave people freezing in the dark!

While PNM is the easy target, their actions are, at least in part, the result of the people we voted into office—both on the state and the national levels.

In 2009 and the New Mexico State Legislature unanimously passed a bill that upped the percentage of electricity generated by renewables by 2011 from the current mandate of 6% to 10% with 15% by 2015 and 20% by 2020—and renewables cost more. On my current PNM bill I am paying between $.07-.10 a kwh. Yet, if I have solar panels on my roof and produce more solar than I can use, PNM will pay me $.13-.15. So if PNM is paying more for solar power than they are charging me for electricity—they are in trouble.

The PRC is also considering a plan from PNM that would add 80 megawatts of solar to their system to help them meet state-mandated renewable energy standards—for which PNM says they will “defer the costs associated with the renewable resources as regulatory assets on its balance sheet.” So that increase will come at a later time—meaning additional increases!

Third district Congressman Ben Ray Lujan was chairman of the PRC when he, along with Commissioner Jason Marks, pushed hard to get the legislature to increase the percentage of energy that comes from renewables. They really shoulder responsibility for  the increases.

If you are unhappy with a nearly 50% rate increase, get ready to be outraged! More is coming. This time at the hand of New Mexico’s Senator Jeff Bingaman.

As Chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, New Mexico’s beloved Senator Domenici was always front and center of the energy debate—pushing for energy. Sadly, he retired and Jeff Bingaman became the Chairman. He has a totally different view and style.

Senator Bingaman has not been getting a lot of face time in the 24-hour news cycle, but he has been quietly working behind the scenes to make energy more expensive. He has a bill that has already passed the Natural Resources Committee markup that would increase renewable electricity and is now writing a power-plant only carbon cap bill.

Following the Tuesday energy meeting at the White House, President Obama and Senator Kerry indicated that it wasn’t really about CO2 as they are willing to shelve their carbon trading scheme, but as Obama said, he wants a bill that will “raise the cost of burning oil and coal.” Senator Kerry suggested limiting carbon emission on electric utilities—which will require expensive carbon sequestration equipment and/or more renewables. As we have seen first-hand in New Mexico, these increased costs will be passed on to the ratepayer.

It hasn’t worked out well here in this poor state, but our “energy” Senator is working to put the entire country through the same thing. He has drafted legislation to limit emissions from the electric power sector. Unless Americans want to be freezing in the dark, each and every person had better make their voice heard. Wake-up and learn a lesson from New Mexico. Do not let our Senator double your energy bills!

There is never a good time to intentionally raise the cost of the single item that is central to everything that makes America uniquely American—and now, with an economy teetering on the brink of disaster, is the worst possible time. Any Senator, any Congressman, any state legislator, who votes to raise energy costs is simply unAmerican. He or she doesn’t deserve our vote.

I’m outraged. Are you?

Marita Noon is the Executive Director at CARE (Citizens' Alliance for Responsible Energy), the New Mexico nonprofit organization advocating for citizens’ right to energy that is abundant, available, and affordable. CARE works on energy issues state, region, and nation wide. Find out more at

----- Correction -----
We were contacted by the author regarding an error in the above post. Originally Ms. Noon indicated that New Mexicans would pay almost "double in 2011." Actually, New Mexicans will pay almost 50% more in 2011 than they did in 2007. The post has been corrected above.

Jul 3, 2010

Independence Day

Last year we wrote a post entitled "Independence." It talks about what independence really means. Many of the threats to our independence have come to pass since publishing this post only a year ago. With the Healthcare bill whose first encroachments took effect July 1 of this year and Cap and Tax lurking in the halls of Congress, remember this Independence Day that our nation was built on self-reliance and achievement. Today's dependence on government threatens to crush the very foundation upon which our nation was built.

July 3rd, 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.


By the way, if you haven't taken the time to read the Declaration of Independence, perhaps this weekend is a good time to take a few minutes to do so. While you're at it, you might want to take a gander at the United States Constitution (particularly if you happen to be a candidate for office or an elected official). Think of it as a small price to pay for the endangered independence that you enjoy... for now.

Jun 29, 2010

Your Tax Dollars at Work

An "events center" or a performing arts magnate school... what is the real future of the First Baptist Church building on the corner of Central and Broadway? The Albuquerque Public Schools - awash in bond money approved by voters back in February - has put in a bid to buy the church for $11.3 MILLION. APS wants to turn the facility originally built in 1927 into a performing arts magnate school (ABQ Journal - Subscription).

Meanwhile, the city is watching its dream of an arena, uh... "events center" exit stage left. So the city council in a 7-1 vote with Councilor Lewis objecting and Councilor Winter recusing himself, resolved to urge the mayor to try and negotiate a deal with APS to allow the two governmental entities to share the site (ABQ Journal - Subscription).

The real question is what are either of these two taxpayer paid for entities doing spending our tax dollars on a school for the performing arts or an "events center?" Both the city and APS are in the middle of what can only be called a serious budget crisis. Layoffs and cuts are rampant at both but don't worry, you'll have an "events center" or a magnate school to go to even if you can't afford the tickets or pencils.

Notice how the unpopular arena has become an "events center?" Like global warming - now climate change - the arena has become increasingly unpopular with the public. So we'll build an "events center" not an "arena" - a distinction without a difference. Or more like a boondoggle by any other name still stinks the same.
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The problem is that money for capital projects like this purchase come from the sale of bonds. They're essentially loans supported by taxes. Sometimes money will come from various federal programs like the spending package euphemistically known as ARRA - The "American Reinvestment and Recovery Act." But in the final analysis all of the money comes from us.

More importantly, the completion of these monuments to entertainment will require operational money that comes from already depleted general funds. Remember, both APS and the city are cutting salaries and laying off personnel.

In short, there are a number of very compelling reasons not to build either project. The school board looks like it's got $617 MILLION burning a hole in its pocket courtesy of a tiny tilted turnout. The city doesn't have the $400 MILLION it wants for an arena, but if or when it does you'll be the one paying for it.

This isn't about economic development and it's not about education. It's about spending every dime provided by taxpayers regardless of the long-term consequences. By the way, today - June 30th - is the last day you'll be paying 6.625% on purchases. Tomorrow you'll be paying 7% in Albuquerque - sending even more of your tax dollars to "work" so that bureaucrats and politicians can play. 

Jun 28, 2010

Broken Records

Records... they're the bane of just about everyone's existence but an essential part of law enforcement. Without records and reports, officers would find it almost impossible to truthfully testify - forgetting details or even confusing cases. Believe it or not, most officers spend a lot of time in court testifying. Without accurate records event the most experienced DA would have a difficult time convicting anyone.

As we told you back in January, the Albuquerque Police Department's records department is behind - way behind. And despite forced overtime, the folks over at records can't seem to catch up. Much of the delay seems to be due to the new data entry system affectionately known as Crapperfire (officially known as Copperfire).

Back in January we told you that the delays were problematic, evidence was getting separated from reports and that 229 reports had simply disappeared. More recently our Eyes tell us that supervisors have been seeing reports rejected for corrections only to find that the required correction had been made over a year prior but hadn't been recorded yet.

Most concerning is that the system has now lost considerably more than 229 reports. Our Eyes tell us that somewhere around 10,000 reports are simply gone. The 5th Floor is asking officers to re-write the reports but officers are refusing to do so.

Now before you go and think that they're just being difficult, understand a significant amount of time has passed since many of these reports were originally written. Officers must testify under oath to the accuracy of their reports and will base their testimony on those same reports. If an officer is attempting to re-create a police report even a few months later, it's likely that many of the details would be lost. As a result, officers could not truthfully testify to the events in question and cases would be dismissed. It's even possible that officers could be sanctioned or charged with perjury.

Copperfire appears to have been a bad choice made worse by poor implementation, under staffing, and bad training. It seems as if the hole being dug by Crapperfire is getting deeper. We don't quite know how to get APD out of this and away from all of these broken records, but the first thing to do when you've found yourself in a hole is to stop digging.

Jun 27, 2010

It’s An Economic War Stupid

A war analogy is used to describe the situation in the Gulf. From the Oval Office, Obama addressed, “the battle we’re waging,” saying, that our shores and citizens are being assaulted.

We are in a war. But to watch the political maneuvering taking place in Washington, it appears we are at a war with BP, when we should be partnering with them to battle the constant flow gushing into the Gulf.

Earlier this month, Obama demonized BP for spending money on television ads. BP is in the midst of a PR nightmare—exacerbated by ill-managed comments from the CEO. BP needs to consider their stockholders, pensioners, and their future ability to pay.

In effort to lift their own lackluster performance, the administration has to paint BP as the villains. There is plenty of blame to go around and surely BP will end up owning a fair share of it, but no one wins if BP is not healthy. In the last month, their stock has sunk, the news is rife with reports of a possible bankruptcy, and talk is heard of a potential government seizure. In order to pay the myriad charges against them, BP needs to be solvent—even successful. The President shooting at them shows how little he understands about basic business principles—unless his goal is the demise of BP.

A few days later, Obama ratcheted up the adversarial tone when he declared that BP’s CEO Tony Hayward, “wouldn’t be working for me after any of those statements.”

Then, he summoned the BP executives to the White House as newscasters commented on the “perp walk.” Whatever happened to “innocent until proven guilty?”

Once there, they went through what Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) called a “shake down” resulting in agreement to a $20 billion escrow fund—which they probably would have agreed to even under friendly circumstances. BP has repeatedly offered assurances of payment. This was not something they had to do. But the actions circumvented the law.  Why is there so little outrage over the denial of due process?

Like his colleagues, Tony Hayward was called in front of Congress—patiently listening to their attacks and accusations while he was “sliced and diced.” Henry Waxman (D-CA) all but acknowledged that after reviewing thousands of pages of internal documents, there was little evidence of upper-level executives being aware of the problems with the well. (Most of us have worked for a company where we were confident that the CEO has little awareness of what was really going on.) The interrogation produced little but political grandstanding by representatives who want to look like they are doing something. The hearings are a distraction, an attempt to shape the agenda and push cap and trade as was made clear by Ed Markey’s (D-MA) opening comments.

One Representative defended their actions by saying that they were protecting the American Citizens—an apt role for government. But if government was truly on it on day one, no escrow fund, no hearings would be needed. Despite the quantity of past violations, the government approved BP’s drilling and disaster response plans. A luncheon was even scheduled honor BP with a safety award for that very well. There has been plenty of cronyism between BP, the MMS and the administration that points to a failure of government as much as it does to BP. With proper government protection, the blow out may never have happened.

The government’s actions toward BP set a terrible precedent of government vs. business. The drilling moratorium is an example: it is government who has caused massive laid-offs.

Additionally, the government/business relationship is fickle. BP may have received favors because they were about to endorse the President’s beloved cap and trade scheme. When you are a big business who can help the agenda, you get perks and exemptions—otherwise, the policies punish you. Who’d want to invest, or grow? Businesses fear government may turn on them.

We’re in economic peril. Out-of-touch elitists shouldn’t beleaguer job creators. They should work with them, be on the same team. No one wins when business goes bankrupt. Congress needs to quit grandstanding and work with the oil companies to find solutions to the Gulf crisis. There will be plenty of time later for investigations and interrogations.

Yes, we are in a war, but it is not a war against BP or even against the oil spill. It’s an economic war, and if we do not draft a different battle plan, America is going to lose.

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

Jun 25, 2010


After weeks of anticipation the county finally made public the results of the promised Dantis investigation... sort of. Instead of releasing the full report, the county provided an "executive summary" to reporters at a late Friday morning news conference.

The $20,000 "executive summary" covered all of the points of everything that everyone already knew. In truth, the "investigation" didn't uncover anything new. But taxpayers should feel confident that the county spent an inordinate amount of taxpayer money to find out something everyone already knew.

County Manager Thaddeus Lucero gave a prepared statement to members of the press and after stating that he was "protect[ing] the due process and other rights of the accused and the witnesses" went on to name a number of county employees who would be disciplined and in one case terminated.

Excuse us, but it's a bit strange that the only person that County Manager Thaddeus Lucero was unwilling to talk about (other than witnesses) was the one man that was referenced no less than 17 times in the 7 page "executive summary" - Deputy County Manager, John Dantis.

Of course, the DCM wasn't referenced to by name but rather as the DCM. In fact, the name John Dantis who happens to be the DCM, doesn't appear a single time in the "executive summary."
According to a witness who participated in the hiring process for Dantis, the DCM encouraged him and the Clinically Managed Detox Supportive Aftercare Community MATS Facility management Program Manager (the “Program Manager”) to hire Dantis despite their concerns with his qualifications and the short length of time that Dantis had been in recovery.
Even according to the "executive summary," the hiring of Jamie Danits was a violation of the county nepotism policy. Therefore, none of the events following the hire have a whole lot of relevance because the hire should have never have taken place.

Should county employees who helped further the younger Dantis career by covering for his failings be disciplined and even terminated? Absolutely. But the problem is the main actor in this county kabuki dance is being allowed to retire without a hint of discipline and without a definite date.
John Dantis has been in discussion with me for the last six months prior to any accusations and the investigation, regarding his retirement. At this time, I do not have an official letter of retirement from Mr. Dantis. I will not take any further questions on this matter.
- Prepared Statement of County Manager Thaddeus Lucero
No questions, no date, no disciplinary action. This action (or lack thereof) sends a crystal clear message to county employees... if you're high enough on the food chain you're untouchable. More, it actually reinforces the idea that county managers and deputy managers are untouchable therefore, you better play ball.

One need look no further than today's news conference to determine how and why an unqualified son of a "DCM" was able to not only get but keep his job despite numerous incidents of questionable behavior. Accountability starts at the top and no one should be untouchable.

Eye on the Grapevine: Chief Schultz to Retire?

It looks as though Public Safety Director Darren White is or soon will be in the market for a new Chief. The Eyes on the grapevine have it that Chief Ray Schultz will be retiring perhaps as soon as July. Frankly, the move makes sense.

Meanwhile, the rumor mill has spun out a couple of scenarios. One where newly promoted Deputy Chief Beth Paiz was offered the job but turned it down and the post was offered to also newly promoted DC Allen Banks. The second spin was that Banks was offered the job outright and that Paiz was none too happy.

We're not sure which of the two is true or if either of them are. However, the retirement rumor makes sense. Chief Schultz has now completely earned his Chief's retirement and can ride into the sunset (or perhaps a job with the feds) pulling down over $200,000 a year.

Sometimes these things are simply products of an over active imagination or wishful thinking. Other times there's a nugget of truth there.

One thing is sure... If Albuquerque's top cop is leaving his perch on the 5th floor the replacement games are just beginning. Stay tuned.

Jun 22, 2010

Need to Know

The long awaited report on the Jamie Dantis (newly minted fugitive from justice and son of Deputy County Manager John Dantis) affair is finally in and... 

Initially, County Manager Thaddeus Lucero indicated that the investigation into how Jamie Dantis continued to receive high marks for his work performance (and remain employed for that matter) despite a growing list of incidents including multiple arrests, passing out at work, and crashing a county vehicle. A short time later, Lucero announced the county would retain the services of an outside law firm to conduct the inquiry (read it here - subscription).

Today, the Dantis report was presented to the Bernalillo County Board of Commissioners and immediately sequestered from the public.

There are a couple issues here. First of all, what could possibly be in the report that requires that its contents be concealed? The taxpayers of Bernalillo County reportedly paid around $20,000 in order to have a presumably impartial third party explain where the system broke down and who if anyone was at fault for protecting Jamie Dantis from potential disciplinary action. Second, our Eyes tell us that the report itself was initially delivered to the county last week. Why was the report withheld from the commissioners whose job it is to represent the public?

The Journal stories have painted a pictures of a powerful father in charge of the most important (and expensive) division of county hiring and then protecting a troubled son with the aid of county employees that work for him. In other words, a questionable hire followed by a cover-up.

Now the county is further delaying the release of an important report on the incident making whatever information that is finally released more than a little suspect. In fact, how can commissioners trust the report presented to them today when the original copy was delivered to the county last week?

It's hard to trust a report that has been concealed. Is it a case of CYA or simple arrogance on the part of county officials?
Our Eyes tell us that County Manager Thaddeus Lucero announced to his staff a couple of weeks ago that he was applying for the Executive Director's job over at MRCOG. In a curious twist of fate, the Eyes now have it that two commissioners are trying to lure the former MRCOG ED, Lawrence Rael to the county to take the County Manager's job.
Rael left his post at MRCOG to run for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor but was defeated by Brian Colon. He has also been mentioned prominently as a candidate for chief of staff should Diane Denish become governor. Would it be a good idea to hire a manager that may only serve for less than six months? If Rael put his name in the hat, what would that say about his confidence in Denish?

In any case, the county commission is a game of 3s. If two of the commissioners are looking to hire Rael then Lucero is on thin ice indeed.
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Look... The public has a right to know the contents of the original report and the commission has a duty to exercise oversight should any county employee or manager be found to have knowingly participated in the sordid affair. As of tonight, the public is on a need to know basis and the county has determined that the public doesn't need to know.

Jun 19, 2010


YouTube, MySpace, Facebook... We don't quite know what drives people to take pictures of themselves breaking laws and post them in public places. It's kinda like an armed robber leaving a phone number and instructions to call him when the boss gets back to open the safe. (No kidding. It really happened in Chicago back in 2008. Read it here.) Criminals are generally not the brightest bulbs in the shed and neither are the twenty-something trespassers.

APD is now on the hunt for a group of cyber-idiots who decided it was a good idea to break into the Albuquerque Zoo and play Dr. Doolittle with the animals there. Of course, they couldn't resist the urge to document their misadventure and post photos of themselves on Facebook.
Albuquerque police say they are investigating a group of young adults who posted pictures on Facebook showing themselves scaling and crawling under fences to get into the Rio Grande Zoo after hours, entering the enclosures of the giraffes, sea lions and possibly the rhinos, and feeding and touching some of the animals.
BioPark director Rick Janser said an anonymous tipster sent police the Facebook pictures, which had been removed from the page of the person who was posting them Wednesday afternoon.
"We have their images; we have their names," Janser said Wednesday at a news conference about the break-in.
 Since no one found a body in the Rhino cage, we assume that all of the Facebook Fools found their way out of the Zoo alive. Well, at least one of them did anyway.

What immediately crossed our mind was how could a bunch of twenty-somethings - presumably at least a little inebriated - manage to break through a perimeter fence, hop into various animal habitats to party with the animals? They had to be making a bit of a ruckus, laughing, giggling, and disturbing the zoo's inhabitants - not to mention the flashes from their cameras. Why didn't city security detect the Dastardly Dummies?
Janser said zoo security consists of a fence around the entire zoo and guards who patrol at night. He wouldn't say how many guards there are, but said their work that night would be examined to see how they could have missed the people who broke in, wandered around the zoo and took pictures of themselves.
He said there is no video surveillance of the fences that surround the zoo, although there are cameras inside.
While Janser wouldn't tell the Journal how many guards prowl the zoo at night, our Eyes tell us that there's exactly two - one that must stay in the guard house and one on patrol. Two guards might be enough to cover the zoo if they were assisted by security cameras - which they are not. As it stands the guard in the shack is useless for detecting grounds violations unless the break into a building and the zoo grounds are too big to cover for a single patrol officer. Our Eyes tell us that the BioPark is even more vulnerable.

The city has spent millions of taxpayer dollars on the zoo and the neighboring Albuquerque BioPark. Doesn't it make sense to provide adequate security to protect the taxpayer's investment?

Currently, city security has 82 guards and 14 supervisors. Yes... 14 supervisors. That's one supervisor for every 5.8 officers. It might not be a bad idea for a few supervisors to bolster the ranks out in the field. It's also probably a good idea to look into hiring a few more guards.
This is another example of how political legacy building damages the future. In a time of plenty, government can often scrape together enough money to build a huge facility but there's not enough long-term money to maintain and protect it.

The same applies to programs that fall outside the core function of government. They're created during a time of tax largess and impossible to get rid of when government receipts will no longer support them.
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We understand that money's tight right now and that hiring new employees is probably an impossibility. However, the city has a responsibility to protect its facilities as well as the cyber-idiots who might endanger themselves.

One other thing to consider... If you take the time to view the Facebook photos (Subscription),  you'll note that there was apparently a large group of idiots on parade through the zoo. It seems unlikely that this was the first time the zoo had been compromised. It's more likely that one or two of the participants acted as guides and were familiar with how to enter the grounds and what the security (or lack thereof) was like.

This time, no one and no animal appears to have been harmed. But what about next time and what kind of liability is attached should someone be killed?