Wednesday, April 26, 2006

More Mobile Radar

What’s wrong with this picture?

Didn’t we just do this?

On Saturday, April 15, 2006, I posted an entry about mobile radar and the lack of a license plate on its trailer.

The mobile radar unit showed up in my neighborhood on Westbound Indian School Rd. and was warning drivers of their speed.

The mobile radar unit serves a very worthwhile purpose in reminding motorists of the speed limit in a particular area. Many drivers check the accuracy of their speedometer against the unit’s display.

The unit shows a 35 MPH speed limit sign with a red flashing warning set at 40 MPH.

What’s wrong? It’s a 40 MPH speed zone. Two blocks East there is this 40 MPH speed limit sign.

Several years ago there was a difficult community fight in getting the speed reduced for the school crossing at Montezuma Elementary School on the corner with Richmond Dr. N.E.

After a long and painful battle, the speed limit was reduced from 40 MPH to 35 MPH for a couple of blocks on either side of the school crossing and a stop light was also erected.

The manual of Uniform System of Traffic Control Devices approved by the State Highway Commission indicates that a black on white speed zone sign is legal maximum speed within that zone, while black on yellow means the indicated speed is simply a warning.

The city’s traffic code indicates that before a speed limit may be changed, it must be determined, “upon the basis of an engineering and traffic investigation.” This means when the mobile radar unit was set up showing a 35 MPH speed limit, the following occurs.

The police department arbitrarily and inappropriately changed the speed limit. It sends an inaccurate message; that the speed limit was different than what it had been just before the unit arrived and what it would be when the unit was removed. The police are messing with the driving public’s collective perceptions of what the law is. The credibility gap widens.

There are several Draconian efforts afoot to punish drivers through the use of technology. Obvious mistakes like this raise questions of how reliable those technological tools are used.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Guy Riordan

What’s wrong with this picture?

This is a picture of Guy Riordan, Managing Director of Wachovia Securities of New Mexico, boxing promoter and owner of Rancho de La Joya Game Preserve. Here he is surveying his private hunting facility and sporting clays shooting range during the 2003 state championship. The property is next to La Joya State Game Refuge on the East side of the Rio Grande, south of US Route 60, 55 miles South of Albuquerque near Bernardo, New Mexico.

Riordan is a long time Democratic Party financial contributor who has provided campaign funds to many prominent politicians, including Governor Bill Richardson, Lt. Gov. Diane Denish, Attorney General Patricia Madrid, Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chávez, Rep. Peter Wirth, Santa Fe’s District 47 and State Rep. Al Park of Albuquerque’s District 26.

Richardson, who took some $24,000 in campaign contributions appointed Riordan to the New Mexico State Gaming Commission, where he became chairman.

There is a major political corruption trial against former New Mexico State Treasurer Robert Vigil which is expected to last six weeks. It is taking place in the old restored courtroom in U.S. Federal District Court in Albuquerque.

Vigil is charged with 28 counts of conspiracy, racketeering, extortion and money laundering.

Vigil’s predecessor, former State Treasurer Michael Montoya, for whom Vigil was his Deputy Treasurer, plead guilty to one count of extortion. Montoya is cooperating with federal prosecutors in a plea agreement. He named Riordan, in testimony, as having given him between $75,000 and $100,000 in kickbacks for government work.

Wachovia Securities did about $1.1 billion with the State Treasurer’s office in 2005.

Richardson immediately fired Riordan from the Commission and is giving the campaign contributions to charity.

Riordan’s biography and picture were immediately removed from the State Gaming Commission’s website.

Other campaign fund recipients have also quickly distanced themselves from Riordan by giving his campaign fund contributions to charity.

Riordan has not been charged with any wrongdoing and his lawyer denied he did anything wrong, calling Montoya a liar.

The media were quick to name Riordan’s contribution recipients but they overlooked his involvement with the ABQPAC. A political action committee set up after the 2001 mayoral campaign.

Riordan served on the ABQPAC board that illegally funneled money to Mayor Chávez for family travel expenses, to pay Chávez' wife’s cellular phone bills and to retire old campaign debts.

Also on the ABQPAC board was Chávez’ former campaign treasurer during his 2000 campaign, University of New Mexico Professor of Public Administration Bruce Perlman who devised the PAC calling it, “a neat and nifty way,” to pay for expenses not covered by city rules.

While campaign treasurer, Perlman used his UNM State e-mail address as his contact point for contributors in violation of state university rules on the political use of websites.

Attorney General Madrid ran for Lt. Gov. on the 1990 Democratic Party ticket with gubernatorial candidate and former three-time Governor Bruce King.

In 1998, Chávez was the Democratic Party gubernatorial candidate with Denish as his Lt. Gov. running mate. They lost to incumbent Gary Johnson, at the same time Madrid was elected attorney general.

Madrid refused to investigate or prosecute Chávez on the ABQPAC case. The case was eventually heard by the City of Albuquerque’s Ethics Board, which found Chávez guilty of ethics violations.

Here are State Rep. Al Park of Albuquerque’s Northeast Heights speaking with Chávez and City Councillor Michael Cadigan and his wife Traci, after the December 1, 2005, swearing in ceremonies. In the background, is C.M. Dziak, in the orange shirt, who is an insurance agent and one-time head of the ABQPAC after Perlman stepped down.

Jim Baca

What’s wrong with this picture?

This is the face of a very young Jim Baca. It's the spring of 1972 and he was working for KOAT TV-7 as a news photographer/reporter in Albuquerque.

I have been acquainted with Baca off and on over the years and have watched his public activities with some interest.

I would like to introduce him and recommend his blog for your consideration; "Only in New Mexico" at

He is a real political animal. Don’t take that as a bad thing as he is committed to doing good work. By all accounts he has been pretty successful in accomplishing his goals politically, both in being elected and when he served in appointed positions.

Baca moved from television, where he was a weekend anchor and went on to do public relations for politicians. He served New Mexico Governor Bruce King, as News Secretary in 1974. He then worked for the New Mexico State Legislature before becoming Public Information Officer and Policy Assistant for Albuquerque Mayor Harry Kinney, 1974-75.

He served on the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta Inc. Board, 1975-77.

In 1978, he was involved in Bruce King’s second campaign for governor of New Mexico and King appointed him as New Mexico State Liquor Director, 1980-82. Baca revamped the State Liquor Division and shepherded major changes to the New Mexico Liquor Control Act through the State Legislature.

In 1982, Baca was elected to a four-year term as New Mexico Land Commissioner.

He decided to run for mayor of Albuquerque in 1985.

In the initial election Baca finished first in a nine-candidate field. He did not obtain the necessary percentage to avoid a run-off election with City Councillor Ken Schultrz.

Baca and Schultz were invited by the police union to give their campaign pitch. It was no secret that Schultz was favored by the union’s leadership. Baca sensed that the union was going to endorse Schultz and told the gathered officers he was not seeking their endorsement. Baca was very critical of officers' use of force and to beware that if they endorsed the wrong candidate, it would hurt them if he, Baca, were elected. The officers took his statements as a threat and made a negative endorsement of Baca. Schultz advertised the action as a positive endorsement and went on to win the run-off election by about a 400-vote margin.

Baca later approached me on the street when I was president of the police union and told me that then Chief of Police Sammy Baca, no relation, had, during his failed mayoral campaign, offered him a potentially damaging Intelligence Unit file on Schultz.

The Albuquerque Journal uncovered the story and Mayor Schultz ordered an inquiry of the Intelligence Unit’s investigations by the Independent Review Officer, former New Mexico Supreme Court Chief Justice Bill Reardon, who ultimately uncovered improper practices.

Baca was General Manager of the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District, 1988-89 and attempted to make major changes to an entrenched, almost feudal, water control system and was forced out of the position.

In 1991, Baca was elected to a second term as New Mexico State Land Commissioner, but did not serve out his four years because in 1993, he was appointed Director of the Federal Department of Interior's Bureau of Land Management in President Clinton’s administration. He upset oil and gas interests in the Western states that wanted easy access to BLM lands for drilling.

In 1994, Baca campaigned for the Democratic Party's gubernatorial nomination and lost in the primary.

When Baca ran for mayor in 1997, I recommended the union board endorse him, however, they endorsed former Governor David Cargo.

Baca was elected Albuquerque mayor for a four-year term.

Before taking office, he called me asking my opinion if he could remove then Chief of Police Joe Polisar, who had been the Intelligence Unit supervisor during the aforementioned investigation. I told him that because the chief worked at the mayor’s pleasure, of course he could remove him. Baca sent a henchman to unceremoniously fire Polisar.

Baca asked me whom he should appoint and I told him he should conduct a global search. He was concerned that officers in the department would be upset for not selecting someone from within. I told him, if, after a nationwide search, he had not found a suitable candidate, he could always return to the department.

He promised the union they would be involved in the selection process of a new chief, but did not appoint anyone to his selection committee. I asked for the list of the 73 applicants under the Inspection of Public Records Act, but Baca, through his underlings, refused. I filed for a temporary injunction that was denied by the District Court. I decided not to pursue the issue when Baca appointed the union president to the selection committee for the final choice. Baca chose the chief of police from Toledo, Ohio, Gerald Galvin.

After taking office, Baca appointed a police officer, who supported him during his campaign, to manage the city’s golf courses. There was a brouhaha over his lack of management qualifications. When the press determined that the officer’s application had been altered to improve his resume, Baca relented and released the officer.

Baca accused me of having exposed the officer’s actual qualifications. I had nothing to do with trashing the officer. I believed Baca could appoint anyone he wished at that level without regard for the person’s qualification. I was later told a senior administrator rewrote and enhanced the resume to create the appearance of qualifications without the officer's knowledge.

During his term, Baca took a strong position against employees during negotiations. This is nothing unexpected or unusual for mayors, but Baca took umbrage at the public comments made in an effort to sway popular opinion.

In all his experience, Baca had not dealt with unions and was unaccustomed to having employees treat him as an equal at the negotiations’ table.

Baca was very critical of officers' use of force and routinely over-reacted to events and seemed quick and harsh in his judgments towards officers. He, along with the City Council, instituted a process to create a citizen’s police oversight commission.

I monitored the process and attempted to influence the council to avoid compromising due process issues for accused officers. The council passed an ordinance and a commission was appointed. They attempted to hire an independent review officer using a closed process. I sued the POC for violating the Open Meetings Act in District Court and won.

The POC continued to violate the Open Meetings Act and when I called them on it at a public meeting, I was ordered by a Deputy Chief to sit down. I was later ordered to Internal Affairs where an investigator physically assaulted my lawyer. When I interceded to calm things down, I also was attacked. All this was captured by my video camera.

Chief Galvin fired me and I was criminally charged with simple battery on the investigator. The department could not sustain any departmental violations. I won an unfair labor practice complaint. The City prosecuted the criminal charge and at the end of their presentation the Court dismissed the charge citing the incident as the worst interrogation the judge had ever seen.

The City offered to mediate a settlement the day before a final personnel hearing would return me to work. I settled, with the City reinstating me, making me whole and paying major damages. I chose to retire, as I previously planned to do a month after the original incident.

Baca stood by without interceding.

In 2001, Baca lost reelection to former and current Mayor Martin Chávez.

In 2004, Baca was appointed by newly elected Governor Bill Richardson to be the New Mexico Natural Resource Trustee.

He resigned and is now a Democratic primary candidate seeking a third term as New Mexico State Land Commissioner.

When he hasn’t served in public positions, he has his own public affairs consulting practice and is Vice President of Business Development for ROAD 9, INC., a fiber-to-the-home network company.

He has served as board member of the National Wilderness Society, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance and the Wyss Foundation.

So, What’s wrong with this picture?

Nothing much, unless you want to read into it that Baca found the image of anti-war protestor’s placing carnations in the barrels of officers' shotguns humorous or demeaning.

He and I do not see eye to eye on a number of issues; in particular, unionism and his views on police officers' use of force. We are also not of the same political persuasion. I however, believe that his conservationist role matches nicely with my own philosophies on the environment and the protection of natural resources.

I believe that Jim Baca has been most outstanding in his prior terms as Land Commissioner. I also like him as a person.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Todd Ziemek

What’s wrong with this picture?

This is my friend Todd Ziemek, he was working for KOAT TV-7 television as a news photographer here in Albuquerque until 1999.

He was the shop steward for the station’s union.

When I put together a Police-Press Street Relations Seminar for the Albuquerque Police Department, Ziemek offered to assist in coordinating with the press.

He attended the Police-Press Street Relations Seminar which was held on August 30, 1999.

I took him for a balloon ride at Fiesta that year.

He moved to Durham, New Hampshire to be near his wife’s family.

We met again at the annual National Press Photographers Association in Minneapolis in 2002.

He started working as a freelancer for the Public Broadcasting Station, WGBH in Boston before being hired by New Hampshire Public Television station.

He covered the 2004 New Hampshire primary and wrote, “These primary's are nothing but a bunch of hot air, I guess the primary and balloon fiesta should be one in the same.”

In a September 2, 2004 e-mail, Ziemek wrote, “I'm in the process of starting up my own gig. Got a camera, tripod and going with Apple for all the post-production....”

He used one of my pictures for his web page, 16x9

On Wednesday April 19, 2005, he was laid off with two other New Hampshire Public Television employees in a restructuring of the station. Ziemek, fortunately has his high definition television production and internet project freelancing company to fall back on.

Over the years he has been dismayed by the state of the television industry, especially the news end. He recognizes that with the ever-increasing number of cable stations and the emerging technology calling for more and varied kinds of productions, he will have opportunities to continue in television.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Mobile Radar

What's Wrong With This Picture?

This is a mobile radar unit owned by the Albuquerque Police Department and is used to inform drivers of their speed in areas where drivers tend to exceed the posted speed limit.

Here a vehicle is clocked at 32 MPH in a 45 MPH speed zone of the newly expanded Montaño Rd.

Residents complained that since the two-lane roadway was widened to four-lanes, speeding increased with some drivers going more than 50 MPH.

While photographing for about five minutes, the highest speed observed was 59 MPH.

Upon seeing the machine, drivers who are speeding tend to slow down.

What's wrong with this picture is the fact that the utility trailer has no license plate.

The police department and the City of Albuquerque are not exempt from the State's registration requirements. Governments do not pay for registrations; they just have to send in the paperwork.

This could be seen as an example of the arrogance of the city and in particular its police department.

Such hypocritical lawlessness may cause a justified credibility problem for citizens. It may be viewed simply as another example of the feeling of Mayor Martin Chávez' attitude; that he can do exactly what he wants without regard for law, rule or process.

Then again, perhaps citizens may not notice the missing license plate because they are going too fast.

Montaño Rd. Bridge: 40 Years to Four Lanes.

What’s wrong with this picture?

The photo to the left is of the old cottonwood tree, at the site of an August 21, 1995, protest at Montaño Rd. and Rio Grande Blvd. after the City Council approved construction of the Montaño Bridge.

This entry is not so much about what's wrong with this picture, as it is what's wrong with the process.

Why did it take over 40 years from the original proposal for a river crossing at Montaño Rd?

With the recent widening of Montaño from a two-lane roadway to four-lanes, there are now 30 lanes spanning the Rio Grande within the city limits.

With the explosive growth of Albuquerque's West side and even faster growth of Rio Rancho, the need for more bridges looms in the future.

Mayor Martin Chávez in his first term from December 1993 to November 1997, forcefully moved the project along against severe opposition from conversationalists, environmentalists, neighborhoods and the adjoining Village of Los Rancho de Albuquerque.

At a press conference, Chávez was asked a question about an issue in the future, which he deflected by saying, "we'll cross that bridge when we build it."

The City of Albuquerque joined in agreements with several groups before opening two lanes of the bridge, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineering, and the Village of Los Ranchos de Albuquerque.

During former Mayor Jim Baca's term from December 1997 to November 2001, the state of the bridge remained status quo.

When Chávez started his second term, he reestablished his aggressiveness towards getting the bridge expanded.

His efforts continued to meet resistance and he simply ignored required steps on several occasions and resorted to name calling of those who required the City to comply with agreements and federal mandates.

Eventually, enough roadblocks were lowered that the bridge was striped for four lanes.

There are still some issues that must be finalized; building sound buffering walls on the West side of the bridge and an air quality monitoring station which the city has agreed to build within the next year.

As the sun sets on this issue, the Montaño bridge project finally closes with four lanes and Mayor Chávez proves the axiom about him held around City Hall to be true, that it is, "My way or the highway."

Metropolitan Transportation Board

What’s wrong with these pictures?

City Councilors Brad Winter, Martin Heinrich and Ken Sanchez

Mayor Martin Chávez and Councilor Michael Cadigan

City Councilor Debbie O’Malley

This is the January 12, 2006, meeting of the Mid-Region Transit District’s Metropolitan Transportation Board. Representing the City of Albuquerque’s administration was Mayor Martin Chávez who appointed himself to replace outgoing Chief Administrative Officer James Lewis. The City Council has five of its members on the Board of Directors; Councilors Michael Cadigan, Martin Heinrich, Debbie O’Malley, Ken Sanchez and Brad Winter.

This scene seems serene, however all is not well.

Mayor Chávez called this “emergency meeting” to try to break a procedural log jamb in getting the Montaño Bridge striped for four lanes.

District Judge Theresa Baca lifted an injunction preventing the City from re-striping Montaño Road and Mayor Chávez immediately ordered city crews to re-stripe the roadway from 4th Street to the Rio Grande Boulevard overpass. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approval was needed to re-stripe the bridge.

The Federal Highway Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency found that Albuquerque was violating procedural requirements and air quality regulations. They threatened withholding of federal transportation funds from Mid-Region Transit District member communities.

Mid-Region Transit District pleaded with the city to reverse the action that threatened to withhold federal money. The Mayor relented and had orange barrels placed to block off the second lane after which he called for the meeting.

The Metropolitan Transportation Board, had ruled the road "regionally significant" and any changes must meet approval of the Federal Highway Administration, the EPA and the Federal Transit Administration.

The MTB had a meeting scheduled January 26, 2006 to take up the issue of regional significance but Chávez insisted on the emergency meeting.

New Mexico Division Administrator for the Highway Administration J. Don Martinez promised to fast-track the review, once the MTB took action removing the regional significance of the bridge, which they did on a 14-3 vote. The three dissenting votes were; Councilors Heinrich and O’Malley, and Village of Los Ranchos de Albuquerque Mayor Larry Abraham.

Martinez approved the original re-striping.

The Mayor was later quoted as saying he was, "moving aggressively" to get the Corps of Engineers approval. He enlisted the assistance of U.S. Senator Pete Dominici, R-N.M., who applied pressure on the Corps. The Corps granted provisional approval requiring placement of sound dampening walls and an air quality monitoring station that are now in the works.

So what is wrong with these pictures?

City ordinance defines, “A majority of the members of the Council shall constitute a quorum thereof.”

Five of the nine Councilors sit on the MTB, making them a quorum “doing public business,” and therefore triggering the requirements of the State Open Meetings Act and also imposing the city’s own strict requirements including notice and publication of an agenda.

Some may wish to pooh-pooh the idea, but the five pictured here are not just representatives of the council; they are acting as the council. What they do within the MTB has a binding policy effect on the city.

The same five Councilors sit on the Mid-Region Council of Governments Board of Directors and the same problem ensues.

Director of City Council Laura Mason was made aware of the quorum issue the next day and was going to look into it.

Mason discussed the issue with City Attorney Bob White who opined that because the MTB met the requirements of the State Open Meetings Act and the public could watch the actions of the councilors, then the City Council did not also have to meet the requirements.

Mason said in the discussion with White, such actions were not those of the city council, unless the full council made them so at one of their meetings, not withstanding the quorum and notice requirements in their own ordinance.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney

There is quite a brouhaha brewing on Capitol Hill between Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, D-Ga. and the U.S. Capitol Police.

The Atlanta suburbs representative, who happens to be African American, entered a House building March 29 without her identifying lapel pin visible, was challenged by a U.S. Capitol Police officer whom she ignored, and failed to stop for him. The officer reached out and touched her then she wielded upon him striking the officer while holding a cell phone.

When identified she was released. Now the pundits are having a field day. Members of her own party and in particular members of the Congressional Black Caucus seem to have stood mute.

The argument goes something like this: for security reasons the officer stopped McKinney because he didn’t recognize her and she hit him for touching her.

McKinney supporters have claimed the case is one of racial profiling.

The argument goes further, that security trumps all in this post 9-11 era.

Capitol police referred the case to the U.S. Attorney Kenneth Wainstein for possible prosecution. Wainstein convened a grand jury.

However, no one: police, attorneys, press or pundits and especially congress seem to have bothered to go to the controlling document, the Constitution. It says in article one, section six, referring to all senators and representatives, “They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same....“

McKinney has posted this section on her congressional website but no one else seems to have taken note.

The officer’s touching of McKinney takes this case out of the realm of having been a breach of the peace because she, as is any citizen, permitted to defend herself from an unlawful touching.

In this case, the white officer, whose name has not been disclosed, is in a no win position. He is in one of the most difficult positions any officer might face -- he must know his boss -- all 535 senators and representatives. Unfortunately, the officer can never be right in this case. The fact that he was struck falls back on his lack of training and knowledge. He was unprepared to do his job.

Her actions were not criminal and because she represents such a minority of congress, being a black woman, the continued criticism leveled at her does seem to verify the charge of racial profiling.

Another reason the officer can not be right is it is her house and he, as a congressional servant, makes a big mistake in allowing this matter to go any further. He need not apologize for doing his job but as soon as he was made aware of her identity, he constitutionally must grant her the privilege.

The U.S. Attorney needs to quickly refuse to prosecute. To persue this case, is to cross the line of the separation of powers and it gives the appearance of being politically motivated, if only to cause embarrassment for a politician who is neither of the majority party or a staunch supporter of this administration.

Outgoing Capitol Police Chief Terrance Gainer is backing his officer by sending the case to the U.S. Attorney. No doubt his job has been difficult because it is in such a politically charged atmosphere that possibly his frustration has overtaken his better judgment and knowledge of the law. As for the officer, he and any others that don’t know all members of congress on sight need a refresher-training course.

Fistfights should be relegated back to the House floor where they have traditionally occurred. One does not have to like or agree with what she did. One might find that she was, at a minimum, rude and inconsiderate of her own employees, who had a duty and responsibility to secure the House building in challenging unknown or unrecognized persons. However, constitutionally privileged from arrest, she therefore cannot be prosecuted in this case.