Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Tribune is Sloppy…

What’s wrong with this picture?

Tribune Reporter Kate Nash wrote today about the two Democratic former Land Commissioners who want their old job back, Jim Baca and Ray Powell.

She wrote about Baca, “A former Albuquerque mayor who was commissioner from 1991-93.”

She got it wrong by omission, because Baca was Land Commissioner twice. He also served from 1982-85.

Nash recently has twice mistakenly referred to the old federal courthouse downtown as the new Pete V. Domenici U.S. Courthouse and then this….

Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day

What's wrong with this picture?

This is a portrait of journalist Ernest Taylor Pyle, hanging in the office of University of New Mexico Journalism Professor Dennis Herrick, who found it in a storage closet.

Known as “Ernie,” the painting of Pyle is damaged. You can see the tear in the globe in what was southern Soviet Union, now the Ukraine.

Pyle made his home in Albuquerque and was the 1944 Pulitzer Prize winning war correspondent for his work in 1943 war coverage. He wrote for the Scripps-Howard Newspaper Alliance.

His house on Girard Street S.E. is now an Albuquerque public library with museum displays and a memorial.

He wrote about soldiers’ lives in combat zones; about where they came from and how they made their way to war. His individual storytelling made the fighting men the real boys from next door to the folks back home.

Time magazine wrote that Pyle was "America's most widely read war correspondent."

On April 17, 1945, a Japanese sniper on Okinawa killed him.

He is buried in the National Cemetery at the Punch Bowl in Honolulu, Hawaii.

As we honor the military personnel today who made the ultimate sacrifice while taking up arms, I choose to recall Pyle’s efforts to keep the common American people in touch with the common American fighting soldier.

President George W. Bush today placed a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers. He gave a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia and signed into law the "Respect for America's Fallen Heroes Act." The law makes it a misdemeanor for certain demonstrations at cemeteries under the control of the National Cemetery Administration.

Jim Baca’s Only in New Mexico blog today has an interesting story about anti-war veterans being challenged for protesting at the New Mexico Veterans Memorial.

What did these honored Americans die for? So that the rest of the Americans for whom they died could not exercise their rights?

Friday, May 26, 2006

Videos Are a No No...

What's wrong with this picture?

This is a picture of my old partner Robert Fox, a civilian employee of the Albuquerque Police Department. He is assigned to the Video Production Unit at the Police Academy. His job, like mine before I retired, is to produce training videos and the in-house news program, "Duke City Blues." Here he is at the Spring Crawl downtown, several weeks ago, getting footage of officers clearing Central Ave. of revelers after the bars closed.

I show Fox because I’m not sure I can show what I really want you to see without causing an incident; agents from the Department of Public Safety’s Special Investigations Division at work.

Recently, SID agents have been engaging in some investigative activity that is questionable in their efforts to stop bar tenders from over-serving intoxicated patrons and under-aged drinkers. They are requesting people in bars to take breath alcohol tests on portable machines in order to gather necessary evidence to prosecute bar tenders and bar owners.

The owner of the Downtown Distillery, Jacob Traub and two of his employees, one hired to video tape agents and a bar manager, were arrested and charged with "obstruction of an officer in the enforcement/administration of the Liquor Control Act." The three were each videotaping agents who were asking patrons for identification near the establishment. The cameras were also confiscated.

According to an article in the Albuquerque Journal the State’s Department of Public Safety Spokesman Peter Olson, acknowledged that it is not a crime to be intoxicated.

There is no legal presumptive limit for determining an intoxicated person. The .08 breath alcohol content limit applies to driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs while operating a vehicle.

Asking an individual who is not suspected of having committed a crime to provide evidence is very questionable. The idea of freedom in this country, absence probable cause, is that your government, in the form of an officer, is prohibited from accosting citizens.

It is a crime for a person underage to either consume alcohol or to frequent a liquor establishment. It is appropriate for agents in gathering evidence to have minors under arrest for being in a bar provide a breath test.

According to the Journal article, court records showed “the agents didn't want to be taped, ‘due to safety concerns involving undercover work.’"

Agents who identify themselves to patrons in order to ask them to take a breath test are not undercover agents. Even if they were undercover agents, revealing their identity is not a crime.

The New Mexico state statutes states:
60-7A-24. Obstruction of the administration of the Liquor Control Act; criminal penalty; sentencing.

A. Any person who forcibly or by bribe, threat or other corrupt practice obstructs, impedes or attempts to obstruct the administration of the provisions of the Liquor Control Act [60-3A-1 NMSA 1978] is guilty of a fourth degree felony and shall be sentenced pursuant to the provisions of Section 31-18-15 NMSA 1978.

B. Any licensee who forcibly or by bribe, threat or other corrupt practice obstructs, impedes or attempts to obstruct the administration of the provisions of the Liquor Control Act is guilty of violating the Liquor Control Act and shall be punished by fine, suspension or revocation under the procedures of the Liquor Control Act.

It is not a crime to photograph or videotape government officials, agents or officers in public places as long as one is not so close as to physically impede the officer.

Earlier in the evening I was challenged by the APD plain-clothed officer on the right, in the redskins shirt, for taking pictures of this arrest. He approached, telling me to, “Leave, we’re working here.” I told him I was working too. He did not recognize me but backed off anyway. Maybe in part, because APD has an official "On-looker’s Policy.”

The policy allows citizens to observe police working and even to be close enough to overhear a conversation between the officer and citizen. It specifically allows for photographing, audio recording or videotaping contacts, unless the citizen does not want to be overheard. Then the citizen documenting the event must back away out of earshot but may continue to observe and photograph.

This is Albuquerque Police Officer Brad Arhensfield assisting an apparently intoxicated woman up from the sidewalk at the end of the evening. She went on her way.

So what's wrong with the picture?

The reason I show Fox is he is not videotaping this night for law enforcement purposes but to document police activities for a news segment.

If it’s OK for the government to videotape citizens on the streets, then it has to be OK for citizens to document their government’s activities. Government has no problem videotaping cars passing red lights or using photo-radar pictures as enforcement tools, so why should they have a problem with citizens assuring that agents and officers act properly?

I’m not afraid of trying to photograph the agents but until they learn the law, I've got better things to do than fight a fourth-degree felony for interfering. I’m just pretty sure the DPS SID agents are out of control when it comes to this particular activity.

If I, in particular don’t want to play, because I am unwilling to risk facing the felony charge, then they have successfully intimidated the populace. Now, if I could be relatively certain that these agents would be charging me with a misdemeanor, then I would consider photographing or videotaping them.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Nail Biter? No, …Just Another Catfight

What's wrong with this picture?

These are supporters of the rewritten animal control ordinance at the Albuquerque City Council meeting the other night as taking of the vote approached. The apprehension over the outcome showed on this nail biting supporter’s face. But it wasn’t that close. The bill passed 6-3.

Councillor Debbie O'Malley described the bill as the “most word-smithed” piece of legislation she had seen and expressed the hope that some upcoming legislation she has pending will not be subjected to such scrutiny.

Councillor Sally Mayer’s cute-sayings and symbolic laden bill is entitled the Humane and Ethical Animal Rules and Treatment or HEART ordinance. According to Mayer it took two or three years to write.

Since it was introduced June 20, 2005, consideration of the 65-page bill was postponed more than 15 times. It was subjected to more than six and a half hours of public comments and more than five hours of council discussion considering 32 amendments.

One of the overly cute phrases was to explain about “intact animals,” those not spayed or neutered, which were picked up roaming the streets. The idea about "one get out of ACT intact free pass," was explained to mean a pet could get out of animal control's “doggy jail” once, before being required to be “fixed” and before an owner could take them home.

Many of the amendments were technical. They simply corrected spelling and grammatical errors that slipped by the sponsor.

Voting with Mayer were O'Malley, Martin Heinrich, Ken Sanchez, Isaac Benton and Craig Loy

Councillors Don Harris, Brad Winter and Michael Cadigan voted against the resolution.

Harris and Cadigan, the council’s two lawyer-members, had several problems, from their legal perspectives, with the legislation. Winter saw the act as unenforceable.

Mayer accused Harris of trying to destroy her bill anyway he could and was offended by his questions and amendments, attacking him personally.

Harris thought, among other things, that the $150 “fees” for “intact” animals and for breeder permits were an excise tax as opposed to fees. Cadigan agreed.

The bill remains controversial. Critics accused the ordinance of being the product of special interest groups that favored animal rights.

Harris pointed out that in the bill, animals were protected from things that humans were not. One such item in the resolution was the restriction on physical control devices, such as training sticks and electronic prods. Their use constitutes animal cruelty. I find it interesting that the council has no problems with police officers using impact weapons and electronic stun devices on people. HEART seems to elevate animal rights above their human owners.

Last week Cadigan, left, had signaled he had upwards of 40 additional amendments but reduced it to one as he indicated that he and Mayer came to agree on many of his concerns.

Winter, right, reminded Mayer that just because councillors did not agree with all of her legislation or they proposed amendments it was not because they were attacking her, but were trying to serve the people of the city.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Pete V. Domenici U.S. Courthouse???

What’s wrong with this picture?

Observers Say Jury Must Take its Time
By Kate Nash
Tribune Reporter
May 22, 2006
Outside the sixth-floor courtroom at the Pete V. Domenici U.S. Courthouse in Downtown, two flats of Diet Coke and bottled water sat waiting alongside a bag of styrofoam cups and a container of coffee creamer - fuel for the jury set to return to work this afternoon in the corruption trial of former State Treasurer Robert Vigil….
This is not the Pete V. Domenici U.S. Courthouse, but it is the old federal courthouse at Fifth Street and Gold Ave., where the former New Mexico State Treasurer Robert Vigil’s corruption trial came to a halt in a mistrial when the jury could not come to an agreement on any of the 24 counts left after the weeks long trial.

This is the Pete V. Domenici U.S. Courthouse on Lomas Blvd. between Second and Third Streets.

So if a senior political reporter of the second major newspaper of the largest city in the state can’t get the right name of the courthouse, what else did she not get right in her reporting?

The Tribune, along with other news outlets, banged the drum of guilt, before the trial, very hard. Now that the federal government has failed to obtain a conviction, what does it say about pre-trial publicity?

It seems a single juror held out for acquittal, frustrating other members of the panel. Some have tried to blame the holdout as being unreasonable and closed minded. I learned a long time ago that you don't second guess the outcome of jury trials or predict Supreme Court decisions. If you do you often will be surprised by the outcome and even more amazed at their reasoning. It is also the beauty of the jury system; 12 people with different backgrounds, histories and experiences having to unanimously agree on charges. The test is very high; beyond a reasonable doubt.

The U.S. Attorney has the right to retry the case if he wishes, however, that decision has to be made based on a careful and complete analysis.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Camel In the Tent

What’s wrong with this picture?

Let a camel’s nose into your tent and pretty soon you have the whole big nasty spitting flea bitten equivalent of an oversized rodent sleeping with you. It’s worse than a bull in a china shop…

The City of Albuquerque has adopted one of the most legally unjustified means of violating citizens’ freedoms that they could devise. The city uses a theory of simply declaring criminal activities a nuisance. They make them a civil action. They extract fines as criminal penalties sidestepping the court system.

Criminal nuisance abatement ordinances have incrementally been enacted over the past several years and now have blossomed into nothing short of the total demolition of the legal judicial form of government upon which our society is based. The concepts of the rule of law and due process are obliterated.

This came about perhaps because some police administrators were frustrated by having to actually have probable cause of a violation of the law and then having to prove it in court.

It started with several bars in town that were notorious for causing trouble, including: La Paloma at Broadway and Trumbull; A-Mi Gusto at South Coors and Bridge and the Blue Spruce at Central and Alcazar. They were known for serving drunks too much to drink, for the sale of illegal drugs on the premises, and for numerous altercations from fistfights to stabbings, to shootings to murders. They were just nasty places.

Cops would be called to a disturbance or incident at such bars and would take care of the problem, but the next night, or maybe only the next hour, they would be right back to deal with another situation.

Though the officers solved problems and arrested violators, little, if anything ever happened to the bars.

Under community policing, officers became creative. They started collecting copies of every complaint, radio dispatch and police report from these locations.

They compiled their lists and presented them to other city officials.

One of the problems with this idea is that they were using raw data and did not break it down by the number of convictions that resulted from all the activity.

The La Paloma Bar was the first to be closed under this newly found nuisance theory. The building was condemned and razed and ironically is now the site of the South Broadway community police substation.

Several criminal nuisance abatement ordinances were enacted including: the recovery of costs for removal of spray-painted graffiti vandalism; seizure and forfeitures of cars driven by people arrested for driving under the influence; the creation of the “party patrol,” to attack under-aged drinking; outlawing panhandling; the expansion of weed control and watering the streets; the condemnation and destruction of abandoned homes; the closure and destruction of derelict motels and the photo red light and photo radar school zone speeding violations.

Some of these ordinances call for lawsuits as the means of adjudication while others use an internal city administrative hearing officer process.

Though they are entitled as criminal nuisance abatement ordinances, the criminal part is sidestepped. The requirement to prove a crime in court, with the burden of proof of beyond a reasonable doubt, is being substituted with a preponderance of the evidence test.

The city established multi-agency response efforts by creating the Mayor's Criminal Nuisance Abatement Task Force and the Safe City Strike Force. They are made up of assistant city attorneys, police officers, fire marshals, city risk management and planning departments’ code inspectors.

What this means is that a person can lose their property or pay a fine for a crime that is never proven in court to be a crime.

Former Albuquerque Police Captain Craig Loy had a reputation of being a hard working and successful police officer. He rose through the ranks and was instrumental in using the early criminal nuisance abatement ordinances.

However, now that Loy is a city councillor, he seems to think that following the law is too difficult. He has stated that the laws of criminal procedure are an impediment to getting things done, cleaned up and making the community and streets safer.

Loy has pushed through new ordinances that rely on technology, automated cameras and radar units in violation of basic concepts of judicial process. These ordinances violate the United States and State Constitutions, state laws, city ordinances and fundamental policing principals.

He pushed through an ordinance outlawing travel, declaring “cruising” a crime.

He is supporting Councillor Martin Heinrich’s ordinance attempting to mandate all-night convenience stores and gas stations to have private security guards on their premises in an effort to reduce the number of calls to police.

Police are abrogating their responsibilities to enforce the laws and provide safety by making private entities criminally responsible for performing duties of sworn officers.

The system is rotten! Cops aren’t what they used to be! There still are officers who are very capable and professional in putting together the evidence needed to obtain convictions in court. However, some officers have convinced some police administrators, if they only could reduce the beyond a reasonable doubt burden, they could take care of problems easier.

The mayor’s administration and city council have gone about dismantling the criminal justice system in favor of whatever this mess is they are creating.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Kangaroo Court

What's wrong with this picture?

This is the hearing room for photo red light and photo radar school zone speeding notices.

From left, are Assistant City Clerk Lacresia Armijo-Rivera, City Administrative Hearing Officer Albert V. Chavez, Albuquerque Police Officer Joyce Montoya-Roach and Assistant City Attorney Dennica Padilla.

So what’s wrong with the picture?

I recently went to a city administrative hearing to speak on behalf of a friend who received a photo red light “notice.”

My reputation representing my fellow officers, city employees, friends and citizen’s interests, at city hearings when I was a union leader, seems to have preceded me.

When my friend‘s case was called we approached and Chavez challenged me by asking if I was an attorney. I answered no.

The hearing officer said he would not let me speak because that would be practicing law without a license. I pointed out that this was not a legal forum or a court and that Chavez’ own notice of hearing letter to my friend indicated, ”You or a representative of your choosing should be prepared at that time to present your case.”

He was undeterred. My lawyer friend Paul Livingston, who had agreed to back me up, just in case Chavez exercised a section of the ordinance allowing him to remove anyone from the hearing room, stepped forward.

Livingston argued forcefully to allow me to present the case that I had prepared. He said Chavez was wrong about non-lawyers not being permitted to represent people before city administrative hearing officers.

Chavez, on his own motion, wanted to continue the case and postponed it to a later date.

Now it might sound reasonable that Chavez finds that I would be practicing law without a license, except for several things: I would not be. I have represented the interests of all city employees before similar city administrative hearing officers. Specifically, I have represented over a hundred individuals before: the city’s labor-management relations board; the Personnel Board; the police oversight commission; the ethics board; city council committees and the full council.

But there is another point closer to the table. APD Officer Montoya-Roach is not a lawyer but she is representing the city of Albuquerque as more than just a witness, more than an advocate. She pretty much ran the show in the cases prior to ours. She argued with respondents, lecturing them on the law, physics, their attitude and advised them of the hearing and payment process. She went so far as to call Chavez, “Your Honor,” an ingratiating term that he, unlike a judge, is neither entitled to, or is constitutionally allowed.

Also, another curiosity was the presence of Assistant City Attorney Padilla, who stated her reason for being present was to observe because she was going to make recommendations for changing the ordinance. She did not enter her appearance in the matter.

Only two people, by protocol, should be allowed to sit on the far side of the table; the hearing officer and the clerk; though the clerk should sit in a more subservient position, like… at the end of the table.

To allow the police officer and the “non-participating” assistant city attorney to also sit on the far side has them crossing the line. They move from being advocates at the bar, equal to the respondent, in what should, at least appear to be, a neutral proceeding. They display what is really going on; a kangaroo court.

Come in, make some noise, look at the video and pay your $100 within 20-days. Thank you very much, now go-away. Justice served… not in this room!

Stand by. There will be plenty more on this topic.

Barry Bonds Jr.

What’s wrong with this picture?

This is a shot from the cheap seats of Barry Bonds Jr. crossing the plate in front of umpire Tim McClelland in Phoenix after hitting his 642nd home run July 11, 2003, leading the San Francisco Giants in beating the Arizona Diamondbacks, 10-7.

I saw him play a couple of times with the Pittsburgh Pirates against the Philadelphia Phillies and the Cincinnati Reds in August 1991.

OK, so Bonds tied Babe Ruth’s second place record for career home runs at 714. Ruth set the standards and his records stood for decades.

Bonds now chases Hank Aaron’s 755 home run record. He shattered Mark McGwire's single season home run record of 70 in 1998, with 73 in 2001. His ability to hit cork, string and horse leather is not without its controversy. There are rumors about steroid use that he can’t seem to shake, but no one has proven he is using either…. Innocent until proven guilty.

So, what’s wrong with this picture?

Nothing; I just wanted to show an old picture I never got published of another Giant who was also a great home run hitter. Willie Mays, the "Say Hey Kid," hit 660 home runs. Mays is Bonds’ godfather. Barry Bonds Sr. played with Mays and the San Francisco Giants.

This is a picture taken at the opening day of the Albuquerque Sports Stadium, during an exhibition game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants, March 28, 1969.

Mays played for several innings then pulled himself from the game and headed back to the hotel. He came upon a boy who was hit in the head by a foul ball that escaped the stadium. He stopped to lend his warm-up jacket, as a pillow, to the injured youth as he was initially treated.

Mays was considered a gentleman; Bonds is vilified. I am not a fan of Bonds like I was a fan of Mays. The game of baseball, like society, has changed. One knew then that ball players were not taking steroids, now one doesn’t know… Bonds is attacking history and tradition and has a good chance of surpassing Aaron’s record.

I wish Bonds well in his pursuits and hope that he is clean and his pursuers find that he is not using steroids.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Background Lie

What's wrong with this picture?

Here is New Mexico’s Democratic Governor Bill Richardson speaking on national television about President George W. Bush’s proposal to have National Guard troops work on border protection last week.

The governor is a regular, speaking on a variety of topics commensurate with his knowledge and wide range of governmental experiences. He represented New Mexico’s 3rd U.S. congressional district, as its first representative for six terms from 1983-97, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, 1997-98 and U.S. Secretary of Energy from 1998 to 2001. He was elected governor in 2001.

Oft times when Richardson is to appear on network or cable TV, the broadcasters make arrangements with a local television studio to host the governor and send the electronic television feed via satellite.

The popular local studio is KNME 5, the public broadcasting corporation station, funded by the University of New Mexico and Albuquerque Public Schools. KNME provides the service because it has a lot of available time, while the other local stations have tighter schedules as they are always preparing their studios for upcoming newscasts throughout the day.

Setting up the studio is not very difficult. The governor is provided with a chair, a desk, a microphone and a backdrop, under lights, in front of a camera.

Richardson is seen in multiple monitors of KNME's control booth while he spoke last year with Fox News Cable discussing rising oil prices as the former Secretary of Energy and the governor of an oil producing state.

The governor seems to equate himself with a fair degree of eloquence and is seen regularly. It is an open secret that he is running for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 2008.

So what’s wrong with this picture?

It’s the backdrop.

Look carefully. In the foreground you are looking west towards downtown Albuquerque’s skyline with the Sandia Mountains in the background. The problem is the Sandia Mountains are east of downtown or behind the point of view.

The backdrop is a fabricated image.

Our city and state are already screwed up enough that we don’t have to broadcast it to the national television viewing audience. The little lie of the picture begs the question; is it the only lie?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

It’s a Bitch… of a Piece of Legislation

What's wrong with this picture?

Here is City Councillor Sally Mayer with one of her Animal Project dogs from the pound, up for adoption, presented at a recent city council meeting.

Mayer is passionate about animals; maybe even more passionate than about politics. Politics, the word, is derived from the Latin meaning of the people.

Last night the council spent more than four hours amending what is known as the “Albuquerque Humane and Ethical Animal Rules and Treatment (HEART) Ordinance.” It is virtually a total rewriting of the animal control ordinance and is a very contentious bill.

It seems to me that when city councilors becomes irrelevant and marginalized by their peers, losing their support and therefore has difficulty moving their agenda, they take on the issue of protecting animals. HEART is Mayer’s attempt at regaining her relevance.

It appears to be a grand effort to legislate nature, on the scale of Noah gathering all the animals for his ark. Noah had the simpler task by comparison. Many in the enforcement community feel that it just won’t work.

Two weeks ago over a hundred people spoke, giving their input during a marathon meeting. No public comments were allowed at this session, though a heckler or two was heard in disagreement. A sea of red clad supporters filled the room and the issue squeezed out many of the items on the rest of the agenda.

However, it was some of the best four-hours of free entertainment available in town and if it weren’t so funny, one might have cried.

During a discussion about neighborhoods that have protective covenants prohibiting fences, Council President Martin Heinrich’s telling an anecdotal story about the frustrations of trying to train his dog to use sophisticated electrified “invisible fencing,” was nothing short of hilarious.

His dog kept crossing the barrier and seemed unimpressed by the electronic shock administered through its collar. As it dashed out of his yard, Heinrich thought the system wasn’t working properly. So, with collar in hand he stepped across the threshold and said the shock he received convinced him that he wanted to stay in the yard.

The ordinance has been in the works for two years and is more than 65 pages long. Council addressed just under 30 amendments during its regular meeting which was adjourned at 10:30 pm.

Councillor Michael Cadigan, in blue shirt, announced he has more than 40 more amendments himself. Councillors Craig Loy, Debbie O'Malley and Mayer look on.

Councillor Don Harris, right, with Heinrich, moved about a dozen amendments. He said many provided for better treatment of animals than are required for humans. Most were shot down.

The bill’s main purpose is population control, prompted by the fact that more than 29,400 animals were put down by the city’s animal services last years.

The ordinance calls for the spaying and neutering of all dogs and cats unless a $150 a year fee per animal is paid for what is called an intact animal. An additional $150 fee will be charged as a breeding permit for each litter. At six months each animal must be spayed or neutered or the $150 intact animal fee is due.

Mayer defends every aspect of this legislation with the fervor associated with an overly protective mother. She even lashed out at the absence of exterminators to support the bill.

With her unsuccessful history of trying to control every aspect of human life - like her pending attempt to impose restrictions on the right to petition government - she has now turned to the dogs.

The council is scheduled to continue this issue at a special meeting 5pm, May 21.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Mobile Radar Again?

What's wrong with this picture?

Why are we back to the mobile radar unit?

I never imagined that I would have two postings about the same issue within a month, but now three?

The mobile radar unit is still in my neighborhood and for more than two weeks it has been facing traffic on eastbound Indian School Rd.

I like the idea of mobile radar because it is interactive with the drivers. It tells them exactly how fast they are going and what the speed limit is. There is no enforcement action and citizens modify their own behavior.

As posted earlier, the problem is that in this specific area, where the unit has been for more than three weeks, the posted speed limit is 40MPH while the unit indicates 35MPH.

The speeds have come down as drivers are slowing down based on the speed displayed by the mobile radar unit.

So what’s wrong now?

I suggested that citizens would recognize a credibility gap widening. I did not expect them to act out forcefully, but apparently someone has.

The mobile radar unit is parked on the median of Indian School Rd. where there is rock landscaping.

There is now evidence that someone took one of those rocks and threw it at the machine at least three times, denting the metal of the trailer and breaking the glass.

When citizens act out violently against their government, the government should try to figure out, if they can, why.

In this case it can be figured out.

Government has arbitrarily and inappropriately changed the speed limit.

If government wants the speed limit to be 35MPH, change the permanent signs to 35MPH.

...Or is it just some kid conducting an ad-hoc physics experiment to see if the unit will record the speed of a thrown rock?

Vandalism is vandalism.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Matthew and Michael Paul Astorga

What’s wrong with this picture?

Why is my picture hanging out on TV associated with Matthew and Michael Paul Astorga?

I guess in police work you just never get away from it.

On October 24, 1996, after work, I met Lt. Robert Huntsman for breakfast. As we finished, Huntsman was summoned by radio dispatch to the jail and told me to ride with him.

While traveling west on Menaul Blvd., going under the Big-I, the alert tone sounded and the radio dispatcher announced a shooting at Albuquerque High School at Crespin and Edith.

Huntsman turned south on Edith, telling radio dispatch he was in the area. When he turned east on Crespin and reached High St,. a man without a shirt ran into the street yelling for an ambulance.

Huntsman followed the man up the driveway while I followed, covering him.

There were several people in different areas around the outside of the house.

Two men lay bleeding on the ground, one in very serious condition.

I saw several spent 12-gauge shotgun shells on the ground at the corner of a raised patio.

As other Albuquerque police officers and a Bernalillo County sheriff's sergeant arrived, I backed out of the immediate scene to secure the driveway to keep onlookers out, and direct fire rescue and ambulance personnel.

I found a live .380 round lying in the middle of the sidewalk on the east side of the house.

I stood over the cartridge protecting the evidence until I was relieved.

A channel 7 KOAT-TV News photographer videotaped me standing over the evidence.

On May 8, 1997, I attended a pre-trial conference at the District Attorneys office with Assistant District Attorney W. "Winnie" Ann Maggoria who was handling the case against Matthew and Michael Astorga for the murder of Jose Maldonado-Sigala.

She decided I was not needed to testify because of the more detailed work completed by the field officers, detectives and criminalists.

When Bernalillo County Deputy Sheriff James McGrane Jr. was killed on March 22, 2006, Michael Paul Astorga was named as the suspect. The Astorga name sounded familiar, but I couldn’t figure out why I knew it.

KOAT TV’s Action 7 News anchor Doug Fernandez started promoting a jailhouse interview he did with Matthew Astorga, who had been convicted of the murder of Maldonado-Sigala. His brother, Michael Paul Astorga was acquitted.

Apparently, Matthew Astorga appealed his conviction claiming he’d acted in self-defense. The State Appeals court overturned the conviction because the jury was not given the option of considering the charge of voluntary manslaughter. The case was returned to District Court for a new trial. Instead of going to trial, Matthew Astorga entered into an agreement with prosecutors based on a plea to second-degree murder.

He served time and was placed on probation, which he violated. He was sent back to complete his original sentence. He is scheduled for release within weeks.

I began to remember the details of this incident.

Another brother, U.S. Army Private Anthony Lucero, was convicted in a military trial of the 2001 killing of a soldier in Albuquerque and was sentenced to life without parole at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Harry Kinney

What's wrong with this picture?

I first photographed him about 1970 when he was on the City Commission seen here with fellow Commissioner G.P. Reyes.

Kinney’s not around anymore… he passed yesterday at 81.

He was always a quiet but friendly guy.

A politician for sure, he shook everyones hand.

I photographed him on the campaign trail with his fellow City Commissioner Pete Dominici during the 1970 gubernatorial race against Bruce King. Dominici lost but was elected U.S. Senator in 1972. Kinney became a legislative aid to Dominici until he was elected Albuquerque's first mayor in 1974.

He played the role of Ben Franklin convincingly in some theatrical event honoring the Bicentennial.

He was Mayor when I joined police department and he handed me my commission when I graduated the academy in 1976.

In 1978, I took this picture of him giving Officer Phil Chacon an award for his work as a community relations officer in Chief of Police Bob Stover’s office who is looking on. Kinney was from Raton, a small town in Northeastern N.M.

Kinney was always enthusiastic about hot-air balloons in the city and amongst the ballooning community, will be missed. His efforts put the Balloon Fiesta on the international stage. When traveling abroad and talking to the natives they didn’t know where Albuquerque was until I told them it was where all the balloons flew. Harry did that!

This picture was taken within the last year while he sat on the City’s Ethics Board.

Enough said... Harry Kinney was good for Albuquerque.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Courthouse Raids

What's wrong with this picture?

The old Metropolitan Courthouse, built in 1980 is in the background at Fourth and Roma N.W., on the far left. The new Bernalillo County District Courthouse opened in 2001 at a cost of $45 million is in the center. The new Bernalillo County Metropolitan Courthouse opened in 2004, is on the right, both are at Fourth and Lomas N.W.

Part of what this Blogspot is intended to do is introduce you to the players on the political scene. I don’t know them all nor have I photographed them all, but when and where I can I will introduce them. There is a saying that you can't tell the players without a program.

These are stormy times for elected New Mexico officials and Bernalillo county judges as Republican U.S. Attorney for New Mexico, David C. Iglesias has directed the FBI to investigate construction cost irregularities at the two courthouses.

Iglesias' great claim to fame after being appointed U.S. Attorney for New Mexico by President George W. Bush in 2001, is that from 1985 to 1988 he served as a Naval Judge Advocate General staff attorney and was a member of the defense team in the Navy’s court martial case that inspired the movie “A Few Good Men,” starring Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson.

State Auditor Domingo P. Martinez’ office is also looking into the District Courthouse as well as the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Detention Center that was opened two years behind schedule and is still not fully functional.

The FBI and State Auditor are only conducting investigations at the moment. In light of the other political investigations into State Insurance superintendent Eric Serna and the federal corruption trial involving two former state treasurers, all of these probes are worth watching.