Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Joe Rosenthal

What's wrong with this picture?

This is the Marine War Memorial in Arlington, Va. next to the national cemetery.

The statue was inspired by a photograph, taken Feb. 23, 1945, at the top of Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima.

U.S. Marines raised a large flag, replacing a smaller one, so it could be could seen by everyone on this Pacific island, only 750 miles south of Tokyo.

The Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal captured the instant.

After clearing the censors and being shipped to the states, the photograph became an instant icon of the Pacific action in World War II. The picture was for many years the number one selling image in AP’s archives.

Rosenthal was awarded the 1945 Pulitzer Prize for photography.

So what's wrong with this picture?

Rosenthal passed away over the weekend at the age of 94.

This is a picture of him taken in 2000, at the National Press Photographers Association’s annual conference in San Francisco, where he lived. He had joined other Pulitzer winners to explain the experience of taking the award-winning picture and talk about his career.

He is seen here with The Associated Press photographer Alan Diaz, who would be awarded the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography for his images of Elián Gonzalez. Gonzalez was a Cuban refugee whose mother drowned attempting to flee to the United States. He was taken by U.S. federal agents from relatives in their Miami home and reunited with his father, and then returned to Cuba.

Any self-respecting photojournalist will take a moment to think about Rosenthal.

There is nothing remarkable about the techniques Rosenthal used to make this picture; it’s the capturing the historic moment that is important. He had hesitated to climb Mount Suribachi, but did so anyway. When he got there, the scene unfolded, and he shot it with his 4x5 graphic camera.

He exemplifies an old photographic axiom – f-8, be there!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Madrid, Pelosi… Scalia?

What's wrong with this picture?

There is no picture of candidates! I was relegated to shooting protestors.

As I approached the entry of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union hall in Albuquerque, I was asked, “Are you the Journal?”


“Who are you with?”

“I’m Mark Bralley. I’m shooting for ‘New Mexico Politics with Joe Monahan.’”

“Just a minute, wait here,” said the young man, who had been pointed out and directed for me to see. He had been described as the “red-headed man.”

He wore an out of place suit, looking more like a television version of a want-a-be mafia hit man than with his Irish appearing roots would allow. Rather than the volunteer campaign worker he was, his role as a bouncer was apparent just the same. He made a call on his cellular phone to Heather Brewer, Patricia Madrid’s media advisor.

I was directed into a room full of about 100 Democratic candidates and high-dollar party contributors. They were waiting to “meet and greet” with the Democratic Party’s candidate for New Mexico’s Congressional District One.

New Mexico’s Attorney General Patricia A. Madrid and U.S. Congresswoman and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) were about to talk to these loyalists.

Democratic State Treasurer candidate James Lewis stuck out his hand and greeted me by name. He knew me from his years of being Chief Administrative Officer for the City of Albuquerque. Land Commissioner candidate Jim Baca nodded his head in recognition.

The “red-headed man” came and told me I could no longer stay in the room. As I walked out, he told me that I had to go to the union hall and wait for the rally.

I asked him, “What if I want to stay in this room…”

He cut me off sharply saying, “You don’t want to talk with the communications director….”

I suggested that picking one news outlet -the Journal- over another certainly would not help their candidates cause and that he should not be so boisterous and argue with people who buy ink by the barrel.

His response was, “Yeah, that’s right!” giving me a condescending nod. I realized that he had missed the meaning of my comment.

I said, “No, you got it backwards.”

So I have no picture of Madrid and Pelosi with other state office seekers to show you.

What never was discussed was that I was trying to photograph the ten, top of the ballot, candidates from both parties. I am trying to capture the flavor of the campaign in a collaborative effort with political blogger Joe Monahan for his site, New Mexico Politics.

I missed several candidates who attended the “meet and greet,” whom I did not see at the rally.

I do have this picture of Madrid that I took a few weeks ago at a party event. The one good image went on Monahan’s blog already. This one’s not very good, but it’s accurate of how the candidate looked. This is what can happen when a campaign tries to over-control the media.

Madrid took a heavy editorial hit recently from the Los Alamos Monitor when her campaign excluded a reporter from an out of district fundraising event in White Rock, N.M.

The political landscape has changed greatly over the last forty years since I first attempted to photograph President Lyndon Baines Johnson at a Memorial Day speech at Arlington National Cemetery. I was still new to photography and had improperly loaded my camera. I sold that picture to the Northern Virginia Sun, sight unseen. They sent me to their darkroom to process a print, but because the film never ran through the camera, I had no image.

Like Thursday, that event was lost. Unlike Thursday, it was my fault. The President of the United States stood proudly in the sun memorializing the virtues of all those who served their country buried there and elsewhere.

Monahan did not think that being dismissed by the “red-headed man,” the media advisor, Brewer and ultimately Madrid was any big deal because he says he is only a lowly blogger and I, just a freelancer. Monahan said, “We are not the accredited press, like the Journal.”

To which I say BULL!

Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia said it best in 1999 during the oral arguments in Los Angeles Police Department v. United Reporting Publishing Corporation, “A journalistic purpose could be someone with a Xerox machine in a basement.”

Seven years later, the Internet has made anyone with an Internet Protocol address and a journalistic mindset a member of the press.

I joined with Monahan because he is a journalist; professionally trained, with years of experience, great contacts and he writes so well. His blogspot is a mixture of pure journalism and a conduit for political gossip. He is open and up front about what he is doing, but ultimately he is a journalist, often times better than the “pros” over at the Journal. He certainly takes second place to no one.

My history with the Journal started when I threw unsolicited images on editors’ desks. They then bought and published the photos. I never received a freelance assignment from them and later, when I competed head to head with Journal photographers in the local press club photo contests, I took first place more often than not. These four trophies are APEs representing photographic awards from the Albuquerque Press Club. They are for; best photograph 1969 and 1970. In 1972 I won two of three categories for best sports and best feature.
Monahan and I both honor the journalistic code of ethics even though our content is heavy in editorializing rather than basic news reporting.

So, what's wrong with this picture?

I shot more images at the Madrid-Pelosi rally than normal for a couple of reasons; Patricia Madrid is a difficult subject to photographically capture and I want to show her in a fair light. We will have to see whether I succeeded if and when Monahan uses the images. I won’t show any of my work from the rally because I have agreed to allow Monahan first use.

This next paragraph, though short, is as important as the 900 preceding words.

I have not gotten a single photograph of any of the top ten Republican Party’s candidates this season yet. I’m not sure they are trying to hide, but they aren’t being very public.

In the spirit of open disclosure, on the commercial side of my photography, one does have to eat. Four of my last ten jobs have been political; three were candidates, all happened to be Republicans. I am an equal opportunity employee and have also photographed for particular Democratic candidates in years past.

For me to photograph, the candidate’s positions are more important than their party affiliation. If candidates of either party are not making themselves visible, how are those of us willing to show the public what is happening going to accomplish our jobs?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

As the Mud and Fur Fly…

What's wrong with this picture?

This picture is from a piece of literature New Mexico’s Attorney General Patricia A. Madrid mailed out last week.

It is the second piece I have received in the past month. These two documents come with a return address of the Attorney General’s office, but they seem oddly out of place and suspiciously timed.

They are the first such documents I recall ever seeing from the Attorney General in more than seven and a half years that Madrid has been in office.

Questions are raised as to whether this is properly the Attorney General’s office presenting educational material at the same time there is an election campaign or is it campaign material masquerading as AG educational information. Steve Terrell of the Santa Fe New Mexican gives a good accounting on August 12, 2006.

Madrid is not the only one who plays fast and loose with “public documents official business.” Congresswoman Heather Wilson has for years sent out flyers that include questionnaires, surveys and applications for war medals and the like under congressional franking privileges.

Both the AG’s and Congresswoman’s documents appear to be name recognition or on-going campaign material, though neither ever says, “vote for me.” Their names and images repeatedly appear.

It seems that some individual politicians, who now hold office, put themselves ahead of their oath. Instead of looking at their job as the “Office” they happen to hold; they rather see “Themselves” holding the office. It is not a difference without a distinction. The ego that compels politicians to run for office sometimes may overwhelm their obligation to uphold the public trust.

We are not a monarchy. The King is Dead! Long Live the King!

Democratic Land Commissioner candidate Jim Baca recently complained about the incumbent using the office’s website as his own public relations tool.

It is the nature of politics that incumbent office holders get to take credit for the successes in pushing their agenda, but they also must shoulder any failures; either actual or just those that are perceived as political differences, as well.

Come election time, it is up to the electorate to determine whether or not an incumbent has lived up to the public’s expectations or whether the challenger’s promises are better suited. In an open race, the most popular candidate will take the day, whether qualified or not.

The use of taxpayer money to advance an agenda is exactly what is expected and required of our political officers and an accurate accounting is what the public record is all about. The public recognizes that it is human nature that there will be a certain amount of bragging. However, as the great St. Louis Cardinals baseball pitcher turned radio-television color commentator Jay Hanna “Dizzy” Dean said, "It ain't braggin' if you can back it up."

Yet, there comes a time when taking personal possession of the public infrastructure crosses an ethical line. In the last year, Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron made several TV commercials to advise of changes to voter registration requirements. At the end of these “public service” announcements, she stated that you could go to “her” website rather than “the Secretary of State’s office website.” Nitpicking? It may be….

So, what's wrong with these pictures?

Madrid’s picture in the $61,000 publicly funded methamphetamine “informational” flier shows her in the same outfit, down to the same earrings that she wore on one of her recent TV campaign commercials.

One of the things that a political strategist will instruct his candidate to do is to make the image familiar. Madrid has two ways of displaying this strategy; the wardrobe and the tough stance with her arms folded.

The question is, did she use a photograph taken during her campaign session in the “official” AG taxpayers funded piece or vice-versa? Either way, it’s unethical; but to whom does one complain? Maybe the Attorney General, but I wouldn’t expect a prompt answer from Madrid.

As for Wilson, her franked “public documents official business” messages use the same photograph of her as her contribution paid mailers do.

With all the mudslinging, is it possible to actually believe everything that these two campaigns charge of their opponents? Might we, the voters, hear a debate of issues of what the candidates will do, rather than what their opponents allegedly did or didn’t do?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Flags Update

What's wrong with this picture?

This is an update from the National Hispanic Cultural Center of New Mexico.

When we last visited I found the green and red Portuguese flag with its heraldic shield in the center surrounded by gold straps and ring upside down. I also complained of the flags being tattered.

So what's wrong with this picture?

Nothing, the Portuguese flag is now right-side up, properly displayed.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Lee Logan

What's wrong with this picture?

This is Lee Logan, left, who hosts "The Drive" afternoon talk show on The New Talk FM, 106.3 KAGM, an American General Media radio station. He’s an interesting person I recently met.

Logan has a couple of side-kicks: Dennis Domrzalski, right, reports news and acts as his foil and joins in on interviews; Jessica Owens engineers the show and joins in the discussions.

In January, Logan and his wife Nikki Courtney moved to Albuquerque from Tennessee. She writes the news for Diane Anderson, former KOAT Action 7 news anchor, who is partnered with Larry Ahrens on his “Wake up New Mexico” morning show. Courtney is also the afternoon producer, booking guests for her husband’s show. That’s how I got to meet Logan. This blog caught her attention and Courtney invited me to join Logan for an on air chat.

We talked for about 20 minutes over the half hour between five and five-thirty on Wednesday, July 26. Logan’s first topic was about the recently defeated Charter ethics provision sponsored by City Councillor Brad Winter, which failed when three Councillors voted against it. Seven of the nine Councillors must vote to amend the City’s Charter. Logan wanted to know what I thought of Winter’s bill.

I knew this was headed towards the next question, of what I thought of Councillor Sally Mayer’s counter bill. I took the conversation away from that catfight by suggesting that the citizens were not well served by the knee-jerk reactions towards ethics in the community and state. I suggested reform needed to start from scratch with a large diverse group of non politicians, with a few politicos; to study, find well working systems and in particular teach ethics to every elected and appointed officials, board members and every city employee.

Logan also talked about the back room appointment of John Dendahl as the Republican’s replacement candidate for governor by the State’s Central Committee without all its members being properly notified. Less than a third of the 350 members attended the meeting.

The last topic was the issue of photo red light and photo radar cameras and the City’s non judicial procedures to suck $100-$450 out of citizen’s wallets.

It was a good conversation and I was invited to come back. An offer I will gladly accept.

So, what's wrong with this picture?

If you go to the 106.3 Talk FM’s website and look at the on air staff, you will not find a picture of Logan.

So here I let everyone see what Logan actually looks like. I offer this picture for the station’s use, until he gets one he might like better.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Shadows of Manzanar

What's Wrong With This Picture?

This is the Military Police station at the Manzanar War Relocation Center.

It is now a National Historic Site located at Independence, Calif., in the Owens valley near the Inyo range of the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Manzanar was one of ten locations where American citizens of Japanese descent were interred during World War II. At its peak population of 10,046, mostly Californians from Los Angeles were held till the last was released on November 25, 1945. One hundred seventy-four men and women joined the United States Military service directly from the camp.

It is now populated only by desert wildlife like this Kangaroo Mouse.

This is the cemetery at the Manzanar War Relocation Center.

The inscription, seen here, is on the back of the obelisk and reads, "Erected by the Manzanar Japanese August 1943." On the front translates as, "Monument to console the souls of the dead."

Ansel Adams visited and photographed Manzanar in the fall of 1943, then wrote a book; Born Free and Equal: the story of loyal Japanese Americans. In his introduction he penned:

“…I trust the content and message of this book will suggest that the broad concepts of American citizenship, and of liberal democratic life the world over, must be protected in the prosecution of the war and sustained in the building of peace to come.”

In the chapter, “The Problem,” Adams wrote about what was going to happen after the war with regards to residual antagonisms and, “The spirits of Jim Crow walks in almost every section of our land…” He continued, “ Hatred is a perfectly natural complement to fear and to the war spirit; and it is difficult to assure otherwise solid and sincere people that ancestral relations to the enemy does not prove disloyalty.” Finally Adams noted, “The fatal phrase, ’A Jap’s a Jap’, might well have poisoned the course of racial tolerance for many years to come.”

Adams was a sage man and an inspirational photographer.

This is University of New Mexico Art and Art History Department’s Regent's Professor of Photography Patrick Nagatani at a 2001 Santa Fe opening of his one-man show. As a graduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1978, he and two fellow students were curators of an exhibit: Two Views of Manzanar by Ansel Adams and Toyo Miyatake, at the Frederick S. Wight Art Gallery.

Miyatake was a camp resident who had been a Los Angeles artist and photographer. Adams smuggled him a lens, film holders and film. Miyatake photographed Manzanar with his contraband camera until it was discovered and confiscated. The camp’s commander made Miyatake the “official photographer.”

So, what's wrong with this picture?

President George W. Bush made remarks upon arriving at the Green Bay, Wisconsin Austin Straubel International Airport, today. Talking about Great Britain’s foiling of terrorists plot to destroy airliners. Bush said that it was, "a stark reminder that this nation is at war with Islamic fascist who will use any means to destroy those of us who love freedom, to hurt our nation."

Bush angered American Muslims by his inflammatory rhetoric, lumping the terror actions of individuals as fascists and applying it to an entire religion.

The Muslims are rightfully fearful that just because they practice a faith, they are presumed to be fascist.

Adams was right. It would be wrong for all Americans to be lumped together for the violent act of, say the Ku Klux Klan, American Nazi Party or the Skinheads.

Condemn the individual, root them out if you can and destroy them!

I have always believed that when you declare war on a societal ill or on an idea, you have already lost the war because the war mentality overlooks the complexities of the problem and tries to simply destroy anything that looks like, smells like, sounds like… the problem.

Think about how this started. President Lyndon Baines Johnson declared a war on poverty; President Richard M. Nixon, a war on crime; President Ronald Reagan, a war on drugs; and now Bush’s war on terror. None have succeeded; we still have poverty, crime, drugs, and terror with no victory in sight for any of them.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

More Than A Double Take!

What’s wrong with this picture?

This is John Martinez.

He was the Director of Personnel and Employee Relations Department for many years. From the inception of the city government’s dealings with organized employee labor unions, Martinez was the point man of the management philosophy until he retired in 1988, and beyond. He now owns Management Associates, a contracting company that deals with governments in New Mexico, consulting on labor management issues.

He is seen here with his daughter, an attorney, Dina Holcomb, along with Director of Employee Relations Peggy Hardwick, also an attorney. They were at a July 11, 2000, Labor-Management Relations Board hearing where Management Associates was contracted by the City of Albuquerque to handle a labor issue.

Thirty-six years ago, City refuse collectors staged a wildcat strike blocking the entrance to the City’s Pino Yards on September 17, 1970.

Deputy Chief of Police Albert Swallows was on his way home and went to the Pino Yards with a couple of officers to try to talk the workers into clearing the area. Chief Swallows, at the time, knew most of the leaders of the blue-collar workers and felt he could talk them into reopening the gate.

Two of the Chief's sons had been assistant managers of both the Refuse and Sewer Divisions. Some of the laborers apparently did not care who the Chief was and attacked him. He was hit in the face and the gate was pushed over on top of him. The other officers were able to get him out from under the fence and called for assistance. Additional officers arrived and the crowd was dispersed.

Chief Swallows retired in 1975 with more than 39 years of service.

Here is Officer Tim Kline standing with Sergeant Nicholas Bachis and other officers who responded to Pino yards to assist Swallows after strikers attacked him. Officer Kline retired as a lieutenant in 1988. He was elected to the City Council in 1989-1993 for one term and elected again to another single term on the council - 1997-2001.

Another son of Chief Swallows, Scott, is an Albuquerque police officer currently assigned to the Southeast area command working day shift.

Martinez was the Director of the Personnel Department, what is now called Human Resources, which included labor management. According to Martinez, he split labor management from personnel and became Director of Employee Relations, “around 1974 or 75.“

Martinez retired in June, 1988. His assistant was Jim Swan who had been an American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union leader. Swan replaced Martinez as acting director.

Bob Brown was also an AFSCME Council 18 organizer, hired by Martinez, who became the second Director of Employee Relations about 1989.

Peggy Hardwick, right, was an Assistant City Attorney who also became Director of Employee Relations.

Joe Chavez, a former staff representative of AFSCME Council 18 for the City's blue-collar workers' Local 624, became Director
of Employee Relations for a short period of time.

Former AFSCME White-collar President Barbara Martinez-Chewiwi-Keiser, below left, was promoted out of her bargaining unit to a supervisory position. She would later become Director of employee relations until retiring several weeks ago.

This is Employee Relations contractor Paul Broome, above right. He was a former Labor Board city-management appointee, 1995-97, and had previously served as a business manager for a teacher’s union. He was recently appointed education consultant to Mayor Martin Chávez to implement Chávez' attempted take over of Albuquerque Public Schools.

This is Lawrence Torres who was recently appointed Director of Employee Relations by Mayor Chávez. The job brings with it an $80,000 salary.

Are congratulations in order? Not today!

Torres is a former President of the Albuquerque Police Officers’ Association. He was an Open Space Ranger who was elected Vice President of the APOA before replacing President Jeff Remington, who stepped down when he was promoted to sergeant.

Torres was a member of several APOA negotiating teams, most recently serving as lead negotiator in the negotiations that concluded only a couple of months ago.

So what’s wrong with this picture?

The Mayor’s offer, and Torres' acceptance, of an $80,000 job is an unconscionable act. Torres is to the man who negotiated the current contract; he is now required to enforce the contract. How can he do that? When questions of an unfair labor practice arise in the implementation of the contract, it is often the chief negotiator who testifies to the meaning of the document and what the discussion and background was in hammering out specific provisions.

As Director of Employee Relations, he is now duty-bound to take the opposing position. It is a clear conflict of interest from two points; he cannot fulfill either role of former chief negotiator or employee relations director.

Chávez places Torres in an impossible position. Torres cannot pass up the opportunity to almost double his salary, but it is unethical for him to even consider taking the job. The blame belongs to the mayor for corrupting the process.

This, in and of itself, is an unfair labor practice where Torres would have to defend the City against himself!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Traffic Cops versus Technologies

What’s wrong with this picture?

I came upon this scene of a hit and run accident at Edith Blvd. and Odelia Rd. N.E. at 5 p.m. on Sunday, July 23. The car was westbound on Odelia and was struck by a southbound vehicle that ran the red light on Edith. A single orange traffic cone was in the middle of the road east of the car.

The white car, with the right two doors crushed in, appeared to have no one in it, but, the driver’s door was open. It blocked two lanes of traffic.

I went into “cop mode.”

I looked for the second car, but it wasn’t there.

I had my cellular phone out and dialed 911.

I got a recording putting me into a queue. It is better than years before when the phone would continue to ring and ring and ring. At least it didn’t have elevator music playing. I waited only a few seconds for 911-Operator 63 to come on the line.

I walked into the intersection and looked in the car. The keys were gone and there was no blood or sign of injury. There were post collision skid marks but no skids leading up to the point of impact.

I told 911 that I was at the intersection and she interrupted me saying it was probably an accident. I noticed a minivan parked off the road on the northwest corner with two women in it. I approached and found the driver and her adult daughter, who had come to pick her up.

I asked if the driver was injured. Answer, no. Wrong answer. An injury would have gotten an immediate response from police and fire rescue. I didn’t believe her. She was putting on a good front. However, she appeared to me that she may have actually been injured, but she would only admit to shakiness.

The operator told me that there were no officers available. The daughter said the accident happened more than an hour earlier, just before four and at least four calls had been made.

I ratcheted up my cop mode. I used my name and said that I was a retired officer. I told the operator that the damaged car was a traffic hazard and needed to be dealt with.

“ No units available.” But over an hour wait?

“This is unacceptable,” I took it up another notch. “Who is the sergeant?”

I was placed on hold. About a minute later the operator came back and said the dispatcher had told her that this call was the next one to be dispatched. She asked if I wanted to talk to the dispatcher. I said no, not if the call was the next to be dispatched.

Success, but at what cost? How many calls were jumped because I knew how to play the game?

It was almost another half-hour, 5:27 p.m. before an Albuquerque Police car turned off Broadway towards the intersection.

This is Officer J.P. Gallegos, interviewing a quasi-witness, a neighbor who had heard the crash, but did not see what happened leading up to the collision. She offered information about the vehicle that left the scene and gave a description of its driver. She was more than just a good witness, because she had gotten the name and phone number of a witness who had seen the entire incident but wasn’t willing to wait more than an hour and half.

The officer, dispatcher and operator all did their jobs appropriately. They approached their duties one call at a time.

Non-injury accidents are not life threatening, requiring an emergency response, but a hit and run accident with a vehicle left in an intersection by a very shaken, middle aged woman poses a traffic problem beyond a minor fender bender. In minor accidents where the participants may pull to the side of the road, they may exchange driver, registration and insurance information and may not even require police intervention. It is the criminal aspect of one driver leaving the scene without identifying themselves that calls for a proper police investigation and pursuit of the offender. The victim of this accident is entitled to prompt service and other motorists should not have to be confronted by wreckage in the roadway.

A man in a pickup truck pulled into his driveway. He asked that I pull my truck deeper onto his property because his elderly mother was returning home and needed all the space she could get.

The man asked about the accident.

He recalled when he was 12-years old; there had been what sounded, “like a bomb.” His father told the children, who were watching television, to stay in the house, while he went out see what happened. The man said, that as kids, we knew all the back ways to the corner, and snuck down to observe that the woman’s car was pushed deep into the Springer warehouse complex parking lot, west of Broadway.

The man shook his head about this hit and run as he drove to his house.

The man was talking about an infamous and horrific accident in Albuquerque’s history. It happened about 35 years ago at Odelia and Broadway, one intersection west.

Doug Lovelady, the son of the local Dodge dealer Wayne Lovelady, got into a high-speed chase driving his new corvette in 1970. Officer Jinx Jones started chasing Lovelady at around Royene and Washington NE. They wended their way east to San Mateo, then to Constitution turning west, proceeding through the four-way stop at Washington and then the signals at Carlisle and Girard. Lovelady turned north on Stanford; Jones didn’t, as he crashed through the fence of the University of New Mexico Golf Course and came to a stop on the 18th fairway.

At Indian School Rd., Lovelady turned west and the chase was taken up by Officer Jim Lehner. They proceeded on Indian School Rd., crossing over Interstate 25 where the road changes names to Odelia. At Broadway, Lovelady broadsided a car at about 100 mph. The crashed killed the woman driver and her young daughter. A horrific scene due to the carnage and infamous, in that Lovelady eventually only served about 90 days in the penitentiary. But that is a story for a different day.

So what’s wrong with this picture?

Mayor Martin Chávez promised to have 1,000 police officers on the force 10 years ago. Where are they?

This is Chávez at an illegally held political meeting where Chief Joe Polisar ordered Field Services Officers to attend a city-wide briefing to hear the Mayor extol the virtues of the then proposed quarter cent “Public Safety” tax that the union and I opposed. Polisar wrote the numbers on the board behind Chávez showing the projected growth of the department, reaching 1,000 within two years.

The tax proposal died. A couple of years ago a new quarter cent “Public Safety” tax passed, yet the day count, the number of actual officers on the payroll, is still less than 1,000.

So what does this have to do with photo red lights and photo radar?

There is no photo red light camera at the Edith and Odelia intersection. The theory is that having cameras at some intersections changes driving habits, having a carry over affect to other intersections.

Not true this day.

The finding and intent section of the Safe Traffic Operations Program or STOP ordinance declares running red lights and speeding a nuisance and states:
“...City Council finds that the current penalty under state law for running a red light is inadequate to meaningfully address the nuisance and that the City of Albuquerque must implement meaningful civil remedial measures that will stop red light violations and save lives.”
“...City Council finds that state law against school zone violations is inadequate to deter those violations in Albuquerque and that such violations are a nuisance that must be abated by or through civil remedial measures.”

The laws are inadequate?

No, the laws are clear, concise, narrowly directed toward offending drivers and enforceable.

The City of Albuquerque’s Code of Ordinances § 8-2-2-2 Traffic Control Legend.

"Whenever traffic is controlled by traffic control signals exhibiting colored lights or colored lighted arrows, successively one at a time, or in combination, only the colors green, yellow and red shall be used, except for special pedestrian control signals carrying a word legend and the lights indicate and apply to drivers of vehicles and pedestrians.

...(E) Steady Red.

(1) Vehicular traffic facing the signal shall stop before entering the crosswalk, on the near side of the intersection, or if there is no crosswalk, then before entering the intersection shall remain standing until green is shown….

§ 8-2-4-3 Posted Speed Zones.

....(A) No person shall drive a vehicle on a public way at a speed in excess of the lawfully posted speed limit."

It’s not that the laws are inadequate, but it is the enforcement of the laws that is inadequate.

This is a revenue-generating question versus a manpower management problem.

Deciding to use technology rather than law enforcement personnel is the product of a flawed cost benefit analysis. Assumptions were made without regard for legal rights because a formal analysis was not done.

There are 582 intersections with traffic control light signals in town. Only six intersections have permanently affixed photo red light cameras.

Here, a contractor works on electrical sensors at the photo red light controlled intersection of San Mateo and Menaul N.E.

By using cameras with photo red light intersections and photo radar vans and then bypassing the Metropolitan court system, the city can generate a higher percentage of profit from its $100 to $450 fines than they can make through the percentage they receive by using the state’s court systems.

The STOP legislation emphasizes that; “The City Council declares that this article is a nuisance abatement article enacted pursuant to the city's inherent authority under state law and that the remedies are purely civil and not criminal in nature.”

This is a legal fiction; a sidestepping of the requirement to use the state’s court systems to adjudicate traffic violation enforcement.

STOP is predicated on violations of the state and city’s traffic laws, but as soon as they cross that legal threshold, all requirements for law enforcement are suspended, rejected and replaced with a unique and novel philosophy.

Constitutional guarantees; of separation of powers, the right to have an independent judge, to have a fair trial, to confront witnesses, to cross-examine witnesses, to have the minimum burden that applies to traffic offenses, which is the standard criminal burden of proof, that each and every element of a statutory violation is proven “beyond a reasonable doubt” and the right to appeal to a higher court are abandoned.

The state retains the judicial power while the city is limited to declaring what a public nuisance is, setting a penalty that does not exceed that of a misdemeanor and it has no other inherent authority under state law to process challenges to the allegations of a violation of any of its city ordinances.

When the city council declared that traffic triggered violations were a nuisance calling for abatement, adjudication in District Court is required. A respondent is entitled to a jury trial in front of a panel of their peers. STOP is an abuse of the legal theory underlying nuisance abatement laws.

By setting up a city administrative hearing officer and by not requiring; a uniformed police officer from personally observing the offense, arresting, through a traffic stop, then issuing a citation and appearing in court to prove the case, the city can save a great deal of money and instead of sharing its profits with the state, it only has to share with the cameras’ vendor.

Municipal governments are not supposed to be a profit making operation. Government is a zero-sum proposition. Government may not spend more than it takes in through taxes, fines and fees.

Officers are given discretion and they may exercise it appropriately. An officer may write a citation that he feels will deal with the problem that may not even address the initial violation that caught his eye.

Society accepts this all the time. Driving while under the influence of narcotics, drugs or alcohol is a prime example. Many DWI drivers are stopped for minor infractions, such as; failure to maintain a traffic lane, or not proceeding immediately when a traffic light changes, or driving well below the speed limit and in some cases simply driving the speed limit while the traffic flow is going faster than the speed limit. All of these examples, absence the DWI, probably would not result in even a ticket. The officer, in exercising discretion, is empowered to talk to the driver and may give a verbal or written warning, if he is satisfied that the driver will heed.

Experienced rational officers do not function as automatons, but have adopted a feeling, thought and theory about when to pursue a driver who entered a controlled intersection late, against a just changed red light. The officer takes at least three things into consideration about the “offending vehicle:” Was the vehicle really late, more than the split second that the photo red light system registers? Did it interfere with the traffic that just received a green light? Was it speeding at the time it entered that intersection?

Officers do not function in a vacuum, they do not read the traffic code out of context and they are realistic about the concept of defensive driving that requires all drivers to act with due care and caution. As the basic federal rule of aviation requires that pilots shall see and avoid other aircraft. This applies equally to drivers as outlined in the City of Albuquerque’s Code of Ordinances § 8-2-2-2 Traffic Control Legend.

“(F) Red with Green Arrow.
(1) Vehicular traffic facing the signal may cautiously enter the intersection only to make the movement indicated by the arrow, but shall yield the right-of-way to pedestrians lawfully within a crosswalk and to other traffic lawfully using the intersection; and….”

Isaac Newton also proffered the notion in his laws of physics that two objects may not occupy the same space at the same time. It is the duty of every driver to ”cautiously enter the intersection” making sure that they do not test Newton’s laws of physics by driving defensively. As an old axiom goes; you may be right, but dead right and that makes you wrong.

STOP doesn’t recognize the exercise of discretion. Stop is an anvil upon which technologies’ hammer strikes. Horseshoes are made of steel, heated then pounded into shape. Humans are more pliable; logic and reasoning can change their behavior without physical or economic force or violence.

Fines, upon conviction or plea, are designed to alter performance and hold drivers responsible for their individual acts of inappropriate and or illegal behavior. STOP doesn’t target the responsible individual, it declares the vehicle a nuisance and holds the registered owner liable for the actions of the vehicle.

This vehicle, having crossed the thick white "stop line" before the crosswalk at the photo red light enforced intersection of San Mateo and Montgomery N.E., is technically in violation of the law against running a red light. Note the grooves cut into the pavement. The set of grooves from the center of the "stop line" to just before the crosswalk is the sensor, seen here under the rear door. It reads two separate ferrous metal masses, supposedly the front and rear axels, triggering the photo red light camera. This car should not have been sent a notification because the rear axel should not have been sensed, but even if it was, it had not proceeded through the intersection against the red light signal.

So, do I have a suggested alternative solution?

Yes, increase the traffic division to 50 officers.

The Europeans have an approach to traffic control at intersections. Even with traffic lights, they assign one or two officers to busy and problematic intersections.

Hire thirty retired, "white-stripers," former traffic officers; issue each a motorcycle, assign them their own intersection, or radar zone and give them all the ticket books they can write. Take 15 officers and assign them to handle “their intersection.” Do not assign them to any other duties and let them handle all traffic, including accidents at 15 intersections, as needed. With the remaining 15, create three five-man flying squads, made up of one laser radar unit and five officers who saturate a particular speed zone.

Benefits: additional charges including: no seatbelts; no drivers licenses, suspended or revoked licenses; no proof of insurance; no valid registration; stolen vehicles recovered; felony and misdemeanor warrants through NCIC; DWI arrests….

All of these benefits and more can be identified through the personal contact during traffic arrests and cannot be accomplished through the use of photo red light and photo radar. Officers can be deployed to any intersection or speed area as needed.

The presence of a uniformed motorcycle officer has an immeasurable, yet profound effect on crime.

Specifically, residential burglars can be moved from a neighborhood through the use of traffic enforcement saturation patrols, or “writing everything that moves,” for any and every violation. The photo red light and photo radar technology does not and cannot have such an affect.

Fifteen to 30 additional officers, retired or active, equipped with motorcycles, laser radar units and all the ticket books they can stuff into their saddle bags would cost between one to two million dollars a year. The revenue generated through tickets would be about the same as the current photo red light and photo radar. However, the judicial process would pass constitutional muster. Of course the high revenue, low drag process now in use under the STOP ordinance would produce less money per incident if it had to go through the state’s courts.

Thirty additional officers are already authorized and would help surpass the 1,000 officers “magic” number, as promised.

One other thought that arose about the penalty phase of the city’s administrative hearing officer’s options. He has none. Unlike Metropolitan Court, where a first offender is usually offered traffic school, or placed on a deferred sentence, or the case taken under advisement, or the defendant may agree to do community service in lieu of paying a fine, or the fine may be reduced, the hearing officer may only impose the $100 fine. There is no humanity or leniency allowed under STOP. It is arbitrary, imposes strict liability and is oppressive.

Which raises the question of where does one find justice? Like “Equal Justice Under the Law,” as is found over the doors to the United States Supreme Court.

Don’t ask the City of Albuquerque, for they don’t know the meaning….