Friday, December 29, 2006

The Best Present

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

There are so many things that I normally wouldn’t think could fit into this one act; but they all do!

I am not big on how we got into the war in Iraq. I am not a big flag waver and yet I am fast to point out those who improperly display the flag. I don’t like overly sappy efforts to be patriotic either.

This is my brother-in-law, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Randy Weatherhead. He is a member of the California National Guard. He seems to have been in the service all of his life. He flew helicopters in Vietnam and more recently in Iraq.

He retired as a major from the Army and went into the Guard to fly. He’s one of their senior pilots and their safety officer. Most of the time he’s off training or fighting forest or wild fires and doing the occasional mountain rescue or medical evacuation. He’s also flown California governors on flights to inspect disaster areas.

He calls me his favorite liberal.

I just opened my Christmas box from my sister’s family and I received an American flag, the three by five foot variety. It was accompanied by a certificate, which reads:

I heard recently that the death toll of American service personnel killed in Iraq exceeded the number people killed as a result of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. I don’t equate one with the other. However, it is more significant than just the fact that there are now more than 6,000 people dead.

Once our president took us into Iraq, the argument about not going became moot. A new argument took its place. I believe that we had to dominate the country, to make it ours, in terms of security and stability. We didn’t. We ran the fourth or fifth largest army in the world off. Where did they go? They didn’t drop their guns and leave; they took their guns with them.

We made a fundamental mistake, perhaps similar to one we made in Vietnam. We allowed the political leadership to dictate what the military should do, rather than loosing the dogs of war on the enemy. I am not suggesting that there should not be civilian control of our military. I feel that civilian control must understand the actual ramifications of too little or inappropriate use of existing force; ineffectively brought to bear in Iraq.

Iraq is a political issue to be resolved by the Iraqis. Some in this presidential administration continue to call differing political operatives within the country insurgents. They are not all insurgents; some are the political opposition. Though the violence they use must be stopped, they represent a group of people who still have a vested political interest in the outcome of their country.

There are some foreign mercenaries, bent on fighting the U.S. It is not the same thing as a standing military force. Nor is it just about some radical religious faction. It includes a minority fighting for greater control than the one man, one vote standing allows.

I see the role of the U.S. military as continually shifting. Stability is now the primary role. Giving the elected government enough cover to reestablish its own police and internal security systems. Their need for a standing army is not threatened by neighboring countries as long as the U.S. military is present.

As important as the safety of our American military personnel is, I don’t measure success in Iraq with our death toll. However, I will measure success in the death toll and nature of the deaths of Iraqi police and police recruits.

There is an inherent problem, as I see it, having to do with establishing effective civil law enforcement. Have you noticed in the news that police stations are one of the favorite targets in Iraq? The policing function, anywhere in the world, is dependent upon the support of the citizenry. When the differing political operatives’ militias and actual foreign insurgents want to keep the existing government from establishing order, it is the police that are attacked.

When the police are safe from militia and insurgent attack, then they can provide the civil protection to the populace. Other government and civil service, water, electricity and oil delivery can be provided without harassment, shops can open and when it is safe to walk the streets; that will be the measure success. Until then, we have to do better.

I support our troops. I believe the American fighting forces are mighty and capable. I only wish that their efforts had better support from smarter civilian leadership.

This gift of the flag is an honor to own. It is not the same honor as the larger flag that covers a casket. The honor is in knowing that the crew of the Blackhawk helicopter carried it with pride and were aware that protecting its 64 pieces of cloth, also represented all from our nation protecting those in Iraq. Iraqis also yearn for the similar benefits offered in our country

It could be easy to consider this gift as sappy patriotism, but I do not. I plan to frame the flag and certificate and hang it on the wall. I will fly it on the day we totally withdraw our troops from Iraq. That will be a time to celebrate freedom in two countries.

Read USA Today's article on Vietnam Vets In Iraq See 'Entirely Different War' by Steven Komarow; http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2005-06-20-iraq-vietnam-vets_x.htm

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly; the Mean and the Nasty! But let’s not forget the Weird!

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

As the dust settles from the recent election, I will now take some space to tell some of the stories from the campaign trail, as it were. Actually, I had taken some pictures that I thought worthwhile that otherwise would not be seen, so this is my excuse to post them.

Political seasons are actually short, yet they seem interminably long. For the candidates, they worked for at least a year, some part-time, others full-time and for a few overtime. Yet, to most politicians, each race is the culmination of a lifetime of their efforts.

The Good:

It’s over! Democratic candidate for United States House of Representatives, New Mexico-1st Congressional District, State Attorney General Patricia Madrid pulls her son Giancarlo Messina’s arms around her, after conceding the race to Republican incumbent Rep. Heather Wilson on Nov. 21. Madrid and the Democratic Party chose not to contest the outcome of the race that had Wilson victorious by less than one-half of one percentage point, 861 votes. It took two weeks to determine the outcome of the race because of problems completing the count in Bernalillo County.

The Bad:

The relentless television negative attack commercials and mailed campaign material, including the showing of Saguaro Cacti, indigenous to Arizona and Northwestern Mexico, but not to New Mexico.

The Ugly:

Negative advertising that struck a racial tone.

A political cartoon of Gov. Bill Richardson pulling marionette strings attached to Democratic State treasurer Candidate James B. Lewis, left, on a campaign mailer sent by Republican State treasurer candidate Demesia Padilla, right.

Lewis’ campaign called the piece racist.

"It's a cartoon. I just don't see it as racial," Padilla said.

"Political caricature is a time-honored tradition," New Mexico Republican Party Executive Director Marta Kramer said jumping to Padilla’s defense: “It was not racist.” And, "Accusing a Hispanic woman of being racist is ridiculous," Kramer said, according to the Albuquerque Journal.

Caricaturizing maybe political, but it can also be racial stereotyping and in this case, the idea of a non-African-American man making an African-American dance could have racist connotations.

While Kramer and Padilla may proclaim their innocence, it is the recipients of the insult who determine if they are the victims of racism. Members of an ethnic group that may be subjected to racism may also be capable of racist acts towards others.

The missed relevant details by the press:

The story about the Sandoval County Sheriff’s questioned non-criminal conduct repeated by KOAT-TV reporter Ellen Goldberg, left, and Journal Westside reporter Rozanna Martinez, right, only reported part of the story. Bernalillo Police Officer Mark Aragon, a former Albuquerque police officer, has a history of being involved in efforts to oust high-ranking law enforcement officials. Both KOAT and the Journal have previously reported his involvement, however neither brought out the past reporting.

The Journal reported, Feb. 4, 2005, that former Bernalillo Police Chief Ramon Montijo, who was chief from April to October 2003, filed a lawsuit claiming violation of his constitutional rights, that his name was maligned and that he was wrongfully terminated, in U.S. District Court on Jan. 31, 2005. Montijo named Bernalillo Police Officer Mark Aragon as a defendant.

The most gracious:

Republican gubernatorial candidate John Denhdal.

Surprise? Denhdal, seen here, left, with his Old English sheep dog, Lincoln, went out of his way to ask who I was and then on several occasions, thanked me for covering the event he was attending. He attacked his opponent’s policies and record. As far as he went on the personal, he suggested that Gov. Richardson had gone from being an 800-pound gorilla for sitting on a huge war chest, to being a 300-pound chicken when he refused to agree to a debate.

The most consistent:

Republican Senate nominee Allen W. McCulloch, MD; not a hide nor hair sighting of him.

Journalistically, I performed due diligence in trying to track down various candidates and attended 26 separate events. However, in-spite of all the technology, the Internet, Web sites, and Webblogs, my efforts to track down locations of public events proved difficult. What was stated as campaigning, more often was fund-raising. Fund-raising events are seldom public and when campaigns will allow pictures of their candidate, it is done with the understanding that you may not photograph contributors.

Several campaign offices were staffed with volunteers who were not authorized to identify the locations of events. Coupled with the few public events available, it was problematic to gain access to photo opportunities of some candidates.

The most telling remark:

"Sharpton is a racist, anti-Semitic, rabble rouser. So what I want to know is why doesn't it bother you to stand next to him when he endorses your candidacy for the Congress?" by incumbent Republican Rep. Wilson, on Sun., Sept, 17, 2006, at the Temple Albert Congressional District 1 debate.


The best retort:

"’Why denounce Democrats when you can ask your own Republican leaders— President Bush and Karl Rove— why they stood next to me at the Voters Rights Act signing at the White House this summer?’ Sharpton said, ‘I was invited to the White House and acknowledged by them, now I await sister Wilson to denounce them, too.’” The Rev. Al Sharpton was a 2004 Democratic presidential primary candidate, according to the Albuquerque Journal.

The New Mexico Republican Party Communications Director Jonah Cohen, right, complained that it was suggested that Wilson’s remarks were racist.

Two thoughts: if one does not like to feel the sting from the suggestion that you are being racist, then grow a thicker skin and/or don’t make comments that make people think you might be a racist.

The most accurate press report:

WAITNG! Albuquerque Tribune banner headline, Wed. Nov. 8.

The Dumbest Question:

Rep. Wilson asked, “Can you cite something in your long career in public service that will give people of New Mexico some assurance that you will prevent a tax increase?”

The reason it was dumb is because it presupposes acceptance of a differing political philosophy. Republicans normally argue against tax increases, yet during this “war economy,” with the largest federal deficit in history, one might wonder aloud how any Republican could possibly believe that tax increases aren’t in their future, especially if they ever intend to get back to their “Contract with America” values of a balanced budget.

The dumbest answer to the dumbest question:

Seven seconds of silence from Democratic candidate Madrid to a question posed to her by her opponent, Rep. Wilson, in the KOB TV debate.

Why is it the dumbest answer? Because, Madrid didn’t go to the Democratic home; instead, she bought into the Republican’s philosophical set up. She showed her debating deficiencies for not thinking on her feet. However, she could have easily gone on to say that Democrats are not afraid of taxes, when necessary, and where appropriate, they will apply taxes. It is the job of congress to balance and manage the budget.

The dumbest question became the most effective of the entire campaign, when Madrid stood mute for seven seconds and didn’t get around to answering the question. Go figure!

The best one liner:

“We’re not for cut and run, but there’s something to be said about stop and think,” ex-President Bill Clinton said during his late night campaign stop Nov. 2. He was speaking of the accusation from the current administration, that those who questioned their rigid “stay the course” position, were labeled as being for “cut and run.”

The best self-deprecating line:

“Please stop making fun of my diet and stop making fun of my speeding; I got here on time,” Gov. Richardson said, at a Madrid for congress rally where he arrived about a half-hour late to the scheduled event.


The best jocular response to a line I got off:

From New Mexico State Police Sergeant Alfred Lovato of the Governor’s security detail, when asked if it was true about his right foot? When he asked, “what about my right foot?” “Is it made of lead?”


The best reported bumper sticker:

“I’m not Speeding; I’m with governor’s security” from New Mexico for Sale.org, www.nmforsale.org, a blogspot hosted by the New Mexico Republican Party.

The greatest number of votes cast statewide in one race:

Attorney General
Democrat Gary K. King, left
318,000 -- 56.8%
Republican Jim Bibb, right
241,715 -- 43.2%
The Weird:

Duck Duck Goose: Kathleen Hennessey, 23, is a member of Rep. Wilson’s Washington staff. She wore a duck costume to the Oct. 31; get out the vote rally for Madrid. The event featured U.S. House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi, City of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Albuquerque Mayor Marty Ch├ívez.

The duck became a regular at Madrid functions and the media picked up on it at a University of New Mexico event between Zimmerman Library and the duck pond, pun intended, on Sept. 28.

I love political street theater and thought the idea of having a duck to re-emphasize the charge by Wilson that Madrid was ducking debates, was a clever move. Not that it was totally accurate; there were five debates initially scheduled. Eventually, the two that took place were the Sept. 17, Congregation Albert event that Madrid agreed to, with the stipulation that it not be televised live, and the live televised KOB-TV 4, Oct. 24, debates. Wilson withdrew from a North Valley area debate.

This day, Hennessey and her little support group of four or five other Republican operatives, attempted to enter the Madrid event, held at the City owned Duranes Community Center. There were several Democrats who refused them entry as the operatives tried to force the issue with city employees at the front door. Television and still photographers crowded in to capture the event at the front door. Access was hampered and people trying to enter had to form a single file.

There was a counter effort afoot, as at least one large Democrat walked up to the Republican supporters and ripped the signs out of their hands and took the signs into the building.

Hennessey was dancing around for the television cameras, flapping her wings under the nose of Roy Sterit, 60, of Rio Rancho. A large man, Sterit was blocking the entrance as one of Hennessey’s fellow protestors blew into a duck call.

Eventually, Sterit, center in cowboy hat, appeared to have had enough, and as recorded by KRQE TV news, deliberately stepped on Hennessey’s foot. She wore no shoe under the costume.

City Security Chief, former APD officer and now mayor’s staffer, Mark Shepherd, ordered City Security guards to respond. The protestors were moved away from the door. No arrests were made and a police report was taken.

Hennessey described having her foot stomped on, to Officer M. Gutierrez. Sterit told the officer he was unsure if he had stepped on her, but may have, due to her duck feet being so large, according to the report.

This incident went over the line: You may wonder what the line is? There actually is a line. It is found in Britain’s Parliament, in the House of Commons.

The majority party led by the prime minister and any coalition parties sit on the left side of the chamber, while the loyal opposition and other minority parties sit on the right side. Down the center is a carpeted area that divides the hall. There are two red stripes that run the length of the carpet. The two stripes are eight feet apart; the distance of two drawn swords.

Though not common today, if men with drawn swords move closer than the eight-foot separation, death or great bodily harm might ensue. Hence, “The Line;” crossing it will bring a stern warning from the speaker and ejection by the sergeant at arms. The sergeant at arms is actually a squad of soldiers, with bigger swords, whose job it is to keep order in the house.

In this country, our Supreme Court has adopted the eight-foot separation distance in a recent free speech, right to peaceably assemble and right to protest from a Colorado abortion protest case. They found eight feet to be the proper definition of personal space between opposing parties.

During the Madrid event, once the duck was rebuffed, she and her group should have stepped back across the line.

The Weirder:

The blogger led charge that a "hidden" March 1993 Albuquerque Police Department information report, written by Officer Phil Tsadiasi and filed about Wilson’s husband, Jay Hone, by a teenager that he represented, was suddenly discovered. The youth said he had been touched by Hone in what he thought was a sexual way. However, the teen did not want to file any charges and continued to deal with Hone.

KOAT-TV Action 7 news’ investigative reporter Larry Barker ran a 1997 story that included what appeared to be an ambush interview done with then Children, Youth and Families Secretary Wilson. Barker alleged that Wilson had the Hone report improperly removed from the CYF’s department file room in Albuquerque, to her office. He later detailed that the report was in the custody of the Department’s legal counsel in Santa Fe. At the time, the report was signed out and it was documented as done in the normal course of business. There were differences of opinion as to the propriety and method of removing the sensitive document.

Democracy For New Mexico and other Democratic bloggers made a great deal of the fact that the report was found online.

Democracy For New Mexico wrote: “UPDATE 10.20.06: In the past couple of days KOAT successfully convinced YouTube to remove the video linked above due to copyright issues.”

Now some facts: Officer Tsadiasi’s report was a matter of public record available for inspection at APD’s records unit. There was no criminal allegation made; the victim did not want to pursue the matter. Wilson apparently wanted to remove the file in her department from public view. Then District Attorney for Bernalillo County, Bob Schwartz, who was critical of Wilson’s actions in KOAT-TV’s report, said that she could have petitioned the state district court to put the file under seal.

The mainstream media were aware of the report early on, when anti-Wilson political operatives peddled the story after she was appointed Secretary. Dennis Domrzalski, a former reporter for the Albuquerque Tribune who had looked into the matter and determined that it did not constitute news.

According to Reuters on Oct. 20, “The popular video-sharing site YouTube deleted nearly 30,000 files after a Japanese entertainment group complained of copyright infringement.” It wasn’t KOAT who complained, but YouTube recognized that its service was being used to illegally distribute copyrighted material.

The Weirdest:

What ever happened to Chautauquas? OK, so what’s a Chautauqua, you ask. They were an annual summer school or educational gathering, often held outdoors and offering lectures, concerts, and theatrical performances, according to the World English Dictionary. They were also referred to as political gatherings with long political speeches.

At the first political event I attended, Aug. 5, a Democratic candidate party held at the Expo New Mexico, each candidate or current elected official was given three minutes to speak. Any amount of time over the three minutes was billed at $5 a minute.

It was a small gathering of Democratic faithful. “If you took away all the campaign workers and the Party volunteers,” Gary King for Attorney General’s Bernalillo County Coordinator Earl Holmes said, “you’d be standing here by yourself.” The event seemed to be a test run for candidates’ stump speeches.

“This is a fundraiser for the Democratic Party of Bernalillo County,” The sign read. They didn’t make much money as all the candidates spoke less than three minutes. If any went over, the timekeeper didn’t register the excess.

This is City Council President Martin Heinrich speaking to the sparse crowd of Democratic candidates, campaign workers and the Party volunteers.

My family has had a favored saying about political races: a race between turtles isn’t much of a race. Now the New Mexico Congressional District 1 race has required an adaptation to this saying: A race between snails isn’t much of a race; in this campaign, they left a trail of slime.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Gerald R. Ford 1913-2006

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Gerald Rudolph Ford Jr., the only president of the United States not elected president or vice president, has died at the age of 93.

Ford, a Republican, is seen here, while serving as House Minority Leader in 1973. He became vice president in Oct. 1973, upon the resignation of Spiro T. Agnew who was indicted in a bribery scandal. When Richard M. Nixon resigned Aug. 9, 1974, during the Watergate scandal, Ford was sworn in as the 38th president.

“My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over,“ Ford said, in his speech, after being sworn in by Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger.

He is seen here, upper right of the group of senators and congressmen escorting Nixon to his second inauguration Jan. 20, 1973.

Ford was best known for having pardoned Nixon.

He was elected 12 times as a congressman from Michigan’s 5th District -- Grand Rapids, first in 1948, with more than 60 percent of the vote; the lowest percentage of his long career.

During his 895-day term, the Vietnam war ended in an American defeat and two women attempted to assassinate him in a period of 17 days, both in California.

He ran for reelection and was defeated by former Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter.

Ford had a New Mexico connection; his daughter, Susan Ford Bales, is a Corrales resident.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Blue Wall: Intimidation and Bullies

What’s wrong with this picture?

This is Albuquerque Police Officer Sam Costales, seen in a harsh light on Thursday, before being notified that the Albuquerque Police Department had cleared him of any wrongdoing for testifying as a witness, in uniform, under a court ordered subpoena requested by the defense, two weeks ago.

I commend Chief of Police Ray Schultz for allowing cooler heads to prevail and resolving the matter quickly.

Costales took the stand during four-time Indy 500 winner Al Unser Sr.’s case. Unser was acquitted by a jury, in Metropolitan Court of two misdemeanor charges: disobeying a police officer and resisting arrest.

Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department Deputies had arrested Unser Sr., and his brother Bobby, Aug. 9, in two separate incidents, just minutes apart while they assisted Costales in manning a roadblock at Central Avenue and Unser Boulevard. They were keeping people from entering the crime scene where a suspected carjacker, involved in a high-speed pursuit with APD officers and who had fired shots at them. He crashed the stolen car north of the intersection. A standoff followed, a Special Weapons and Tactics operation ensued and after several hours of attempted negotiations, it was determined that the suspect was already dead. He may have accidentally taken his own life while reloading his shotgun at the time of the collision and setting off the weapon.

The not guilty jury verdict at the Unser trial, and Costales’ testimony, seem to have caused some sour grapes.

KRQE News’ Jessica Garate ran a story that purports to show Al Unser lied on the witness stand when, under cross examination, he stated that he had never had a confrontation with any officer.

Garate said the tape came from evidence used in Unser’s trial.

An unidentified Albuquerque Police Officer tape-recorded a conversation with Unser at a July 2000 traffic stop. Unser was the passenger in a car when the driver was stopped. The officer determined he was going to issue some citations.

Unser apparently thought the paper was excessive and the following conversation, that KRQE News terms a confrontation, was displayed as a graphic:

APD Officer: “Just a few citations and then we’re out of here.”

Al Unser: You’re really going to do it?”

APD Officer: “Yeah, I am.”

Al Unser: You’re really going to be an A** H*** over this. For no reason.”

APD Officer: “Okay, sir, at this time I have to have you go back to your vehicle and just sit there.”

Apparently that was the end of it. Not a confrontation in my book. I doubt that you can find a street cop who hasn’t been called a name or two and not been able to understand where the name-calling came from. One of the tricks to seasoning an officer is to learn that insults are directed at the fulfillment of their duty and not at them personally.

We don’t know what else happened at the tape-recorded event and ultimately it doesn’t matter, except for how it plays out from a public policy standpoint.

Someone, who doesn’t like the outcome of the trial, is trying to make something of it in the court of public opinion. The jury spoke and legally, the state’s right to pursue Unser Sr. on criminal charges in this incident is over.

Loyal readers know my stand on free speech, more not less. However, in this case we have something going on that slaps at the integrity of the legal judicial system. It is the government, in the form of the sheriff and his department, who is attacking, spinning for his own purposes, trying to throw mud after losing their weak case.

Whoever released the tape has an agenda that is inconsistent with their duty as a police officer, sheriff’s employee, prosecutor or court official.

If the prosecutors, during cross-examination, thought they could impeach Unser’s testimony with the tape, we would have heard it during the trial coverage on KRQE. The tape was excluded as evidence from the trial.

If the prosecutors thought Unser had perjured himself, we would have seen the press conference announcing the District Attorney seeking a grand jury indictment. No, instead, we hear this celebrity trophy tape, in an effort to smear Unser.

Maybe the officer who recorded this tape made it available to prosecutors in anticipation of the, “I’m a good guy,” defense by Unser.

If the person who released the tape, to KRQE, was a police officer or member of the sheriff’s department, then he or she violated the formal law enforcement code of ethics, to not let his or her personal feelings interfere with the job. If the person was a prosecutor or court official, they have their own set of ethical codes to answer to.

So what’s wrong with this picture?

Yes this is Darren White, “Ace crime reporter” for KRQE TV News 13 in 2001. This picture was taken for a book project I was working on tentatively entitled, “Warriors.” It was intended to put a face on those who were fighting the “War on Drugs.” The project died on Sept. 11, 2001, when the “War on Drugs” was replaced with the “War on Terror.”

Gov. Gary Johnson appointed White, a former Houston and Albuquerque police officer, as secretary of the New Mexico Department of Public Safety. He served until Johnson, in his second term, proposed legislation decriminalizing certain drug use and to examine how the corrections department could improve drug rehabilitation as part of the prison and probation and parole systems. White was publicly outraged at Johnson’s suggestion and resigned.

It would appear that White has taken his position far beyond its lawful duties. He shows little things as evidence; his professional e-mail address is highsheriff@bernco.gov. It's telling if one examines the history of the office of sheriff, who was the first official law enforcement officer in middle-ages England. The shire was made up of one thousand able bodied free men and their families who selected one man to be the rieve, hence a sheriff. Often, the sheriff was also a knight and therefore entitled a lord; the title “Lord High Sheriff” was common. It might appear that he wishes to glorify himself as a “High Sheriff.”

As any good journalist or law enforcement officer and especially a successful politician do, White has cultivated and maintained his sources and contacts. He has worked hard to try to get the media to condemn Officer Costales for testifying under a defense subpoena.

White had an e-mail exchange Sat., Dec. 16, 2006, started by APD officer and Albuquerque Police Officers’ Association Secretary James Badway. Badway, insinuating that he was writing on behalf of the APOA, stated, “As Secretary of the APOA i feel it is my duty and responsibility to apologize to you and your officers. Ofc. Sam Costales does not represent APD/APOA. The majority of our officers look at the BCSO as our brother and sisters in blue. We are embarrassed and ashamed of Ofc. Costales's testimony in the Unser trial. If there is anything we can do to rebuild the damage caused by Sam please let me know.”

“I was shocked and dismayed when I learned that Sam was on the stand sucker-punching our deputies,” White responded: “Make no mistake, while his testimony was a work of fiction, it was pretty much game over after he finished. I worked with Sam years ago in the Southeast. If he was so offended by the actions of the deputies, he could have picked up a phone and called me. Instead, he called the Unsers. Also, I have a hard time believing Sam would have taken the same steps had the accused been some crack dealer.”

White just gets it wrong. Costales did not seek out Unser. A private investigator working for Unser’s lawyers, in the course of trying to determine what transpired, ascertained from police reports and his own investigation, that Costales was at the scene and sought him out.

“If an APD officer witnesses another agency involved in questionable behavior, the officer would be expected to report it up the chain of command, Walsh said. Depending on the severity of the incident, it could easily rise to the chief's office, he said,” The Tribune reported, in its Dec. 15 story, quoting APD‘s Public Information Officer John Walsh.

Immediately after the incident, on Aug 9, not the next day as reported in the Journal, Costales was told by his Lieutenant, Brian Carr, to contact Walsh, who was at the crime scene. Costales, using his cellular phone, called Walsh and told him that the story the deputies were telling the news about the Unsers’ arrest, was not what happened.

“Walsh just laughed and said, ‘It’s only the Unsers,’” Costales said in an interview. “He (Walsh) just blew it off.”

What is curious is the fact that Costales’ testimony paralleled the deputies’ accounts of the sequence of events.

In my analysis of the incident posted Sept. 7, the reports indicated that the deputies were in a verbal confrontation with Unser Sr., and that he was pulled from his vehicle and forced to the ground. Costales’ testimony added a professional’s view from a distance. He filled in details that differed and that were neglected from the deputies’ points of view. They included perceived levels of volume, tone and tenor, in what was said and transpired. The deputies’ testimonies were self-serving, yet Costales told what he saw.

In an interview with Unser’s lawyer, Robert McNeill, who is now also representing Costales, since the Sheriff’s attack, said Costales had done nothing wrong. McNeill produced a letter he sent to Chief Schultz on Dec. 15.

“I met with the Chief Deputy District Attorney Gary Cade and Deputy District Attorney Peter Decker just a few days after August 9th and informed them that a reputable law enforcement officer would testify for the defense in this matter, suggesting that this might not be a case they should pursue, McNeill wrote: “I also informed Mr. Decker and Assistant District Attorney Jeremy Pena that ‘we have interviewed Officer Sam Costales, the Albuquerque Police Department officer in charge of the scene’ in a letter dated October 4, 2006. Further, Officer Costales was listed as a defense witness on a witness list filed with the court and provided to the state well in advance of the trial, as required by the rules.”

According to a Dec. 21 Journal article, prosecutors never interviewed Costales because the deputies told them that there was no one around who could have seen the incident.

According to a Dec. 23, copyrighted story by Albuquerque Journal staff writer Carolyn Carlson, APD’s PIO Trish Hoffman, said that the investigation into Costales’ testifying in uniform was over and it was the only issue.

“She said the investigation focused on why Costales testified in his APD uniform.

‘It confuses the jury,’ Hoffman said.

She said it is ‘common knowledge,’ not written policy, that to avoid confusing the jury, officers should not wear their uniforms when testifying against other law enforcement agencies.”

Hoffman’s comment is inaccurate and she continues to propagate a negative spin against Costales. It’s not now, nor has it ever been “common knowledge” “that officers should not wear their uniforms when testifying against other law enforcement agencies.” The emphasis that testifying for or against, mischaracterizes what an officers’ duty, obligation and role is in the judicial system. Officers testify to facts, not for or against. Whether it is a law enforcement officer or alleged heinous criminal, the truth is the only concern.

This statement by Hoffman is a rebuilding of the blue wall of silence. What she wants the policy to be, rather than what the actual code of ethics for officers is.

McNeill sent letters to Attorney General Patricia Madrid and District Attorney Kari Brandenburg requesting an investigation into what he sees as, “an orchestrated effort to persecute and discredit an honest police officer is under way.”

This is Officer Conrad Candelaria, right, in the dark uniform, in 1991 when he was a police academy instructor. I was at the academy in the advanced training unit, video productions detail. I taught an occasional class and everyone in the training section had contact with cadets. It was everybody’s role to monitor the integrity of the training process.

It became apparent to me that Candelaria had lost the proper focus in his dealings with cadets. He had become abusive and bullied the squad under his supervision. I brought my concerns to the chain of command and they attempted to rectify his behavior. He did not change and was reassigned.

The move did not hurt his career as he was soon promoted to sergeant and he returned to the academy and became the advanced training unit supervisor where he was my boss. Later, he was promoted to lieutenant and was working on his master’s degree at UNM. He contacted me and asked for a copy of my professional paper in order to do a peer review. I gave him a copy on the condition that he gives me a copy of his paper. He agreed, but never followed through.

In the academic world, ones writing is always open to such peer review. It’s a form of discussion and advances thoughts and ideas within the academic community. Failure to make a peer review available to the original source’s author is bad form. I cannot grant Candelaria the peer respect because of his failure to grant me equal respect.

With lieutenant bars on Candelaria’s collar for only about eight months, a captain’s slot opened up. When he was not selected, Candelaria called then Chief of Police Gerald Galvin, to complain that he should have been promoted.

Such arrogance didn’t seem to hurt him, as he was eventually promoted and is now commander of the west side area.

Candelaria drew public attention and criticism in Feb. 2004, when he exercised his “discretion” and altered a parking citation written by one of his officers to the mayor’s wife’s car, changing it to a warning. At the time, then Chief of Police Gilbert Gallegos ordered a full internal investigation to determine who changed the citation. Then PIO Jeff Arbogast said, “only the officer issuing the ticket has the discretion to change a citation to a warning,” according to the Feb 28, 2004, Albuquerque Journal. Candelaria took full responsibility for changing the document.

According to Costales, after last weeks Dec.15, shooting of Officer Marcus Moya, the west side units responded to the scene. Costales, who was a long way away, did not arrive before the signal, “code four,” meaning no further units are needed, was broadcast. Costales remained in-service to handle any other emergency calls.

At the end of shift, the officers at the shooting scene were called to the substation for a critical incident debriefing. Costales did not go because he had not been at the scene.

Candelaria called the squad together again a few days later and praised the assistance of the deputy sheriffs at the Moya shooting scene. The entire time, Costales said that Candelaria stared directly at him. When he was finished, Candelaria dismissed the squad, but held back Costales, asking him if he understood what was said. Costales acknowledged that he did and began to leave. Candelaria again asked Costales if he was OK. Costales responded that he was OK.

It would appear that Candelaria, in a not so subtle way, seemed to be threatening Costales. Candelaria’s actions, so close to Unser’s acquittal, raise this concern.

It wasn’t until the determination was made that Costales had done nothing wrong at the Unser trial, that Candelaria finally assured support.

Costales said that he has the full support of the officers he works with and his lieutenant. However, messages left on the union’s internal webpage included a threat from at least one officer, from another area command in the city, who said if Costales were ever assigned to assist him at a scene, he would kick him out.

“They are creating a hostile work environment.” Costales said.

One last thought: there has been a lot of noise about an officer testifying, accusations being made, investigations started, recollections of warnings being given no longer recalled and “evidence” being disclosed; all in an effort to discredit one man for having raised his hand and swearing to tell the truth. Why have we heard nothing about the launching of an internal investigation into the conduct of the deputies towards Unser? It appears that White was not as shocked by what Costales said about what his deputies did, but that another law enforcement officer had contradicted his deputies accounts of events.

“I have a hard time believing Sam would have taken the same steps had the accused been some crack dealer,” White wrote, in response to Badway’s e-mail. This raises a huge question. Does White suggest that he believes it is OK for his deputies to abuse crack dealers?

With White and his supporters and operatives’ open effort to manipulate the media with the disclosure of an old audiotape and the releasing of information about Costales’ bizarre arrest in Rio Rancho. White pushed the story that Costales was arrested in his home eight years ago for disorderly conduct for alleged acts that did not occur in an officer’s presence as required by law. Costales was found guilty and the case was ultimately dismissed after he was given a deferred sentence. His status at APD was not adversely affected by that case.

White has a history of trying to manipulate events and does so in a ham-fisted manner. As a leader of the State Republican Party a few years ago, when Vice President Dick Cheney was going to hold a political event at Rio Rancho High School, White required people interested in seeing Cheney to sign a loyalty oath to the Republican Party.

It seems that one of the only bad political behaviors left for White to do is go “Nixonian” and generate an enemies' list. If I don’t make his top ten, I’ll be offended.