Sunday, July 29, 2007

Danger - Nature at Work

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Update on the Broad-tailed Hummingbird, who has taken up nesting outside my office window since I posted July 16, 2007, about her.

She incubated for at least 15 days.

News Flash!

Hatchling(s). After staring this post today, there was a marked change in the Hummingbird’s behavior. This afternoon she left the nest and upon retuning she perched herself on the side of the nest and bent over it with her beak deep in the nest. It must be feeding time.

She had been sitting on the nest for 10-12 minutes at a time then will fly off and was gone about a minute to 90 seconds. She has established two approach patterns to the nest she seldom approaches from the rear; her preferred move is to cross between my vantage point and the nest from right to left in a right hand pattern. She makes a right turn and comes to a hover, slightly below the nest she then elevates and moves forward in a fluid move and quickly folds her wings as she settles into the nest.

The bird has attracted some curiosity from other birds and a couple of young squirrels. Several Mourning Dove, who live in this small row of trees, made their first ever appearance in front of my window to check out the nest. Two female Broad-tailed Hummingbirds dropped by and sat on a branch about six-feet away. The nesting bird sat stoically on the egg(s). I can’t see the eggs so I don’t know exactly how many she is sitting on.

She became agitated and excited when one of two young squirrels showed an interest in the nest. The female dive-bombed the squirrel; who ducked its head.

I am not actively intervening in this display of nature. However, the squirrels, upon seeing me try to photograph them moved on.

The hatchlings will be blind and without feathers and will take 21-26 days to fledge.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Harris is in a Race for His Job

What's wrong with this picture?

This is City Councillor Don Harris of District 9 chasing his two and a half-year-old son, Joshua, across the council chambers, March 6, during a town hall meeting to discuss City’s Safe Traffic Operations Program referred to as the STOP ordinance.

He really upset some of his constituents with his voting record and they have launched a recall effort.

Harris prevailed in a run-off election two years ago against incumbent Tina Cummins.

Harris was the top vote getter in the Oct 4, 2005, municipal election with 2,625 votes or 34.95 percent in a four-candidate race. However, he did not garner the necessary required 40 percent to win. Cummins received 1,924 or 26.73 percent of the vote; the other two candidates: Chris Catechis received 1,856 or 25.07 percent, while Vivian Cordova received 1,024 or 13.24 percent of the vote. A total of 7,429 ballots were cast.

In the Nov. 21, 2005, run-off election, of the 3,687 votes cast from 12.75 percent of the registered voters in the district, Harris received 66.4 percent of the ballots cast, with 2,451, according to the certificate of canvass found on the city clerks’ web site.

A recall effort was organized under the name “New Mexicans for Democracy,” led by B. James Lowe, a retired Navy Admiral.

City Clerk Millie Santillanes, left, determined, citing the City Charter’s requirement that 25 percent of the voters cast ballots in the election where the councillor was elected in, must sign a petition to trigger a recall vote. The number in this case would be 922 according to Santillanes’ calculation. New Mexicans for Democracy turned in almost 1,000 valid signatures.

Harris filed suit in District Court contending that the run-off election had been a continuation of the municipal election and the proper number of signatures should have been 2,100. A quick math check shows that one quarter of 7,429 votes cast in the original election is 1,857.

Second Judicial District Court’s Chief Judge William Lang, left, with former Bernalillo County Attorney Tito Chavez in 1997, ruled Wed. that Santillanes’ reading of the charter and her calculations were correct.

Lowe wrote a letter to Council President Debbie O’Malley requesting that the council include holding the recall during the upcoming municipal election scheduled Oct 2.

There is an irony here; Chávez had supported Cummins who had aligned herself with the mayor on many issues. After the run-off election, the mayor’s chief fundraiser Terrie Baird organized an event, held June 29, 2006 at Scalo Northern Italian Grill, to help reduce campaign expenses for Harris. The invitation read, “Please join Mayor Martin J. Chávez & Don Harris… Suggested contribution $500.00… Make checks payable to: Committee to elect Don Harris.”

One of the main issues that triggered New Mexicans for Democracy’s efforts was the reporting of some $30,000 raised at the event that was not properly documented on the City clerk’s campaign financing web site.

Harris has sided with a majority of the council against several of the mayor’s proposals and is one of a block of six councillors that has over-ridden several vetoes.

Councillor Craig Loy recently introduced a charter amendment that passed 8-1; with Councillor Brad Winter voting against.

“Requiring a determination or probable cause to find misconduct in office prior to a recall petition being circulated. Requiring a recall petition to contain at least thirty three and one-third percent of the votes cast in the last regular municipal election for the position for which recall is sought. Prohibiting recall elections in the last six months of a term.”

Chávez vetoed Loy’s charter amendment, but the council overrode it 7-1-1; with Winter voting against and Harris having left the meeting prior to the vote.

So what's wrong with this picture?

Loy retired from the Albuquerque Police Department as a captain with more than 20 years service. However, he shows that he didn’t learn any basic law in that time.

Only once in the-33 year history of the current city charter have there been enough needed petition signatures gathered to trigger a recall. It was against then District 8 Councillor Richard Chapman in 1989. His offense was that he suggested a smoking ban. The recall failed.

Recall has always been a powerful political tool available to the electorate who are upset with the performance of their representatives.

Loy, above right with Council President O'Malley, left and fellow Councillor Sally Mayer, center, complained that he disliked the use of a recall, most recently used against Mayer last year, which failed for a lack of necessary signatures and Harris now. It appears he is suggesting that once elected, voters should not be able to affect their representatives.

However, Loy’s choice of the words “determination or probable cause to find misconduct in office” means a criminal act. There are two problems; recalls allow for political acts as grounds to pursue an elected official and criminal acts are grounds, in and of themselves, to remove a person from office.

The state law is very clear on the issue of malfeasance.

“3-10-7. Officers; removal for malfeasance in office; complaint; jurisdiction of district court; hearing; serving notice.
Any person elected or appointed to an elective office of a municipality may be removed for malfeasance in office by the district court upon complaint of the mayor or governing body of the municipality. Any such officer is entitled to a hearing at a time fixed by the court after not less than ten days' notice of such proceedings by service, as in the case of summons in civil actions, with a copy of the complaint filed in the proceedings.”

It’s up to the voters in district 9 to evaluate Harris’ performance and to vote their conscience.

Should Harris be recalled, Mayor Martin Chávez would make an appointment to fill the two year unexpired position. That might be as much a consideration for voters as is Harris’ voting record.

My take:

The only issue I have a great deal of problems with was Harris’ unsuccessful attempt to move or remove the public comment section from the beginning of council meetings. I don’t agree with every position he takes, but for me, I wouldn’t think that is grounds for his recall.

The voters are exercising their prerogative. I don’t know if they are right or wrong. It’s their decision. All elected officials risk upsetting their constituents and have to weigh their action with the knowledge they may evoke the voter’s wrath at the polls.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Whose Who?

What's wrong with this picture?

The bloggers have gone wild over the e-mail flap of the posting of Sandra P. Richardson’s “Paulette, THE PLAN and the structure.”

I was pondering joining in, but I wasn’t sure how I would. I want to make sure I stay relevant.

As I reviewed all the blog postings I could find and the trail of comments, a few things became clear.

Blogger Mario Bugos posted a “leaked” e-mail, purportedly:
From: "Sandra P. Richardson"
Date: July 14, 2007 7:39:55 AM MDT
Cc: "Sandra P. Richardson",
Subject: Paulette, THE PLAN and the structure

Paulette de'Pascal, candidate for city council district 4, appears now to be distancing herself from both Payne and Richardson by dismissing it as just “…a silly email sent by someone who wanted to be a part of this campaign..."

So what's wrong with this picture?

Burgos did not include to whom the e-mail was addressed; the name was redacted.

However, the same e-mail was also posted on the EYE on Albuquerque. Yet, the EYE included the address: To: Payne is director of ABQ Ride, the City’s transportation department. Based on the headings posted online, de'Pascal was not even a listed recipient. Burgos called it a head-scratcher; now I have to scratch the other side of my head as well.

Apparently, 770 KOB AM's Jim Villanucci read the e-mail on his talk-radio show last week.

Duke City Fix wrote about how in 2000, Larry "Skip" Vernon, then Republican candidate for District Attorney, sent an e-mail to his Democratic rival, Kari Brandenberg. Vernon would claim it was sent as a mistake, delivered to the wrong person. DCF claims it killed Vernon’s chance to be elected. It may well have. However, in this case there is an important difference; the Richardson e-mail is not de'Pascal’s. The candidate is not responsible for it.

This “silly e-mail” has taken on a life of its own; rampant rumor-mongering has overtaken facts.

The blogging world, and more so the comment sections of the blogs, have taken issues that have a miniscule matter of truth and blown them to smithereens.

Several commentators attribute information as being leaked, instead of recognizing that all candidates must report their campaign activities that are instantly available on the city clerk’s web site The $2,990.26 expenditure at the ABQ Uptown Apple Store is her first entry.

I considered going journalistic; I have the numbers of the parties, Richardson, Payne and de'Pascal. Then I thought, “What’s the question?”

The bloggers are suggesting that if Payne is the campaign manager or just advising for de'Pascal, that there is something wrong. It is further suggested that de'Pascal is being put up by Mayor Martin Chávez to run against incumbent District 4 City Councilor Brad Winter.

Chávez has been very open in his criticisms of Winter, whom he defeated in the last mayoral election. Chávez will take a swipe at Winter at every opportunity, as he did here in a vituperation, during a “town hall” community gathering to hype his budget, held May 15, at the Bear Canyon Senior Center. Political observers would have to be asleep not to have noticed. Chávez denounced former Councillor Miguel Gómez and backed Ken Sanchez two years ago.

The mayor may back or encourage anyone he wants to run, Payne may manage or advise anyone he wants to run, and Richardson can write what she will and send it to whomever she wishes. They are all citizens and are free to enter the political fray. That’s not news.

A number of blog comments jump to conclusions that city employees are working on de'Pascal’s campaign on city time. It’s happened before; the city’s Board of Ethics and Campaign Practices heard testimony, during the ABQPAC hearings, from Chávez supporters that they had made telephone solicitations on city time. However, no one has elicited such an admission here. To the contrary, Payne and de'Pascal deny it. People associated with Chávez and his political camp, know how the wind blows and they will take their lead from their boss and join in to get friendly and politically like-minded candidates elected.

So what do I have to add? I believe you can’t know the players if you don’t have a program. So, here are the introductions…

This is Sandra P. Richardson when she spoke in favor of the red light cameras at the Town hall meeting of City Councillors to discuss the City’s Safe Traffic Operations Program referred to as the STOP ordinance.

A Google search revealed that Richardson is or has been active with: the Cherry Hills Civic Association, the League of Women Voters, the Walk Albuquerque Executive Committee, and Keep New Mexico Beautiful. She has held board positions on several of these organizations.

She sits on two committees; she has chaired the Metropolitan Parks and Recreation Advisory Board in 2006 and now is the vice chair. She also sits on the Library Advisory Board, appointed by the county to the joint government board. The city’s boards and commissions ordinance prohibits an individual from sitting on two boards. Though she technically is not a city appointed member of the library board, it’s a distinction with little difference. It might raise the ethical eyebrow.

Speaking of ethics, this is Cliff Richardson, Sandra’s husband.

He sits on the city’s Board of Ethics and Campaign Practices. Cliff Richardson was originally a council appointee whose term expired July 31, 2004.

By my observation, he was one of the more outspoken members of the ethics board, along with fellow council appointee Isabel Cabrera, during the ABQPAC hearings in calling for harsh action against Mayor Martin Chávez.

A year later he was reappointed by Mayor Chávez to fill the unexpired term of Dr. Sarah Brennan, after her husband John Brennan, pleaded guilty to DWI and cocaine possession and she resigned from the board.

Clifford Richardson is listed as an energy engineer for Chugach Management Services and is the executive board secretary for the Albuquerque chapter of the Society of American Military Engineers.

This is Greg Payne seen here during the May 7 city council meeting. He was elected to city council in 1999, representing district 8 after defeating incumbent Tim Cummins, who is now a county commissioner. Contrary to his city web site biography, Four Hills was not in Payne’s district; the southern boundary is Central Ave. Payne was elected to the state legislature but resigned to take the transit job. His biography claims he has consulted or managed more than 50 state and local political campaigns.

I don’t have a picture of de'Pascal.

The Journal’s new City Hall Staff Writer Dan McKay, seen here, below right, during an interview with attorney Tony Jeffries, at the last ABQPAC hearing, defended himself in the DCF string as having checked out the story and he got little to nothing. McKay wrote a squib about Payne’s denial of being involved in de'Pascal’s campaign.
His fellow Journal Staff Writer John Fleck came to his assistance, at DCF, with a great quote about an old grizzled investigative reporter who once said, "Great story. Better if true." I think I knew that reporter, at least ten times over.

So when the facts and gossip are separated, you have a good water-cooler topic and that’s about it. It might provide some insight of how at least one campaign runs or how it might not; depends on what and whom you wish to believe.

Several blog commentators want specific questions asked. This is a political campaign. The phone numbers of all the players are readily available. Political candidates should be ready to stand for any and all questions. Give them a call; ask your questions. Report back what you found out. I am sure a little fact-finding could only add to your discussion. What’s the worse thing that can happen? They blow you off. Guess what, that’s worth knowing also.

Does this incident hurt de'Pascal? That’s up to the voters of District 4.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Buried in dirt

What's wrong with this picture?

Every new university president must feel like they are buried in dirt when they arrive and are faced with the myriad of problems piled up on their desk.

Dr. David J. Schmidly was appointed president Feb. 27, 2007 and by now should have uncovered the mess left on his new desk.

It must have been a surprise to him last week when his reserved parking spot was covered in dirt.

It was just another water main replacement around Scholes Hall. A few years back, a similar water main was replaced on the other side of the building.

The Sunday Albuquerque Journal, in a copyrighted story by Staff Writer Martin Salazar, detailed how UNM received funds that had been earmarked for other state educational institutions’ repairs. However, Gov. Bill Richardson used a line item veto to remove the repairs and gave the money to UNM.

Legislative Finance Committee Chairman State Senator John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, right, questioned the money movement and wondered aloud whether giving the earmarked funds to UNM might have helped in funding two recent highly paid cabinet positions.

I sure hope one of those institutions doesn’t spring a leak…

Welcome to UNM Dr. Schmidly.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Badges, Badges…?

What's wrong with this picture?

I don’t normally respond directly to comments posted to this site; this is a first.

Yesterday, Michelle Meaders posted a comment about my take on UNM’s obligation to prohibit the use of taxpayer resources in a political campaign:
“UNM lets retirees keep their e-mail accounts as a benefit. (I have one myself.) If they had to monitor what people did with them, it would cost a lot, and perhaps violate free speech. 
We also get free tuition at UNM, and some other discounts. Is anyone saying that shouldn't happen either? Retirees worked for UNM for many years and were promised these things. It's not a donation.”

I received some benefits when I left the Albuquerque Police Department. I was given my badges; three of them, my patrol officer’s shield and hat badge and my detective's badge. I was also given a retirement badge.

I cannot use them because that would be a crime, impersonating a police officer. I can put them on display or tuck them away in my unseen collection.

So what's wrong with this picture?

UNM has a rule about not using state funds for campaigning. If the candidate and Meaders, alike, can’t grasp that concept as an ethical issue, then that’s proof of an ethical problem.

I also received my service weapon… I don’t think I’ll be using it in an illegal manner; it just might be unethical.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Welcome Neighbor

What's wrong with this picture?

This is U.S. Air Force Col. Michael Kingsley.

He is the son in law of my friends, Ken and Mariette Coolidge, of Camarillo, Calif. Coolidge was a Lt. Col assigned to Kirtland Air Force Base in the early ’80s and had joined the Albuquerque Police Department as a volunteer reserve officer. He rode with me just about every weekend for several years. He had a distinguished career as a navigator and later became Air Police Chief and an administrator.

Coolidge, seen here with grandson, Harris, taught me to fly airplanes. He would later retire, became a regional manager for California Plant Protections security firm and moved to Calif. CPP bought out Pinkerton and formed the largest security company in the country. He became a vice president and retired for a second time. He now is a flight instructor, specializing in teaching airplane instrument ratings.

The Coolidges’ daughter, Sharon, left, is a graduate of Del Norte High School and the University of New Mexico. She married Kingsley, who was a young Air Force combat rescue helicopter pilot.

At the beginning of Operation Desert Storm — Task Force Normandy, Kingsley flew a MH-53 PAVE LOW helicopter escorting Army AH-64 Apaches attacking an early warning radar outpost in Iraq in the first mission of the war in Jan. 1991.

Kingsley, most recently, was the assistant deputy director for special operations in the operations directorate for the joint chiefs’ of staff at the Pentagon. His main duties included conducting weekly briefings to the secretary of defense and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff on all military special operations.

This week, he arrived at Kirtland and in a change of command ceremony, conducted by Inspector General of the Air Force Lt. Gen Ronald Sams, left. Kingsley is the new commander of the Air Force Inspection Agency, replacing retiring Col. Thomas Berardinelli, right.

The Kingsley’s have three children: a daughter Maggie, 19, who is attending the University of Florida in Tallahassee; Alex, 16, is a senior who will attend Highland High School and also take courses at UNM; and Harris, 11, will attend Sandia Preparatory school.


What's wrong with this picture?

A couple of weeks ago, a hummingbird appeared outside my office window and about a week ago she started nesting.

I believe her to be a Broad-tailed Hummingbird, or Selasphorus platycercus, if I’ve read my National Audubon Society Field guide to birds, western region of North America correctly.

The guide says the female nests in pinion trees. I guess my neighbor’s trees, whose branches hang over into my yard, must be pinions.

I went out and washed my window and set up a strobe to get clear pictures of this bird and will monitor its activities to see if she lays two eggs as the guide says she will. If there are young, I will try to photograph them also. So stand by.

Rey Garduño’s E-mail

What's wrong with this picture?

This mornings Journal story written by Jim Ludwick about City Council District 6 candidate Rey Garduño using a University of New Mexico e-mail account as his campaign address instantly raises ethical questions.

Garduño explained that because he is a retired UNM employee and the prohibition against using university equipment for political campaigns only applies to employees, not him and that it doesn’t cost anything.

He’s quoted as saying the “ignorance” of his critics, in not interpreting the wording of UNM rules as he does, should not mean he should change his ways.

So what's wrong with this picture?

Garduño does not have to change his ways, the university does. The New Mexico Constitution forbids the assistance of government to any private entity through what is known as the anti-donation clause.

“Neither the state, nor any county, school district, or municipality, except as otherwise provided in this constitution, shall directly or indirectly lend or pledge its credit, or make any donation to or in aid of any person, association or public or private Corporation….” N.M. Constitution article IX, section 14

This clause is meant to keep government from supporting activities that are not directly related to services they render. Some like the anti-donation clause; others loath it. Almost everyone in government eventually encounters the clause; most learn about it the hard way.

He’s not the first. Six years ago, then UNM professor of public administration Bruce Perlman, was campaign treasurer for mayoral candidate Martin Chávez and used his UNM e-mail account to solicit contributions. The media refused to take note.

Perlman is now Chávez’ chief administrative officer. He was the chief architect of ABQPAC, an illegal form of funneling money to Chávez. Perlman called the scheme, quoting Col. Oliver North’s congressional testimony, circumventing the U.S. Constitution, as a “neat and nifty” way, to get money to the mayor. Perlman is seen here, above left, chatting with ABQPAC’s Attorney Pat Rogers during a break in his testimony at the Jan. 10, 2003 city’s ethics board hearing.

Chávez was eventually found to have improperly taken money from people doing business with the city and from city employees. Rogers’ name is currently embroiled in the U.S. Attorney firing congressional investigation.

Though Garduño contends that using his e-mail account doesn’t cost anything, my tuition keeps going up. UNM has no choice and must shut Garduño’s campaign business out. Otherwise, it appears that they are supporting a political candidate.

As for the candidate, stuck in his ways, ignorance of the law is no excuse.

Garduño’s campaign slogan that he’s “running clean” doesn’t include that he’s running ignorant himself.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Lady Bird Johnson

What's wrong with this picture?

This is Lady Bird Johnson, right, in the black dress with the white buttons, seen here at a ceremony January 25, 1973, when her husband, former President Lyndon B. Johnson, was laid in state in the Capitol Rotunda.

She is surrounded here by her family; standing behind her is Lucy Baines Johnson, Nugent. Next to her, on the left, is Linda Bird Johnson, wife of Charles Robb, later elected U.S. Senator from Virginia, with their daughter.

President Richard Nixon, is seen on the right, with his daughter Tricia Cox behind him. To the far left is Vice President Spiro T. Agnew with his wife Judy.

She was born Claudia Alta Taylor on Dec. 22, 1912 in Karnack, Texas, a small east Texas town some 10 miles from the Louisiana state line. She died Wednesday at the age of 94.

Taylor studied journalism at Marshall High School where she graduated third in her class. She let her grades slip to avoid being first in her class and having to give the valedictorian’s speech.

After graduating Cum Laude at the University of Texas in Austin, she earned a second degree in journalism.

She married a young congressional aid, Lyndon Johnson and became, what many thought his greatest supporter, as he went on to become a U.S. congressman, senator, vice-president and upon the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, he became president.

She purchased a failing Austin radio station, KTBC, in 1942 and built it into a six-station multi media empire.

She is probably best known for her environmental efforts that culminated in 1965 with what was named the Lady Bird Johnson Highway Beautification Act. It removed many billboards along interstate highways and replaced them with wildflowers.

Her daughters, seven grand children and 10 great grand children survive her.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Signs of Continued Corruption?

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

This is a sign of the times, advertising that offends our mayor; the product is meant to foil detection at the automated enforcement sites, also known as photo red light and speed detection intersections and mobile photo radars. However, it also is defying efforts of the mayor to clean up the streets.

Recently, Mayor Martin Chávez held one of those “Dog and Pony show” press conferences with his department head and staff along with several city pickup trucks filled with signs collected from medians around town.

Chávez went on to say that the people who the signs were advertising for were going to receive citations with $100 fines attached for displaying them illegally.

He allowed for the possibility that yard sale signs would not be prosecuted as long the homeowner went and collected the sign at the end of the sale.

It was all dutifully recorded by government access television GOV TV cable channel 16.

Now how could anybody fault the mayor’s efforts to clean up our streets?

So what’s wrong with this picture?

This is Diane Dorn-Jones, seen here when she was assistant chief administrative officer, working for Chávez in 2004, just before she stepped down to mount a run for city council from district three.

This is Dorn-Jones’ political campaign sign at the corner of Broadway Blvd. S.E. and Avenida Cesar Chavez S.E., seen last week.

The city ordinance speaks to the issue:

A sign advocating a candidate or ballot measure for a specific election, which sign is allowed temporarily near the times of elections in addition to the permitted regular sign locations which can be used for political messages.


(B) Regulations Applicable to Signs in All Zones.

(3) Special Political Signs.
Special political signs shall be permitted up to a total area of six square feet on each premises in a residential zone and up to 32 square feet for each sign in a nonresidential zone. Special political signs may be erected no earlier than 60 days prior to the election to which the sign pertains; they shall be removed within ten days after that election or after the termination of the candidacy, whichever occurs first.

So why is one of Chávez’ former top aides’ campaign sign not prominently displayed on the heap of signs he found so offensive? Will Dorn-Jones also be cited and forced to pay a $100 fine?

If not, then President George W. Bush is not the only political leader who plays fast and loose with his former cronies when it comes to being scofflaws.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Before David Thinking

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

This is my nephew David, who was in town with his bride Danielle, for his 26th birthday last week, from Colorado Springs.

He is a staff sergeant in the Air Force and a computer expert with the 721st Communications Squadron at the Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station. For those of you into sci-fi television, you will know it as the tunnel entrance to “Stargate Command,” but in actuality, it is NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, a joint U.S.-Canadian operation. During the cold war, it monitored and warned of possible airborne attacks from Russia across Alaska and Canada, and then its mandate expanded to include submarine attacks from anywhere. Post cold war, the role has continued and now includes maritime monitoring and added a homeland security component. In actuality the only function NORAD has fulfilled is “Santa tracking” from the North Pole on Christmas Eve.

As a teenager, he held a historic philosophy; if an event of history happened before he was born, then it wasn’t of any great significance to him; because it happened, “BD” or before David.

Now, I don’t know if he still holds such thoughts today, I doubt it, because he has traveled extensively. He met his wife when they attended the 1999 World Boy Scout Jamboree in Iceland. When he joined the Air Force, he attended technical school and then was assigned to Germany. He spent time in Turkey when Operation Iraqi Freedom began and he has visited many parts of Europe. He is taking college classes and shows signs of being pretty smart.

However, there are plenty of people who seem to share David’s old philosophy.

I have some acquaintances who continue to send me xenophobic rants of “America is a land that requires English only” and suggests that immigrants, “legal” or not must assimilate into “our” culture.

What does that mean? The answers keep coming back as racist!

I percieve the problem as one of “BD.”

My recent travels help me see some of those issues. I traveled through 10 of the 11 western states; the one I missed this trip was Nevada. I hit: Arizona, California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado and back to New Mexico.

The names of the states of Arizona, Utah, New Mexico and Wyoming were originally Indian words. Idaho and Oregon were not even words, but were made up to describe these places that became states. California, Montana, Colorado and Nevada are derived from Spanish words.

Eight states are named in this country in honor of European royalty and of course Washington was named in honor of what could have been our own royalty. Isn’t it great that he rejected that offer? Why would I want to establish a royalty after spending the last six years fighting against one, he reportedly said.

It is interesting to view the origin of state names and somewhat telling.

You don’t have to go digging through dusty libraries to find simple history lessons. Dig into your pocket and look at the state quarters series.

You will find commonwealths, states, a couple of republics, meaning they were their own country for a few years: Texas and California, in particular, and there was one independent nation, Hawaii.

Britain, France, Spain, Mexico and Russia all laid claim to parts of what is now the continental United States.

There were more than 450 Indian tribes in the United States as of 1880, when only Geronimo and his small band Apache warriors had not been forced onto reservations. How many tribes are now known by the name of their native language?

Under President Thomas Jefferson, the Louisiana Purchase, a French territory, doubled the land size of the United States in 1803.

All of what is now: Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma and parts of: Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Wyoming, Colorado, North and South Dakotas, Wisconsin and Montana make up the area of the purchase.

Take a look at the Louisiana state quarter and you can get an instant geography lesson. Louisiana was admitted April 30, 1812.

The Missouri state quarter features the Gateway Arch at the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial National Historical Site, Saint Louis, Mo. and depicts the Corps of Discovery.

Meriwether Lewis and William Clark led a 39-man expedition up the Missouri river, here at Great Falls, Mont., and across the continental divide, at this point south of Glacier National Park, below, down the Columbia River to the Pacific.
Along the way they met a young Shoshone Indian Sacagawea who lead their way.

She is on a commemorative coin designed by New Mexico artist Glenna Goodacre and the Shoshone model Randy'L He-dow Teton, who was a University of New Mexico student.

Take a look at the new four-nickel set.

The nickel has long honored Jefferson. His profile, as president and his home, Monticello, have graced the coin from 1938 to 2004.

The four-nickel set, known as the Westward Journey nickel series has two images of Jefferson; on in profile, Rembrandt Peale bases the other of him looking forward that on an 1800 painting, when he was vice president.

The two-dollar bill also honors Jefferson. His portrait appears on the observe and on the reserve; Jefferson appears in the image based on John Trumbull’s painting, “The Declaration of Independence.” Jefferson’s image will soon appear as part of the presidential one-dollar golden coin program.

With the acquisition of Texas in 1845, after it had won its independence from Mexico in a war in 1836, Mexico had just recently established its own independence from Spain in 1821. As a result of the 1846 to 1848 Mexican-American War, the U.S. took half of Mexico’s land mass.

All of California and Arizona, most of Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado, then just a little bit of Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, and Oregon were surrendered to the U.S., which compensated Mexico with a total of $15 million.

The country grew by about a third. The purchase of Alaska from Russia added a huge amount of land. There were other acquisitions, including Hawaii, the Gadsden Purchase and some trading with Canada.

This is a California roadside historic marker, between Petaluma and Bodega Bay in Sonoma County, which notes that four Spanish land grants converged near this spot. It is another indication of a history that has evolved. In New Mexico, the vestiges of land grants remain.

In the mid 1800s, there was a great push to settle the continent and a political theory emerged; Manifest Destiny, the concept that white European protestants had a God given right to conqueror anything in their path without regard for the native population. The California gold rush, Nevada’s silver rush, the discovery of gold in the Black Hills, in the Dakotas, sacred to the Sioux people, along with religious persecution of the Mormons, brought thousands of whites west.

One of the ways the settlers dealt with suppressing Native Americans was for the government to make and break treaties and to destroy their way of life, most specifically by killing the great herds of buffalo to near extinction. Two states, Kansas and North Dakota, have buffalo displayed on their quarters.

Immigration laws were enacted to keep certain groups of people from entering the country. The first law barred Chinese, followed by Japanese. Immigration quotas have been used since, under the shadow of racism.

The Senate has been unable to come to grips with the new immigration bill.

The rhetoric is crazed at best; unrealistic and harmful to opponents true interests, which is profits.

Driving through California, I passed through some of the largest and most fertile agricultural areas on earth. Yet, the productivity and efficiency is borne upon the backs of non-English speaking immigrants, legally or “illegally” in this country. The economy of this country is fueled by their efforts. Agriculture is spared strict compliance with the wage and hour provisions that the rest of the labor force is required to follow. Your back yard picnic today costs a fraction of what it might if the cheap labor of immigrants were replaced by competitive wages of rest of the work force.

The reality is that this country’s population’s complexion is continuing to change. The founding fathers may have all been white, yet the country they established offers hope to mankind that is colorblind. American values are what draw people of different cultures, with different languages to our philosophies. Our values and culture will accept their backgrounds as we have accepted other traditions of other foreign lands.

Jefferson would have to ponder what he caused by writing the Declaration of Independence 231 years ago. He, himself, had 50 years to contemplate what he’d done. He knew he hadn’t found perfection. He rose to the highest office of the land, yet didn’t think it important enough to cite on his headstone. Instead, he listed that he’d authored the Declaration of Independence, founded the University of Virginia and wrote the Statutes on Religious Freedoms in the Virginia legislature. He and his co-author, political ally and nemesis John Adams, both died on the fourth of July a half century after their greatest achievement. Jefferson left this country on the path to riches, yet he was personally bankrupt. He spoke several languages, and held slaves; though he legally could not divest himself of them, he came to oppose the practice.

Today is the Fourth of July, a legal holiday. There is only one civic duty to perform today, read Jefferson’s greatest words.

I’ll provide them for you.

The Declaration of Independence

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights,

Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Fifty-six signatures appear on the Declaration.

Now, go fly the flag, have a hot dog, throw a baseball back and forth and watch the fireworks and maybe think about how we can improve our country's ever sinking position on the world’s performance stage.