Friday, February 17, 2012

Police Chief Donald Arthur Byrd 1927 - 2012

What’s Wrong With This Picture?
Former Albuquerque Police Chief Donald A. Byrd, who served from 1971 to 1973, died February 5, 2012 on his ranch in Hughes County Okla. He was 84.
According to his obituary in the Dallas Morning News.
Byrd joined the Dallas Police Department and served 20 years, rising to the rank of deputy chief, when then he came to Albuquerque. He returned to Dallas where served as Chief until retiring in 1979. He became Dallas County Sheriff and served a four-year term, from 1981 to 1984.

So, What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Don Byrd is not remembered by many police officers today, and even 17 years ago a sergeant, writing a brief history of the APD skipped over Byrd. I wrote the following piece for the Albuquerque Police Officers’ association Newsletter, APOA Review.

My observations then still seem valid today.

The top and bottom photographs accompanied the article, while the others here, represent events during Byrd's time in Albuquerque.

Volume 2, Issue 4                                                  May 1995
The Missing Chief
Police Chief Donald A. Byrd
Sgt. Ken Dusenberry wrote a historical retrospective (March '95 APOA Review) on the Police Department starting in the early 1970's. He presented some interesting thoughts but, was factually incorrect. Paul A. Shaver was Chief of Police from 1948 till he retired in 1971, after going on sick leave in 1970. An interim Chief, Police Legal Advisor John Duffy was placed in charge temporarily during a national search for a new Chief.
The Department was racked with problems that surfaced in public. Two Deputy Chiefs were demoted in a scandal over the running of Montessa Park Jail (the discipline was later overturned), two officers were banned by a Municipal Court Judge from testifying in his court and labor activity among City workers was heating up as Blue Collar workers went on strike and clashed with officers when they tried to close down the Pino yards.
Dallas Deputy Chief of Police Donald A. Byrd took over the Department just days before a major riot started at Roosevelt Park in early summer of 1971. The riot was real, Dusenberry is correct when he speaks about burning police cars and injured citizens and officers. (I was beaten and had my cameras stolen by a crowd of 50 to 100 rioters when I tried to photograph the burning of an overturned police car.)
Chief Byrd instituted what we would today call "community based policing." He asked all officers to join civic organizations to get closer to everyday citizens. The standard for taking police reports was tightened - every contact with any citizen required a written report. The result was that Albuquerque's crime rate drastically rose to number one in the nation for two years. At the time there was a lot of federal funding available under the Omnibus Crime Bill of the Nixon administration. With the number one crime rate, Albuquerque was able to capitalize on funding and the number of officers increased to around 450.
Several new ideas were instituted, like the DWI unit with video taping of field sobriety testing and the purchase of new equipment including shotguns for every marked unit. The crime rate decreased when the reporting protocol was relaxed. It was a political masterstroke that had a positive effect on our Department.
Byrd returned to Dallas as their Chief of Police in 1973 after hand picking recently promoted Lt. Bob Stover who headed the newly formed Internal Affairs unit as his successor. To ignore Byrd's contributions to the Albuquerque Police Department leads us to misperceive where we are today.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Monday, February 06, 2012

Who Gets to Decide Whom the Media Is? Part 15 New Mexico Foundation for Open Government

What’s Wrong With This Picture?
New Mexico Foundation for Open Government
October 8, 2010
The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government, a mix of media administrators, lawyers, and citizens held a board meeting.
The 26-member NMFOG board of directors is self-appointed; the dues paying membership, called supporters, have no role in either selecting their leadership or the direction they take.
However, supporters may have an item placed on the board’s agenda.
MacQuigg was an APS shop teacher and Character Counts instructor to adult administrators, teachers, staff, and thousands of students; he was fired for enforcing the standards of "Character Counts." He was rehired after an arbitrator found his firing improper and four months later entered into a settlement that forced him into retirement.
MacQuigg writes his blog, in part as a cathartic release He joined FOG to object to FOG Board member Martin Esquivel being elected president. Esquivel is also president of APS' Board of Education and was the 2006 recipient of the Dixon award for law.
Esquivel was not present Friday, except as the questioner of the award recipients on their prerecorded video introductions, had told Janice Arnold-Jones when she was interviewed that he was the new president of FOG.
MacQuigg is single-minded about the importance of character and ethics in the education process and fights against the hypocrisy shown by adults who have abdicated their role-modeling obligation by doing what they want without any regard to be ethical, or follow the rule of law, or provide for due process.
Members of the board seemed interested in MacQuiggs’ presentation with several asking him specific questions. This group appeared to grasp the positions he put forward better than any other group to which I have seen him speak. However, to some his smeared reputation preceded him.
The FOG board listened to reports from Executive Director Sarah Welsh on the status of recent cases, legislative efforts, and intended future actions. Individual members reported on their actions in the name of FOG.
Victor Marshall attorney for former state investment officer at the Educational Retirement Board, Frank Foy, gave report on the progress of the fraud lawsuits Foy brought involving the State Investment Council and the ERA.
The board had a discussion on suggested amending their by-laws, which hadn’t been updated in years. The conversation seemed to exclude the broader membership; so I asked if I might ask some questions. The president allowed it. My question was who selected the FOG board, was it through elections or self-appointment. When I got the answer, I stepped back.
FOG board member and Treasurer Pat Rogers, right, who is also National Republican Committeeman, reported on a possible piece of legislation to be put forward at the next session. The proposal is about acquiring requests for public records in electronic form. Rogers has a clause that would allow the governmental entity to charge a fee for transferring the electronic information to another form of electronic medium that the requester asked for.
The existing Inspection of Public Records Act Chapter 14, Article 2 NMSA 1978.
§ 14-2-8. Procedure for requesting records
B. Nothing in the Inspection of Public Records Act shall be construed to require a public body to create a public record.
§ 14-2-9. Procedure for inspection
A. Requested public records containing information that is exempt and nonexempt from disclosure shall be separated by the custodian prior to inspection, and the nonexempt information shall be made available for inspection. If necessary to preserve the integrity of computer data or the confidentiality of exempt information contained in a database, a partial printout of data containing public records or information may be furnished in lieu of an entire database. (Emphasis added).
(4) shall not charge a fee for the cost of determining whether any public record is subject to disclosure; and….
Sen. Stephen H. Fischmann introduced Senate Bill 52: Providing for Delivery of Copies of Public Records in Electronic Format.
That evening, before the awards banquet, I spoke with Rogers. He thanked me for my speaking about the lack of input at FOG from its dues paying members.
I told him I thought organizations like FOG should include their dues-paying members.
"A man can only take so much democracy," Rogers said.
I can understand why the FOG board is a self-appointing entity; it is done under the guise of efficiency in making decisions, which are of legal analysis and most often pertain to media access to records and open meetings. The economics of the foundation’s operations are dependent on grants and supporters. The lawyers who do the legal work do so pro bono (free). So, the dues paying membership is represented by three non-legal or media management members. There is only one street level media persona, who is also a pecan farmer. There seems to be missing a truly street level government beat reporter who is dealing day-to-day with the actual problems of acquiring public records and access to public meetings.
Any thought I might have harbored about FOG sunk further than the low regard I already held for the organization.
If placed into a metaphoric example, of the distance a suicidal person flinging them self off a skyscraper to the sidewalk; the equivalent drop for FOG would be from the threshold of the front door; only a couple of inches.
It brings out the Marxist in me; I’ve used the joke before. Not Karl Marx, but Groucho, “I won't belong to any organization that would have me as a member.”
New Mexico Foundation for Open Government’s 2010 Dixon Award Winners were presented at FOG’s annual banquet ceremony June 12.
State Senator Tim Eichenberg, (D) Bernailillo County speaking with Green Party Candidate for NM Congressional District 1, Alan Woodruff prior to the social hour. Woodruff was not permitted on the ballot.
The Rodey firm was the presenter of Friday night's event and had a large banner over the stage. One of Rodey's lawyers, Kip Purcell, the reelected president of the board, emceed the evening.
Las Cruces based blogger Heath Haussamen, who is a FOG supporter nominated Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones the William S. Dixon First Amendment Freedom Award for the Government category.
FOG Vice President Terri Cole, right, is President and CEO, of the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce nominated Arnold-Jones before the board. Cole, seen here with FOG’s Executive Director Welsh, made the presentation for the government award to Arnold-Jones.
Arnold-Jones, interviewed by KOAT TV before the dinner, was cited for webcasting the two committees upon which she sits during the 2009 legislative session, risking violating House rules. Her efforts opened up audio and video webcasting during the 2010 session.
At Arnold-Jones' Saturday morning group MacQuigg advocated taking pitchforks and torches to the 2008 legislative special session. I modified his suggestion to a newer technology, instead of torches and pitchforks, bring video cameras and post significant legislative actions on YouTube.
In accepting the award, Arnold-Jones spoke about the history of the transparency movement through video coverage of the legislature, starting some three years earlier by Sen. Mark Boitano's efforts to successfully push through legislation for webcasting the legislature.
However, Boitano's efforts were totally undermined when, after the cameras were mounted in the Senate chambers, the Senate Committee on Committees ordered their removal.
That act awakened the press, public and Arnold-Jones in demanding more transparency.
Arnold-Jones listed a number of people from her Saturday morning group who had helped in getting her webcam up and running successfully.
She named five people, several of whom were in the room, who were supporting her, “Ched MacQuigg, Mark Bralley, Charles Christman, Charles Tipton and Howard De La Cruz-Bancroft; and they were just the Techno-Weenies."
"Techno-Weenies?" what a great honor it was.
“There are a whole group of people who believe that government is of the people, by the people, and for the people,” She said. “You got a problem with that? That’s what they believe; that’s what I believe. That is what this award is about.”
“The webcam is about you the people; and as an elected, and though I am leaving the legislature, I will tell you that every piece of legislation is better when you raise your hand,” Arnold-Jones said. “When you ask questions, and when you participate, of the people, by the people, and for the people; we cannot do it without you,”
The other four recipients, clockwise from top left, were for: Business, Norm Becker, Education, APS Superintendent Winston Brooks, Law, Hal Simmons, private attorney, and Journalism, Robert B. Trapp, Rio Grande SUN Managing Editor.
Brooks, above, was not present to accept his award, because he was on a long planned cruise with his wife celebrating their 30th anniversary. APS’ Director of Government Affairs Joseph Escobedo accepted the award on behalf of Brooks.
Journal Editor and FOG Secretary Kent Walz had nominated Brooks because he had made getting public records easier for Journal's education reporters. Walz disregarded the fact that Brooks' actions only applied to the Journal and the APS Communications office still makes it very difficult for others to retrieve information.
Arnold-Jones was relieved that Brooks was not in attendance because she wasn't sure she was willing to be honored on the same stage with Brooks.
Bill Dixon was truly appreciated by FOG and others in the legal and media communities for his long time in service and his dedicated work.
FOG is protecting bottom line interests of mainline media outlets and their lawyers, many of whom are recipients of the Dixon Awards' legal category.
Ultimately, FOG is a backslapping “Good Ol’ Boy” network, known for giving awards to their own board members for their efforts in advancing their vested self-interests. FOG believes that by making such awards for the vested interest, they are also protecting the society at large.
However, many at the lower levels of producing material for the commercial media and independent journalists don’t see FOG’s efforts as assisting the specific goals of informing society of important issues.
The William S. Dixon First Amendment Freedom Awards have been given since 2002, with the exception of 2007. There are five awarded categories: Business, Law, Media/Journalism, Education, and Government. Not all categories have been awarded every year.
None of the recipients in the Business, Education, or Government categories were on FOG’s board, membership or benefactors list when they received their awards, while all the Media/Journalism and Law recipients were associated with FOG, in person or through their employers.
Former recipients have been:
Jeff Sterba – Business
Daniel H. Lopez Education
Martin Chávez – Government
Michael Stanford Business
Charles PeiferLaw
Ted Hobbs Government
Jamie Koch Business
Patrick Rogers Law
J. Sean McCleneghan Education
Max Coll Government
Jim Hinton Business
Daniel Yohalem Law
Sam Spencer Business
Martin Esquivel Law
Pat Graff Education

Friday, February 03, 2012

Who Gets to Decide Whom the Media Is? Part 14 Obama

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

September 27, 2010

Obama’s scheduled arrival was 6:55 p.m.

White House Media Affairs Office Associate Director of Press Advance Brandon Lepow, along with John Cochran and staff of Kirtland's 377th Air Base Wing Public Affairs Office met members of the press at a gate to the base to escort them to Base Operations.
The escort was delayed momentarily while a recording of retreat was followed by the national anthem as the Base flag was lowered at 5:00 PM. Xavier Mascareñas, above right checked shirt, salutes while Albuquerque Journal Photographer Morgan Petroski, far right, watches.

Mascareñas, a 2008 Photojournalism graduate of UNM, photographs for The Journal News from New York’s lower Hudson Valley.

He has served as:
Staff photographer at the Weekly Alibi, Albuquerque, N.M.
Multimedia/photo editor at the NM Daily Lobo, Albuquerque, N.M.
Photo intern at the Austin American-Statesman, Austin, Texas
Senior photographer at the The Daily Times, Farmington, N.M.
Staff photographer at The Journal News, White Plains, N.Y.

The professionalism of the White House staffer Lepow and Kirtland’s Public Affairs office stands out in stark contrast to the media handlers of the gubernatorial campaigns.

There were no political events scheduled during the president’s visit according to Lepow.
The local press, made up mostly of still photographers and TV reporter – photographer crews set up on a gooseneck trailer, which provided an unusually stable platform. As the sun went down, the shadows began lengthening across the tarmac. The C-17 support aircraft used to ferry the, “secure package,” of Secret Service vehicles: the SUV limousines follow up and communications vehicles sat in the sunlight.
KOB TV Political Reporter Stuart Dyson did a teaser live shot leading up to the 6:30 Eyewitness Newscast. I overheard a Secret Service radio transmission announcing, “six minutes” until arrival.
Air Force One flew over the Manzano Mountains to the South, then approached from the southwest landing on runway 3 to the northeast touching down at 6:35 p.m.
Upon touch down, two Secret Service vehicles followed the VC-25 military transport, tail number 29000, an aircraft based on a Boeing 747-200B, to Base Operations.
Air Force One represents the power of the United States of America; with the majestic bearing of the White House, but it has wings and cruises at Mach 0.85, about 600 mph.
These Air Force pilots have got to consider this to be the best flying assignments around, maybe only after getting to fly one of the hottest fighters in the inventory.
This Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor from the 49th Wing stationed at Holloman Air Force Base, at Alamogordo, New Mexico, on the taxiway is the proud display of American military might and power. It took off about 25-minutes before the arrival of the President. If the pilot flew directly to Holloman at just under Mach speed, half the capable speed of the aircraft, the pilot would have had his/her feet on the ground before the President.
As the aircraft departed to the east, it performed a max-performance take-off; upon lifting off the runway, it retracted its gear, flew level with full after burners lit, then rotated to vertical and went straight up on a smokeless column of fire and noise, with greater thrust than its weight, until it disappeared from sight, when the pilot shut off the after burner.
The president’s arrival was not a "public event," but it was attended by a welcoming line of state and local dignitaries and about a hundred people corralled in a holding pen.
President Obama stepped out of Air Force One into the golden light of a clear-skied New Mexico late summer setting sun, which clearly impressed him.
Obama is greeted by Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry, one of 24 official greeters; local politicians, party loyalists, and office seekers assembled to meet him, included:
New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson,
U.S. Congressman Martin Heinrich, (D) N.M.
Santa Fe Mayor David Coss,
Kirtland Air Force Base Commanders, 
Brig. Gen. Evrerett H. ThomasAir Force Nuclear Weapons Center commander,
Col. Robert L. Maness, 377th Air Base Wing commander,
New Mexico State Treasurer James Lewis,
New Mexico State Auditor Hector Balderas,
New Mexico Democratic Party Lt. Gov. candidate Brian Colõn,
former First Lady of New Mexico Clara Apodaca,
LaDonna Giron, lawyer,
President of the NEA NM Sharon Morgan,
Bernalillo County Commissioner Art De La Cruz,
Maureen Sanders, lawyer,
one unknown woman,
President and Chief Executive Officer Center for Civic Values Michelle Giger,
Bruce Barnaby, New Mexico Democratic Party Rules Committee,
John Pound, Santa Fe Attorney, Obama New Mexico campaign coordinator,
former U.S. Senator Fred Harris, (D) Oklahoma and UNM,
President of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT)-New Mexico and is also the President of the NM State Federation of Labor Christine Trujillo,
Governor of the Pueblo of Pojoaque George Rivera,
Cabinet Secretary of the New Mexico Indian Affairs Department Alvin Warren, and
New Mexico State Rep. Al Park, (D) Bernalillo County.
About halfway thru the reception line, Obama paused to take in the sunset. Though in a crowd, he clearly took a moment for himself. Chief White House Photographer Pete Souza, to the right of this picture turned to see at what the President was looking. To the left of the President is a balding man, Bruce Barnaby, to his left is a woman with grey hair, she is Michelle Giger. Souza failed to photograph her when Obama shook her hand because of the distraction of the setting sun.
As the president continued to speak with the greeters, Congressman Heinrich, Mayor Berry, and Gov. Richardson, turned to admire Air Force One.
Security was tight as usual with United States Secret Service Special Agents, USSS Uniformed Division manning magnetometers, and counter-sniper teams, in abundance.
Army dog handlers of the 79th Ordnance Battalion from Fort Hood, Killeen, Texas, checked through all media equipment and guests. State, County and City law enforcement agencies provided motorcade escort, route control, and added event site security.
The always agent protected presidential Chevrolet Suburban was placed so the President is only steps away from a secured environment. It moves where he moves.
The “Football” with the nuclear launch codes was passed from a Naval Officer to a Marine Major. The “Football” is never far from president in case there is a need to respond a nuclear attack.
I talked with Colõn a minute about the situation of my not being allowed by his campaign to cover or photograph Denish.

“I’ll talk with you any time; you know I like you,” Colõn said to me, as he walked alone to the hanger after he had separated from the reception line group to glad hand one of the people sequestered in the public greeters pen.
The 26-member flight crew of Air Force One buttons up the plane and leaves it in the charge of the Air Force Security Police and the Secret Service for the night.

September 28, 2010

After the Andy Cavalier family backyard event with neighbors in the South Valley, the Democratic Party managed to sneak in a partisan political event, a photo op, when Denish took Obama to the Barelas Coffee House.

He talked to staff and patrons, saying vote Democrat. Obama ordered take out, saying he was paying for it himself so the press wouldn’t blame him for leaving without paying, according to the local pool report through the White House Media Affairs Office by Albuquerque Journal’s political reporter Sean Olson.
The press covering Air Force One’s departure was escorted to Base Operation’s ramp and passed through a series of checkpoints under heavy security to wait a couple of hours in the hot sun.
The staff of the Kirtland Air Force Base Public Affairs office sought some shade under the trailer being used as a press riser/camera platform.
Arriving at Kirtland Air Force Base, Obama got out of the SUV, put on his jacket, ran up the steps, to Air Force One.
Pete Souza’s exclusive access, lower left, allowed him to make a picture using the flags in his foreground, on the SUV.

My efforts to incorporate the presidential and American flags both days instantly fell as Souza got “the” picture.

The President stopped at the top of the steps, turned around giving about a three-second wave.
This Naval Lieutenant Commander stood in the shade of the wing, chatting with a secret service agent while awaiting the Marine to hand off the “Football”.
The Marine Major showed a sigh of relief; another assignment completed without having to fulfill the duty for which he is ultimately trained; no nuclear war on his watch.
Lepow, center with his back turned, shepherded the about 20 members of D.C. Press corps as they loaded up on Air Force One.
The senior Air Force Non-Commissioned Officers seen reflected in the highly polished silver skin of the aircraft are the last to board.
Within moments of the rear door being secured, the jets roared to life and as the plane turned, one of two Secret Service agents turns to avoid the jet blast.
The massive VC-25, in an effort to engage in noise abatement procedures, departed to the southwest, raising a huge cloud of dust along the way. Aircraft of this size are not regular visitors to the Sunport. Air Force One, hidden in the tree, under the light pole, turned north heading to its next stop, Madison, Wis.
Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department’s Eurocopter AS 350 B3 flew aerial surveillance during the motorcade’s movement returns to its hanger on Kirtland.
So what’s wrong with this picture?

President Obama’s September 27-28, 2010 visit was choreographed to as close to perfection as a fluid event as might be expected. Every detail is meticulously staged, but where else is a man arriving on an airplane met by forty or more media cameras, and a hundred or so people who willingly call themselves friends on hand to greet him.

The credential verification process by the White House Media Affairs Office was handled in the normal course of business.

In speaking with Associate Director of Press Advance Lepow about how the President’s media affairs office deals with news organizations perceived as less than supportive of the administration’s agenda? “They get in,” Lepow said, “taking hits is just part of the political process.”

Not all presidential administrations have been so open; maybe not even this one.

I made numerous attempts to cover President George W. Bush’s visits to Albuquerque with little success.

On June 16, 2006, I photographed President Bush’s limousine with Rep. Heather Wilson going to a private fundraiser. I entitled my post, “Can We See George?

Part of the post was about retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. John Sullivan, who had piloted Vice President Walter Mondale’s Air Force Two. Mondale was Jimmy Carter’s vice president, for their one-term from 1977 to 1981. Sullivan was dismayed when Air Police stopped us from watching President Bush embark Air Force One. There is something fundamentally wrong when American citizens can’t go to the airport to see their president board their tax-paid airplane and watch it take-off. Sullivan said.

You might recall during the 2006 Congressional District race, First Lady Laura Bush visited Albuquerque on November 3. I applied for credentials through an Albuquerque based volunteer staffer at New Mexico Victory, who was handling press matters for the White House. He later informed me that I passed the Secret Service’s background check and was authorized a pass.

However, before arriving at the event the volunteer staffer left a voice mail message that someone locally quashed my name denying me access. Before it was over, I was never able to ascertain who overrode the White House and Secret Service, be it the State Party Chairman Allen Weh, Rep. Heather Wilson’s campaign, or NM Victory.

You may also recall the Aug. 27, 2007, visit of President Bush to Albuquerque and more specifically, the Village of Los Rancho de Albuquerque’s Mayor Larry Abraham’s home on Rio Grande Boulevard, for a Sen. Pete Domenici fund-raiser.

The non-pooled press corps was relegated to a far off cordoned area along with protestors while President Bush’s supporters were allowed to stand across the road from the main driveway to cheer him on. The American Civil Liberties Union, in pursuing a lawsuit, obtained the October 2002, "Presidential Advance Manual," in which there were strict instructions on how to eliminate protesters’ access to see and petition their government.

I eventually was able to photograph President Bush’s arrival and departure on May 27, 2008, when he attended a fund-raiser for Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White who was in a primary race for the Republican nomination for New Mexico’s First Congressional District; a seat vacated by Rep. Heather Wilson who was running for the Senate Seat of then retiring Sen. Pete Domenici.

As tightly choreographed as the presidential administrations have become, the Obama administration, which promised to be more transparent seems to put on a more polished show than did the Bush administration. However, there is still a struggle, especially for the reporters covering this administration, in getting to the information.
However, getting visuals of President Obama’s arrival and his basking in the warm New Mexico sunset light with his political supporters and those seeking his support, Democratic Party Lt. Gov. candidate Brian Colõn, was no problem.