Posts Tagged ‘City of Albuquerque’

Oh Yeah, It’s the Signs

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

How do you help the economy in the Duke City? Apparently, by working to kill another growing industry. You probably have noticed there are more and more digital signs popping up all over the place. A handful were put up by outdoor industry giants, like ClearChannel. But of late, I’ve noticed more and more of these are being put up by individual businesses in an effort to attract customers and build their businesses.

Now, it appears the Albuquerque City Council has these and other businesses firmly in their sights:

Their measure would control how bright the signs can be, how rapidly they can change the images displayed and other matters. Electronic signs would be prohibited in residential and historic districts. Moving images would also be banned.

“We need some common-sense guidelines,” Lewis said.

The proposal comes after the city convened a task force to review electronic-sign regulations. Critics, especially neighborhood leaders, have said electronic signs are distracting and a safety hazard at busy intersections.

Ok, let’s be honest here. This has nothing to do with safety and everything to do with aesthetic preferences. You don’t like bright LED signs, great, just say so. But, don’t insult our intelligence and say this is a safety issue. What’s next, are you going to ban all of those high school kids from waving signs at busy intersections to distract you into getting your car clean. Or maybe, the arrow twirlers drawing you into a home development. Perhaps, we might ban the waving Statues of Liberty that pop up on street corners around tax time. How about the political sign waving supporters every Election Day? Maybe we should ban brightly colored wrapped vehicles from driving our streets?

Let’s get honest people. This has nothing to do with public safety and everything to do with personal preference. You want to remove another tool from those businesses struggling to keep alive, or kill those businesses selling digital signs? Well, then just come out and say so. But, please don’t feed us another public safety line.

Interesting Partisan Choice

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

It seems to me that Democrats on the Albuquerque City Council are out of touch with mainstream Duke City residents:

Mayor Richard Berry’s new immigration policy survived — just barely — a City Council challenge late Monday.

An effort to overturn the policy failed by one vote after dozens of speakers weighed in passionately on what role, if any, City Hall should play in the debate over illegal immigration.

The vote came after Berry announced last week that everyone arrested in Albuquerque will have their immigration status checked, regardless of nationality. Agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will work out of the city-county Prisoner Transport Center, where arrestees are taken before transportation to the local jail.

In fact, I’d be willing to bet that they are out of touch with most of America.  This vote played out on strictly partisan lines with the four Democrats voting to strike down the immigration policy.  Luckily, there are no longer enough Democrats on the City Council for them to be successful.  I’m the last one to hope for a Papers Please America. But, I’m also not a criminal. If you’re in this country illegally (a criminal act in and of itself) and breaking additional laws to boot, I don’t see any reason you should get to hide your immigration status.

What Constitutes a War?

Monday, April 26th, 2010

It’s kind of interesting to watch the unfolding union created drama in Albuquerque as Mayor Berry makes the difficult decision to cut spending:

Union representatives, ticked off by Albuquerque Mayor R.J. Berry’s plan to cut city workers salaries, have come out swinging, calling the fight against the budget plan, war.

“Are we not at war?” Andrew Padilla asked.

So, help me understand this Mr. Padilla…

Mayor Berry proposes to keep union workers employed, but with a modest 3% pay cut, and you issue a battle cry.  However, nearly one out of ten people in Albuquerque are unemployed and a great many more are underemployed, and neither you nor your union leader brethren screamed and hollered when the legislature proposed one broad based tax increase on top of another.

How’s that work?

Congratulations Albuquerque You Made a Good Choice!

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

RJ Berry’s election win last night is a win for Albuquerque and New Mexico. Mayor-elect Berry is exactly the type of new leader we need in New Mexico. He is a 3H guy – honest, humble, hard-working – who take his responsibilities very seriously. Congratulations to RJ and his family!

I think the GOP needs to be careful about misinterpreting this win as a vindication. As the Democrats are quick to point out, the majority of votes went to the Democratic candidates, not the Republican candidate. However, more important is this fact noted by Eye on Albuquerque:

But what’s also clear is that a solid 65% of voters wanted someone other than Martin Chavez to be mayor.

There is no mistaking it. There is a strong anti-incumbent sentiment out there among the voters. As Don Harris’ City Council race demonstrated, that doesn’t mean that anyone can win a seat, but it does mean that voters will choose a truly qualified leader over the entrenched incumbent. We saw it last night in the mayoral race, and we also saw it in Dan Lewis’ win over Michael Cadigan. Dan was another 3H type of candidate.

So, where does that leave us. Well, Lt. Governor Diane Denish needs to take notice. Try as she may, its a little too late to disengage herself from the scandal fraught Richardson administration. As the economy crisis continues to worsen, people will rightfully be blaming the incumbents and those who enabled them, and looking for viable alternatives.

Anti-Incumbent Sentiment Still Strong

Monday, September 28th, 2009

I’m man enough to admit that I’m shocked by the polling numbers released from the mayoral race this weekend in the Albuquerque Journal:

It’s a tight race for mayor of Albuquerque, but Richard Berry appeared to have a slight edge over three-term incumbent Martin Chávez 12 days before the Oct. 6 election, a Journal Poll found.

Richard Romero was a close third in the poll, just two percentage points behind Chávez.

Thirty-one percent of the registered, likely voters polled last week supported Berry, 26 percent chose Chávez and 24 percent sided with Romero. Nineteen percent were undecided.

The race clearly isn’t over yet, said Brian Sanderoff, president of Research & Polling Inc., which conducted the poll.

Now, my surprise does not come as a result that more voters think RJ Berry would make a better mayor than politics as usual Mayor Marty Chavez. I’ve always been a fan of RJ Berry’s [disclosure: contributed to RJ Berry campaign in the past]. But, I was convinced that the limits imposed on the campaign as a result of public financing would provide a benefit for the incumbent that would be insurmountable.

This still may be the case. However, I do think there is something else going on here. A lot has already be written about the way that the two Democratic candidates in the race are splitting the vote and that the politics as usual incumbent is bleeding conservative votes to… well, to the more conservative candidate. But, I think there is something more going on here.

In 2008, incumbents were swept out of office. Sure, it was a huge Democratic sweep. But, it was just as much an anti-incumbent sweep. People wanted new blood. They voted for “change.”

The Obama administration and the Democrats now in control of the Congress misunderstood this vote for change to mean the country was endorsing a shift to the left and bigger government programs. This wasn’t and isn’t the case at all. The vast majority of Americans are not extremist – neither right nor left. Instead, they are firmly planted in the center.

So, the change they were voting for was against the incumbents, and the direction in which they were taking our country, which ironically enough was towards bigger government programs. Now, it seems to me that the anti-incumbent sentiment has not subsided. It is still alive and well.

If the 12-year mayor rightly gets voted out of office, it should serve as a warning to the other incumbents running for office in 2010. Our budgets are in the red. Our school systems are failing. Everyday more of our family, friends and neighbors are losing their jobs and their homes while big government rewards big business with taxpayers funds.

It’s going to be harder and harder for the incumbents to convince folks they’re part of the solution when the the truth is that they created the problem.

Big Difference in Four Years

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

When I watched the televised mayoral debate four years ago, I couldn’t help but notice how more polished in front of the camera Mayor Marty Chavez was than his opponents at the time. Back then, he knew that the audience that counted was made up of those watching the debate on small screens from the comfort of their homes. In other words, he talked to the camera; whereas, his opponents were talking to the moderators.

Surprisingly, this was not the case in last night’s debate.

Both Richard Romero and RJ Berry gave more polished and comfortable performances last night than the incumbent mayor. And, let’s face it, that’s what we’re talking about in televised debates – performances. Whereas Mayor Chavez spent most of the night avoiding looking directly at the camera and struggling to defend his record, Richard Romero and RJ Berry looked comfortable, prepared and forward looking.

Watch the video, and you’ll see what I mean. The incumbent mayor spends way more time than his opponents speaking to the moderators. At times, he also seems to be thinly veiling his anger at being held accountable for his fiscally unsound management of the city over all of these years.

Bottom line, last night’s debate didn’t nothing to help the Mayor’s campaign. For those of us who have had enough of politics as usual, it showed that there are more qualified candidates for the leadership position.

Pretty Much Says it All

Monday, September 21st, 2009

A recent Albuquerque Journal article looks at the campaign claims of the three candidates running for mayor. What’s most striking are the failures of incumbent Mayor Marty Chavez and the weak attempts at spinning his actual track record.

Mayor Chavez has increased spending at a budget busting rate during his tenure in office. An indisputable fact, that has been well documented over the years and is made equally clear in the Journal article:

Albuquerque’s general-fund spending stood at roughly $325 million in the 2002 fiscal year, when Chávez returned to office. (He has won mayoral elections in 1993, 2001 and 2005.)

This year’s general-fund budget totals about $475 million. That’s a 46 percent increase from 2002.

Well, clear to anyone other than Mayor Chavez:

“Fiscally, I’ve been very conservative,” the mayor said

Let’s be real here. Mayor Chavez may be fiscally creative, but fiscally conservative he is not:

A sizeable chunk of Albuquerque’s property-taxing authority has been switched from the capital program to the general-fund budget since 2003. The change provides about $48 million in annual revenue now, around 10 percent of the operating budget.

The result of this creativity?

The report, issued earlier this year by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation officials, said 36 percent of the Albuquerque area’s roads are in poor condition, 18th worst among urban areas with a population exceeding 500,000. The analysis looked at cities and their surrounding suburbs, based on 2007 data.

Just another reason to say, “Enough already with politics as usual.”

Doomed to Repeat History

Friday, September 18th, 2009

Let’s see if I’ve got this straight. Ten years ago a transportation tax increase was pushed by former Mayor Jim Baca. The idea was to raise money to improve the city’s transportation infrastructure. It was a hard sell at the time, but one of the “selling points” was that it was a “temporary” tax increase with a ten year sunset provision.

At the time of the increase, an editorial took issue with the fact that a temporary tax would be pushed to fund what is usually considered one of the few justifiable roles of local government:

Keeping the city’s streets and intersections in good repair isn’t a special project for a special tax; it is one of the most basic of city services. If City Hall had been doing its job (for many years before Mayor Baca came into office), street maintenance would already be getting done from the existing revenue sources Bregman and Brasher propose to harness.

About six years after the tax increase was passed, an audit found that the money was being mismanaged by Mayor Martin Chavez’s administration:

After nearly six years, a quarter-cent tax for transportation has not caused an increase in the passenger service provided by the city bus system, a new audit says.

The tax has provided $28 million for the Transit Department, and $21 million should have been used for enhancing bus service under a policy approved by the City Council, the audit says.

However, the Transit Department “is not currently complying with this expenditure requirement, because the amount of passenger service being provided is currently at approximately the same level as existed prior to Transit receiving these quarter-cent tax funds,” says the report from the city Office of Internal Audit and Investigations.

Then, in 2006, Mayor Marty Chavez and some City Councilors try to sneak a tax extension in while folks were focused on the Election Day at hand:

November 6th, 2006… the day before the election where Democrats took over both the House and Senate, the Albuquerque City Council passed an extension to the Transportation Infrastructure Tax. The Council and the Almighty Alcalde used the cover of the election to rail road the public and shove a tax hike through for the primary purpose of building Marty’s little train.

The move outraged the public and a huge political brouhaha ensued. Months later bowing to public pressure, the council pulled the extension and created a marketing, uh… “task force” to sell, uh… “study” the trolley. All of that took place almost exactly two years ago.

Well, very few people were buying what Mayor Marty was selling, namely the need to build a very expensive trolley system down Central. Oh sure, the Mayor tried everything he could think of to convince folks it was a good idea. He even paid consultants to sell the idea:

Now, there are a couple of points that really ought to jump out at you. First and most obvious is that the only way this can be funded is by extending a tax on everyone that was supposed to expire.

The next eyebrow raising fact requires a little basic math. Keep in mind that the Albuquerque Metro Area population is up to around 800,000, and is expected to reach a million before long. Yet, this Streetcar is only going to be used by about 5,000 people. Put another way… 99.5% of the people are expected to pay hundreds of millions of dollars (these things never come in on budget – think train), so 0.5% of the population can ride a streetcar instead of taking the bus.

Mind you, whether you call it a streetcar or a trolley, or a light rail system, the reality is that we already have an economical way for the public to travel, and it’s called the bus. If the Mayor and City Council really wanted to improve public transportation they would just increase bus routes. It’s cheaper and heck of lot more flexible to deal with changing population centers in a growing city.

Oh, I know. No one wants to ride a bus right? Wrong!

Even with gas prices plummeting from a July high of $4 per gallon to the current price of $1.84 per gallon — the lowest gas prices have been since 2004 — bus ridership in the Duke City is still up from this time last year.

So, where does this bring us? Well, the Mayor and the City Council want us to turn what was originally promised as a temporary 10 year tax increase into a permanent tax increase:

Albuquerque city councilors are scrambling to reassure voters that a proposed $37 million-a-year transportation tax won’t last forever.

Council President Isaac Benton and Councilor Ken Sanchez held a news conference Thursday and said they plan to introduce a resolution at Monday’s council meeting clarifying that the quarter-cent gross receipts tax, which will be on the Oct. 6 ballot, will expire after 10 years.

The tax was first approved in a special election in 1999 and is up for renewal this year because of a 10-year sunset clause in the original ballot question.

But the ballot question councilors approved for the extension this year does not include an expiration date, meaning the tax could continue indefinitely.

We’re supposed to forget that the Mayor has been pushing this tax increase for three years to build a trolley and believe it is for trails and roads. We’re also supposed to forget that they once promised to make it temporary. What is it they say about history repeating itself?

Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it

Now, you may be tempted to argue that this isn’t really an accurate example of history repeating itself. After all, the first time, voters were asked to approve a tax increase that had a sunset provision. This time the voters are being asked to extend the same tax increase without a sunset provision, and believe it will only last ten years. Even more ridiculous is that we’re supposed to believe the sunset provision was left out “accidentally” by our elected officials.

Mayor Chavez is Right… Enough with Politics as Usual

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

With only a few weeks left until the Albuquerque City elections, the mayoral debates are coming with increasing speed. There looks to be an interesting mayoral debate coming up on Wednesday, September 16. Here is the info I received:

The Alibi is joining forces with KNME-5, the New Mexico Independent and KUNM 89.9 FM to bring you a free—totally free—mayoral debate on Wednesday, Sept. 16 (details below).

“The Line” host Gene Grant, KUNM’s News Director Jim Williams, New Mexico Independent Editor Gwyneth Doland and I will moderate. We’ll pose your burning questions about your city to the candidates.

Audience members will be given notecards and can submit their queries at the start of the throwdown. Or, film a question, upload it to YouTube and send the link to (Extra points if your backdrop relates to the subject of your question.)

R.J. Berry, Martin Chavez, Richard Romero
Submit video questions for candidates to
See what people are already asking at
Wednesday, Sept. 16
National Hispanic Cultural Center
1710 Fourth Street NW
Doors open at 6 p.m., debate at 7 p.m.
Seating is first-come, first-served. About 300 available.
Hear it live on KUNM 89.9 FM
Watch it and live-blog it at and
See it Friday, Sept. 18, on KNME-5

After the mayoral debate, join Alibi and local politicos for discourse, libations and complimentary canapés. Municipal DJs play eclectic Americana and rare groove as citizens of Albuquerque snack and mingle.

Downtown at Blackbird Buvette (509 Central), Wednesday, Sept. 16, from 8:30 p.m. 21+

Now, it’s not often that an after debate party complete with libations and complimentary canapés is advertised to draw in a crowd, but believe it or not, that’s not what I think makes it potentially interesting. What makes it a potentially interesting debate is the timing.

The mayoral election is just now starting to get some attention. This is one of the effects of a taxpayer funded mayoral campaign. None of the candidates have really had the cash necessary to pound home the issues, or each other’s shortcomings.

A lot of people might think that’s a good thing, but the truth of the matter is, intended or not, this has worked to the advantage of the incumbent, Mayor Marty Chavez. If you’re a fan of Mayor Marty, then it’s great. If not, well, not so great.

Mayoral candidate and State Representative RJ Berry is starting to make some noise about the Mayor’s “real record of accomplishment.” Unfortunately, I’m not convinced the taxpayer funded campaign is going to provide enough resources for the message to get the penetration that is needed to be effective.

On the upside, the Mayor is spending his equally limited funds playing defense, which in a campaign is never a good thing. You can listen to the radio ad here [hat tip: New Mexico Independent]. In the ad, the Mayor denies ever turning Albuquerque into a Sanctuary City or pushing a trolley for Central, and implies that anyone who says otherwise is guilty of politics as usual.

Ok, first let me address the obvious. If anyone is to be equated with “politics as usual”, it would have to be the Mayor who fought a legal battle to overturn term limits, so he could continue… Yup, “politics as usual.” Geez, talk about opening mouth and inserting foot. Mayor Martin is practically the poster child for politics as usual.

Enough of that. Let’s get to the meat of the matter. If there is one thing I hate, it is politicians who attempt to rewrite the history they helped create. Of course, I’m not the only one who has that pet peeve. I think you ought to take a listen to this segment from the Jim Villanucci show circa 2007 [hat tip: Eye on Albuquerque]

It’s kind of hard to deny the facts two years later, when anyone can go back and find the truth.

Effective immediately, Albuquerque police officers who find illegal immigrants will no longer contact either federal immigration agents or the border patrol.

Sorry Mayor Chavez, that politics as usual tactic of denying your record just doesn’t work in the modern age. [side rant: This originally came from a KOB-TV news story, which is no longer available. Is it really too much to ask for MSM news outlets to keep their articles up in perpetuity?]

Now what’s even funnier than Mayor Marty Chavez denying in his campaign ad that he is being maligned on his record of turning Albuquerque into a sanctuary city? It would be the Mayor pretending he doesn’t want to build a trolley on Central. First, in order for us to all be on the same page, let’s look at the Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of a trolley:

  • Main Entry: 1trol·ley
  • Variant(s): also trol·ly \ˈträ-lē\
  • Function: noun
  • Inflected Form(s): plural trolleys also trollies
  • Etymology: probably from 1troll
  • Date: 1823

1 dialect English : a cart of any of various kinds
2 a : a device that carries electric current from an overhead wire to an electrically driven vehicle b : a streetcar powered electrically through a trolley —called also trolley car
3 : a wheeled carriage running on an overhead rail or track
4 chiefly British : a cart or wheeled stand used for conveying something (as food or books)

I hope you noted the use of the word streetcar to define the word trolley. Also, pay special attention to definition 2a and compare it to this definition of a “modern streetcar” found on the City of Albuquerque website:

Streetcars feature a pole that touches an overhead wire, called catenary. Once the power reaches the streetcar through the trolley pole, it is fed to motors, which are called traction motors that are located on each wheelset.

Pretty dang close, wouldn’t you say? Yet, the Mayor wants us to believe he doesn’t want to reach into our pockets and pull out additional tax money to build a trolley. He can call it a modern streetcar. He can call it a light rail system. But, it doesn’t change the fact that he’s itching to build a trolley. Just another fine example of politics as usual.

What’s that you say? You are still not convinced tha
t Mayor Marty is a politics and usual kind of politician. Well, let’s look at the other half of his claim. He only supports building a trolley system “if passed by the voters.” REALLY?

Time for another trip down memory lane. Let’s go back to November 3, 2006 to see what Mayor Chavez tried to do when he thought no one was looking:

[The transportation] tax was originally sold to the taxpayers as a means of modernizing the transit system and fixing streets, and it has done that. The tax has also “ballooned in dollars received.” In other words, it brought in a lot more than expected. Yet, rather than let the temporary tax sunset, the Mayor and City Council want to make it a permanent tax while no one is looking.

It’s the old bait and switch, and it is blatantly UNETHICAL.

So, the truth is that Mayor Marty only supported seeking taxpayer approval once he got caught with his fingers in the taxpayers’ back pocket. C’mon everybody. It’s time for the chorus… Just another fine example of politics as usual.

So, how about we close with the closing thought from Mayor Chavez’s radio ad?

You mean a candidate would intentionally distort the truth just to get elected? Unfortunately true.

Haven’t we all had enough of politics as usual?

Leadership. Vision. Results.

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

Our friends over at the Errors of Enchantment blog have picture perfectly captured the summation of Mayor Martin Chavez’s leadership:

The signs which tout the Mayor’s “Leadership, Vision, and Results” are mostly located in open fields and other “public property” locations. But, as I was driving downtown the other day I noticed a sign in a rather unusual place, especially for an incumbent Mayor. I saw a sign in front of a boarded up hotel, the “Silver Moon Lodge” which is just west of downtown on Central.

Now, you have to appreciate the irony of Mayor Marty’s campaign sign in front of a boarded up business in light of this claim from his campaign website:

While we’re all aware of the nation-wide economic hardships so many people are facing, Albuquerque has been able to fair better than most urban area in the country.

But wait, it gets better. Mayor Marty actually has down as his number one claim to fame in his list of accomplishments: Public Safety. He even spells out how he has improved public safety.

Albuquerque is virtually graffiti and litter free due to Mayor Chavez’ strict zero tolerance policies.

Wondering what zero tolerance for graffiti looks like with Mayor Martin Chavez leading the city?

Kinda brings the Mayor’s other claims of accomplishment into question doesn’t it?

State Representative and mayoral candidate Richard Berry has some additional observations, photos and videos on the success (or more appropriately lack thereof) of Mayor Chavez when it comes to public safety.