Posts Tagged ‘Martin Chavez’

Taxpayers Paying to Advocate More Taxes

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

I’ve noted in the past that the problem with state created “Authority” entities is that they are nothing more than a license to tax without accountability:

Here comes the bad part. When elected government officials raise taxes, we at least have an opportunity to vote them out of office the next election cycle. The same is not true for government created Authorities. These folks are appointed, not elected, so the taxpayer has no recourse whatsoever.

It basically boils down to “Taxation without Representation.” The last time that got out of control there was a revolution in this country.

The Rio Grande Foundation points out one more reason to fight against the creation of Authority entities:

Now, enclosed in your most recent water bill from the government-controlled Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Authority, “customers” of the authority are receiving the following notices alerting them to the 1/4 cent transportation tax on the ballot with language that clearly endorses the tax. Check out both sides of the insert below:

Nothing like making taxpayers pay to promote additional taxes on taxpayers. Angry and want to take it out on someone? Well, you can’t take it out on the folks running the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Authority because the state conveniently set it up so that these people are appointed and not elected to this fee increasing non-accountable entity.

But, don’t bottle up that anger. Redirect it toward something useful. Vote one of the biggest proponents of this tax increase out of office – Mayor Marty Chavez. You know, the guy who has been trying for years to force this tax increase on the public in order to build his trolley on Central.

In fact, Mayor Marty Chavez is on the Governing Board of the organization, which means he approved this misuse of funds. Make no mistake, a water authority spending your money to push a transportation tax to build a trolley is a misuse funds. Just another example of politics as usual from Mayor Marty.

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.

Bode Aviation Video

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

The surveillance video of Bode Aviation’s negotiations with the City of Albuquerque [hat tip: Peter St. Cyr], and the role Mayor Martin Chavez plays “messing with” contracts is unnerving at the least. Watch the video, and then ask yourself, “How does this guy get elected term after term?”

Bode Surveillance- Short Version from Richard M. Romero on Vimeo.

Why isn’t this more front and center in the campaign? Oh right, publicly funded campaigns don’t allow the campaigns enough resources to get the truth out. Explain to me again how this has improved the process?

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.

Mayor Chavez and APS and New Media

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

If you haven’t read Mark Bralley’s account of his most recent encounter with Mayor Chavez’s security detail, I strongly urge you to do so. Here’s a little snippet to get you going:

“You have to leave. You aren’t the press. You don’t have credentials,” APS Police Officer Paul Schaefer said in rapid succession as he took the contact role. “I was told you’re not part of the press club.”

“You’re wrong,” I said.

I looked at a pocket in my photo vest that has a clear plastic front. It’s designed to keep credentials visible yet out of the way. Print journalists often wear credentials on a lanyard around their neck. However, still photographers prefer not to wear lanyards as they interfere neck straps; so the pocket is convenient. I had the pass issued by the Secret Service last week for the Presidential visit to Rio Rancho visible.

“White House Press Pool,” I asked Schaefer, showing him the pass?

“Never heard of it,” Schaefer said.

“Ever heard of the President of the United States?”

Vaguely,” Schaefer said.

“How about the First Amendment,” I asked?

I’ve heard of the First Amendment,” Schaefer said.

“As a matter of fact, when I…” I said, as I dug deeper for my own credentials, which list former and current clients and my own sites; there was also an old State Senate Press pass.

“but I’ve been told this isn’t a public event,” Schaefer said.

“Well it is a public event when you have the Mayor of the City of Albuquerque present,” I said.

Ok, let’s deal with the obvious first. Why does the Mayor of Albuquerque need a security detail on the campus of a local school? Especially, a security detail that acts like the Gestapo. Apparently when Richard Romero was on 770 KKOB with Bob Clark, he raised the same question. I didn’t hear that interview, but I did catch Clark poking fun at the Mayor on another morning.

Clark pointed out that former Congresswoman Heather Wilson did not find the need to travel with a security detail when she moved through Albuquerque. Although, in all fairness, Clark did mention that Wilson was often accompanied by her former communications guy, Enrique Knell, who is known to pack and shoot a camera. Something that leaves at least one Albuquerque Mayor fearful for his… um, actually, I’m not sure how to finish that sentence.

There is of course irony here. I know for a fact that Mayor Chavez considers bloggers part of the new media establishment when it is in his best interest. Consider this email I received from Brent Blackaby on October 29, 2007:

Hi all—

We’d like to invite you to join us tomorrow, Tuesday, October 30th at 5:30pm MDT for a New Mexico blogger conference call with Marty Chavez, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate.

We’re anticipating that the call will last about 30 minutes – 10-15 minutes for some introductory comments from Marty, and 15-20 minutes of Q&A; from you.

Let me know if you’re interested in participating, and I’ll send along a dial-in number on Tuesday. Also, please feel free to forward this invite around to other progressive New Mexico bloggers that you know.

Thanks – and we look forward to chatting with you on Tuesday!

Best regards,

Brent Blackaby
Chavez for Senate

Of course, it’s not just the Mayor who acted inappropriately here. Read Bralley’s post and you’ll find that APS was also less than tolerant of new media members. I can’t tell you how wrong I find that to be on so many different levels.

Now, in the spirit of full disclosure, I have to admit I know Mark Bralley. I’ve even found myself on more than one occasion caught in the crosshairs of his camera.

I don’t remember feeling afraid, but maybe, just to be safe, I ought to look into hiring some private security.

Shifting Costs is not a Budget Solution

Monday, May 18th, 2009

The Albuquerque City Council has a budget proposal from Mayor Chavez in front of them that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever in the current economic climate:

On the table now is the mayor’s $475 million proposal for basic city operations. It would shift money out of the construction budget and into the operating fund to help offset dwindling revenue from the tight economy. The measure would also cut about 200 vacant jobs from the city payroll.

“There’s not a lot of room to play around with,” said Councilor Ken Sanchez, chairman of the council budget committee.

In hearings this month, councilors have already made changes to provide enough money for regular city employees to get 3 percent raises, starting July 1.

Shifting costs from one time construction expenditures to cover recurring expenses accomplishes one thing and one thing only… a postponement of the inevitable. It just means that you are putting off the layoffs of city employees and cutting of services until after the election. Of course, we are going to have the same problem next budget year. Actually, the problems next budget year were originally reported to be even worse.

Now, I realize there may be a handful of you, probably Mayor Chavez included, that believe that the worst is behind us, and that the picture for the future is brighter. Of course, this belief has no grounding in reality:

Loan servicers are overwhelmed by the flood of applications. Mortgage investors are angry about a congressional bill prohibiting them from suing servicers that modify loans. Foreclosures are rising as unemployment soars.

I don’t live in the City of Albuquerque, but I would urge those of you that do to avoid voting for anyone not up to the task of making the hard decisions of truly balancing the City budget.

Mayor Chavez Buys Votes for $1.3 Million

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

I’ve long been an opponent of publicly funded campaigns, and it appears that the mayoral campaign currently underway is the perfect case study of why using our tax dollars to elect politicians is a lousy idea.

First, let’s consider how Albuquerque’s incumbent Mayor Marty Chavez was able to get on the ballot:

The confirmed city employees constitute 42 percent of the volunteer base used to collect the qualifying donations, making Fleisher correct in that respect. But those employees collected more than their share of the contributions. The review shows that 152 of the 295 books, or 52 percent, were used by city employees to qualify the mayor for public financing.

For example, the city’s employee relations manager, Lawrence Torres — who is the administration’s liaison with the city’s unionized workers — collected 10 books for the mayor, which was the largest group of books collected by one individual. Torres confirmed he collected the contributions, but declined to discuss how he did it, or why he participated in the drive.

Along with Torres, many of the city’s department directors — who are appointed by the mayor — collected contributions, as did many of their department managers plus the mayor’s own staff.

In other words, there is nothing grassroots about the whole taxpayer funded campaign program. The biggest beneficiaries are those already in office. Of course, getting your appointees to collect the signatures and money you need to get on the ballot and rake in the taxpayer money is only the beginning of the story.

Next comes the actual execution of the campaign. This is where you have to convince people to vote for you. Of course, once again, the incumbent in this case, Mayor Marty Chavez, has a great strategy. Try and buy the votes of a large voting block:

Mayor Martin Chávez says the city’s blue-collar, clerical, security and transit employees won’t have to wait an extra six months for their annual pay raises.

Chávez said his budget office had found about $1.3 million that isn’t needed in a workman’s compensation fund. That will allow the city to provide pay raises to more of its employees on July 1, the mayor said. The raises are expected to be about 3 percent.

That’s amazing! Mayor Chavez found $1.3 million to pass out as raises. Somebody please explain to me how that happens. Last I checked the City of Albuquerque was looking at huge budget shortfalls:

Albuquerque faces a $20 million budget shortfall because of the worsening economy, and city officials are trying bridge the budget gap without laying off city workers.

In fact, the $20 million budget shortfall is just the beginning. It has been estimated that this amount will grow even larger next year. Yet, the Mayor is handing out raises. There is only one motivation to do this – buying votes!