Friday, May 30, 2008

Why did it take Domenici so long? Anybody?

marjorie says...

If Wilson is the "brightest member of congress" that Domenici knows, and if he "brought her into politics"...why did it take him so long to endorse her?

Domenici endorses Wilson in GOP Senate primary

The 4th estate taking a the propagandista

marjorie says...

Thanks to Another Pundit is Possible (aka "k" to m-pyre readers) for pointing to this clip.

He got it from Free Press.

I have to admit, I'm a little conflicted by all this. Its hard to have sympathy for the same time I'm feeling the McClellan expose.

He says the White House press corps was too "deferential," not living up to its reputation, and if it had it would have better served the country. And yet this is the man who answered all those questions, at all those press conferences. I remember him not answering a lot of questions, actually. Because he was the propaganda a nutshell. He must be incredibly disillusioned. Thats my favorable perspective anyway. I have an unfavorable one also, but my upbringing is preventing me from saying it at the moment.

Heather Wilson the post-colonial scholar?

marjorie says...

David Alire Garcia has an excellent article today over at NMI about Heather Wilson's dissertation as a Rhode Scholar in the 80s. In it, she explored whether or not the use of force is a legitimate tactic for national liberation movements.

Wilson labels the argument in favor of extending the right of armed struggle to national liberation movements "a justification within the bounds of the [U.N.] Charter." And she goes on to elaborate on what she calls "a more fundamental idea: that the denial of self-determination by colonial domination, alien occupation, or racism is so abhorrent that the use of force to eradicate these evils is justified… In other words, wars of national liberation are an exception to the general prohibition of the use of force. David writes:
Wilson acknowledges in her book that her inquiry has big consequences: "The idea that national liberation movements may legitimately use force in world politics has profound implications for our conception of international society."
But she defends the idea with emphatic language in the final paragraph of her 209-page book's conclusion:

"The world in which there was nothing distasteful about empire is gone. In its place is a system of over 150 sovereign States"—today there are 192—"in which the principle of self-determination is part of the body of rules governing the relationships among them. In this post-colonial world, the denial of self-determination is generally considered to be a [sic] evil of such magnitude that the use of force to secure it may be justified.

Who knew Wilson was a post-colonial scholar?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Teresa Cordova, the planner and community activist

marjorie says...

This is my favorite picture of Teresa Cordova, taken in 2002. That's the year I met Teresa, in the Planning school at UNM where she teaches. I saw her on the news Friday night, on a clip about the extension of water and sewer lines to the far south valley. I couldn't help but think as I was watching it that the brevity of evening news clips can't possibly get across how much effort any particular politician has put into a project. In the case of Teresa, she's been working on that project for about a decade.

Long before she thought of running for County Commission she was working to bring resources to the South Valley, in both her capacity as Board member of the Rio Grande Community Development Corporation, and as Director of the Resource Center for Raza Planning at UNM. I worked at RCRP as a student for about a year and a half. During that time, among other things the center facilitated community participation and input into the design of the water project, and also worked with RGCDC to develop the South Valley Economic Development Center. Many people don't realize that Teresa was instrumental in marshaling an enormous amount of resources for the SVEDC long before she ran for office. Those were the two projects I assisted with, and I was impressed by the degree to which community input was pursued. It wasn't good enough for Teresa or RCRP to just have a few community meetings. We went door to door throughout the valley to talk to people directly in both cases. It was a great way to get to know the landscape of the South Valley, and I'll always be glad I got to participate.

Anyhow, I thought I'd offer these little bits of information because of a few things I've read in the blogosphere lately, from people who obviously don't know Teresa or her background, not to mention the bum rap I think she got in the media last year. She was elected to her County Commission seat for a good reason, and I say that as both her constituent and her friend. There are some areas in which, as it turns out, Teresa and I don't agree. But in the balance she's been great for the South Valley.

Two of my favorites

Maggie says:
Sorry for the long-winded writer's block, folks. For now, go here for a conversation between two of my favorite people.

A teaser:

"Hi Trevor, thanks for taking the time to explain all this for me.

You’re most welcome, Marjorie. Any time."

Aren't you dying to know what they talk about?

I need to come down from fun personal life highs and interesting work developments to get serious and write again. Specifically, I need to figure out how to write about Ted Kennedy without getting too emotional. And finish the never-ending "food crisis" post I've been toying with.

But in the meantime, check out two of my favorite folks having a Tuesday morning conversation. They never disappoint.

And many thanks to Marjorie for giving us such interesting stuff over the last couple of weeks.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Buffet on derivatives trading wiping out "real economy"

marjorie says...

Warren Buffet, in an interview published in a German magazine, says the U.S. recession will be longer and deeper than most people think. Still, he says the world could be "falling apart" and he'd still invest in companies. Then he takes aim at derivatives trading:

Buffett also renewed his criticism of derivatives trading.

"It's not right that hundreds of thousands of jobs are being eliminated, that entire industrial sectors in the real economy are being wiped out by financial bets even though the sectors are actually in good health."

Buffett complained about the lack of effective controls.

"That's the problem," he said. "You can't steer it, you can't regulate it anymore. You can't get the genie back in the bottle."


Contarino and his ex-employees

marjorie says...

On occasion I have the opportunity to be in full agreement with the Journal, such as today when they editorialized against the revolving door between government and corporations. Following on the news that Richardson #1 guy Dave Contarino is now working for Value Options, the Journal pointed out the problem in a nutshell:

Contarino used to be the boss of Cabinet secretaries who will now be evaluating the company's proposal for a new four-year contract. And Richardson, whose two most recent campaigns received $75,000 from ValueOptions' parent company, executives and state lobbyists — still is the boss of the Cabinet secretaries.

And then the Journal opined that regardless of legalities, if ValuOptions gets the $300 million contract to manage the state's behavioral health care program, the public will never really know if it was the best company for the job, or simply the company with the highest campaign donations and the best connections.

This is a sad state of affairs. Because maybe it is the best company. Just like a certain politician running for office now, though, the connections tarnish the picture.

Friday, May 23, 2008


marjorie says...

See below for an excerpt about gay marriage from David Alire Garcia's interview with Tom Udall, posted this morning on the NM Independent. If you wonder why I post it along with the bit about his religion, its because they're related.

Here's the deal, show me that there's a Mormon who's going to support gay marriage and you might have me going back to church. Notice that Udall also declined to answer the question about whether sexual orientation is a valid issue to bring up in the campaign. I think this is necessary to point out.

Don't think from this that I'm bashing Udall or the Mormon's. Well, I might be a little. But, like Udall, I'm a baptized Mormon and I'm proud of my Mormon heritage--I can see clearly the link between my value system and the way my parents raised me. Of course, I was 8 years old when I was baptized, and my interpretation of how those values should play out in the social and political sphere has evolved a little as an adult. But if anything, Udall is another example to me that people who have a lot of similar political values to my own can also be members of the Mormon church. That's nice to see (you know, as an aside, I've never actually voted for a Mormon before--I guess I'm going to get my chance).

The truth is that male/female marriage is utterly central to the Mormon church. It's the foundation on which that church is built, and they guard it fiercely. And Mormons are fierce about their religion.

The problem, though, is that marriage is also a legal designation with a lot of significance in secular life. And, this designation is legally permitted to happen in church. Yes, internet-mavens can marry people these days also, but lets face it: marriage is incredibly intertwined with religion, and culture, in the world we live in. In this regard, the law is intertwined with religion. This is a problem for a secular society given the centrality of the male/female union in most religions, and not just concerning the GLBT community.

It's also an issue (in a different way) for many hetero-couples, not to mention women in general. There are a lot of problems that stem from the prevalence of patriarchy in our society. And I'd suggest religious institutions are one of the primary vehicles through which patriarchy is maintained. From this perspective, in so far as its a bedrock of how religions are structured, marriage is an institution of gender oppression. Pretty big thing to say, I know...

For this reason, I along with many people I know haven't always quite understood why the GLBT movement is so adamant about being able to participate in marriage. Why can't civil unions be just as good? Well, in a place in which marriage is the institution through which society creates couple-dom, its about validation, civil rights...legitimacy. And in this regard I'm on board with the GLBT community 100%.

But, frankly, I'd like to see "marriage" leave the secular realm entirely. I'd prefer to live in a secular world in which civil unions alone were the mechanism through which couples are created in the eyes of the law. This would level that playing field, and then people would be free to get married in the eyes of their god or spiritual entity of choice within their own churches any time they wanted.

But until then (and we're talking major social change) I have to go with gay-marriage. It's only fair. And I think hetero-people should consider very carefully how they participate in this institution until that happens.

Finally, don't think from my comments about patriarchy that I don't get why people want to be joined in such a central manner. It's called love, and family. Marriage is what we call this union, and we all deserve to have it if thats where we find happiness.

**Since writing this, off-line conversations have made me realize I need to clarify my Mormon-status (this is what happens when you blog on the fly). I am not a participant in the Mormon church. I am an official member on the rolls of the church, was baptized into the church at 8-years old, and my upbringing was centrally conducted through the lens of Mormonism. I am a happy member of a large Mormon family. As such, who I am is informed by Mormonism, in many integral cultural and familial ways, and I have a lot of respect and honor for it. Despite my disagreements :-). In this respect, I feel similar to Mormonism as do many of my friends regarding their Catholic roots. At times conflicted, but very much at home in Mormon gatherings.

NMI: On religion, I read in an E.J. Dionne column a few months back when Mitt Romney was still running for president that you’re a member of the Democratic Mormon Congressional Caucus along with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, among others. How does your religious background inform your views on questions of war or the environment or poverty, if at all?

TU: Well, I’m a baptized Mormon. And I’m proud of my Mormon heritage. And my values and my value system are a very much a part of how I put together, are very much a part of my approach to issues.

NMI: Including issues like war and the environment and poverty?

TU: I think I’ll just leave it there.

NMI: As you probably know, a recent California Supreme Court decision determined that it’s unconstitutional in the state of California to prohibit same-sex couples from petitioning for a civil marriage license. Does that ruling change your position at all on the issue of gay marriage or other arrangements like domestic partnerships?

TU: This is an issue that has been handled by the states for over 200 years. Marriage has been regulated by the states it is very much a part of the state civil system. And I believe that’s the way it should stay. I support New Mexicans that are tyring to get civil unions legislation through the New Mexico Legislature and I support the idea of equality that’s built into the civil unions legislation.

NMI: Is it fair to say that you’re not at this point in time a supporter of civil marriage extended to same-sex couples?

TU: That’s fair to say, yes.

NMI: As I’m sure you’ve hard, in the last few days there’s been an unusual, some might say bizarre, back-and-forth in the race to succeed you on the Democratic side in which one candidate has questioned another candidate’s sexual orientation. Is that a legitimate issue in your view?

TU: I don’t think I’m going to get into the debates going on, debates on any of the issues going on in the 3rd Congressional District or any of the other congressional districts.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

SunCal State Senate "Friends," and more revolving doors

marjorie says...

Here is the accompanying letter to the invitation posted on the NMI site. Click on it to see it big.

Here are some excerpts, with my commentary interspersed:

Whether we like it or not, our business will at times become political. I would prefer to conduct business and leave politics to the politicians, but if we are operating in a practical fashion, we know that with one comes the other.

Is this how you describe campaign contributions?

In Atrisco Oil & Gas we have been diligently working to develop our mineral rights. So far, we have been without challenge or interruption. I am concerned, however, as our efforts become more widely known, we will become a target of anti-development groups who will attempt to disrupt our activities or even shut us down.

Why would your activities being more widely known cause folks to want to shut you down?

It sounds extreme, but moratoriums on drilling activity have already taken place in both Santa Fe and Rio Arriba Counties. It could happen here. In addition, other commercial opportunities may prove worthy of pursuing as a result of our hydrocarbon exploration. These other opportunities may, too, become controversial.

Wow, now I'm really curious. Just what else do you guys have planned, other than oil & gas drilling in Albuquerque???

Gathering political support from a number of State Representatives and Senators who believe, as we do, in responsible development for this area. Many of these friends, however, are in political elections where a victory by their opponent would result in the loss of an influential friend to our Company and a replacement who stands for anti-development positions. Undoubtedly, this would present obstacles to our goals. We cannot allow that to happen.

In furtherance of that goal, Atrisco Oil & Gas along with SunCal Companies has arranged a rally in support of candidates friendly to our cause.

Who are these friends of SunCal & Atrisco Oil & Gas? The invitation specifically identifies James Taylor, Linda Lopez, Dan Silva, Kiki Saavedra, Bernadette Sanchez, and Ernest Chavez.

The first three of those are running contested primary campaigns.

And what do they mean by "anti-development"? Are they talking about the smart-growth crowd? The one that wants to see non-polluting businesses and people friendly development that fosters folks being productive at work and at home rather than sitting in their cars for a couple of hours a day? I'm confused. Last time I checked that crowd was pro-development. But not so hip to large scale oil and gas drilling on the old Atrisco land grant.

Well, here's what I do know:

Atrisco has leased their rights on the 50,000 acre parcel to Tecton Energy, LLC, which is actively exploring it for oil and gas. Here is what we are talking about in land mass:

That parcel is also being developed by SunCal Corporation. Lots of words have been written about SunCal and that piece of property over the past couple of years...but, in a nutshell:

1) should that much land be developed on Albuquerque's west side? Look at it--where's the water going to come from?

2) SunCal is throwing major bucks around and lobbying hard to get their TIDDs--which means they want the state to give them authority to issue bonds worth 100s of millions to pay for their infrastructure, and then let the bonds be repaid out of future tax revenue. This is what I've heard many refer to as a "boondoggle"

Someone pointed out this other little tidbit to me today also. Apparently, James Taylors campaign manager, Sisto Abeyta, used to work for SunCal. In fact, he was responsible for the field campaign that convinced Atrisco heirs to sell their land grant to SunCal.

How's that for a revolving door?

Shendo's either completely homophobic, or a gross politiker

marjorie says...

The Santa Fe New Mexican reported this morning that Benny Shendo, Jr., one of the congressional candidates in CD3, crawled into the gutter at a candidate forum last night in Farmington:

"he asked a question of Ben Ray Luján that implied Luján is gay. "You say that you stand up for the people of New Mexico," Shendo said, "and I want to know how you can stand up for the people of New Mexico if you can't stand up to your mom and dad about your lifestyle."

Just in case we were unclear about his meaning, Shendo clarified it for the New Mexican in an email:
Shendo's campaign said in an e-mail later that before he was interrupted, he had planned to continue his question by asking Ben Ray Luján about lifestyle "choice, especially, in this day and age when it's much more accepted to be openly gay in public life, but your parents made you pretend to have a girlfriend at public events, for political reasons."
Lujan's campaign, predictably, assured the New Mexican that Lujan is not gay. As if it's our business.

Well, like many I'm sure, I've been just shaking my head all day. Some of you will roll your eyes at me, I know, when I ask: Just what is the deal with the Democratic party?

Blatant race-baiting in the national Democratic primary...from a candidate still winning large chunks of the electorate (it pains me to say it).

An overall climate in which sexist comments and jokes are simply, well, acceptable in the context of the first viable female candidate at the presidential level.

And now, here in New Mexico, we have a guy we all want to like pandering to the base homophobia that threads its way through our society.

It goes to show you, just like I've said before, two parties simply aren't enough.

I don't know why Shendo thinks he has the right to know what someone's sexual preferences are, much less badger them at a candidate forum about them. When I think about Lujan, two things come to mind: 1) He has a good voting record on the PRC when it comes to environmental issues. 2) He's the son of one of the most powerful men in the legislature, which I'm quite sure helps him out a whole lot. If I lived in CD3 these are the two things I'd be considering. I don't care, nor is it my business, what Lujan's sexual preferences are.

That Shendo thinks its his business is surprising. I actually don't really believe he does. Rather, he's in a last ditch effort to knock Lujan down, and he's using the sleaziest tack possible: attacking someone based on intrinsic, deeply personal attributes in order to alienate those who are, deep down inside, homophobic to the core. And doing so in a world in which gay people are routinely discriminated against.

On a final note, Lujan's campaign manager replied that Lujan isn't gay. Well, what if he was?

Blogosphere weighs in:


Barb on DfNM

Jim Baca

Heath Haussamen

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The revolving door keeps spinning

marjorie says...

The Journal reported this morning that Governor Richardson's former Chief of Staff and presidential bid campaign manager Dave Contarino has been hired by ValueOptions to "provide strategy and guidance in the state." ValueOptions also (to our utter shock) will be bidding this year on a four-year state contract worth more than $300 million a year, to be decided in December. From the Journal article:

Company spokesman Steven Anderson said Dave Contarino has been contracted to "provide strategy and guidance in the state."

Asked whether Contarino was hired in anticipation of the competitive process for a new contract," Anderson said, "We do intend to bid on the upcoming RFP. We just hope to tap into his knowledge and experience."

ValueOptions has been a major political supporter of Richardson's since winning a multiyear contract in 2005 to assume behavioral health management duties that had previously been performed by more than a dozen state agencies.

The company and people affiliated with it were major contributors to Richardson's re-election campaign and presidential bid.

Contarino said Monday that he would be a consultant for ValueOptions of New Mexico, not a lobbyist.

"At this point, I just want to be able to help them in the near term," he said.

Near in through December 2008? That spinning door sure gave us a doozerie this time.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Signs of a fantastic San Francisco trip

Maggie says:
You know it was a great trip to SF when I have to chug iced coffee on the drive to work Monday morning with a venti black coffee steaming in the cupholder in wait.

How many points do I get for making this afternoon's deadline and not putting my head down on my desk today?

Writing to return when my coherence does. :-)

Navigating the human world...trying anyway

marjorie says...

Did you see the news about the poor bear that died after being chased up a telephone pole by Chihauhau's? The pit bulls were cowering. According to the Cibola County Beacon:

"All the dogs were going crazy," Candelaria told the Beacon. "It was funny because the pit bulls hid in their dog houses while the Chihuahuas scared the 250-pound bear up a power pole."

I feel really guilty, actually, that this made me laugh (I have a small dog and know very well that he doesn't realize how small he is). Especially when I saw the picture in the Beacon newspaper:

My amusement faded pretty quick after I saw this. In fact, it made me want to cry. Poor wild animals trying to live in a world increasingly over run by humans.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Cusack & Craig Ferguson...brilliant

marjorie says...

For Mikaela. It gets really good at the 3:50 mark.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

McCain, Oil, & ...the rest of us

marjorie says...

The Huffington Post has a story today about Cindy McCain selling off more than $2 million in mutual funds with investments in companies that do business in Sudan. Apparently she and John McCain are so wealthy (they like to say its all her money, and that he knows nothing about it--but come on, they've been married for almost 30 years), that they didn't notice where the measly couple mil$ was. The HP says that in light of his explicit denunciations of China for doing business with Sudan, it was hypocritical for him to be doing the same, via investments. Here's the relevant quote:

Last year, in a speech on energy policy to the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, McCain cited China's investments in Sudan as an example of regimes that survive off free-flowing petro dollars.

"The politics of oil impede the global progress of our values, and restrains governments from acting on the most basic impulses of human decency," he said. "There is only one reason China has opposed sanctions to pressure Sudan to stop the killing in Darfur: China needs Sudan's oil."

His comments beg us to point out the obvious:

Sudan surviving off of free-flowing petro dollars? What about Saudi Arabia? Considered one of the most authoritarian regimes in the world, its ruled by an uber-wealthy monarchy that's protected by the U.S. Oil accounts for 90% of its exports and 75% of its revenue. Sure, Saudia Arabia might not be condoning the genocide in Darfur, but I figure there's a reason it was Saudi's who attacked the WTC.

China stays engaged with Sudan because they need oil? Let me just put it this way...why are we occupying Iraq, and not, say...Burma (currently known as Myanmar)?

McCain, like many's, doesn't quite connect the dots. But...speaking of users...

...we can hardly point the finger at one guy in all seriousness as a hypocrite when the majority of us have been living off the oil of oppressed people for decades and decades. Yes, I include myself in that assessment. Basking in mammoth air-conditioned homes, or jetting off to beach vacations, or driving to Disneyworld in our gas-guzzling cars...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mayor Marty doesn't respond to "blog posts"

marjorie says...

Thanks to Barb Armijo for this, in one of her two stories today about Mark of which highlights the Welsome expose on the Clearly New Mexico site, about his cozy relationship with Marty Chavez:

Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez has not commented on Welsome's story, saying through a spokeswoman that he wasn't going to start responding to "blog posts."



Then what was this episode about? Oh yeah, and what was this? Or, wait, maybe Marty considers Heath a "real journalist." hmm. But in that case, isn't Pulitzer Prize winning Welsome one also? Sigh.

Well, thanks to Matt Brix for giving it to us straight:

Matt Brix, policy director for the Center for Civic Policy disagrees with Chavez's assessment of Welsome's story.

"Increasingly, the public gets its news and information from online sources," Brix said. "Ms. Welsome is a respected journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner. She was given complete editorial independence in determining the course of this story. The facts in this story speak for themselves."

Incumbency = Good? Bill Richardson seems to think so

marjorie says...

Is it just me or is it a little unseemly when Bill Richardson gives out a round of large contributions to incumbent state senators? Here's the list of the Democrats who were given money by the Guv--almost all to incumbents. Is there a non-incumbent on the list, other than Stephen Fischmann?

Yes, I've heard the arguments that he's shoring up support for his special session, and that the outcomes don't really matter to him because he hopes to not be in New Mexico come January.

But this seems to suggest that the nature of incumbency itself, even for those who've only served one term, makes someone worthy of support. That candidates once in should stay in. That those with little name recognition who run for political office aren't worthy of the Guv's support (or anyone's?) by the simple fact that...well...they aren't incumbents.


On another, but related, note, I was visited by the DNC yesterday. Yes, the Democratic National Committee paid me a random house visit. Wow.

Like most people who stop by to ask for funds, it was hard to make them understand the meaning of "no, but good luck." I had to tell them at least four times that I wasn't giving to them or to Obama, preferring to keep my funds and my energy here in New Mexico. They didn't seem to get what I meant by "grassroots"...wanting me to consider their work "grassroots."

Internet Wish for a Sweater Freak

Mikaela says:
In this whole big-ole world wide web, I cannot find a single site that allows you to look up great clothes (okay, sweaters) from movies or t.v.

I've had three moments of intense sweater envy in the past year, and each occurance leaves me scouring the internet for information. I can find the costume director's name, but unless the movie is some kind of freak classic, you can't find crap. I want a searchable database.

Aren't clothes companies really missing out by not insisting that movies help them advertise the clothes our favorite characters wear? I mean, watch one game show or talk show, and you know who furnished that day's outfit... Movies? Zip. Zilch. Nada.

My dedicated and internet-addicted apologist partner heard me complain and promptly did his own search. He did find one blog that had selected items. But not searchable. Not complete. Not nearly the opportunity for marketing clothes companies might need to entice them to put pressure on busy costume directors to keep track of the myriad outfits they create.


The sweaters on my list are these:

  • Brown cardigan Charlize Theron wears at home from In the Valley of Elah
  • Brown cardigan worn by one of the aunts in Dan in Real Life
  • Grey cardigan worn by Gwyneth Paltrow in Proof
Note, if you will, that these movies were not compelling enough to keep me from fixating on the great sweaters worn by moving, speaking women manequins. But to be honest, the movies could have been ten times better, and I still would have wondered, "Where can I buy that great sweater?"

For a girl that hates shopping but loves movies and researching random crap on the internet... this a HUGE untapped niche market just begging for someone to fill it.

Or, to be more precise, I'm begging for someone to fill it.

Finders fee, anyone?

Ready, set ... SEARCH.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Hillary thanks her friends

marjorie says...

I've been getting both Hillary and Obama pitches throughout the campaign. Today we have a pretty simple "thank you" from Hillary to all her supporters. Sure, there's a written fundraising pitch to the side, and she indicates the campaign continues. But part of me can't help but think this is one more signal that she knows she's out.

"We couldn't have competed without your help, and your sustaining friendship and support. That's really all I want to say tonight: Thank you. ...we'll stay in touch..."

See for yourself.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Ethics at city hall: where do we start?

marjorie says...

Today's Albuquerque Journal reports that Marty Chavez is proposing an "Ethical Public Service Act," an ordinance that would "...transform the ethical culture at City Hall."

The Journal quotes Marty:
"We've got great employees, and the percentage of bad apples is no greater than any other organization, but we want to weed out the bad apples."

In an amazing case of media synergy, KUNM interviewed Eileen Welsome this morning about her report investigating the "special relationship between the Mayor of Albuquerque and indicted architect Mark Schiff." You can read her investigation on the Clearly New Mexico website.

And please, do read it.

Essentially, Marty's had (or has) a tight, even "special," relationship with the architect right at the center of a major kickback scandal, in which $4.2 million was skimmed off and given to public officials during the construction of the Metro Court complex. In her report, Welsome describes Schiff's involvement in the corruption scandal and the current status of the case:

Schiff, architect for the courthouse, was one of at least eight participants in that scheme. In a plea agreement, Schiff said he prepared false invoices for his firm, Design Collaborative Southwest, on his home computer. He then deposited the state checks received for the bogus work into a personal investment account and later transferred the funds to his personal bank account. From that account, he withdrew money to pay various politicians and state officials, including former state Sen. Manny Aragon, a South Valley Democrat, and former Albuquerque Mayor Ken Schultz, who also worked as a DCSW lobbyist, he admitted in his plea agreement

In exchange for the promise of a reduced sentence, Schiff has pleaded guilty to two felony counts and agreed to cooperate with federal law enforcement agents. Schultz has also pleaded guilty and promised cooperation, as has a third defendant. Aragon, who is alleged to have used his position to help direct state money to the Metro Court project, and four other defendants have pleaded not guilty. A trial in U.S. District Court is pending.

Welsome goes on to describe her investigation, which included a review of official City Hall records and interviews with city staff and elected officials, and her conclusion that Mark Schiff had extraordinary access to the Mayor's office. The context is Schiff's role as the planner and architect for the Balloon park, beginning in the mid-90s, from which Schiff's firm made a bundle. Welsome goes on to detail the ability of Schiff to bypass City staff objections to the design and cost of his plans by bypassing them...he'd just go straight to the Mayor's office.

Welsome also notes the many problems of the park, which her report describes in detail despite the lack of transparency by Chavez:

Although the Chávez administration is loathe to give out an accounting of expenditures associated with the balloon complex, a recent city audit states that more than $60 million has been appropriated for the balloon park and museum. That's a three to four-fold increase over what Schiff's firm predicted the balloon complex would cost in 1995. (Nearly $10 million came from the Legislature during a time when Manny Aragon was president pro-tem of the Senate.)

Despite the more than $40 million already spent on the park itself, it still lacks basic amenities, such as permanent restrooms, a public safety command center, utilities for the vendors, drinking fountains, drainage improvements, and a functional transit drop-off area.

You know, a lack of transparency and accountability on the part of elected officials is a real issue in the state, not just the Mayor's office. The corruption scandals of the last couple of years have proven this without a shadow of a doubt. In light of this report and ethical challenges Marty has had in the past, don't you think his "Ethical Public Service Act" should start straight at the top?

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Cyclones, Democrats, & touring my street

marjorie says...

In the midst of trying to keep up with work while traveling I haven't had much time to blog, other than have a raging debate about the stock market in the comment section. But here are some quick hits:

1. I can barely wrap my head around the death toll and now desperate plight of the survivors of the cyclone that hit Burma (currently known in some circles as Myanmar). The Burmese people live under an incredibly repressive military dictatorship that has been quite slow in opening the country to international relief efforts. These types of scenarios always give me pause in my general belief that the U.S. should not act unilaterally in the world. But, it's just a pause. Really, I think if anything this type of situation demonstrates why we need a stronger U.N.

2. I'm glad to see the Democratic primary winding down. This has been one intense ride, and the end seems almost unreal. But it will end and the Democrats will have a nominee. It's going to happen! There's been a lot of angry division during this primary, and it'll be interesting to see whether or not the Obama people will lead the way in forging a reconciliation within the party. As for myself, I'm actually most interested in the intra-feminist debate this race has spurred, which has been pretty explosive in some parts of the blogosphere. I touched on some of the reasons why here on m-pyre over the past five months, and will try to revisit the subject comprehensively in the next week or so.

3. Happy Birthday Barb.

4. Look, there's a Mother's Day historic homes tour in our neighborhood. Thankfully, we were *not* asked to open our home (Mikaela--tell me this is a true statement please). But if any of you are in the neighborhood you should certainly drop by.

Quiet Week = Selfish Travel Questions

Maggie says:
Quiet week here, obviously. I'm nesting, daydreaming, kinda-working, and thinking ahead. So while my internal writer continues its break, allow me to be selfish and ask of you all:

What are your favorite things to do in San Francisco?

I'm going Wednesday night through Sunday night (around Berkeley graduation) and can't wait. We have lots planned, but there's always room for more. (Yummy subjective planning responses like "walking through X street and noticing X on your way to X coffee shop" are encouraged.)

Ideas, anyone?

San Francisco's Chinatown during my last visit four years ago.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

NC Votes

Maggie says:
All eyes on North Carolina and Indiana tonight. I'll be watching through gritted teeth... please, please make it stop soon.

I saw this on the NY Times today - illustrations of undecided voters around North Carolina. First stop: barbecue in Elizabeth City, a great little place on the water that we used to pass through in between the farm and the beach, until the highway was expanded to get us there quicker. I need to be slow next time and go back through. In the meantime:

Monday, May 05, 2008

Speaking of Capitalism, Wall Street isn't too happy with Exxon

marjorie says...

Regarding the news that Exxon earned more in the first quarter of 2008 than any previous first quarter, the Wall Street Journal reported in an article titled The Travesty of Exxon's Earnings:

Exxon Mobil Corp. earned $10.89 billion in the first quarter of 2008. This was clearly a travesty and must never be allowed to happen again.

Yes, that was the lead-in. If you weren't keeping tabs, you'd never know Exxon is raking it in. The WSJ went on to explain that the company just didn't earn as much as investors expected, so they began selling their shares:

After all, investors reacted to news that the largest U.S. company by market capitalization earned more in the first quarter than it had in any previous first quarter by selling the shares -- which ended down 3.6% in heavy trading Thursday on the Big Board despite a 189.87-point rally in the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Earnings are relative, and while the shareholders of Countrywide Financial Corp. wouldn't look askance at this amount of money, the oil-and-gas behemoth disappointed investors because it fell short of expectations and presented an earnings report that shows how rising energy costs are hurting a company that makes its money from the rising cost of oil in the first place.

Just in case you're confused by the WSJ description, the New York Times obligingly gives it to us a plain in their opening to the story:

Exxon Mobil reported the second-best quarterly profit in its history on Thursday — and investors could barely hide their disappointment.

Exxon, the world’s largest publicly traded oil company, said its net income rose 17 percent in the first quarter, buoyed by high oil prices. But that was less than Wall Street expected, and Exxon’s shares fell 3.6 percent, to close at $89.70.

Well? I don't know about you all, but in the wake of the Bear Stearns (aka Wall Street) tax-payer bail-out, its pretty galling to witness the inhumanity of Wall Street in all its glory. A numbers game that has no morals, there's no mechanism in place that tempers the profit motive with a consideration of the larger collective good of society. In this case, Exxon has been sent a message that their profits are pretty much all that matter to Wall Street, the economic security of car-dependent Americans be damned. This is our capitalism, like it or not. You know the saying..."...fiddling while Rome burns."

Friday, May 02, 2008

Texas Blogger Tour

Maggie says:
How lucky am I - my two favorite Texas-related bloggers packed into one weekend?!

This afternoon I'm meeting Marjorie in Houston for 18 hours of catching up and being each other's dates for a family wedding. Lucky me! Then tomorrow, I jet off to Austin to rendezvous with a certain Dallas boy, where a few hours later we'll meet up with Erik, everyone's favorite hipster, to hang out and see a show.

In bonus blogging excitement, our Sunday brunch plans include Anthony S, the newest blogger over at Alterdestiny and a frequent commenter here on m-pyre. Check Alterdestiny out right now for a perfect example of why I love their blog, by the way. The stories on the front page are as varied and interesting and smart and nerd-funny as it gets. And in future Alterdestiny excitement, the guys have finally smartened up and added a woman to their ranks. She hasn't started blogging yet, but once she does I expect Sarah J to kick some male Alterdestiny ass. Love it!

What else is happening this weekend?

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Continuing m-pyre lite: Tales from the Kitchen

Maggie says:
You know those moments when you feel yourself being propelled into behavior you know is irrational and should be avoided, but you just can't help yourself? My version is the Superwoman Complex. It gets me every time.

So in the future, remind me not to try to casually whip up a 100% made-from-scratch lasagna after work again, at least not if I actually have to stay at work until 5, the groceries aren't waiting at home for me, I haven't done any prep work, and I have to sneak in a workout and another errand before I can sleep.

Because while it was great fun pouring over lasagna recipes yesterday and creating my own, it probably should have been a Saturday activity. And while the three made-from-scratch sauces that I put into the lasagna - a bechamel, a Bolognese, and a classic tomato - were each delicious on their own and pretty wonderful when layered into one bite, it probably would have better to eat dinner before 10 p.m. And while my companion does enjoy watching me cook, he would probably enjoy it more if I wasn't getting increasingly antsy about the time and increasingly pissed about the composition of the lasagna when it was served.

That inner voice that demands of me domestic goddess, effective professional, passionate activist, and introspective writer all at once really needs to shut the hell up sometimes. Or I need to shut her up.

Just sayin'...

Shouldn't I be able to cut the first slice as perfectly as this one in the picture? And if the slices are never pretty, even though they taste delicious, should that really turn me into Bad Mood Maggie? Cue sympathy for Trevor.... NOW.