Sunday, December 28, 2008

The A List (and the B list and the Q list)

It was reported this past week that Albuquerque's list of "shovel-ready" projects for Mr. Obama's stimulus package is the fifth largest (dollar for dollar) in the nation. By population (last available figures), Albuquerque is the 32nd largest city, falling way behind others like Memphis that the average person (including Mayor Martin Chavez) would name as smaller on any impromptu list.

What is on the list is even more telling. Green initiative projects are at the top, but they are projects that will not generate any long-term jobs. Once a solar panel is in place, it doesn't need to employ anyone. Yes, a streetcar would generate jobs over the long term, if we could afford the yearly subsidy to pay for it. But our population just isn't large enough. Unlike other cities the size of good old ABQ, there is no surrounding ring of large suburbs to feed it and to feed a massive public transit infrastructure. It will be a long time, longer still in a recessive economy, before this is true.

In many ways, ABQ's list is truly a wish list. We wish we were larger and more prosperous then we are, but we are not. As one city counselor put it, we are confusing economic stimulus with Santa Claus.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Commerce Secretary?

Now that New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson has been nominated as Secretary of Commerce by the president-elect, we ask: How good has he been for commerce in New Mexico?

The largest new industry established in the state during his term as governor is Eclipse Aviation, which is in bankruptcy.

Through no effort of his own, we still have two national laboratories and an Intel plant. This can be credited to Sen. Pete Domenici and Congressman Heather Wilson, both not continuing in office.

We have the beginnings of a spaceport in southern N.M. Yeah! That's what I said. (Hope those little green guys have lots of exports.)

The N.M. Dept. of Transportation is out of cash. We needed a tax infusion for the commuter rail line to Santa Fe from Albuquerque. Road projects have been halted pending the next legislative session.

Let's stop and think about how the United States will look if the experience is similar.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Food Police

Alcalde Martin Chavez of Albuquerque has decided that vending machine food is bad for city employees. He wants the Cheetos taken out of the machines in favor of nuts and berries.

In a true demonstration of the Law of Unintended Consequences of Action By Idiot Politicians, this will take away the livelihood of blind people with no other skills to recommend them for re-employment. First, as you may guess, nobody is going to buy nuts and berries (healthy food) instead of a bag of Cheetos. When you want vending machine food you are not thinking how healthy you want it to make you. So nobody will buy the healthy foods. In fact, they are already right in there among the Cheetos, and nobody wants them now.

Second, the vending concessions are run by the local commission for the blind. So bingo, you have the Food Police (aka Martin Chavez) driving blind people into bankruptcy.

And what about the Alcalde? We haven't caught him yet eating nuts and berries, or riding his bicycle, for that matter. But he has been seen with his dog. We would like to know whether his dog would pick Cheetos over nut bars.

Stay tuned for a ban on trans fats. Pass the lard.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Left of Center

So many people drive left of center in New Mexico that it should have sister state status with the United Kingdom. Besides the spate of left of center accidents leaving dozens of people dead or in the hospital just this past summer, there is a more subtle tendency of all kinds of vehicular traffic to drift to the left. The highest propensity is among bicyclists using lanes painted on the right side of Albuquerque city streets. However, right turning motor vehicles often drift left of center as they turn right. Swing those Honda Civics wide, boys, they might not make it around that sharp corner. There's also that tendency among people driving extended cab, jacked up pickup trucks to drift left and hit median curbs, thereby rendering the front suspensions useless and causing any number of rollovers.

Too many people in New Mexico drift to the left. Perhaps this is a reflection on their political state, but these drivers deserve the Bit Off New Mexico salute.

What is the Bit Off New Mexico salute? You bite the tip off a green chile and hold it in your right hand with the bitten tip pointing up. You then gesture with your right hand as if you were going to stuff the chile up somebody's nostril.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Richardson Endorses Obama

Not bitter but semi-sweet rivals is the way Gov. Richardson would have New Mexicans believe it.

Nothing so obvious as the suck-up, Bill. Waiting to see just where you think the nomination is going to end up is a smooth political move, but don't try to make us think you were just looking for the guy who best expressed your ideals. Once it was clear there would be no revotes in the excluded states . . . Glom!

Mr. Obama picking Mr. Richardson as a running mate would be a win-win situation for New Mexico.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Just Find a Project You Like and . . .

Our politicians in NM don't wait for voters when they have an idea whose time (and associated political capital) has come.

Rail Runner was the brainchild of Gov. Bill "Want It But You Gotta Pay For It" Richardson. When started, the commuter railroad was funded from an excess of highway money and federal grants. Now it needs tax dollars. The taxpayer never voted for it and many never wanted it.

The voting machines used in every county of the state (also a Richardson idea) are another example. They come from only one vendor, and the warranty has run up. The taxpayer is going to have to foot the bill for maintenance in every county, some more than others. This was not the taxpayer's idea and most don't want it.

Then we come to the pet project of El Major Martin Chavez of Alburquerque (intentionally misspelled), who signed a contract for Red Light Cameras nobody wants and nobody voted for. I guess city councilors rubber stamped it, but the taxpayer is going to have to pay because Richardson took all the money for the state. But El Major Martin says they stay anyway. He might use the $7million it put into his coffers until he can get his hands deep enough into our back pockets.

Can you spell spaceport? Even minor backers are pulling out of this one. But NM will build it anyway, on taxpayer dollar, and they will come back. Won't they?

Taxpayers of NM (aka NM-icans) are also going to be living in little LA. The movie industry in NM gets a big boost with tax breaks. Unlike regular taxpaying citizens that just want to start a business. If anybody reading knows what Hollywood and lots and lots of LA are really like, you know what this is going to turn Santa Fe and Albuquerque into. And NM really doesn't have the climate, the police manpower, or the garbage collection or sewage systems to support 24-hour-a-day sleaze.

Don't let the fact that oil and gas revenues for NM are the fourth highest in the nation. Unlike Alaska and Texas, the taxpayer never sees any of it. NM-icans also pay some of the highest fuel prices. Go figure.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Character Counts - Unless You're the Super

One of the candidates for Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) superintendent has a slight blemish on his record and he freely admits it. He shoplifted. It was a small value item and it occurred back when he was in his young and tender 30s. So when does character develop?

The APS mantra has for years been "Character Counts." I guess it's OK to shoplift as long as you finally admit it when you are up for a big-bucks job. Not necessary for lower-paying jobs.

A school system is a microcosm of the community and reflects its values. What does this say about Albuquerque?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

If You Fix a Commissioner's Ticket, You Get To Go Back To Work

Just prior to the judge's ruling I discussed in the post just previous to this, a Judicial Standards Commission, made up of Commissioners (I guess - I can't find any names), ruled that a different NM judge who spent over 3 years fixing tickets (hundreds) for family and friends by having his secretary delete court files should be suspended for 3 months. Nothing more, just suspended w/o pay.

If I were a court clerk and had done this, I would be summarily fired and be prosecuted one count for every ticket.

It is clear that it depends who you know. Maybe the judge showed remorse so he didn't get two years.

Update: It is rumored that Governor and FPC (former presidential candidate) Bill Richardson is considering executive clemency for the imprisoned decorated marine. Seems Bill is tired of his henchmen pissing people off. It's ruining his chances to get a good appointment from Hillarobama.

Please do something about (Albuquerque) Mayor Marty Chavez now, huh?

Monday, February 25, 2008

How Many Years If He Had Been Trying to Steal Your Wife?

Proving again that Justice in New Mexico is A Bit Off, a judge sentenced a decorated marine to two years in prison for killing a man he found in his garage trying to steal his car. The marine had no prior criminal record and is a married, family man with young children. The family of the desert scum that got killed will get $500 a month in restitution. They are contemplating a civil suit to get more.

The judge went on radio the following week and said he wouldn't have given the marine any prison time if he had just begged for mercy. Instead, in true Semper Fi fashion (God bless him) the marine made it clear he thought the scum got what was coming to him.

Many folks agree. Just don't agree too loudly or you fine, upstanding residents of NM will be begging for mercy, too.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Plug It In Your Can

Albuquerque Mayor Marty Chavez has been running a "green" ad on TV and radio. It goes something like, "If you recycle just one aluminum can you can power your TV set for 3 hours." Huh? I tried plugging the TV into an old Coors can but only got the plug smelling like fermented feet.

Then I did a little research and came up with the following: 1 US gallon of gas contains 115,000 btu
1 watt = 3.413 btu/hr
1000 watt hrs is 3413 btu

My TV is rated at 160 watts so in three hours it uses 160 x 3.413 btu x 3 so that is 1638 btus.

My recycle center is 10 miles away and I get 20 miles per gallon - so I burn about 115,000 btus to get there and back.

I can carry about 1000 cans, so each can requires 115 btus to get to the recycle. I am now negative 115 btus per can.

From another research source: It takes roughly 6200 watt/hrs to produce 1 lb of aluminum from ore. That is 21,160 btu per pound. Recycling saves 95% of this energy, so we get a pound of aluminum by saving 20,102 btu. The question is, does the 95% include the energy it takes for transportation. Those who juggle statistics don't tell us. Anywhere. If you can find the statistic with an explanation, point me to it.

There are 32 cans per pound of aluminum, but with waste only 80% of them make it to the final product, so we need 20% more or about 38.4 cans which cost me 38.4 x 115 to get to recycle or 4,416 so I have saved the planet only 20,102 - 4,416 but per pound of aluminum or 15,686 btu.
I have recycled 38.4 cans to get this, so I get 15,686/38.4 or only 408.5 btu which only powers my set for about 15 minutes.

Hey, wait! I didn't figure for the bulldozer that pushes the cans around the recycle center, the cost to operate the shredder or the truck that has to carry it to the aluminum plant. From where I live, that's about 1300 miles. Even if that only uses ten percent of what my inefficent Buick uses to get to the recycle center, that starts me 126.5 btu to the negative. The cost to get to the aluminum plant is now 38.4 x 126.5 or 4,856 btu. Now I only get 20,102 - 4,856 or 15,246btu divided by 38.4 cans is 397. Divided by 1638 that is under a quarter hour.

Marty - get your facts right. Much gasoline has a higher heat content. And depending on how far you have to move the cans, how much waste, and where you are located, it is entirely possible that the savings could go negative.

Have a happy recycling!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Chunky Water

One day in this blog, we will explain why we sometimes refer to the City of Albuquerque, NM, as the C of Q. For now, please forgive us when we lapse into this sarcastic shorthand.

For years, C of Q has paid dearly and had the rights to water that is piped over the continental divide from the Colorado watershed to the Rio Grande watershed. More recently, C of Q had begun a project to actually make that water, now flowing down the Rio Grande, the source of part of its drinking water.

As an adjunct to getting that water into the system, a pilot plant has been built to suck it out of the sandy river and process it. Somewhere during the project, the city was forced by circumstances to turn the water utility over to a City-County authority - the ABCWUA.

To get residents used to drinking the crap from the river, the ABCWUA started bottling it and giving it away for free. Here, drink this!

So far, so good, except there is chunky stuff in the bottled water.

One of our local investigative news channels thinks it's not OK. But the attitude of ABCWUA so far has been, hey you have probably consumed worse. Swallow hard and enjoy.

When pressed, it was decided that ABCWUA would do its own independent testing. If the chunks ain't toxic or disease-causing, . . . well, Here, drink this!

The jury is still out on whether the pilot plant will work or leak once it's on line anyway. The Mayor of Q has threatened to shut off any river water that gets into the city and pump through the wells, most of which are within city limits but now belong to ABCWUA.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Legislature Finishes Work for 2008

Or not. One never quite knows in New Mexico. Governor Bill "My Way or The Highway" Richardson thinks not and called it a do-nothing legislature. That could only be good for the taxpayer. Although State Government operates year around, the legislative branch only meets for one month or two as prescribed by the state constitution. Nobody is every sure which year it is until mid-February rolls around. If they stay in session, either it's a two-month session or everybody fell asleep listening to the Governor's speeches.

The legislature made one last grab for money by taking away all funds from the City of Albuquerque's red-light camera program. Because it was all about safety, Mayor Martin "Hugo" Chavez immediately suspended the program. It was never about the money though, right?
Everyone is entitled to be stupid, but some abuse the privilege.