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Tuesday, June 22, 2004

The Latino Wave, Big Trucks and more

Well, everything is very hectic these days, made more so, somehow, by car trouble. This week I am driving a 1980 Suburban lent to me by my friends after my little Hyundai sort of blew up on St. Francis Drive. While it's great to have any vehicle, and while there is a certain Right to Power feeling allowed by driving a truck this big, I will be happy to be back to my small and zippy and non gas-guzzling Korean import.
On a more relevent note, The Association of Alternative Newsweeklies has posted an article on how alternative newsweeklies are handling politics this year, with a shout out to The Hip Hop Voter Project. We have two upcoming events. The New Voters Project will be in attendance at The Reporter's 30th anniversary block party June 30 at our offices, 132 East Marcy Street and The Progressive Alliance for Community Empowerment will host voter registration July 2 at The Paramount.
Meanwhile, I am off to AAN's annual conference in San Antonio later in the week where I will moderate a panel on alternative political coverage by the media. Meanwhile, pick up the June 23 issue of The Reporter to read my interview with Jorge Ramos, which I also will hopefully post to AAN's AAN's story sharing website. If you haven't been to this site yet, I would highly recommend it—it's a great resource for progressive journalism all around the country.
OK, back to dealing with the Best of Santa Fe issue!

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Latino Outreach

I learned today that I had been subscribed to a Latino outreach list-serve about projects like this one, so I should be learning more about our comparable efforts around the country as the weeks go on. The group is part of National Voice, an organization working on voter registration. Actually, they wrote to me in response to my writing to them, although i don't remember writing to them. I've sent a lot of letters out in the last few months. In other news, we are hoping Joe Ray Sandoval will be able to attend The Latino Academy in Los Angeles this summer, where he can work with other Hispanic activists and get more training for our project (and network etc). I would write more but my email and computer has been broken all day (so is my DVD player at home; am worried I am having one of those weeks where all the equipment I come near breaks.) Anyway, didn't have computer access all morning and am terribly behind on numerous items that I won't bore you with here.
Salon's article today on the new profiles of George Bush that depict him as a rageful raving lunatic was a bit disturbing.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Drug Testing Public Officials

As you might imagine, my emails, phone calls and mail are, in general, rather entertaining. This press release, which just arrived, seems worth posting. It came from the state senate minority office, courtesy of Diane Kinderwater, who used to be Gov. Gary Johnson's press secretary:

Random Drug Testing of All Elected Officials Needed to Restore Confidence
Senator Komadina said officials, not taxpayers to pay for testing
Albuquerque--State Senator Steve Komadina (Sandoval-9) announced today he will introduce legislation that calls on all elected officials, including judges,  in the state of New Mexico to undergo annual, random drug testing.  "If government officials make the  laws, enforce the laws, we ourselves must uphold the laws. The public deserves to know whether we do indeed abide by our own laws." Senator Komadina said.  "Drug testing  will allow elected officials to prove they hold themselves to the same standards they hold members of the public."
Senator Komadina said public confidence in elected officials is eroding because of various scandals and said they make it look like all judges and elected officials are on drugs. "I want a chance to prove that I am clean,"  Senator Komadina said.  "Government has the responsibility to prove  that it is not being run by a bunch of druggies."
Senator Komadina's  legislation calls on all elected officials, from U.S. senators to governor to legislators to city counselors, to undergo random drug testing with the results submitted directly to the Secretary of State's Office for posting on its  website for the public to see.  "Notices of the drug testing will be sent out randomly throughout the year with officials being given 24 hours to comply," Senator Komadina said.  "The drug testing facility will send the results directly to the Secretary of State's Office."
Senator Komadina said he is calling for voluntary drug testing which can be extremely effective without growing state government and costing taxpayers more money.  "The elected officials will foot the bill for the drug testing and not the public.  I don't want to grow bureaucracy and have  a whole new drug testing office run by a whole new  drug czar.  By making it voluntary, and not mandatory,  there is less bureaucracy and officials can explain to their constituents  if they choose not to  undergo the testing.  It will then be up to the voters on election day  if they accept the explanation."  Senator Komadina said.
"We need to restore confidence and stop the mistrust."
Komadina's legislation will take the form of a joint  memorial which expresses the desire of both the Senate and the House.            ###

Saved by Blog

OK, back up. Yesterday, when my blog disappeared, the first card I saw, sitting on my desk, was Tom Blog's. Blog, if you recall, ran for Santa Fe County Commission, lost to Virginia Vigil, and also kept a blog. Anyway, long story short, he figured out what was wrong with my blog and now here I am again! Weird spaces keep popping up into my template, creating broken links and yesterday's visibility problem. Now, as you can see there is a weird code thing going on with my "posted by" line. Now, I am happy to acknowledge that perhaps I am creating all these problems by messing around with my template, but I can't help it. I like to futz.
This morning, the entire Reporter staff is having its photo taken for our 30th anniversary (come celebrate June 30. We're having a street fair at our offices: 132 E. Marcy Street). Unsurprisingly, everyone in the office seems to have come to work wearing jeans and a black T-shirt. When that's all done I need to get started on Best of Santa Fe, the issue. We should start getting results today from the poll. Unlike normal voting, Best Of participation keeps increasing each year—40 percent more votes this year than last, according to our publisher. It's funny because people love to vote in contests, but not in elections. I wonder if when the day comes that people can vote online for presidential elections etc that participation will increase. Maybe it's just the hassle of going to the polls that keeps people from voting? That seems absurd, but I do know at least one person who told me on the primary that he didn't "have time" to vote. Obviously, it's bullshit. Voting takes like three seconds. Personally, I love going into the voting booth (I guess it's not so much a booth here as a little, um, tent), but voting online would be convenient. And maybe all the youth voting recruitment efforts in the world won't make as much difference as just letting people vote online.

My Blog Has Disappeared

Well, now I really feel like a Woody Allen character, because I am writing into a blog that isn't showing up on the Internet. I signed up for one of these services that puts a ticker on your blog and now the blog is nowhere to be found. I am truly writing into the void. Stay tuned as I attempt to figure out what the hell is going on.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Music and Voting

Jonanna Widner, SFR's Arts and Culture Editor, sent me an article today on Can Music Make Youth Vote from ABC. Basically, the article says that things like Rock the Vote haven't made any difference in increasing youth participation in elections but that, nonetheless, efforts to link music and politics continue, as they are with our Hip Hop Voter Project (the next one is scheduled for July 2, by the way, stay tuned for more details). At any rate, the article basically talks about how to take the energy people bring to music and get them to bring it to something else, like politics or issues. This was kind of my thinking when we started this project—just that there's so much live, raw energy at Chicanobuilt, because rap and hip hop is a pretty invigoriating form of music, that it's a good time to try to engage people in something else. A lot of it also depends on having the right group there with the right energy. Our gay pride night was terrible, but some of the other groups we've had have made some pretty good contact with people and they were high energy themselves. It's also a matter of having good spokespeople, I think. I mean, if Talib Kweli had really gotten into it with people, and we'd had voter reg people there, that could have been something. Because just the few time Kweli got political (and you could actually hear what he was saying), people were responding. We need to really get something going for our last reg. night in October. All ideas are welcome!
In other news, there is a Latinas Empowerment Conference from the National Hispana Leadership Institute here on June 19, which I have been invited to. Yeah, I know, I don't get it either.

Monday, June 14, 2004

The Public Editor

I think I mentioned recently my new obsession with Daniel Okrent's Public Editor column in The New York Times. This is a copy of a letter I sent him today:

Dear Mr. Okrent,

I have been enjoying your Public Editor column, particularly the discussion of late regarding a journalist’s relationship with anonymous sources. I am the editor of The Santa Fe Reporter, a weekly alternative newspaper in Santa Fe, NM. We used your column recently to discuss this relationship as part of an in-house training for our editorial department. Our two reporters were required to research your assertion that a journalist’s agreement with an anonymous source was, in effect, a contract: anonymity in exchange for accurate information. You maintain that should the information not hold up, the journalist is not required to maintain a source’s anonymity. Subsequently you have proposed that a journalist stipulate this agreement, at least verbally, to the anonymous source.
In our research, which wasn’t extensive but involved talking with a journalism ethics professional at Poynter and looking at articles on the subject, we didn’t find too much to support this premise. In our discussions, we agreed there should be few instances in which information gained off the record or anonymously shouldn’t be verifiable through public or on-the-record sources, and certainly your assertion that a sole anonymous source should be held to a higher standard (through the contract idea) has some appeal.
We also agreed that a reporter has the obligation to re-source any information that originates with an anonymous source (preferably, when possible, through public documents).
At the same time, we thought it would be difficult to ever obtain information if an anonymous source felt that their anonymity would be jeopardized under any circumstances. I also felt that your column failed to properly distinguish between the anonymous sources, off-the-record comments and deep background sources that often comprise a reporter’s field of inquiry.
Our discussion raised several other questions for me. For one, the notion of a contract, implied or otherwise, doesn’t seem to do justice to the often-subtle relationship between a journalist and a source (I’m thinking of Janet Malcolm’s The Journalist and the Murderer as well as my own experiences). It also creates, I think, additional problems for future reporting. For example, if a story uses an anonymous source, but later the information seems unreliable, does the anonymous source get the opportunity to prove why he or she believed it to be correct at the time? If so, would this be enough to continue their anonymity? Your premise also seems to elevate sources with journalists to some kind of partnership in getting information out and I think implies that the source of information is just as important as the information itself. Certainly this can be true, but doesn’t it require a judgement call? For example, if a political candidate gives me verifiable information on an opponent, but only on the condition that I don’t say where I got the information, do I then weigh the value of the information against how I got it? I suppose I do, except under your reasoning I feel I should be weighing simultaneously the newspaper’s values with the public’s. But what if the public cares more about who is slinging the mud than, for example, an old bankruptcy or an ugly divorce? Do I stop the flow of information to me from sources who don’t want to be revealed. Or do I get it and sit on it, keeping it from the public because I believe they have the right to know how I got it?
At any rate, I was hoping you might provide some due diligence reporting on this entire topic. I realize it may be taking your column into a more meta realm than intended, but anything that provokes journalists to consider what they’re doing from a different point of view will ultimately serve the reading public, eh?


Julia Goldberg
Santa Fe Reporter
This week is quickly becoming a madhouse. Thirty year anniversary plus Gay Issue plus Best Of plus AAN conference in San Antonio equals adult attention deficit disorder. I can barely finish my sentences. Must remain calm and find new yoga teacher.
Running home for lunch did not help. Eating was a good idea, but Santa Fe traffic is not particularly soothing. Nearly everyone on the road today has a smashed front end and no brake lights. Yes, I know, driving and traffic have nothing to do with politics. See, even my blog is out of control.
Well, vaguely relating to politics: one of our photo shoots for the 30th anniversary is a group shot of important politicans from the past and present. So far we've basically got confirmation from everyone except Mayor Delgado! I don't understand why it's so difficult to get the mayor on the phone.
This week's cover story is about progress at the Railyard in terms of having a movie house. Many of the details of the current proposal are being kept under wraps in ways that seem, well, not so great for a public project, key word: public. Hopefully we'll learn more in the coming weeks. OK, back to work.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Am just back from sneaking into one of the city's hotel pools, my only survivalist tactic for summer in Santa Fe. I don't understand how a county with more than 125,000 people in it can only have one outdoor public pool. It's one of the few things I miss about the east coast: access to water all summer long without having to think about it. Well, and men with ambition. Anyway, my interview with Jorge Ramos went well, once I finally managed to have it. Missed the first scheduled one by inverting east coast with mountain time, an amateurish mistake I haven't made in a long time, if ever. So I ended up talking to him while he waited for his flight to Miami in La Guardia. The interview will be in the Reporter in two weeks, prior to his booksigning at Garcia Street Books. We had an interesting talk. He is convinced that first-time Hispanic voters will decide the 2004 presidential election, and he seems to have the numbers to back it up. It makes me a bit desperate to amp up the voter project and really send a message to the people we're registering, not just register them.
The New York Times had some hit or miss journalism today regarding politics and the like. Their John Kerry profile started so dopily, comparing Kerry to a caged hamster and then going on to talk about how restless he is on the open road ( a hamster on the open road?) that I wondered, as I have increasingly of late, if the editors at The Times have just lost their minds. Of course, give the scrutiny they've been under, and all the weird ways they are trying to respond to readers and clearly appeal to other demographics, I can see how it would be hard to edit under those circumstances. Or at least I think I can. I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoy Daniel Okrent's Public Editor column. He's been focusing, lately, on the issue of anonymous souces, trying to establish this notion that an anonymous source's relationship with a journalist is implicitly a contract. The anonymity granted in exchange for valid information. If the information proves not to be valid, says Okrent, the anonymity is no longer guaranteed. Discussion of this idea was an assignment for our last editorial meeting, and both Brendan Smith and Zane Fischer, The Reporter's staff writers, did some research on this notion in the journalistic field and found no one who thought it was an established tenet or a particularly good idea.
The Times also had an article on The Political Divisions in the US that hypothesized that it's not people in America who are divided, but the parties and political insiders who have grown more polemical and created the illusion or idea, perhaps, of this 50/50 country. Finally, they had a piece in which it was speculated that old rhetoric and political activism is hackneyed and being replaced by newer ways of activism. That article is titled Hey Hey Ho Ho Those Old Protest Tactics Have to Go, Hey, as an editor, you have to appreciate the clever headline. Speaking of which, I have a cover story of my own to edit, so that's it for now.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

I have to admit to feeling a bit revolting today. There are many words in the world but only one for how I feel right now: hungover, brothers and sisters. Oh well. As it happens, I really didn't drink much, just didn't eat much either and am the world's biggest lightweight.
Anyway, am feeling less coldhearted and indifferent regarding Reagan's death today. Actually as of last night. We were talking, at Swig, Dan, Emily, Jonanna and I, about watching the funeral. Still and all, the sainting of Reagan is ridiculous. But watching Nancy Reagan kiss his coffin, it occurred to me, as it does from time to time, how important it is that "we," the so-called left, progressives, whatever you want to call us, don't act like assholes about the right, conservatives, whatever you want to call them. Really, the humanity of the situation, the reality of our situation, is tragic. We all die, get old, get sick, have diseases, lose people we love, suffer, etc. I always think that what drives me nuts about the right isn't so much fiscal conservatism, but the ways in which their policies translate into lack of feeling for those who are in need. How does it make sense to fight that with lack of caring for others on my part? So, it's one thing to remind or voice the reasons Reagan wasn't my personal hero (and God knows GW ain't and never will be), but that's different than wishing them harm. It's like the day when I saw that woman driving the Expedition with the American Flag on it and I felt this crazed hatred towards her. Not going there. Reminds me, though, of that funny movie The Last Supper, where the liberals decide to fight back and just start killing the conservatives. Of course, they all end up dying too. Oops, spoiler!
Yikes. After Swig, we went to ChicanoBuilt, which was banging. In my cocktailed state, I seem to recall picking a fight with Joe Ray about him not posting to his blog like he's supposed to. Kind of a geeky thing to pick a fight about, eh?

Friday, June 11, 2004

Obviously, I'm not the only person with negative feelings about Reagan, but if you're looking for some good alternative media voices on the subject, check out these Columns from Alternative Newspapers.
Well, I'm at work even if non-essential government employees get the day off due to Reagan's death. We talked last night, at length, about the hagiography of Reagan since he died. It seems as though most of my friends are completely baffled by it, as if the entire country seems to have Altzheimer's all of a sudden. I wondered, as we talked, if this were one of those times when our Genexism feels more pronounced. I think of Reagan and remember high school parties where rich girls talked about how Reagan was making their fathers rich, and all the homeless people suddenly on the streets in Phili and New York, and listening, rapt, to the Contra trials on the radio and feeling my first real surges of political outrage. I'm not sure to what extent that political outrage just grew out of the political context of my family, or how much they were mine. I know my parents are devout liberals and, without even asking them, I know they were staunchly opposed to Reagan and Bush. But I don't remember to what extent they talked about politics and influenced my beliefs, only that I can even remember not liking Nixon as a little kid. But the summer of Iran Contra was when I first became politicized as, I guess, an individual. I met some guy on the subway, who was probably the age I am now, and he started talking to me about Iran Contra and the suffering of people in Nicaragua and somehow I ended up selling raffle tickets for his organization (I guess I'm lucky he wasn't a cult leader). At any rate, I felt like, talking last night with Dave, Dan, Emily, Chris et. that our generation is sort of alienated, in some inherent way, from the idea of inherently respecting a president, or anyone, solely based on the position of authority they hold. I can't really imagine gnashing my teeth about Reagan's death, it's just beyond my yen. Now if Jimmy Carter died, we all said, we'd really be sad, but not because he was president, but because of the good he did on the humanitarian front. It may be that politics really doesn't have the power to change the way people feel about their country, about themselves, about the world in the way that social action or popular culture does. Although political decisions surely can make people rally, but usually against more than for anything. I just find this entire stoppage of everything for Reagan almost surreal. We're in the middle of this intense election cycle, with the future of the country hanging in the balance, with unbelievable atrocities happening in the Middle East, with the situation in Iraq, and suddenly it comes to a screeching halt for these odd '80s emotional reconstruction. I'm not an unfeeling person. I cried when Kurt Cobain died for God's sakes, but Reagan, as far as I can recall, didn't do anything for me except help to define, negatively, what I believe. I don't wish anyone suffering, but I don't have a shred of feeling about his death.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Forgot to mention that I am set to interview Jorge Ramos tomorrow, who wrote The Latino Wave, about the huge impact Hispanics are going to have on the next presidential election. I have quite a bit more reading to do tonight. So far I'm just into the part where he establishes the growing number of Hispanics (there will be more Hispanics than whites by 2125, he says, and it's hard to argue with that, given that we'll all be dead by then providing "they" don't find a way to extend our lifespan). At any rate, I'm looking forward to getting into the parts where he discusses "Hispanic issues," and talking with him about that. I was interviewed, perhaps a month ago, by a writer for AAN about how our paper covers Hispanic issues. I said that we didn't really cover Hispanic issues per se, because most issues in our area aren't really divided along those lines, with the exception of immigration issues, which relate more to Mexicans than local Hispanics. I realized, though, that trying to make that distinction was difficult; it's not something that makes that much sense to people if they aren't from this area (I'm not saying he didn't understand, just that it wasn't obvious, perhaps). I think education is, perhaps, the greatest "Hispanic issue" here, because Hispanics regularly do much worse on the kinds of increased standardized testing in the schools, but that might be less a "Hispanic issue" and more a "George Bush's stupid education policy" issue.
I can't believe how freaking hot it is here all of a sudden. It's like: spring, spring, spring, boom dog days of summer hot. It is getting hot in here, but I'm not taking off all my clothes.
OK. So, Dan Frosch, a former staff writer for The Reporter, is here visiting, which has been fun, albeit hard on the old liver. I'm planning on having Dan, who is a former Source staffer and has great hip hop connections, writing a series of interviews w/ hip hop artists as part of our project over the next six months.
Alternet has an interesting article today about How To Use Hip Hop As A Political Tool that I thought was pretty well done. Well, more later. I need to: interview a potential intern and continue lining up former SFR staffers for our 30th anniversary photo shoot next week.

Monday, June 07, 2004

My ears are still ringing and my adrenelin is still flowing from the Kweli show, which was amazing. For some reason, I believed people when they said it was going to start relatively on time, so I was actually there by 8:15. Normally, I would never think a hip hop show would start on time, but I got burned last summer when I went to the Rock the Mic show late, only to find out it had started on time because they didn't want teenagers hanging around all hours of the night, so I only saw 50 cent and Jay Z (which was probably enough; who the hell need to listen to Fabulous live, after all). Anyway, given that Kweli was an all-ages show, I thought it would, maybe, start on time, but it didn't. I think perhaps either he or MF Doom were late, but I don't have the details. It doesn't matter, anyway. Kweli probably played an hour and 20. I don't think it was a $30 show, personally, but it was very enjoyable, and he's really the best of the new old schoolers. It was interesting watching the crowd, though. It was very very male, mostly Hispanic, and they were totally into Kweli, which was amazing (although frankly the sound kind of sucked and I don't know if anyone was really hearing Kweli's lyrics, though I could be wrong). The girls that were there were mostly the Chicanobuilt crowd (except for the requisite hippie girl contigency) and they (the Chicanobuilt girls) did not seem into it at all. Normally, the girls are all about the dancing, but dancing to hip hop like Kweli and dancing to hip hop like Lil John are two very different things. Most of the hip hop these girls hear isn't the same as the kind of hip hop I was hearing when I was their age. I like the bubble-gum shit too (some; some of it is just lame, it's like the parody song from Brown Sugar; that ho is mine), but listening to Kweli is a completely different experience. Dancing, yes, but also all the live sampling and the lyricism. There's an interesting article today on alternet How Copyright Law Changed Hip Hop that was weirdly precipitious for me to see this morning, because it was on my mind after the Kweli show last night. So much of contemporary hip hop is just beats and surface lyrics, it's really just top 40 using hip hop. It's not old school with the sampling and the layering of different songs. It's not a movement, like KRS 1 says, it's just an echo. Kweli's live show was very old school. But I don't know if you could make an album like the Beastie's Paul's Boutique today. They must have sampled 7 million things on that thing. Well, seeing shows at The Paramount is always amazing; it's such a great venue for things. If I could see Bowie and the Beasties there I might never need to go to another show again. Not.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

I have to admit to feeling a little, um, discouraged at the moment. Voter turnout June 1 was terrible, the election results were kind of mixed (but I'm going to keep my feelings to myself since I'm a journalist and therefore not entitled to feelings) and voter registration last night SUCKED. On the bright side, I received a fan letter following my coverage for Channel 8 and there is the Talib Kweli show tomorrow night to look forward to.
Also just learned that Jorge Ramos, who wrote The Latino Wave, How Hispanics Will Elect the Next American President will be in Santa Fe June 23 and it looks as though I'll have the opportunity to interview him, so that will be interesting, since New Mexico's role, or rather, importance in the coming election has been pinned to some extent on that Hispanic importance. When we talked Tuesday, on air, about the low turnout, we basically decided that because New Mexico had had a February caucus for the Democratic nominee, interest in the primary elections had been greatly diminished, since most voters in this area are Democrats. This kind of thing makes me crazy, though. Certainly, the presidential election is important—it's very important to me, but local politics are important as well, or they should be. Then, last night, Gay Pride hosted voter registration and they were just NOT making contact with the ChicanoBuilt crowd. I warned them that it was going to be a hard sell, but beyond that, there were a lot of folk from out of town, many already registered and about half a dozen convicted felons! On the bright side, Andy Primm and I worked on the documentary we're making on the project and had some good interviews. One person in particular, David Vigil, was very eloquent about why he votes and why he thinks it makes a difference, so I suppose all is not lost. It was just not a good week for feeling as though things are changing or can change. And last night people seemed way more interested in dancing and drinking then much else. Of course, maybe I'm projecting—I had three cocktails after all.
So, I'm sitting here listening to Black Star, getting psyched for tomorrow night and thinking about how to amp up next month's project. We may have some interim events as well, given that there are some bigger planned events for the summer.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Well, we are back from a long holiday weekend (and by long I mean margaritas) and it is June 1, New Mexico's primary election day. Go vote! I am going to go vote in a little while, as soon as we get some pages signed off on. Then I'm off to the county building to host election-night coverage for Channel 8. Then it's back to a regular work week, with our next voter project this Friday, June 4, hosted by Pride on the Plaza. No only will we have voter registration, but we'll be videotaping Friday night for the documentary we're filming, so it's a perfect time to show up. You can register on camera! (But you don't have to, of course).
We also are trying to put together the Hip Hop Voter Project for the Sunday Talib Kweli show.
Now I have to get back to work, but hopefully in the next day or so I'll have a chance to write about the Lannan Cultural Freedom event I attended last Friday and all the amazing writers/thinkers who participated (like Russell Banks). I also want to link to some interesting articles Alternet has up on hip hop and voting, and possibly go off on a tirade about The New York Times. So stay tuned, or um, logged in. And be sure to keep checking out the links section. I'm building it slowly but surely. I wish there was a way to just dump all my bookmarks onto the links, but I don't think there is.