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Wednesday, March 30, 2005

It's Here

What's here? Well, let's see. More snow (thrilling). This week's SFR (a must-read story by Zelie Pollon about what it's been like reporting on the war in Iraq. If the CNN reporters are at one end of the journalism spectre (that would be the low end) Zelie is at the farthest other end, really putting her life on the line and trying to get an important story out.
And where does that leave me? Oh, well, at my desk editing sections of Annual Manual, eating an apple and wishing it were a brownie and hoping that by 6:30 pm I'll have something interesting to say to a group of College of Santa Fe journalism students I'm supposed to "lecture" for an hour (poor, poor young people). I had our industrious intern photocopy a bunch of journalism articles I like to foist on people at various times. It's odd because when I talk to groups, as I do from time to time, I can usually be somewhat engaging, but when I talk to students I always feel as though I am boring everyone to death, which makes me nervous, which makes me talk FASTER as if somehow I think I will be less boring if I speak quickly. Kind of like what I'm doing right now, except I'm just typing quickly.
The Journal Santa Fe today has two stories relating to nukes on the front page that I found interesting. The first, that Lockheed Martin is going to bid to run LANL. If you really want some more info on Lockheed Martin from the anti-nuke perspective, check out Helen Caldicott, particularly her book The New Nuclear Danger. I interviewed Caldicott…at some point, but I can't seem to lay my hands on that interview at the moment, so...
Ahem. The other story is about the fact that City Councilor Miguel Chavez wants to put the city on issue with a resolution opposing nuclear weapons and calling for the dismantling of nuclear weapons. City Councilor David Pfeffer thinks the city shouldn't talk about things not in its purview. Now, to be honest, a few years back I kind of agreed with Pfeffer that it was silly for the city to sit around passing resolutions about things it didn't control, but I don't feel that way anymore. Frankly, I feel glad I live in a city going on record as opposing hate crimes, being immigrant friendly, being against The Patriot Act, being against nuclear weapons. We live in times when people are becoming afraid to make their views known, in which conservatism is becoming insidious and religious influence overbearing. I want to know where our elected officials stand on social issues, whether they can control them or not, because leadership isn't just about potholes and budgets, it's also about beliefs and courage to speak out.
And now, back to annual manual, which is about proofreading and checking the veracity of phone numbers.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Yes, It's a Rainbow

it's a rainbow
it's a rainbow,
originally uploaded by votergirl.
Word on the street (OK, in the hallway here) is that in response to the visit announced by Phelps' Church 'O Hate, local businesses and residences not in favor of crazy bigotry will post these rainbows in their windows. (Kind of like that late '80s thing here where we had the "Another Business Against WIPP" stickers all around town. Actually, stickers that said, "Another Business Against Crazy Bigoted Assholes" might not be a bad idea, although, I suppose, rainbows are a bit less angry sounding.
This is, I've been told, the idea of P-FLAG and I hope it takes off. Feel free to steal this little rainbow off the site.
In other semi-related news (as in, it's also about religious fanatics), I found Krugman's column about the need for people, like doctors and moderates, to stand up against religious zealots (yes, I'm paraphrasing) right on the money.
Particularly given the insane hypocrisy of it all. This LA Times story about Tom DeLay's decision to let his own father die in peace pretty much brings that point home.
I guess I'm a bit tired of the Terri Schiavo situation—reading about it, that is—though not as tired as Christopher Hitchens, based on this piece in Slate. I know liberals aren't supposed to like Hitchens (or so I gathered when Tariq Ali disparaged him in his talk preceding Noam Chomsky), but I can't help it. I have a soft spot for scathing sarcasm. If you make it to Slate, I'd also check out this article by Shafer which rips LA Times columnist David Shaw look very, very silly.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Big Bill

I am officially not a fan of Mondays. I just can't believe how eight hours steamrolls by and I haven't even had a chance to sit down and write anything. On the bright side, just getting caught up has taken so much of my time today that I haven't really gathered any earth-shattering newsbits or insights.
I did overhear an amusing conversation at the gym this weekend, in which one state worker said to the other: "Can I get in now to work on Richardson's next campaign? I need a better job."
Richardson seems to permeate any political conversation I have lately. Another person asked me today if I thought they should bother running within the party for the central committee, or if they would just end up doing Richardson's bidding and nothing they actually cared about. It's an interesting exercise, or study I guess, in power. He's got it and everybody knows it. Meanwhile, the Sunday New Mex was filled with angry letters about John Grubesic and Phil Griego (two names I might not have thought to see together). The truth is, anyone can recover from just about any political embarassment if they spin it right. That's why Matt is still on the council, Fran is still behind the bench and Howard Dean is in charge of the Dems, such as they are. Personally, I don't care all that much about people's mistakes, if they apologize, are forthright, try to improve and didn't commit any conflict of interest acts involving money in the process. Still, I find it slightly odd that people have, apparently, such high expectations for their elected officials, despite little, if any, proof that such expectations are warranted. And it's always about these types of issues, never about political or issue issues, that get people riled up. Kind of like The American President... except less, um, romantic.
OK, I am going to return to slogging through a week's worth of papers for 7 Days, editing Annual Manual copy and trying, as hard as possible, to not rub my burning eyes. Will attempt to blog more interestingly tomorrow.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

opinion versus fact

In the beginning I was a huge fan of The Public Editor's Column in The New York Times. Of late, though, I find myself dissatisfied as well as frequently confused by it. In theory, I believe, the column is supposed to serve an ombudsman role, answering questions, criticisms and concerns from readers about the paper (although the two questions I've sent Daniel Okrent were ignored but whatever, that's not actually the reason I've become critical). Rather, the column has delved into journalistic issues several times—anonymous sources, the use of statistics and, today, news versus opinion. These journalistic queries made me, at first, like the column even more. As a journalist, I found the topics interesting although Okrent's reasoning and writing I often find confusing and at odds with my own understanding of things. Now, granted, my own understanding may be limited but it still strikes me as problematic if a working journalist can't understand the journalistic reasoning, how is someone without that background (12 plus years of working as a reporter/editor) going to make heads or tales of it.
Today's column sort of epitomizes the issue. Ostensibly, the column is about the need for delineation between fact and opinion in The NYT and points out, rightlly I suppose, that style demarkations are insufficient in some cases. OK. We all do this. SFR, as you may or may not have noticed, has little tags throughout the paper to tell the reader, should the reader not understand, that they are reading a column versus a news story, a news story versus a culture story, a culture story versus an editorial, etc., etc. I find these delineations slightly redundant and have never had to point them out to a confused person ("see, this is a column"), but perhaps our readers are smarter than The Times. Anyway, this is all well and good. But Okrent also goes on to say that those readers convinced the editorial pages at The Times have influence over the news section are mistaken because the editorial page editor and the executive editor NEVER DISCUSS the news or political issues. This, Okrent seems to imply, is standard operating procedure, and vitally important. I have to admit this information stopped me a bit in my tracks. Now, granted, SFR is neither a daily paper, nor The Times. And, it goes without saying, if the editorial editor and the executive editor here at SFR were not allowed to speak to one another about news items, it would be excessively problematic as it would basically mean I was not allowed to talk to myself—and God knows that would be a sacrifice. Beyond this, I wonder if this is the practice at The New Mex and if it explains, perhaps, why their editorials often seem to have no relationship to the news they've reported... Anyway, my point, really, is that I think Okrent should explain why such divisions are necessary. Are the editorial pages supposed to be informed not by the news that's reported but by some other operating principle guiding the op-ed pages. Or is it really that the reporters need to not be influenced by the opinions held by the paper when they report? If I can extrapolate from Okrent's column (and this is my main criticism of the column, that I find myself often having to extrapolate what Okrent's point is based on my own daily, semi-religious reading of The Times), his point seems to be that opinion and reporting need to be completely separate at all times. Now, of course, here at SFR, we don't consider ourselves the paper of record and we don't go around pretending we are people without opinions. That "objectivity" thing is practised in the technique of reporting. Everyone gets to say their piece and we don't put an opinion in the story itself. But everyone has an opinion. Reporters aren't robots, after all. And simply by making choices about what to report on (environmental issues, politics, etc,.) one is making a choice dictated by an inner compass, by interests, by obsessions, by knowledge.
But the real kicker of Okrent's column comes at the end where he offers, as far as I can tell, the first explanation yet put out by The Times for the move of Frank Rich (who, for the record, I think is the best newspaper columnist in America) and Okrent to the op-ed page. Okrent says that's where they more rightly belong and that is how the column ends. I find this flabergasting. Has Rich's culture column been moved because it's so often focused on the bridge between today's political realm and culture realm. Is the simple fact that Rich is clearly critical of the present administration the reason that his culture column no longer belongs in The Times' culture section. And, if so, what precipitated this decision? Obviously something must have happened to prompt these changes at The Times yet Okrent's column, which is focused on this exact issue, offers no insider view on the events that must have caused these changes. It's subterfuge posing as ombudsmanship and that, in my view, is worse than no insight at all.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Pilgrims, Hip Hop, Religious Fervor and a Dash of Tepid Resistance

A colleague just asked me if I thought it "bad" that she was happy Good Friday pilgrims were getting cold this morning as they walked to Chimayo. She said she found herself thinking, "that's what they get for being zealots." I told her I didn't know if it was "bad," but, certainly, not a great use of energy. I, personally, have nothing against religious zealots per se. I've interviewed people making that pilgrimage many times. I think whatever people need to make themselves happy, stronger, better people is fine, be it religion, pilates or good works. So be it. Just stay out of my business and don't tell me how to live, I'll stay out of your business and we can all do our part to try to make the world suck a little bit less. As philosophies go, it's neither original nor brilliant but it is, nonetheless, becoming a bit rarified.
I know I said I was going to lay off the morning TV news, but addictions are hard to break and, apparently, getting worked up over coffee and CNN is an addiction for me. All the segments this morning had religious overtones. At first, forgetting it was Good Friday/Easter weekend, I found this alarming. Once I remembered there was reason for all the religion in the news this morning I felt, um, well, no less alarmed actually. CNN showed the protesters in front of Terri Schiavo's hospice first. Now that is a heartbreaking story. I can fully understand her family not wanting to give up or let go or take the chance that their daughter is going to experience starving to death and then die when there's a possibility that wouldn't happen. And yes there is a possibility. There is, after all, always a chance anything can happen. But that doesn't excuse the interference by politicians and others. Perhaps their interest is
deontological but I doubt it. One thing I can say for sure, it's a pretty suck time to be an empiricist.
The second story was about the connections between religion and rap music, and cited Kanye West's
"Jesus Walks" as a prime example, and also interviewed Rev. Run [DMC] who, apparently, may end up with an MTV show that follows him and his congregation (presumably in Reality TV-style). The segment was, as TV news tends to be, somewhat lacking in context or useful insight, although I did enjoy it when the interviewer asked the MTV reporter if this meant that now "Jesus is cool."
Finally, I would like to draw y'all's attention to the tepid New Mex editorial about The Patriot Act. The editorial notes that an ad-hoc organization called Patriots to Restore Checks and Balances has formed and is trying to find some modest middle-ground changes to The Patriot Act and hope that by keeping it modest, they may be able to appeal to Bush and other right-wingers who are inclined to leave The Patriot Act as is. Thus, opines The New Mex, "New Mexicans and the rest of the nation should take heart in this approach to the recovery of basic freedoms."
Yes, New Mexicans and the rest of the nation, take heart in the fact that the ACLU and others are so desperate to repeal some of the most anti-constitutional measures of The Patriot Act that they will join forces with conservatives (the few that are constitutional conservatives, not just the religious kind) to try to repeal just a few things, like letting the government search libraries and tap phones and search houses without warrants). Let's compromise on freedom of speech, separation of Church and State. After all, it is heartening to know we might be able to get a little leeway on these things.
I know one shouldn't take anything for granted but you know what? We should be able to take those things for granted and there should be no need to compromise. They shouldn't have been passed in the first place.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Touring Bigots

Well, apparently, next month, Santa Fe will be host to a travelling delegation of crazed bigots from The Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas (still waiting for some reason, other than corn-fed boys and The Wizard of Oz to like the mid-west) who are most well-known for their hateful picketing of Matthew Shepard's funeral. The Anti-Defamation League has lots to say about this group who, SHOCKER, don't just hate gays, but plenty of other people as well.
So I've spent some time (probably too much) this morning surfing the net for info on this group, which has caused me to read quite a variety of texts on hate-group's sites and, quite frankly, it's really just too hateful and depressing for me to post about or re-print or go into. I really hope Santa Fe turns out in force when these people get here and make it clear that there is no place for this screed.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Do TV News People Care?

Not to be too sanctimonious, but watching the morning news, which I try to do most mornings, is pretty revolting. Here's the thing. I never believe, for even a second, that the "reporters" or whatever they are, actually care about anything they're talking about. I never even really believe they know what they're talking about. This morning, on CNN, Soledad O'Brien was interviewing the principal of the school in MN where the school shooting was and her, well, her interview technique was so lame. She jumped in with these "hard hitting" questions, that were inane, and the guy basically wouldn't answer, and it was as though she had no thoughts or ideas about how to draw him about, she just kept throwing these questions at him and when he'd say he didn't know, she'd say something else. I don't know. It just seemed really awful and, beyond that, totally uninforming.
The other thing I thought about this morning, watching the news, was this seemingly-endless trend toward "polls." How many Americanas think Terry Schiavo should be alive? How many think Congress is allowed to intervene? How many think Bush is mis-handling stuff? On the one hand, yes, it's good to know most people (by about 1 percent) don't really want Congress or the President intervening in things like this, but, on the other hand, what is the connection between doing those polls and journalism? How does it inform the journalism? Could the media, perhaps, find out that Americans barely understand why it's legally inappropriate for the exec. branch and Congress to do this and, thusly, explain it
My favorite story today was about Tom DeLay's speech to a conservative group recently, taped secretly by, I think, an organization that promotes the separation of State and Church (yes, there is allegedly such a concept), in which he talks about how Terry Schiavo's case has come from God to help conservatives make their case and then talks about how liberals are trying to take down religious people.
OK, on the local tip, a city water worker was caught with dope and whiskey; the price of gas has reached new highs (no shit, I almost fainted at the pump the other day) and good old W was here in NM yesterday stumping with John McCain on social security. According to an unbylined story in The New Mex the Democrats in NM's congressional delegation are not, as a result of the visit, going to change their minds about social security. Which, if I may be so bold as to assert, is pretty obvious and could have been said before Bush even got here. Politicians don't change their minds about partisan issues as a result of "town halls" which are, for the most part, PR events, not actual examples of civic dialogue for God's sakes. In a way, it would be great if politicians did change their minds more often. Oh, who am I kidding? It would be great to just see evidence that some of them had minds to change.
Hmm. Speaking of not changing one's mind, the City's Public Safety Committee is not, apparently, inclined to change the city's ban on cell phone use while driving. I'm not sure I've ever seen a law observed less in my life. Everyone talks on their freaking cell phone while driving. I've seen lawmakers do it. I've seen cops do it and, yes my friends, on occasion I've done it myself, although I try to just put the phone on speaker and have it in my lap. Look, you don't need both hands to drive an automatic car. That's part of the allure. You can smoke a cigarette, you can drink a soda, you can hold a phone. It'stotally arbitrary
Well, I guess I'm not in a super-great mood this morning. Maybe I should stop watching TV news first thing in the morning and start meditating instead. (Just had to check and make sure I'd written "meditating" and not "medicating."

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

How Progressives Fared at the Legislature

I'm actually not ready to answer that question until I review the bills that passed more intensively and see what the governor does on April 8 (deadline to sign passed bills), but perfunctorily (sp?), here's my take.

Election Reform
Paper trails, whether you think they are necessary or not, can't hurt the public's faith in the system, nor can further uniformity statewide for elections. But, in my opinion, without Same Day Registration—which didn't pass—you're still not doing everything you can to promote participation.

OK, animals aren't necessarily a progressive issue per se, but, still. Glad the racist dog bills didn't pass (that's how I think of the bills that ban specific breeds). A dangerous dog bill did pass. I still think a bill to regulate dangerous owners of dogs would be better. A bill to require antifreeze to have a bittering agent so dogs don't drink it passed (it's very poisonous). Sadly, though, a ban on cockfighting went nowhere, so we're still one of two states with this "sport" made legal.

Human Rights
The much-discussed Defense of Marriage Act bill died in the House—thank God. Sadly, the bill to repeal the Death Penalty also died. What's the French expression? La plus ca change, la plus ca meme? Um, yeah, in English, basically things are the same.

Lowered the age for concealed weapons from 25 to 21 (which, I hope, will shame some lawmakers given the horrible killing in the high school this week in MN. Why do we need to let younger people carry concealed weapons? On the bright side, minors will not be required to tell their parents before they have an abortion.

The domestic well bill failed AGAIN. I have to say, maybe it's time to get some new lobbyists on this one, folks. The energy bill passed, but I'm still not sure what I think of it. Ostensibly it makes it easier for power companies to use renewables, but I'm suspicious of it. Possibly just because I'm suspicious.

Other Things I Find Ridiculous
The designation of the hot air balloon as the state aircraft.
The creation of a State Coin Commission
The inability to pass a law not allowing DWI convicts to drive state vehicles
That the House voted against a law that would have allowed people to know the retail price of their prescriptions (nice try Peter Wirth)

Actually, it's quite amazing to look at just how many laws don't go anywhere. It's basically, from what I can tell, no-brainers make it through, controversial topics take years and years of re-hearing and only finally pass when the governor throws his support behind them, and, basically, everyone is there to get the $ to take home, but knows damn well that their attempts to actually change law are going to, mostly, go nowhere.

OK, maybe that's a little harsh. Or maybe it isn't. But, as far as progressive laws go, there wasn't anything to write home about really.

Overwhelmed by the News

I wonder today, as I read The New York Times' story on the Minnesota school killing what can be learned from events such as these. This is the worst killing since The Columbine one and, for me, it is the type of news event that creates, more than anything, confusion. I think part of it is just the difficulty in understanding. When you think about the news, there are many different kinds of news stories, as well as many different ways of presenting them. When one is reporting on, say, a story about legislation, one looks for a story within the story. So, if the story is about whether or not the Legislature will pass a medical marijuana bill (they didn't), one looks for a person who would be impacted by such a law—typically someone who needs or uses marijuana for medical purposes. Then one goes on to explain the bill. So the idea is that, as a journalist, one is looking for a person to humanize a story about a law. In the reportage of the Terry Schiavo story, the "character" doesn't need to be looked for, obviously, and many of the stories are focusing, not just on her and her family, but also in what Congress is doing and the legal ramifications. In a story like a school killing, though, I think, from a journalistic perspective, it's difficult to know what one is looking for. Perhaps because we've all been adolescents, yet the experience of being a teenager who decides to go on a killing spree is decidedly abject. One can look for social causes, I suppose, but do social causes really explain, really elucidate, what can only be considered insane behavior? The Times focused, a bit, on the fact that this took place on a reservation and quoted AIM leaders as being surprised, somewhat, to see such a thing on an Indian reservation, noting that it was the type of event more expected at "white" schools. I have no idea if that's true or not and, if so, I'm not sure what that would mean. I'm not sure one can ever find reasonable explanations for these things, but I am curious to see how the media—nationally—will approach this story. Can anything be learned when inexplicable crimes happen again and again, or do we just accept that now, in this day and age, these kinds of things happen? Kids decide to off half a dozen people, their grandparents and themselves?

Monday, March 21, 2005

If computer disks disappear and no one is there to see them do they exist?

Am having the Monday From Hell, being very far behind and exhausted due to insomnia. Nonetheless, have to stop and comment, again, on the flap last summer over the "missing" computer discs at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Have already made fun of this in 7 days, but Saturday's Journal North carried an AP story out of DC in which members of Congress learned that it cost $367 million to close the lab last summer.
"Lab officials virtually shut down the facility last July after reports that two classified computer disks had disappeared. An investigation later determined they never existed."
Some parts of the lab didn't re-open until last month!
I find this story continues to amaze me. Did they reallly not exist? What was allegedly on the non-existent disks that was considered so important they had to shut the lab down? How do you determine something doesn't exist anyway? Isn't that proving a negative and isn't that supposed to be impossible?

Friday, March 18, 2005

Drugs in the News

Am frazzled from being behind on a million things for next week's paper, the week after that and, my favorite, Annual Manual, so I'll keep this brief. I have been struck, lately, by how much drug-news there is in the news. Here's today's Journal as a case in point:

There were 54 federal indictuments for everything from cash smuggling to drug trafficking, after a nine-month investigation of a drug pipeline from Mexico to Española.

The County's remodel of a section of the juvie jail into an adolescent treatment facility is going to cost an extra $450,000, due to problems with construction because of the jail's inpenetrable walls. Yeah, that sounds more like due to the greed of the firm doing the work.

Albuquerque police busted six people in the Marriott there who were smoking meth and making fake checks (god, there's just so much more to do in Albuquerque)

Meanwhile, in the New Mex, the medical marijuana bill is stalled out on the House floor, caught in a political maneuvering that, it sounds like, is bullshit. I can't believe it made it this far and the governor said he would sign it.

I guess that's not that much drug news, but it jumped out at me nonetheless.

OK, must go find someone to interview.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Lying Is Not Illegal

According to a brief in today's New Mex, State Sen. John Grubesic, D-Santa Fe, didn't break the law when he lied to the NM State Police about his car accident, nor was it illegal for him to leave the scene of the crime because there were no injuries associated with the wreck. It is, apparently, illegal to lie to federal law enforcement, but not local or state police (bets on whether or not a law is introduced in the next session making it illegal to lie to any law enforcement agent). I actually had a conversation with someone in Whole Foods yesterday about this very topic in which I opined that I found it more than likely I would lie to a cop if I was nervous about something I'd done, it was 2 am and I'd just flipped my car over. I'm not saying that makes it right, just human nature, plus some of us get nervous around the police, what with their absolute power and guns and all. At any rate, I find it vaguely interesting to contemplate what it would be like if it were just illegal to lie in general. Would that include lying to oneself or would that still be OK? Doesn't the Constitution afford us the right to lie to ourselves and to others?
OK, enough of that.
The big, sad news of the day is the US Senate's approval to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. This is land that has been protected for more than 40 years. It is home to millions of migrating birds, as well as 45 species including polar bears, caribou, foxes, wolverines, snow geese. It's really just terrible to imagine the devastation to these animals and all the natural beauty there. And it's also just heartbreaking how, no matter how much time goes, these fights all take on the same patterns. Jobs versus the Environment. Back in the '60s, from what I've read, this is how the government kept people divided, by creating division between what was seen as the right thing to do versus what was needed for workers. It's how the government keeps people fighting among themselves, by making it seem as though the environment is an elitist value versus "work," an American value. And it's all bullshit, in my unstudied opinion. And sad to think of destroying something that's been preserved and unsoiled all this time. Well, it's apparently not too late to try to keep fighting this thing, although lately I wonder if it's too late to bother fighting any of these things. I love the good fight as much as the rest, but between civil rights, freedom of speech and environmental protection, this administration seems to be making quick and short work of showing who is boss. And on that cheerful note! You can find out more about saving the Arctic wilderness here.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Good Morning Weather

Kita in the Snow
Kita in the Snow,
originally uploaded by votergirl.
Yes, that's my oldest dog, Kita, looking out at the backyard, from my porch, this morning. Yesterday, one of our reporters here said a good thing about not being a daily paper is not having to run around writing "weather" stories. But I disagree. Weather is so interesting and for dogs, weather is the morning news. Now, if the dogs had any memory whatsoever, this morning's snow might not have taken them by surprise (Nero is not pictured because he took one look at the weather and went back inside and back to bed. Very lazy) as they were taken for a walk in it yesterday when I got home from work. Walk, though, might be a slight mistatement as we didn't get very far. Kita kept sinking and, finally, gave up and just lay down for most of the walk.
OK, enough about the weather.
Morning headlines:
New Mex: Storm Slams Region
Journal North: Winter Hangs On
Santa Fe Reporter: Spring Guide 2005

Hmm. Guess we're a little out of step. But, ya know, this is spring weather around here. A little sun, a little snow or, well, a lot of snow.
The city's gross receipts tax for water passed, albeit with only 4 percent turnout. Quoted in the Journal, Mayor Larry Delgado speculated: "I'm not sure if it was apathy or just people busy with their lives."
Or, possibly, the freaking blizzard.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Outside My Window

Outside My Window
Outside My Window,
originally uploaded by votergirl.
No, I'm not in jail (not exactly, anyway). This is the view from my window at The Reporter at the moment. That building behind the bush with all the snow is The New Mexican. The snow is falling more lightly but still it falls.

Hello Blizzard

originally uploaded by votergirl.
Last night I turned off the lights in my home office (also known as The Room With Too Many Books) and spent quite a while staring out the window as the snow gathered on the pine trees in my front yard. And gathered, and gathered, and gathered...
This morning's drive into work was treacherous and, yet, strangely exciting. Let's face it, this is one major storm we're having and, like all major news events, it has its downsides (were any of the streets plowed this morning? Even a little bit) and its benefits: natural beauty, for one, and that slight adrenelin rush one gets when encountering extreme situations).
A few calls this morning from people wondering if we were here. Yes, we're not just here, we're on deadline. The press never sleeps! OK, truth be told, I kind of like the sense of mission and urgency that comes when one is putting out a paper despite outside influences threatening the entire endeavor (Hello, drama queen much). Like 9.11, although this blizzard is signficantly less intense than that. But, you know, none of us really questioned getting here. The only ones missing right now are the Madrid residents, and even I might not have braved HWY 14 this morning.
The sad news is I had to cancel going to the governor's tonight for the dinner with Al Franken. I was quite looking forward to it but, really, the idea of going home down Agua Fria to let the dogs out and then coming back into town and heading up Bishop's Lodge Road only to turn around at 9 or 10 pm and return home, while it was still snowing, seemed, um, a little much. A lot much. I'm adventurous, but I'm not a total lunatic. Also, my car really sucks in this weather.
OK, enough about the weather. Looking forward to seeing how the blizzard (oh wait, still talking about the weather) affects today's city election. Turn-out already was predicted to be low. I'm thinking it's going to be really, really bad.
The governor is threatening a special section if he doesn't get tax cuts, preK and other program funding. Damn, I really wanted to go tonight. OK, it's fine, calm down. It's supposed to snow for another 24 hours straight! Jesus, I'm still talking about the weather. Well, that's all anyone is talking about, right?

Monday, March 14, 2005

The Journal's Suggestions for John

I'm a little surprised that the Journal North thinks John Grubesic should…ok, wait, what is it they want him to do?
According to the Sunday edition's editorial hedline, they think "Grubesic Should Consider Quitting." (And as a side note, the tax vote on Tuesday got three paragraphs; Grubesic got about 12.
Now, I didn't spare a whole lot of ink to the city's water election either. What is there to say? No one wants to raise taxes and there is probably no one who has much faith in the city's ability to govern or manage much of anything. Nonetheless, we need water, water cost money and gross receipts' taxes at least come out of everyones' pockets, not just residents. It will, hopefully, mitigate increases to the water bills down the line.
But the Grubesic editorial I find very odd.
First off, it's not an editorial that says "John, Resign." Its point, I think, is found in the final sentences:

"As a citizen and, incidentally, as an officer of the court, Grubesic got this one dead wrong. We think he should consider resigning."

There are two things to think about here. First off, as citizens, most of us get shit wrong on a constant basis. It's barely 2 pm and at bare minimum, I'm pretty sure I speeded on the way to work, ran a yellow light and probably failed to adequately take into account the snowy roads by observing caution or, at least, wiping off my windshield. Based on my observations, my fellow citizens, on a daily basis, break any number of laws. We talk on our cell phones while driving, ignore pedestrians, switch lanes without using turn signals. I'm sure some of us get in the car when we've had a drink or two over the course of the evening (I don't do this, but I am a horrible lightweight) and maybe we shouldn't.
Should lawmakers be above the law? That would be fantastic. I've yet to see any evidence of it happening, but it sounds like a swell plan to me.
Should Grubesic consider resigning because he's an officer of the court? If he's violated his duties as an officer of the court, then he should resign from being a lawyer.
But, as far as I know, there are no ethical standards that govern the mess Grubesic has gotten himself into.
So should he consider resigning?
Sure, he should consider a variety of things: an exclusive interview with SFR on the entire situation; psychotherapy; a public apology with 50 hours of donated community service. I don't know.
But, I'll tell ya, given the growing conservatism in our elected officials, I'd just as soon hold onto a guy who barely has taken office but, thus far, seems to be on the left of the middle-left where most of our elected officials sit.
Resign? OK, that's one way to make it clear you've screwed up, you're sorry and you realize the ramifications of what you've done. It will be a wasted sign, because someone else will just come along and take the seat. Maybe someone better. Maybe someone much, much worse.
There are many other ways Grubesic can set about mending this right. What if this is something that will never happen again? Even remotely? What if there are years of good public service left in the guy?
I don't know the answers. I don't live in John Grubesic's head (Being John Grubesic?). But he does. He should be asking himself those questions. I'm guessing he already is.

In like a Lion

It's Snowing in Santa Fe this morning. From the looks of it, it snowed all night. What do you get when you have three days of 60-degree weather with lots of blue skies and sunshine, followed by cold grey mornings with several inches of snow on the windshield? March in Santa Fe, of course.
Lambda Legal, a national organization working on equal civil rights for the GBLT community, is hosting a rally this morning, from 9:30 am on, at The Roundhouse, to protest SB 597. So put on your mittens, civil-rights' kittens—and get on over there. I wish I could go! Alas, we are in the midst of trying to meet Press Deadline Numero Uno for Spring Guide (your guide to dressing for a season with 40-degree temperature variations).
Also, must catch up on weekend newspapers and listen to the eight (insert sigh here) messages on the phone. More soon.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

And the Weekend Draws to a Close

Well, here at work on a Sunday afternoon, watching our beautiful spring weather sucked away into another cold, wet day, wishing, dreaming of summer and also, wishing, dreaming I wasn't wearing sandals!
Friday night's Human Rights Alliance banquet was both fun and informative.
The key note speaker at the event was Evan Wolfson, Executive Director of Freedom to Marry and author of Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality and Gay People’s Right to Marry. He really put the battle over same-sex marriages into the historical context of civil rights' battles of yore in a way I think was extremely important.
The Reporter was honored, as were artists/activists Roger Montoya and Diane Reyna.
I spoke for a few minutes although, as per usual, I can't quite recall what I said. I have a nerve-wracking habit, when I have public speaking to do, of just letting thoughts and ideas gell in my head and bank on all of it forming sentences that reach my mouth once the microphone is in hand. I think I did OK. All I really wanted to say is that SFR supports issues important to the GLBT community not because they are, per se, gay issues but because I, too, believe this is the civil rights battle of our time and I want myself, and the paper, to be on record as being on the side of equal rights for all.
Hmm. Anyway.
Henry Rollins, then, on Saturday night, a 21/2 hour "performance" reminiscent of Spalding Gray, perhaps, in that it was a monologue with many sidebars and political rants but, I thought, engaging and artfully rendered. Also, frankly, a relief in these times of ours to hear someone speak frankly and rawly of anger at the government. Rollins was less charming when he spoke of women but I can't remember the last time I heard any man speak of women in a particularly endearing manner, so perhaps it's me. (sidenote: it isn't).
Then, the SITE party at The Paramount, headlined by DJ Jay-J. The big knock-out, I thought, was Latrice Barnett, an amazing singer I hope to hear again. Also enjoyed the set by locals Ray Charles Ives.
More thoughts tomorrow on these topics (maybe) and oh so much more. Now, it's out into the cold and then Whole Foods to buy coffee. I had none when I awoke this morning and that was not a nice way to begin Sunday morning!

Friday, March 11, 2005

The Rest of the Testimony

Equality New Mexico has posted the testimony of lawmakers against the DOMA and it's worth reading. Particularly Phil Griego's, which was very moving.

Grubesic and Why His Accident Doesn't Matter

I'm not saying public officials should get a free pass if they screw up. They shouldn't and, lots of times, they don't. But I would like to print the Santa Fe Senator's testimony during the Defense of Marriage Act hearing and say that if I had a choice between a senator who says what he said but lied to the cops after he tipped his car and a senator who never had a car accident and freaked out but supports bills like the DOMA, I'm gonna take the first.


"This bill is only four lines.  Four lines of fear, four lines of hate, four lines of mistrust, four lines of dissension,  four lines of segregation, four lines of telling a group of people, “You're different than us."   I can’t support doing this to individuals.   This bill is designed to hurt people.   That’s what this bill does.   I have loving, kind, loyal gay friends.   This bill foists more hatred, brings fear, it’s a waster of time.   We tear each other apart.   As a people, we love wars not reconciliation.   We are singling out a group of people for exclusion, and that’s wrong.   We all know this bill is designed to hurt people and nothing else.  I don't want to be a party to hurting people and telling them 'You're beneath us.'"

Die Juniper, Die!

I don't think of myself as a hater, but I feel no love for the Juniper plant. It is the reason my head is about to explode, my temper is short, my eyes are burning and my right ear feels as though it's detached from my body. Freaking allergies.
I am one of those many people who never had allergies until a few years ago, and there are some real downsides to suddenly having allergies. First off, you don't know how to treat them because you aren't used to them and then everyone and their brother recommends things so you end up spending tons of money on crap that may or may not work or may work once but not the next time or may make you unable to sleep one time and knock you out the next time. Ugh!
OK, onto more exciting topics...
sorry, I dozed off there.
Tonight is the Human Rights Alliance banquet where SFR, amongst others, will receive an award for our support of the HRA community. I am, ostensibly, supposed to make some remarks and should, ostensibly, be working on those remarks right now. Those remarks, if my mood doesn't improve, may consist of my lambasting all public officials and calling upon everyone to right the capitol. Oh, I guess inciting riots is illegal, eh?
Then, tomorrow night, I will check out Henry Rollins and see if he's got anything to say (ha! Of course he does). Then head to The Paramount for the Young SITE SF party, of which SFR is a co-sponsor. Tuesday I have been invited to the governor's mansion for a dinner with Al Franken. Yes, I know, exciting! And odd, frankly. I'm more interested in having a word with the governor about this bloody DOMA bullshit, but I guess I'll try to not cause a scene at dinner (unless that would keep me from being invited back, that is). Oh, so adolescent despite my advancing years.
On the Grubesic front, the news gets more and more weird and the headlines continue to take different approaches.

Friday, March 11, here's the SF New Mex hedline:

Reports shed light on Grubesic wreck

And The Journal:

Report Shows Grubesic Lied to Cops

Now, while the new mex's hedline is softer, its subhed is: A night of scotch and sore feelings ended with a rolled SUV, two guns and conflicting versions of what occurred

while The Journal's was: Senator Denied He Was Driver

The entire incident is, well, discouraging, but I have to admit the part I like best is that the people Grubesic was hanging out with, before he rolled his gun-laden car, said he didn't seem drunk, just upset that his bill to ban smoking in restaurants hadn't passed.
Everything always gets blamed on smokers.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005


I'm so aggravated right now I can't even really articulate the plethora of emotions and thoughts running through my head —and running through the conversations at SFR right now—about the DOMA bill that passed the state senate this afternoon. What really blows my mind is that the state supposedly is modeling its economic development plan on Richard Florida's Rise of the Creative Class but seems happily oblivious to the fact that areas that aren't gay-friendly don't have strong economies because people with money and ideas DON'T WANT TO LIVE IN THOSE PLACES.
And that ain't even the tip of the iceberg, not to mention civil rights. Call in to the governor's office to find out if he plans to sign this thing if it makes it through the House. In the meantime, here's the crowing press release from the Republicans:

Senate Bill 597 - Definition of Marriage Passed 25-12
Santa Fe-  Families in New Mexico are in trouble but now there is hope that they can be strengthen as their foundation is defined in a  bill that passed the New Mexico State Senate today.  The Definition of Marriage bill, sponsored by State Senator Bill Sharer,  passed  25-12 after over two and a half hours of debate.
"Marriage is the foundation of our families and families are what have made our society great. Now that marriage is clearly defined in law as between a man and a woman, we can once again start re-building on that foundation and start strengthening  our families," Senator Sharer said.
Senator  Bill Sharer  said the intent of the bill is to strengthen the foundation of families for generations to come. 
"Our foundation of marriage has been broken and we have chipped away at it for decades. Now there is hope we can put our families back together.  The bill that passed today is one of various family- strengthening bills in the Senate.
"It is clear, simple and straightforward," Senator  Sharer said.  "My bill defines marriage in New Mexico as being between a man and a woman."
Senator Sharer said current law simply states marriage is a civil contract between people capable of making a contract.  He wants to make certain the people are a man and a woman.
"I want to define marriage in law as it has been defined by society for thousands of years.  This has nothing to do with denying anyone any rights.  It is solely recognizing what marriage is and has always been in our society," Senator Sharer said.  "Lately,  people  seem to be confused about what marriage is."
The Definition of Marriage bill now goes to the House for consideration. But Senator Sharer fears that time is running out for the bill to be heard in House committees and then passed on the House floor.
"Time is now an issue to make this bill through the system," Senator Sharer said. "There are less than ten days to go.  For the sake of our families and for generations to come, I hope the bill will make it through its committee assignments because I believe it will be passed once it hits the House floor."

Banning Rap

Today's morning news shows included interviews with the Rev. Al Sharpton over his proposed ban of hip hop artists who engage in violent behavior. It's all over the web, but check out the story on MSNBC, which is particularly amusing as the banner ad to the right, at least a moment ago, was for 50 Cent's new album. Guess MSNBC won't be participating in any bans.
Although Sharpton isn't singling out 50 Cent, whose new album, "The Massacre" comes out next week and is expected to debut high on the charts, it's believed Sharpton's call to ban rappers from radio stations for 90 days if they participate in violence, was prompted by a shooting at a radio station last week of one of the colleagues of The Game, after 50 Cent and The Game had a dispute. The MSNBC also details some other rappers' current alleged criminal activities, including 'Lil Kim's trial for perjury and conspiracy ("I'm the one that put the Range in the Rover!").
Sharpton's best line, this morning, was comparing the lack of censor of rap artists with the huge flap over Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction." Of course, as a society, we do tend to go more apeshit over sex than violence. One of the pundits this morning speculated over whether or not rappers fabricate these incidents to boost record sales and, later, Sharpton said he thought such things were possible and the goal was to let them know that violence could hurt their radio play so that they would think twice about pulling a gun. I'm not sure anyone ready to shoot someone would control themselves because it might keep a track off the radio for three months. After all, killing someone could put you in jail for the rest of your life, so clearly there's a self-destructive element at work the finer points of which Sharpton may not grasp. Hell, I probably don't grasp it neither. Actually, I have mixed feelings. I'm pretty against censorship of any kind and I think there is something wrong with Sharpton's analogy with sports figures who are kept off the court for engaging in certain behaviors. Regulating professional sports and regulating hip hop strike me as pretty disparate undertakings and regulating art at all doesn't sit too well. Of course, Sharpton's correct that, in an ideal world, people wouldn't make more money as a result of criminal acts, but maybe we could start with our elected officials' behavior and then move on to hip hop artists. Whatever the case, the one thing everyone seems to agree on is "The Massacre" isn't much of a follow-up to 50's first album but, my friends, I can not speak to that. I ain't heard it yet.
I'm off tomorrow, so this ends my blogging until Friday. If anyone out there is even READING! Despite my perpetual nagging, I can't seem to get any of my friends to visit, let alone bookmark, my cyber-ramblings. Which should be very freeing but instead I feel like that tree falling in the forest, pretty sure I am making noise and yet, and yet, no one can hear me!

Discrepency, Disception or Just Plain Idiocy?

originally uploaded by votergirl.
As a writer of headlines (with a tendency toward bad puns and random hip hop references), there is nothing I like more than reading the daily papers' headlines and pondering them (and occasionally making fun of them to my co-workers who, first thing in the morning, usually look as though they wish I would be a little less, um, loud).
So, here's how The Santa Fe New Mexican played its top story today:

"Grubesic admits discrepancy in statement"

Here's how The Journal North played it:

"Grubesic Admits Deception"

Now admitting a discrepancy and admitting deception are, in my little brain, quite different things. A discrepency is an inconsistency. Deception is duplicitous by nature—and pejorative for it implies nefariousness.
So what did John do?
Well, he apparently flipped his SUV and then lied to police about it when questioned and then later admitted he'd been driving but said he hadn't lied in the initial interview and, now admits he probably wasn't forthcoming because he got nervous, and put his lawyer and state senator hats on. He continues to maintain he wasn't drunk, although he'd had two drinks earlier in the evening. Just nervous.
One thing I still don't understand from the Journal Story is why Grubesic's wife was at the scene of the wreck but he wasn't.
I also don't understand, from the AP story carried by The New Mex, why the governor made a point of saying Grubesic shouldn't get special treatment. Like having Roman Maes read him his rights?
I have to admit I'm having a hard time getting too worked up about Grubesic's incident. I think it is, as he admits, more about stupidity than anything else, and at least he came back and said "hey, I was worried about my career, I panicked, I was an idiot, I'm going to make it up to people," (I'm paraphrasing) instead of some possible alternative stance in which he refused to admit wrongdoing or even his motives in wrongdoing.
After all, no one is really expecting (are they?) politicians to be perfect, just wishing, sometimes, they wouldn't all be such liars.
Then again, it's a tad early in Grubesic's career to have an overturned car in the middle of the night, false police statements and a public lambasting.
Shape up!

Handmaid's Tale

It was tempting to title this week's cover story about Christian programs in New Mexico's womens' prison after Margaret Atwood's famously dystopic novel, but I wasn't sure the allusion would mean something to everyone, nor does it quite fit. At any rate, everyone should read writer Silja JA Talvi's piece this week, which focuses on this trend of private prisons contracting with fundamentalist Christian groups to help rehab (aka convert) prisoners. And then everyone should read Atwood's Handmaid's Tale. And then everyone should panic. Back soon with more good cheer!

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Random Thoughts

My email is, occasionally, very amusing. At least to me. For example:

Hi Julia,

 I read your recent interview with Noam Chomsky and wanted to contact you to let you know that Vonage, The Broadband Phone Company, is a revolutionary and cost saving tool for your readers.  A few quick questions before you tell me that your readers are not into something “techy” like this:
· Do they have phones?
·  Do they know how to dial a phone number?
·  Do they make local or long distance phone calls?
·    Do they get overpriced phone bills?
·  Can they plug one thing into another?

I have to wonder if Christie from Nike Communications, Inc. actually did read my Noam Chomsky interview, as there doesn't seem to be, to me, anything in that to inspire anyone to think I want to write an article on telephone service, or whatever it is she's selling. Now, if you would like to read my Noam Chomsky interview, you can find it at:Chomsky's website and do please tell me if it makes you become interested in a new telephone service.

In other random thoughts, I just went outside for a few moments to soak up the sunshine (and, yes, smoke a cigarette. I know, I'm disgusting) and wondered, as I do quite often, WHY there are so many cars driving all around Santa Fe all day long. Where are people going? What are they doing? And must they speed so rapidly down Marcy Street while they go wherever it is they are going? There are small people trying to cross the street, after all.
OK, back to getting the paper out!

Hypocrisy or Is It Me?

I accept that relationships are based on compromise (or I accept it in theory. Hello, single?). I accept that work requires compromise—sometimes a mind-numbing amount. And I should, being the cynical journalist I'm supposed to be, accept that politics is based on compromise. But at what point does compromise just become hypocrisy?
What am I yammering about now? Well, I'm still chewing over the condemning of the gay-bashing of Santa Fean James Maestas with the progression of the Defense of Marriage Act in the state House. I am, once again, reviewing my irritation that John Kerry and John Edwards had to proclaim, repeatedly, their belief that marriage is between a man and a woman in order to get elected (or not, as the case may be). I am trying to decide if I am just loco or if, indeed, it's hypocritical to say, on the one hand, hate crimes are wrong and then, on the other, support the denial of civil rights for the same group under attack.
Here's how my thought process is working. Attitudes in society have to come from somewhere. Bigotry, hatred etc., exist. There's no point in denying it and chances are it's not going to be eradicated anytime soon. But how it plays out in society, how en masse these feelings are allowed to become DOES depend, in large part, about how society, as a whole, treats them. Making any sign of discrimination, of inequality, legal gives license to hatred. (Hello, Rwanda?). Locking down all signs of inequality starts to send a message to society that it's not OK to run around calling people names, evicting them, denying them health insurance, beating the shit out of them.
Why is it OK for leaders to say they don't support gay marriage but they're horrified by a gay bashing? What did John Steinbeck say? Either everything matters or nothing does? (Actually he said that in The Log from the Sea of Cortez and I think he was talking about nature so maybe that's not the best reference point).
All of this stuff is driving me bonkers lately because it just seems so…unacceptable. This is the last bastion of civil rights—yet how hopeless things seem right now with religious fanatics taking over every sector of society (check out SFR's cover story tomorrow). It's The Handmaid's Tale sprung to life. Or, as a local nonprofit director said to me at the gym the other night, "it's a very grim time." Grim indeed. A time to compromise? Or a time to fight even harder?

Monday, March 07, 2005

Good Morning Monday

Bleg! Blag! Blech! For some reason I always enjoy my Sunday time at work (so quiet, so peaceful), but Monday mornings make me feel a little ADD. I hope I haven't caught misanthropy—that would be highly inconvenient in my line of work. I will say that it sucks, so to speak, to wake up to a beautiful sunny day when one will spend the day in a poorly ventilated office, when the whole weekend was gray and cold and seemed only to beckon, "Don't leave the house! Watch videos. Be a vegetable!". Well, I always leave the house, but it was one of the more quiet weekends in a while. Dinner, pool, dinner pool, gym, gym, gym. Hey, I'm like a spoken-word poet man. Or maybe not. Whatever the case, stop the freakin' presses: all my AG jeans are covered in mud from walking the dogs.
OK, peeps, consider that first graph a shout-out, aka acknowledgement, to those of you who said you missed my personal style of writing. How ya like me now?
So, my call for blogs has resulted in a few responses and I appreciate it. My former college pal turned permaculturist Nate Downey dropped me a line with his link (see it under my links), the library let me know they were out there blogging away (yet one more reason to love the downtown library) and an interesting blog named Whirledview was brought to my attention (see the link in my list, as well. I'm too groggy right now to html link. I have only had one cup of coffee today. I am trying to stop drinking so much coffee and see if I can still function). Anyhow, Whirledview is written by Patricia Kushlis, Cheryl Rofer and Patricia Lee Sharpe and focuses on a variety of topics, including biology, world news, LANL, the arts etc. So check it out, pronto.
Alrightey then. The gray skies meant that by the time I got up and out yesterday all my usual spots for snaggin' the Sunday Times were sold out (grr, arr), so now I have to go online and read it (so not the same). Then I am going to get caught up on the weekend papers. So I'll be back later. Hopefully.
In the meantime, ponder, if you will, Al Sharpton's proposal that rapsters who get violent should be banned from the radio for 60 days. And no TV after dinner! Seriously, abstract that proposal and you've got a corporation (since most hip hop these days is played on big corporate radio) attempting to control public behavior and thought in a punitive manner.
On the other hand, anything that gets Candy Shop less radio play is AOK with me. That song bites.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Taking Politics out of the PRC

I am super-amused, in a cynical journalist's way, about a press release that just came in from the Republicans at the Roundhouse about Senate Bill 947 titled PRC Professional Staff Standards.
Journalists, over the years, sometimes become well-versed in the histories of odd things and, for me, The Public Regulation Commission is one of those strange, under-the-radar topics I happen to know a little something about.
Once upon a time (in 1998, I believe) a legislator named Bob Perls (yes, the one who ran for the PRC last time around) decided it was time to do something about the highly politicized State Corporation Commission. At that time, utilities were either regulated by the SCC, an elected three-person body, or the Public Utilities Commission, an appointed body (which also had three people on it. I think). Perls pushed for, and got, a constitutional amendment put on the ballot that eliminated both entities and merged them. The scuttlebutt at the time was that the SCC was too political, with its commissioners too tied to the industries they regulated (Eric Serna and Jerome Block being, at the time, the commissioners in question).
I wrote a cover story back then with a focus on the fact that this was a terrible idea that wasn't going to solve any problems. As it happens, Block ended up getting elected to the new PRC, Serna is the Insurance Superintendent (and just had yet another public lambasting for alleged conflicts of interest), and now the Legislature is trying to deal with the fact that the PRC commissioners keep hiring and firing people for no apparent reason. Here's the quote from SB947's sponsor, Sen. Bill Payne, R-Bernalillo.

"The bill is an attempt to insulate the PRC professional staff from the continuous interpersonal and political conflicts among the elected commissioners which have negatively impacted the morale and ability of the staff to provide objective analysis to the commission," Senator Payne said.

And the description of the bill:
The bill would amend a Section  of the Public Regulation Commission Act to explicitly state that the Commission may only remove its Chief of Staff and General Council for cause.  The Chief of Staff will also be required to  have  significant administrative, budgetary and regulatory experience and expertise and shall be appointed solely based on qualifications to perform the duties of the position and without reference to political party affiliation.  The bill also states that the Chief of Staff may remove a Division Director only for cause and that Division Directors shall be appointed solely on qualifications to perform the duties of the position.

Now, I have it on good authority that Gov. Bill Richardson might be in favor of just making the PRC an elected body, which I'm sure would raise some eyebrows and ire as it might seem that Richardson just wanted to appoint friends and supporters. It's also, generally, believed that appointed positions cause a reduction in democracy. I will say, though, that the PUC, which was appointed, never had near the rancor and politicism that the SCC and PRC have engendered. On the other hand, perhaps part of being in a democracy is accepting the fact that people will keep electing who they elect until they start to connect the decisions those elected officials make with their own quality of life.
Interestingly enough, the PRC is the one consistent race in which SFR's endorsements seem to carry no weight, nor have the other papers if I remember correctly.
To learn more about the PRC, check out: its website

It's About Time

originally uploaded by votergirl.
At 10 am, according to the daily papers, City Councilor David Pfeffer will switch political parties and let his inner Republican out of the most transparent closet I've ever seen. Actually, I had a phone message from Pfeffer this morning (left yesterday actually, but I cut out of here a little early to go home and have an allergy attack).
Pfeffer's conservatism is Santa Fe's least-kept secret. On a city council where even the fiscal conservatives are social liberals, Pfeffer has been the lone wolf, or Odd Man Out as we called him back in April, 2003.
Yes, it's true, we endorsed him when he ran for office. My personal opinion, which is basically an armchair psychologist's view of Pfeffer, is that he was basically a typical Santa Fe liberal until 9.11 and, subsequently, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Pfeffer is a Vietnam Vet and it's my view that the schism that has taken place in this country over war is well personified by Pfeffer's own seeming "break" with his old political persona and his new one.
I don't agree with his views (any of them, as far as I can tell), but I do have a certain respect for someone willing to take the kind of political heat he's taken for voicing them. For example, a Q & A interview I did with him after the election brought a world of criticism on his head (although mostly because a confusing quote in it led people to believe he was anti-Semitic (which was not my interpretation but, in retrospect, I was able to see what people were reacting to).
At any rate, Pfeffer's switch from Dem to the GOP isn't likely to change the political hemisphere in these parts, although it does mean there's a Republican on the Santa Fe City Council (that's gotta be if not unique then a very rare situation. I'll have to have a reporter find out when the last Republican sat on that council). I think Pfeffer's dramatic public announcement (press release, a press conference) is a little odd—after all political parties are theoretically private business and it's not like he's a US Senator), but there is the hint of megalomania in Pfeffer's actions sometimes. Or maybe this is the public's business. Well, I tend to think everything is the public's business. The question is: do they care?

Thursday, March 03, 2005

A Day in the Life

My favorite time of the workday is the morning, particularly when I get to work, as I did this morning, before anyone else. I have been pulling into an empty parking lot at The Santa Fe Reporter for many years now. I love the silence of the day before the office gets going. And I like my little journalistic routine. First, I read the daily papers then I start scanning the online headlines, checking out which NY Times articles were the ones most e-mailed ( a fascinating little feature that must be of great use to the editors), and then bopping around online from story to story, link to link, trying to see what's happening out there in the world.
Usually it's not very good news.
The big, and sad, story in Santa Fe this week is the gay bashing of 21-year-old James Maestas, who remains on life support according to today's daily papers
Every since I interviewed Noam Chomsky a few months back I've been trying to read other media with a slightly-more dissecting attitude because I was so fascinated by the way Chomsky broke down what seemed to me to be relatively benign news stories and found their biases, their lapses, their structural problems. Well, I'm no Noam Chomsky, but here are my reactions to the stories.
The New Mexican focused on Maestas' current condition, which is terrible. They had access to the family's spokeswoman, which the Journal North did not have. That story also mentions that DA Henry Valdez could use the 2003 hate crime ordinance if the grand jury finds a hate crime occurred, but the story does not explain what using that ordinance would mean. It also quotes the family spokeswoman as saying one would not expect a crime such as this to occur in Santa Fe, but doesn't say whether there have been other high-profile gay hate crimes (which there have been; Noah Rodriguez pops to mind), nor does it say whether the 2003 hate crime law has been used before.
The Journal North story is very bizarre, as its lead focuses on Maestas' popularity, including the fact that being openly gay didn't hurt his popularity in high school and that his former dance teacher found him to be the best male dancer he'd ever taught. As far as I could tell, Maestas' popularity in high school somehow makes his beating even more surprising, although I'm not sure why.
Neither story focused on a few questions I have, such as is it relevent that all the parties in the beating—victim and perpetrators—were Hispanic? Because from my memory that seems to have been a trend in the gay hate crimes I remember from the past several years. Even more pressing, why was some guy who sodomized a 4 year old running around free?

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Death Penalty

As everyone likely knows, bill to abolish the death penalty in New Mexico, should it make it to the governor's desk, will put Richardson in a difficult position. Particularly if he plans to run for president in 2008. Still, given all the goings on in the world, and the pretty wide-spread understanding about false convictions etc., I support repealing the death penalty. In case anyone cares. This also is an issue on the national front right now. Check out the round-up of the headlines regarding the recent Supreme Court decision.

On the Other Hand

Worth pointing out, I suppose, that turnout for the SFCC election was abysmal—2 percent of some 77,000 voters.

Ah Politics

Awoke this morning to learn Margaret Garduño had beaten incumbent Jenny Auger Maw in the Santa Fe Community College Governing Board election
The Santa Fe Reporter was the only paper to endorse her. Both The Journal and The New Mex endorsed Auger Maw.
Endorsements always are a nerve-wracking endeavor, although I think the way we do them at SFR is a little less weird than my understanding of how the other papers do them. For one thing, we don't have a separate editorial or opinion writer... just me. For another, I try to have as much of the editorial staff there as possible for the endorsement interviews, including the interns if they are around. Thirdly, we don't interview the candidates individually, we bring in contestants together so that we can hopefully have a dialogue or, sometimes, even, arguments. It's just that if the goal of endorsing is to compare and contrast the candidates and pick the one who the paper believes most represents the goals of the various offices, it makes sense to actually compare and contrast them at the same time. Finally, we acknowledge the other candidates in our endorsements. We don't just say, here's our pick and here's why. We try to say why we haven't chosen the other candidate. Now, I'm not really taking credit for Garduño's election. In truth, I have no idea how much of an impact our endorsements have. At times, in city elections, I've been left with the impression that people do use our endorsements. I know, during the primary election, several people called wanting to know what to do in some of the more obscure races, and I had people, at the general, tell me they took them in to the booth, particularly to deal with the constitutional amendments. For what it's worth, we take the endorsement process very seriously. And, of course, I'm a 15-year political junkie, so I try my best to be as informed as possible. At the end of the day, though, there are certain races we have so little impact on (state ones, for example) and ones in which there is a candidate with deep roots.
Now, Auger Maw implied, in The Journal, that Garduño's longstanding in the community helped her win. There's probably plenty of truth to that.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Personal Responsibility

There is a weird thread in today's conversations and Internet perusings. First, Salon has an interview with author Elliott Currie about his new book that basically attributes adolescent problems (drugs, drinking, suicide) to poor and indifferent parents. Then, my friend Dan Frosch has been emailing all day about the erupting new spate of rapper wars. Finally, sources from a story last week are upset about the repercussions of the story, and seem (OK, this is second-hand, but this is usually how it goes) not to be understanding that we didn't create the situation they are in. They did.
OK, now I can't remember what the thread is (hey, I'm on deadline). But something about arrested development, personal responsibility and the near-indisputable fact that people seem to just roll along making a huge freaking mess, regardless of who they are or what they got.

At Least She's Honest?

The local AP today reported on the State Senate's approval of a bill that would require parental permission for unmarried girls under the age of 18 seeking abortions. The bill was criticized heavily by John Grubesic, Santa Fe's state senator, but I was really horrified by the comments attributed to Republican State Sen. Diane Snyder, of Albuquerque, who said she realized the bill could result in some young women having abortions illegally or getting beaten up by her parents, but if she had voted against it, she could lose her seat in the next election.
Not that politicians putting their political fates ahead of their convictions or the fate of others is shocking, per se, but one wonders whether it's stupidity or unadulterated chutzpah that would allow someone to admit it. Blech.