From the funniest New Mexico blog: NM Defamation Suit about President Obama's campaign stop somewhere between junkyards in the South Valley.
Pat Mulroy, Las Vegas, Nevada's Water Empress*, is featured in the NYTimes Green Blog.
The Southern Nevada Water Authority is in the news a lot lately - putting on a full court press for positive public opinion on the pipeline.
Experts from the Congressional, nonprofit and regulatory arenas see Ms. Mulroy, 57, whose back has been to the wall for most of the past two decades — first because of the area’s rapid growth, then because of the water’s disappearance — as a clear-eyed, practical leader for the new world of scarcity. Others in the world of western water seem impressed yet a bit unnerved by her.
Count me as unnerved.
Her closing quote about the need to alter priority rights is revealing.
“Nevada’s problem has become everyone’s problem,” she said. “The last thing that everyone needs is for a city that relies 90 percent on that water to not meet its needs.”
“If this is the new normal,” she said of the drought, “we’ve got to change a lot of things on the Colorado River.”
Change what? Change the law and the river and the consumption patterns and the intake values and the landscape of northern Nevada. Change everything but the assumption of growth. Altering Vegas sprawl is not on Mulroy's list.
* The Times author calls her a Czar, but I prefer the Empress title bestowed years ago by High Country Times News (yikes.)
About that Air Force proposal for low level training flights over northern New Mexico and southern Colorado - our Albuquerque Journal notes the extended public comment period.
Here's a tasty bit:
Comments at the Taos meeting focused on concerns about noise and health impacts, as well as fanciful theories such as the Air Force being hijacked by evangelicals. Speakers wondered about forest fire danger from crashes, the possibility of ski area avalanches, and effects on agriculture and tourism.
That is a fanciful theory - to think it's just the Air Force being hijacked.
Seems easy to frame this as an issue of one of the military against Democrats and those crazy Taoseños. But up in conservative rural Colorado they're worried about ... wait for it ... property rights and how the government is taking over the skies. From the Trinidad Times:
Piñon Canyon Expansion Opposition Coalition (PCEOC) President Lon Robertson said that in addition to concerns about the low-altitude flights’ impacts on livestock, the PCEOC is concerned that the flights were part of “the onslaught of efforts to take over more private property and private property rights...we have concerns about where this stops.”
The Albuquerque Journal reports on the Los Ranchos/Journal Center Rail Runner Express Station - The Name.
Basically, the name was thrust upon the station without asking any locals what they thought of the idea. Like most everything, the neighborhood association president, Steve Wentworth, says the name is dumb. Maybe he thinks if he bitches long enough they'll name it after him. (I'm hopeful that works for Geraldine Amato and city hall.)
The territorially-minded neighborhood president thinks the name is dumb in the same way that it was dumb to call Corrales Road that for centuries before it was renamed Alameda. That is, not dumb at all. Roads were named for where they go. Similarly, the Rail Runner station is named for what it is near: Los Ranchos and Journal Center.
And I like the bit about horses on the Rail Runner website:
The Los Ranchos / Journal Center Rail Runner station is nestled in an area that was celebrating horse travel long before the train arrived. To this day, it is not uncommon to find many an equestrian traveling the ditch banks and dirt paths of the North Valley.
The box of renaming Pandoras has been opened! Naming things is a time-honored powerful political perk. You can say there should be limits on naming places after living politicians but that horse left the barn. It had Domenici branded on his butt. The horse then died with the naming of the Babs and Bill Richardson Pavilion at UNMH. And it was beaten when the community center at Alameda was renamed for Raymond G. Sanchez.
Some think it should be called El Pueblo station since it is on El Pueblo Road. It is a very popular location. The parking lot was expanded recently but there is usually overflow onto the road shoulders. Yeah, so naming the station for the street it swallows is a good idea.
One humdinger of a local government, that. Among other things, the Bell city manager, Robert Rizzo, was raising thoroughbreds on a salary and benefits package that totaled $1.5 million.
Now I'm inclined to forgive the equine excesses of a bored bureaucrat. But his little clique bilked impoverished Bell citizenry with rate hikes for ludicrous salaries and personal loans. Cold.
This LA Times article from August 2010 offers character insights and touches on enabling features of local government officials' excess: secrecy with a bog dollop of apathy.
Over the ensuing years, Rizzo spent less and less time on the job and grew guarded about city finances, holding fewer meetings on the budget, ..."In retrospect, you start seeing that everything was a secret."
The graft was as easy as missing the simple addition.
"We have crafted our Agreements carefully so we do not draw attention to our pay," [Assistant City Manager] Spaccia wrote to [Police Chief] Adams, the lawsuit says. "The word Pay Period is used and not defined in order to protect you from someone taking the time to add up your salary." (LA Times)
The Times did the math. Chief was making $457k. Wasn't even spending it on horses.
Reading any Albuquerque Journal editorial about ethics leaves me with an unsettled feeling - as if I was getting speech lessons from a two year old. With an agenda.
The one about the Santa Fe County Commission melodramatically stomps around about the public works "scandal" and is called, Commissioner Misses Point of Accountability. So do they. The baby-talk ethical lesson is about anti-donation. (Never take candy from her!)Did I miss the memo where we all agree on what accountability means - what it looks like? Will we know when we see it? Will it be wearing a red tie?
Or maybe this is the Point of Accountability where bad things you've caused in the past catch up with you at a great freaky-dream-tall karmic cliff of justice. You wobble there full of vertigo while the fates review your resume. A fatal tumble awaits the most wicked! And the poorly balanced. Or you sometimes get a reprieve and a pay raise. But someday you'll face that accountability point.
In my dreams.
The Accountability problem in local government is about defining roles and goals. There is nothing to be accountable for, only to. Like, to your boss or to your family. You can say to the taxpayer but that is meaningless in the big jumble of vaguely defined and competing "taxpayer" projects. Decisions involve whims of leadership or heat of crisis. The Accountability Point there is a curb stone to drive the county truck over to get at that private driveway your boss said to fix.
How can anyone be held accountable for the chaotic jungle of local New Mexico politics?
The plan - capital plan. This unglamorous answer has downsides. Beyond boring and not about cliff-falls, Public lists, priorities and plans reduce the discretion of leaders. They don't like it. (Unpopular and boring!) Politicos can't play as many games with projects if there are plans.
I'll bet there is a capital plan for Santa Fe County. All counties do them but they lack big teeth (and balls) that decent State planning law would give New Mexico counties. Planning can reduce the strong-arm and deep wallet tactics used to get a road paved or a water line extended.
In the self-fulfilling prophesy of government is the problem we've forgotten this, or thought we could "downsize" by tearing up the lists.
The role of housing in the economic crisis is hard to dispute. Interesting theories differ about the reason and degree. But housing prices are still ridiculously high and there is insufficient demand to absorb what's been built already. So encouraging more through efforts to stimulate building, including lame attempts to do so by cutting impact fees, it just plain nuts.
So that's great, but there are hundreds of acres of McMansions empty or unfinished right now in the United States that are serving no purpose, being a financial drain on the banks, contractors, trades, and county economies where they exist. So creating a new model is a worthwhile exercise, but what we need is an approach to these pre-existing structures that are being under-utilized, to make them multi-family, or solarized and gray-water system updated, to re-make the box instead of working so hard to think outside of it. (portion of a reader comment by Laura in Portland.)
Great. Now I have to post more to get my misspelled headline off the feeds. Jesus in a jetpack, I need an editor. Or spell-check in the headline box.
This morning in the Journal John Fleck explains the return flow credit for water the City puts back into the Rio from the waste water treatment plant.
Well, if the Journal and Dan McKay must poke the bear, the grumpy bruin might point out that it could very likely be a comparative thing.
Compared to the reign of the last egotistical, arrogant, over the top, in your face, man in that office, Mayor Berry is positively delightful - such a refreshing change. Simply not being Marty is worth a whole lotta percentage points.
UPDATE: YES, I SPELLED IT WRONG!
Trust that my dealings with events of late* are only slightly more engaging than witnessing Albuquerque's impact fees, along with planning and civics, get flushed down the toilet like so much poop-rich wastewater into the Rio.