Friday, March 31, 2006

President Bush to visit Santa Fe

I will probrably anger the White House Press Secretary by telling you this but here it is. President Bush will visit Santa Fe New Mexico Friday April 7th for just a few hours. The President will be giving a speech on immigration and will be naming former Mayor Debbie Jaramillo to a task force whose mission it is to foster relations with Mexican immigrants in the United States. I found this hard to belive but the meeting I had today with Secret Service advance men asking for us to assist with security and road blocks confirmed this information. This was especially surprising considering that Debbie Jaramillo is a Democrat. Maybe it is an attempt to reach accross party lines on this issue. I did find one reference to this task force on the internet. Click here for more infomation. Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Speed Humps will grow like weeds

It's spring time in Santa Fe County. We are getting a little (very little moisture) and few things are growing in Santa Fe County. One thing is about to start growing, Speed Humps. The Santa Fe County Commission has approved spending $64,000 to put speed humps on County Roads 113S, CR84, and 84E as well as CR63. I don't blame the commissioners, squeeky wheels get the grease and the county commissioners were really hearing it from the residents in these areas. The Sheriff's office did all they could to increase patrols, use traffic speed trailers and signs provided by public works, and issue many citations in order to help calm the residents nerves and complaints. I am sure that right after our deputies left the area to go to the next area or to rush to a call where they were needed that residents or users of the roads sped up again. One time in Eldorado I received numerous complaints over speeding in the area. The next day we had deputies giving tickets in the area and I drove up to see how it was going. I stopped to backup one of my deputies and after we approched the car I heard the ladies name and realized she had called me complaining the day before. She was furious as she recieved her citation. The Sheriff's office, Fire Department officials and others opposed the humps over the last year citing the problems they cause emergency response in the areas which have them. Officially I oppose humps for those reasons, personally I oppose humps for other reasons.

Speed humps are supposedly designed to cause people to slow down to the speed limit, typically 25 in residential areas. In reality drivers must drive approximately 10 mph or slower in order to negotiate them. Vehicles in our gas conscious times are created smaller and lower to the ground in order to save gas with increased aerodynamics. The Sheriff's office purchased Chevy Impalas in the last three years abandoning the Ford Crown Victorias which are larger but use more gas. Like most cars the Impala has an 8.5 inch clearance under the vehicle without any weight in the vehicle. Put a 180 to 240 pound officer in and fill the trunk with police equiptment, install radios and cages to secure the prisoner in the back and the vehicle drops another 2 inches at minimum. Go over the speed hump at even the posted speed limit and you and the car are in for a jolt. You have no choice but to go much slower than the speed limit. Put a victim in an ambulance while you are trying to insert an I.V. or other medical lifesaving procedures and you must really drive painstakingly slow as you are trying to rush a seriously injured person to the hospital. What makes speed humps effective ? The fact that they reduce the amount of traffic on a street in which they have been installed. People whether they commonly speed or not will avoid roads which have them. This causes side or nearby roads to have increased traffic usually causing the addition of traffic calming devices on these roads as well. It causes congestion on nearby roads by increasing the traffic on side roads and decreasing traffic on the roads with the humps.

I live in a community where the roads are owned and maintained by the homeowners association. Shortly after I moved in two years ago Speed humps were placed abundantly by the board of the homeowners association through out the community. Many homeowners like myself who did not know they were going in were shocked. My wife owned a 1990's Firebird and no matter how slow or what angle we used to attack the humps We scraped the bottom horribly. We traded in the car for a four wheel drive pickup. After going over the 7 humps between my home and the main road for just one year we started noticing noisy shocks in the truck. Trust me, my wife who uses it the majority of the time never comes even close to speeding. Something like 90% of the residents turned in a petition to remove at least some of the humps but the board resisted for two years.

What made the board change their minds? Reductions in home values which came about because residents were having trouble selling their homes. New prospective home buyers looked at all the humps and shied away from buying. Many felt the humps signaled problems in the neighborhoods and others just did not want to transverse them every day. After the board and residents realized it was hurting sales of homes in the area humps finally started being removed at a considerable cost to homeowners through their dues and even a dues increase. So homeowners be careful what you ask for. Speed humps could end up reducing your property values or cause you to take longer to sell your home, many people would rather live in a place without them.

So why did I say in the title that humps would grow like weeds? The City started its speed hump program some years ago with a modest budget and the plan of putting speed humps and later roundabouts in a few high complaint areas only. Once some people had them others throughout the city wanted them in their neighborhood also. Thus the budget and the humps grew like weeds in the desert. Some of the public works employees have told me that despite the cites wishes to reign in the speed hump growth, screaming constituents caused City Councilors to relent and add more and more. Thus goes my prediction that the 4 roads getting humps this year will grow proportionally year by year. I compare it to Moores law of computers which states that computer processor speeds will double every 18 months. Speed humps will grow at a rate of double the amount installed the previous year until the county residents or the county budget can take no more. Maybe this will be named Greg's law of speed humps.

links related to speed hump problems
National Motorists Association

Association of British Drivers, What they don't want you to know about speed humps.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Mourning Badge

Yesterday was one of the worst days for a Law Enforcement Officer.

It had to be even worse for my counterpart in Bernalillo County. Early yesterday morning Sheriff Darren White had to go to the home of one of his deputies and tell his wife that her husband would never come home again. Deputy James McGrane Jr. Age 38 was killed on a traffic stop on NM 337 near the intersection of NM 333 in the East Mountains. As Officers we all sooner or later have to go to someone's home early in the morning and tell them their loved one has died. Once we become Sheriff or Chief we all pray that we never have to make that visit at the home of one of our own. I have had a couple of occurrences, a shooting, a stabbing and a couple of car accidents where I thanked god that things turned out ok and the deputy make it through the ordeal.

Yesterday I went through a ritual, a ritual that all officers go through when one of our own doesn't make it home. I went looking for my black little elastic band. Its a small symbol, kind of like the memorials that people create at death scenes. The difference here is that it is a cop thing. We all get this little black band or a piece of black tape and place it over our badge. The symbol of pride and authority becomes the symbol of mourning. We always have to make one, or go to the local cop shop and get another one. I was talking to one of my corporals in the morning and said "everytime this happens I have to get another one, I don't know why I don't save it" She had the perfect answer, " Its bad luck to save it, Its like your expecting or waiting for the next one." Do I unconsciously not keep it? In the back of my mind do I lose it or throw it as though I never expect to need it again?

Every May we have a memorial service for all officers ever killed in the line of duty in New Mexico. The large granite slabs list every name of every officer killed in the line of duty. Almost every year a name or two are added. The memorial sits in the courtyard of the Police Academy. All new officers in New Mexico go to this academy. The dormroom windows overlook the courtyard. For 21 weeks they see the memorial everyday. Its a constant reminder of why they must take everything they learn in the academy seriously. When you are young and new to the job your invincible. When you put on that badge, the gun, the bullet resistant vest, its like Superman putting on his cape. After a few years, maybe a car wreck, a close call or two you learn. You are just a man or a woman with a badge. Not a magic badge, not a shield of invincibility. All the training, all the hard work at being aware of your surroundings, and all the special tactics sometimes just don't matter. Sometimes your at the wrong place at the wrong time. The badge of invincibility becomes a target. At a simple traffic stop, where maybe you were just going to give someone a speeding ticket you unknowingly become a target. My guess is Deputy McGrane Jr. never knew what was coming. I dedicate this blog to Deputy McGrane, his family and all the officers left out there to carry on Deputy McGrane's mission. May God bless you all, Be Safe, May no more names be carved into the granite wall next year. At the end of Deputy McGranes funeral services I will throw away my little black band.

Deputy James McGrane Jr.
Killed in the line of duty.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Happy Filing Day

Today is candidates filing day for State and Local offices. For many incumbents and non-incumbents running for office it’s a nerve-racking day. I actually enjoy it as the official kick off to the Election Day race. Many incumbents are worried about drawing opposition. No opposition especially as a Democrat in a Santa Fe County Primary means the race is over and you've won. Non-incumbents are worried about who will actually file and who will not. There is really no telling how many opponents you will have and who they will be until filing day comes.

I have always begun my race with the General Parade at Fiesta's. This is in September of the year prior to the primary. The first time I ran in 1998 only then Under Sheriff Ray Sisneros and I had been campaigning for 7 months when filing day came. On filing day three others jumped into the race. It was disappointing to both of us but especially me. With Ray pretty much running as an incumbent along with Sheriff Benjie Montano planning to be Under Sheriff the rest of us were pretty much splitting the vote of those unhappy with the current administration. I worked hard and still came in a close second.

Today there were no surprises in the race for Sheriff. I drew an opponent whom I expected to run. I won't mention the opponents name since the opponent is relatively unknown. It's kind of fun when I have been campaigning and people ask me who my opponent is I just smile and say "no one else knows who it is either so I don't give the name out." People usually laugh and go along, some ask "no really, who is it?" I don't give in. So don't expect to learn the name in any of my blog postings.

After filing time ends at 5 PM the candidates all gather and draw numbers to see who's name comes first, second etc. on the ballot. Everyone wants to be first but I really feel it does not matter. Ok, just for disclosure sake I drew second to my opponent. But really, I have never drawn first and was third and last on the ballot in my last race. This was the race I won. Some people actually think that if you are first on the ballot that an undecided may go in and pick the first name not knowing whom else to vote for. Even though some people don't really study the candidates I still have more faith in our voters than to believe that any more than the very few would ever vote in this fashion. I also feel that if anyone votes in this fashion that the candidates have not done their job. It is our job as candidates to get exposure to the voting public. No one should walk into the voting booth not at least recognizing our name. If they vote for others based on some other reasons that is one thing. However, not knowing even one of the candidate’s names is something else.

So, the gate is up and the race is on. I really enjoy the campaigning part of this job. I really enjoy meeting people, shaking hands and debating the issues. It's odd isn't it? That someone would actually enjoy the madness. It’s a good thing you don't have to pass a psychological test to run for office because you have to be crazy to do it. Anyway, Happy Filing Day!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

All Politics is Local

I took a week off of blogging not intentionally but just because it was such a hectic week I didn't get near my keyboard. This week we had a large political function at the Fraternal Order Of Police on Airport Road. It was a St. Patrick's Day Dinner and it went off really well. Around 300 people joined us for Corned Beef and Cabbage cooked to perfection by my good friends Victor and Lydia Lioce. These types of events have two main purposes. One is to gather supporters and whip up momentum in the election. It's a chance to handout signs and bumper stickers, collect names of volunteers and just remind everyone that the election is heating up. The other purpose is to raise funds. This has always been the most controversial and difficult part of running for office.

These type of local affordable functions give the common voter a chance to be part of the process. The $10 raffles and $5.00 dinners don't raise the kind of money that lunches with big donors and $100 a plate dinners at the local galleries raise, but they allow everyone to get involved and contribute to the candidate of their cause. Real advertising and votes in local elections are not gathered by media advertising or who has the largest and prettiest signs. They are garnered by word or mouth. So many people who have not made up their minds or who don't know or have not met one of the candidates personally decide who to vote for by taking into account what a friend or relative recommends. Word of mouth is the most cost effective and reliable way to garner votes.

So how do you get people to talk about you? You ask them, you must never forget to ask people to vote for you. Many times people will vote for someone just because they met someone once and they were asked for the vote. Those same people will talk about you to their friends and relatives if you impress them when you spoke to them. Former Governor Bruce King was the master at this type of campaigning. Where ever he went he made it a point to shake everyone's hand in the room. The most amazing part of Governor King was his ability to remember everyone's name. He only had to meet you once and he would remember your name a year or two later. Because of this even today he has loyal supporters who would vote for him and work for him in any race. As he shook your hand he always asked for your support, more often than not he received it.

New Mexico and Santa Fe County is growing but still has not grown to the point where personal campaigning has become ineffective and I loathe the day when that happens. When New Mexico elections are won or lost based entirely on who has the most effective media campaign, this will mark the end of grass roots elections based on individuals and their hearts and personality's and the beginning of who has the best marketing persons and is the most photogenic. It has been said all politics is local, We must work hard to keep it that way.

Until next post Be Safe and have a great day!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Democratic Singles?

I was perusing the New Mexican free web site today when a tile ad caught my eye. It advertised election discussions with democratic singles and offered pictures to view. I rarely click on ads but it piqued my curiosity. Not because I am looking for dates, I am happily married to a beautiful woman. (hope I get points with the wife for that comment) Anyway I just wondered whether the likes of and others were actually working demographics all the way down to the political orientation level. Ok, so I clicked on the ad and found the Democratic People Network. I did not go past the first advertisement page because it required you to sign up and even though it was free I do not like to sign up for stuff on the net.

So for you lonely Democrats or Republicans out there (yes there is a Republican People Network) there is a place to find a mate who matches your political beliefs. This reminds me of the crossfire and other discussions I used to enjoy watching between James Carville and Mary Matalin. For those who may not know they are husband and wife. James Carville is a top Democratic strategist and Mary Matalin is a top Republican strategist. Both Matilin and Carville have gone on record saying that they don't talk politics at home. I find that hard to believe and while my wife and I don't always see one hundred percent eye to eye we have the same core political beliefs. I could not really see it any other way.

I hope if anyone meets their political soulmate as a result of this blog post that you email me and let me know. Who knows maybe this blog can be the start of someone's lasting relationship. For any of you who want a soulmate that can debate you on political beliefs I guess you can always visit the site opposite of your political persuasions. Until next post Be Safe and have a great day!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Day After

I was out late last night, trying to hit as many of the election night parties as I could. With my re-election now looming close, the day after the city elections mark the end of the city campaigns and the kick off of in earnest of the county and state office campaigns. Although I began my re-election campaign in September of 2005 with a float in the Fiesta Parade we go into high gear today.
Our crew hit the smaller and less optimistic parties early last night hoping to shake as many hands as possible before those parties broke up. We headed to New Mayor David Coss's party last which was still in high gear and had a steady stream of people in and out. As I visited the different parties I was reminded of my first loss in 1998 and how we felt election night. As the night went on I was then reminded of my win in 2002 and the jubilation of four years work to attain that goal. Having experienced both wins and losses in my political and Union careers I must say that I learned a lot from the loss which was instrumental in my win in 2002 against two other strong primary candidates.

We are very busy this week between campaigning in the end of the city elections and the planning of our next fundraiser which is Friday, March 17, 2006 at the Fraternal Order of Police. This is St Patricks Day and we will be hosting a Corned Beef and Cabbage Dinner which begins at 6pm. Our signs and bumper stickers should be in and we will begin distributing them that night. We also have a raffle in which the grand prize is a trip for two to stay at the Golden Nugget Hotel in Las Vegas Nevada. This includes airfare and hotel accommodations.

Let me end this post with a congratulations to all the candidates in the city elections. You all contributed to progress in the city whether you won or not. Its the dialog and opposition that candidates have that force all the candidates to think hard about why they are running and what they want to accomplish. The campaign itself does more to form opinions and ideas between elections than anything that occurs during the candidates terms. I have never forgotten the repeated themes and comments that are drilled into you on the campaign trail. Even supporters of your opponents and why they are doing so are important lessons to be learned.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Election Day and Media Polls

Today is election day in the City of Santa Fe. Its the most exciting and exhausting day for a candidate. Up to a year of more of work and giving of yourself emotionally and physically culminates on a day that starts before dawn and ends late into the night, and sometimes early into the next morning. For races which are more localized and do not merit a poll paid for by the media the day starts out with much optimism. For those whom an opponent has been predeclared the winner by a media poll you struggle to convince yourself and your supporters that the poll can be wrong. You tell your supporters that polls don't vote people do. You remind them of the last time a poll declared a winner and it was wrong.

For the winner of the poll numbers you use that poll to continue the momentum. You remind your supporters that it isn't over till its over and the race could still be lost if it is taken for granted. The worst poll of all is the one that a newspaper or television station puts out on the Sunday before the election. In the mayors race it seems like each election at least one of the losing(in the polls) candidates has a rally scheduled for that Sunday. I attended one such rally on Sunday and it was well attended but you could still sense the frustration in the air. The candidate did his best to forge ahead but you feel his pain. Mayor Delgado talked about how he was behind in the polls when he won his first race for mayor. It helped and elicited huge cheers.

Sometimes I wonder whether polls released so close to the election unfairly influence race outcomes. As we have all witnessed polls can be skewed by demographics and other factors. We want to believe that pollsters and media outlets want fair and accurate information but is this always the case?

Exit polls on election day are really the most unreliable and potentially damaging. If you see that exit polls show your candidate way ahead do you say to yourself that going to vote is not as important? If your candidate is way behind do you not bother to go thinking it wont matter anyway? Or does this get more voters motivated to go and vote for their candidate who is behind in the polls?

The media is giving people what they want, people tune in or pick up the paper and they want to know how their candidate is doing. Each year we are making it harder for city and county clerks to tabulate votes by adding early voting, absentee votes, in lieu of ballots, paper ballots, and a myriad of rules and regulations. Yet in today's society we want the quick answers. We want to know right after the polls close who won. It is a race to see which T.V. station can proclaim a winner first. We don't want accuracy as much as we want speed. And can we have both?

Good luck to all the candidates today and I want to thank all of you for giving of yourselves in order to better your community. To run for office is hard on you, your family and your friends. The only thing harder is what happens when you get your wish and win.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Speeding Tickets, Fun Friday

This has been a big week for new visitors to this blog. The Santa Fe Reporters Article was followed by a post on Daily Kos Blog by Claude which resulted in many new visitors. Thanks Claude. Since its Friday I thought we would have some fun. Many times even now as the Sheriff I will pull over speeders or other traffic violators. I have often given out warning citations unless the person I pull over is really out of line on their driving or if they are abusive or rude in the way they deal with me at the time of the traffic stop. I first saw this video a few years ago and while I can empathize with the guy who was speeding I really was amazed at the patience of the trooper who pulled this guy over. It is a good training video but it is also one of the most hilarious traffic stops I have ever seen. Enjoy, have a good weekend and be sure and Vote if you live in the city on Tuesday!

If the video is jerky hit pause and wait a little while the video downloads.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Sheriff of the Blogosphere

Usually I am commenting about the news in my blog. This time the news is about this blog. Dan Frosch of The Santa Fe Reporter did an article about my Airport Road annexation blog post. Well Written Dan and thanks for the complement, although I had to look up the word "soliloquies".