Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Red Light Traffic Camera's May be Coming to Santa Fe.

Last Tuesday the City Police Department asked for and received the go-ahead from the Public Safety Committee to research the installation of cameras to catch drivers in the act of running red lights. You may remember a post I had discussing the Red Light Camera's in Albuquerque in April of this year.

The City Police Department will be looking at starting a pilot program to catch red light runners on cameras similar to those used by an Albuquerque program that has been in operation since May 2005. The city is looking at placing the camera's at five Santa Fe intersections in the pilot project: St. Francis Drive and Zia Road and Cerrillos Road's intersections with Airport Road, Zafarano Drive, St. Francis Drive and St. Michael's Drive.

The use of these cameras to issue official criminal traffic citations is illegal in the state of New Mexico. State Law requires citations to be given by a uniformed certified officer who must witness the infraction. The only exception is in the case of an accident when the officer can rely on evidence at the scene and witness statements to issue the citations. So how does Albuquerque use the Red Light cameras to issue citations? They do this through a civil action.

The citations issued are civil summons issued by the city through a private company. The only cause of action if you do not pay the citation is for the city to take civil action and boot your vehicle under civil forfeiture ordinances until you pay. If you do pay the citation then the only penalty is the cash you send to the city. No matter how many citations you get for running red lights by the cameras you will not receive points on your M.V.D. records. Your insurance companies will not know you even received a citation. The penalty is cash and or impoundment. Violators are fined $100 the first time, $250 plus a 30-day impound of the vehicle for the second time. For subsequent offenses, there is a $500 fine plus a 90-day impound. The city saves on storage fees by impounding your car in your own driveway by booting the vehicle.

A city police officer reviews each citation before it is issued. The Citations are issued by a private company "Redflex" who supplies the camera's, prints and mails the citations, collects the payments and in turn keeps a portion of the fees collected. Redflex is a rapidly growing company whose year end revenue for the year which ended June 30, 2005 increased 39.7% to $46.3 million, while net profit after tax increased 171% to $9 million. Most of the revenue and profit came from traffic camera installations in Australia and the US,

Albuquerque has generated $1.2 million in revenue for the city since the city began using camera's in October of 2005. During the Santa Fe City Public Safety Committee meeting last Tuesday, members of the committee cautioned city staff not to bill the cameras as a revenue generator, but rather as a way to alter driving habits and ultimately save lives. This came after Deputy Chief Ray Byford said any estimate of how much Santa Fe could earn from a similar system would be a "shot in the dark," but added that "it could be way up there."

The ACLU has begun challenging Speed and Red Light Camera's in different parts of the nation. They have begun pointing to Studies (one in Washington in particular) which seem to show increases in accidents in some areas where Red Light Camera's are used. Santa Fe is a much more liberal and outspoken community than Albuquerque, it will be interesting to see the publics reaction to any camera's installed in Santa Fe especially if the fines are as hefty as those set in Albuquerque.

The Washington Times reported in June of 2005 Red-light cameras in Northern Virginia were shut down after a 10-year pilot program expired. A state legislative committee voted not to continue the automated traffic-enforcement program, which had been operating in six Northern Virginia localities and Virginia Beach. Critics, including delegates who voted to end the program, said the cameras are money-making devices that invade a residents’ privacy and cause rear-end collisions. Interestingly enough the program in Virginia charged $50 as compared to the hundreds in fines charged by Albuquerque. Virginia reported a loss in revenue for the program costing the government entities up to one million dollars in 5 years. Apparently the rear end collisions occur when drivers stop for the red lights even though they are being tailgated for fear of receiving the citation. It has been argued that otherwise the driver may have run the light to avoid the rear end collision.

Some County Commissioners have brought up red light camera's as a tool to be used in the county over the last few years. This is something which I feel has both positive and negative connotations. I have really looked at disdain when the media researches citations issued by Red Light Camera's in Albuquerque and look for politicians, government workers, police officers and other notables who are caught running the lights. They then show the photos or videos of these people in news reports. I would like to see them show reporters and media staff who are caught as well. I know that public officials have much less expectation of privacy but this is a low way to just have a another titillating story.

I also really see a problem when traffic citations are used as a revenue source. Unlike the view of many cited motorists, there are no quotas. We do not raise the Sheriff's Office Revenue by issuing citations. Quota's promote abuse and bad citations issued by deputies who just need to pull over citizens in order to reach their quota. We do receive $1 (one dollar) for every citation that is plead or found guilty in court. Most are not, usually people go to driving school or get a deferred sentence and we do not get the dollar. Last year I believe we got about $10,000 from the thousands of citations we issued. This was out of a taxpayer provided 2006/2007 budget of just under nine million dollars. The bottom line is we give citations as educational tools, not to raise money.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Update your blogity blog blog.

I have been out of town and working on projects and my wife sent me an email today reminding me I had a blog. The title of her email was "Update your blogity blog blog".

I spent three days in Taos New Mexico Meeting with Sheriff's and county officials from across the state. That was Wednesday through Friday. I then returned to begin large scale excavation and construction in my back yard throughout the weekend. Ok, maybe not large scale however it was enough to cause a good sunburn, sore joints and much pain. I dug out a whole lot of gravel and replaced it with patio brick, a store bought gazebo, and some patio furniture. In the plans was a fire pit but the rain on Sunday cut short my time to continue the project. Came home today after work hoping to get a couple of hours of time on the project but once again rain stopped that idea. The election kept me from getting to this project earlier in the summer and now its just my luck that the badly needed rain starts as I am working on my backyard. Not that I am complaining, we need the rain.

Anyhow, here is a pic of our first dinner under the gazebo on the patio that Greg built. It was taken with my camera phone so it is not the greatest quality. There is still much construction mess and yard work to be done but regardless of the fact that it was a little cold after the rain storm we ate our dinner out on the patio.

Now back to the conference. The event is a yearly one put on by the New Mexico Association of Counties. Among many discussions the big topic of conversations was who won their races and who did not throughout the state. Pretty much all the incumbent Sheriff's were re-elected however some of the undersheriff's were not. In some cases that left both with out jobs for next year. There were a few sheriff's who ran for magistrate judge positions across the state and I ran into one who was elected and one who lost the race to an incumbent Magistrate. Last week was a very stressful one for me and at least on Thursday night I had some time to relax with a great impromptu get together after the conference activities ended for the day. I had a great time and some friends even got to see my Elvis impression. That is something usually reserved for karaoke nights however the guitar players really kicked in with some great jams.

The Governors race was another topic of discussions as well as the Attorney Generals and Secretary of States Race. Mary Herrera and Gary King seemed to have the most widespread support among those who were involved in the discussions with me. Mary even garnering support among Republicans from Southern New Mexico. Many of the people I spoke with also felt Heather Wilson was in for the toughest election she has ever had with support from democrats being unanimous although most did not live in her district. I for one am hoping for one less Republican from the Great State of New Mexico in Congress.

Ok, besides all the mitote we had great meetings and training including updates from the last legislative session, what's planned for the next legislative session and training from the State Law Enforcement Academy and exciting classes from our insurance carriers on risk management. Even though it seems like someone is always suing someone around here actually New Mexico Sheriff's Offices have really low claim rates and are doing a pretty good job at keeping claims down. I want to close this blog post by dedicating it to my wife Antoinette, Ants here is your updated blogity blog blog.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Happy Birthday Lil Shorty!

Today is my daughters birthday. In honor of her fourteenth birthday I present this video. Happy Birthday Lil Shorty!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Tis the Season for Conventions

Looks like everyone's off to one convention or another. Governor Richardson made a quick visit to the Yearly Kos convention last Friday. Our fellow blogger and local alternative paper editor Julia Goldberg is on her way to Arkansas to attend the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies where she is not only an attendee but a speaker as well. I will be attending the New Mexico State Fraternal Order of Police Conference which is being held right here in Santa Fe this year. Our own local F.O.P. President Michael Salazar is making his bid for the State Presidency of the F.O.P.. I will also be attending the Buckaroo Ball on Saturday night where my wife and I will join many attendees who will enjoy a concert by Wynonna while a lot of money will be raised for local charities.

On Tuesday its off to Taos where the New Mexico Association of Counties will have their conference. The great thing about this conference is that a majority of the Sheriff's from around the state get together and it allows us to discuss issues occurring in Sheriff's Offices throughout the state. I find these meetings to be among the most productive I attend each year. So tis the season for conferences. And yes in between all the serious stuff there is a little fun also. Many times the media portrays some of these as junkets especially when they are held in exclusive places, however, I really believe that a lot of information and networking is obtained from these meetings and they are well worth the expense and time. Which by the way is why all the media has their own conferences whether its alternative newspapers, mainstream media or even special conferences for left or right wing media.

One last note, I want to congratulate the Santa Fe County Reserve Program who's deputies are to be honored at the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office on Friday with a Volunteers excellence award which was sent to me to present to the deputies by none other than President Bush himself. These volunteers do a great job for Santa Fe County and place their lives on the line (for free even!). I am very proud of their work and their great accomplishments.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

In Honor of Officer James Archuleta

Today I will place the black mourning band on my badge again as I attend the funeral of Officer James Archuleta. Archuleta a State Police Officer and an active-duty reserve member of the U.S. Marine Corps died Sunday night when he was ejected from his car after hitting a cow in the road and was struck twice by passing vehicles. Officer Archuleta was on duty at the time of the accident.

In March of this year I blogged about the death of Deputy James McGrane from Bernalillio County who was killed in the line of duty also. I explained about the Mourning Band we place on our badges to honor the fallen officers. I also commented how I hoped I would not need the band again. Unfortunately we don the band again and honor another fallen officer. Officer Archuleta was a true servant of America, serving his country on a tour in Iraq and as a Reserve member of the Marines.

We will miss his service to our country and I offer my deepest condolences to his family and his fellow officers at the New Mexico State Police. May God Bless you in this time of sorrow and may Officer Archuleta join the Patron Saint of Law Enforcement, Saint Michael in heaven where I know he will continue to fight for what is right and just.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Twas the night before elections.

Its just about midnight and we are all still working hard preparing for election day in just 7 hours. I have to hand it to all my volunteers they are the greatest. We have over 20 polling places covered with poll workers holding up signs and soliciting the last votes. The F.O.P. Hall is decorated, over 100 lunches are ready or just about ready to go. ( we feed other candidates poll workers as well as the election workers until the food is gone.)

Over 200 tamales are going to the hall as well as roaster after roaster of beans and chili. Sheet cakes are being prepared and signs have been put up at as many of the polling places as we could get to. I am sure tomorrow I will have forgot something but it will all fall together. I never get more than a few hours sleep the night before the election but the adrenaline and excitement of the day carries us forward.

One last thing, THANK YOU, thanks to all who read my blog, helped my campaign, voted for me in early and absentee voting and will vote for me tomorrow. I want to thank the citizens of Santa Fe County who make this the greatest place on earth to live. Win or lose I am a very blessed man with so many friends who believe in me and my administration. I want to thank my staff and deputies whose hard work has helped our administration accomplish so much. I want to thank the commissioners, county staff from the County Manager on down for all their help the last four years. I also want to thank the media, they have always been professional and fair even when the news was not good. The local press especially are really top notch and they really care about the community and keeping the public informed.

Finally I want to thank my Family who really put up with a lot. Its very hard being an elected officials child or wife, or brother and sister, even my cousins an in laws who get asked to call me to check on one thing or another. I owe my family many missed vacations, holidays and birthdays. My own wife spent her birthday and our wedding anniversary campaigning for me in Edgewood. I really, really owe her for that one.

Anyway, Go vote if you haven't already, God Bless you all and see you on Wed, which is probrably the soonest I will blog again. (maybe).

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Your Invited!

Well, two days to go and its going at a hectic pace. Yesterday (Saturday June 3, 2006) my dedicated volunteers and myself hit 7 different functions and shook literally hundreds of hands in the one day. We started out at the Soccer fields at the City Municipal Recreation Complex where it was opening day for kids soccer. I was told there were 900 kids playing and there must have been over twice that many family members in attendance.

Next we went to Eldorado where they had a great car show and community day and I must say some really tasty Frito Pies! From there it was off to a political event for Mary Herrera on Alameda street where a Tom Jones impersonator wowed the audience. That was a fun event where I ran into some people I had not seen since my last election in 2002.

From there we headed off to a political event for Representative Lucky Varela, it was in a neighborhood park in Barrio La Canada. It had a real old time gathering feel to it and it was the first time in over a week I have run into my opponent at any event or gathering. The crowd was enthusiastic and many candidates, even those unopposed showed up and gave last minute pleas for votes.

Next it was off to Museum Hill where I attended two different events, one a fundraiser for a young man who was shot earlier this year, and the second a retirement party. We ended the night at a graduation party for a good friend who graduated from the University of Phoenix. Home at midnight I grabbed some sleep and we are back at it today starting with a breakfast at 7 am. I have to give a big thanks to my volunteers and my wife, who had a long, long, long day attending all these events with me!

Finally, I want to give you all your own personal invitation to join us at our election night party! Click here to receive your invitation. Thank you all for your support, Thank you for your vote, and if you have not voted early or absentee please vote on Tuesday June 6, 2006!

Friday, June 02, 2006


Four more days to go and then I can talk about something besides the election on this blog. My volunteers and I are working hard in the final days.

Here you can see that even the family pets are out campaigning for me. Here our friends poodle diamond came out at 7:15 am to welcome commuters on their way to work.

I have seen many of you during this last rush of non-stop campaigning. We have had a lot of fun and a lot of support holding signs on street corners during rush hours, attending many large gatherings, appearing on radio shows, and hitting the door to door and phones to remind everyone to get out and vote while asking for support for my candidacy.

Tomorrow, Saturday June 3, 2006 is the last day to early vote and the polls will be open from 10 am to 6 pm. After that you will have to wait till election day the big 6-6-06 to cast your ballot. I ask for your support and please take 15 minutes and call your family and friends and ask them to cast their ballot for me on June 6.

So after you cast your ballot come join us on Tuesday June 6, 2006 at our election night party. It will be at the Fraternal Order of Police at 521 Airport Road from 7 pm to 11:30 pm. We will have up to date election results, great food and the band SOUL FIRE which is an excellent young band led by Lumbre Del Sol's Chris Abeyta' son. I know we are going to have a great time so come and join us. AND DON'T FORGET TO VOTE! SU VOTO ES SU VOZ !