Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Union Brothers Unite?

As a former Public Safety Union President I am embarrassed by the City Firefighters Union and what they are doing to a fellow union and Fire Department. As reported in the Santa Fe New Mexican and elsewhere the City Fire Fighters Union is not only verbally opposing the County Fire Fighters quest to expand its Fire Department through a county wide gross receipts tax, they are actually going door to door to try and convince voters to turn it down.

Union solidarity has always meant something in America. In fact unions strength through out the years have come from the fact that fellow unions always supported each other. It is through the solidarity of many that victories have been won since the times of sweatshops and indecent working conditions. Today's City Fire Fighters Union seems to have forgotten the struggles of the past and have also lost sight of the fact that in the future someday, perhaps in March when the city's public safety property tax is voted on, they will need the support of fellow unions and the other politically involved people to support them. When the city police and fire unions went to the City Council to ask for raises only a few months ago they fully had the support of county unions and officials, how soon we forget. I in this blog, and on the New Mexican web site urged the city council to give the full raises being asked for instead of half the amount that ended up being passed.

The City Fire Fighters union is really way off on this one. On the one hand they complain that the county should shoulder more of the burden to cover county areas the city is now covering. On the other hand they oppose the tax which would allow the County to expand its Fire Department. The County Fire Department is badly in need of beginning the transition from almost all volunteer, to staffed fire stations with the ability to handle the ever increasing growth in the county. The City cannot have it both ways they cannot complain about the city fire serving county properties out of one side of their mouth and then out of the other side complain about the counties attempts to raise money to remedy the situation. Both of the fire departments are trying to downplay the animosity and lack of cooperation that is developing out of this situation. Those of us in the trenches know different, It will be very unfortunate if a life is lost or a firefighters is hurt because of this lack of leadership and those in public safety forgetting about why they took these jobs in the first place.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Sheriff Andy Griffith is running again.

Normally I might save this for funny Friday but I ran across this and couldn't resist blogging it.

A man who is a co-owner of a music store in Platteville Wisconsin is running for sheriff. No big news there, except William Fenrick has legally changed his name to Andy Griffith. And why not? Who wouldn't vote for Andy Griffith for Sheriff? What also caught my eye was that in this area, according to Andy, the Sheriff's race garners little attention in Grant County Wisconsin.

In New Mexico usually the Sheriff's race is a very heated race which often draws voters to the polls in non-presidential years. The primary races where the party's battle their own to find a General Election candidate is especially heated with the General Elections usually being very benign. One difference between New Mexico and most other states is that Sheriff's are Term Limited. The incumbent in Grant County Wisconsin has been in office ten years. Other infamous sheriffs such as Sheriff Joe Arpaio who is completing 13 years this year and despite his detractors will probably be sheriff as long as he wants to be don't have term limits. On the one hand we lose valuable experience and maybe the ability to keep someone who is doing a good job. On the other hand sometimes too many years in office can allow some offices to stagnate and halt change and innovation. My feeling is it depends on the candidate and the voters can always elect for change so why force the voters hand with term limits.

According to Andy Griffith the Sheriff candidate he changed his name in order to draw attention to the Sheriff's Race. He is running as an independent in a race which features a Democrat and the Republican incumbent. Watch video news footage here. Only in America.........

Friday, October 20, 2006

Friday Funny - Top Ten Reasons to Vote Republican

The Top Ten Reasons to Vote Republican This November
By Jackson Thoreau

Oct. 22, 2002 (Jackson/Thoreau/APJP)

No. 10: So schoolchildren can pledge allegiance everyday to "one nation under God and Enron."

No. 9: So super-wealthy Americans can afford to hire some more special guards to keep the increasing number of protesters and homeless population out of their sight when they venture into public places.

No. 8: So more far-right judges who stop our elections to tell us who really won can be appointed to the Supreme Court.

No. 7: So HMOs can replace your doctor with "customer service representatives," and so universities can teach courses on the proper way to say, "Do you want fries with that?"

No. 6: So Wall Street interns can learn the ropes by gambling with Social Security funds in the stock market.

No. 5: So Republicans can control all branches of our government and bring about a real dictatorship.
(too late for this one.....Greg)

No. 4: So your children and grandchildren can view some "nice, clean oil wells," instead of the scenery, when they visit our national parks.

No. 3: So we can continue to blame everything that goes wrong on Clinton.

No. 2: So the poor and minorities can fight and die disproportionately in perpetual wars to make the world safe for democracy and keeping Republicans in office.

And the No. 1 reason to vote Republican

So Ann Coulter can be appointed Secretary of Foreign Affairs and either put up or shut up!!!!!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Free New Mexican Comments

The Free New Mexican Web Site recently stopped allowing comments on its news story's at their web site. I have to admit that I read the comments daily and sometimes on selective story's I would comment myself. In fact it was the Free New Mexican web site which led me to Steve Terrell's Blog which then led me to Julia Goldberg's blog and eventually led me to begin a blog of my own.

According to the Free New Mexican web editor there were many inappropriate comments about the recent violent assault and battery of Paige McKenzie, John Dendahl's spokeswoman. The upper management decided to stop all commenting until changes were made. The comments often resulted in what I would call very zealous free speech and while sometimes hateful and untruthful comments were made, for the most part a free thinking reasonable person could pick there way through the motivations for mean spirited comments. During the June Primary Elections many candidates, myself included were the recipient of mean spirited and untruthful comments. You would think that I would be opposed to the comments because of this but I actually blew off the extreme comments or responded to them with the truth. The good thing about the comment section is that it allowed me to see what citizens both normal citizens and the extremists thought about news stories that involved the Sheriff's Office or me personally. It was like taking a poll on each news story that involved me without having to pay for it.

The New Mexican is going to retool the comment rules and should be restarting the comments again soon. The one thing I did not like about the new rules is that the New Mexican will only choose certain news stories to allow comments on and only those stories during certain hours will have comments. It should be fairly easy for web editors to figure out which stories people will want to comment on, but will it become censorship? Will certain stories not be chosen because they are likely to attract more heated debate? Or will stories that are likely to attract comments which differ from the Editors or Newspapers point of view not be chosen as stories which comments are allowed in order to tow the papers editorial line? Only time will tell.

I have no doubt that the comments will be a lot more tame and maybe not as amusing to read. On the other hand I do know that some people who were not as used to the negative comments being said about them as I am were hurt by the comments. I remember during certain deaths that very hurtful things were said about the deceased and I know this had to be very hurtful to the family members. Things often get extreme before the pendulum swings back to somewhere in the middle. While I am very opposed to limiting free speech I do have a part of me that believes that things probably were getting out of hand on certain stories. The New Mexican is after all a business and cannot afford to allow things to get too far out of hand on their website. Steve Terrell had a good comment on his blog. If you want completely unrestricted free speech you can always start your own blog.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Another Issue with Legalizing Drugs.

I have commented often in my blog about legalizing drugs and my opposition to legalization. Whenever we are in the same room with each other an attorney friend of mine and I have spirited discussions about drug legalization and we often send each other news clippings and research to back up our stances. I came across this article this morning in the Santa Fe New Mexican. It discusses the shortage of employees at the Oil Fields in the Lea County Area. I recently met with the Chief of Police in Questa New Mexico at a Region wide Drug Enforcement Meeting. He was looking for help in his area because of the same problem. The Questa Mines which are operated by Molycorp and are used to mine Molybdenum. Molybdenum is used to make alloy metals. The Chief of Questa says the mines are asking for help because of the high rate of employee applicants and current employees who are failing random drug tests.

I have not talked to my attorney friend about this but I suspect even she would be against having users working in mines, oilfields, as bus drivers, train engineers, pilots etc. So what would happen if we legalize even small amounts of marijuana? Alcohol can be out of your system in 8 to 12 hours depending on how small the amounts are. Marijuana on the other hand can remain detectable in your system for up to 45 days. The most common period of time is anywhere from 3-30 days, depending on your metabolism and the amount of marijuana that youÂ’ve smoked. This is unfortunate, since it means that while most drug tests can only turn up evidence of other drugs if youÂ’ve been taking the drug within a few days of the drug test, marijuana could still be detected in a urine test up to a month after the last time it is used. If you smoke it occasionally it will remain in your system for up to 10 days. If you smoke marijuana on a regular basis it will stay in your system for as long as 45 days, and if you smoke marijuana at a constant pace, it can stay in the body for 90 days, Marijuana is fat soluble. It stores in the fat cells of the body, the brain, the liver, the kidneys, in other words the major organs.

So, what do we do with those jobs which we deem unacceptable to have drug use show up in tests? Or do we come up with an acceptable amount that will be allowed in these types of jobs? How do we determine that acceptable amount knowing that different peoplabsorbbe and get rid of amounts at a different pace than others? In Alcohol we have determined as a society at least in New Mexico that .08 blood alcohol level is the most we will allow the average citizen to have in their system and still be able to drive. However, most companies, taxis, police, government workers, etc. still have a .00 requirement for work.

If drugs are legalized even if only small amounts of marijuana are allowed employers will have a whole new predicament to deal with. I know at the jail and in law enforcement roughly half of all prospective applicants fail either the background check or the pre-employment drug test. Drug and alcohol is the predominant factor among all the inmates in jail. Whether the underlying charge is domestic violence or rape and murder the one common thread you will see is substance abuse whether its drugs or alcohol.

I am still adamantly opposed to drug legalization but I have to admit that my attorney friend makes a good argument. I do know people who have used, or not to my personal knowledge but I at least have a feeling that they recreationaly use marijuana and they are functioning members of society. I also know many, many more who used marijuana and now are hopelessly addicted to worse drugs. I also know many who still only use marijuana but are still not functioning members of society, at least not to the level I feel should be considered functional.
My feelings in this situation go back to high school. I had several friends who were considered "pot heads" in high school. My mind goes back to a particular two friends from high school. One started with marijuana went to cocaine, killed a man, raped a woman, and is back in prison for drug dealing after at least two previous stints in prison. The other friend,...... He is dead.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

I'm Baack.

I apologize to my readers for the two week absence. It wasn't planned, I just kept not getting to it. It has been two weeks made up of animals. First we have the cougar in the back yard of a county resident. That generated much controversy and criticism. Next we had the Scrimshaw family struck by a drunk driver while horseriding near their home on County Road 45. Both of these incidents happened in ajoining neighborhoods off highway 14 and in my old stomping grounds. My family and I lived in the area and once owned a Video Store and Mail Center in the area. I know the family whose yard the cougar was put down in and I know many of the neighbors in the area of the horse incident. Both incidents caused me much stress and sorrow.

The night of the cougar incident I received a call from my Sergeant who advised me that a cougar was in the backyard of an old friend of mine. The cougar was eating a housecat and we felt the cougar was probably the same one who had been eating housecats in the city also. We had called N.M. State Game and Fish who usually are prompt and handle these situations by tranquilizing the animals for us. The Sergeant advised me that the local Game and Fish officers were out of town on training and we were attempting to find someone else with a tranquilizer rifle. I advised him to put the animal down if it tried to leave. I could not take the chance that the animal would leave and then return another day to find a small child in a yard. This animal had shown that it was not afraid of populated neighborhoods and could attack if given the chance.

My wife was lying in bed next to me and heard me give the order. She immediately began expressing her disapproval with my order. After I got off the phone with the Sergeant we discussed the issue and why I told the Sergeant to put the animal down if it tried to leave. She expressed her disappointment that we could not find a tranquilizer gun but understood why I gave the order which I did. A few minutes later I received a call from the Sergeant that we located a Game and Fish Officer in Edgewood. He was probably 40 minutes away. I hoped and prayed he got there before we had to take action. 45 minutes after I received the first call I got a call back that the animal tried to leave and was put down by my deputies. The Game and Fish Officer arrived about 10 minutes after we put it down. I still know that we did what we had to do and I will take the criticisms that I have received and chalk it up to " that's why the buck stops here".

I feel bad for my wife who was forced to defend me to animal loving co-workers and friends. Especially since no one cares more about animals than she does. She pulls over and chases prairie dogs off the street so they don't get run over. Her and my son bring home dogs much to my annoyance every year. I will never forget the time she was driving on Fifth Street near Saint Michaels Drive when she saw a large prairie dog in the road. She wanted to scare it off the road so she threw a 16 ounce plastic Pepsi bottle at it just trying to scare it. She hit it on the head with the bottle by accident and after it looked at her with a dazed but pissed off look before it ran off the road to live another day. I am literally laughing right now as I type this story. Its one of the many reasons I love her. (she makes me laugh).

The Horse Rider DWI incident was next and was horrifing yet you can't help but thank god that the children and father lived. Once again the animals died. The highway 14 area was once very rural and did not have the problems that more populated areas had. Now it like all areas have grown and the once rural area is very heavily populated. Growth in the area is exploding as the city and county push growth purposly into this area which has been targeted as almost the only planned (if you can call it that) growth area in the county. It reminds me of a quote by Robert C. Gallagher "Change is inevitable - except from a vending machine."