Friday, November 30, 2007

In Rememberance of Robert Craig "Evel Knievel"

One of my child hood hero's has always been Evel Knievel. I couldn't wait until wide world of sports with Howard Cosell would show his next jump. I watched every movie or TV show he came out in no matter how cheesy it was. To this day I own both the VHS and DVD copys of all his jumps and the movie of his life starring George Hamilton.

Evel Knievel's Failed Caesar's Palace Jump

Hearing of his death reminds me of my first big jump (on my bicycle). We lived in an apartment at Hopewell and Sixth Street in Santa Fe. I was probably 11 or 12 when I built a ramp over an arroyo that was about five feet wide. I got way back and began pedaling that bike as fast as I could. I hit that ramp and sailed into the air for just a few seconds before my bike went head first into the middle of that arroyo. My arm crashed onto an empty beer bottle which broke and cut a good 4 to 5 inch gash into my right forearm. I am looking at the scar and laughing out loud right now. I have to admit I took a few more jumps with better success later. My mother was not happy with the bill for stitches I do remember that also.

Years later I got his autograph and framed and hung it on my wall. It eventually faded with the sun and me not being to bright at the time tried to trace it with a sharpie and ruined it. I always wanted another and In January I got the address to his condo in Florida and asked for another. Turns out he was selling them and I purchased a Photo and he sent it to me in one of his custom stationary envelopes which he also signed. A few weeks after I got the autograph he survived a stroke. I was glad I had gotten a hold of him when I did.

Here is Evel at his home in Florida signing my Photo.

Evel Knievel gave me hope, inspiration and a male figure to look up to. I never had a father and while my mother was a great role model I needed male role models to look up to. I found those as a very young boy from the likes of Evel, Elvis, and other Fifties rock and roll icons. Granted as I grew older I learned of the faults that Evel, Elvis and others had but by then I had learned some good lessons. Lessons like no matter how poor or bad things were you could still be somebody. You could still accomplish something in life. When I was young I never even considered college as an option. I was working since 12 years old and was a young entrepreneur from the age of 18. People like Evel showed me that the difference between success and failure was dependant on no one else but yourself.

I always use to say I would recreate his first paid stunt in which he would jump a motorcycle over two pickup trucks parked end to end. I still haven't done it only because my first bike and all the bikes I have owned since were all heavy street bikes. At 44 years old now I really need to buy some cheap off road bike and take the jump (don't tell my wife !) before I get older and I have to do it on a hover round.

My kids grew up on Evel Knievel videos and have seen all his jumps. I took them with me to see his son Robbie Knievel jump a bunch of semi's at Rt 66 Casino right here in New Mexico. I waited for hours after the jump to get his autograph to place in my game room next to his fathers. He brushed right past the 4 of us who waited outside his trailer, jumped into his SUV and drove off. It's the last time I will see one of his jumps. Every year Butte Montana, the birthplace of Evel, hosts Evel Knievel days, a festival dedicated to Evel. Every year I said I would go but just never made it. This is one of the few regrets I have in life. I have been told that Evel would stay signing autographs until every one who wanted one got one. Every one who has met Evel says he is the nicest person you could ever meet if you were one of his fans.

Evel used to say he did not believe in god that he only believed in himself. I have my DVR set to record anything that has to do with Evel and one day a few months ago I found it odd to see that Robert Schuller's Hour of Power mass had been recorded. I looked at the description and was surprised to see that Evel was getting baptized. Evel was besieged with numerous health problems including Hepititis C, and two strokes. In the mass Evel acknowledged that he used to be an atheist but now believed in Jesus Christ. He actually looked and spoke really well but I remember telling my wife that he must feel like the end is near and decided to be baptized. As a believer in Jesus Christ myself I am glad he found god.

Evel Knievel announces his new found belief in Christ.

I guess you know your getting old when all the icons of your younger years start dying. Evel you had a great 69 years and I feel as though I have lost a family member. Thanks to you for inspiring me and I hope they have Harleys in heaven.......

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Real American Gangster- Frank Lucas

I haven't seen the movie with Denzel Washington yet, I rarely go to a theater waiting instead until the movie is released on DVD or even worse until its on cable tv for free. But I do often read articles related to the drug war and drug cases throughout the world. In doing so I ran across this article about the daughter of Frank Lucas. Frank Lucas is the real drug dealer whose life is depicted in the new Denzel Washington movie "American Gangster". Frank's daughter, Francine Lucas, who grew up at times with both of her parents in prison talks about her life as daughter of one of the most notorious drug dealers in Harlem. Its an interesting article which led me to another even more interesting article on the subject.

Frank Lucas

It seems the movie was based on an article by Mark Jacobson which was printed in the August 2000 edition of the New York The Magazine. The Article titled "The Return of Superfly" was an in depth interview and article on the life of Frank Lucas. It is a great read for anyone. You realize the true Frank Lucas when he laughs while describing how he oversaw the "Cadaver Connection". The Cadaver Connection involved Franks people smuggling drugs from Vietnam in the coffins of dead soldiers. When asked about the truth that he smuggled drugs into America in this matter his reply to Mark Jacobson was, "We did it, all right . . . ha, ha, ha . . . " Lucas chortles in his dying-crapshooter's scrape of a voice. "Who the hell is gonna look in a dead soldier's coffin? Ha ha ha."

I have lived with people who had a hard life and who will do things others would not for money. Things that like cleaning bathrooms, digging ditches in the snow, or cleaning out sewers. I have also met others who will do illegal things to get money. Rarely in your life will you meet someone who will smuggle drugs in the coffins of our dead soldiers.....and then laugh about it. Frank also tells the story of how he once paid a cook on Henry Kissinger's plane $100,000 to smuggle drugs into the country on the military plane carrying Henry Kissinger on one of his diplomatic missions. Frank laughs as he tells the Kissinger drug smuggling deal just as he did when telling the story of the Cadaver Connection. Frank only speaks of one homicide he committed when speaking to reporter Mark Jacobson however Frank Lucas is believed to have caused the deaths of many. Frank Lucas spent very few years in prison as a result of deals with prosecutors, how he lived to a ripe old age of 80 after turning states evidence is pretty amazing in itself.

The one thing people say about Frank Lucas is that he is a nice guy. Even the judge who sentenced him to 30 years in prison says he is likable and jokes with him like you would with an old friend as she talks to him on the phone. I guess thats the life of a drug kingpin and murder who lives to an old age, you get to be a paid consultant on the movie of your life and you get to joke around on the phone with the judge who sentenced you. I wonder how many mothers and fathers are remembering their children who died at the hands of Frank Lucas, whether directly by his hand or indirectly after losing their lives to the drugs he peddled.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Happy Birthday Governor Richardson.

I am not very good at remembering peoples birthdays yet I remember that November 15, is Governor Bill Richardson's Birthday. The only reason I remember his birthday is because we share the same birthday, yet the years are somewhat different. I am going to spend my birthday helping a friend lay out a cement pad at his house. I think the Governor probably will be doing less manual labor, however I bet he will still be fitting in a campaign stop or two, birthday or not.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Will Red Light Camera's Leave Albuquerque?

The two of you read this blog regularly,(lol) will know that I have often derided Albuquerque's Red Light Camera Program. I have always felt that the program was more geared towards revenue than it was towards safety. Especially when you look at the exorbitant fees the private company that runs the program charges. Now Mayor Chavez has announced he is forming a task force to investigate whether or not the camera's are effective at preventing accidents. Many States and locality's have done similar studies after trying out the camera's and ended up canceling the program.

Below is KOAT TV's coverage of the Task Force.

Mayor Chavez announcement came after two different T.V. stations did investigative pieces over just where the money was going. KOAT TV's investigation revealed that between 2005 and 2007, New Mexicans paid $10.6 million in red light and speed tickets. The city spent $4.8 million to run the safety program, which means $5.8 million is in the city general fund - all generated from the red light and speed program. When KOAT TV asked the city's chief financial officer, Gail Reese, how a program Mayor Martin Chavez claims is not out to make money is making millions. She responded with "Over time this program's costs will equal the revenues.
"It is an expensive program. Safety is an expensive thing,".

Here is the KOAT piece on the profits the City of Albuquerque has made from the program.

As I said earlier RedFlex charges Exorbitant fees to Albuquerque. The city spends about $200,000 a month leasing these cameras and speed vans, and on top of that the company leasing the cameras to Albuquerque, RedFlex, also charges for every single ticket: $18 for red light runners and nearly $25 for speeders. What I hope is that the task force appointed by Marty Chavez or one of the news outlets does a comparison between the contract RedFlex has with the city of Albuquerque and other contracts the company and similar companies have with other cities across the state. I have a feeling there are vast differences and communities that fight for a good deal and want to save taxpayers money are successful in doing so.

This red light program needs to be completely restructured or ended all together. One of the things that we who are law enforcement administrators often try to do is to eliminate the perception that we have quota's or that we make money from tickets. Most agencies do not. The Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office gets about $6000 a year back from magistrate courts from tickets we issue. We issue about 30,000 tickets a year so as you can see it really is not much. Especially when you consider the over ten million dollar budget we have in the Sheriff's Office. This program flies in the face of trying to get rid of the perception that tickets are to generate funds. What tickets should be about is education and deterrence.

Here are some links to past blog posts I have had on red light camera's. When you read them you will see that you heard it here first. The things this task force will study are the things I have advocated looking at all along.

Sheriff Greg Solano Red Light Camera Blog Posts.

Note: I use KOAT TV a lot for embedded video in my blog posts because they are nice enough to post their video on YouTube. Its a great convenience and I think a great way to get free publicity for their station.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Is rape of a prostitute not a rape?

I was surprised to read this story about a prostitute who made an appointment with a man by using criagslist in Philadelphia. When she arrived at the home she was raped at gunpoint by the man and several of his friends. The case was taken to court and the judge involved threw out the rape case and only allowed the man Dominique Gindraw to be charged with Armed Robbery For Theft of Services. There was outcry from several groups however Municipal Judge Teresa Carr Deni still won a retention election which occurred weeks after her ruling. Blogs run by Prostitutes or "sex workers" as they call themselves tried to organize an online "vote no on retention" campaign against Judge Deni but failed in their efforts to remove her.

The accuser testified that she initially agreed to have sex with Gindraw and a friend of his in exchange for money, but that Gindraw refused to pay her, held a gun to her head and forced her to have sex with several men, according to a transcript of an Oct. 4 court hearing. "She consented and she didn't get paid. … I thought it was a robbery," Judge Deni told the Philadelphia Daily News. The reduced charges against Gindraw are still pending in the Municipal Court, but the district attorney's office has refiled the rape charge at a different local court, the Court of Common Pleas, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.As I stated in the first sentence of this blog post, I could not believe this. I have every belief that the Court of Common Pleas will find that these men are all guilty of Rape, Robbery, Aggravated Assault and more.

The editors of our local newspapers are often pushing their opinion that magistrate and municipal judges should be lawyers. I have not usually agreed, having personally known several judges who were not lawyers but were good judges. In what is often called the peoples court I think common sense and someone who is closer to the "common man" will do better. On the other hand I know some bad judges who are lawyers. What do you think about this case and should judges be lawyers? Do you think Judge Deni was a lawyer? Yes or No ? Post your comment first on whether you think she is a lawyer or not and then click here to find the answer and see if you were right.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Santa Fe goes High Tech.

Yesterday I was proud to unveil SORIS the which stands for Sex Offender Registration and Identification System. The system brings to mind Star Trek type technology which is now no longer a science fiction story but reality. The System was donated by the company that designed it, BI2 Technologies. The equipment is valued at $10,000 and Santa Fe County will be the only jurisdiction in New Mexico to have the SORIS system as part of a pilot program to create a national database of sex offenders.

The system is an iris recognition biometric scanner and software to recognize and identify a person based on a scan of their Iris. With this equipment a persons true identity can be had in seconds based on a scan of the persons eye. Once a national database is populated and more and more law enforcement and jails use this system we can better track offenders and find offenders who move to other area's and change their identity. Here is the Santa Fe New Mexican Story on the system.

Below is the Fox News at Nine story on the SORIS System:

And here is the KOB TV News story on the SORIS System:

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Lots of Phone calls about the House Race.

I have received a lot of phone calls about the possibility of running for Rep. Tom Udall's House Seat should Tom run for Pete Dominici's Senate Seat.

I have addressed the topic in my other Blog, "The Road to Lt. Governor".

Here is some of the news coverage of the topic:

Friday, November 02, 2007

Robert Montoya speaks out about daughter reporting him DWI

Larry Behrens got an exclusive last night when KOAT TV interviewed Robert Montoya. Robert Montoya was arrested by my deputies after his daughter reported him speeding and drunk driving with his 13 year old sister and a 15 year old friend also in the car with her.

You can see the video of the jail house interview here.

KOAT also did a story on Bill O'Reilly blasting Governor Richardson over DWI in New Mexico. You can see that story here.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Video of Sheriff Greg Solano on MSNBC with Dan Abrams

Below is the you tube video of my appearance on Dan Abrams MSNBC show which aired live last night. I was also scheduled to appear live on Star Jones Show on Court TV today however it was canceled due to technical difficulties in getting the satellite feed into a Santa Fe or Albuquerque studio in time. Vic Vela of the Albuquerque Journal did a story on the national airplay this story is getting and KOAT TV is planning to do a story tonight as well.