Friday, August 29, 2008

FBI Conducted Simular Probe in other Cities

In today's Albuquerque Journal North there was a story about a tape (subscription required) which the F.B.I. released to the Santa Fe Police Department approximately two years ago. In the tape Chief Eric Johnson and his brother, Capt. Gary Johnson are searching a hotel room during a 2003 drug investigation. According to the story written by Vic Vela and Kiera Hay City Councilor Patti Bushee wants the tape released now that the internal investigation is complete. Rumors have been swirling in regards to bad blood between City Police and City Councilor Patti Bushee.
The disagreements came to a head weeks ago during an incident in which Bushee criticized Santa Fe Police for disciplinary action to be taken against an officer who refused to remove beads given to her during a gay pride parade by Councilor Bushee.

According to leaked information which has been coming out little by little over the last year, the tape reportedly shows money was planted in the room by the FBI. The Johnson's entered the room after being let in by hotel personnel, saw the cash and left. I have heard that the room was under surveillance for some time by city police and that the room was only entered after it was believed that it had been vacated by who ever was believed to be in the room and was reportedly using the room for drug sales. The article in the Albuquerque Journal quotes two lawyers who state that the search could have been in violation of the supposed occupants civil rights. If as I have heard, the room was believed to have been vacated then the rights to privacy by the previous occupants may not be valid.

The real interesting thing is that in 2004 the F.B.I. did the exact same thing in Ramsey County MN. The F.B.I. in what they called an "integrity test" placed $13,500 in a hotel room wired with a video camera. The FBI had a drug dealer call a Deputy and tell him a drug dealer named "Vinnie" had left drugs and money in a room at the Best Western Kelly Inn in St. Paul. Three deputies went into the room and two of them with out the knowledge of the third removed half the money and placed it into the trunk of their car. Later when the began to suspect the whole deal was a set up they returned the money claiming they took it as part of a joke they were playing on the third deputy.

Unlike the Santa Fe case the U.S. Attorney prosecuted the two deputies and on Wednesday August 27, 2008 the two were found guilty and face 20 years in prison for the incident. The important contrast to the Santa Fe Case is the fact that the U.S. Attorney prosecuted the deputies. The fact that no prosecution occurred in the Santa Fe case is clue number one that nothing illegal occurred. The F.B.I. has the ability and in fact is charged with prosecuting civil rights violations by police. If a civil rights violation or a criminal theft had occurred then the F.B.I. and the U.S. Attorney had a responsibility to prosecute.

I have been critical of the F.B.I. and the recent investigations of the City Police in the past and I still feel there was mishandling of this case as well. The F.B.I. had the tape and information on this case for years and only turned over the tape and began leaking information about the tapes existence during their botched investigation of City Officers in an apparent case of drug money theft. The leaks in my opinion were designed to put increased pressure on the City Police and its Chief. In May of 2007 The F.B.I. filed charges and searched the homes of two of Santa Fe City Police Detectives. There was a number of leaks of information in the weeks leading up to the charges as well as afterwards regarding the case. The F.B.I. seemed to have no trouble leaking information to the press yet would not release information to the agency heads at the City Police Department. The Police Department not knowing how far reaching the cases were put a halt to all narcotics investigations.

This created an increase in narcotics and burglary cases that plagued the city and stretched out into the county and even surrounding counties. We all had to deal with the repercussions of these cases. So the federal government came in, spread around huge allegations. They filed 24 felony counts against two city detectives, and refused to cooperate with agency heads allowing them to make informed decisions regarding the agency they head. Then a year later they drop all but one count against one detective and work out a deal with the other in which he agrees to not be a cop in New Mexico and they just walk away.

I hope that the release of the tape regarding Chief Eric Johnson and his brother, Capt. Gary Johnson will finally put an end to all of this era of the F.B.I. tearing down the City Police and that the City Police will continue to move forward. I have confidence in the current administration at the City Police and until I am shown evidence to believe otherwise I will continue to support them. I also have supported Councilor Patti Bushee for many years going all the way back to her initial appointment by then Mayor Debbie Jaramillo to fill her council seat. I consider her a friend and for the most part an excellent city councilor. I do feel that she and other city councilors are getting too involved in personnel issues of late and need to allow city staff to do their job. The interference of City Councilors in personnel issues is creating more problems than can ever be solved by their involvement.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Gun Toting Teachers Hit Texas Town

Since most other bloggers are covering the Democratic Convention I have stuck to other issues. Today I thought I would talk about a small Texas town who has decided to allow its teachers to carry concealed weapons on campus. Harrold Texas is a town with only 320 people listed in the 2000 census. The School has about 100 students and the town reportedly has a zero crime rate. Depending on the news story you read the local sheriffs office is 17 miles away or 30 minutes away, which with lights and sirens means a deputy is about five to 12 minutes away.

Despite all of this the local school board has not only allowed teachers to carry concealed firearms they have provided training, 40 hours worth, to the teachers who have decided to carry firearms to school. The school board has declined to release just how many teachers are carrying firearms and have also declined to name who the teachers are. This decision is supposedly based on the school boards contention it would release security details to possible attackers. According to many parents the school board made this decision with out proper notification and discussion with the parents.

Superintendent David Thweatt of the Harrold Independent School District says he studied the issue for two years while he filled his school with more than 100,000 dollars in state-of-the-art security systems. According to Superintendent Thweatt even with the new keyless entry, camera system, lock-down buttons and classroom telephones, Thweatt said he still could not have prevented a mass murder like the one in an Amish one-room schoolhouse in Pennsylvania in 2006 that left five girls dead.

The move by the school district is attracting attention not only across the nation but in other countries as well. The Republican governor of the state Rick Perry, has endorsed the idea. The governor is a staunch advocate of right-to-carry provisions and has advocated allowing licensed gun owners to carry them into places where they can currently be banned, such as college campuses, churches, bars and private businesses. Some in Texas do oppose the gun toting teachers including Texans for Gun Safety board member Linda Siemers who said teachers or students carrying guns around school "is a terrifying idea." The Houston Teachers Union has voiced opposition to the program and the Dallas Morning News has issued an editorial against the program as well.

I support concealed carry for properly trained citizens. I fully agreed with Barack Obama's quote in his acceptance speech just a few hours ago.

"The reality of gun ownership may be different for hunters in rural Ohio than they are for those plagued by gang violence in Cleveland, but don't tell me we can't uphold the Second Amendment while keeping AK-47s out of the hands of criminals."

While I can see some good in having armed personnel in schools, I believe arming teachers is not the answer. The odd thing is that when you combine the claimed security costs of $100,000 of equipment that has been installed in this particular school and the costs of training and liability insurance costs the school must incur then you could put an armed trained officer in the school for at least two years if not three. The liabilities don't end with the fact that a teacher could shoot someone or have their weapon taken away and used against them. What happens when a teacher feels threatened or uses bad judgment in when to draw and point a weapon at someone? Money that could have gone to education or to a certified, trained, and armed officer in school will go to the parents of the students who sue the teacher and school involved in the incident.

Law enforcement officers who attend 22 weeks of training and an additional 40 hours of training every two years get sued regularly for alleged excessive force complaints. I can see a lawsuit if not several as this program continues. Police officers go through psychological testing and extensive background checks in addition to all the training they receive. How many teachers would carry weapons if they had to go through psychological testing? How many would pass the tests? If someone fails a psychological test would you want that person teaching your kids with or without a concealed weapon?

I have spoken in this blog in the past about the cuts from the Bush administration which have all but removed federal funding for cops in the schools programs. President Clinton understood the need and included the program as part of the COPS programs which put 100,000 more cops on the streets and in the schools. We all want our children safe in schools however we must be reasonable and think through ideas before taking extreme measures which could backfire and create more problems than they are designed to solve.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Dear Mario, Keep up with the Blogs!

Apparently a fellow blogger is a little behind on reading my blog, shame on you. You need to keep up if your going to have blog posts that are not behind the times. Way back on June 16, 2008 I endorsed Martin Heinrich in his race against Darren White. A full month later Mario Burgos decides to take issue with that endorsement. Mario Burgos decided to accuse me of being of all things, A DEMOCRAT! Ok, Mario , I admit it, as the Elected Democratic Sheriff in Santa Fe County I am a registered Democrat. I also have to admit that I read your blog, along with 58 others on a daily basis, thank god for Bloglines. For those who don't know what bloglines is, it is a FREE online service for searching, subscribing, creating and sharing news feeds, blogs and rich web content. It allows me to easily keep up with peoples blogs that I am either interested in or want to keep track of what they are saying.

A photo of myself speaking about my endorsement of Martin Heinrich with Congressman Rahm Emanuel, Martin Heinrich, and members of the I.A.F.L. Firefighters Union behind me.

Now I'm not talking about spying but in order to be well informed you need to listen to not only those who share your political philosophy but also those who do not. That is why I read Mario's blog along with many other right wing blogs and websites. Another thing Mario accuses me of is wanting to federalize local police forces. Apparently he is not a regular reader of this blog. Why only last Wednesday August 20th I posted this blog post in which I spoke about my distrust and disapproval of a justice department proposal of a new domestic spying measure designed to allow state and local police to collect intelligence about citizens and share the data with federal agencies.

Apparently Mario just has a hard time believing that I can make a decision based on anything else but partisan politics. Well Mario, I don't expect you to admit it and I don't even want you to admit it, but you are wrong. Darren White has not received my endorsement because he and I have political and philosophical differences that are so far apart I could not endorse him.

The fact remains that successful law enforcement efforts require a nationwide approach and federal grants and funds allow that type of approach to take place. Never was the success of national crime policy more successful than during the Clinton Administration when the COPS programs helped reduce crime and introduce community policing to a nation of police who had no idea what community policing was before these programs were introduced to them. At a time when there are more school shootings, there are less police in the schools as funding for them has been cut to the bone.

These are not just Republican or Democrat issues and I hope readers will take note, what I most fault Darren White for is not using his position and influence in the Bush Administration to address the law enforcement issues we have faced in recent years. On the other hand I have spoken to Martin Heinrich and I fully believe he understands the issues and will go to bat for the safety of our homes, our families and our children.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Best Day Fishing.

If you subscribe to the saying "the worst day fishing is better than the best day working" then I was in fishing heaven this weekend. The Under Sheriff Robert Garcia, his wife Christine, my wife Antoinette and I spent the weekend at Tall Pine Resort in Red River New Mexico. If you ever want to Camp and fish in style, you have to stay at Tall Pine Resort. The owners Richard and Linda Green own piece of heaven with 23 cabins, beautiful land with Red River running through it and a small private lake that is stocked weekly with trout. The resort is a great place to stay and yet it is affordable costing less than a decent hotel room.

According to their website the cabins run between $60 and $170. We stayed in a two bedroom with a living room, kitchen, dining room, and bathroom which costs $130-$150. The cabin includes electricity, propane, a stove, refrigerator, and running water. There is no microwave, or TV, however there is small appliances such as toaster and coffee maker. There is also no internet which is the only thing I really missed. I did take my laptop which was good for watching a dvd. Fishing at the lake is an additional $20 but well worth it.

According to the published history of Tall Pine Resort, Tall Pine Camp was established in 1920 by Reed, Richard, and George Oldham, brothers and prospectors who settled in Red River during the gold rush in 1895. They staked the Golden Treasure, Golden Calf, Bunker Hill, and Raton group of claims located beginning 5 miles up Placer Road (the current road to Goose Lake). The camp was originally intended to be headquarters for their mines.

In 1935, the prospector's niece Winifred Oldham Hamilton and her husband Walter moved to Red River from Boulder City, NV, where Walter worked building the Hoover Dam and Winifred taught school to the construction worker's children. Their dream was to help the uncles develop Tall Pine Camp. Travelers seeing the beautiful valley setting frequently stopped and asked to pitch their tents. The family began building cabins to rent, and what is now known as Tall Pine Resort was born.

In 1990, in her 89th year, Winifred had a dream in which Walter, who had passed away in 1977, told her to "sell, sell, sell." The remaining Oldham family agreed, and the cabins were placed on the market. Winnie would retain her house and the buildings on six acres until her death in January, 1998.

Linda and Richard Green were longtime guests of Tall Pine Resort who, like many others, had dreamed of owning it someday. Linda grew up vacationing here with her family, and brought Richard here after their marriage. Linda's mother's family, the A. B. Clouthiers of Springer, NM, were some of the original tent campers in the twenties and thirties.

The Green's convinced Winnie and the family to sell to them with the promise to keep Tall Pine Resort the special place so many families loved, and began operating the resort in the summer of 1991.

We arrived late on Friday and settled into our cabin, named Riverside. By the time my wife and I arrived about 7:30 pm the Under Sheriff Robert Garcia had caught his daily limit of 5 trout and was cooking dinner on the grill for all of us.

A pic of Riverside Cabin, our home for the weekend.

We had a great dinner and played some cards and chatted before hitting the bedrooms. On Saturday morning we had a great breakfast and heading into the town of Red River where we hit some yard sales before heading back to hit the Tall Pine Lake. Antoinette my wife does not usually fish with me but I convinced her to join me and she quickly caught a couple of trout only to lose them at the bank reeling them in. On her third catch she brought the fish ashore and was all smiles. She really got into the fishing and quickly caught two more. Not doing well where I was fishing initially I moved closer to her spot and my luck changed. Within a few hours we all had our limits and packed up as the rain began to lightly fall.

Antoinette and the stringer with both our fish.

With all the fun I was having I sure look serious.

Robert and Christine waiting for the next bite.

The ducks hung around us waiting to snap up any food or bait that was dropped.

As we took the short drive back to our cabin we drove up on a small herd of Deer. I had to stop and take about a dozen pictures. It was great getting close enough to grab these pictures.

Saturday night we had some great steaks off the outdoor grill and hit some of the tourist shops back in the town of Red River. On Sunday morning I got up surprisingly early, a little after 6 am. I brewed a pot of coffee and after a couple of cups I headed back to the lake where I caught another 4 trout before heading back to the cabin for breakfast. I sure hated to leave but none the less we packed up and got ready to leave. After taking a few more pics of some chipmunks and Antoinette and I by the river we headed home. I will definitely be returning to Tall Pines Resort as it made for a great weekend. The resort closes for the winter on September 30th so if you can't make it this year keep the place in mind for next year.

One of the many chipmunks we saw. Not sure if this was Alvin or Theodore.

One last picture of Antoinette and I by the river.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Funny Friday- My Favorite Traffic Stop Story

Gabriel Iglesias is one of my favorite comedians. I have heard a lot of traffic stop stories and by far this one is my favorite. I hope you all enjoy.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Local Police Could Become Spys, A Tool or a Weapon?

I was reading a story by Trip Jennings in the New Mexico Independent Website which was based on an article in the Washington Post. The article intrigued and concerned me. The articles describe a Justice Department proposal to implement a new domestic spying measure designed to allow state and local police to collect intelligence about citizens and share the data with federal agencies. The local agencies would also be able to retain the data for up to 10 years.

As I read the Washington Post story I tried to decide, is this good or bad for local law enforcement? It reminded me in a very roundabout way of one of the first times I was called to a homicide scene as a young officer. On May 10 of 1989 I was called to a home on Urioste Street. It was about 3am and Connie Brito had called police to report she found her 100 year old Grandfather Pino Madrid beaten in his bedroom. I arrived at the home to find this 100 year old grandfather in his bedroom. His bedroom looked like a scene from a horror movie with blood everywhere including the ceiling. Mr. Madrid was still alive and actually sitting up on the bed.

He had 18 to 25 holes in his head all bleeding. When I would try and apply pressure with towels there were too many holes to cover and when I would cover some wounds, increased blood would flow from the remaining holes. His genitals were swollen to the size of cantaloupes which was so out of place it looked inhuman. We later discovered Connie's husband John Brito had beaten his wifes 100 year old grandfather with a claw hammer. The beatings with the claw end were so intense the steel claw had broken off the hammer in Mr. Madrid's skull during the attack. Amazingly Mr Madrid survived until June 2, 1989 before succumbing to his injuries.

What does this have to do with local police gathering spy type information on citizens? I like working with my hands and often do home remodel projects, woodworking projects and other Tim Allen type man stuff. In doing this work the claw hammer is a tool that one can hardly do without and does much good for mankind. With the hammer you can provide shelter for the homeless, build hospitals, soup kitchens, and schools to teach our young. When asked if the hammer is a good invention most people would say yes. But even the best intentions can turn bad. In the death of poor 100 year old Pino Madrid the hammer was a weapon and not a tool. A real cruel vicious weapon that had to have inflicted horrible pain upon a man in the last days of his life.

There may be some good in allowing local officers to play international spy and maybe develop important information which could one day prevent a terrorist attack on American soil. On the other hand some officers could use this to gather intelligence on groups which are not doing anything illegal and are not planning to do so. Perhaps, church groups? How about NRA members or political groups? Can't happen?

In the Washington Post article incidents of local police spying on political and other activists groups are described. In Maryland State Police agents spied on death penalty opponents and antiwar groups in 2005 and 2006. Undercover New York police officers infiltrated protest groups before the 2004 Republican National Convention and California state agents eavesdropped on peace, animal rights and labor activists. There have also been revelations that Denver Police spied on Amnesty International and others before being discovered.

Local police currently gather data and intelligence on criminals involved in Drugs, Gangs, Burglary Rings and other crimes which are both investigated and prosecuted by local police and District Attorneys. The types of data we now gather are really based on ongoing criminal investigations or known criminals. I do think we have a responsibility on a local level to keep our eyes and ears open for national crimes, and should be trained to recognize and deal with possible terrorist threats. We also have a responsibility to report these tips or information to federal authorities. I do not think we should make junior g-men out of local law enforcement.


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Have Officers Outgrown Cops in the Neighborhood Programs?

This story in the Santa Fe Reporter made me wonder whether Police Officers have outgrown these types of programs. At the same time some residents don't want the officers living in their neighborhood. In the story Mark Sanders describes some residents who oppose a program called the Caretaker Housing in City Parks. The Program would provide affordable housing for police in city parks. It is designed to provide more security to parks and the neighborhoods which surround them as well as help provide local housing for officers who increasingly are living in outlying areas and communities such as Rio Rancho.

This is a serious problem as I described in this blog post entitled "cops don't live here anymore". Mark didn't mention what kind of housing would be put into the parks. Will they be manufactured housing? Mobile Homes? or real single family housing? These questions among others are important. Also the city may want to do a survey or take applications to find out just how many officers would live in this type of housing. When I first became a rookie officer in 1988 I started at a little over $6 an hour. we had city police officers living in city housing projects. Not as part of a community policing program but because they qualified to live there based on their income and family size. Many officers were also on the Federal Food Stamp Program. Aside from retirement which has always been good for law enforcement officers in New Mexico, men and women really became officers because they wanted to help others and because they grew up wanting to be cops, not for the pay.

Now starting pay for officers is up to a respectable level of just under $15 an hour with officers making $18 an hour and more after the first year. Officers now expect more in terms of where they are willing to live. That is one reason many move to or buy houses in Rio Rancho and surrounding communities. It is not only that affordable housing is not easily available in Santa Fe but also the fact that your dollar buys a lot more outside of Santa Fe. Larger lot sizes, more square footage, and a new home for the price of an older used home in Santa Fe.

I often get people who want to rent guest homes or other housing in Santa Fe to a Law Enforcement Officer. Usually they are small guest homes or maybe a mobile home located on a business lot. The owner hopes to rent to an officer at a low rental rate in exchange for the security of having an officer living on their property. We also often have city and county properties including housing located in government housing projects or blighted areas offered to officers for little or no rent. Officers used to jump on these properties but in the past few years many of these offers go without takers. Officers are still underpaid compared to the levels of training, dedication, and hazards of the job. However, officers can now afford better and like all who want the American Dream they strive for better.

I am curious just how many officers will take these houses in the parks and whether or not the homes and yards can be made appealing to young officers and their families. I also hope the city considers the turnover that occurs in these types of homes. Once the officer saves money and moves up in pay and rank they will move on from this type of housing and hopefully into a home they own, still in Santa Fe. We really need to focus on making it appealing and financially sound for officers to become City of Santa Fe home owners rather than citizens of Rio Rancho. I commend the City of Santa Fe for doing something to keep officers living local and I hope they have considered the factors I describe in this post along with others to make this program successful.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Democrats Become the Organized Party.

"I don't belong to an organized party--I'm a democrat."

I read this quote sometime back and at the time its seemed very appropriate. At least on the local level and even somewhat on the state and national level it seemed as though the Democratic Party was a million different organizations each doing their own thing and unaware of what the party was doing even in the next town.

Lately I am seeing more and more cohesion and organization than I have seen even in my own lifetime. Act Blue is allowing national fundraising to occur organized and through the Internet. Calling itself the online clearing house for democratic action, the web site allows individuals to choose a race, maybe not even one in their own state, and make a difference for the democratic party as a whole by donating money to key races around the country. It used to be said that all politics is local, and for the most part it still is. However, now individuals can make a difference on a much more national scale.

State wide the same fundraising ability has been set up using Act Blue interface and calling itself True Blue New Mexico. Here you can contribute not only to the congressman in your district but to all democratic candidates for congress throughout the state. This allows a new breed of activism across the U.S. . There was a time that it took some work on an individuals part to see who might need our help across our own state as well as across the U.S.. Now that information is a mouse click away.

Barack Obama has also brought a new level of grassroots, rural and suburban campaigning to our nation. In the past Presidential campaigns opened offices in only the largest cities in our state and tried to get those offices to work the smaller surrounding rural areas. Obama has changed all of that with 20 offices across this state and more being added weekly. Places like Los Alamos, Carlsbad, Raton, Shiprock and Taos are hosting Obama for President offices. This is great for all future campaigns as people who have never had the chance to volunteer in a local office are getting to do so now. I can tell you that it is addicting and once you go out and volunteer for a candidate many do so again and again. It is the epitome of making a difference in your community.

The Internet and new mass communication methods such as text, email, blogs, My Space, Facebook and others have led this new level of organization. Everyone is more organized and organization is easier with cellphones, P.D.A.'s , online calendars, contact lists, and spreadsheets. With all this organization comes more voters at the polls than ever before and a greater understanding of our political process. It is great to see all this happen in my lifetime and I am excited to be a small part of it.

Perhaps one day I will tell the story to my grandchildren about how we used to read about politics in a thing called a newspaper and then actually get in a thing called a gasoline powered automobile and drive to a place known as a polling place. Once there we used to have to make sure we were at the right precinct, stand in line sometimes for hours and then cast a ballot on a piece of paper. I may even explain to my grandchildren what a hanging chad was.

Maricopa County Democrats go to the Web to Remove Joe Arpaio

I have been receiving a lot of visitors who have found my site via a link on a new website called Joes Got To Go. Apparantly the Democratic Party in Maricopa County has decided to link to a blog post I had back in May where I spoke about Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County Arizona decision to endorse Aubrey Dunn in his 2cd Congressional District primary race against Ed Tinsley. The web site mistakenly says the congressional race was in Santa Fe County and even though I am in Santa Fe County the 2cd Congressional District is in South Eastern New Mexico.

Apparently Joe's endorsement did not work as Republican Aubrey Dunn lost to Ed Tinsley in the June Primary. The controversial Republican Sheriff is facing democrat Dan Saban in the November election for the office of Sheriff in Maricopa County. Dan Saban was a republican when he ran against Joe Arpaio in 2004. Now after switching parties he returns to try and unseat the Sheriff who despite controversy after controversy continues to win re-election every 4 years. In the latest poll numbers on August 6, 2008 the Sheriff was still ahead even though his popularity has slipped in the last year. He remains ahead of his opponent with a 54% to 38% lead in polling numbers. The Sheriff enjoyed a 64% lead in March of 2007. The Sheriff has faced major opposition from Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon and Gov. Janet Napolitano, who has withdrawn state funding from the Sheriff's office after the Sheriff started conducting controversial immigration sweeps.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Sheriff Candidate Dan Saban

The battle between the Mayor, Governor and Sheriff Arpaio is based on his controversial program of "Crime suppression sweeps".
In the sweeps he and a posse of volunteer deputies show up in predominantly Hispanic neighborhoods, stop residents for minor traffic violations and then question them about their immigration status. A recent “sweep” rounded up 27 Hispanics who the Sheriff believes may be in the country illegally. The sweeps have resulted in law suits, rallys both pro and con and sometimes heated demonstrations.

According to a five part investigative series by the East Valley Tribune in Phoenix the result of the massive effort has been slower response times on emergency calls, a slumping arrest rate and, for a time, excessive overtime costs. All while the Sheriff and his deputies wage war on immigrants.

I have always been surprised by the extent of controversy in this Sheriff's career as well as his ability to push the envelope and cross over lines and still remain an elected official. I have never visited Maricopa County but perhaps when New Mexico's Space Port is open I can visit, I imagine it is somewhere in the twilight zone.

P.S. ever wonder what happens to a candidate web site when they lose the election? In the case of Aubrey Dunn he took his campaign web site and redirected it to a real estate and cattle sale web site. I have been wondering what to do with !


Friday, August 08, 2008

Martin Heinrich Public Safety Press Conference

Yesterday I attended a press conference for Martin Heinrich congressional candidate in district 1. The conference featured Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, firefighters from the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 244 and myself. I am borrowing photos from the FBIHOP blog flicker page for this blog post.

First to speak was Fire Captain Ahren Griego who explained why the local IAFF was supporting Martin Heinrich. He spoke about fire fighters who are developing lung and other diseases after years of working in and around fires. The fire fighters sometimes develop the diseases after retirement and many times are in a fight to prove thier ailments are work related. Martin Heinrich has vowed to work on this issue in congress.

I spoke next and I am just going to post my speech as I wrote it. I know I did stray from my prepared remarks in a sentence or two.

I want to tell all of you something’s you probably don’t know and something’s that will shock you. Police officers and deputies across this nation are going to work with out bullet proof vests they need to stay alive. They are going to work without enough ammunition to attend needed firearms training. There are thousands less cops in our schools protecting our children than there were just 7 years ago. This year alone New Mexico received a 67% cut in federal funds to combat drugs including Meth, Cocaine, and Heroin.

What happened 7 years ago that began these cuts? President George W. Bush took office in Washington.

I always thought I could support a Law Enforcement Officer going to represent us in Washington. Who better to work on Public Safety Issues? However, after all the destruction the Bush Administration has done to public safety in America one Sheriff not only stood by him but actually was his New Mexico Campaign Chair in 2004. Worse, not once has Sheriff Darren White tried to get his friend George W. Bush to stop the bleeding of our public safety agencies.

But we New Mexicans can do something about this. We can elect a man who has a proven record of working to combat crime and graffiti in Albuquerque as a city councilor. That man is Martin Heinrich!

I am proud to join the Sheriff's from Valencia and Sandoval County in support of Martin Heinrich because I know he will work hard to ensure that Public Safety officials have the resources and tools they need to protect New Mexico citizens. I hope all the citizens in District one will get out to vote and when they are in that voting booth they will choose Martin Heinrich.

I am very proud to introduce to you the next Congressman from District 1, Martin Heinrich

Next up to speak was Martin Heinrich himself who thanked all of us for our support and spoke about working in congress to address the issues our public safety officials have brought to him. He gave a great speech which was well written and thought out. He then introduced Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel of Illinois. Congressman Emanuel spoke about the Clinton era COPS programs which put 100,000 cops on the streets. He described how the Bush Administration has tried to end the program year after year and now has the program cut to almost nothing. I was very impressed with Congressman Emanuel and look forward to meeting him again.

The event went well and was well attended by the TV news, Print and those whom I recognized from the blogosphere. I look forward to helping Martin Heinrich as much as I can in his race and I feel he is on the road to victory in November.


Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Press Conference with Martin Heinrich

Its late notice but if anyone is interested in joining Congressional Candidate Martin Heinrich, Myself and other law enforcement and fire officials, we will be at Highland Park which is located at the corner of Silver SE and Elm SE in Albuquerque. The event will be at 3:30 pm on August 7, 2008 and as you can tell the focus is public safety issues. I look forward to seeing you there.


Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Paris Hilton Responds to MCain Celebrity Ad.

We have probably all seen or heard of John McCain’s latest TV ad, which calls Obama a "celebrity". The ad comes complete with pictures of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton and suggests he's not ready to be president. Now Paris Hilton has released an ad of her own.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Martin Heinrich Announces Sheriff Greg Solano's Endorsement

First Congressional District Candidate Martin Heinrich has sent out a press release announcing that two other Sheriff's have joined Sheriff Greg Solano in endorsing him for his race against Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White. Readers (or the reader, lol) of this blog know that I endorsed Martin Heinrich back on June 16, 2008 in this blog post.

Now joining me in endorsing Heinrich are Sheriff John Paul Trujillo of Sandoval County and Valencia County Sheriff Rene Rivera. All three sheriffs come from jurisdictions that reach into the First Congressional District.

Left to right Sheriff Rene Rivera, Sheriff Greg Solano, Sheriff John Paul Trujillo

For me I feel just a little bad that I cannot support Sheriff White but he has always been a staunch Bush supporter and the Bush administration has decimated law enforcement in his last 7 years in office. The really bad part is I have never heard Sheriff White admonish the Bush administration or even lobby the Bush administration to stop the bleeding. Officers across this nation are going with out Bullet Proof Vests, without ammunition for training and with out funding to keep cops on the streets and in the schools. I would love to see a fellow Law Enforcement Officer in Congress, Darren White is just not that officer. Below is the actual Press Release from Martin Heinrich's campaign. I will join Martin Heinrich at a press conference on Thursday August 7, 2008 in Albuquerque. I have not yet received the location but I will update you when I receive it.

Martin Heinrich Endorsed by three Sheriffs of First District

Sheriffs Solano, Rivera, Trujillo staunchly back Heinrich's crime-fighting record

The sheriffs are back in town. This past weekend, three central New Mexico sheriffs publicly endorsed candidate Martin Heinrich in his campaign for Congress in the First District. All three sheriff cited Heinrich's crime-fighting record on Albuquerque City Council as a main reason for supporting him in the race for Congress, and all expressed optimism for the future of New Mexican law enforcement with Heinrich acting on their behalf in Congress.

Valencia County Sheriff Rene Rivera appeared Saturday at a Valencia County welcoming event for Martin Heinrich. In his endorsement, Sheriff Rivera said, "I've been in law enforcement for over 19 years fighting against crime and drugs. Martin Heinrich was tough on crime on the Council, and I know he's the right partner in Congress to help keep our streets safe. That's why I'm endorsing him."

"We need Martin Heinrich in Congress," said Sandoval Sheriff John Paul Trujillo in his statement of endorsement. "This is the year to send the right representative to be our man in Congress, our voice for New Mexico law enforcement. Martin Heinrich will fight for critical legislation, like the COPS program. President Bush has succeeded in almost completely defunding COPS, but Martin will fight for the grants and funding law enforcement needs."

Santa Fe Sheriff Greg Solano endorsed Martin Heinrich earlier in the general election, but released an official statement of endorsement today. "This was not a hard decision – supporting Martin Heinrich and endorsing his candidacy," said Sheriff Solano. "I will always support my fellow sheriffs and members of law enforcement, but this year I know the best man to represent us in Congress is Martin Heinrich. As City Councilor he worked to fight crime and meth production in Albuquerque and increase the minimum wage to help out all of us living here. Martin Heinrich will bring the same ingenuity, creativity, and focus to Congress."

In response Heinrich said, "I am honored that Sheriffs Rivera, Trujillo, and Solano have decided that I am the one person in this race they know they can count on to be their partner in fighting crime."


An Honest Sheriff is a Poor Sheriff.

There are bad doctors, lawyers, reporters, etc. and anytime someone does wrong it puts a black mark on all those in the same profession. Back in October of 2007 I read that a federal indictment has been unsealed charging Orange County Sheriff Michael Carona with conspiracy, mail fraud and witness tampering.

Ex-Orange County Sheriff Michael Carona

Like any modern scandal the case includes Money, Power, and of course Sex, lies and Video Tapes. The indictment also implicates his wife Debra, alleged mistress Debra Victoria Hoffman and former assistant sheriffs Donald Haidl and George Jaramillo. The Indictment contains the following allegations.

All five conspired to get Carona elected in 1998 so he could then use his position to enrich himself and his cohorts. Together, Carona and others took more than $350,000 in illegal contributions.

In 1998, businessman Haidl solicited donations to Carona's campaign from others and then reimbursed the donors to hide the money trail.

Haidl paid for a Lake Tahoe vacation for Carona, Jaramillo, himself and their spouses after Carona was elected.

In 1999, Carona appointed Haidl an assistant sheriff for reserves and made Haidl's family, friends and business associates reserve deputies.

In 2001, Haidl gave Carona a boat and boat trailer valued at more than $5,000, and use of his yacht and private plane.

Haidl paid Carona $1,000 a month in cash for a "get out of jail free card" for friends and family members and full access to sheriff's department resources.

Haidl appointed Carona and Jaramillo to the board of directors of a company owned by Haidl's uncle.

Carona asked Jaramillo to lobby the county district attorney to charge Haidl's son, Gregory, as a juvenile instead of as an adult when the teenager was arrested in connection with a 2002 gang rape.

In 2003, Gregory Haidl received preferential treatment from the Sheriff's Department with Carona's consent after being arrested on a drug charge.

Between March 2004 and August 2007, Carona met with the elder Haidl, and, in a tape-recorded conversation, persuaded and attempted to persuade Haidl "from testifying truthfully" before members of a grand jury.

At the end of October then Sheriff Carona and his wife set up a question and answer session which I found interesting and odd. You can read about it here.

Sheriff Carona then resigned the office in January saying he was retiring in order to take advantage of Pro Bono Attorneys who were assisting him. When it was learned his attorneys were working for free a complaint was filed alleging that the attorneys amounted to illegal gift exceeding the amount allowed by state law. That complaint was opposed by the sheriff but he decided to retire and end the complaint. A private citizen is clear to accept free attorneys.

This case continues to be interesting when you look at who his attorneys are. Carona's legal team will be led by Brian Sun, a Los Angeles lawyer who won a famous settlement from the federal government in the case of Wen Ho Lee, a scientist accused of being a Chinese spy in a case that proved to be an embarrassment to our own Governor Bill Richardson who was then Bill Clinton's Secretary of Energy. Sun also successfully appealed an Orange County politician's conviction for his role in the county's 1994 bankruptcy. Attorney John Cline who has represented I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the former White House adviser, and former national security aide to Oliver North is also assisting in Carona's defense.

The Washington post recently did an extended article on this case which details a lot of the sexual aspects of this case. Reminiscent of President Richard Nixon, Sheriff Carona had video and audio tape recorders in his office. Those tapes have proven to be more of an embarrassment than evidence as they detail derogative language and discussions of sexual conquests by the ex-sheriff. In another odd aspect to the case the Sheriff's cell phone accidentally dialed a phone number and an answering machine recorded Sheriff Carona having sex in a county vehicle with one of his deputies. Somehow this recording is being considered for use by the prosecution in the upcoming trial. The female deputy has agreed to testify and
Court papers indicate the woman has revealed to investigators "physical characteristics, the kinds of sex he preferred, examples of sexual talk, and a nickname he used for his private parts." In case your wondering the nickname is "Little Sheriff".

Carona's fellow indicted former friend and cohort
Donald Haidl began assisting the feds in this case. He wore a wire and had several meetings with his former friend and Ex-Sheriff. Reportedly the tapes have Carona outlining the testimony Haidl should give and discuss whether their is an evidence trail of the money and gifts Haidl gave Carona. During a conversation with Haidl in which he was wearing a wire Sheriff Carona describes the rich people he hung out with like this..

"All the guys that, you know, got a lot of zeros, you know, in their bank accounts have checkered pasts, man," he said one July night last year. "Didn't want anything from me. They just enjoyed having fun and, you know, probably liked hanging out with the sheriff, thought that was cool. And I liked hanging out with them 'cause I thought that was cool.

"You wanna put me in jail for that, put 12 people in the box, and let's rock-and-roll."

Some feel that the Sheriff has been targeted by the feds and from higher ups in Washington for his controversial stances on issues such as immigration. Yet President Bush at one time appointed Sheriff Carona to the National Homeland Security Advisory Council. The Web Site has numerous videos which look at why the feds are after Sheriff Carona and how the media is affecting the case. Here is a short version of the videos which looks at whether the Sheriff was unjustly targeted by the feds ...

This whole story reminded me of a conversation I had with the movie actor Burt Reynolds when he was in Santa Fe Filming the movie The Longest Yard. Burt Reynolds told me some stories about his dad who was a Police Officer and a Sheriff. As we were talking he asked me the question "how can you tell an honest Sheriff?" I didn't know exactly how to answer the question so I just kind of shrugged my shoulders. He responded " he is a poor sheriff".

I will never forget that only because the same can be applied to any elected official. Not necessarily in the specific sense but rather in a general sense. A lot of times elected officials are already lawyers, successful business owners and those who already have money. Sometimes that does not keep them from wanting more. Other times some seek office for the prestige and the ability to meet and hang out with the elite and powerful. When someone seeks office for the greater good and really does not do it for themselves that is what democracy is all about. After they are elected keeping that sense of greater good is even more important.

When I was elected I started getting invited to the high brow events, meetings with business leaders and others who I believe not only wanted to meet me but try and gain inside access. Maybe they just want the ability to have my phone number and feel that their phone calls would be answered quicker than others. I really have never been asked for unethical or special treatment for some over others. I think maybe its because once someone meets me and talks to me they understand that I will not do such things. As for my phone number, anyone who asks gets it and I try hard to give equal access to all.

Growing up experiencing food stamps, housing assistance, and a mother who worked two and three jobs to feed and raise her four children, I can't say that I am now a poor sheriff. Sometimes my family squeaks by and by no means are we monetarily well off. What I am blessed with is the riches of a great wife, two kids I love, and a family some people only dream of. I think they are the reason I stay grounded, the reason I continue every day to try and be a "good sheriff".