Friday, March 26, 2010

Funny Friday, Blacker Than Obama?

In January Rod Blagojevich was chastised for saying "I'm blacker than Barack Obama. I shined shoes. I grew up in a five-room apartment. My father had a little laundromat in a black community not far from where we lived," Blagojevich said. "I saw it all growing up." Later, Blagojevich said the comment was "stupid, stupid, stupid." He said it was meant as a metaphor for his disappointment with Obama, whom he accused of doing more to help Wall Street than Main Street. In this Funny Friday Video my favorite Obama Impersonator makes fun of the Blagojevich fiasco with this youtube video. Be sure and check out his other great videos under the name Alphacat on YouTube.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Video from County Commission District 3 Forum

Last night Undersheriff and candidate for Sheriff, Robert Garcia and I attended the forum for Santa Fe County Commission candidates in District 3. It was well attended and very interesting to watch. The three candidates have very distinct speaking styles, issues that are near and dear and very different approaches to the campaign.

Robert Anaya has a down home country boy feel to him and his speaking style is low key but to the point, he approaches the commissioner position as that of a consensus builder. Robert is a former county employee and brother to current County Commissioner Mike Anaya who cannot run again due to term limits. He lives in Stanley New Mexico in Santa Fe County. David Bacon is an issue based speaker whose heart is in renewable energy and environmental concerns, his speaking style is that of someone who likes to use facts and figures and is much less touchy feely. David lives off highway 14 in Santa Fe County. Angelica's speaking style is similar to that of a motivational speaker and has her stump speeches down pat, she approaches the commission candidacy from the perspective of a single mother of five children. She often brings up her five children and even pulled all five onto the stage to make a point. In her last few speeches she has brought up that she recently lost her job at United Way due to cut backs. Angelica lives in the city limits on Santa Fe's South Side. Voters certainly have a choice in these three very different candidates. I video taped the forum and posted each candidates opening statements below.

Robert Anaya Opening Statement

David Bacon Opening Statement

Angelica Ruiz Opening Statement


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Urban Legend: People are in prison for possession of Marijuana

Its not often I agree with Republicans on an issue however, Representative Dennis Kintigh from Roswell wrote a quest column on NMPOLITICS.NET which I whole heartily agree with. I remember reading in the news when a report was issued by a New Mexico Think Tank proclaiming that 853 people were supposedly sitting in prison for only a drug possession conviction.

When I read that I knew it was not true. No one, and let me repeat this NO ONE, goes to prison for merely a drug possession conviction in New Mexico. Now three, four, eight, or ten convictions yes. New Mexico has drug courts through out the state and judges will bend over backwards to get those caught with drugs a chance to turn their lives around.

Most who end up in prison for drugs have committed, assaults, burglaries, robbery's, fraud, forgery, and murder but often it is the drug case that is easiest to prove or one which the defense attorney has them plea bargain to because it actually has the lightest sentance when compared with the offenses they committed because of their drug problem. A drug conviction also allows the inmate an array of services and treatment that a burglary or assault conviction would not provide. Therefor defense attorneys encourage felons to admit to drug problems to lessen their time in prison and afford the inmate services. Interesting contrast here, defense attorneys often want to decriminalize drugs yet they use the drug laws as a benefit to avail their clients to lighter sentences with treatment which would not be available to them under decriminalization.

Getting back to Representative Dennis Kintigh. He looked into the claims by the think tank in his guest column and here are some excerpts:

One of the most recent manifestations of this "urban" myth was in September 2009 when a New Mexico “think tank” published a report damning the state’s drug laws because 853 people were supposedly sitting in prison for only a drug possession conviction. That report motivated me to write a letter to the Corrections Department because the department was the source of that statistic.

The written response I received showed that the 853 number was for inmates who had a drug possession conviction plus other criminal convictions. In fact, the number of people incarcerated for simple drug possession was 92. That is 92 out of almost 6,000 inmates.

However, even the 92 number is misleading.

The Corrections Department sent me the names of the 92 inmates. Through the Internet I was able to review the cases for these individuals. Randomly checking their cases revealed what I already knew. Even though they were listed as convicted of a simple drug possession, they were, in fact, in prison because of probation revocation or for being a habitual offender.

What is a habitual offender, you might ask? Well that is someone who has already been convicted of at least one felony and is now convicted of another felony. The first subsequent conviction requires a mandatory one-year sentence even if the sentence of the subsequent conviction is suspended. The second subsequent conviction results in a mandatory three-year sentence. The third one requires an eight-year mandatory sentence.

All of these habitual offenders who are convicted of drug possession are in fact repeat offenders.

I have always said that the best thing about making drugs illegal is that the arrest by law enforcement is often the only way those addicted to drugs get help. It is often the wake up call that they need help. Most arrests are not for having a joint or a pot pipe, in fact those cases usually amount to nothing more than a citation to go to court and they are sent on their way. Most drug arrests are for selling, having large quantity's, or committing crimes to obtain money to pay for their drug habit. The court ordered treatment is often the first and only treatment an offender gets. I do believe that we need to spend more on treatment. As a law enforcement officer most would not expect to hear this from me but I do advocate spending less on enforcement or having future funding increases not go towards enforcement but rather go to treatment which is sorely lacking in New Mexico and across this country. I am not alone in this call either. A recent meeting of D.A.'s , Cops, Police Chiefs, and Sheriff's said the same thing in a recent summit held in the overdose capital of the U.S. , Espanola New Mexico. So next time someone says our prisons are full of those convicted of drug possession you can look them straight in the eye and say " sure, and big foot was having carnitas on the Santa Fe Plaza yesterday".

Thursday, March 18, 2010

New State Ban on Red Light Camera's Could Doom Santa Fe Program

Today The State Transportation Commission banned red light camera's and speed vans on state or federal roads. All communities with red-light cameras installed on state or federal roads have 60 days to remove them. A policy which was approved during a meeting held in Clovis outlined the ban. According to a story at Santa Fe Police Department’s Capt. Anthony Robbins argued in favor of red-light cameras, citing statistics showing a more than 50 percent drop in red-light and speed violations at lights where cameras are installed. He also said the severity of crashes at those intersections is changing because of the cameras.

I am unsure of where those statistics came from because Santa Fe has not yet installed the camera's that were approved over 1 year ago. In February of this year the Santa Fe New Mexican reported that installation of the red light camera's were on hold pending state approval. All four cameras that were to be installed in Santa Fe were to be on four Cerrillos Road intersections — at St. Francis Drive, St. Michael's Drive, Richards Avenue and Zafarano Drive. Cerrillos Road is a State Highway and under the new ban all four of these intersections will be unable to have red light camera's installed. The speed van currently in use by the city of Santa Fe would also be banned from use on state or federal roads. This could doom Santa Fe's red light camera program . Redflex, the company the city is contracting with to install the camera's and run the program provides the equipment in exchange for a lease fee and a cut of the fines and administration fees to run the program. They require high traffic areas for the camera's in order to ensure the volume needed to provide adequate profit margins for the program.

Readers of my blog know I am not in favor of the types of red light programs being used by municipalities and the company redflex. 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 do New Mexico cities use red light camera's to issue citations? They do this through a civil action.

The citations issued are civil summons issued by the city. 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. The city saves on storage fees by impounding your car in your own driveway by booting the vehicle.

Because it is a civil action your only recourse if you want to dispute a ticket is to appeal the ticket to a hearing officer hired by the city to hear the appeals. The hearing officer only judges whether or not you ran the light not extenuating circumstances like a judge would. So lets say a car is skidding into your rear end at a light you have already stopped at or are slowing to a stop. Your only choice is to step on the gas and continue through the intersection or get rear ended. You step on the gas and avoid the accident but the camera snaps your picture and you get a ticket. The hearing officer will not take the circumstances into account only whether or not the photo adequately shows evidence that you did or did not run the light.

A judge can take all factors into consideration and make a ruling. Now cities and redflex do not want these tickets going to a judge because judges tend to take plea agreements and dismiss tickets more often than a hearing officer would. Thereby reducing dramatically the revenue from red light tickets. And of course because of state law which says that an officer must witness the infraction any judge who gets a red light camera case would be obligated to throw the case out. I have always said that if red light camera's were legitimized by state law and offenders could go before a judge and plead their case I would be more amenable to the program. Although I still think the jury is out on whether red light camera's actually work to reduce accidents and save lives or if their only good for raising revenue. As of February the city of Santa Fe has issued $170,000 worth of speeding tickets from the speed van. A big chunk of that money goes to redflex and the rest is split between the city and the state. What has yet to be determined is whether redflex will be interested in putting camera's on smaller city roads as both Cerrillos Road and St Francis Drive are state roadways. I applaud the decision of the State Transportation Commission.

For lots more on Red Light Camera's click Here.


Santa Fe County Sheriff's Race Forum

The Democratic Party of Santa Fe County held a forum on March 17, 2010 for all candidates running to replace me as Sheriff in the June Primary. I still get asked a lot why I am not running again, New Mexico has term limits on the Sheriff as well as all county officials. A sheriff can only serve two terms and then must sit out a term before he or she can run again. While I have made it clear on this blog I am supporting Undersheriff Robert A. Garcia in the race I still want to congratulate all the candidates on a good job. It takes a lot to run for office and you and your families are in for some trying times and some fun times. I commend all of you for putting yourself out there and opening you lives to intense scrutiny in order to do something you believe in.

The Forum was cordial and differences between most of the candidates answers were hard to find. The main difference was that candidates Tafoya, Doerfer, and Dalton were talking about what they would do while Garcia talked about what he had done. Tafoya often referred to his job in Bernallilo County where he works as a deputy. Tafoya a former Santa Fean, has moved back to Santa Fe a few months ago from Rio Rancho in order to run in this race. Doerfer often referred to his military and former sheriff's experience in answering questions while Dalton told short stories about his life during his answers. Undersheriff Garcia often had to remind the candidates that most of what they were proposing was already being done in the Sheriff's Office.

Below are videos of each candidates opening statements.

Undersheriff Robert A. Garcia

Candidate Rex Doerfer

Candidate Rubel Tafoya

Candidate Charlie Dalton

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

On the Set of True Grit with Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon

Today My wife and I visited the set of the remake of the 1969 film True Grit a film which in the original stared John Wayne. A good friend of mine Rusty Dillon (great name huh), arranged for my wife Antoinette and I to visit the set after the wrap on shooting for the day. In the 2010 version of True Grit, Jeff Bridges is playing Marshall Reuben J. 'Rooster' Cogburn in the film, which was originally played by John Wayne. Glen Campbell played Texas Ranger La Boeuf and his character is being brought back to life by none other than Matt Damon. Below is some pictures from the visit and also a pic of the Rounders DVD Card which Matt signed for me. Thanks to my good friend Rusty for arranging the visit. It was a blast!

Antoinette Solano, Matt Damon, and Sheriff Greg Solano

Antoinette Solano, Jeff Bridges, Sheriff Greg Solano, Matt Damon

Antoinette and Matt Damon

My Matt Damon signed DVD Card of Rounders


Video from the Democratic Pre-Primary Convention

My wife Antoinette, Undersheriff Robert Garcia, his wife Christine and I attended the New Mexico Democratic Party Pre-Primary Convention over the last weekend. It was held at the Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino which turned out to be a great venue for the event. There was lots of fun and lots of work, especially for the candidates and their devoted friends, family, supporters and staff. I have to give big kudos to those who turned out just to support their candidates. They all worked hard and the devotion to their cause showed. I recorded all the major candidates speeches and after a few days of editing into segments, converting them into MP4 format and uploading to you tube I have them available to you here. At the end of the speech videos you will find a video of State Chair Javier Gonzales reading the results of the delegates voting. For a bonus I have the National Dance Institute Kids video I took of them as they performed at the convention. Enjoy.

P.S. ( I am pretty sure I had more fun as a State Central Delegate then I would have as a candidate)


Friday, March 05, 2010

Drug Interdiction Summit Seeks to Solve Northern New Mexico Drug Problem.

I have been writing a few articles for law enforcement publications and I thought I would share with you the following one I wrote for the New Mexico Lawman, a publication of the New Mexico Sheriff's and Police Association.

Drug Interdiction Summit Seeks to Solve Northern New Mexico Drug Problem.

Mayor Joseph Maestas spent his last days in office at a Drug Interdiction summit in his hometown of Espanola New Mexico. Northern New Mexico and Espanola have had a long history of Drug abuse that spans generations. Grandparents, parents, children and grandchildren within many families all are addicted or use drugs. The results are high property crime rates and the highest rate per capita of drug overdoses in the nation.

The summit was hosted by Mayor Maestas and City Police Chief Julian Gonzales on February 25, 2010 and included sheriffs, city police, state police, federal officials, district attorneys and members of the medical and treatment fields. The summit was facilitated by New Mexico First. Participants were broken up into two groups and each were tasked with coming up with ideas to combat the problem. Ideas were taken at large and broken down into groups of things we are not doing now, things we can do better and things we need to stop doing. Thirty or forty ideas were then broken down into four groups of importance from most important to least. The majority of participants were law enforcement and many in the public would be surprised to find that education, intervention, and treatment were very popular as opposed to incarceration and prosecution.

On the Law enforcement side a lot of participants felt that using recent efforts to strengthen and enforce D.W.I. laws would be a good model to use in drug interdiction. Making it the next state priority was the theme. Another popular idea was revising the states forfeiture laws to make them more usable and enforceable. Of course lack of funding was another big discussion.

New Mexico first is going to gather the results of the summit into a report and action plan which will hopefully be the blueprint for the future of combating drug abuse in Northern New Mexico. At the end of the day nine recommendations were made to be part of the action plan.

· A comprehensive strategy for coordinating programs for law enforcement, prevention, and training

· Formalizing and coordinating multidisciplinary, multi-agency drug interdiction initiatives

· A greater commitment to the Region III task force that is showing positive results in drug interdiction in the region

· A community involvement campaign targeting neighborhood associations, church groups, and rural groups in helping address narcotic and criminal activity

· Implementing evidence-based youth prevention programs

· Revising the state forfeiture statute

The summit recommendations will be turned over to an Implementation Team comprised of volunteers from the event who are in a position to move the recommendations forward. A full report on the results of the summit will be released in about two weeks and will be posted at

By Sheriff Greg Solano, Santa Fe County