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Swift Kicks, Wanted

New Mexico has part-time legislature, which meets for sixty days in odd-numbered years and thirty days in the evens. Unless they are called into special session, a real rarity, the abbreviated calendar greatly influences, what is and is not passed into law.

During the 2005 legislative session, a medical marijuana bill (SB795) had passed the state Senate, but the clock ran out in the House because Rep. Dan Silva was disappointed that some of his initiatives hadn't been scheduled before the Judiciary Committee, so he worked to delay the vote and freely admitted the motivations for his stunt.

In 2006, a similar situation occurred; The "Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act" (SB258) had passed the state Senate, but the Speaker of the State House assigned it to the Agriculture and Water Resources Committee, which was openly hostile to the idea. In the Santa Fe New Mexican, he said that this had been to express his disappointment with it being the first thing passed by the Senate and not because he opposed the act. After some wrangling by supporters of the measure, Speaker Lujan reassigned the bill to the Judiciary Committee at 3:45 on the last morning of the session, which meant the clock ran out at noon.

Throughout this entire history, Gov. Bill Richardson has said that he'd sign such a measure and during his 2006 campaign for re-election, he reiterated his support for medical marijuana in an interview with the Albuquerque Tribune, among other places.

Once again, the legislature is in session and this time around, there have been two "Compassionate Use Acts" introduced. The "Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act" (SB238) has made more progress because it has moved to the second step and though I haven't weighed the differences, but SB523 appears to be waiting in the wings.

Thus far, I haven't heard a lot from Governor Richardson on this subject, since he handily won re-election. Polls show that 81% of New Mexicans support medical marijuana, so it is popular with his constituents and because Mr Richardson dreams of a larger stage, it might be beneficial if he's able to sign a bill on a nationally popular subject, his opponents would not be able to address.

(x-posted from my journal)
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Crime in Valencia

The Albuquerque Journal did a two-day series about crime increasing or moving to the southern suburbs.

It was only in a related story that it was revealed there is ordinarily only two or three deputies on duty in the affected county, an area of 1068 square miles and none of the stories mention that a couple of years ago, it was reported that occasionally there would be no deputy on duty during the overnights due to budget issues.

What struck me as amusing was the explanation which accompanied a table of crime statistics;
According to FBI statistics that were published in October, Belen ranked second in the state in violent crime and first in the state in property crime per capita. It was also in the top percentile in the nation for both categories.

After the Journal and News-Bulletin presented the data to his department, Police Chief Mike Chavez contacted the FBI to change the numbers, saying that a former records clerk turned in wrong numbers. Under the new numbers, Belen would still rank first in the state in property crime. In violent crime, it falls to seventh.
For the record: The town of Belen has a population of about 7,000.

The FBI divides their crime statistics into towns with over 10k in population, over 25,000 and on up in a series of categories. So, we may be able to take some comfort from the fact that Belen ranks in the nation's top 4% for violent crime among the smaller towns, while Valencia's other major community of Los Lunas is in the top 1% nationally for those with a slightly larger population.
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Note: For anyone interested who might not have access to the Journal, the Valencia County News-Bulletin also ran the series. Part one can be accessed via this link; Part Two is here and some other information can be gathered from their recent news index, including an explanation for the conveniently revised statistics and information about the manpower shortage.
(x-posted from my journal)
plate_Chaos

Mixed and Failed Performing Websites

During inclement weather, most everyone turns to the newschannels for information about closings and delays. Increasingly these television stations point toward their ticker and suggest that people visit their website, where all of the closings will be listed.

According to KOAT's website, Socorro Consolidated Schools notified them at 11:03pm that there will be a two hour delay on Wednesday. Neither of the other stations lists this information. KRQE's closing page says that it was last updated at 10:15pm and who knows when KOB last did their page, I have to assume based on the history of their site, it was whenever Reed Upton went home for the day.

On the other hand, both Channels 13 and 4 lists Magdalena Municipal Schools as being on a delay, while Channel 7 doesn't have this information and I know for a fact that the call was made prior to 3pm.

Someday I hope to get around to posting a general review of the various sites, but in this situation, when people are wanting information specific to themselves and important to their lives; The least these news outlets could do is get it right, complete and update it after their late newscast has gone to bed. After all, each of the stations rerun their broadcasts and though it is an inexpensive way to fill time, I'm sure that there are those in the audience whom benefit from this effort. I don't know how many people working late or who get in late from their activities might have kids in school, but you'd think they'd be able to get the most current information available from the ticker or the web, no matter the hour because it effects people's lives.
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Unrelated, but still worthwhile: Due to the weather, once again, the Journal is giving free access to their e-edition.
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eJournal Free Day

Due to the inclement weather, the Journal is offering a free day for their eJournal. I've played with it a little, but I am sort of at a disadvantage because I've already read this morning's paper and had only flashed-in to look for something else.

My initial reaction that it may be a bit cumbersome, but that could be because I'm not used to it's functionality. I do like the easy clicks to continue an article and the fact that the teases above the banner are also clickable, though they do take two. I'll also say that it looks very good, especially once you resize it and I'll try to get back later to play with it a little more, before they put it back behind the wall.

Maybe a week or two of a free sample might be enough to sell more subscriptions. I know that I'd give it a whirl and if anybody else has a few minutes to examine the thing, please post your thoughts. I, for one would appreciate hearing other people's opinions and hey, this is LiveJournal, there's no telling who else might read them.
  • rah62

From someone looking at relocating to ABQ...

I am attempting to evaluate the two ABQ daily papers from afar.  I know they are jointly operated and publish at different times of day.  But, I would be interested in ABQ locals' opinions as to which provides more thorough coverage of local/state issues.  Also, I would be interested in hearing opinions as to the papers' web sites.  Which do you believe does a better job in providing web-based content (again, especially when it comes to local/state issues)?  I discovered that much of the content on the Journal's web site is subscription-based, but to date I have not purchased a monthly subscription - each time I access information on the Journal web site, I sit through a 30-second commercial from some advertiser (I usually take that opportunity to leave my computer!) and then get in for free.  But, I would be curious to know if purchasing an e-subscription would get me access to any information which is currently blocked to moochers like myself who aren't paying anything at present.

One ground rule:  I'm not particularly interested in people's opinions about the papers' respective editorial positions - I've figured that out myself from afar.  I'm more interested in how well you believe each paper covers the city and the state, and how well you believe each paper presents its information on its web site.

Thank you very much for taking the time to respond.  I look forward to reading your comments.
plate_Chaos

An Idle Thought

One of the problems with placing so much power in the chief executive, be it a Mayor or the Governor is their natural tendency to give a knee-jerk reaction to news headlines without having all of the facts is magnified. Perhaps the most recent example of this over-reach concerns the tragedy of those killed by the wrong-way drunk which has dominated local headlines; A couple of days ago, the Governor suggested that spike strips be put on interstate exits to prevent wrong-way drunks. While yesterday, we learned that the fellow had missed his exit, then turned around in the roadway, so a spike belt would've had no bearing on this accident, whatsoever.

And, that's not even taking into consideration his assumption that all drunk airline passengers will be getting behind the wheel of a car.
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Moderator's Note

As the founder of this community, I've taken it upon myself to copy and paste a few entries from my own personal blog to provide a little content and to give a taste of what this community might offer. Others are welcome to do the same, but please limit any bulk uploads to only a few at a time to limit any inconvenience to those who may be getting this community on their friendspage. This invitation will only remain for a short time and if you upload something from the past, I ask that you append the date of the original posting because LJ won't let you backdate community posts.

Also, please help spread the word. The more members we boast, the better the conversation.

And finally, I will be working on filling-out the interests lists and linking many of the other New Mexico LJ Communities from the UserInfo page over the next several days. If anyone has any suggestions or if they see any blatant omissions, please comment to this entry with your ideas. Constructive criticisms are also welcome because I've never launched a community before, so I'm still in the learning phase and this should be considered our community.

(This entry will most likely be reposted once or twice, so that it'll remain near the top)
plate_Chaos

Sensational Journalism?

About a month ago, local reporter Stuart Dyson filed a standup from the interstate, where he highlighted the problem of "trucker bombs" or jugs of urine, tossed onto the side of the highway. The idea is that someone might use a bottle, rather than lose time by stopping and when done, throw it from their moving vehicle. Mr Dyson did a little investigation, located and filmed some filled containers and upon inquiry, he found they'd be covered under the existing littering law because no special restrictions currently exist.

I learned while researching this post, MSNBC had a similar report around this same time, so it makes sense for the story to be on the radar of the local NBC affiliate and most likely, both reports were a reaction to a new Colorado law that goes into effect on July 1st. Also, it doesn't appear to be new problem, as this archive of a 1999 LA Times story would attest, but last night, the reporter with the penchant for tabloid-like, flowery speech may have stretched the limits of good taste even further on the subject.

Tonight's standup from the side of the interstate was about meth-addicted truckers, who urinate into Coke bottles and then drink their own waste, so they might benefit from any unabsorbed drugs. For a local reaction, he cornered some random SUV drivers buying gas, before he launched into a whole other world, where some meth labs reportedly buy urine from their addicts and boil it down, so they can separate and resell the unused product. According to State Police, no such labs have been found in the state, but members of the Albuquerque Drug Task Force say they are familiar with the concept. They haven't seen it, but it may be possible.

(Originally Posted 19th-Jul-2005)
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Amplification

I've long said that when or if Bill Richardson were to run for President, the other side would be certain to mention his complicity in the Lewinsky affair and the problems at Los Alamos, but as many of us have known in New Mexico, he's also creating something akin to the Travelgate scandal. For background info and because it needs to be noted and rectified if he were run for higher office, I'm amplifying this link to a "Larry Barker Investigation" for anyone not in the Albuquerque television market.

I like Bill Richardson and he has surprised me with his skill as Governor. Of course almost any semi-pro, fairly liberal politician with an extra $600 million in "found" money might do the same, so the influence of these factors can't easily be discounted and I don't know that I personally could support his run for President. But, I do know that before the Democrats consider putting their eggs into the Richardson basket, somebody needs to properly address his bad habits and try to nullify some of the old school style of politics.

(Originally Posted 17th-Mar-2006)
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The Curse of a Predicted Landslide?

I just got an automated call featuring a recording of Bill Richardson. He asked that I vote for Democrat Jim Baca in the State Land Commissioner race, but what I found most curious was the disclaimer at the end; "Paid for by Richardson for Governor".

(Originally Posted 6th-Nov-2006)