With a wide net cast over the Duke City, this wholly unscientific poll is guaranteed, as always, to be an exercise in profound amusement for some and creative behavior for others, as you shall witness. The ballot counting exhausted our staff, but it was well worth it, and this year the number of votes reached record proportions. So what has life in Burque been like these past 12 months? Well, things are looking up if, for no other reason than we measure success by the amount of snowfall still resting on the Sandia peaks and its imminent plunge into our water tables in the spring. And thank God it's an election year, so if APD and the mayor cannot do the proper house cleaning following the burgeoning evidence room scandal at City Hall, the voters hopefully will. Speaking of the mayor ... let's get started.
Best City Political Stinkeroo
Mayor Martin Chavez
Surprise! No, not really. Mayor Chavez won this category again. In 10 years of counting ballots, the reigning mayor has frequently taken this one, so Marty's detractors should take the news as a bittersweet victory. Popularity always leads to criticism, so don't sweat it too much, Marty. Nonetheless, in no short order, Alibi readers were still stewing about ABQPAC, and downright pissed about everything from APD's recent evidence room troubles to his recent divorce (which is, of course, his personal life and really none of the public's business).
Following Marty's dubious achievement, voters ranked the proposed Paseo del Norte extension through the petroglyphs a distant second. And why not? In the words of former City Councilor Hess Yntema, “Look at what the mayor has collected in campaign contributions and you get a flavor of who runs the city politically, and it's primarily real estate developers and investors.” Why protect our heritage if it can be paved over, eh? Stinkeroo indeed!
With some surprise and tremendous enthusiasm, I'm proud to announce that Heather Wilson came in third. For the love of God, can this woman appear in public just once without shedding a tear! She claims to be independent from the fundamentalist bullgoose loonies that are running her party in Washington, and it looks like folks are finally realizing that's, um, a stretch. By the way, where was she when Bush was here performing his dog-and-pony Social Security show for a pre-screened audience, the TV media and themorning daily? Here's to wishing the top spot for Wilson in 2006!
Speaking of the Albuquerque Journal, our local fish-wrap super supply actually got a few votes in this category for the first time in several years, but props go to Journal reporter T.J. Wilham for some fine reporting on the evidence room mess and it's larger implications into corruption, intimidation and a lack of accountability at APD. And just to prove how murky your mind can become with too much TV news, someone nominated the “Marijuana Judge busted at the Sunport.”
Mayor Martin Chavez
You guessed it. Mayor Chavez won this one as well. It's true, though, that he received three times as many votes in the stinkeroo category, but he still gets the love for being the Duke City's number one citizen, in this unscientific poll anyway. And just to get the political juices flowing in time for the upcoming mayoral race, mayoral candidate City Councilor Eric Griego took second. Our resident free expressionist Don Schrader came in third and local literary hero Rudolfo Anaya, fourth. Practically every local state legislator, city councilor, APS school board member, local grassroots advocate, boxer and popular ex-Lobo got a vote in this one. Wish we could name them all, but for all those folks working hard to make our city a better place for everyone, we salute you.
Best Community Action Group
Assistance League of Albuquerque
This one nearly turned into a five-way tie with the top vote getters coming within one vote of each other. Assistance League of Albuquerque took the top spot for the first time this year—congratulations to this all-volunteer organization that helps needy folks in the community. Your friends who don't let their friends sprawl, in theory, 1000 Friends of New Mexico, a perennial top finisher, came in second. The Downtown Action Team and SouthWest Organizing Project, other familiar faces in this category, tied for third, and the reliably well-researched and well-organized folks at New Mexico PIRG came in fourth.
Best Elected City Official
City Councilor Eric Griego
If Alibi readers have anything to say about it, this year's mayoral race could turn into a serious joust. Councilor Eric Griego edged out Mayor Martin Chavez for the top spot, setting the stage for a feisty battle for the big desk at Civic Plaza later this year. City Councilors Debbie O'Malley and Michael Cadigan came in fourth and fifth, respectively. Third place went to Gov. Bill Richardson, but since he doesn't live in Albuquerque and never has held office here, that means ... he's not a city official!
Best Use of Local Tax Dollars
Whether it was for musical instruments, teacher pay raises, after school programs, funding for art programs, or constructing and renovating buildings, APS/Educationwas the hands-down winner in this category. Coming in second, once we combined the myriad votes for Coors/I-40 construction, highway beautification, fixing potholes and building bike paths, roads came in second. Third place went to public transit, most notably the city's new Rapid Ride system and the proposed commuter rail, and fourth place went to Downtown revitalization. Again, there were a record number of diverse votes cast, including giving raises to the cops and AFD, attracting the film industry, renovating Tingley Beach, maintaining skate parks and using inmates to clean up litter.
Best Wasteful Use of Local Tax Dollars
Some folks just don't see the cultural and economic benefits of public art, especially the eye-catching I-40 pottery, which was singled out for first place. C'mon, folks, what would you rather have, an entire highway system that looks like the bleak tumbleweed and gravel eyesore known as the Big-I? Public art speaks well for the community and attracts commerce and tourism to the city. Why the hostility? Second place went to the city's Rapid Ride system and the new bus stops that go with it. Third place: Mayor Chavez' salary. Other notable entries included funding urban sprawl, Wyoming construction (again!), Albuquerque Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the tricentennial celebration.
Best Example of Smart Urban Planning
The East Downtown (or EDO) master plan, which gained final approval last month and proposes to make the Broadway and Central corridor into a more pedestrian-friendly gateway to Downtown was the clear cut winner once we combined all the votes for the Lofts at Albuquerque High and East Downtown revitalization. Infill development and specifically the Downtown core was second, Rapid Ride third, Nob Hill fourth and Planned Growth Strategy (we counted all votes for impact fees in this category) fifth. Other interesting entries: Ventana Ranch, Wal-mart in Rio Rancho and purchase of Bosque open space.
Best Example of Our Dire Need for Better Urban Planning
If we took the first 20 ballots in this category and dropped them in a comment box at City Hall, maybe, just maybe, Westside residents would get some action. Judging from the response, these folks are furious and one can only imagine the road rage at rush hour out on the mesa based on the pile of entries. The extension of Paseo del Norte through the petroglyphs took second, which, of course, reflects its own uniquely tragic chapter in the Westside planning disaster.
Best Thing Gov. Richardson Could Do to Get New Mexico Off the Bottom of Virtually Every Meaningful List
From increasing teacher pay to maximizing funding for pre-kindergarten education through the university system, educationreceived the most votes; attracting industry came in a distant second and improving the state's health care access third. Ideas came from everywhere, from harsher DWI and sex offender laws, to banning smoking in bars and restaurants, banning cockfighting, legalizing marijuana and just “by getting a haircut.” One person suggested he “close the borders to White suburbanite pro-war Christians,” while another suggested the guv “actually do something about the drunken, drugged up good-old-boy judges.”
Best Looking City Councilor
First off, I got pinched to write this section, but don't blame me for coming up with this category. I prefer my public servants to be intelligent and honest, and I don't care if they're ugly as a quahog. That said, Martin Heinrichand Eric Griego battled it out for the top spot, with Heinrich getting the edge by a few votes. Coming in third to these strapping stallions was Brad Winter and his marvelous coiffure. Each councilor received at least one vote, as did a number of former councilors including Vince Griego, so they can all thank their respective spouses for that one. Also receiving votes were Michael Heinrich, Miguel Griego and Brad White—possibly as one woman's ideal man, putting Brad Winter's hair atop City Attorney Bob White's brain.
Best Candidate to Run Against Mayor Marty in 2005
Well, nothing like stating the obvious here, but the winner happens to be the only candidate to announce he actually is running against Marty—Eric Griego. Second place went to the mayor's former spouse, Margaret Aragon de Chavez. Practically every local politico got at least one vote, from former mayor Jim Baca to Darren “dough boy” White and, God forbid, John Sanchez.
Best Local Crackpot
Maybe mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noonday sun, but only Don Schrader does it year round and usually wearing little more than a jockstrap. Whether it's hotter than Hades or too windy to take out the trash, there's always a chance this perennial first-place finisher will be exercising his free speech rights with a picket sign at UNM, while emitting a fragrance that gives a whole new meaning to “organic.” If Hunter S. Thompson died for your sins, Don S. lives for them. Second place goes to Marty Chavez, who never met a press conference he didn't like. And third place to Geraldine Amato, whose steadfast presence at City Council meetings reminds us all of that old Star Trek axiom: In an insane society, the sane must appear insane. Rounding out the field—the honorable Heather Wilson. And if you don't think she's a crackpot, just log on to our website—alibi.com—to hear her tirade over the Janet Jackson split-second boob flash.
Best Actor to Play Heather Wilson in the Made-for-TV Movie of Her Life
I voted for Courtney Love, but Alibi readers overwhelmingly chose Ellen Degeneres. Coming in second, Bea Arthur—but it's hard to imagine the Hollywood old timer doing monkey rolls in the wet grass during the first 159 minutes of the film that would undoubtedly be devoted to Wilson's days at the Air Force Academy. Third place—and now you're talking—went to Will Ferrell. Other notable suggestions included Jim Carrey, Martha Stewart, Paris Hilton and Pee Wee Herman.
Best Local Place to Pretend You Are in an Episode of “Desperate Housewives”
This Northeast Heights gated community was the runaway choice. Neighbors out there—you can start pretending!
Best Bed and Breakfast
Wow, dozens of B&B's in Albuquerque, Corrales and Jemez Springs received votes, but Los Poblanos was the favorite; Casa de Sueños and Sarabande rounded out the top three. Readers seem to be partial to the bucolic trappings of the North Valley, since all three of these winners are located along Rio Grande Boulevard.
Best Bowling Center
Leisure Bowl and Holiday Bowl
I experienced galactic bowling for the first time recently, and we all nearly died from secondhand smoke inhalation but still had a blast! Despite the poor air quality and apparent irrelevance of the city's clean air ordinance, folks in Albuquerque straight up love to bowl. Leisure Bowl and Holiday Lanes tied for first place. Silva Lanes came in second and Santa Ana was third. Folks, you gotta hork down a plate of onion rings, a few cervezas and get your game on at galactic night. Things were cloudy in there, but I think I saw the dude in the adjacent lane propose marriage to his date, and she started to cry. I was like ... this stuff is powerful!
Best Place for Meeting Dates from Alibi Personals
It must be those amorous desserts or perhaps the new spiffy Downtown location, because Flying Star takes this one again. Frontier, as usual, came in second, and the Satellite Café nearest you, third. Other noteworthy vote getters included: Blue Dragon Coffee House, any police substation, not near your house, Castle Superstore, IHOP, the Biopark and the Rio Grande Zoo.
Best Local TV Newsperson
Dude—what is your secret! That's right, the anchor and weatherman for KOB-TV channel 4's morning show whose sanguine mood is as regular as your morning stool wins this one again. The lovely and talented Cynthia Izaguirre gave him a run this year, coming in a close second. Dick Knipfing, celebrating his one-millionth year on-air, came in third, edging out Tom Joles by one measly vote.
Best Use of Hair on a Local TV Newsperson
The channel 7 anchor, with that old school puffy lid, moved up two slots from last year and unseated Diane Anderson for first place. Ms. Anderson, the newsjockey turned sleep-inducing radio show host, came in second, and the always stylish Marisa Maez enters the top three for the first time. Don't forget to tip your stylist, folks! Larry Barker's comb-over gets an honorable mention, as does one vote for “the guy that looks like Dracula.”
Best Adult Establishment
Albuquerque's home for adult video entertainment and all the related party favors reigns supreme once more.
“Hey Honey, I'm swinging by Castle on the way home. Is there anything you need me to pick up?”
“Um, yes dear ...”
TD's, when counting its various locations and always clever promotions, came in a close second, and Fantasy World lived up to its name, coming in third.
Best Radio Station
100.3 FM The Peak
In the era of life-shattering, overnight format changes, Clear Channel's “music for the rest of us” holds steady at the number one spot among Alibi readers. KUNM's 89.9 FM, with a lineup of music the corporate radio world doesn't give a crap about, finished second, and 103.3 FM in its various incarnations took third, but only after the judges decided to count votes such as “The Zone—not Ed!!!” and “Ed 103.3” in the same category. 94 Rock and Air America 1350 AM rounded out the top five. There was, of course, plenty of contempt for this question, summarized by the popular refrain—“they all suck.”
Best Radio Personality to be Ground into a Fine Powder and Scattered to the Winds
Say what you want about the old fart, but he's still popular enough after all these years to piss people off. You gotta admire him for that, not to mention he railed against Heather Wilson and her phony political posturing over indecency last year. Rock on, you old dog! In second, Albuquerque'smorning drive-time radio legend Larry Ahrens has found himself a home on FM radio, and after rambling for 30 agonizing minutes recently, he came to the difficult conclusion that the Terri Schiavo case is "a complex issue.” Now that took some intellectual heavy lifting, Larry! Hat's off to the guy at Citadel who didn't hire him back. KKOB 770 AM's Jim“Village Idiot”Villanucci finished with a well-deserved third.
Best Radio Personality
The man with the distinctly vibrant vocal chords who brings you your traffic and weather across the dial gets all the love again this year. Mr. Chase seems to have the kind of on-air charm and charisma that radio champions are made of. Michael Moxey, who like Jeff Gannon has become the voice that fell silent, still managed to pull in a veritable cornucopia of votes to earn second place honors for the third year in a row. Come home, Moxey, your fans need you! TJ Trout—censored nipples and all—took third, while your friendly, AM talk show freak, Jim Villanucci, debuted this year at number four.
Best Use of Public Access Television
Few folks know this, but Don was one of the first people to be cloned, and he's actually not one, but 32 people, and that's how he manages to be everywhere at once! Actually, I have no proof of this, but “thong dude” (as one entry described him) is becoming a legend with every passing Best of Burque issue. He wins this category easily, with the only challenge coming from the brilliantly produced and acted local series, “Hemp TV.” Rounding out the list: The City Council meetings.
Best Ads in Weekly Alibi
Yes, this category never seems to stray from those flagship morsels at the back of our paper that even your Grandpa secretly loves to read. Who doesn't have a soft spot for the internationally known dominatrix with “the polite calling hours?” As for the rest, they're all brilliant, and, well, we couldn't be your favorite alternative newsweekly without them. Gracias.