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If you own property in this green wedge, you can vote.


MRGCD election 2009

And, yes, you should care

For once there’s been a decent amount of press about the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District election, in large part due to the current board’s unanimous rejection of the Ditches With Trails project—three years in the making and one sweaty, crowded, ill-mannered board meeting in the killing.

Since that fateful night, people like state senators Dede Feldman and Jerry Ortiz y Pino have been pointing out the unresponsiveness and conflicts of interest that plague the MRGCD’s policies and politics, and have thrown their support behind opposition candidates Adrian Oglesby and Karen Dunning.

If you’re still saying “the what election?” then this post’s for you:

What: Four seats on the MRGCD board (two in Bernalillo County)

When: Tuesday, January 2

Why: Because there’s more than one way to keep the valley green.

Here’s a round-up of information on this tiny little election that could have a great big impact on life in the Rio Grande Valley. Read up, saddle up, and vote on Tuesday:

MRGCD 2009 Election Information (

Battle over irrigation ditches comes to a head (

Dede Feldman's Take on the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District Race (

Ortiz y Pino: Voting Day Is June 2 Are you as surprised as we are? (

Perplexity, Persistence, and the MRGCD Elections (

MRGCD - VOTE ! Find a Location Near You & Go to the Polls June 2 (

Conservation Voters endorses slate in MRGCD board election (

Challenger Promises Change (

MRGCD Diversity Focus of Hopefuls (

MRGCD Candidates Square Off at Forum (

MRGCD Radar Misses Water-Rights Transfer (

Minnesota to New Mexico by Train

Here’s another positive side-effect of high gas prices: Amtrak ridership is way, way up. Last year, Amtrak carried 25 million passengers, an 11% increase. This year, it’ll probably carry more, and that means good press for the little engine that could.

Last week the San Francisco Chronicle published Catherine Watson’s travelogue of her epic train trip from St. Paul to Las Cruces, and yesterday NPR had her on Talk of the Nation fielding comments from listeners. The pro-rail consensus that’s building seems to include: (1) forgiveness for delays (which, for the most part, aren’t Amtrak’s fault), (2) joy over not being subjected to airport hassles, and (3) appreciation of the intangible, but very real benefit of seeing the country from the ground without being stuck behind a steering wheel.

A gentle reminder: Albuquerque is blessed with daily Amtrak service to Chicago and Los Angeles. I’ve personally been booking a sleeper compartment to L.A. once a year, and it rocks. Four little words: Margaritas in the room.

I’d know that tush anywhere.

It’s not just a slow news day, it’s SysAdmin Day!

Full disclosure: I am a Systems Administrator for an Albuquerque-area newsweekly and website, but it has been brought to my attention (thanks, Sloppy), that today marks the 8th annual celebration of Systems Administrator Appreciation Day. I don’t want a hug and I don’t want a box of candy (well, what kind of candy is it?), but I do want to quote a few good ones from the document “Advice to employees on the proper use of the System Administrator's valuable time.” For some reason, they call him Ted:

• Never write down error messages. Just click OK, or restart your computer. Ted likes to guess what the error message was.

• When the printer won't print, re-send the job 20 times in rapid succession. That should do the trick.

• When you get the message saying "Are you sure?", click the "Yes" button as fast as you can. Hell, if you weren't sure, you wouldn't be doing it, would you?

• When you receive a 130 MB movie file, send it to everyone as a high-priority mail attachment. Ted's provided plenty of disk space and processor capacity on the new mail server for just those kinds of important things.

OK, maybe I will take that candy.

Alibi takes silver and bronze in AltWeekly Awards

Warning: own-horn-tooting ahead

Last Friday, the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies (we like to call ‘em AAN) announced the winners of their 12th annual AltWeekly Awards, and your little old locally-owned, independent Alibi managed to nab a few honors in its weight class. To wit:

Marisa Demarco scored an honorable mention for snappy short-form news, exemplified by the nominated articles “Downtown Fights Back,” “Through the Cracks,” and “The Path to a Cure.”

Jim Scarantino took third place in the political column category for “The Popsicle Prophecy,” “The Belly of the Beast,” and “Staying the Course is Not a Strategy.”

Jerry Cornelius, our pseudonymous tech writer (for whom I feel a certain fatherly affection) took second place in the web feature category for “Ecstatic Technology,” all about everyone’s least favorite videogame genre, the 2-D shooter.

Yeah, no gold medals, but we’re psyched anyhow, so sue us. And now, we’d like to thank all the little people …

MRGCD motto: “Keeping the valley green.”

Conservancy District Election is TODAY

Huh? What?

If you are a property owner within the boundaries of the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District, today’s the day to vote for two board positions. Was that a “who cares?” from the back row? Listen, buddy, last time around nobody voted, and as a result we got a guy who buys water rights sitting on the board of a friggin’ irrigation conservancy. Can you say “conflict of interest”? I knew that you could.

Earlier this week, the Albuquerque Tribune provided an excellent overview of the recent MRGCD political chaos, with lots of inflammatory statements from both adversarial board member Bill Turner (”These people are evil, flat-out evil.”) and MRGCD mouthpiece (not to mention former Alibi staffer) Dennis Domrzalski (who calls Turner a “pathetic clown” in one especially vituperative press release). It’s all pretty entertaining, but the issue is serious: Valley irrigation creates a green space where there would otherwise be sand and scrub. The ditch system is already endangered and it needs protection from water rights scavengers. Who will provide the right guidance for the beleaguered MRGCD?

I voted for Adrian Oglesby, a progressive water attorney with ties to smart-growth advocates in the North Valley, and Eugene Abeita, an Isleta Pueblo farmer favored by the South Valley Acequia Association--both candidates also endorsed by the Journal, as it turns out.

Do you care yet? Don’t worry, polls are open until 7 p.m., there are a ton of locations, and I personally guarantee no long lines. For your convenience, here’s the list for Bernalillo County:

MRG 201 4-H Center 1500 Menaul Blvd. NW Albuquerque

MRG 202 Adobe Acres Elementary School 1724 Camino del Valle SW Albuquerque

MRG 204 Alvarado Elementary School 1100 Solar Road NW Albuquerque

MRG 205 Armijo Elementary School 1440 Gatewood Ave SW Albuquerque

MRG 206 Atrisco Elementary School 1201 Atrisco Drive SW Albuquerque

MRG 207 Barcelona Elementary School 2311 Barcelona Road SW Albuquerque

MRG 210 Dolores Gonzales Elementary School 900 Atlantic Avenue SW Albuquerque

MRG 211 Duranes Elementary School 2436 Zickert Rd NW Albuquerque

MRG 212 Jack Candelaria Comm & Boxing Ctr 400 San Jose Avenue SE

MRG 214 Ernie Pyle Middle School 1820 Valdora Ave SW Albuquerque

MRG 215 Garfield Middle School 3501 Sixth Street NW Albuquerque

MRG 216 Griegos Elementary School 4040 San Isidro NW Albuquerque

MRG 218 Harwood United Methodist church 420 San Lorenzo Ave NW Albuquerque

MRG 219 Holy Family Catholic Church 562 Atrisco Drive SW Albuquerque

MRG 220 Isleta Pueblo Elderly Center Kiva Room Isleta Pueblo

MRG 221 Isleta Pueblo Headstart Chical Road Isleta

MRG 222 Wells Park Community Center 500 Mountain Rd NW Albuquerque

MRG 223 Los Padillas Elementary School 2525 Los Padillas Rd. Albuquerque

MRG 224 MacArthur Elementary School 1100 Douglas MacArthur Rd NW Albuquerque

MRG 225 MRGCD Board Room 1931 Second SW Albuquerque

MRG 227 Pajarito Elementary School 2701 Don Felipe SW Albuquerque

MRG 228 Polk Middle School 2220 Raymac Rd SW Albuquerque

MRG 229 Reginald F. Chavez Elementary 2700 Mountain Rd NW Albuquerque

MRG 230 Los Ranchos Elementary School 7609 Fourth Street NW Albuquerque

MRG 231 Rio Grande High School 2300 Arenal Road SW Albuquerque

MRG 233 Taft Middle School 620 Schulte Rd NW Albuquerque

MRG 234 Taylor Middle School 8200 Guadalupe Tr NW Albuquerque

MRG 235 Valle Vista Elementary School 1700 Mae Avenue SW Albuquerque

MRG 236 Valley Christian Church 2850 Gun Club Road SW Albuquerque

MRG 237 Valley High School 1505 Candelaria Rd NW Albuquerque

MRG 238 Washington Middle School 1101 Park Avenue SW Albuquerque

MRG 241 Atrium North/Bernalillo Fire Dept. 6840 Second St NW Albuquerque

MRG 242 Westside Community Center 1250 Isleta Blvd. SW Albuquerque

MRG 243 Navajo Elementary School 2936 Hughes Rd SW Albuquerque

MRG 244 Raymond G. Sanchez Community Center 9800 Fourth NW Albuquerque

MRG 245 Sandia Pueblo Tribal Council Chambers 481 Sandia Loop Bernalillo

MRG 246 Mountain View Community Center 201 Prosperity Ave SE

Mayor Marty has “never been a particular fan” of Paul Bunyan. Am I alone in thinking that’s lame?

The De-Albuquerque-ization of Albuquerque continues

I can hardly wait until it’s all gone!

Who are these boneheads trying to mold Albuquerque into a generic simulacra of Everywhere, USA? Let’s strip all the cool signs off Route 66 and put ‘em in a museum so Albuquerque looks less like Albuquerque. What a fucking brilliant idea! Hey, I’ve got the new tourist slogan: “Albuquerque, it used to be a trip!” Give this town another 10 years of this kind of thinking and it will become a uniform shade of gray. This ill-conceived ordinance with hazy “exceptions for some landmarks” [emphasis mine] is up for EPC Review on May 17.

Joanna Newsom show cancelled

It sucks

The Joanna Newsom show--so loudly proclaimed to be a potentially happening moment for Albuquerque tonight--is cancelled. The singer has lost her voice and will have to cancel a bunch of shows from her tour, including this one. According to sources, Ms. Newsom expressed a desire to return for a make-up date, but it won’t be anytime soon. Word is the show was nearly sold out, so go to the Launchpad anyway and weep in your beer.

Self-portrait of a blogger.
M.G. Bralley

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

I never thought I’d be recommending a blog by a Republican ex-cop. but here I am doing it. M.G. Bralley’s What’s Wrong With This Picture? features critical commentary, thoughtful observations and personal photojournalism to produce an Albuquerque-focused blog of unusually high quality. Some highlights …

Bralley on the new STOP (Safe Traffic Operations Program) automated photo-ticketing ordinance:

Using the always-on passive radar or the unblinking eye of cameras constitutes a governmental intrusion of the populace. It is guilt until proven innocent, not the required presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

This is technology for technology's sake.

On John Dendahl’s sudden ascension to Republican gubernatorial candidate:

… I voted and now a faction of my party met in a backroom and took my vote away. The only one I had.

Now, I’m not saying that the party can’t replace a man who is unwilling to run or that Dendhal was not the person who would have ultimately been chosen to pick up the mantle. However, when only 100 of the 350-member central committee meet, that is not my party. My party normally advocates strict compliance with rules and laws. Those who were called to the meeting were the bullies in my party.

On city councilor Sally Mayer:

It is my opinion that in the 32-year history of the Albuquerque city council she is the second worst councilor to serve.

On the padlocking of the El Vado motel:

At one point this motel along with many others created a trail of lights, like a string of pearls, across the city following the path of US Route 66.

In the 1970's the then city commission enacted a very restrictive sign ordinance. It prohibited movement of or motion within a sign.

Unknowingly, the commission changed Albuquerque’s own cultural outlook in this single act. Vibrancy within the town died.

Bralley’s civil-libertarian brand of conservatism is an unusually reasonable response to these divisive times. The Blogspot-driven site is heavy on the load times and sluggish to scroll through, but well worth a visit. I’ve subscribed to the RSS feed and I recommend you do the same.

Rail Runner Hauls Ass

Yes, It's Fast!

Unable to control myself any longer, I joined the throngs of curiosity-seekers aboard the 5:25pm Rail Runner from Albuquerque to Bernalillo last night. The train left a few minutes late, but once in motion, the Rail Runner quickly ramped up to a cruising speed of 80 miles per hour, blasting through North Valley back lots and pastures like a bat out of hell.

To convince the unbelievers, I took some out-the-window digicam footage that captures the sense of speed, particularly this one of the Rail Runner handily smoking cars en route to Bernalillo on Highway 313. The Toonerville Trolley this ain't.

The cars are comfortable. I didn't try the WiFi to see if it worked, but some of the seats have small tables for laptop users. There's nothing to shock anyone who has been on a commuter train elsewhere in the world, but the trains are certainly state-of-the-art.

I asked one of the PR flacks about how ticketing will eventually work. He said, "We have about three months to figure that out."

El Paso’s station outclasses Albuquerque’s Amshack without half trying.
USA Rail Guide

Amshack, take that!

More justified unhappiness with our dumpy rail station

The clamor for a decent rail station in Albuquerque continues to rise in volume. Last week on Duke City Fix, Jon Knudsen, of Albloggerque fame, posted a scathing critique of our downtown Amshack and its “welded rows of imitation Eames era chairs with low backs to keep everybody awake.” Best line: “All in all, the scene reminds me of a north valley laundromat I used to frequent in the early '70's.”

While we can all agree that the Amtrak station sucks (and it does), both Knudsen and most subsequent commentators on his post fail to grasp that the reason it sucks is that Amtrak has been made unwelcome in the Alvarado Transportation Center thanks to the greedy, un-civic-minded policies of the City of Albuquerque. Here we have a friggin’ intermodal transportation center full of administrative offices and ONE mode of transport: buses. Oh wait, two modes: pedestrians. Why? Because Amtrak can’t pony up enough cash to make it worth the City’s while. Lame.

There are gorgeous rail stations in downtowns across the nation (even El Paso has a rocking Amtrak station), largely because local and state governments have assembled the funds to make it happen. As I’ve written before, the Alvarado was a publicly-funded project supposedly engineered for the common good. Its management should reflect that mission. It doesn’t.

And to those who question the relevance of cross-country passenger rail in this day and age: You’re dumb. A criminally underfunded entity, Amtrak performs heroically with outdated equipment and limited access to rail right-of-way. Airlines and airports are subsidized far beyond the pittance with which Amtrak squeaks by on a year-to-year basis. In this era of rising gas prices, urban congestion (not to mention the occasional nationwide grounding of all air traffic), only a moron would shut down a functioning, energy-efficient alternative system because it doesn’t make a profit. What the hell are my tax dollars for, if not a decent transit infrastructure? Oh that’s right, imperialistic wars of aggression. Never mind.

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