Last week Gov. Bill Richardson held very still while clutching onto a carefully maneuvered shovelful of dirt. No, he wasn't burying his pride in a belated post-election realization; he was posing after breaking ground on the UNM Children's Hospital Expansion Project (or, at least, breaking through the dirt in a very symbolic sandbox atop the UNM hospital parking garage). Last week's ceremony celebrated the groundbreaking of the $233 million public works project, one of the largest in the state's history, and was aflutter with highly impressive individuals and well-crafted public relations, gathered to celebrate upgrades at the state's only teaching hospital. The project is scheduled for completion in November 2007.
Who's Your Congresswoman? The Republicans in Congress, at least those in the House of Representatives, no longer give a crap about ethics or good government. What they care about is power. Nothing else. That, we know for sure, following the disgraceful Republican conference this week where GOP House members revised ethics rules so that Tom DeLay, the Republican majority leader, could continue to serve as one of the nation's most powerful fundamentalist righ-wing bullgoose loonies despite being investigated for corruption in his homestate of Texas. The GOP had been big champions of ethics rules and good government—hell they even claimed to be fiscal conservatives—back in the days when the Dems had control of Congress. But that was all bluster. All they really wanted was power.
Desi Brown has a funny quirk to his dance step; it's an extra little stompy kick that marks not only his swinging, but often the steps of the dancers he teaches every Tuesday night at the Heights Community Center near TVI. For seven years now, Brown and an evolving group of friends, called The Calming Four Primordial Swing Dance Group, have hosted weekly dance practice sessions and lessons. The three dollar donation they collect at the door goes to cover expenses. Brown and his buddies give away the rest; overall they've donated nearly $20,000 to local and national groups, including La Cueva High School Drill Team, Keshet Dance Company and the Red Cross 9-11 Relief Fund.
Various groups crowded council chambers on Nov. 15. Stop the War Machine people supported a bill encouraging the city to work with Kirtland Air Force Base on an emergency plan in case things go wrong with the 2,500-plus nuclear weapons stored there. ("Hold it under the cold tap, Love.") Vietnamese-Americans supported a bill recognizing the flag of the former Republic of Vietnam as the official symbol of Albuquerque's Vietnamese-American community. Supporters and opponents of development impact fees faced off.
Fall is simply the best time of year here in Payne's World. Complimenting the brisk nip in the air and autumnal color of the turning leaves is Thanksgiving—a guilt-free opportunity to fill the ol' flux capacitor to the brim with stuffing, turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberries, pumpkin pie and enchiladas (it is New Mexico, you know).
When I first received Yale Scott's message from the White House on Wednesday, Oct. 27, I thought it was a prank call, but after verifying its legitimacy, I called him back. He seemed OK. He interviewed me about my experiences as a volunteer, then told me that I had been chosen as one of the many people to be considered for the opportunity to be in the "Freedom Corps"—really just a fancy term for "greeter"—and that I would find out by Friday whether or not I had been selected to greet President George W. Bush on Monday evening, Nov. 1, as he made the rounds on his final day of campaigning. Over the next two days, I get a series of phone calls from several people associated with Scott and the White House, all of whom seem to ask the same questions. I feel like I'm being interrogated. When Friday rolls around, I am told that I have been selected as a "Freedom Corps" representative. I will greet the president at Kirtland Air Force Base, ride in the presidential motorcade and sit on stage at Journal Pavilion while President Bush gives his address. Oh, what to wear?
Dateline: England—If ever there was an endorsement for Head & Shoulders, this is it. Veteran criminal Andrew Pearson was recently convicted of armed robbery thanks to 25 flakes of dandruff he left behind at the scene of the crime some 11 years ago. Andrew Pearson, now 40, and two other men escaped with $70,630 in cash after raiding a caravan company in the northeastern city of Hull in June 1993. Using a new DNA profiling method, investigators matched a swab of Pearson's saliva with the flakes of dandruff, which were found inside a stocking that he had worn as a mask during the robbery. Using that evidence, a jury needed only 75 minutes last Monday to convict Pearson of robbery and possession of a firearm. Pearson--who has been convicted 76 previous times for burglary, assault, robbery and other crimes--was sentenced to 12 years for the robbery and an additional three years for possessing a firearm.
House Republicans have done something truly appalling. They've knocked down an ethics rule that banned House members from holding leadership positions if they've been indicted on felony charges.