So here we are again. It's a new year, folks, and with it comes a new summation from our readers on the best (and in many cases worst) aspects of life in our beloved city. Who do we blame for the failures of our simple metropolis? Who do we cheer for getting things right? And, perhaps most importantly, where should we go for the best knock-down, drag-out night of bowling this side of Santa Fe? (Please tell me it's a place with karaoke.)
What makes this year different from the last, or the one before, or the one before that? Well, you're right—a lot of things have remained the same. But much has changed. Politicians have arrived and left, policies have been born, the bowling alley around the corner finally starting serving deluxe nachos. These things are important.
But in all seriousness, this year we've had a whole new batch of scandals and accomplishments, guts and glory, literal and figurative births and deaths. Our story has changed. And that's what makes it interesting.
Best City Political Stinkeroo
Mayor Martin Chavez
If there's one thing that can be said for the mayor, it's that people feel passionately about him. He's a love/hate kind of politician. Obviously, there are a fair number of people in this city who love him, because they voted for him again this last fall. But, according to our survey, there's still a sizeable faction against him. (Don't take it too hard, Marty. You know what they say: Any publicity is good publicity.)
This year, it looks like our mayor earned this dubious honor for a number of reasons, ranging from his “attack on all-ages shows” to his Clean Team to the re-striping of Montaño. In fact, people were apparently so pissed about the Montaño re-striping from two to four lanes that it took home second place for votes. The distant third is Gov. Bill Richardson,getting flack for his jet, his “train” and for “creating fake jobs.” Other notable entries include the failure to pass the living wage, the Paseo extension, ex-State Treasurer Robert Vigil and the proposed sale of Westland Development. Don Chase got one vote in this category as well.
Best Community Action Group
Downtown Action Team
These guys, who always take home a prize in the top three for this category, stole first place this year. And with the continued revitalization of Downtown, it's a good thing, because we're going to want them around as the city's heart continues to transform. A close second by only two votes is the Albuquerque Assistance League, last year's winner. And only two votes behind them is 1000 Friends of New Mexico, with the Southwest Organizing Project only one vote away. Dozens of other organizations were listed this year as well, which makes you realize how many hard-working, caring people in this city are doing their part every day. Sort of warms my cold, cold heart. Oh, and add one more vote for Don Chase, even though one man can't really qualify as a community action group. Can he?
Best Elected City Official
Mayor Martin Chavez
You people love to mess with this guy's head—you did the same thing two years ago when you voted him into the top slot in both this and the political stinkeroo category. It's just further proof that you all seem pretty evenly divided over your feelings toward the man. In any case, the mayor killed in this category this year, with more than four times the number of votes than the runner-up. City Council President Martin Heinrich, who came in second, still managed to garner a sizeable number of votes, and Gov. Bill Richardson made third again (looks like you're a little confused about Big Bill, too).
Technically, former city councilor and mayoral candidate (and present Alibi columnist) Eric Griego beat the guv in votes (it's best you keep that on the down-low, since Griego's got a job working for the big guy now), but since he's no longer in office he's disqualified. Other interesting entries include “that mayor guy in Rio Rancho” (wrong city and you can't even remember the dude's name) and “Westside city councilor—can't remember” (that's helpful), as well as a number of votes for “Albuquerque.” That's sweet and all, folks, but when was the last time the city ran to re-elect itself?
Best Use of Local Tax Dollars
Otherwise known as the Montaño re-striping, which was the second-favorite choice for political stinkeroo. It appears as though some of you are happy about your extra lanes driving to work in the morning. Good for you. A close runner-up was school funding in general, with road repairs but one measly vote behind. Take note, aspiring politicians, your voting base seems to care a lot about good infrastructure and education. Surprising.
Eye-catching entries include the “drinking water thing,” “Easter eggs on I-40” (which are actually pots), giving money for local bands to go to South by Southwest and “hoeless,” which either refers to cleanup efforts to get hoes off the street or is a typo for “homeless.” Oh, yeah, and Don Chase got a vote. This is starting to get weird (I think Don Chase has one really big fan).
Best Wasteful Use of Local Tax Dollars
Look, you did it again. Your ambivalence is astounding. The pots (not Easter eggs) on I-40 took a very close second and the Paseo extension nabbed third. One depressed fellow voted for “everything,” while “Marty's Clean Team vests” racked up a few. Also, a few crackpots think “art” is wasteful, although someone else clarified this a little further by voting for “bad art.” Who can argue with that?
Best Local Crackpot
Speaking of crackpots, we've resigned ourselves to the fact that Don Schrader, no matter how weird anyone else gets, will always win this title. Sigh. But we love you, Don. Please don't ditch your summertime loin cloth or brazen ideals anytime soon. And don't stop sending us letters; we dig them. Voters this year did try to grant someone else this title, but honestly, no one else even came close. Second place goes to Mayor Martin Chavez and third, true to form, goes to Geraldine Amato, who's well-known for her loquaciousness at City Council meetings. A close fourth goes to “Hemingway,” the prolific homeless man with bright blue eyes who sits out on Sixth Street and Central. Oh, and a few more votes for Don Chase, of course.
Best Bowling Alley
If you're in the mood to roll some balls around (don't look at me like that), head over to Silva's for a good time. Other top-notch places to partake in one of America's favorite games are Holiday Bowl, which won second, and Leisure Bowl at a close third. Strike!
Best Adult Establishment
If you really want to roll some balls around, you may be in need of an adult establishment. Albuquerque's favorite place to get the ball rolling (I just can't stop) is T.D.'s, known to be one of the classier strip joints in town (I hear the one on San Mateo is especially tasteful). Castle Superstore was close behind, where you can pick up all of your naughty needs. The News Stand snagged third.
Best Radio Station
100.3 The Peak
No surprise here. The Peak is the all-time reigning champion of this category—with hundreds of locals declaring it the best radio frequency within our city limits. I guess that's why they call it “music for the rest of us.” Runner-up is 89.9 KUNM, a local station that provides some of the most thought-provoking and diverse programming in Albuquerque. Third goes to 103.3 eD FM. A number of votes also went to 95.9 Radio Free Santa Fe, but, alas, as recently reported in the Alibi, the station is no longer broadcasting in Burque. Fans are still reeling.
Best Radio Personality
You were just waiting for it. This guy has so many admirers we just might have to get him a security guard. Your hands-down favorite local traffic- and weatherman, Don, took home more than 25 times the number of votes than the next in line. We're talking hundreds upon hundreds, people. That's some serious love. Second place goes to Jim Villanucci, who climbed his way up from fourth place last year. Third place tied between Buck and Dex in the Morning on 104.7 The Edge and Ryan from the Peak, who, as a fun trivia factoid, I happened to go to high school with (way to go, Ryan!).
Best Use of Public Access Television
At this point, if you haven't heard of Don Schrader, otherwise known as “naked man,” it's time you get out of the house. Or, if that prospect's too frightening, just pop on Channel 27 once in awhile. When Don gets going about the benefits of drinking urine, evading taxes and tanning, you'll begin to understand why we love him so much. Not too far behind is Rusty Rutherford with Don't Watch This Productions. This sexy little dude is making quite a name for himself here in Burque. And who could blame him—check out those abs! Our final slot goes out to Oh My It's Tobyriffic, a show hosted by a young eccentric fellow who likes to get local bands to come and play on the air.