Put Your Hands Where We Can See Them

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The door's open but the ride it ain't free

And I know you're lonely

For words I ain't spoken

But tonight we’ll be free

All the promises'll be broken

–“Thunder Road” by Bruce Springsteen

I have always yearned to be a judge, a news anchor or a high school girls' volleyball coach. Why? Because these are careers that do not require pants. Judges have robes, anchors have desks and the coaches get probation. Thankfully, pants are essential to American politics. And it isn't just because without them the only thing between you and molten retinas is the lectern on C-SPAN.

The slacks don't make the slacker—the pockets do. No pants, no pockets. No pockets, no … Hey! Get your hand out of there.

Marty Chavez has reported raising almost a million dollars for his re-election bid. With his steroidal war chest, Marty was the first to put up signs, run radio and TV ads, and pay for his ex-wife Margaret's sudden sabbatical in Tierra del Fuego.

As a former elected official and mayoral contender, the truth is, candidates are born-again canvasses salivating for brushstrokes and wondering why their easel developed a limp.

Many campaign contributors expect access, phone calls returned, nephews promoted, contracts nudged, inspectors harnessed, tickets fixed and untold other troubles banished. On the other hand, candidates rely on the aeronautic eyebrow, a quick nod to the restroom, “call me on Monday,” or a snarl of empathy. The truth is, most people have problems beyond the power of the office you seek and the hope they are renting. It is the duty of public officials to schedule the bout; it is the extent of campaign contributions that schedule the dive.

But back to pockets. Without them the human body has few places naturally designed to grip envelopes, checks or cash. When you have collected millions, keep that big one in back available for subpoenas.

So what is in the other candidates' pants? Compared to the mayor, it seems that Brad Winter, Eric Griego and David Steele are candidates with the independence of honest pocket change and contributions earned by achievement, appeal or at least a dice roll, instead of what basically amounts to civic extortion.

Griego, a current city councilor, is steeped in sincerity, humor and energy and this city needs to note the lines he is willing to draw now to protect our future.

Steele reminds me of Ross Perot's 1992 running mate, Adm. James Stockdale, who introduced himself to America with the questions, “Who am I? And what am I doing here?” Unlike Adm. Stockdale, Steele seems to know the answer to those questions, or at least has a plan to find out.

Winter, the current City Council president, should be our next mayor. He is very smart, non-doctrinaire and has a personality instead of pathology. His leadership is continually demonstrated by his ability to take the helm of City Council by consensus and compass.

This city is dangerous and violent. Our schools are in flames. But where the mayor sees amenities, we need amens. Go to a mall. Watch the hordes of kids pushing baby carriages. The mayor is clueless, because his administration has only two answers for every problem in Albuquerque: If you can't pour cement on it, pour on the pandering. Or actual pandas.

Any candidate willing to crawl for a million bucks will never stand up for the people. Nor is this news. He remains the only mayor ever found guilty of ethics violations—concerning ABQPAC; he also hired the assistant district attorney that pulled the plug on the grand jury breathing down his first term's neck over the odorous airport observation deck.

This is the town where I decided years ago to raise my family, risk my dreams and scuff my boots. Any city can have a skyline. Albuquerque is a city with sunsets in its pockets: Consequently, we don't need a mayor who is in everyone else's.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author.

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