Return To Silver City

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Sen. Jeff Bingaman's tortured explanation of his reasoning in what amounted to a vote in favor of Samuel Alito's appointment to the Supreme Court was an insult to the dignity and intelligence of his constituents. Bingaman voted against Alito's confirmation because, he said, Alito would shift the court too far to the right. On the other hand, Bingaman said he voted against a filibuster because Alito was an “able jurist” and therefore qualified to sit on the court. Bingaman knew there weren't enough votes to derail Alito's confirmation and that the only hope of doing so lay in supporting a filibuster. Thus, in the only meaningful vote for Democrats at that stage, yea or nay on the filibuster, Bingaman voted in favor of Bush's right-wing nominee.

Listening to Bingaman refer to Alito's ability as a jurist, one needs only to recall what an “able” politician the disgraced Richard Nixon was, to cite just one example of the insufficiency of mere ability. It takes more than technical ability to be a Supreme Court justice. In fact, if Alito is as able as Bingaman thinks he is, then the judge will be that much more effective in pushing the court to the right—Bingaman's stated concern in voting “no” on confirmation.

As for his vote in favor of the harsh bankruptcy bill, and his initial support of and subsequent shameful silence on Bush's immoral and illegal war in Iraq … Sen. Bingaman has again betrayed his constituency. The senator has cultivated an image as a wise and reasonable person, but his support of Alito is neither. Whether his decisions arise from cowardice or calculation, or both, we can no longer afford the senator's triangulating and double-speak. It is time to send the old sidewinder back to Silver City.

Good Planners—Bad Planning

Across University Boulevard from Wagner Hall, the parking lot discussion centered on the Alibi's coverage of the future home of UNM's School of Planning and Architecture [Newscity, “A Building for the Builders,” Jan. 26-Feb. 1]. The views of Federation of University Neighborhood Associations members differed slightly on our concerns about the project, but the consensus was that I should not give Roger Lujan final word on UNM's (lack of) community outreach process. Please don't get me wrong, the architecture and planning students need a better building. The old one, which is in our neighborhood, is not good enough for students who deserve better. Nobody begrudges the new facility. We just wanted some input into what greatly affects our community. Our input could have made the building even better.

UNM doesn't do a lousy job at community outreach—it completely ignores the 11 neighborhoods and 50,000 residents surrounding it. We simply don't exist (except perhaps, when we write about our experiences with UNM).

Yes, Federation members do attend the Campus Planning Committee. We see it as an opportunity to discover what is about to be done to us. Nobody believes those meetings change decisions already made higher up. The city, the county, the Department of Transportation, the Council of Governments and just about everyone else in the business of planning hire professional planners to handle community outreach—often those planners were trained at UNM. The theory I've heard from a friend who teaches planning at UNM is that the closer to and more affected by the project, the more input a stakeholder should have. That makes University Heights Association (the neighborhood directly across the street from the new building) a major stakeholder.

But we saw no outreach in that process. No letters were mailed to residents, no one ever went door-to-door, no public meetings were ever held and no reworked plans to accommodate residents' needs were ever brought back to the community—all standard operating procedures for outreach.

The raging irony is that the UNM School of Planning and Architecture graduates great planners. From personal and professional experience, I know that they do a great job of bringing community concerns to the table and improving every project they touch. Every project, that is, except UNM projects because UNM doesn't do any outreach.

It would be funny if it weren't so sad.

A Hallowed Mask

My wife and I read your article in the Alibi, “What it Means to Save New Orleans” [Feature, Jan. 26-Feb. 1]. About three years ago we traveled to New Orleans for a week. We have been collectors of masks for years and have a whole wall of them. We were in the French Quarter and went into a mask store where the two clerks were women. We bought a pirate’s mask used in Mardi Gras, which was made in Italy. I don’t remember the name of the store but I will bet it is the one in your article. I have shared our mask collections with second graders and they loved the pirate. Thanks for the memories and I hope the women hold their businesses together.

Whole Latta Whining

Just a few nit-picky questions about page 16 of the last issue [Feb. 2-8]. How are your readers supposed to look at you? Why do you write “as we speak” when we obviously are not speaking? Is this a failed attempt at a humorous writing style or merely a deficiency in your writing skills?

Why type “no pun intended” when you clearly did intend the pun? Why not type “pun intended”? Why do you care so much about encouraging people to use sex toys or shop at Martha’s Body Bueno, anyway? Also, Devin O’Leary is completely useless unless he can learn how to write a film capsule without giving away major plot points (like he did with When a Stranger Calls).

Not too long ago, I used to enjoy writing letters to the editor with a little more substance. But the Alibi has been on my shit list ever since you guys refused to admit that the first-place award in the last short story contest was awarded to a piece that went over the word limit and should’ve been disqualified. Clearly, the Alibi lacks integrity and I see no reason to trust what you write at all. Too bad Crosswinds is out of the picture as they typically offered a bit more substance and didn’t embarrass themselves by failing miserably at being cool, like writing about fish sticks or whatever. I guess I’m just saying I wish the Alibi hadn’t become so pretentious with so many writers trying too hard to appear cool. It’s too full of shit, but the price is right. Peace!

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