Thursday, August 25, 2005

Candidates for Mayor Debate...But Is It Already Over?

PLUMBERS AND PIPEFITTERS HALL, SAN PEDRO & COAL SE--At the Duke City Fix party I remember saying that the Mayor's race was all over: that Chavez had too much money, name recognition, and accomplishments to be beaten. It seems everybody likes at least some of what the mayor has done the last 4 years: the Rapid-Ride, the Spanish art exhibit, the plans for light-rail, etc.

The real big issues have to do with the West Side...and even those who don't live there recognize that it cannot be ignored. But there is no consensus on solutions for those gigantic problems. The West Side is indeed the coyote in the corral, so to speak. For many, dumping him for a city councilor doesn't seem worth the effort. It just might lead to more fighting in the Council with no assurance that things would be any better. They might even get worse.

So I went to the debate last night at the Plumbers Hall, not to take sides, just to see if it felt like the race was over. It was hard to tell:

Martin Chavez wasn't there. He sent James Lewis in his place. Sometimes, when he got in a tight spot, he just said, "I haven't talked to Marty about that, so I can't answer the question." Lewis is obviously smart and knowledgable. He is also articulate, but very restrained emotionally...one might even say dead-pan.
Brad Winter wasn't there. And no one was there from his campaign either.
David Steele WAS there. He sounded good...better than Lewis and almost as good as Eric Griego. Unfortunately, he has no money or fame so he is going nowhere in the election. He only got 3% in the Sanderoff poll. As he said, "I only got one more percentage point than those who refused to answer."

Eric Griego did himself a lot of good. He may not get the support of organized labor as a result of this debate at a union hall, but he will get a lot of votes from union workers anyway. In fact, the big impression from the evening was that Griego was just a little better than everybody else at everything. And it was more than that: one actually felt that he was sincerely on your side. In a jaded world, that is not easy to do.

The format of the "debate" consisted of answering questions posed by officials from the various union locals. The questions were generally excellent, and it did point out a few differences between the candidates.
  • Public Campaign Financing: Griego & Steele, YES...Chavez, NO.
  • Minimum Wage Initiative: Griego & Steele, YES...Chavez, NO.
  • Road through the Petroglyphs: Griego, NO...Steele & Chavez, YES.

But back to the big question: Is the mayoral race over? Johnny_Mango seems to have a foot in both camps.

MY HEAD says it's over. There is no way anyone is going to catch him. Brad Winter...why vote for him? David Steele...who? Eric Griego...how can he possibly win after kissing off the Westside? Phrases like "toll bridge" and "construction moratorium" are just asking for trouble.

MY HEART says that Eric Griego feels like a different kind of politician. Griego just might raise our community expectations to a point where we start believing in a better world. He fights the good fight. But is he a giant killer? That is the question.

19 comments:

GypsyRose said...

Actually, many West Siders support Eric because they believe development is going way too fast for the infrastructure to catch up. As for the toll booth thing, it was mentioned as one of the things that should be looked at, among many other things, but the media, being what it is, picked it up and ran with it.

Chavez in no way is in an unassailable position. Having already spent more than $200,000 and with name recognition in the high nineties, this could be his peak, at around 40% give or take 4+ points, which may not be enough to avoid a runoff. If there's a runoff, all bets are off.

I've gone to 3 mayoral debates so far. Chavez cancelled on all 3 at the last minute: one at a County Dem Party meeting, one at Democracy for New Mexico meetup and one at an event sponsored by SEEDPAC.

Griego already has the endorsement of one big union: AFSCME. To me Chavez's biggest liability is that he is so beholden to big buck contributors, including the worst of the development crowd. This does not bring honest, for the people government....

Voodoo Child said...

Gypsyrose,

I really think you're wrong. A lot of West Siders don't support "Tollbooth" Griego because he went too far (hello.. a tollbooth and a building moratorium?? I can't wait to see what the Westside Coalition does when it volleys on him.) J_M hit it on the head when he mentioned those in his article, that's what he'll be remembered on the West Side for when voters go to the polls. And don't blame the media for this, Griego should have known what would happen when he mentioned it, and if he didn't then he's apparently not ready for prime time.

There's a difference between actually having support and getting fifteen or twenty people to show up at a press conference to say they support you.

(Let's not even address his complaining about people who protest him.)

Eric has also benefitted from the Min. Wage vote getting the attention it has, because he's hitched his wagon to it (and rightly so from a political standpoint, the push for this came at the perfect time. Almost too perfect... Hmmmm, we wonders don't we, precious...)

Eric's attacks on the West Side are probably going to hurt him. He's going to find out the hard way that there is more to Albuquerque than just District Three, and his act doesn't play as well as he thinks.

As for Marty having the thing wrapped up? I don't think he quite does yet, but being at 40% give-or-take 4 points with around 10% (his 60-something rating minus his possible votes/2) still probably in play for Chavez, it's going to make it hard for Griego to break it open. It depends on the turnout, we all know that "progressives" will show up, and the West Side groups will probably rally their vote.

And Steele and Winter, Brad might have a shot at number two and making things interesting. I don't think Steele has the juice to do much in this election.

GypsyRose said...

chanoyou:

Can you explain to me why anyone who lives on the West Side and who is experiencing the traffic gridlock, overcrowded schools and general chaos of skyrocketing growth would be against slowing things down and taking a breath to let the infrastructure catch up? Why would they be against looking at a myriad of proposals to mitigate the problems?

Perhaps you are confusing big pocket West Side developers with West Side residents. Now I can see why the kind of developers who are lining Mayor Marty's campaign coffers with big dollar IOU's would be against a moratorium. Hmm.

johnny_mango said...

The construction moratorium was discussed in more detail. Griego said that it applied only to commercial and residential developments, not to infrastructure and other public works. He also stated that the private developers didn't use union labor in any case. He went on to say that the county has already put some limits on development.

Griego's problem, as I see it, is that it is difficult to "fine tune" these positions when the headlines are screaming "toll bridge" and "construction moratorium."

I thought that it was interesting that he was able to stand up to big-box stores like Walmart, while at the same time empathize with shoppers trying to get the best deals for their families. That is the sort of tactic he needs to employ in the case of the Westside. He may already be doing that, but I haven't heard much of it.

Voodoo Child said...

Gypsyrose,

Hmmm, no I really don't think I am confusing "big pocket" West Side developers with West Side residents (although I give you snaps for trying to spin that), in part because I have to travel to the West Side all the time and see what a gigantic disaster it is over there.

You asked "Why would they be against looking at a myriad of proposals to mitigate the problems?" I don't think West Siders are against looking at a lot of proposals. The problem is all "progressive" proposals begin with "We won't allow you to extend Paseo.." and end with "We won't allow you to extend Paseo.." And the West Siders might get tired of planning for the West Side revolving around that issue. The the lack of discussion from a group of people who don't even commute to the WS, much less live there, is frustrating.

When I lived in Rio Rancho and had to commute to downtown I was one of the people stuck in that snarl for two hours. And all the while, the same group of people who are backing Griego now were then saying "No Roads! This is just another scam for Mayor Marty's friends" then. (Yeah, I don't think they have forgotten that little ad campaign Soltari ran in '03).

I don't think people on the West Side would mind a slow down on development (I know I'd like to see things slow down. Maybe some of the developers would then get the chance to build one of the two industrial parks the West Side needs, which then leads to a whole other "progressive" gripe). But let's not forget, "Tollbooth" didn't say "slowdown" he said "shutdown" for a year. And, giving credit where it's due, he had another good idea, making one of the lanes on Paseo into a carpool lane. (But then let's not forget, he did want to force people living across the river to pay a toll to contribute to visit, work, love and play in ABQ.)

ABQ could have planned better over there, no doubt about it. Hell, a four-year old with a set of Legos could have planned the West Side better than it currently is. But that's the hand we've been dealt, and it's what we have to deal with now.

(Oh, and as long as we're talking about lining campaign coffers, do I need to mention out-of-state "progressive" interests that were called on to fund the '03 anti-road bond ads by Soltari and SAGE? Hmmmm....)

GypsyRose said...

Surprise. The extension of Paseo will open up MORE land for fast development, resulting in even MORE traffic spilling out into the exisiting roads and more stress on schools and other infrastructure. Without an OVERALL traffic plan and more consideration of non-cul de sac grids to prevent more bottlenecks, things will get worse, not better.

As to:
"The the lack of discussion from a group of people who don't even commute to the WS, much less live there, is frustrating."

I know plenty of people who commute from the West Side, and they are supporting Griego precisely BECAUSE he supports slowing down the development process so that options can be developed and analyzed as to how to mitigate at least some of the problems. Many neighborhood association people from over there also support him for that reason.

And as I understand it, the carpool lane was connected to the toll idea. If you carpooled or road the bus, you wouldn't pay.

Slowdown of development, applying a one-year moratorium on building permits in one part of the West Side is the same thing, in my mind.

Just what do YOU suggest to mitigate these problems? How would Marty Chavez mitigate them?

And there's a big difference between the Mayor taking large contributions from big developers with the clear implication that he must pay them back with concessions if he wins and getting progressive groups to donate to an ad campaign on an issue. The first quite often leads to corruption. The second is how many issue-oriented ad campaigns are financed.

If I were living on the West Side, I'd certainly want to vote for someone who is trying to institute planning and come up with consensus ideas that creatively address the problems(Griego) rather than someone who is against this approach because his decisions are being driven by large political contributions that can only create rather serious conflicts of interests in an office where the mayor is supposed to be representing citizens, not just big developers.

Voodoo Child said...

The Paseo extension is needed to handle the traffic that is already there, regardless of future development. How would you get a transportation grid currently without the extensions of Paseo and Unser for their planned uses. Take a look at a map, there’s only one N-S artery on the West Side and that’s Coors. Paseo is the link between Coors and Unser all the way to Academy. It’s the major E-W route north of the interstate.

Second, the areas that might be opened up by an extension are either already in planning for development regardless of the Paseo extension, or prohibited from future development. Ask Mike Cadigan, who is trying to get various areas of the Volcano Cliffs subdivision to be declared open space.

As for what I would do, I’m glad you asked. I don’t see how not building the extension of Paseo will help mitigate the current traffic congestion on the West Side. I’d be willing to look at a slowdown, again not a shutdown (and there IS a difference between the two) but then go ahead with the Paseo and Unser extensions, regardless of the protesting. And let’s be honest, THAT’S the real reason we’re arguing about Paseo, not growth but the SAGE Council’s views.

A West Side moratorium might have worked 30 years ago, but at this point the horse has left the barn and we have to deal with the here and now, hence the reason to extend Paseo.

Yes, there is a big difference between the funding of Chavez and the SAGE/Soltari ad campaign. However, that difference is more along the lines of people from N.M. and ABQ donating money to Chavez and the SAGE Council sending out a special SOS to progressives all over the U.S. to please send money to help set policy in ABQ. If the tables were reversed, and Chavez was taking money from groups in other states, you know for damn sure that Griego, SAGE and Soltari would be throwing a fit. So what’s the difference?

As for your point that Griego is trying to creatively address the West Side traffic problems, ask him if he’d be willing to do what I said about extending Paseo and slowing development. I get the feeling that he’d say no, and I wonder why.

Voodoo Child said...

P.S. As far as it goes, I figure Chavez is supporting at least as many, if not more, ABQ citizens than Griego, regarding the Paseo extension.

Voodoo Child said...

Oh wow, I'm sorry Jon I missed your post. Sorry we're throwing down in your neck of the woods ;-) .

You're right, with tollbooth and moratorium being thrown around in the headlines it's a struggle to get through all of that. But again, Eric runs his own PR/political firm, he should have known what was going to happen. And maybe this is what he wants to happen so he can solidify his base. I question it as a strategy, since it'll alienate more people than it will strengthen.

I'd have loved to hear what he had to say about standing up to Wal-Mart and still being concerned about people being able to afford items, though. (Again, another topic close to home)

GypsyRose said...

Well we can go round and round. EVERY honest study of roads concludes that new ones ADD congestion, they don't clear it up. Period. If the West Side really wants to get out of gridlock it will have to go to public transportation. Period.

I think it's funny that you believe all the money that Chavez is collecting is coming from in state. Perhaps you need to go look at his contributor reports.

The only solution I hear you proposing is that a road go through the Petroglyph National Monument.

Have you checked out who is pushing Westland Development Corp. to sell their entire remaining land grant?

You are right that the horse is out of the barn on the West Side, in many ways, and Chavez and his cronies were the ones who brought us to this place in many ways.

Well, I suppose if Chavez wins he can continue criminalizing everything he can think of, thus filling the coffers of his prison corp contributors. He can start getting huge prison pens built out West, the only open space that will be left out there.

Believe me, development issues aren't the only reason I think Mayor Marty is an awful choice for Albuquerque's future. Just the fact that his closest chums on the city council are Republicans, especially the truly awful Sally MAY-YAY and Tina (lies about DWI) Cummins should be enough for any Democrat or thinking Republican.

And while you're checking out Marty's contributions from out of staters, you might check out how many of his large contributors are Republicans. Hmm, I wonder why they back him. Perhaps because he is opposed even to such core Democratic positions as a living wage.

And if we're looking for shady lobbying efforts, look no further than the incredibly unsuccessful efforts by the Chamber and other so-called "business" entities last time out. Then ease your way right into the ABQPAC scandal in Marty's office. Follow the money.

Voodoo Child said...

Paseo and Unser are transit roads, not residential roads. You know there's a big difference between transit and residential road. (I'm not being snarky here, just so you know)

Public transportation is a good idea in conjunction with Paseo-Unser. But riddle me this, where are the public transporation lines going to run, and who's going to pay for them? We can't even get Paseo and Unser built when there's money that has been allocated to them.

That's not the only thing I'd suggest, given that there are already plans in place to either develop or turn areas into open space, there's little I could do about that (unless I want to run my own little kingdom in ABQ, but that's too Simpson's "Mayor of Albuquerque"-ish). But again, let's not hide behind growth as the original reasons to argue about Paseo and Unser. There would be oppostion to those roads even if not one new house was built.

(And talking about growth, how do you define that? How far from a central location are we talking?)

Wow, I'm impressed, Chavez was calling the shots 30 years ago when a plan was needed? Damn, I need to talk to whoever he's seeing about some of that anti-aging stuff! ;-)

I'd love to see developers build schools and industrial parks as well as homes on the West Side. God knows there's enough space out there to do it. But since this moratorium also stops commercial developments, what businesses will be built out there? And does that turn the WS-No Job complaint into a self-fulfilling prophecy?

As for who Chavez's allies are, I'm not thrilled with Sally and Tina too much either.

With Griego sticking the shiv in his back you can't exactly count on the Griego faction to not screw Chavez.

I'd take issue with Chavez being "republican", he's a centrist, and Griego does look very left compared to him.

It's not a good idea to mention ABQPAC right now, given Griego's first quarter money management problems (innocent mistake though it was, it still looked bad. The first thing they teach you in Campaign Corps' two day political class, here are UNM this past spring, is you hire someone to handle the money right after you hire a campaign manager. Again, it doesn't look like he's ready for prime-time yet if he made a rookie mistake)

GypsyRose said...

As a final comment I'll just say it seems telling to me that you claim that all the real Dems on the city council are into sticking a knife into Chavez's back. What they're really doing, of course, is sticking up for the ordinary folks. That's what real Dems do. If this is backstabbing in your world, so be it.

I'd just examine very closely anyone who claims to be a Dem but gets most of his money from Republicans, serves many aspects of the Republican agenda and is the avowed enemy of all the Dems on the city council save one.

Taking money from deep pocket developers and other wealthy patrons doesn't determine whether a candidate is centrist or not. But it may well indicate whether he or she is corrupt or not.

Voodoo Child said...

And for my final comment I'll just say that there is a difference between being able to negotiate and work for the better of the people, and working for a political end. While you think Chavez is working to that end, I see Griego (who apparently refuses to negotiate to make things better) as being the one using politics. (as shown in his "There are backdoors dealings going on" pout session at a council meeting a couple months back that accomplished nothing until Cadigan had to put him in "time out")

As for Chavez being the "avowed enemy" of the Dems on the council, let's keep in mind the three on the council in question are all fairly left leaning and closed minded and would consider most centrists as Republicans. And that plays to their base, as we've seen in this discussion.

Kelley said...

Wow. Great bantor. If I don't vote at all is that a vote for Chavez? I still wish Marty's ex had run---that would have been more fun than Hillary vs. Condi...

Anonymous said...

Eric never said toll bridge!! Remember the source the Urinol. He had been commenting on alot of solutions that can move traffic. HOV lanes,car pools, mass transit, open up lanes for oneway high traffic flow,during commuter times and if someone needs to commute alone they can pay a set fee for the convience of using an HOV lane..To quote the article. "Griego said tolls would go hand-in-hand with high occupancy vehicle lanes. Drivers could use the HOV lanes only when carpooling; mass transit could also use the lanes.
If drivers are alone in their cars and want to use HOV lanes, they could pay tolls. "If they choose not to pay the toll, they could go back to the other, slower traffic lanes and wait," Griego said. "But all of these ideas would need to be put before voters. We need to put these types of ideas on the table and, of course, on the ballot."
The was presented as a sticker paid in advance by the driver who refused to conserve. This idea works in other cities..but hey we don't want to be world class do we? Let's continue steps to become little LA.

Come on!
We are 16 lanes short!! gypsyrose understands the implications of Paseo..I know a "westsider" who lives off of Golf Course he tells me that Seven Bar/Ellison has a short cut through his neighborhood with school etc..that has become a super highway! He cringes at Paseo being open ( says Unser/Montano would be better) in fact they plan to move to ease their commute. Montano is a NEIGHBOORHOOD not amednable to a highway either and part of our Bosque..

Read the studies look at the city web page educate yourself. Better yet try to go to see your family on the west side or shop! I bet It may be the last time you go to their home or seek out a shop.
Let me close by saying we would NEVER build a road through San Felipe or Temple Albert why destroy a sacred site? Oh yeah their religon doesn't count!

Voodoo Child said...

Ahhh, and now we get to the crux of the Paseo-Unser argument. I'm sorry Mr. "Anonymous" but blatant appeals like that aren't going to work on me. (let's not forget, Paseo-Unser was passed by the majority of citizens of ABQ in the last road bond cycle. But that's all right, let's not listen to what the citizens of ABQ have to say about roads in our own town).

Let me ask you Mr. "Anonymous", where is the great brain trust SAGE is supposed to have to come up with another plan for the West Side. Why is Griego using the red herring of "growth" to batter the West Side with instead of saying "Golly Gee, I don't wanna piss off my pals by compromising and reaching a concensus of Paseo-Unser". (and gee, according to today's Journal Eric is supposed to be a compromiser) Hmm, a red herring trying to divert attention, sounds like Eli Lee and his "Multiple messages to multiple audiences using multiple media" are hard at work again.

And I did consider the source (the Journal). Which given your whining is more objective than you are it appears. The bottom line, as you quote from the story is that "Griego said tolls would go hand-in-hand with high occupancy vehicle lanes." Hmm... still asking for people who work in ABQ to have to pay to enter ABQ from their homes in... ABQ!!! Sounds to me like tolls are on the table after all, regardless of what you just tried to say.

I'm not quite sure where you get the whole I'll never visit the West Side again after looking at the city's web site. (but the first time my family's in trouble and I can't get over there in time? You better be ready for the storm I'll raise about it)

No matter how you spin it, the Paseo-Unser extensions are not as much about sprawl and growth (given that areas on the West Side are already slated for development or are open space). Paseo-Unser are planned to be transit, not residential roads, so the great fear of development need not jump out (start naming developments that will be stopped, start naming developments that aren't planned already or aren't set up to be open space. Come on, I'm waiting, hurry with the names).

No matter that the issue passed a vote last year by a large margin.

It appears all you can do, Mr. "Anonymous" is offer a veiled threat of racism against me (a standard leftist attack against people who don't agree on this issue). And considering you don't know anything else about me, and that you have to hide behind more anonimity than the rest of us posting on here to do it, is quite insulting (and does nothing to boost your argument).

Anonymous said...

Must have touched a nerve chahoyou .. Let me try to clarify there is no relationship between going to see family and the city web page...I was trying to make a point. Obviously a poor one, about how difficult the commute is..Whenever I have tried to give the west side my business I found the gridlock was not worth my time. Family, I'll make any sacrifice! As for the city web page it can be informative. Now, I'll address the road bond vote. I don't agree with you and think that the public was held captive. I didn't vote for the road bond for several reasons like it not a solution and that I hiked and spent too much time on that wonderful open mesa as a kid to betray it. But that is me..not doublespeak....I have roots and remember it well...
Thank you, for illuminating how access can and I predict will lead to a crisis. I am now concerned about how emergency vehicles will beable to help someone, especially in the PM hrs.. I have no power I'm just a citizen.
Although, I don't agree with your views I respect them.

Good luck to you,

Ms. Anonymous

Voodoo Child said...

Ms. Anonymous,

First off, my apologies for the "Mr. Anonymous" statement, (I had a 50-50 chance and failed like a Lobo football player taking a trig test) ;-)

Next I wanted to say thank you for saying even if you didn't agree with me you could respect my views. You're the first person who has said that to me regarding this debate (hence the defensiveness on my end, I usually get called a racist or stupid or a developers lackey)

I get where your coming from on the web site comment now. You had me scratching my head and trying to use all 5 of my brain cells to figure that out.

I think we'll end up disagreeing on the road bond vote, you feel that the public was held hostage and I feel that if we want to split Paseo-Unser into its own vote then we should do it for all of the projects (Again, I think we can agree to disagree)

Anonymous said...

I think to stop all this fustation and confusion we should sell the land.