Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A Must Read for Every American: "Cleveland's Terrible Stain"


CreditOliver Munday

Tamir Rice of Cleveland would be 
alive today had he been a white 
12-year-old playing with a toy gun 
in just about any middle-class neighborhood in the country on 
the afternoon of Nov. 22, 2014. 

But Tamir, who was shot to death 
by a white police officer that day, 
had the misfortune of being black 
in a poor area of Cleveland, where 
the police have historically behaved
as an occupying force that shoots 
first and asks questions later. To 
grow up black and male in such a 
place is to live a highly circum-
scribed life, hemmed in by forces 
that deny your humanity and 
conspire to kill you.

Those forces hovered over the proceedings on Monday when a grand jury declined to indict Officer Timothy Loehmann in the killing and Timothy Ginty, the Cuyahoga County prosecutor, explained why he had asked the grand jurors to not bring charges. Mr. McGinty described the events leading up to Tamir’s death as tragic series of errors and “miscommunications” that began when a 911 caller said a male who 
was “probably a juvenile” was waving a “probably fake” gun at people 
in a park.
The fact that those caveats never reached Officer Loehmann — who shot the child within seconds of arriving on the scene — was more than just
an administrative misstep. It reflects an utter disregard for the lives of 
the city’s black residents. That disregard pervades every aspect of this 
case and begins with the fact that the department failed to even review Officer Loehmann’s work history before giving him the power of life and death over the citizens of Cleveland. Had the department done so, it 
would have found that Officer Loehmann had quit a suburban police department where he had showed a “dangerous loss of composure” 
during firearms training and was found to be emotionally unfit for the stress of the job.
Officer Loehmann joined a police department that itself had acquired a well-documented reputation for wanton violence and for shooting at people who posed no threat to the police or others. In a particularly striking event, documented by the Justice Department last year, officers mistook the sound of a car backfiring for a gunshot. They chased down 
and fired at the vehicle 137 times, killing two occupants who turned out 
to be unarmed.
The lengthy Justice Department report shows clearly why the black community viewed the Cleveland police as dangerous and profoundly 
out of control. In May, the Police Department entered an agreement 
with the Justice Department, enforceable by the courts, under which
it is to adopt sweeping reforms.
The Police Department’s disregard for life was fully evident in the way 
the officers behaved after shooting Tamir. A surveillance video shows 
them standing by the child for four minutes without giving medical assistance, which was finally provided by an F.B.I. agent who happened 
to be in the neighborhood. Officer Frank Garmback, Officer Loehmann’s partner, nonetheless tackled the wounded boy’s 14-year-old sister as she tried to rush to his side. One can only imagine her suffering as she 
watched in handcuffs from the back seat of the squad car while her 
brother lay bleeding on the ground.
In addition to portraying the killing as a result of a tragic is understand-
ing, prosecutors have also suggested the officer’s decision to kill Tamir 
was shaped by the fact that the surrounding neighborhood had a history 
of violence and that the boy appeared to be older than 12 because he was 
big for his age.
These arguments sidestep the history of violent, discriminatory police actions that led up to this boy’s death. They also have the reprehensible effect of shifting the responsibility for this death onto the shoulders of
this very young victim.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Leadership and Climate Change

Everywhere people are talking about the extreme weather events we are experiencing. Flooding in the United Kingdomsevere tornadoes and flooding in winter in the United States, and record number of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes and typhoons in 2015.  How many of these people will recognize that the extreme weather is a result of climate change?

Climate change is the world's most dangerous security threat.  The cost in money and lives will exceed the costs of any war we have fought before.  Can you imagine for a minute the cost to retrofit communities, homes, and infrastructure to sustain our way of life with the new reality of extreme weather events?  Can our governments begin to calculate the cost as they make national budgets to include the cost of emergency response to extreme weather events?  Can businesses survive the extra costs?  How much more in taxes will each citizen pay to fight the effects of climate change?  How can the poor and marginal communities survive?  How many more refugee crises and violent social conflicts will we see as a result of the struggle to deal with dissipating resources?  Woe to us if we do not choose leaders who  have the guts to recognize and respond to climate change as a world wide crisis. Some think it is too late.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Can New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez Become VP? Negative fallout from "Dialing Drunk"

 Better not "drunk dial". If you are confronted by the cops, you "Better Call Saul"- don't handle it yourself.

New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez (R) has been promoted for possible elevation to be the GOP VP candidate for 2016.  She was showcased at the 2012 Republican Convention as an attractive Republican hispanic female governor elected in a Blue State.

(Apparently, she didn't wow a few GOP voters with her message of inclusiveness.
 Check out the gum chewing, eye-rolling non-clapping woman at 1:24 when 
Susana speaks Spanish: "En América, todo es posible".  However, at 3:00 every red-blooded male in the hall salivates as they stand up to give her a rousing ovation when she says she carried a .357 magnum as a young security guard at a bingo parlor.)

She was elected as the 2016 Chairperson of the Republican Governor's Association with great hope and fanfare by a political party largely bereft of women and latino leaders to promote. The Detroit News published an editorial earlier in 2015 promoting Martinez as a candidate for President for the Republican Party

Democrats in New Mexico would advise caution about both the personality and record of Susana Martinez.  Under her leadership for the past 5 years, her state is rated as one the worst run states and it's economy remains stagnant despite the recovery of adjoining southwestern states of Colorado, Arizona, and Texas.  It remains one of the lowest ranked of all states for educational achievement and child welfare.

Whatever credibility the Chairperson of the Republican Govenor's Association has had with her fellow GOP politicians is fast disappearing as bad publicity is starting to affect her national stature.

Susana Martinez has been caught on tape in the past being quite vindctive to people she doesn't agree with.  Her aggressive prosecutorial personality of confronting anyone (including policemen) who "challenge" her authority was exposed as New Mexico papers published her inebriated-sounding 911 call when she tried to find out who called the cops on her loud party last Sunday morning at a Santa Fe hotel.  She then told the police dispatcher that she was the Governor of the state of New Mexico and "to call off" the officers who came to investigate a noise complaint.  She later apologized for her behavior in the Saturday Albuquerque Journal.

Susana already is reeling from the disgraced resignation and jailing of her corrupt Republican Secretary of State, Diannna Duran and the FBI investigation of her chief confident and advisor, Jay McClesky for corrupt campaign practices.

Despite her lack of real accomplishment as a Governor of New Mexico and the corruption of her close associates, it seems she still could impress the voters with her "niceness" image as she posed with school children reading them books or her "tough" image as she chided Democratic legislators for not revoking driver's licenses for "illegals".  Now, even the reliably conservative Fox News couldn't pass up publishing negative publicity on Martinez when she was caught "drunk-dialing" and the Washington Post hit out on her qualifications this week:.
"In practice, the chairman of the Republican Governors Association has become a punch line among some GOP elites in D.C. She’s gotten a reputation within corners of the consultant class as Palinesque: gaffe-prone, not intellectually curious, and not up for the rigors of a national campaign."
Susana Martinez stands in front of a state map of drunken-driving deaths during a news conference in Albuquerque on Dec. 7. The incident in question happened Dec. 13. (AP Photo/Russell Contreras, File)

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Winter Wonderland

Four of us girls took off from Albuquerque last weekend for Pagosa Springs in southern Colorado.  We have a condo there for a week.  Pagosa Springs has some lovely hot springs that we soaked our bones in.  My daughter, Amanda, and my friend, Cathy, drove to Wolf Creek Ski Resort on Saturday and skied and snowboarded the lovely snow on a sunny day.

Amanda on her board (photo by Amanda Powers)

We went to the Springs to soak in the natural mineral waters along the San Juan River.

Amanda and Cathy enoying the hot mineral springs après-ski 
Monday morning sunrise brought a big snow fall all day and all night.

We ventured out in the snow to work out at the gym, do some Christmas shopping, and then back to the hot springs for a couple of hours soaking in the hot waters while snow fell softly around us..

A view of the San Juan River from the Springs.
Pagosa Hot Springs Resort
Cathy enjoying the warm water amid falling snow.

The snow fell all night and the massive snow storm moved east into the Denver area Tuesday, closing schools, snarling traffic, and delaying flights. We'll visit the springs again today and go skiing at Wolf Creek tomorrow when the weather improves.  23" of new snow at Wolf Creek has already fallen in the last day.  Fabulous winter for snow sports in Colorado!

Cathy's truck this morning (Tuesday).
We'll return to Albuquerque tomorrow afternoon.  Even where I live in the foothills of Albuquerque had 5-6 inches of snow with this storm.

But first...a ski day at Wolf Creek!

Before we went home on Wednesday, we headed up to Wolf Creek Ski Resort for skiing.  It's had 162 inches of snow this season and a 76 inch base!  The road up to the resort was like a Christmas card.  

At the top of the Raven's Nest at Wolf Creek

My first Senior Ski trip - the Wolf Creek all-day pass for Seniors is only $39.

The Turnpike Trail

Cathy warming up

We had lunch and called it a day

We left about 1:30 in the afternoon to make the 5 hour drive back to Albuquerque.  The road back was just as scenic.

New Mexico Georgia O'Keeffe Country

Cerro Pedernal

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Family Diaspora

My husband, Ron, always tells me if you're going to pick a place to live, don't move to where your adult kids live because they always move somewhere else.  Family is very important to me and I had the good fortune for the past 6+ years of seeing both of my daughters move more than 800 miles to within a few miles of our house.  But now, they're doing what Ron told me they would do: move away.

I am a native Californian who lived most of her first 54 years primarily in San Diego County, a place I loved.  When I got laid off from my job of 27 years,  I thought about my expensive mortgage for a big empty house, my daughters off to college in Santa Barbara and Sonoma far away, and the mystique of New Mexico which constantly called to me.

Our San Diego house

The San Diego house where we lived from 1992 until 2005 was a good place for kids growing up

Amanda at Sonoma State University

Visiting Mary in 2004 in Santa Barbara where she was a UCSB student

I sold our San Diego home in 2005, despite my daughters' protests, and moved to the mountains just east of Albuquerque, New Mexico. I only knew 10 people who lived in New Mexico and they lived 50 miles away on the Santo Domingo Pueblo.  I soon started meeting others, including Ron, who had moved to New Mexico in 2002.  We got married in January 2006 (in San Diego County, by the way) with my daughters and his daughters and sons-in-law in attendance.

Our wedding day family picture
By 2007, my oldest daughter, Amanda, had graduated from Sonoma State University and asked to move in with Ron and I in our New Mexico mountain home as she tried to establish herself in the professional business world.  She was able to move out after she got a job with a logistics company in Albuquerque.  By 2009, my youngest daughter, Mary, had left college and worked full time in Santa Barbara, managing The Natural Cafe.  She asked if she  could move-in with us in our New Mexico home as she considered her next step in life. Within a month or so, she was employed by Flying Star Cafe in Santa Fe as Assistant Manager.  Soon she and her sister moved in together in a house in Albuquerque.

The girls together at our Sandia Park mountain home

Family together for Thanksgiving 2011 with Matthew
Mary was promoted by Flying Star to Manager at a Satellite Coffee store in Albuquerque by 2010. She met Matthew and they married in October, 2012.  Mary and Matt moved from Albuquerque to Bloomfield, NM in December, 2012, I was sad that she now would be 3 hours away by car.  Her husband of two months had taken a managerial position with Auto-Chlor in the Four Corners area and so she quit her job as Manager of Satellite Coffee and went with her husband.  They rented a home in the tiny town of Bloomfield, where oil and gas production provides the majority of jobs.  Within a week or two, Starbucks hired her as their Manager at the Farmngton Starbucks coffee shop.  In her typical dynamic style, Mary made that store a high producer within a year and caught the eye of Starbuck's management.  So they offered her the opportunity to train for District Manager over a 6 months training period.  When they offered her the position permanently, it was to be in Colorado on the Western Slope.  Matt, who had made his own company operation a stand-out producer as well,  procured a sales position with the Grand Junction operations of Auto-Chlor.  They bought a home -- their first -- in Grand Junction and moved in in October.

Thanksgiving at Mary and Matt's Colorado house, 2015
Now it takes 7 1/2 to 9 hours to drive from Albuquerque to see her.  If the weather is bad and US 550 through the mountains is closed, we must take the longer route through Moab, Utah.  She invited the family to her home for Thanksgiving,  Their father, Mark, joined us.  Even Mark has moved to Albuquerque from San Diego in 2015 with hopes of being with his girls.
The beautiful canyonlands near Mary and Matt's new home in Grand Junction

Colorado National Monument near Grand Junction, CO
Amanda and her partner, Malcolm, are renting a house in downtown Albuquerque and they love it there.  So far, they are doing well professionally, but in the uncertain economy of New Mexico, I wonder how long it will be until my oldest daughter and Malcolm join the family diaspora and leave New Mexico.

 Like my husband says, it doesn't pay to try and figure out where the kids will land.  His own daughters are in Ohio and Minnesota.  The oldest daughter, Margaret, moved to Cleveland from Iowa this past summer for a new job.  As long as we can drive or have an international airport within a short drive, we'll be seeing them wherever they are.