The State of New Mexico, the “Land of Enchantment,” is justifiably proud of its rich cultural heritage as well as its scenic beauty. It is also home to what appears to be one of the highest per capita collections of crooked politicians, dishonest cops, and various and sundry kooks to have been assembled this side of the California State Line. Since most of this crowd’s antics are simply ignored by the rest of the civilized world, allow me to present some of their more amusing stunts.
1. During the last week of the December, Governor Bill “Bronco Billy” Richardson held a press conference to announce that the New Mexico had one of the lowest rates of unemployment in the nation. Since he was, at that time, the Obama Administration’s nominee to become the new Secretary of Commerce the insinuation was that the state’s low unemployment was a direct result of his leadership.
One week later the Albuquerque Journal reported that the State Department of Labor’s new computerized; dial-up Unemployment Benefits Registration system was constantly “crashing” and thus subjecting those that were using the new system to waiting times of up to 4 hours before they could “talk” to a computer.
The cause of the delays was later determined to be the large number of applicants seeking both first-time and/or continuing unemployment benefits. It is also probably just a coincidence that the Obama Administration dropped Bronco Billy from its team of hand-picked apostles only a few days earlier.
2. The Albuquerque Police Department announced that it had been sued less than 40 times in the past year, a decrease of almost 60% from calendar year 2007. The department stated that the decrease in the number of civil suits was due to “greater sensitivity” to cross-cultural communication issues and improvements in how it deals with citizen complaints.
I guess being sued on an average of once every 9 days is a dramatic improvement over being sued twice per week. It is not known if a horde of unemployed lawyers may have contributed to the delays plaguing the Department of Labor’s new Unemployment Registration computers.
3. The Journal is also reporting that volunteers from something called the Saint Martin’s Hospitality Center are holding their first “Street Retreat,” this week, during which they will spend one night sleeping in their cars; at a homeless shelter; or “on the street,” to “raise public awareness” concerning this “crisis” and to “demonstrate their solidarity” with the homeless.
Volunteer “homeless person for a night” Tracy Alexis is then quoted as saying that the Saint Martin Hospitality Center hopes to continue its “Street Retreat” and other such demonstrations of solidarity during the summer “when the weather is better.”
The “wait until summer” idea was probably the result of the volunteers having the poor judgment to pick what has historically been some of the coldest nights of the year, when temperatures average around 25 degrees with a wind chill factor in the single-digit range.
I’m sure that the homeless will be encouraged by this impassioned “display of solidarity” in which a few people on some variety of liberal guilt trip spent the night inside their locked BMW, Lexus, or Mercedes while parked in a low crime area at least 5 miles from the nearest homeless shelter.
4. Another of Bronco Billy’s grand ideas, the “Road Runner” commuter train that runs from Belen, NM through Albuquerque and then on to Santa Fe, reported its highest average daily ridership over the weekend following New Year’s Day. Since that time, the number of riders returned to pre-holiday levels. A spokesman for Governor Richardson said that the Governor is “confident” that the number of riders will increase as summer, and the “tourism season,” approaches.
It probably escaped the Governor’s notice, but the number of riders over the New Year’s weekend may have been influenced by the fact that the usual $8 round trip fare was waived and people were riding the Rail Runner for free.
Maybe the Rail Runner should offer free rides to the “Street Retreat” crowd from the Saint Martin’s Hospitality Center. If a homeless man or woman can pay a buck to ride from one end of town to the other on a city bus, a ride on the train would be a great way to “demonstrate solidarity” without getting dirty or (God forbid) encountering someone from the county mental health center who isn’t taking his or her medications.
Juvenal, the great Roman essayist, said it best: “Difficile est saturam non scribere.” (It is difficult not to write satire).