The Flaying of Kenneth Padilla

Santa Fe. January 2023.

The creature circled a glitzy ballroom, repeating the same cruel greeting for each of its two-dozen enablers. It would reach out with a webbed black hand stretched wide from pinkie to thumb. Like a bat. The bat hand would wrap itself around the whole hand of the businessman and give a quick, sharp squeeze. The creature would look into the businessman’s eyes as it hurt him, smile a lizard’s curling smile, and move on to the next besuited enabler.

Harry Martinez rubbed his stinging fingers after his turn and whispered to Doug Coake: “Remember when we pulled the strings?”

“Ssh!” Coake replied.

The creature’s tail swam slowly through the air behind its back as it loped on flattened talons from one man to the next. When it got to Carlos King, King refused to shake. King was standing straight as a steel pole, vibrating like a tuning fork. “I won’t—“ King’s voice cracked to a halt when the creature’s head craned down to his level and sniffed his photo-2face, neck, and chest. The nostrils at the end of its scaly snout stopped and the creature purred with a grave depth King felt along the nerves in his spine.

Go on,” it purred.

“I won’t give you any more money!” He was plowing ahead, screaming his rehearsed speech while he stared straight forward to avoid meeting the spotted yellow eyes of the creature. “My teachers won’t be forced to work for free! No more!” He threw himself down on his knees and put his palms up and tears emptied from the sides of his red hopeless eyes. “Let this be my fate! It must end!”

The creature tilted its head 15 degrees. Then a clawed hand rose and snapped two digits and a pale elfin slave in tattered and soiled robes stepped out from nowhere, coughed, raised a hand into the air, and wheezed “What’s disappointing, but not surprising. . .”

The elf coughed again. It was sick.

“ . . . is that this so-called ‘offer’ . . .”

On “offer” the elf made air quotes with shriveled green fingers.

“ . . . from the status quo defenders does not once mention the most important element of education – our students. . . .”

King cried out and wept harder. The elf continued.

“ . . . It’s unfortunate our students can’t afford the organized political operation from which union leaders benefit.”

The elf bowed its spotted fuzzy head and pulled up a hood to shroud its face in shadow. Then it was gone.

“It is always the same! Oh God!” King heaved with sobs and his body flopped forward. “The same words every time.” He was drooling on the rug.

What the creature said next came like a slow exhalation of smoke: “I know.

It turned its head toward Bitsy Harper, the investor standing nearest King. Bitsy flinched wildly as the creature opened its mouth and, with a reflexive head jut, hacked a glowing fire orb at Bitsy.

“NOOOOO!!!!” Bitsy shrieked as he stumbled drunkenly in small circles, arms flailing, whole body on searing blue fire. He ran to the window and crashed through, exclaiming agony. His death wail dimmed and ended suddenly.

Aaahahahahaha!!!!” The creature’s laugh was resounding and full-bodied and shook the chandeliers. A clawed finger pretended to wipe away a tear and then the creature lost the humor in its yellow eyes and peered down at Carlos King, who had exhausted himself crying and laid on his side merely whimpering, eyes closed, thumb just shy of mouth.

You’re going to continue payment,” the creature hissed at King, “and now you’ll cover Bitsy’s share as well.


. .<


January 2014 was a fine time to be in business with political elites. The perks stimulated. Parties, awards. Lavish meetings catered of lobster and chocolate fountains. Having money meant you had sway over powerful people, and those powerful people enjoyed decadent meals.

Money swindled is 50 times as sweet. And it gushed. Net profits would double or triple from year to year as fat contracts were inked with winking impunity and tax rates shrank to nothing. What’s my business? Didn’t matter. All it took to feast from the cash geyser were connections, and flattery got you everywhere.

Then the weirdoes showed up—misplaced like men in a gynarchy; their sex simply different. Everything would have been fine if it just stayed about the money, but here’s the problem with getting rich doing practically nothing: Any soulless monkey can choose to join the game. They could play, to be fair. But they were fucking weird.

“Don’t you know the devil is real?” The rookie representative was twitchy, little hair wisps free from gravity. Thin neck. Why didn’t he blink? “We are chosen, and all is lost if we do not keep the devil away.”

Uh. What did that have to do with making money?

There were nine of them, elected the same year. Crazy-eyed. Devil this and devil that. They were obsessed. Amazingly, they seemed uninterested in money. Wherever their funding came from, they did not appear to work for it. They were always together, holding meetings about changing laws, or singing rhymes in unison.

One night a powerful senator was working late, talking with his lady friend, and one thing led to another. They were expecting privacy when they opened the rusty door to the deepest room in the capitol basement. Instead they saw a group of 12 legislators sitting naked on the stone floor in a circle around what looked like a mutilated animal. Each held an elaborately hilted dagger.

It was the new weirdoes and a few of the odder legislature veterans. They’d been chanting something when the lady friend’s scream cut them off. They looked at each other with instantaneous fear, and there was a flash of blue electricity and a roar like a tiger, maybe, and the powerful senator swore he saw a monster with long, spiny arms and a tail, but he was so scared and split too quickly to be sure what he’d seen.

The 12 from the basement were even stranger after that evening, which hadn’t seemed possible. They became more stiff—wooden—in their dealings with law changes. But they kept at it. Eventually the creature they created came out of the basement.


. . <


Ken Padilla shook his head and snapped back to the ballroom. His tie was steel blue. He had been day dreaming so deeply that he only barely noticed the flaming man leaping through the fourth-floor window.

They’d gotten numb. A nightmare creature from hell was bossing everyone around under threat of torture or death, and they acted like it was normal.

Goosebumps rose across all the doughy flesh beneath Padilla’s black suit. His mind was going places he didn’t want to be. Epiphany hit like a wave.

“Come quick the revolution,” Padilla said. Out loud.

Padilla uttered those words—through the protestation of his self-preserving conscience—at the creature’s back as it stood poised over a quivering lump of Carlos King. Jagged plates rose along the spine, up a long neck that rotated the terrible head 180 degrees. “What did you say?” it asked Padilla. The rest of the black body followed. It got close. Sniffed. Spread its lipless grin and ran a tongue across rows of sharp needle teeth. The sound and smell of the tongue were nauseating.

Padilla didn’t dare reply. He fought to keep composed, but peed himself. The creature was near enough to be all Padilla saw.

Revolution,” it repeated, amused, hot breath blasting Padilla’s face and puffing back his hair. “With you, I think, I’ll have some fun.

What it did next was not fun for Kenneth Padilla.


. . <


This has been a work of Flip Side fiction. It was entered into the Santa Fe Reporter writing contest, but lost.


Eat Money: The Governor is Dirty

The Democrats have been dealt a full house. Now let’s wait for them to fold. We’ll come back to this.

First: nut-sack stapling.

“The performance can be seen as a metaphor for the apathy, political indifference and fatalism of contemporary Russian society,” Pavlensky said in a statement.

Pyotr Pavlensky nailed his balls to the cobbles in Russia’s Red Square a couple weeks ago. It was bold and gross and art. Pyotr-Pavlensky

Here’s the most perfect political protest idea for New Mexico: Go to the bank and withdraw hundreds of dollars in change and small bills. Take this cash to the center of the beautiful rotunda in the Roundhouse, New Mexico’s capitol building here in Santa Fe. Eat the money slowly, until news crews and a crowd start gathering (I promise they will) and police intervene.

Eat the money until it wrecks your body.

Governor Susana Martinez is all about the money. She’s constantly jetting to out-of-state fundraisers. New Mexico’s major paper doesn’t ever ask what she’s doing at them, but it does write tiny stories every time she goes to one, just to let us know. This is an almost daily occurrence, and the travel pays off: She’s raised roughly $4 million.

You don’t slurp up that much cheddar sitting in an office, reading and talking to nerds.

Put dirty, sweaty coins and ones and fives in your mouth. Chew the bills a bit and swallow it all down. Repeat. While you eat the money, say through pained tears: “$4 million while your children starve!”

Everyone in this state should consider reading the recent blockbuster article from National Journal, about Gov. Martinez and her “top adviser” Jay McCleskey, who runs the governor’s fundraising operations. His eerie portrait was shot by Steven St. John, who honed his craft at the venerable Albuquerque Tribune:

Perfect. Well done, Steve. It’s “There Will Be Blood.”

We already know through the paper’s political coverage that the governor flies frequently for fundraisers. Here’s what else we learn from National Journal about Martinez:

– She didn’t know much about the law granting driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants. When she asked a stupid question about it by email, Daniel Libit reports, “McCleskey chimed in: ‘Voters are hugely opposed to giving illegal immigrants driver licenses … especially Republican primary voters and we should take advantage of every opportunity to discuss the issue.'” It became her top political priority. Good robot.

– McCleskey pays himself more than $13,000 per month from the money Martinez raises.

– The governor has positioned herself as an “immigration hawk,” but didn’t know what the Dream Act was when she was interviewed by Latina magazine.

– There is a Republican Civil War going on behind the scenes over how much power McCleskey should wield. Rep. Nate Gentry Weasel is on the governor’s side. (Prediction: He will soar.)

– McCleskey texted Andrea Goff, who used to raise money for Martinez but apparently quit that job because it was evil, “Buster screwed us… he was supposed to pass it.” Buster Goff is Andrea Goff’s father-in-law, appointed by Martinez to the State Fair Commission. McCleskey sent that text after Buster didn’t vote for a huge state contract with a major campaign donor. That’s my favorite part. The governor stepped off the iron throne to personally twist arms on that one.

So there it is. All these fundraisers are just “another fundraiser” in the newspaper stories, but she’s not getting millions for nothing. They’re making deals. The Downs was just one. There’s almost certainly loads others.

Quick recap: Martinez spends all that time with donors, and her “top adviser” is the dude who runs her PAC. He specializes in rat fucking (literally) and getting money from rich people. He is telling the governor whom to hire, how to run departments, what her positions should be and how to talk to press.

And-oh-by-the-way the hypocrisy is pretty brazen. McCleskey says “Frankly, I think it is a bit sexist to suggest that the governor doesn’t make up her own mind.” No it isn’t. And anyway, check out this bit of reporting, from the intrepid Independent Source PAC:

The (female) victim submitted a handwritten report. . . . Regarding McCleskey, the victim wrote, “he threatened me via the internet, then came over to my apartment at approximately 9:40 pm tonight. He proceeded to tell me to get out of my apartment. I told him to leave. He threw me against the wall, onto my bed. I tried to get up and he kept throwing me down. His friend finally pulled him off of me and he left.”

Does that story rate, sexism-wise? Maybe.

This is the lizard-man pulling strings behind the governor. All the evilness is public record. It should be a slam-dunk for a Dem next year in the election. Stay on the money: Taxpayer dollars for six-figure salaries for spouses. (Also here.) (And here.) All those trips to donor parties aren’t free; there’s at least security we pay for. Exercise equipment. (She lives in New Mexico. Go outside!) Millions raised for glitzy balls and campaign ads.

McCleskey pays himself handsomely to make ugly cardboard flyers full of typos, but there’s lots of money leftover to relentlessly bombard our mailboxes. Expect robocalls galore, too. Expect to hear “Senator X sides against children” over and over in commercials during favored TV shows. Those commercials are hacks’ trash, but they’re big-money, and science says they work.

It’s depressing. Show me a Democrat willing to take on the fundraising culture of politics and I’ll show you the next governor. The mob would turn on privileged insiders.

Dems won’t do it, though. Maybe it’s because they need that money, too, but aren’t nearly so good at getting it.

They’ll choose to debate a liar and lose. Fold their full house, because politics is a game and this is how they play. Forever.

The rise of guys like McCleskey has accompanied the fall of good government. It’s enough to make a person nail-gun his balls. Or eat cash?

I once thought McCleskey might have killed my dog. Too much TV.

“Elysium”: Cyborg Sci-Fi

There is an evil maniac cyborg named Kruger in “Elysium.” He has robot arms, spine, and torso like Matt Damon, but he also has soldier training, a sword, and guns that shoot bombs that change direction mid-air and stick to guys. Kruger even has a pair of loyal minions for Damon to fight before their ultimate good-versus-evil showdown.

Except Kruger isn’t the real evil in “Elysium.” He’s the spice, but not the meat. The real evil of “Elysium” is society. This gets to the essence of what science fiction is, and why “Elysium” is great.images

Science fiction has a function. Consider “1984.” In June, Americans learned of a top-secret government surveillance program called “PRISM,” which allows the National Security Agency to monitor Americans’ electronic communications. This has been a scandal. Not so much of a scandal, but still relevant here, is what’s happening presently in the tiny country Yemen. The United States has bombed Yemen at least nine times in less than two weeks.

I swear I don’t bring this up because I’m a liberal know-it-all complainer. I bring this up because of “1984.” When the news about PRISM leaked, sales of George Orwell’s sci-fi classic increased 4,000 percent. Which makes sense. Orwell’s book is about a dystopian future in which people live under an oppressive surveillance state perpetually at war.

We don’t live under the thumb of Big Brother. Our old newspapers are not being revised to change history. But science fiction takes place in the future for a reason. Orwell wasn’t saying, “This is what you’re doing.” He was saying “This is what’s going to happen if you keep doing what you’re doing.” He’s presenting the follow-through.

“Elysium” takes place 150 years in the future. The rich have left Earth and live on a vast, beautiful space station called Elysium. They have machines that quickly cure any sickness, including cancer. Meanwhile, Earth is a slum of unpaved roads and junked skyscrapers. The parents of mortally sick children will sometimes pay a futuristic coyote-type dude to send them to Elysium on “undocumented ships,” so they can try to find a health-care machine. The trip is incredibly dangerous, though, because missile security on Elysium is tight and powerful.

I have never forgotten this quote by Walt Minnick in an episode of the podcast “This American Life” called “Take the Money and Run for Congress”: “We pay—old people, young people, people needing a new cancer drug—pay eight or 10 times as much in America as they do in any other country. And that is directly a function of the amount of money the pharmaceutical industry has poured into congressional campaigns of members of both parties.”

And then there’s this, from the New York Times: “The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development this year warned about the ‘negative consequences’ of the country’s high levels of pay inequality. . . . The concentration of income in the hands of the rich might not just mean a more unequal society, economists believe. It might mean less stable economic expansions and sluggish growth.”

And what might that mean if nothing changes over the next 150 years?

(When I was on the corruption beat at Independent Source PAC last year, I wrote about an education study out of Arizona State University: “In the USA if you scale states from those that are more equal in income distribution (for example Utah, New Hampshire and Iowa) to those that are much more unequal in the distribution of income (for example Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi) a strong trend appears. Dropout rates are much higher in the more unequal states (Wilkinson & Pickett, 2010). Poverty and a lack of hope for a good future take their toll on youth in the more unequal states and students drop out of school at high rates. This costs our society a great deal of money through increased need for public assistance by these youth, the loss of tax revenues from their work, and the higher likelihood of their incarceration. Inequality and the poverty that accompanies it take a terrible toll.”)

This is not a fun topic. If fact, I may be typing these words for no one, since I can totally imagine a reader saying “Dude, I thought this was about ‘Elysium,’ not liberal bullshit.” If you’re still reading, many thanks.

But this is where we get back to the cyborgs. “Elysium” has a message about health-care greed and income inequality, but it also has cyborgs fighting robots. It has amazing weapons and a truly memorable, crazy villain. The director Neill Blomkamp is a master of staging sci-fi action, and he obviously wants the experience of watching this movie to be an entertaining one-and-a-half hours for his audience.

In that sense, “Elysium” succeeds wonderfully. Matt Damon makes an awesome unlikely cyborg action hero.

But then amidst the rousing technical thrills is a message. “Elysium” artfully expresses where society might be headed if income inequality swells unchecked for the next century and a half. We can consider what it has to say, or we can just watch Matt Damon parry sword strikes and throw desperate hydraulic-driven punches into the crazed face of Kruger. Either way, “Elysium” is great. Taken as a whole, it’s an amazing work of science fiction.


“Fruitvale Station” and Real Fear

The Nine Inch Nails concert in Albuquerque had just ended and I was being suffocated by a security guard. It was a sleeper hold, arms around my neck from behind. Panic was kicking in. I didn’t know it was security, I just knew I’d been grabbed and couldn’t breathe. I tried and failed to say something like “Stop.” My legs flailed and my arms couldn’t get an angle on whoever was behind me. I felt like a helpless, dying animal.

This incident was not really an “incident.” It was a blip. Fifteen seconds in a privileged life. A friend and I were shoving each other and wrestling on our way out of the venue, because we’re morons who’d been putting down beers for two hours while rocking out to NIN. I suspect security grabbed us because that’s protocol. They’re probably supposed to stop a scrap as quickly as possible.

But in the moment I did not think it was fair he’d choked me so hard. I said so, loudly. He had his mustache and his bright yellow shirt tucked in and his commando boots and his utility belt and he did not give a f*ck how I felt. My face was puffed red. His face wore supreme confidence, eyes dead-certain. “Shut up,” he said, “and go.”

You cannot mess with police. You cannot talk back to security guards. They have authority, and authority gives them righteous power.

Too bad the dynamic’s gotten deadly.

. . .

“Fruitvale Station” is a new movie about a real incident that happened in Oakland on New Year’s Day, 2009. A 22-year-old man named Oscar Grant got into a skirmish on the BART train and was pulled off by security guards. The guards were being filmed as they argued with Grant and his friends. One of the security guys pushed Oscar to the ground, and then shot him. He would later say he meant to use his taser. He was released after 11 months in prison. Oscar died.

Security guards have authority, which gives them righteous power.

The film begins with the real-life cell phone footage, then follows Oscar on that New Year’s Day up until the shooting. He took his young daughter to school. He went to his old job to try and get rehired. He dumped a bag of weed into the ocean. He pets a pit bull at a gas station, and has to scoop the dog out of the street when it’s hit by a car that speeds away. There is a flashback where his mother visits him in jail.

That visit winds up being important. So does his mom’s request that Oscar and his friends ride the BART that night instead of driving, since they would be drinking. She was just being a good mother, and her mothering contributed to a timeline leading to the killing of her son by an armed security guard.

“I’ve got a daughter.” They’re the first words Oscar utters after the bullet is fired into his back. When he dies in the hospital, this is where the movie takes us:


. . .

My wife is very pregnant right now. It’s our first.

I don’t understand whether or not we’re supposed to teach kids to stick up for themselves. I don’t think people should fight, but sometimes they do. It just is. We humans are a species of animal on this planet, right? Animals fight, for whatever reason.

Guns change everything though.

I don’t want my kid to fight, ever. Not because fighting is wrong. Fighting is not necessarily wrong. I don’t want my kid to fight because the other party may be armed.

There are lessons I’ll pass on. How to tie a shoelace. Cowboys suck. The difference between “your” and “you’re.” I think I’ll also have to say, at some point, “Please always choose to walk away.” I would rather raise a child who fights, literally, for what’s right. But now that’s too scary. “Don’t fight anyone,” I’ll say. Because guns are everywhere.

But it gets worse. “Don’t talk back to authority,” I’ll also say (hypocritically). “If a cop or a security guard is hassling you, for whatever reason, stay calm and let it happen. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the right. It doesn’t matter if it’s unfair. You’re not going to convince someone with a badge that he is in the wrong, even if that person is supposed to be protecting you.”

A running theme on this blog has been my own deep frustrations with corruption in New Mexico’s government. I think it matters, big-picture, when people like Gov. Susana Martinez misuse authority and power for their own selfish means. The system doesn’t work if parts of it are rotten. When government doesn’t manage itself properly, that negatively affects normal people. Anger spreads. Tensions are high out there.

Don’t talk back to a cop, ever, because a cop has authority, and that authority grants righteous power. That’s my advise. It’s too bad nothing, not even heartfelt advise from a parent, can keep someone safe anymore.


From the New York Times yesterday: Anthony D. Weiner’s improbable campaign for mayor was engulfed on Tuesday by a new scandal involving explicit online messages, imperiling his political resurrection two years after he resigned from Congress over similar behavior.

He texted pictures of his d*ck. He’d already resigned Congress in disgrace because he Tweeted d*ck shots. Not even that long ago. He just had his first kid, so is he pulling a Michael Corleone while he indulges his creepy compulsion? What about the kid?

You can at least picture in your head how a politician and a subordinate wind up having scandalous sex. They’re in a room really close to each other. They flirt. They give in and grab on. Seen it a million times in the movies. But I cannot picture how someone does what Weiner does. Is he hesitating? Does he look at his boner, and then look at the camera phone, and then back at his boner? And then he reaches out with one hand, but the other hand pulls the first hand back? Does he punch up a girl’s number quick and hit send? Or does he scroll through his contacts to pick one on the fly? Is he stopping to stare at his phone and the picture and thinking to himself “Oh man, I should not be doing this”?

His wife was at his press conference today, looking sad. I told you to get a phone with no camera.

I’ve been listening to a book called “This Town” during my glorious Santa Fe commute into work. It’s all about the schmoozing suck-up culture of Washington D.C. politics. The political class is obsessed with parties and banquettes and fundraisers. Book deals for millions. No-pressure “campaign adviser” jobs, or a gig as a cable news opinion sayer. The press corps wants to join in the luxury, because they love living large too. They also get huge book deals.

We started losing this country when the freaks took over. These are supposed to be boring jobs with lots of responsibility. Instead it’s reality TV.

Gov. Susana Martinez wouldn’t talk about child welfare after New Mexico dropped to last in that category, but she will talk about her dogs dying. She’s giving jobs away to friends like Darren White and ordering thousands of dollars in exercise equipment on the taxpayers’ dime. She’s in Aspen this week to raise money from lobbyists, and I’m betting the trip will include at least one “Eyes Wide Shut” sex party.

Weiner isn’t some extraordinary case. They’re all like him. Gov. Martinez is the same thing: a politician. They’re f*cked-up weirdos, and we give them power.


Darren White: Slimy Insider with a Reagan Anklet Tattoo

Keith Gardner didn’t know he was being recorded when he mentioned giving his friend, who probably doesn’t like him, a state job. “Let me get with Ryan and get serious. . . about something. . . might be something. Maybe looking for a state fair manager. I’m about to fire that f*cker. God, they screwed that up.”



Yeah they did!

The friend released the recording. That’s why I’d guess he doesn’t like Gardner. A very similar job at the same office, “Downs Vice President of Corporate Affairs,” (smell that?) was handed to disgraced-for-five-seconds Darren White, who was “public safety director” (some titles just smelllll like politics) of Albuquerque for two years. Now White spends lots of time on Twitter, insulting the best political blogger in the state and pesky reporters at the Santa Fe Reporter, the state capitol’s alt weekly.

The difference between Reporter reporters and the Albuquerque Journal reporters is Reporter reporters don’t wear ties. Also, they care very much about corruption and governmental mismanagement. That’s why Darren White slams them on Twitter—they ask Governor Martinez tough questions, and the governor gave him his job. (White once performed in a Susana Martinez campaign commercial, wearing a “Sheriff” vest even though he wasn’t sheriff anymore.)


His CURRENT, RIGHT-NOW tweeter avatar

A Tweeter, who farts and laughs through ALEC-funded* steak-dinner parties with other insiders. That’s our smooth-operating Darren White. Behold the personification of politics’ biggest problem.

Our schools are mismanaged. Our police departments are mismanaged. Health care is grossly mismanaged. Budgets, mismanaged. Government is failing horribly at high levels, and a common thread is friends of friends getting important jobs. In Susana Martinez’s New Mexico, high paying state jobs rarely go to the best, most qualified candidate. They go to insiders.

Aforementioned foul-mouthed chief of staff Keith Gardner got his wife a $67,000-per-year state job. Former press secretary Scott Darnell did the same thing for his wife. The “Ryan” in that recording excerpt at the top is almost certainly Gardner’s former deputy Ryan Cangiolosi, who left the administration when he was handed a newly created position at UNM Hospital, for a salary bump from $115,000 to $125,000. (Another member of the administration jumped from six-figure government tit under Martinez to higher-six-figure invented-just-for-her UNM job shortly after Cangiolosi’s big score.)

When Cangiolosi got that raise, New Mexico’s political blogging badass Joe Monahan got a letter:

Mr. Monahan, I’m one of the 19 applicants for the UNM Hospital job–the job that Ryan Cangiolosi got. . . .

I have well over a decade of finance and management consulting experience. I have an MBA from a top 15 school. I moved to New Mexico with my husband 6 years ago and have mostly worked out of state because there aren’t many jobs here that pay what I believe I’m worth.

This is why I was excited when a decent job was posted at UNMH. . . I believed I was an extremely competitive candidate given my business background. I didn’t get the job obviously and word started getting around that the offer was made to a senior government official.

It wasn’t until I read the newspaper that I learned the person hired was Ryan Cangiolosi. I have been politically active and have heard his name before (in your blog), but this was the first time I felt compelled to Google him. What I found was this: an extremely weak resume that in no way matches my skills and education. If I could send you my resume (which as I’ve explained that I cannot yet do ) you would see a difference. I have asked friends and they confirm that his real resume is even more weak than what’s portrayed on this online profile. He’s an aspiring gospel singer who has gotten his jobs by attaching himself with politically connected people.

As a New Mexican, I feel like I’ve been screwed out of a job I was more than qualified for due to politics. I’ve been told about cronyism here but this is the first time I’ve experienced it for myself and it sure doesn’t feel good. 

Insiders hooking each other up with big-money jobs. This is what they do. And not respecting an inherent duty to hire the best candidates was inevitably gonna reap consequences.

Darren White and the Friends of Susana Martinez take the tax money from our paychecks for themselves. In exchange, they mismanage crucial public services and spend their time tweeting or responding to crises by talking about themselves conjuring excuses.

For more than three times what the reporters covering them get. The reporters covering them are paid by an actual business, after all. The politicians are paid by themselves, with free gas and dinners to boot.

You can’t blame guys like Darren White and Hanna Skandera, the six-figure political animal public schools chief, for taking the money. We give it to them. You just wish they weren’t evil.

T O    B E    C O N T I N U E D . . .

. . .

. . . P R E S E N T LY

Darren White had to dramatically hand back his golden “public safety director” badge after an incident in which his wife crashed her Porsche and he arrived at the scene to scoop her up and drive away before a proper investigation could happen. From the Albuquerque Journal’s Jeff Proctor and Dan McKay:

According to a police report, Kathleen White told officers and paramedics that she was taking Lamictal for anxiety. According to the Physicians Desk Reference, Lamictal “may cause blurred vision or impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be alert and see clearly.”

Under New Mexico law, it is illegal to drive if impaired by alcohol or any drug “to the slightest degree.”

Darren White scoffs at your laws! Hwahaa!!! Insiders do what they want.

This was my favorite part of that article, where the Albuquerque mayor has to justify whether White’s $120,000 job was even necessary**, then gets asked a question about more tax money being paid out: “If I didn’t think the administration needed one, I wouldn’t have one,” Berry said. “I think the position was very effective with Darren there.” Berry said he didn’t know how much unused leave White would be able to cash out upon retirement.

I’m betting he did all right.

* ALEC writes bills for hack legislators, like the “Stand Your Ground” law in Florida and Skandera’s platform here in New Mexico.

** Darren White was not replaced. His job had not been necessary.

Screwy, Silly Newt: Insight on Gingrich from Klosterman, Packer, and “Mad Men”

Newt Gingrich has come up in two awesome new books, and his story is insightful. It’s probably time to accept politics as a medium for entertainment no different than summer movies or TV or subversive comedic literature. That sucks if you’re unemployed, or a teacher, or really just any American pulling a paycheck. But it is what it is.

Chuck Klosterman’s book I Wear the Black Hat is about villains, real and made-up. He writes this in an early chapter:

During the race for the Republican nomination, it initially appeared that Texas governor Rick Perry was destined to wear the villain’s cowl. It was almost too easy: Perry consciously embodied the caricature liberals always wanted G. W. Bush to be. But even Bush saw Perry as distasteful. This was a man who took personal pride in executions (during a televised debate, he stated that he’d “never struggled” with the possibility that even one of the 234 prisoners he’d killed during his governorship might have been innocent). Perry wanted to be the villain, probably for strategic reasons. But it didn’t take. He wasn’t smart enough; he probably didn’t eblackhatven know how “Ayn” was pronounced. The low point was when Perry confidently insisted he would immediately eliminate three governmental agencies upon election, yet could not remember what those agencies were. Perry didn’t scare anyone; sure, he might sentence you to lethal injection, but he also might confuse the potassium chloride with Diet Dr. Pepper. He was a man without a plan. This is why the 2012 Republican villain became Newt Gingrich, a man with more plans than any human on earth. Gingrich wanted to eliminate child labor laws, which would have seemed extreme had he not also wanted to colonize the moon. For a while, he held all his media press conferences inside zoos (before addressing the NRA, he was bitten by a penguin). He had so many crazy, interesting, quasi-diabolical plans that there was simply no way he could be president. Even when he surged in the polls, he never had a chance; you can’t be that clever and that devoid of compassion without engendering more hate than affection. (Once, when asked to describe himself in one word, Gingrich said, “Cheerful,” which was the cognitive equivalent of “Go fuck yourself for asking that question.”) Even when his most loyal supporters discussed his candidacy, they felt obligated to preface their use of “genius” with modifiers like “unpredictable” and “perverse.” And that did not bother him; Gingrich loves who he is. He doesn’t care what other people think of him, because he doesn’t particularly care about other people. This is charming, problematic, and extraordinarily effective — particularly as means of appealing to committed anti-ideologues who spend their lives worrying about the problem of false authenticity. “I’ve had the great pleasure of meeting Newt Gingrich and having a chat with the fellow on a staircase,” ex-Sex Pistols vocalist John Lydon once told Rolling Stone. “I found him completely dishonest and totally likable, because he doesn’t care.” This is both the highest compliment a Sex Pistol can disperse and an incisive description about Newt’s character. He exclusively cares about ideas, regardless of their merits. He would tie a woman to the railroad tracks just to prove he knew what time the train left the station. This is why I always find myself rooting for him, even when I’m against what he purports to desire. I know exactly what he’s doing. It’s like looking in a mirror I do not possess the capacity to smash.

Why does someone like Newt run for president? Because he’s crazy. But why is he crazy?

George Packer’s book The Unwinding has a lot of amazing chapters telling true stories of Americans both famous and unknown. My favorite chapter is about Jay-Z (who quoted “The Godfather Part II” as he stabbed a man); my second-favorite chapter is about Newt Gingrich.

Throughout, I kept thinking of the crazy Dick Whitman flashbacks in “Mad Men.” Idiot critics complain about these scenes, in which Don Draper’s childhood self is awkward and ugly and being raised by evil men and whores. The purpose, though, is to establish the backstory that made this man what he is in the show’s (1960s) present: genius creative star of big-money advertising on Madison Avenue, using his grasp of dark psychology to convince consumers they’re fulfilling deep internal desires by buying floor cleaner. If you’ve watched your father get killed by a spooked horse’s kick to the face, or you lost your virginity to a hooker you thought of as your mother, or you stole a dead soldier’s identity, then you are the best kind of person to convince people to start smoking when science says cigarettes cause cancer.

Who turns into someone like Newt Gingrich?

His father, Big Newt McPherson, “was a bar brawler in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, during World War II,” Packer writes. “On the third morning after he married Kit Daugherty, a 16-year-old house cleaner, Big Newt’s young bride tried to wake him up from a hangover, and he punched her. That was the end of the marriage, but it had lasted just long enough for Kit to get pregnant.”

She had a boy, and named him after his father. Then she married a man named Robert Gingrich. “Big Newt allowed him to adopt Little Newty to get out of paying child support. ‘Isn’t it awful,’ Kit said years later, ‘a man willing to sell off his own son?'”

Not if you’re creating the perfect turn-of-the-century American politician. His stepfather “was a tyrant around the house, silent and intimidating. . . . Little Newty was a weird, myopic kid with no close friends. He sought out the older women around him, who fed him sugar cookies and encouraged him to read.”

unwindingDecades later, he’d articulate his destiny in personal notes uncovered during an ethics investigation: “Gingrich—primary mission: advocate of civilization, definer of civilization, teacher of the rules of civilization, arouser of those who fan civilization, organizer of the pro-civilization activists, leader (possibly) of the civilizing forces.” That’s grander than President of the United States, isn’t it?

That was in the 1990s, when he was Speaker of the House. In the 1960s, he was being Dick Whitman-eque: “In high school he secretly dated his geometry teacher Jackie Battley—seven years his senior, another doting older woman. When Gingrich was 19, they married (Bob Gingrich refused to attend), then had two daughters.”

In the late 1970s, Newt ran for Congress. “Gingrich’s Democratic opponent was made to order, a wealthy liberal female state senator originally from New York. Gingrich knew exactly what to do. He moved to the right and went after her on welfare and taxes. He had a new rock in his pocket, ‘the corrupt liberal welfare state,’ and he nailed her between the eyes with it. The Moral Majority was about to take Washington by storm, and Gingrich talked about family values, said that his opponent would break her family up if she went to Washington, and featured Jackie and the girls in his ads.”

Know where this is going. . . ? Dick Whitman is Don Draper at this point in the story. Only worse.

“But Jackie looked fat and unattractive, and it was an open secret in political circles that Newt was cheating on her. Like most Arousers of those who Fan Civilization, he had powerful appetites, but he had not grown up to be the most desirable of men—big head under big graying helmet, cold clever grin, belly pushing against his sky-blue waistline—and his successes were limited. He tried to keep it to oral sex so he could claim literal fidelity if anyone asked, but within two years the marriage was over, another adoring woman about to become the next Mrs. Gingrich, the Advocate of civilization standing at Jackie’s hospital bed as she lay recovering from uterine cancer, a yellow legal pad with divorce terms in his hand. Years later, Gingrich would attribute his indiscretions to hard work brought on by patriotic zeal.”

Gingrich started giving crazy speeches to empty chambers because the C-SPAN cameras were running. He got famous. “I want to shift the entire planet,” he said, “and I’m doing it.”

Language was huge for Gingrich, and he may be the father of talking points. He did shift the entire planet, when you think about it.

Which is f*cking crazy. Whether that makes him a villain is for each of us to decide for ourselves, but it certainly makes him interesting. This is what politics has become, and through Gingrich we better understand the likes of condescending Congressional perma-liars, or the dodgy and apparently corrupt governor of New Mexico, Susana Martinez.

It is what it is. Over the past few years I’ve been a newspaper reporter and then an editor for a union-funded super PAC. Now I’m neither. Now I’m just a fan of crazy bad guys. Staying informed is much more enjoyable this way. The news can be “Breaking Bad” if you watch it right.


Fate of the State: The Governor Must Be Stopped

Two quick Flip Side editor’s notes before the feature presentation:

1. KRQE Channel 13 has disputed the Santa Fe Reporter story described below, going so far as to call it “not accurate.” They won’t say what’s not accurate, which makes their anchor’s statement utterly unethical. It is insane to do that. KRQE’s story was about a different FBI investigation. Channel 13 is helping The Governor by, firstly, smearing the reporters covering the Downs Deal and, secondly, changing the subject — from a corrupt state contract with campaign donors to the victimization of The Governor by someone who stole and leaked private emails about state business. KRQE is terrible. What they’re doing is not journalism.

2. Posts like the following are what happens when I’m constantly thinking about superheroes. Summer movie season will do that, I guess. Without further ado….

… Cellphones off, please …

Dear Linda Lopez, Gary King, or maybe Tim Keller….

You have a chance to do real good here, and also have some fun.

Don’t make your 2014 campaign for governor about policy. Make it about Susana Martinez — who she is and what she does. Gubernatorial hopefuls should absolutely love when you can slam an incumbent with actual, terrible stories being reported in the newspaper, pungent from the appearance of corruption.


The Reporter actually covers corruption, God bless ’em

She’s ripe to go down like a Batman villain. The Santa Fe Reporter just broke the story this week that the FBI is (apparently) investigating players involved in the Down Deal, a fat contract to run the state fair that was awarded to The Governor’s campaign donors.

Years ago she came into office with a professional propagandist and campaign cash conjuring “top advisor,” Jay McCleskey. It appears McCleskey’s job is to run Susana PAC year-round, and start little mini PACs at election time for smearing and insulting political foes in any local races he chooses. His mailers, riddled with typos, accuse Dems of siding with “child murderers” and putting “the welfare of convicted murderers above keeping our families safe.”

McCleskey was in on this Downs deal. He’s on many of the juicy emails that leaked out. The Governor’s campaign war chest is at $1.5 million, last we heard. You gotta say a lot of crazy stuff to get that much money from people who are not supposed to get anything back. Unless they do get something back….

So McCleskey’s The Governor’s Mad Hatter, trying to control our minds so he can rob us.

Keith Gardner, $135,000 taxpayer-funded Chief of Staff to The Governor, is Solomon Grundy: Huge, growly, grabby, and mean. (These are Batman bad-guy references, by the way. And “Batman Begins” was about taking down corruption.)

After Gardner told reporters he didn’t use private email for state business, his “friend” released a secret recording of Gardner saying exactly the opposite, and being vindictive and vulgar. “I’m about to fire that fucker,” he says, of the state-fair manager also involved in the Downs deal. “I’m so pissed. God they screwed up.” What’d they screw up, Gardner? And who’s “They?”

Put those questions to the big man and there is no way he will answer. Because, as he also says on this secret recording, “I don’t wanna go to court or jail.” No one asked if you did.

This screw-up was big-time, and it goes all the way to the top! The Santa Fe Reporter story, which says the FBI is specifically interested in Jay McCleskey’s Downs Deal connection, must have gone off like a bomb in The Governor’s lair. There have been many nervous huddles, you can bet, about how to get out of the trouble they might be in.08.22.12_COVER.widea

(And there’s so much we’ve left out here, like the publicly disgraced Downs political lawyer who called a reporter “dumb fuck,” and first gentleman Chuck Franco’s mystery trip to Louisiana, where the Downs owners reside. Or Tom Tinnin, a Republican who resigned the New Mexico Board of Finance over the Downs Deal and said “If I buy into this, I’m just as bad as the rest of them. … I will never be compromised to keep my position. A lot of people you meet will sell their soul to the devil for an appointed position, but I will not.”)

The Governor got a corporate tax cut passed in the closing minutes of the legislature this year. Other than that, it’s mostly been one go-nowhere political fight after another.

And traveling the country to raise money with McCleskey.

These things should be disqualifying. The Governor should not be allowed to get involved in a state contract with a campaign donor while New Mexico goes to shit outside her office window.

These money-focused favor-peddler politicians are making things everywhere worse, and you have a chance to fight back. Make this about her, and them. The Governor will say anything, so it’s what she does that should define her.

Be Batman.


A huge fan of good government, the Santa Fe Reporter, and Joe Monahan’s political blog

A Tale of Political Madness for Election Day, Illustrated by El Machete

Our street dead-ends at a sprawling dog park with miles of hiking trails. It’s glorious unless you suddenly realize you’ve misplaced your pooch. Like an O.G. Santa Fean, I was Five-Finger jogging through the sandy canyon in the center of the park. Then I turned and realized my dog wasn’t behind me. I felt worried after 10 minutes, scared after 30. I spent an hour trekking up and down the entire huge park, calling my dog’s name and describing her build (medium) and color (butterscotch) to strangers. My mind started spinning. Where could she have gone? What would I tell my wife? Could an animal have attacked? Did someone take her? Her tags jingle when she runs, and she always yelps when she’s hurt. I clenched my ears and heard neither jingle nor yelp.

The day before this happened, the first issue of a free print magazine I wrote and edited called “The Candle” debuted with a 20,000-copy run. The mag has TV and movie reviews, but it mostly features informed hit pieces on Gov. Susana Martinez and her staff. Much of “The Candle” is devoted to Jay McCleskey, the governor’s campaign guru whom she calls her top adviser. His job is running political action committees which raise millions of dollars to spend on creating attack ads against candidates who oppose the governor’s agenda. That agenda could be described – with gross over-simplification – as consisting of two main items: holding back third graders who fail a literacy test and repealing the law in New Mexico allowing illegal immigrants to get drivers licenses.

I’ve written about McCleskey here before. That post was a long, unfunny joke about how McCleskey might send goons to kick my ass or worse. I’m not really afraid of anyone in politics, because they’re in politics and because I’m strapped. If you see me around town, you’ll notice I wear an assault rifle and a samurai sword, holstered and sheathed in a big “X” across my back. Flip Side Phil don’t leave home without his big “X.” Bear arms, baby. Grrrowl.

That isn’t true. What is true is that an anonymous stranger, who left the name “Jay’s Victim,” commented on that blog post to say, in part, “you should be afraid.” I had a short email exchange with Jay’s Victim, and since I still don’t know who he is I won’t reprint much of what he said, except this: “if you pop up on his radar as an enemy, i don’t think there are any lines he won’t cross.”

So “The Candle” comes out. The paper calls McCleskey a “goon” and asserts that he spins made-up, half-thought propaganda into voting power, and “undermines how democracy is supposed to work.” One article includes this line: “Republican operatives can be as dumb and dishonest as they want.” (It was labeled “Commentary.”) (The headline was “Don’t Let Stupid Affect Your Vote.”) The next day, I’m running in the park with my dog and she disappears. Could McCleskey have some Super-PAC thug tailing me, waiting for the right moment to snatch my innocent little Butterscotch Princess? Am I going to get her head delivered to me in a box, with a note that says “Your next,” (“Your” because McCleskey’s attack mailers are notorious for misspellings and bad grammar)?

Wait! Did you hear that?

I got fired one year ago this month from the Albuquerque Journal newspaper, for writing a letter to congressional spokesmen demanding an “email duel” over their 9-percent approval rating. (You can read it here.) I did not want to be fired, and when the ax came down in that morning meeting with the paper’s editor-in-chief – the first time we’d ever talked – I felt a naked kind of white-person terror that comes with suddenly losing health insurance and a regular paycheck. I had naively presumed the worst-case scenario for sending that letter was a tongue lashing. Instead, I was suddenly unemployed.

My fists wouldn’t unball as I was escorted to human resources for a post-firing debrief. Red eyes running, I interrupted the woman who was explaining COBRA and said I needed to leave immediately but would call later. I’d been fired for trying to write a column about how congress could justify the lousy job it was doing. Whoops. It was such a mistake.

Within a week, I got a phone call from a union-powered Super PAC called Independent Source PAC. It is a very small group of left-leaning shit-storm-stirrers, with the hard-core investigation skills to follow campaign donations through doors I thought were closed (or didn’t even know were doors). ISPAC digs up dirt no one is supposed to find, dirt that gets politicians into trouble. What ISPAC needed, though, was a writer.

We dug deep into the Downs Deal, a 25-year state-fair lease awarded to Louisiana businessmen who have donated at least $70,000 to McCleskey’s PACs. The deal is reportedly worth more than $1 billion over those 25 years. “The financial contributions by Racino owners to political heavyweights are substantial and the entire gaming industry is directly controlled by appointees placed there by the Governor. The tenets of good government are nowhere to be found.” That’s Charlotte Rode, a Republican appointed by Martinez to the State Fair Commission, talking about the Downs deal.

ISPAC worked to uncover what happened, and what happened is an apparently rigged evaluation, a 300-out-of-300 score for “management expertise” awarded by an evaluator who’d been hired by the governor against the advice of a long-serving State-Fair official who wound up resigning over the deal after 16 years on the New Mexico Board of Finance. (He was also a Republican.) A 300-out-of-300 score for management expertise, to a company on probation with the New Mexico Racing Commission for not paying purse money… to a company who had to be ordered by the EPA last year to clean up giant mounds of horse poop that were seeping into the Rio Grande.

The deal went through after the Downs barely outscored another bidder in evaluations. Martinez’s donors will make a lot of money off it.

When the governor’s chief of staff, Keith Gardner, was caught on tape saying “That’s why I never use my state email… I don’t want to go to court or jail,” ISPAC helped make the recording public and then begged many news outlets to run the story. (They were reluctant, for mysterious reasons.) Last year, Gardner’s wife got a $67,000 job at the Public Education Department after the job requirements were changed to make her the lone applicant of five finalists who qualified. On the “don’t want to go to court” tape, Gardner actually offers his friend a job running the State Fairgrounds! Government can’t create jobs… for outsiders?

Gardner, it turned out, was right to worry about his emails. He was involved in a string of private-email conversations with other members of the governor’s staff and a lawyer for the Downs. ISPAC obtained those private emails and outed them. Government officials are not supposed to use private email for public business, and these messages seemed to demonstrate that the lawyer was ordering Martinez’s staff around during the evaluation process. (The lawyer also made a lot of bad jokes, including one that got him fired, about the governor dishonoring Col. Custer by attending a tribal leaders summit.)

We even helped get the word out when a young woman who lobbies for public schools accused Gardner of grabbing her arm in an “extremely threatening manner.” The woman said Gardner yelled at her that “the bowels of hell were about to open up upon” her boss if he didn’t get behind the governor’s education agenda.

Ah yes, education. It’s been a mini mission of mine to understand education policy for my ISPAC writing. I covered Santa Fe’s schools for the Journal, and while there’s a lot of minutia in the education beat – on issues like funding formulas – there’s also a lot of soul. I’ve seen parents, teachers and students all crying at school-board meetings, over things like councilor case loads and small-school closures to save money. School board members’ jobs are mostly boring, but shrinking money resources force these people to grapple with huge questions, like how important art is to a young child’s education.

The governor has hired a Public Education Department cabinet secretary who is obsessed with teacher evaluations and letter grades for each individual school. Both are based on standardized test results, and here’s what I’ve learned from research: Children who come from poor households are terrible at tests because their brains are harmed by the out-of-school stress that comes with living in poverty. If you’re homeless, your mom or dad does drugs, you’re hungry all the time, the kids in your neighborhood are trying to recruit you into a gang… these things are a direct, demonstrable reason for plummeting test scores. Study after study – the ones I find come from college professors – have shown this. Government has a role in fixing education, but it requires community-based programs like parent training, and an approach to reforms that doesn’t involve more testing.

When schools are bad so is the state, because education hugely impacts the economy. Yet the governor plows onward with a reform agenda science says won’t work. And third-grade retention? Here’s one of those studies, from the regents professor of education at Arizona State: “Research is quite clear that on average, students left back do not improve as much as do students who are allowed to advance to a higher grade with their age mates.” He says the state should do what rich parents do, and put the money we’d spend on an extra school year for the student into tutoring and after-school opportunities instead.

I have tried, repeatedly and obnoxiously, to engage the PED in a debate about what works best for children. The subject is actually fascinating when you get away from funding formulas. At first they wouldn’t talk to me because of who I work for. Now they won’t talk to me because I bash them on the internet for being opaque and corrupt and kinda evil. The newspapers, meanwhile, don’t seem interested in asking how the governor’s approach accounts for poverty, or what reasoning or specific research helped state authorities decide holding back slow-reading third graders and assigning grades to schools were worth-while reforms.

My point is this: Government is a fantasy land populated with opportunists and liars. The inmates have escaped the asylums and learned to win elections. I’ve been watching in angry awe. Susana Martinez was a district attorney and now she is a governor. Both jobs are paid for with tax money, yet she doesn’t blink in claiming the government can’t create jobs. When she had an opportunity to lower the overall corporate tax rate in New Mexico by signing a bill that closed a tax loophole allowing corporations like Best Buy to avoid paying a state tax that’s assessed to local companies like Baillos, she vetoed the measure because it would hurt job creators. Government is never closing loopholes.

My dog was waiting at home. She’d wandered up a hill, down our street and into our driveway, alone the whole way. She was waiting for me when I arrived back home panicked. She was fine, wagging her stupid tail.

I’m not fine, though. Watching politics up close has jacked up my mind. Government should be manned by big-hearted idealists who want to harness their Constitutional powers to collaborate and make our state a stronger, better place. Instead it’s become a sick game, a professional sport where egomania substitutes for athleticism. Having no soul is like being able to run a 4.3 40-yard-dash. Jay McCleskey gets donations to his Super PAC at a quarter-million bucks per clip, from oil companies and casino moguls. Then he creates commercials accusing Democrats of “siding with child killers.”

These greedy lunatics lie to get elected, then use their power to benefit themselves and their friends. Politics sucks. It makes me angry and it makes me crazy. Happy election day.

Crashing the Game can be Scary

A wave of fear hits whenever I walk into the lobby of Gov. Susana Martinez’s office on the fourth floor of the Roundhouse, to see the robot Koala bear wielding dual orange lightsabers. Gravity releases my heart but hangs on to the rest of my guts. Then the feeling’s gone.

The sculpture is “Hopi Nuclear Maiden,” by Tony A. Price, and it’s worth checking out. It’s not why I feel scared though.

I go see the nuclear maiden when I’m jogging around Santa Fe. It’s important, I think, to acquaint myself with that fear sensation that comes and goes as I enter the office of the central player in this whole dirty racket.

The governor and her people are continually making bad decisions that appear motivated to help friends in business use the government to make money.

Me and the few other avengers at Independent Source PAC have been covering this story doggedly, and lately I’ve found myself afraid of being jumped by contract goons.

There’s a lot of money at stake for a few men who fancy themselves wolf kings. These guys don’t like talking about what they’re up to.

I saw “Michael Clayton.” Contract goons can kill whisper-quiet with a quick little injection between the toes. No trace.

I don’t know Jay McCleskey, the guy who runs Susana PAC; I just know he doesn’t like answering questions. “Breaking Bad” has taught us that even a good man can become a fearless homicidal gangster, so what about someone who’s already a product of the political money world? Seen Kelsey Grammar on “Boss”? He plays the mayor of Chicago, who kills people over contracts over breakfast.

I don’t know if I’m afraid of McCleksey or any of these other political Monopoly players, but I do wonder whether I should be. If I’m gonna be the only one asking questions… well, a lone voice is easy to silence.

By not aggressively investigating the governor’s seemingly corrupt way of running state government, the Albuquerque Journal might be putting my life in danger. I guess that’s the point here.

Just know that I love you Erin, pooch, my family and dear friends. If I’m whacked by contract goons, please know I left the world with a heart full of love.

And if you have any spirit powers in your light sabers, Hopi Nuclear Maiden, spare some to protect me.

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