Friday, February 29, 2008

Republican Party Smear Jobs

Joe Carraro and others say they were threatened with smear jobs if they challenged Darren White for CD 1

Janice Arnold-Jones and Mark Boitano were told to forget running for Heather Wilson's seat

Arnold-Jones is stunned by Republican smear tactics

The New Mexico Attorney General’s Office is checking out allegations that state Sen. Joe Carraro, an Albuquerque Republican, was threatened with a vicious smear campaign—including threats to bring up a 20-year-divorce case and attempts to embarrass his family—if he went through with his decision to seek his party’s nomination for the First Congressional District seat.

The AG’s office is analyzing information to see if it warrants a full-blown investigation, said office spokesman Phil Sisneros.

“He (Carraro) has talked to the Attorney General about his concerns and his concerns have gone into the hopper,” Sisneros said. “The usual process is that we determine if there is something actionable, if there is something we can do. It is an analysis of the information.”

Carraro, who says the threats amount to extortion, has also taken the allegations to the FBI. He says the feds should be involved because some of the threats involved a former state Republican Party official who now works in Texas.

“These people should be in jail the way they’re threatening people,” Carraro said.

Carraro, who is running for the congressional seat being vacated by Heather Wilson, isn’t the only one who said they were threatened by Republican Party insiders. State Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones, R-Albuquerque, and state Sen. Mark Boitano, R-Albuquerque, said they received similar threats when they were considering runs for Wilson’s seat.

Arnold-Jones said operatives threatened to go after her 20-year-old daughter, a student at the University of New Mexico.

Boitano, a legislator for 12 years, said he was informed through his campaign manager that he would be attacked for being a member of the Unification Church if he chose to run for Wilson’s seat.

All three said they were warned that party officials had already decided that their candidate was to be Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White.

Carraro said operatives threatened to embarrass him with details of a nearly 20-year-old divorce. He said he was told that his family would be dumped on and embarrassed if he ran.

"I went to the AG's Office about three months ago and spoke directly to Gary King," Carraro said. "A couple of weeks before the legislative session started (Jan. 15) he said he had assigned an investigator to it. I was interviewed by the investigator during the first week of the session."

The First Congressional District seat, which has been held by Wilson for nearly 10 years, was put into play late last year when Wilson decided to seek the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Republican Senator Pete Domenici. She’s battling Congressman Steve Pearce for the nomination.

“They threaten to spread rumors and all kinds of things. It’s smear tactics,” Carraro said.

Arnold-Jones said that she went to state Republican Party Chairman Alan Wheh last October when she was considering a run for Wilson’s seat. She said Wheh told her she should forget the run because she’d never be able to raise the necessary money. She also said she was told that the party had already decided that White was the party’s candidate.

“The Republican Party first started telling me that I couldn’t raise any money,” Arnold-Jones said. “Then there were veiled threats and phone calls to my daughter. I was told that if I pursued this they would go after my daughter.

“My daughter is at the university. She is young, 20-years-old, and pretty conservative, but not nearly conservative enough. I did get an e-mail that was apparently cut and pasted from somebody else’s e-mail, and it said that they wanted the chairman to explain why I was tearing the Republican Party apart and that if he didn’t control me I would have primary opposition. I was stunned.”

Arnold-Jones said she got five phone calls during the period urging her not to run. She met once with White, who also urged her not to get into the race.

“One phone call said that Darren was a formidable opponent and that it would go badly for me if I pursued this,” Arnold-Jones said. “There was a face-to-face conversation with someone who said that they would go after my daughter."

Arnold-Jones did not name the people who allegedly threatened her.

Boitano also considered running for Wilson’s seat. After he made inquiries about running, he started hearing about his religious beliefs. Boitano is a member of the Unification Church and was married in the church 28 years ago by the Rev. Sung Myung Moon. The Unification Church owns the conservative newspaper, the Washington Times.

Boitano said he got an e-mail string from a former high-ranking state Republican Party official that talked about his religion.

The e-mail, dated Nov. 4, 2007, read:

“State Senator Mark Boitano just sent me a letter asking my advice on whether or not he should run for Cong. Wilson’s seat. He’s a nice person but believes the Rev. Sun Myung Moon is the ‘Messiah.’ I’m concerned because Moon has deep pockets and could finance Boitano’s campaign. Is it just me, or do you find this alarming, too?”

“All this stuff goes on under the radar,” Boitano said. “I know the public is fed up with this kind of trash. I know that they don’t have the stomach any longer for this type of negative campaigning. This should infuriate Republicans.”

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Health Club Horrors

What Naked Men Shouldn't do in the Locker Room

The wife barked in her typically angry, unhappy and deeply troubled voice:

“Why don’t you go to the gym? You’re getting fat. You stink from being lazy. You good-for-nothing slob. It’s a Saturday, and you’re just sitting around vegetating.”

“You lie! I’m not vegetating,” I rumbled with the anger that flashes when I’m falsely accused. “I’m drinking a 12-pack, smoking cigars and staring blankly into space.”

“And what do you call that?” she snarled with a triumphant indignation.

“Enjoying my Saturday morning.”

“Why don’t you just go to the gym?”

“I can’t. It’s not my type of place. I can’t be happy there.”

“Why not?”

“Because they don’t serve beer.”

It’s true. I became deeply distrustful of gyms after the first time I went to one and was thrown out when I yanked a couple of cold ones from my gym bag and popped them open.

It wasn’t what I was used to, and certainly not what I was taught. All the sporting events and athletic competitions that my dad and uncles took us to as kids involved heavy beer drinking and athletes with big beer bellies. After every roll of the bowling ball, Uncle Frank would drain a Bud, a Hamms, a Pabst and a Schlitz. He never bowled more than 73, but neither did anyone else on his or the opposing team.

Frank was a rigorous competitor who bowled five or six games every Saturday afternoon, and he had the belly to prove it.

Uncle Stan, who drank even more than Frank, said those bowling and drinking marathons helped get him in shape for his home and married life. When he arrived home after an afternoon or evening of strenuous competition he passed out and never had to listen to his wife yelp about what a worthless drunk he was. Before he died, Stan proudly and happily recalled that because of his ability on the lanes he remembered only 12 days of his 63-year marriage.

But it’s not because of their misguided aversion to beer and other adult beverages that I stopped going to gyms. Hell, I could load up on Falstaff or Schlitz before going in and plopping myself down on the couch in the lobby and watching sports on their wide-screen TVs.

No. I stopped going because gyms, or clubs, as they’re now called, are loaded with creeps, misfits and jerks who really shouldn’t call themselves men and who should be drummed out of the human race.

What would you call a guy who stands naked in front of a locker room mirror and lotions himself up in full view of other guys? Frank and Stan would have called the cops. But nowadays, other men smile benignly at this sight and pretend there’s nothing wrong with it.

Go into the steam room, where it’s always more than 100 degrees, and some inconsiderate jerk is hosing down the thermostat so that the steam comes on and makes it incredibly and unbearably hot! I don’t mind a little steam, but if I wanted to be scalded I’d build a time machine, put myself on a 1850s Mississippi River steam boat, stand next to the boiler and wait for it to explode.

Same thing with the sauna. I go in to sweat for 10 minutes, not to bake like a rotisserie chicken. I set the thermostat at 190 degrees and wait for the beer to slowly leak out of my pores. But then another inconsiderate jerk, who can see that there’s someone already in the sauna and who has already set the temperature, waddles up, turns the thing up to 230, and plops his fat, buttery butt down, and then stays for 30 seconds because it’s too damn hot!

And then there’s the women in the sauna. Everyone knows that you’re supposed to go topless in a sauna, that you’re required to let those beads of sweat roll down your glistening, heaving body and caress every last crevice and crease of your smooth, silky, forbidden skin. But I’ve yet to see one babe do the sauna the right way. Does anybody know anything about proper gym etiquette?

The main reason I no longer go to gyms, though, is that I was traumatized in one about a year ago. In the locker room were the usual fat men shaving naked in front of the mirror, and hairy-chested guys happily slathering themselves with lotion.

One guy, though, decided to use the blow-dryer that was permanently attached to the wall. As usual, he was shirtless, sockless, pantless and underwearless. I knew right away that he needed a good tailor, and I was about to recommend one, when he yanked the blow-dryer out of its wall mount, clicked it on and began directing that warm, soothing air at his thick mane.

It was all smiles, pleasure and heaven-on-earth for him as he put that dryer ever so close to his dark, curly locks. He weaved that dryer in and out and all along his hairline, making sure that every strand was dry, fluffy and coiffed to perfection. When it seemed that all was done and dried and fluffed to a degree that would get him a job as a TV news anchor, he started all over again.

This time there was no doubt that this was a man who was experiencing solid enjoyment.

And then it hit me. He wasn’t blow-drying the hair on his scalp, nor the hair in his armpits. No! He had gone much lower than that. He was coiffing the hair on his crotch!

I fled, guzzled several warm Buds that I had stashed in the trunk, and drove away, never to return.

So when the wife shrieked again, “Why don’t you just go to the gym?” I told her:

“Because the last time I was there I saw a guy blow-drying his crotch.”

She stumbled backwards, nearly fainted, and then strengthened and said:

“I’m out of here!”

“Where you going?” I demanded.

“To the store.”

“For what?”

“To get you another 12-pack.”

I guess the gym ain’t so bad after all.

Monday, February 25, 2008

I loved The Albuquerque Tribune

The Albuquerque Tribune published its last edition on Saturday, ending an 86-year-run as Albuquerque's afternoon newspaper. I worked there from 1985 through mid-1998. I had the time of my life at the paper and am terribly sad that it is now gone.

The mind is a scary and wonderful thing: mysterious, strange and unrelenting—always so fiercely unrelenting—in its efforts to let you know what you really think, how you really feel and what you truly desire in life.

By day you can work madly to scrub it clean with slogans, logic, pep talks, hatred and lies, and you can numb it to the pain, confusion, disappointments, dreams not pursued and decisions poorly made with gallons of booze and mountains of drugs.

But fall asleep and there it will be; striking back with dreams—every night, every nap, every short doze-off—and with a fury and vengeance that only a battle for self-preservation that must and will be won can generate. There is no hiding from it, no totally numbing it, no evading its brutal truths.

On Friday night and Saturday morning, my mind finally won its battle. In those five or six dreams—I have no idea how many there really were—I was back where I belonged: at The Albuquerque Tribune. I was reporting, laughing, slamming crooked politicians and reveling in the joy, thrill and honor of being a newspaper reporter.

I woke up both pleased and bewildered. I quit The Tribune nearly 10 years ago after working there as a reporter for 13 years. The ensuing years were filled with a bitterness and resentment that wasn’t always properly placed. I ranted against the paper, often wished it would die, and sometimes, as a former colleague once said, seemed like I was holding a pillow over its face while shouting, “Die fucker! Die!”

But as I got ready to go to The Tribune’s funeral on Saturday morning that fog of confusion and bitterness burned away and all was bright, sunny and clear, and I realized the truth of it all.

And the truth is that I loved The Albuquerque Tribune. I loved the newspaper, the masthead, the institution that The Tribune was, most of the people I worked with there, and, above all, being a newspaper reporter.

It was also clear that what I hated wasn’t the newspaper itself, but rather individuals who seemed determined to hasten the death of my life’s one true love. In the end, I discovered that I truly hated only a few of them, and that what I hated most about them was their decisions regarding this once-great newspaper.

The Tribune’s circulation stood at 46,000 when I got there in October 1985, fresh from the City News Bureau of Chicago, a wire service training ground for young reporters.

The first words I heard from a Tribune editor: “At this newspaper we do not write for Page A-3. We write for Page One.”

That was fine, all newspaper reporters dream of being on the front page. At The Tribune you were expected to be on that front page every day.

Later I was told: “We just want you to go out there and cause trouble.”

For someone who was naturally inclined to cause trouble, and who was blessed with an overabundance of trouble, it was the greatest marching order that any reporter had ever received.

I did cause trouble. For eight straight years, along with colleagues Eileen Welsome and Ed Asher, I worked to get the sleazes at Bernalillo County, City Hall, the courts and anywhere else I could find them.

Throughout that time, though, The Tribune was being turned into a real-life, open-air nuthouse. Faced with a shrinking circulation, the owners—E.W. Scripps Co.—sanctioned a series of redesigns and experiments that only shrunk circulation more and at times made The Tribune a laughingstock.

The first came in 1986 when management bought into a study to redesign the paper and to change the way it covered and reported news. Called the Burgoon study, and prepared by couple of Arizona college professors, it was a knife pressed up against The Tribune’s arteries.

The paper was redesigned to look like every other redesigned newspaper in the country. Stories were shortened so giant pictures could be put in, hard-hitting stories about government and the people who make the laws and regulations that take your money and freedoms were shunned, while fluff pieces and happy stories about happy people were favored. The college professor geniuses decided to axe the sports section—a move that veteran reporters at the paper said even at the time would be total insanity.

Neither management nor the professors listened to those veterans, and when The New Tribune debuted in the fall of 1986 with giant pictures, happy stories and no sports section, readers rebelled and cancelled their subscriptions. Within two weeks, the paper lost 5,000 subscribers. The artery had been severed and The Tribune’s blood was spurting all over the city.

Pictures got bigger and stories got shorter. An artist’s colony mentality took over. People wrote stories and took pictures with an eye to winning awards instead of to giving readers stuff they’d actually want to read. The paper did a series on drunks in Gallup. For a week straight the editors banned the front section for local news and ran the Gallup series in its place. The pictures were pretty and the prose was lovingly crafted, but the papers didn’t move. The racks at City Hall and throughout the city remained full that week. The public refused to buy it.

Later, the editors sent a team to Mexico to write about the lost Mayan civilization. Again, the pretty pictures were splashed across the front page, local news was shunted to the back sections, and the newspaper racks remained full of papers that no one bought.

The journalism and photo awards poured in, and the circulation decline accelerated.

The newsroom, it seemed, was reorganized every six months. Reporters were put into teams and told to cover the city by ologies, whatever that meant, and told to behave like dolphins, maestros, yodas, free rangers and big dudes. Many of us prepared for the day when we’d be ordered to cover the city by shoe size. More and softer feature stories, weeks and months in the making, were slapped across the front page. When real and breaking local news occurred—news that rightly belonged on Page One—and reporters tried to get the stories into the paper’s Home and Final editions, they were told it was impossible because the feature story packages couldn’t be broken up. We had become a paper that wrote the news weeks in advance.

More journalism awards followed, and more and more papers went unsold, and more and more readers cancelled their subscriptions.

Opposing camps formed in the newsroom. On one side were the self-absorbed artists, and on the other the old timers and hard-news advocates. The battles were bitter. Hard newsies mocked artists as thirty-something wusses who cared only about resume-padding awards and blamed them for the circulation declines. Artists mocked hard newsies as Neanderthals who needed to crawl back into our caves. The paper’s editorials turned decidedly left, a move many thought was suicidal in town filled with so many government nuke workers and military families.

As we battled, readers quit the paper in droves.

It wasn’t all bad, though. During those years The Tribune produced some marvelous, hard-hitting journalism. Eileen Welsome, a truly crazy human being with a hair-trigger temper, ripped PNM for mismanagement and the federal government for injecting unwitting Americans with plutonium. Welsome once threatened to drive to the main office and knife editors. That seemed like a good idea to me, but the editors didn't think it was so funny. Ed Asher, who looked like a homeless guy and lived on cigarettes and Dr. Pepper, ripped UNM athletics, the Balloon Fiesta, City Hall politicians, and Louie Saavedra, who abused TVI when he ran it for more than 20 years. Dan Vukelich savaged state government. I got my punches in at city and county officials, and even got a trip to Hawaii out of it to ridicule Bernalillo County officials who had decided to junket there in 1991.

We were proud of those hard-hitting stories and of the fact that we were fulfilling the Founding Fathers’ intentions that the press act as a watchdog on government.

But each time we congratulated ourselves on another ass-kicking story, the Tribune’s circulation fell.

The battles between news and the art continued, and circulation declined further.

The final blow came in 1995 when the paper got a new editor. He was a wuss and a journalistic failure. He complained that the paper was making too many enemies with its investigative reporting and ended that kind of reporting in favor of more and more happy stories about happy people. He didn’t want to upset anyone in the community.

This was the same fine individual who, when Vukelich and I were sued for a series of investigative stories we did on the Region III Housing Authority (a lawsuit we won), looted a Christmas gift basket that Dan and I had received from our lawyers. Our editor took the basket into his office, and when it came out it was missing all its sausages and cheeses. Dan and I were left with the apples, bananas and oranges.

The other blow came when the paper hired, as its managing editor, a talentless blowhard from Texas who had been run out of the Austin-American Statesman. She was a loud-mouthed phony who believed that credibility and respect were earned by braying stupid orders at subordinates. One weekend this fraud dialed a reporter’s phone, and without identifying herself, blurted into the answering machine, “Find me!”

It was after those two arrived that the great hemorrhaging of talent from The Tribune began. Tony Davis, Doug Brown, Asher, Vukelich, Shonda Novak, Neal Pattison, Mac Juarez, I and others left. Many more followed. Soon, the paper was a shell of its former self. The only rational explanation for these two being hired was that they were there to drive out people they thought were making too much money and who were independent minded.

During one newsroom meeting to discuss the fate of the paper, that editor, to everyone's shock, said something like, "At this newspaper we don't hold it against anybody who starts looking for another job."

Afterwards, reporters and editors rushed to update their resumes.

I hated those two editors, and I always will. There were a couple of other frauds there that I still hate. But most of the others, even most of the artists, were, just like the rest of us, trying to figure out a way to save afternoon newspapers. We tried, and all of us failed. The crazy thing is, we all loved the same thing—ink on paper. Some loved pretty pictures, and some preferred words. We were all newspaper people. We didn’t care about video or digital this or digital that; we cared about ink on paper. And ink on paper, at least when it comes to news, is fading.

In the end, nothing would have mattered, and probably nothing could have saved The Tribune. We could have put out stunning investigative pieces every day and still gone under. Fewer and fewer people are reading newspapers.

In 1977, afternoon daily newspaper circulation in the U.S. stood at 33 million. By 2004 it had fallen to less than seven million. The Internet, TV, video games and just about everything else got people’s attention and money. When I arrived at The Tribune in 1985 its circulation was a damn good 46,000. At the end, circulation was 9,600, and the Tribune had sunk into irrelevance.

Today, newspapers everywhere are under siege. Many will fold, and many will survive. Those that do keep going will have to make dramatic changes. They’ll have to stop writing stories for other journalists. They’ll have to blanket their communities with solid, honest and hard-hitting coverage. They’ll have to stop sending reporters to the Mexican jungles to cover the Mayans.

The Tribune was home to me. It was a home I never wanted to leave. I loved it, and I loved being a newspaper reporter. At the time I felt I had to leave. I can tell you, though, that I’ve had no greater honor, thrill and privilege than being a reporter for The Albuquerque Tribune.

The Tribune is gone now. But I’m grateful that on its last day the confusion cleared, and that before it did die I was able to whisper into its ear what I had wanted to say all along:

“You were the best thing that ever happened to me.”

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Buffoon Found!

New Mexico's Brian Colon; First Class Fool

No parent wants their kids to grow up to be buffoons. But sometimes we need such goofs to show us how not to act. Brian Colon, chairman of the State Democratic Party of New Mexico, is one such buffoon.

He and his party botched the Feb. 5 Democratic caucus in New Mexico. The caucus was plagued by long lines, hours-long-waits to vote, too few polling places, and general all-around incompetence. The vote counting dragged on into the night, the next day, the next day, the next day, the next day, and, well, the final totals weren't ready until February 14, nine days after the voting took place. And how many voters caused this mass confusion? A mere 149,779.

To make the embarrassment total and complete, Colon decided to do a stand up comedy act when he announced the final totals on Thursday. Wearing sunglasses indoors, Colon rambled on for 10 minutes before revealing the winner. Watch his performance here.

His idiotic performance was a disgrace. Instead of immediately giving the vote totals, which would have taken all of 30 seconds, he rambled on for 10 minutes about how much stress he had been under and what a great job the party's volunteers did in counting the votes. And when it actually came time to announce those totals, Colon tried to be coy and delay it even further by acting like he was announcing an Emmy award or something. Colon topped one disgrace with another.

Watch Colon and cringe. Watch him and learn. Learn how a fool acts. And resolve to never act this way yourself. Mothers, show this to your children so they can learn.

And from this day on, define "Buffon" with these words: Brian Colon of New Mexico.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Understanding Depressed Poets

Happy, well-adjusted people need not apply

History teaches us that there are two requirements to being a poet: Owning a beret and being hopelessly and suicidally depressed. Both requirements must be met for one to claim poethood. Anyone can own a beret--hell, soldiers, dancers and painters wear 'em. And anyone can be hopelessly depressed. Just look at all those people who own Toyota Priuses, sandwich makers, Cuisinarts and who attend foreign film festivals. You can't talk to them without hearing how horrible it is that every single polar bear is doomed to a climate where they won't have to sleep on icebergs, eat cold fish and fornicate in thirty-degree-below-zero weather.

Nor is it enough to merely wallow in the angst of turning 18 or 32, seeing the sun rise into another day; or of knowing that that bald-headed, laughing, gurgling baby will someday be wracked by self-doubt, join the military, be turned into a killing machine and afflicted with hideous diseases. No. A poet can't just wallow; a poet must take action by sticking his or her head in an oven and turning on the gas.

The question, though, is why, why are poets so miserable? Experts, scholars and normal people have long wondered why poets are so morose. Normal people figured that wearing berets depressed these people. A beret is a useless hat, and no one who actually cares about keeping their head warm or protecting it from falling bricks or flying bottles would wear one. No one has been able to figure it out--until now.

I've uncovered a poem that explains why poets are so depressed. This came to me from a poet, who, at age 21 looked sadly around a wedding dance floor--a place filled with joy, optimism and liquor--and proclaimed to a startled uncle who asked why he was so glum: "Someday all these people will be dead! Why are they laughing when death is just seventy years around the corner?"

A Poet’s Dilemma

I sit on the bank of the fisherman’s stream
Feeling depressed and wanting to scream.
For how can I write of the large-mouthed bass
When I’m standing here sticking my thumb up my ass?

How can I bespeak the wonders of thee
When I’ve nailed my tongue to the trunk of a tree?
Oh what a well-read poet I’d be
If I scribbled on paper instead of my knee.

The day grows dark.
The light does pass.
I’m standing here stuffing
My head up my ass.

It's clear why poets are so depressed; they're idiots.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

More Bad News For The Albuquerque Tribune

Parent Company's Q4 Newspaper Profits Slip

Albuquerque Joint Operating Agreement Profits Fall

Year-to-Year Newspaper Division Profits Plunge 25 Percent

Probably Means Big Drop in Profits at The Abq. Journal As Well

The news isn't good for The Albuquerque Tribune, this city's afternoon newspaper. Faced with a plunging circulation (9,600), a parent company that put it up for sale last year, and a potential buyer who couldn't pull the deal off, it now has to deal with news that could assure its quick closure.

The Trib's parent company, E.W. Scripps Co., reported that its newspaper division's profits (Scripps owns papers in 16 markets) fell by 12.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2007.

More than that, the media company's profits as part of its joint operating agreement (JOA) with the Albuquerque Journal fell by 11.4 percent in the final three months of 2007.

Even more shocking, Scripps' newspaper division's profits were off by 25.2 percent in 2007 from 2006. According to Scripps' annual report, its newspaper profits dropped to $146.4 million in 2007, down from $195.7 million in 2006.

That's all bad news for The Tribune, which Scripps put up for sale last August. At the time, Scripps said it would close the paper if a qualified buyer wasn't found. On Feb. 1, those potential buyers, Doug Turner and Tom Carroll of the Albuquerque PR firm DW Turner, dropped their effort to buy the sinking newspaper.

Ironically, Turner and Carroll announced the end of their bid to buy The Tribune the day after Scripps released its annual report that showed the big drop in its newspaper profits.

Falling newspaper profits won't do anything to convince Scripps to keep The Trip open for any longer than it has to. In fact, the Cincinnati-based Scripps has been putting the pieces in place to close The Trib as soon as the required paperwork clears government regulators.

Any sale of The Trib would not include the JOA with the Journal, Scripps said when it put the paper up for sale. In fact, in its annual report, Scripps said it would terminate the JOA upon selling or closing The Trib. But, Scripps has reached a deal with Journal owner Tommy Lang to retain a 40 percent ownership in the Albuquerque Publishing Co., which publishes both The Tribune and the Journal. After The Tribune is gone, Scripps will still get 40 percent of the Journal's profits.

"The Partnership will direct and manage the operations of the continuing Journal newspaper and we will receive a share of the Partnership's profits commensurate with our our residual interest," the annual report said.

The numbers

According to Scripps' annual report, fourth-quarter profits at the Albuquerque JOA fell by 11.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2007 to $2.4 million. Those profits were $2.7 million in the fourth quarter of 2006.

For the year, the JOA's 2007 profits fell to $9.8 million, down from $10.6 million in 2006. That's an 8.3 percent drop.

More troubling for Scripps, the Albuquerque Journal and the newspaper industry in general is what happened to advertising revenue in the fourth quarter at Scripps' newspapers.

Total newspaper revenue fell by 9.6 percent to $165 million.

Total ad revenue fell by 12 percent to $131 million.

Local ad revenue at the papers dropped by 15 percent to $38.7 million.

Classified ad revenue fell by 19 percent to $40.3 million.

National ad revenue dropped by 10 percent to $9.1 million.

Circulation revenue remained even at $29.5 million.

There was one bright spot in the quarter: online ad revenue. It increased by 6.6 percent to $9.2 million. That's a good increase, but not enough money to keep a stable of newspapers and their staffs running.

Total newspaper revenue for Scripps in 2007 fell to $658 million, down from $716 million in 2006. That's an 8.2 percent drop.

Scripps is a public company and is required to file public financial statements. The Albuquerque Journal is privately owned and doesn't have to make its finances public. But the Journal's circulation has been sliding, as I wrote in December 2007:

"The Journal's circulation took a major hit in the six month reporting period that ended September 30th. According to figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulations, the firm that tracks newspaper and magazine circulation, the Journal’s Monday-Friday circulation took a 3.8 percent hit, falling from 105,966 to 101,981. It’s even worse on Sundays, where circulation fell by 4.5 percent, from 146,931 to 140,395. The Journal’s Saturday circulation fell as well, dropping 3 percent from 111,951 to 108,658."

You can bet that the Journal's profits have taken a hit as well.

Newspaper circulation and revenues will only get worse if we do spin into a recession. It means more doom and gloom for the newspaper business, which has suffered heavy hits to circulation and revenues in the past several years.

Another New Mexico Election Disgrace

Rank Incompetence, Stupidity And Sleaze

Democratic Party Blows The Presidential Caucus

NM is the "Idiot State That Couldn't"

New Mexico's Democratic presidential caucus was another in a long line of election night disasters on Tuesday; a disgrace and humiliation regarding electoral competency and honesty.

The entire process was steeped in incompetency and chaos. The state Democratic Party, which ran the caucus, didn't have enough polling places. The party set up only one for the entire city of Rio Rancho, which has a population of 71,000! Read that again: one polling place for a city of 71,000! When the polls closed at 7 Rio Rancho High School in Sandoval County, there were close to 1,800 people still in line to vote. At 8:25 p.m., there were still 400 people in line. The final vote wasn't cast until after 9 p.m.

Rio Rancho voters waited more than three hours in line to vote. How can that be when they only had to choose between two candidates? Marking a ballot took all of three seconds. The limited number of polling places were so "swamped" that voters couldn't find parking spaces. The limited voting hours, noon-7 p.m., concentrated too many people at too few locations.

In Albuquerque and elsewhere throughout the state it was the same: waits of over an hour to mark one spot on a ballot. Voters were pissed. In some Albuquerque polling places people started shouting and screaming at party officials for bungling the vote and making them wait. Polling places ran out of ballots because party officials greatly underestimated turnout. Many voters left rather than spend hours in the midst of incompetency and stupidity.

The long lines in Rio Rancho caused other problems. Party officials said they couldn't release any vote totals until the last person had voted. That meant no vote counts until more than 90 minutes after the polls had closed! When the counts did come in, they were embarrassingly slow. The party stopped updating its vote total Web site at 11:56 p.m. Tuesday, presumably to go home. By 1 a.m. Wednesday there were still two or three counties out. That's unacceptable, and it's a disgrace.

Democratic Party officials said the polling places were swamped by mobs of voters.


So how many millions voted in New Mexico?

Well, it wasn't millions.

Then, 500,000, maybe 600,000 voters?


A hefty 350,000?


Only 150,000 people cast ballots--150,000 measly votes!

How come New York state can count 1.7 million votes by midnight, and we can't count 150,000? How come Illinois can count 1.9 million votes and we can't count 150,000? How come Massachusetts, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee and New Jersey--states with far greater numbers of voters than New Mexico--could count votes and New Mexico couldn't? How could Alaska, whose polls closed long after New Mexico's, have its vote totals in before New Mexico?

The answer is simple: Those states have marginally competent people running their elections; New Mexico has idiots--pure, stinking, disgraceful idiots.

State Democratic Party Chairman Brian Colon, the goof who set this mess up, should resign immediately and go live in a cave or throw himself down an old mine shaft. Other party officials should consider blowing their brains out so as to spare the world any more of their stupidity and incompetence. If they have children, they should toss them off cliffs so as to prevent the New Mexico Stupidity/Incompetence gene from replicating.

Everyone involved in this fiasco should go to Los Alamos National Laboratory and ingest massive amounts of plutonium.

But most of all, members of the Democratic Party, and really, all New Mexicans, should do the world a favor and dive head first into the muck of Elephant Butte Reservoir or the Rio Grande. Because it's you--we, us--who put these jerks in power. And we keep returning them to power even though they don't deserve it. They're fools and idiots, but we're bigger fools and idiots.

New Mexico is so screwed up, so incompetent, so vile, that it should just cave into the center of the earth and spare the rest of humanity the embarrassment of knowing it exists.

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