Thursday, April 17, 2014

Mama Mia! Mother Jones Marks Martinez As A Petty Player And Lays Into Shadow Governor Jay; Latest National Media Blow Further Lays Bare The Guv's Image And Her Reality, Also: Impact On Guv Campaign Analyzed 

Sometimes it's best left for others to say. And so it is today in the aftermath of that Mother Jones piece that follows others in unmasking Governor Martinez and her Shadow Governor Jay McCleskey. From Salon:

The result is a really enlightening peek into what this sort of administration actually sounds like on the inside. By “this sort of administration,” I mean one run by a bunch of petty assholes who play-act like politics in a Mamet-scripted masculinity contest. It’s easy to imagine that the governorship of George W. Bush wasn’t entirely dissimilar, with a checked-out executive and a powerful political operative running the show. Other recently released internal communications suggest a similar environment in New Jersey.

Bad boy behavior (and now bad girl) has run amok in the Martinez administration. It includes Chief of Staff Keith Gardner caught on tape calling a state senate leader a cocksucker and saying he uses private email--not government email--so he won't go to jail. And then there's political adviser McCleskey's private email saying "Buster screwed us" as the administration apparently tried to wire the lucrative ABQ Downs racino deal.

The image that the Governor and the Fifth Floor so carefully craft for public consumption is so diametrically opposed to who they truly are that they make Jekyll and Hyde look tame.

The cynicism and narcissism exhibited by Martinez and her Anglo entourage in the room where the leaked audio was recorded in Oct. 2010 is palpable.

Top campaign aide Matt Kennicott likens the now deceased House Speaker Ben Lujan to a "retard." But Martinez--who showcases her developmentally disabled sister at every opportunity, including in her latest TV ad--doesn't utter a peep of protest.

Kennicott apologized for the comment, but no one in the inner circle of Susana has to worry about being fired. Not when your exit interview might be with the FBI.

(Adding insult to injury Kennicott is now a top figure at the state Human Services Department that administers mental health programs.)

The Speaker's son, northern Dem US Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, reacted:

“These disrespectful comments about Speaker Luján and my fellow New Mexicans are appalling and disgraceful. It is sad that a Martinez official believes that New Mexicans who speak with a Spanish accent have a disability or that they use such disparaging terms. It is troubling that Governor Martinez has allowed a culture in which these comments and other offensive remarks by her staff are deemed acceptable.

Does the Governor have the class and character to pick up the phone and apologize to the Lujan family?


The ignorance Martinez shows on the leaked tapes about the state she hopes to lead is stupefying:

"What is podash? Or ashpod? WIPP?"

Uh, that would be potash, Susana, the stuff used for fertilizer that is a prime driver of the Carlsbad area economy. And you really didn't know in 2010 what WIPP was? Really?

In that declaration of startling public policy illiteracy all of the worst fears about the true purpose of this administration are realized.


Of course, at this point in the proceedings we must issue the standard rejoiner that all of us--both locally and nationally--who dare write or criticize the administration are sexists, racists, political hacks and misfits. Hold it. Are they describing us or themselves?


Speaking of sexism. From the article:

The state's Commission on the Status of Women, a panel created in 1973 to improve health, pay equity, and safety for women.

"What the hell is that?" Martinez asked.

"I don't know what the fuck they do," replied her deputy campaign manager, Matt Kennicott.

"What the hell does a commission on women's cabinet do all day long?" Martinez asked.


The last thing this is about is the use of "salty language" as the Martinez camp tried to spin. Even Diane Denish would agree that Martinez calling her "a little bitch" is hardly news. She's been called that and more in a lifetime in politics.

No, the story has been and continues to be the stranglehold that McCleskey and his acolytes have on the state and city governments, the disastrous results from allowing a political consultant to craft state policy and Governor Martinez's contrived image that is thrown up like a smoke screen to disguise what is really happening in this deeply troubled state.


Speaking of Jay he reprises his hit man role in the Mother Jones piece, screaming in capital letters in a text message about former ABQ GOP state Rep. Janice Arnold Jones:


That kind of borderline personality behavior is old hat around here. The news is the long and painful disclosure to the mass public that Martinez is Jay's clone.


Democratic Guv candidate Lawrence Rael was first out of the gate with comment on the Mother Jones piece. He earned a TV shot for it, a rare event in this sleepy primary campaign. And in a move that got to the heart of the political impact--he released his response first in English and then in Spanish:

New Mexico is a state that is proud of its diverse heritage, including our broad linguistic roots: we may speak with different accents and sometimes in different languages, but we are proud of who we are and where we came from. Her views on women are equally appalling and disrespectful. Gov. Martinez claims to work in a bi-partisan, respectful manner, but it is increasingly clear that the truth is quite the opposite. Her comments about teachers are particularly telling: say one thing, but do and mean another. Her blatant wiliness to deceive New Mexicans and cover up her true beliefs, in order to win elections, are proof that to Gov. Martinez, the truth doesn’t matter.

Rael was born in Sandoval County and has a touch of a Spanish accent--not as heavy as the one Speaker Lujan had--but he is representative of many in the Spanish north and that's where that "retard" comment is going to hurt Martinez.

No one is delusional about the impact of the comments. With millions in campaign money and no singular comment that would cause her polls to immediately plummet, the Martinez machine will keep on keeping on, But this is yet another round of ammunition delivered to the Dems free of charge by the national media. If and when they find a gun to fire, they could be dangerous. 


Noticeably absent in posting any mention of the Mother Jones piece on their websites during the day Wednesday were the ABQ Journal and KRQE-TV.

The Journal has been an arch-supporter of the Governor's. Previously, one of its editors dismissed a revealing National Journal piece on Martinez/McCleskey as a rehash and maintained--erroneously--that the Journal had covered the explosive information contained in that piece. They may have a more difficult time dismissing audio recordings never heard before as a "rehash."

The Journal did do a story for today's print edition. They dutifully report the piece--but with no context, no reference to the previous National Journal article, no mention that McCleskey is trying to get Martinez on the '16 prez ticket and no mention of McCleskey as a key figure in the article and the administration. As journalist Sherry Robinson said recently:

The Albuquerque Journal. . . .has been so blatantly pro-Martinez as to sacrifice its credibility.

The pettiness and vindictiveness revealed on those audio tapes was enough to have even ardent Susana backer Scott Stiegler of conservative talk station KKOB-AM radio calling for a time-out on his love fest with the Fourth and Fifth Floors. "I have a problem with this" he told his audience. . . .

KRQE-TV has done a bang-up job on the APD crisis and aggressively questioned ABQ Mayor RJ Berry. But when it comes to Governor Martinez the station still can't seem to bring itself to provide hard-hitting coverage. They were the odd man out in TV land in not covering the audio tapes on their website. KOB and KOAT also covered the story on both their early and late newscasts. KRQE covered it only at 10 p.m.

Producers are insistent that there is no bias at the station, but the way its news department handled the big political story in comparison with its rivals doesn't help their argument.

(Also, the one-hour long 9 p.m. KASA-TV news produced by KRQE had no mention of the Mother Jones piece.)

Why is it the national media--the National Journal, Mother Jones and Real Clear Politics--that has to tell us of the seamy underbelly of New Mexico government? With the exception of NM Politics with Joe Monahan and a few other "alternative"outlets, the mainstream media has often turned its back on the truth.

Another example came on Twitter from journalist Heath Haussamen who came to the defense of Kennicott who made the retard comment about Lujan:

There's a difference between saying words were racist and calling a person racist. We know Kennicott's words, not his heart.

Okay, so we can go around using the "N" word but that doesn't make us a racist because that is not what is in "our heart?"

The real Martinez story is only going to get bigger as her camp promotes her for the 2016 presidential ticket. The media that refuse to cover it--or cover it up--are only going to look even smaller.


It seems New Mexico is making more national news than New York. There's the radiation leak at the southern NM WIPP site--(you know about that one, don't you Guv?), the national scandal over APD and the Justice Department intervention and now the audio tapes of the nation's first Hispanic female governor acting out a high school locker room mentality with her tough boy home boys. Of course, businesses and tourists will be flocking here to see all of these spectacles in person. What? They won't?.. . . .


The most watched state representative is back in the news. Dem Sandra Jeff is still not out of the woods when it comes to getting on the June 3 primary ballot:

Rep. Sandra Jeff is still not assured a spot on the  primary election ballot, after the Supreme Court reversed a decision by a Gallup district court judge and sent the case back for an additional hearing.
The Gallup judge had previously dismissed an attempt to bump Jeff, a maverick Democrat, off the ballot for failing to turn in enough valid voter signatures. In that ruling, the judge found Jeff had not been provided adequate notice of the allegations against her. However, the Supreme Court today ordered a Friday hearing be held on the merits of the candidate challenge.

Our money is on Jeff to make it, but maybe that's because she makes blogging fun and it would be tough losing her. . . .

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Fallout Is The Theme--From Those Dem Guv Money Reports And The Ongoing APD Crisis, Plus: A New Mexican's Lament Over Leaving The State Gets Dissed  

Before we get started, Wednesday morning Mother Jones magazine came with a scathing piece on Gov. Martinez  replete with some embarrassing audiotapes that were leaked to the DC based liberal news outlet. More on that later. . . .

Fallout is our theme for the day--fallout from those Dem Guv finance reports and the continued fallout out from the APD crisis. Let's start out on the campaign trail. . .

The day after a disappointing money report that showed him with only $46,000 in the bank state Sen. Howie Morales came with an endorsement from AFSCME--the government workers union that is known for turning out the vote for candidates that turn them on.

The union represents 12,000 workers in the state so the approval of this stalwart Dem group is nothing to sneeze at. The teachers union was instrumental in guiding Morales to an important win at the Dems March preprimary convention. Can AFSCME be another guiding light?

The political pros will tell you that a strong ground game--like the ones run by the unions--can add anywhere from two to five points for a candidate. That's good for the Silver City senator, but he still needs cash to compete on television. If this endorsement brings in a large chunk of the money he needs, it would be icing on the cake. . . .

TV is not quite as important in a primary election as in a general. That's because hard-core voters turn out in the primary and they can be motivated more easily. Still, folks in their 60's and 70's who vote heavy in primaries rely heavily on those TV ads and news clips to help them decide. For them, if you don't have your  image flying through the airwaves, you don't exist...

Lawrence Rael is fighting it out with Morales to be the chief challenger to Alan Webber who has put up his own money to help him carry a cash balance of $440,000 into the final weeks.  Rael also loaned himself a bunch and has $225,000 in cash. With Morales getting that AFSCME endorsement Rael may want to force Morales' hand and get up on TV quickly....

For Gary King, it's all about the TV time. Will he write a personal check to come close to matching Webber's buying power? King only had $89,000 in his kitty as of April 7. That's a long ways from $400,000 and a big personal gamble for the attorney general to get there. . . .


The Berry administration was rocked Tuesday by the resignations of three members of the city's Police Oversight Commission. It was another development ion the ongoing crisis that has besmirched the city's reputation around the globe, brought a scathing report over police shootings from the Justice Department and has had Berry scurrying to try to stay ahead of the curve.

The three members who resigned the panel did so to protest the toothlessness of the commission. It can't reverse decisions of the police chief or independent review officer. The resigning members said that civilian oversight is a joke and they did not want to continue to serve because doing so would only mislead ABQ into believing it has genuine civilian oversight. . . .

No public polling of Berry's popularity has been done in the wake of the biggest local news story to hit the town in decades. How's he holding up? He won re-election with nearly 70% of the vote last October. But after this mess that seems so very long ago. Is he still thinking about running for Governor some day? Well, perish the thought---please. . .

And what's the hold-up with the APD police video of the fatal shooting of Alfred Redwine on the city's west side? Weeks ago we were told it was "being processed" and not ready for release. Just what does that video show? Do we have another James Boyd shooting on our hands? If the administration wants to restore the luster to the image of the APD they might want to start getting information out in a timely manner, instead of holding back and raising suspicions. Just a suggestion. . . .

A reader writes that maybe because APD has been so bad off, the troubles at the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department are flying under the radar. But there are troubles for Sheriff Dan Houston. The news:

Bernalillo County attorneys have agreed to pay more than half a million dollars to a former Sheriff’s Office employee who sued the county and Sheriff Dan Houston in October 2012, alleging that she was mistreated after raising concerns of discrimination against Hispanic women in the Sheriff’s Office. Jennifer Vega Brown will receive $570,000.

We'll probably be hearing more about this in the weeks ahead because Houston is being challenged for the GOP sheriff nomination in the June primary. He is seeking a second four year term, but Scott Baird, a retired Chief Deputy at the department, is trying to stop Houston from getting the party nod. The GOP nomination is worth something. The R's have a good record in winning the office.


Republican Greg Hull scored an easy victory over his Dem opponent in the Rio Rancho mayoral run-off election Tuesday. Hull took 64.9 percent to 35.1 percent for Mike Williams. The R's also scored a win in the lone city council run-off that voters decided. Shelby Smith defeat Tom Buckner 60.9 percent to Buckner's 39.1 percent. (Election results here).

Steve Cabiedes, longtime political operative, came with the analysis:

Rio Rancho has been traditionally Republican so the mayor's race isn't much of a surprise. If there was a chance for Dems to score it was in the city council race because that district has a high Dem registration. But the low turnout of 12.5% in the district is not sufficient for a Democrat to get elected.

In the mayor's race the turnout was 11.4% of the city's 57, 488.


It was looking as if we might lose forever the historic downtown El Rey Theatre, but help is on the way:

It looks like new shows will be coming to Downtown Albuquerque’s El Rey Theater in about a month.
Local promoter Christopher Meyers and his partners have signed a five-year lease to operate the 14,000-square-foot El Rey. The theater became available last December after Hobbs-based Invision Entertainment stopped operating after a renovation and short run of offering Mexican pop acts.


That lament we ran April 4 from ABQ PR specialist Chris Cervini about how he was putting New Mexico in his rearview mirror went viral, with Facebook and many other postings. It also drew the scrutiny of reader Reuben Montes who writes:

Hi Joe: I know it's been a few weeks since your blog post on this but I found it odd that his "lament" about being forced to leave NM never mentions having pulled down a six figure salary while chief of staff to former Lt. Governor Diane Denish. I was similarly surprised that you described him as a "longtime Dem political operative" but you also neglected to mention his association with Denish.

He goes on to bemoan our state's economy as being "completely propped up by extractive industries and government jobs." Apparently "government jobs" are just dandy when you've got one, even an exempt one, and especially when you're pulling down 100 grand. He also makes a thinly veiled political jab when writing that he and his girlfriend arrived in 2002 (read: when Governor Richardson was elected) and the economy and everything was buzzing. Certainly, not the case now in this post Big Bill era.

But, alas, when your people are out of power so are you. Consequently, you're left jobless. These are the inherent risks of working for an elected official. His tail between his legs rant really left me unsympathetic. Anyhow, good luck Chris. You won't be missed.

Heck, Reuben. The way you rubbed it in maybe Cervini will stay around and run for elective office to get back at you. . . .

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Webber And Rael Top Dem Guv Fund-Raising Reports, But Race Still Hasn't Caught Fire As Susana Adds More To Her Bulging Coffers, Plus: Readers Weigh In With Fresh Angles On APD Mess 

The anemic five way race for the 2014 Democratic gubernatorial nomination failed to get a booster shot Monday when the contenders filed their financial reports covering the last six months.

The most obvious trend was how little the Dem hopefuls have raised and how commanding a cash position Governor Martinez continues to hold.

It was independently wealthy Santa Fe businessman Alan Webber who provided a mini-headline by pumping $450,000 of personal cash into his effort. His total fund-raising came in at about $811,000.

Months ago the Alligators said Webber would probably come with about $500,000 for the primary and he's now very close to that number. With cash on hand of $440,000 Webber outpaces his closet rival in that category--Lawrence Rael--by nearly two to one. Veteran government bureaucrat Rael reported $228,000 cash on hand as campaigning for thee June 3 primary intensifies. He came with a $177,000 loan to his campaign.

Gary King reported $89,000 in cash on hand. He loaned himself $100,000 during the period.

State Sen, Howie Morales has $46,000 in cash. He loaned himself $25,000. State Sen. Linda Lopez had $19,000 in cash on hand at the close of the reporting period April 7.

Then there's the Guv. She didn't have to loan herself a dime. She raised about $1.4 million during the last six months--despite the blackout for fundraising for her and the state Senators during and near the legislative session. She now has $4.2 million in cash and is already spending it on the first TV spot of the '14 campaign.

Independent analyst and former ABQ City Councilor Greg Payne says the money reports show Democrats have failed to excite their base voters and donors:

The messaging has been weak and the campaigns absent. For example, not one of the Democratic candidates showed up at the recent ABQ city council meeting that drew hundreds who protested the fatal shootings by the ABQ police department. This is a low-risk, low-reward field that is largely being ignored because no one sees them as a threat to Susana.

Payne now sees Webber and Rael as the front-runners for the nomination:

Neither have been especially invigorating, but what energy there is out there belongs to those two.

Money does talk--especially on TV--which remains a fundamental campaign pillar. Right now only Webber has enough to make a large buy and cover other campaign expenses. If he goes essentially unchallenged on the tube our analysts see him in a strong position come June 3.


We asked a number of our Alligators for specific comments on the finance reports. From Washington one of them comments on the Guv's standing,

I believe Gov. Richardson had over $5 million in his re-election account at this point in the campaign. Martinez lags that, but her team has to be comfortable where they are--especially when compared to the Dems. Her fund-raising could actually lag if donors don't see this as much of a race. But given the anemic fundraising of the Democrats and her strong poll numbers, it is not like Martinez needed to push hard to raise money.

On Alan Webber:

He did what he had to do, even though the GOP is criticizing him  for self-financing after he said he might not. He is doing about what we expected with his own money. He has a huge burn rate, with lots of staff, and expensive consultants to pay. Webber will now use most of his money to raise his name ID with TV ads.

On Lawence Rael:

That he had to loan himself $177,000 shows he had a tough time raising money. That plus his third place showing at the pre-primary convention are negatives. Still, with $228,000 in cash he will be on TV and if Morales can't get there, Rael will become the chief Hispanic challenger. Also, Rael is showing more moxie than Morales and that is helping.

On Howie Morales

He's looking shaky, considering he won the Democratic pre-primary. $46,000 cash on hand is not enough to compete. It's a big disappointment. However, he is a candidate who can expect outside help (such as teachers unions). He will need that help in the next few weeks if he is to get on TV and again become a bona fide contender. 

On Gary King:

A very rough report for him. He spent more than he raised including a $100,000 personal loan. Alan Webber's TV ads will eat into his support first. King now has to decide if he is going to throw more of his personal money at the race to keep in the running. 

On Linda Lopez

You got what you expected. Linda has never been a big fund-raiser. With only $20,000 on hand, this becomes a purely symbolic candidacy. 


Democratic state House Speaker Kenny Martinez is working hard to build a war chest to keep the chamber under control of the Dems and him in the Speaker's chair. Martinez's political action committee reports raising about $69,000 the past six months and now sports $114,000 in cash on hand. Meanwhile, SusanaPAC, run by Guv political adviser Jay McCleskey, and which will be the main vehicle to win the House for the R'S, reports raising $208,000 for the period and has $68,000 cash on hand.


Our blog Monday that assigned blame for the APD crisis and the damage done to our city's reputation directly to Mayor Berry as well as the city council brought reader reaction:

Joe, There are two groups that we should not exempt from blame. First, the Albuquerque business community who gave Berry almost $1,000,000 to his re-election campaign. Even with APD burning down and Albuquerque's economy collapsing, the business community ignored everything and gave Berry money to win the October election.  
Second, the 81% of Albuquerque voters who ignored everything during the election and stayed home.  They must blame themselves. And the 19% who did vote--the majority of them for Berry. They too ignored the facts and voted the party line.

Reader Charles Arasim writes of APD, DOJ and a reader comment here:

Joe, I appreciate your post today...spot on on all points. Being that I am one of the community advocates that has met with the DOJ. I am pushing another meeting with the DOJ and demand that at least one of us be present at any meeting the department has with any representative from the city. The back door deals have to stop now... As to your reader that thinks this a local issue and does not have the attention of President Obama or Attorney General Holder, he has no idea. There is no doubt this is being closely watched by both of them. My fear is that they are trying to contain it as the outcome will most definitely effect law enforcement across this country for decades to come. The whole world is watching.

Attorney Rosario Vega Lynn writes of reader Oliver's contention that ABQ is a cow town and the powers-that be in DC don't give us a second look:

I don't think Albuquerque is The Big Nothing. It is that kind of mentality that has kept people apathetic for too long. The "I don't have to do anything because it won't matter" attitude is what kept people from voting during the last mayoral election. Obama gave his condolences about recent shootings which involved three people. We have had 37 shootings since 2010. I think that, at the very least, merits a comment from our president and I think that merits a comment from Attorney General Holder. I also think the city council needs to get new attorneys and stop relying on David Tourek who clearly has a conflict. For some unknown reason, the city council seems to believe that the actions of the city are acceptable and they "can do nothing." Why do they believe that? My only conclusion is they are getting bad legal advice.

Another reader agrees:

Joe, the response that ABQ is of little consequence if off the mark. It is another ploy to tone down the APD crime scene. In 2012 ABQ was the 32nd largest city of these United States- we have 2 US senators the same as California, NY and Texas. We have two of the major National Labs responsible for maintaining the Nuclear Arsenal of the US. In the financial world NM PERA often is cited as a significant pension fund. But keeping things 'In perspective" as your reader wrote, we are not a top 20 city or state; but with Attorney General Holder in my mind--he was watching instead of participating. Significant change in this nation started in Selma, AL. and at Kent State University in Ohio as well as other small cities.


The venting over the performance of ABQ Mayor Richard Berry when it comes to APD continues. Reader Jason Fejer writes:

Was anyone really surprised that Mayor Berry did not attend the recent city council meeting where hundreds of citizens protested APD? Mayor Berry decided to skip the meeting, addressing APD issues and problems this administration has long ignored. Berry has a carved out a pattern of ducking out of any venue that might harbor an opposing view or difficult questions.

Leading up to the mayoral election in September of 2013, Mayor Berry opted out of a Public Safety Forum hosted by the police and fire unions. I suppose it is too much to ask of an elected official speak on public safety policies and issues in a room filled with those sworn to protect the citizens of Albuquerque. His failure to acknowledge the first responders is a huge reason why the APD spun out of control under this administration.

The Mayor has also shown his reluctance to attend meetings regarding his plans to redevelop the Bosque. He has either been a no show or cancelled events that had large numbers turn out in opposition of Mayor Berry's plans.

When will Albuquerque realize that Mayor Berry lacks the vision and confidence needed to change the current trajectory of this city? The "steady and responsible leadership" he centered his re-election campaign on has turned out to be a "steady decline and inability to responsibly lead."

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Monday, April 14, 2014

How Did It Ever Come To This? Impact Of APD Crisis On City's Future Starts To Sink In, Plus: Assigning Blame For The City's Disgrace, And: Battle Possible Over Who Will Be APD Federal Monitor 

How did it ever come to this? The reality of what we are facing is only now setting in---millions of dollars to reform APD, many millions more to settle lawsuits, federal watchdogs overseeing the department for years to come, the terrible toll on the city's reputation around the globe and perhaps the loss of a promising economic future. Not to mention the devastating human toll. The Justice Department says many of those killed by police officers the past five years died needlessly.

Other cities have faced this. Detroit and Newark were both found by Justice to have runaway police cultures and federal oversight was mandated. But unlike Albuquerque those cities were already clearly defined in the national consciousness as failures. ABQ's identity is more blurry.

We are not a metro area of millions. We have been a slow grower--gradually entering the American mainstream. Curiosity about us was at its peak before the Great Recession as national media labeled us the next hot spot. Then the recession hit and the city went quiet. Then Justice hit and the city fell to the canvass.

Overcoming the millions of dollars worth of negative publicity we've received over the police crisis--combined with our lack of an economic plan for the future--will be like having a foot on our throat as we try to get up off the floor.


You can spin it a thousand times over, but you keep coming back to the same conclusion. The blame for this lies with those in power. Sure, Mayor Chavez can be criticized for how he handled APD, but to blame him for this mess is absurd. Here's the tell: When Mayor Berry took office he faced a big budget shortfall. He took action. He didn't say, "Well, my predecessor screwed up and there's nothing we can do. We have to live with deficits." He did his job and balanced the budget.

But in the matter of APD and the police shootings Berry did the opposite.  He did little or nothing. Even if he were handed a mess, he abdicated his responsibility to clean it up.

It needs to be said--for the sake of accuracy--for the sake of history--for the sake of the truth--that Mayor Berry did not do his job. He failed. He needs to be blamed and accept the blame. That's a fundamental tenet of democratic government.

This is not an editorial, an opinion or an axe to grind. Our Mayor had the power to shake-up APD and implement major changes but he repeatedly refused to do so and the shootings continued. He failed. That is fact.

Our elected city councilors also failed. Let's say it again. They failed. They did not do their jobs. They looked the other way. They should have marched on the 11th floor of City Hall and demanded change from the executive. Instead, we have marchers in the street after blood has been spilled needlessly and continuously for years.

Future generations will study and learn from these epic failures by the ABQ mayor and council. At least we hope they will.


The media (with the exception of the newspaper) no longer handle Mayor Berry with kid gloves. His insistence that he is now an agent for change remain unconvincing.

This statement from one of the two outside "experts" Berry brought in to help negotiate terms of a reform agreement with Justice is an example why:

"Everything is fixable,” Greenwood said, pointing out that APD doesn’t have corruption issues and criminal element problems. “It’s not going to require generational change.”

No corruption issues? No criminal element problems? Hello. Levi Chavez? Hello, Mary Han?

Is this already an effort to contain the reform? Sure seems that way. As one reader writes:

If Berry and the DOJ are BFF’s like Berry says, why does he need to waste our tax dollars on outside counsel? Shouldn’t City Attorney David Tourek be able to negotiate with DOJ? If Berry favors doing what DOJ wants as he says he is, can’t the city attorney handle this? Why are we spending this money? Shouldn’t we wait until negotiations are at an impasse before we shell out thousands of our dollars? Or maybe Berry and DOJ aren’t kissing cousins after all.


Our law enforcement experts and Alligators tell us if the city council--newly awakened in the wake of the DOJ report--really want to make a difference it needs to move quickly to involve itself in the naming of the federal monitor to oversee APD reforms.

That's exactly what happened in Seattle when Justice got involved with their PD. The city council there headed off a move by the city's mayor to stop the appointment of a federal monitor who he and the police department there did not find acceptable. Now it's our council's turn to make sure the mayor and police leadership that brought us this crisis do not have veto power over the monitor who is supposed to right the ship.

One of our Legal Beagles picks up the story:

Who ultimately becomes the federal monitor defines the climate of how DOJ's demands will be implemented. Mayor Berry obviously favors a softer hand while DOJ and the citizens favor a firmer approach. There is no playbook for how this is done and it has varied in each city. But Berry is already positioning himself to influence if not select the federal monitor. Since the city council has had such a laissez-fair attitude towards Berry's failures with APD are they going to let him control this process as well? If so, I expect we will see more of the same which has been window dressing and inaction which ultimately means DOJ will be here for a very, very long time. Things are far from clear.

2000 WORDS

David Correia is an assistant professor of American Studies at UNM who is a veteran student and critic of APD practices. He comes with 2000 words on the DOJ report on the department--including these:

The report ends with a list of 46 suggested remedies to APD’s pattern of “unconstitutional policing” but no explanation for how those changes will come about. Meanwhile, DOJ is in negotiations with Chief Gorden Eden and Mayor Richard Berry. DOJ got so much right in this report. But what they’re now getting wrong may undo all the effort that’s gone before it: DOJ, unfortunately, believes that the very people who created these conditions should be the ones who fix it.


Our zeal (and that of many of our readers) to win strong federal oversight of APD led us to engage in a bit of hyperbole, says reader Oliver. He busted us with this missive:

Great coverage and sentiments on the APD issue. But respectfully, Joe, I think you are falling victim to some lack of perspective on how fundamentally local this issue is. In the past few days, you have written: Obama and Attorney General  Holder need to lead the city out of the wilderness. Really, they do? I doubt the President is even aware of the issue (he has much bigger fish to fry!) and I bet Holder is minimally aware, if that. 

A bad DOJ/City agreement will spell deep trouble for the White House. The White House? Really? APD is a *hugely* important issue for ABQ citizens but, come on, this is basically a Southwest cow town--we are not on the day-to-day White House radar!

AG Holder should have presented the agreement? Really? You think this rises to the level of an AG appearance? The country's top law enforcement official should be piddling around Downtown ABQ with Berry and his band of merry men? I think leaving it in the hands of a Civil Rights Division official was just fine--that's what staff is for.

Its important to step out of the day-to-day noise of our lives and keep things in perspective. In a nation of almost 350 million people, a police problem in a fly over town of 500,000 is a big, big nothing!

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Friday, April 11, 2014

Court Enforcement Of Strong Agreement Seen As Key To APD Reform; Justice And ABQ Sit Down; Optimists Look For Major Reform; Pessimists Fear Delay And Weakness; Justice Gets High Marks For Findings, But Scored For Lack Of Clarity For Remedy; Berry Does The Bob And Weave 

For the nation it may have been scathing but the findings of the US Justice Department that APD has repeatedly violated the Constitutional rights of citizens and needlessly slain many bordered on the anti-climatic. The crisis has been playing out before us for four years like a nightmare that goes in slow motion. Many immediately jumped to the next question: What is going to be done about it?

The optimists (and many legal observers) say that it won't be long before the city and Justice enter into a court-ordered reform agreement overseen by an appointed Federal Monitor similar to what has happened in Seattle, Detroit and other cities with troubled departments.

The pessimists--having seen APD reform efforts unveiled and then left to gather dust--fret that Justice--even with court backing may be stonewalled as has happened in other cities that have had DOJ involvement. They also chided Justice for an overly conciliatory tone toward Mayor Berry, even though that may be a ploy to save face for Berry who must now negotiate an agreement.

They also said Justice did a poor job at its news conference in explaining exactly what they were pursuing as a remedy. It left many confused. Justice said it "often retains" a Monitor.  But that's not the same as "we will retain a monitor." By the end of the day media was reporting with more certainty that Justice intended to negotiate a court enforced Monitor agreement with the city, not a "gentleman's agreement."

And others wondered where was Attorney General Eric Holder? Why didn't he make the trip to ABQ and explain with clarity and force just what the department means and what it wants?

As commentator Gene Grant framed it:

"Something has to happen where folks feel APD is not correcting itself."

Here's how the DOJ describes its future relationship with the city:

The Department of Justice will monitor any agreement that results in our agreements {with the city}. We also often retain the services of the independent monitor to provide expert assistance and level of accountability and reassurance to the community that reforms are being implemented,” said Jocelyn Samuels with the DOJ.

Correct and bureaucratic? Yes.  Easily understandable and having force? Not so much.


Rep. Grisham
On the optimistic side is Dem US Sens. Heinrich and Udall:

We hope that the city of Albuquerque and the Department of Justice will continue to cooperate in good faith with the involvement of the community, and that they will work swiftly to develop a comprehensive court-enforceable plan to improve safety, protect citizens' constitutional rights, and rebuild trust between law enforcement and the public.

And ABQ Dem US Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham:

After being briefed by the DOJ, I am confident that we are headed toward a court-enforced consent decree with strong federal oversight to ensure real reform of Albuquerque’s police department. 

The DOJ’s conclusions are extremely serious, and the city should immediately agree to all of the recommendations in order to begin to restore the community’s trust in the Albuquerque Police  Department.


Ralph Arellanes of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) explains where we are at in the APD-Justice process:

The USDOJ will pursue a "voluntary" consent decree. If the APD were to cooperate with 100% of the corrective actions the USDOJ recommends, then it would become a court ordered consent decree and it would be monitored by the courts. If the APD does not agree with or voluntarily accept the recommended changes mandated by the USDOJ, then the DOJ would file a federal lawsuit against the APD and the courts would then mandate the consent decree and monitor APD's compliance of the consent decree. 

This is the civil part of the investigation. Some of these cases have been referred to the criminal division of the USDOJ for criminal proceedings. That said, the community must remain vigilant and engaged.


DOJ Presser (Aranda--Daily Lobo)
Observers say it is not unusual for lengthy negotiations to take place between Justice and a city in order to arrive at a court monitored reform agreement. It could take months. (Say it isn't so).

They also say it is not the Justice style to be confrontational and that this is a long term game, with the Feds here for many years. Still, that did not stop the critics from assailing Justice for being too "chummy" with a Mayor who has presided over the undoing of APD.

This was a severe report on APD and anything less than a court-backed Monitor would seem a cop-out, but Berry, CAO Perry and APD can be expected to fight for a weak agreement.

As we said above, Justice on Thursday seemed to be giving the Berry administration some cover to get on board by emphasizing how cooperative everyone has been thus far. If the two sides can't keep it together their disagreements would break out into public via the courts, with Justice suing the city to force it to reform the department. (If it really means business).

Then there are all of those who lost loved ones in the fatal police shootings. Justice and the Mayor keep talking about moving forward, but there were many calls for Justice to launch criminal probes into more of the shootings in the aftermath of the Thursday news conference. That, they said, would be true accountability.


Retired APD Seargent Dan Klein checks in with this:

I listened to the DOJ press conference again and they state that APD only has 836 sworn officers!  We are now down almost 300 officers and falling fast. Chief Eden better revamp the structure of APD fast and get everyone as a 911 first responder or there are not going to be enough officers working the field.

Another law enforcement observer told us that some of the Justice reforms seem pretty generic and boilerplate. He wondered if the police slaying of homeless camper James Boyd that recently caused a national uproar may have had Justice rushing its report.


Mayor Berry followed the Justice Department news conference with one of his own and brought along Chief Eden. Berry danced around the most penetrating questions like: Do you take responsibility for the APD implosion?

It was a vanilla performance in reaction to one of the biggest black eyes ever given to the city of Albuquerque and it brought out his critics, including Dem political strategist Alan Packman who was an aide to Berry mayoral challenger Pete Dinelli in last October's election:

Berry continued to show what a disaster his handling of APD has been. Instead of addressing the DOJ issues directly, he came out in full spin mode. When does the spin stop and the solutions start? On the day when the rest of the nation is reading about how his department is totally out of control, he continues to play political games, blame former Mayor Chavez and do everything except take responsibility for what happened. All politics aside, this is his worst day as a leader of this city.

Berry repeatedly referred to a "spike" in police shootings in 2010 and how the fatal shootings have slowed the past three years. But the police killing of James Boyd that sparked street protests demonstrates that the cultural disorder at APD has not faded.


 (Adolphe Pierre-Louis--Journal)
It was mostly bureaucratic gobbledygook--no passion, no human element really noticeable in the Justice and Berry news conferences. Lots of political two-stepping.

Thanks to ABQ police union president Stephanie Lopez we got a look at the human side as she delivered an emotional TV interview, pledging ABQ police would try to to do better--much better.

She was regretful about the place we are in and she gets an Alligator medal for taking ownership of something no one else will.


There's no question that our police officers have it in them to make the changes needed. Look at this news:

Officer Tasia Martinez says officers responding to a 911 call about a man threatening suicide and shooting a gun found him in an alley near a store and still armed with the gun. According to Martinez, the man pointed the gun at himself as officers approached but they were able to persuade him to put the gun down. He then was taken into custody.

We don't have the names of those officers, but we're sure Chief Eden will give them the pat on the back they richly deserve. Yes, APD can be a community-friendly department. Well done, fellas.


How will the negotiations between the City and Justice go? Alligator analysis: 

Will the negotiations start as a cooperative effort then bleed into an adversarial dynamic? The real question is how aggressive will DOJ be in the event they have to compel ABQ to perform. The news conference by DOJ tells me they will not be very aggressive because they aren't now. There is nothing at all that suggests this administration will do anything in support of real reforms or real accountability because they have not done anything for the last four years. Their tactic is delay, delay, delay and avoid accountability.

And a final Alligator strike:

Only in a bureaucracy do you hear anyone say that a police department has a lack of oversight and ineffective policies and at the same time it says it wants to continue discussions with the same ineffective department heads.

Thanks for stopping by this week.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Justice Hammers APD But Does Not Lower The Legal Hammer, Plus: Reader Email And Some Bottom Lines For A New Mexico Thursday 

"A hammer without nails" is how one Tweet described today's Justice Department announcement that the ABQ police department has indeed violated the Constitution by using unreasonable and excessive force. But Justice held off on openly saying they are going for a court-enforced agreement and the appointment of a Federal Monitor who would be installed to oversee the many changes Justice is recommending.

Peter Simonson of the NM ACLU said:

"We heard much of what we wanted to but we hoped we would hear of a court enforced agreement. That was not part of the dialogue. I don't think a genetleman's agreement with APD will succeed. Still we are looking forward and not looking back and our focus is on taking positive community steps."

As the day wore on, it became clear that Justice and the city will enter negotiations for a court enforced reform agreement that includes a Federal monitor to oversee it.

 More to come. . . .

From earlier today.....

Can the US Justice Department calm the storm? That's the question the city and state await answering today as Justice unveils its reforms for the troubled ABQ police department. The report--nearly a year and a half in the making--comes only days ofter street protests erupted in the state's largest city over the fatal police shooting of homeless camper James Boyd--one of 23 men shot to death by officer since Mayor Berry took office in December 2009.

Today's 10 a.m. news conference will be broadcast live on KRQE-TV and also streamed from the station website. You can also follow developments as they unfold on Twitter and Facebook. We'll post an update on the blog at the end of the news conference.

All parties will be waiting to see how strong a hand Justice plays and how it perceives the future federal role here. Chief among the questions: What role will the Federal courts play in ensuring that Justice's reforms are not stonewalled? And will the Feds reforms go far enough in reversing the APD culture that is widely cited as being at the root of the problem?


A reader writes of the hiring of a deputy chief at APD to oversee the Justice reforms:

I have to disagree with your opening line in Wednesday's post in which you said Mayor Berry would be criticized even if he hired the Pope. If APD hired the Pope, no one would complain, for they would have hired someone from outside the department, with moral authority and with the power to enact change. Instead, we get another insider.

A Senior Alligator writes:

Joe, you are a blessing to this community. Your Wednesday blog pointing out what Mayor Berry doesn't see is so important. Berry and his guys are unaware of how separated from the mainstream of our community they are. The ethnicity issue is the third rail of NM politics and all the Hispanic Democrats I know are aware of it. Long time Anglo politicians in the community are aware of it. This new breed of Republicans doesn't get it about New Mexico. New Mexico has been a good place to raise a family because our politicians have tried to strike a balance with their hiring and policies as far as race and ethnicity is concerned.

By the way, the Senior Alligator who said here Wednesday that the city council had "recently" approved an ordinance outlawing people from sleeping in their cars in city neighborhoods was mistaken. That law has been on the books for a while.


UNM School of Law student John Mitchell writes:

I agree that there should be concern about the "hue" of our leaders. It seems that everybody wants to ignore the issue of class warfare. I urge everybody to review the pictures of the Support the APD rally. A vast majority seem to be the same hue as the leadership. Why are they supporting the APD? Because they are not targeted due to there skin color and socioeconomic status. It is time to recognize that this APD issue is another act of class warfare and an attempt to maintain a permanent underclass in Albuquerque.

Reader Joe Barela of Rio Rancho writes of Gov. Martinez's first campaign TV ad:

I was struck by how brazen she was to tout that under her watch that New Mexicans had it so much better. The ad came on right after very depressing news about APD, shootings, education, the economy, etc. It was quite a contrast. It reminded me of the movie called the “Hunger Games.” It really does make me wonder if the New Mexico voter is going to believe.


Maybe we're all getting frantic for something to happen. Reader Steve Crespin comes with this:

As we all know the state has no incentive money to bring industry to New Mexico,however we do have one thing we could offer Tesla; the Spaceport. They need a lot of land and there is a lot of land, it's between Albuquerque and Las Cruces for employees and there is a huge runway they could use to fly in and out. Lease it to them for $1.00 per year with the understanding they have to stay no less then 20 years, have to maintain all of the facilities and roads to the Space Port at their own expense. It would get New Mexico out of that huge expensive mistake and create jobs. If we don't do something with the Space Port it will turn into abandoned mess like the old out let mart between Santa Fe and Albuquerque.


The camp of Rep. Steve Pearce reacts to the news that Rocky Lara, his Dem challenger, has raised $300,000 in the year's first quarter. They say Republican Pearce raised $360,000 in the 1st quarter and has $1.4 million in cash-on-hand. They also say they are looking at how much of the money Rocky raised comes from New Mexico and specifically the southern congressional district. . .


And now ladies and gentleman yet another episode in the continuing series from the "Most Transparent Administration In State History:"

The Martinez administration contends court enforcement of the state Inspection of Public Records Act to make the governor and state agencies turn over travel records would violate the U.S. Constitution. Legal documents filed in state District Court by lawyers representing Gov. Martinez and some state agencies say the public records law is “pre-empted” by the Supremacy Clause in the U.S. Constitution--and that the records being sought by The Associated Press would require a warrant under federal law.

Can't you just picture a reporter banging on the Guvs door and yelling:  "Let us in. We have a warrant!"


Joe Monahan
Senator Udall is inviting college students interested in gaining legislative or press relations experience to apply for internships in his Albuquerque, Carlsbad, Las Cruces, Portales and Santa Fe offices. More info here. . . .

There will be two not three Dem candidates on the June 3 primary ballot for state treasurer. Patrick Padilla was knocked off the ballot after losing a challenge to his petitions filed by rival John Wertheim. ABQ's Tim Eichenberg is the other candidate seeking the Dem nod. . . . 

ABQ Dem state Sen. Jacob Candelaria reacts to the news that NM ranks among the top 10 states in low obesity:

We should be leading the nation in promoting healthy lifestyles to combat the long term effects of obesity. I plan to ask several interim committees to address the issue this year. I do this because greatly reducing obesity rates is critical to the health of New Mexicans, and because I too have had to battle this disease (having lost 150+ pounds through diet and exercise.

Rather that having a legislative hearing, Senator, you might want to write a book and tell us how you lost 150 pounds. . . .

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Wednesday, April 09, 2014

City Hall's White Hue Becoming Noticeable In APD Crisis; Where Are The Faces Of Color? Plus: New Deputy Chief Hire Questioned, Reawakened City Council Examined, And: Susana Makes '14 TV Debut 

Mayor Berry
As one wag put it, Mayor Berry could hire the Pope and they'd still complain. And so it is with Berry's decision to hire a 4th deputy chief to oversee the Justice Department reforms that are going to be ordered Thursday.

Never mind that Bob Huntsman, the retired APD commander named to the new slot, may be just dandy, but it is yet another White face in a sea of brown, black, red and yellow that is modern day Albuquerque. Where are those faces as we face down the most serious APD crisis in history?

The Anglo dominance of the city administration is overwhelming. It includes Mayor Berry and his PIO, Chief Administrative Officer Perry, City Attorney Tourek, Police Chief Eden, Crime Center Director T.J. Wilham and now Huntsman.

ABQ's population is 47% Hispanic, nearly 5 percent Native American and 3 percent African-American. That's 55 percent. The entire Anglo population is 41% Where are the faces of color in the halls of power at City Hall and APD? They are few and far between and it is compounding the trust problem between the government and its citizens. Not to mention that many--if not most--of the 23 police shooting fatalities since 2010 have been Hispanic and African-Americans.

It's yet another matter for the Justice Department to remedy as we look for a top to bottom rebuilding of a deeply dysfunctional department--one that is not only isolated from the community by a runaway culture but by ethnicity.


Criticism of the Huntsman appointment: It seems rushed and designed to trump the DOJ. Why could it not have waited? Why could it not have been done in consultation with the DOJ whose reforms Berry wants Huntsman to oversee?  Is this another political hire? The job was obviously not put out to bid. And why hire an old APD hand if you are truly intend to go in a new direction? And many more. . .

We all know the bottom line. Thursday is do or die. We either get an announcement that a Federal Monitor will be appointed by DOJ who has the full backing of a Federal court to implement change and who will oversee Huntsman and Eden--and not the other way around--or we muddle through with some kind of compromise that sets up both the city, the DOJ (and the White House) for deep trouble down the road. . .


Now more insightful analysis and commentary from a Senior Alligator who speaks of the recently reawakened ABQ city council:

All of a sudden we have city councilors who are taking police issues seriously. Where have they been the last 4 1/2 years? I see all sorts of ideas coming from our now awakened council but not a single proposal to repeal laws that make being poor and homeless illegal. Remember the ordinance that prohibits sleeping in your car? Well, why doesn’t the council repeal that law that is only directed at the poor? This law puts police in direct conflict with a poor person, instead of getting that person help.

From the LA Times as ABQ continues to make the wrong kind of national news:

"They treat you like you're out looking to cause trouble every time they talk to you," Michael Gonzagowski said. For him, the (Alfred) Redwine shooting was the last straw. ABQ Police Chief Gorden Eden said Redwine was armed and fired a gun before officers shot him during a standoff at a public housing complex. But Wynema Gonzagowski, a 53-year-old film technician who said she witnessed the entire incident, said she didn't see a gun on Redwine and that he had his arms down, with his palms out, when officers shot him."They didn't warn him, they didn't tell him to freeze and get on the ground or to put his hand behind his head. They just opened fire," she said. Since 2010, Albuquerque police have shot 37 people, 23 of them fatally. The shootings have prompted the U.S. Justice Department to open an investigation into police conduct.

APD still has not released lapel video of the March 25th shooting of Redwine in a SW ABQ neighborhood. The chief has previously said the video is being "processed."


It may be like this the entire year--Democrats trying to play catch-up with Governor Martinez who is armed with a massive war chest and who began spending it this week on the first TV ad of the '14 campaign. Meanwhile, the five Democrats seeking their party's nomination in the June 3 primary are desperately trying to raise the money needed to get up TV ads of their own. Right now, they are all dark.

Martinez, as expected, comes out of the gate in positive mode, touting what she sees as her administration's accomplishments. But what stands out for us about the ad is how she twice directly appeals to Hispanic voters in her 60 second spot.

At the front of the ad we are reminded that  Martinez is "the first Hispanic woman governor in American history." And the tag for the ad is "She's our Governor--Susana Martinez"--with the stress on "our." It's a clear play on ethnic pride.

And therein lies a key Dem problem--reclaiming Democratic Hispanics who strayed to Martinez in 2010 and made possible her victory.

As for the ad's optics, Martinez does well reading her prepared script and comes across as approachable and earnest. It's this persona not the policies which Democrats have failed to indict that continues to carry the day for her.

The bulk of the ad deals with what Martinez perceives as her major accomplishments and it underlines just how thin the gruel has been in Santa Fe these past four years. So thin that the ad pounces on esoteria like "export growth" to bolster the incumbent, saying New Mexico is "#1 in export growth." That was true at at one point in her term but not now:

 . . .The state, overall in 2013, lost $200 million in exports. . . U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis said . . . ;New Mexico, in total, exported $2.71 billion in 2013. However, state exports in 2012 for the state were $2.96 billion. Overall, the state lost almost seven percent of its exports in 2013.

And the ad trots out that favorite canard of the Guv--that she solved the largest state deficit ever and did it "without raising taxes."

But taxes were raised by her predecessor to solve the budget shortfall and further, as Democratic state Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino has pointed out:

She did not inherit the largest deficit in New Mexico history. Martinez was sworn in on January 1, 2011. The budget gap then was nowhere near as bad as the ones faced by the previous administration and Legislature in the Januarys of 2009 or 2010.

And as the AP noted, the elephant in the room---the terrible jobs environment here--is entirely ignored in the TV spot:

The ad doesn't mention that New Mexico ranked last regionally in job growth in the 12 months ending in February.

And even as Martinez was making her '14 campaign TV debut the news that has haunted this Governor's term since its inception kept coming:

New Mexico was one of three states that lost jobs in the 12 months that ended Feb. 28, and its manufacturing sector suffered the highest rate of job losses of any state, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. New Mexico’s manufacturing sector shed 1,800 jobs over the year, for a 6.1 percent decline. The industry has had 15 consecutive months of over-the-year monthly job losses. . .  At February’s end, New Mexico had 812,100 nonfarm jobs, 4.4 percent below the peak of 849,700 in February 2008, the BLS said.

And those are not government jobs being lost which the administration continues to cite as the main reason for the state's economic decline. We are declining in a variety of sectors and our population stagnation bears witness to it.

The producers of political ads on all sides are so cavalier these days that they often don't even cite citations for the facts they assert. Such is the case with Martinez's first ad.

The money is so huge--and the audience already so skeptical--that even aggressive fact checking by the media and the opposition often fails to debunk even the big whoppers. And it is the negative ads that seem to move public opinion  more. We bet prosecutor Martinez will enjoy that aspect of the campaign much more than trying to make a hearty stew out of a record that in reality is the aforementioned thin gruel.


Reader Troy Williams writes of the Guv's first TV spot:

Susana's TV ad claims we are #1 in something--export growth. I think I may agree with her--we are exporting New Mexicans right out of our state--quicker than any other state.

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