Friday, May 22, 2015

Friday Flashback: Clyde Tingley And Dennis Chavez 

Here’s a historic political cartoon that we presume was drawn in 1935 when NM Governor Clyde Tingley appointed Dennis Chavez to the US Senate seat held by Republican Senator Bronson Cutting who died in a plane crash while traveling to Washington. It’s interesting to note that the artist shows Chavez embarking for the nation’s capital by train instead of by plane. (Chavez was elected to the U.S. House in 1930).

The cartoonist gently pokes fun at Chavez’s chances at competing with the success Tingley had in bringing federal projects to New Mexico during the Depression years of the 30’s. Tingley’s close relationship with President Roosevelt was key to his success as both Governor and during his time as ABQ’s de facto Mayor.

If the assumption was indeed that Chavez could not compete with Tingley’s success, Dennis Chavez proved the cartoonist wrong. He went on to a US Senate career that brought massive amounts of federal largess to the state, including the construction of the two national laboratories and the expansion of the state’s military presence. As chairman of the Senate Public Works Committee he flexed his muscles for New Mexico.

Chavez’s career was bookended by senatorial appointments. As we mentioned, he was appointed to fill the Cutting vacancy. When he died in office in 1962 GOP Gov. Mechem had his lieutenant governor—Tom Bolack—appoint him to fill the Chavez vacancy. When Mechem sought a full term in 1964 he was defeated by Democrat Joseph Montoya.

The Tingley accomplishments listed in the cartoon still stand—the Zoo, Tingley Beach etc. They have been updated and modernized but remain a constant reminder of the generation who built Albuquerque from a rural farming community into a major city.

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Education Leaders Face New Population Reality And Colorado Governor Offers NM An Example For Attracting Biz 

Kathy Winograd, Garrey Carruthers and Bob Frank are among the first to face down the new New Mexico--the one that for the first time in its modern history experienced a year-over-year drop in its population growth. All of them are leaders of higher education institutions in the state and all are seeing precipitous drops in student enrollment due to the population drop--especially as younger people flee to greener pastures where jobs are more plentiful and pay better than those here. The education leaders are scrambling as they confront shrinking budgets based on student enrollment. What to do?. . .

There does not appear to be any short-term solution to the malaise. States like Colorado, Texas and Arizona that are generating the jobs are less than a day's drive away. That easy exit is also hurting our ability to keep professionals who can easily cross the state line to set up shop and improve their status.

A reader points out that we have some great schools here--among them NM Tech, the ABQ Academy and a number of charter schools, to mention some, but it's hard for them to compete with what he calls a "statewide economic disaster."

Maybe that's overstating the case but for Winograd, Carruthers and Frank it probably rings  more true than they'd like.


It's been somewhat surprising that after five years our Republican governor and ABQ mayor have yet to land one big business fish, the kind that all at once would add a couple thousand jobs. Meanwhile, up in Denver the Colorado governor is literally having business executives over to the house for home cooked steaks to sell them on his state. It is working. A lesson for our leaders who have lagged in attracting business opportunities.

Carly Fiorina will speak at a NM GOP fundraiser May 30. In a first draft we blogged another date.

Enjoy the holiday weekend. We've got a fun history blog for you tomorrow. Otherwise. we'll see you back in this space Tuesday.

Reporting this week from Lake Como and Florence, Italy, I'm Joe Monahan.

Thanks for stopping by.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Change Noted In Tone Of Senate Powerhouses Smith And Papen and Memories Of Seven Foot Pickett 

Papen & Smith
There's been a marked change in tone in recent weeks from Democratic State Senate powerhouses John Arthur Smith and Mary Kay Papen when it comes to the Martinez administration. One of the Alligators puts it this way:

I wonder if John Arthur and Mary Kay are rethinking their strategy of playing kissy-face with Governor Martinez over these last 5 years. Seems like it's really paying off for them. Not.

What Senate Finance Committee Chair Smith and Senate President Pro Tem Papen are hearing are the footsteps of the Governor's political machine. After five years of playing--as our Gator puts it--"kissy face" the pair seems to be absorbing the lesson House Democrats learned the hard way--no matter how they try to compromise or placate the machine, it will not take the target off their backs.

Smith and Papen are not in any apparent danger of losing their seats in the '16 election when all 42 Senators are up for election, but if the Senate were taken over by the R's--as the House was in '14--Smith and Papen would be relegated to the sidelines. There's nothing like the threat of losing their relevancy to galvanize a politician.

Why it took so long for Smith and Papen to realize what's going on is another story. But Smith's stubbornness with Martinez over a possible special legislative session and Papen's aggressive critique of the administration's behavioral health polices signal that kissy face politics has seen its peak.


We've noted that NM is being counted as safely in the Dem column for the '16 presidential race but we will see contenders come here looking for cash, if not votes. On June 3 Hillary Clinton will be in ABQ for a $2,700 a head fund-raiser at the home of Ed Romero, who served as ambassador to Spain under Bill Clinton. If you raise $27,000 for Hillary you get to go to a separate event and become part of the "Hillstarters." How's that for a thrill? On the GOP side,  Republican Carly Fiorina, a  '16 GOP hopeful and former CEO for Hewlett-Packard, will headline a NM GOP dinner  May 30.


We were surprised that a number of readers remember "Seven Foot Pickett," the NM politico active in the 50's and who we recalled on last Friday's blog. Dan Lewis of Cerrillos sent us this photo he snapped of the big fella back in the day:

Joe, this is from 1956 NM Boys Nation at NM Military Institute in Roswell. It's Seven Foot Pickett with a shorter Boys Nation staffer who is standing on a cone. Sorry the bottom third of photo was double exposed-- old 35mm Kodak with manual advance.

Vetearn NM political observer Carroll Caggle offers this story:

Joe, Maurice Trimmer, who served as press secretary to Governor Jack Campbell, told of a time when Seven-foot Pickett was running for re-election but could not make it to a parade in Tucumcari, so he asked Trimmer if he might drive his (Pickett’s) car in the parade – all adorned with banners and “Seven-foot” regalia and posters.

Trimmer agreed --- but found when he got into the car that the seat had been permanently readjusted and bolted down far, far away from the steering wheel, and lowered, to accommodate the candidate’s tall frame. Trimmer was forced to sit far back, and down, to the point where he could barely reach the steering wheel with his fingertips, and his head was just barely visible above the door frame. As he drove through Tucumcari, he would reach his hand up and wave at the crowds on the sidewalk, who could see only a hand and a tiny part of the top of Trimmer’s head.

The folks on the sidewalks gamely, but wanly, waved back, doubtless wondering what had happened to the towering, gangling frame of Seven-foot Pickett.

That's a great yarn Carroll. Thanks for sharing.

Jerome Block in Santa Fe writes:

Hey, Joe: My dad, Johnny Block, served with Ingram Pickett in the 1950's. I remember visiting with him many times when I was a kid. In case you didn't know, he was a member of the famous "Keystone Cops" back in the early days of movie making.

And one more Seven Foot Picket memory from reader John Ingram:

Joe, As a grade-schooler growing up in Portales, I well remember this popular politician not because of his height, but because of his name. At one time, I even had one of his campaign "rulers" as portrayed in the photo on your blog. Thanks for the memories!


Wall Gordon, who we quoted on the blog this week, works for the Edgwood Independent newspaper, not the East Mountain Telegraph. That paper no longer exists. . . . Reader Ellen Wedum writes; "Joe, Jeffery Baker spoke on the blog  of "several hundred" prisoners at Guantanamo. As of 1-15-2015, there were only 122, and 56 of those have been cleared for release.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Sandia Skiing: A Climate Change Casualty? Plus: Siting Santolina, Nuke Waste In NM, Garduno Goes And Readers Opine On Best Of NM 

Don't think climate change is here and now? Well, in ABQ look no further than to the East and the imposing Sandia Mountains. That's the focus of this eyebrow raising news from Wally Gordon of the East Mountain Telegraph:

Because our warmer, drier climate is producing less snow, the Sandia Ski Area is in serious trouble. Most years it loses money, and it usually opens late, closes early, or both. Now, I have been told it is seriously considering closing down. If this next ski season is again a bust, it may be the ski area’s last. The only factor that has thus far prolonged the ski area’s life may be the high cost, perhaps a million dollars, of moving all its equipment and facilities out of the national forest, as required by its contract. But one more winter disaster, I have heard, would tip the scales in favor of swallowing the loss and closing down.

The Sandia's without skiing would be like the Pit without basketball. Pretty much unimaginable, but such is our world today.

Now let's swing all the way over to the far West of ABQ where Reader Kevin Wenderoth writes of the proposed massive development project known as Santolina:

The Bernalillo County Commissioners postponed a vote on whether to approve the Santolina housing development on the west side. Why isn't ABQ Mayor Berry and the City Council doing more to stop this suburban sprawl madness? Considering his decent record on public transportation, why isn't the Mayor and his administration trying to coax these developers into investing this money into urban Albuquerque? Into communities that already exist! There are so many parking lots in downtown Albuquerque just begging to be taken for infill development. Hopefully the Bernalillo County Commissioners do not approve this albatross of a project that makes ABQ even more of a sprawling mess than it already is. Mayor Berry has done a decent job investing in the center city; it's time to send that agenda into over-drive.

And more on the environment from reader and ABQ attorney Jeffrey Baker who writes:

If Susana Martinez is willing to endorse an “interim” nuclear waste storage facility in Lea and Eddy Counties, perhaps she is willing to endorse moving the prison at Guantanamo Bay to Lea and Eddy Counties. Both involve housing toxic material – spent nuclear rods and jihadists. If the Governor thinks shipping nuclear waste along New Mexico’s roadways is safe, is it any less safe to warehouse several hundred “high value” foreign detainees inside a federal lockup in the middle of the desert? With this country’s ongoing war against terror, we will capture more terrorists. Just as we need a place to store dangerous waste, we need a place to store dangerous people. C’mon Governor – this is an opportunity to bring jobs to New Mexico.


ABQ SE Heights City Councilor Rey Garduno has changed his mind. He won't seek another four year term in this October's city election and wants progressive activist Pat Davis to fill his shoes. Garduno worked hard but his effort to rewrite history as he headed for the exits fell flat:

In my years on the council we’ve helped Albuquerque weather the storm of the recession without losing the character of unique neighborhoods like Nob Hill and the International District that thrive on small business growth. We have brought more transparency to city government and challenged the administration and the police to remain accountable to the people we all serve.

But ABQ has not "weathered" the recession and that's especially so on Nob Hill, the once trendy shopping district that has been disemboweled by the economic implosion. And the Berry administration "challenged?" When and by whom on this city council--besides a few letters of protests? APD remains in crisis and the listless council that Garduno presided over as president shares the blame with Mayor Berry. Transparency is elusive as ever.

BEST OF. . . 

Our Best of NM and ABQ blog that ran last week drew responses. Cindy Tyson of the NM Historical Review writes:

I am the Administrator of the New Mexico Historical Review. Thank you for mentioning our beloved journal in your blog. This is our 90th year in publication. I wish I could say that your phrase "little known" before the mention of NMHR was not true but I cannot. We have readers from the Sorbonne in France, Grand Central Station in NYC, Korea, China, Germany, and Britain, who find us. We are always happy when new readers and lovers of New Mexico find us. In 2014 we went online with our journal so more people could access all 89+ years of our articles on New Mexico. I hope that it helps us to become better known.

We picked as the best indoor theater venue the theater at the National Hispanic Cultural Center. Reader Laura Stokes writes:

You forgot the many classical music fans who gather every Sunday morning at the funky, intimate Kosmos space on 5th St. to hear Chatter, the hottest place in town for gorgeous chamber music and new stuff that no one outside a couple of huge metropolises ever gets to hear. We are sold out every Sunday. Coffee, cookies, massage and a friendly community. You should check it out but you have to get your tickets online several days before the show. 

Violet Cauthon of Las Cruces says we need to think south when we think of burgers:

Once more, with lots of feeling, I ask: have you ever been south of Albuquerque? I agree with some of your "best" because I, too, love the Circle Drive but, really, Owl Bar for "best green chile hamburger"? So lame. Come to Las Cruces, find the Burger Nook on Madrid off Solano (it's not easy to find) and find the best crispy-grilled, greasy bun, green chile burger ever! Take your newspaper or a book because these two sisters do not believe in steam tables. Your burger is cooked when you order as are your fries. The Best in New Mexico for sure.

We're hitting the road, Violet.


Maybe up and coming NM Dem political constant Israel Chavez can form a house band for the party. In a video he cut for his Facebook followers Chavez pulls out his guitar and honors the late B.B. King. If he consults as well as he plays, look out R's.

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Monday, May 18, 2015

Just Call It Santa Fe, DC, Optics Problems For PNM And Grisham, Balderas Pulls No Punches On APD Kari Caper 

Just call it Santa Fe, DC. Washington style gridlock strikes again as the Republican Governor and Senate Democrats clash.

That's really in the "what else is new?" category. We've been walking this walk for nearly five years with Susana and sometimes before her with Dem Bill Richardson and Republican Gary Johnson. But stuff did get done under those two governors. We are at a standstill today with a Governor really not interested in putting legislative points on the board as long as she can demonize her opposition for the next round of voting and Democrats who loathe the punitive approach of her political machine and have decided to wait her out--even if that means a long three and half years of watching their toenails grow. . .

The death of the possible special legislation session to revive a $264 million public works bill that would have stimulated the state economy ended in the same crash and burn style as most everything else does in Santa Fe. Both sides pointed fingers at each other, with the Governor--as usual--taking the nastiest approach in the blame game.

No wonder so many legislators have retired in recent years. Even avuncular GOP House Speaker Don Tripp isn't going unscathed. He emerged in the special session negotiations looking like a rider in the Governor's sidecar. The Guv's political team called all the shots from the word go.  In fact, Tripp has been busted by the Las Cruces Sun-News for acting as if he had no idea what the Senate Dems were up to when, in fact, there had been considerable negotiations between both sides. The newspaper walked back an editorial critical of the Senate Dems when it was revealed that Tripp was up to his neck in the talks.

Hey, Don, if you want to be a figurehead, that's fine. Just don't pretend you are playing the power game of La Politica when you aren't. . . .

There's not many left around like former Dem State Sen. Joe Fidel of Grants. When he passed away recently at 91 his praises were sung by both Dems and R's. He left the Senate in 2006 after over 30 years there. His son Mark said he left because politics had become "mean-spirited" and serving was no longer "fun." He nailed that. Being mean-spirited seems to be what passes for fun among the new breed. A rosary and funeral Mass for Fidel will be held at 2 p.m. May 30 at St. Teresa of Avila Church in Grants.


Talk about an optics problem. PNM asked for a rate increase of upwards of 16% percent while giving its CEO a 16% increase in pay. The state Public Regulation Commission rejected the rate hike--for now. Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales summed it up this way:

PNM's plan would have moved us in the wrong direction, hitting small businesses and families harder than anyone else and committing New Mexicans to a lifetime of coal-burning power. We have to start facing the realities of climate change. . . I applaud the decision and the unified voice of our Commissioners.

We don't know how much legs the climate change argument has, but a double-digit rate increase in this flat economic environment is a nonstarter,

And more optics problems for our congressional delegation. First, Sen. Martin Heinrich is busted for using government funds to finance commutes to the office. Now ABQ Dem US Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham is busted for taking a trip to Azerbaijan that was funded by the state-owned oil company and for accepting gifts there that were more expensive than allowed. Never mind that most New Mexicans think Azerbaijan is located somewhere near Pojoaque. Our reps don't need to be losing their way when it comes to following the well-known rules.

One of our readers points out that Michelle's exotic travel wasn't actually a "junket" as the newspaper headlines screamed. That would be a trip financed by the taxpayers. Whatever the semantics, voters get the idea. .  .


Balderas and Brandenburg
Attorney General Hector Balderas pulled no punches as he called out APD for playing politics in its bribery investigation of Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg and scoring Brandenburg for “an appearance of impropriety” when she got in touch with victims of property crime cases in which her drug addicted son was a suspect. So what are we to take away from this? . . .

Well, certainly Brandeburg's maternal instinct went astray and as a result she exposed herself to an investigation. Her reputation has been hurt. But Balderas indicates APD leaked that bribery probe when Brandenburg let it be known she would be prosecuting two APD officers on murder charges. Also, media scrutiny of the bribery charges did not stand up, reinforcing the belief that rogue elements at APD were running the show. Which leads to the questions. . .

Is APD conducing "investigations" of their other perceived foes and isn't it time for the Justice Department or AG Balderas to go there? And just who in APD leaked the Brandenburg probe to the media? Does anyone care to take a look at that one? And, once again, what does Mayor Berry have to say about the attorney general's finding of politics at play in a criminal investigation at his police department? Oh, well, maybe John Sanchez can ask him. . .

Reader Alan Wagman adds to the discussion of the APD crisis:

In the context of reported APD intimidation of critics, you expressed the hope that the judiciary will resolve APD's problems. That, unfortunately, is a false hope. For one thing, neither the Justice Department nor the federal court will address issues not raised in the complaint DOJ filed in federal court. Intimidation is not raised. For a second thing, research has shown -- and DOJ has admitted in private meetings -- that the success of police reform depends not upon lawsuits but upon the will of a city's and a department's leadership to actually reform. Bottom line, the solution is political, not judicial.


Reader Martha Burk writes:

I am surprised that you posted an anonymous slam against me and the Albuquerque pay equity initiative without learning the facts. Those who know me, as Chair of the task force that crafted the initiative, and Clara Apodaca, who was a key member of the task force, know that neither of us would ever lend our names to anything that was not advancing the cause of equality for women. The folks that started the untrue rumors and posted a petition against the initiative have now apologized to me and to Councilor Gibson. If you plan future coverage, please call or email me so that I can fill you in on what the initiative is about.


Former ABQ Mayor Marty Chavez writes of the passing this month of longtime Dem political consultant Harry Pavlides:

In a room full of people, he was always one I sought out both from a combination of an extraordinarily long history together, shared passions and his at times remarkable insights. As opinionated as he was, Harry didn't have a mean bone in his body. He wasn't always right (who is?) but was always informed. He was indefatigable, proud of his upbringing and heritage and we are diminished by his passing.

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Friday, May 15, 2015

Friday Photo Flashback: Ingram B. "Seven Foot" Pickett 

The history of New Mexico politics is populated with colorful characters who left indelible images. Surely, one of them was Ingram B. "Seven Foot" Pickett.

Here he is pictured in a campaign brochure as he successfully sought his second, six year term on the old State Corporation Commission (SCC) whose modern successor is the Public Regulation Commission (PRC).

Pickett served in the 1950's and proved to be one of the state's most popular politicos of the decade. It didn't hurt that upon taking office he removed the hinges to his office door as a symbol of transparency.

In 1956 Pickett challenged Gov. John Simms for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. He narrowly lost but the challenge may have played a role in Simms' defeat to Republican Ed Mechem.

The late author and newspaperman Tony Hillerman wrote that Pickett was a driver for NM Governor Thomas Mabry when in 1950 he was put in the corporation commission race as a means to draw votes away from a challenger who was a threat to the governor's favored candidate, but Pickett proved so popular he beat them both.

His height was such a political plus that Pickett went to court to have his name legally changed to Ingram B. "Seven Foot" Pickett. Like a true politician, Pickett didn't let it bother him that he actually was one inch short of the seven foot mark.

Pickett's campaign slogan was "Big enough to serve you, Small enough to need you." That summed up his towering presence and populist appeal that earned him a chapter in the never ending book of La Politica.

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Best Of ABQ And New Mexico 

You have your list and we have ours. As we enter the warm weather months and the activity calendar gets busier we offer for your enjoyment (and debate) our list of the “Best of Albuquerque and New Mexico.”

The best New Mexican food in Albuquerque is at Padilla’s Mexican Kitchen at Girard and Indian School NE and at Barelas Coffee House on 4th Street SW. In Santa Fe it’s the old standbys of Tomasita’s and The Shed delivering the real deal. They’re the best. Really.

The best green chile cheese burgers in the state are still at the Owl Bar & Cafe and the Buckhorn Tavern near Socorro. That’s in large part because you’re always hungry by the time you pull in to the two joints that are just yards from each other.

The best scenic drive in New Mexico is around the Enchanted Circle in the North featuring Angel Fire and Eagle Nest. The runner-ups are too numerous to mention.

The Sandia Resort and Casino Amphitheater is the best place to enjoy a concert in New Mexico, although they don’t bring in many big acts anymore.

The best indoor theater venue in the state is the 691 seat Journal Theatre at the National Hispanic Cultural Center on 4th Street. The runner-up is the Outpost Performance Space on Yale SE where the jazz gets up close and personal.

Bookstores are vanishing but the best in the city is still Bookworks on Rio Grande Blvd. In Santa Fe the best is Collected Works on Galisteo.

The best hotel in ABQ is the Hotel Andaluz, although it is pricey. In Santa Fe the Anasazi is the best due in no small part to its location on the Plaza. Sorry, Las Cruces. You don’t compete yet in this category.

The best stretches of roadway in ABQ are Rio Grande Blvd. in the North Valley and the stretch of Tramway where you are driving right at the Sandia Mountains. . . .

The best small town in New Mexico is Taos. Silver City and Red River are the runners-up.

The best place to people watch in Santa Fe is in the lobby of the La Fonda on the Plaza. In Albuquerque it’s still the Frontier restaurant across from UNM. The runner-up is the ABQ airport terminal.

The best place to discuss a political movida in Albuquerque without being noticed is at the dark and mysterious Copper Lounge. Sorry, in Santa Fe there’s no place to hide. In Las Cruces, try La Posta restaurant in in Old Mesilla where the tourists hang.

The best place to learn about the history of the state is in the pages of the little-known New Mexico Historical Review, published quarterly and available through UNM. The best place to see state history up close is at the Lincoln County Courthouse and the surrounding buildings where the legacy and saga of Billy the Kid is preserved.

It’s true. The best place for a New Mexico bachelor party is at the bars of Juarez just across the border at El Paso. The best place to get married in New Mexico is indoors, as wind, rain and extreme heat have been known to unpredictably crash many a wedding party. The best place for a post-divorce celebration (or mourning) is the aforementioned Copper Lounge. Cheap drinks and no one will notice you.

The best time and place to see a movie in Albuquerque without the clamor of the crowd is the weekday 7 p.m. showings at Century 14 Downtown. The runner-up is the Guild Cinema also on weekday evenings.

The best public building in Albuquerque is the aforementioned airport terminal, decorated with outstanding art and a layout as open as the New Mexico sky. The runner-up is the Albuquerque Museum. In Santa Fe it’s the fabled Roundhouse, built in the mid-1960’s and still memorable. The runner-up is the Georgia O’Keefe Museum.

The best venue for non-sports fans to watch a sporting event in Albuquerque is at Isotopes Stadium. That’s because the food and scenery stand out, even if you don’t know how to get to first base.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Fuzzy Math In Santa Fe, Oil Bear May Grow Old And APD Stalking Charges Surface 

We're coming to you today from a room with a view--or we should say a patio with a view. It sure makes blogging easier. Where are we? If you can guess your lunch and that of a friend is on us. Now on to the action. . .

Uh, oh. Some more fuzzy Santa Fe math from state House Republicans that is causing the big snafu for a special legislation session. Newly crowned state House Appropriations Committee Chairman Larry Larranaga is out with a statement asserting that a $5 million tax cut is just as important to the state's economy as the $264 million capital outlay bill that failed in the recent legislative session. That failure has prompted calls for a one day special session to get that bill passed and the money flowing into the slow moving economy.

How Larry thinks a measly $5 million is going to translate into $264 million of economy activity is probably best left to him and his high school algebra professor. But it isn't selling with his old pal and fellow fiscal conservative John Arthur Smith. The chairman of  the Senate Finance Committee is now saying the Rs insistence on the tax cut makes a special session "a long shot."

You gotta wonder how all the Republican owners of those construction companies that could use that capital outlay bill fell about being held hostage for a no-consequence tax cut. But you can't have too much sympathy for them. They and the entire biz community have been cowed by the Guv's political machine and basically drink whatever Kool-Aid they are told to. Not one of them is willing to stand up and disagree with Larranga's new math.

And how long will that oil bear market last that has cramped Santa Fe's style by reducing the gusher of royalty money flowing to state coffers? Maybe a lot longer than the bean counters at the Roundhouse want to think:

Oil prices will remain below the psychologically important $100-a-barrel mark until at least 2025, according to a draft report by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), seen by The Wall Street Journal. In its most optimistic scenario, OPEC, which represents 12 oil-producing countries, forecast that oil will sell for around $76 per barrel in 10 years' time, according to the report. However, it warned that crude oil could cost as little as $40 per barrel in 2025.


More disturbing news surfaces from APD is again raising questions about civilian oversight of the agency. A number of private citizens—-critics of the department—report to the ABQ Free Press that they believe they have been stalked by APD in an effort to intimidate them. Whether the allegations are credible is open to question but those who are claiming the intimidation are stating their names for the public record. Mayor Berry and/or Chief Administrative Officer Rob Perry could make a statement condemning such tactics—and assuring the public they won’t be tolerated—but no one who has followed the police crisis would expect them to. In APD, Berry and Perry have a tiger by the tail that is tossing them about like twigs in a tornado. And that also applies to overwhelmed APD Chief Gorden Eden.

Our city will pay millions in lawsuits and for reforms for allowing APD to go rogue. The only saving grace future generations may see in the debacle is that in the end the system of checks and balances worked. The city’s executive and legislative branches failed and the slack was picked up by the judiciary. At least that’s the hope.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Vox Populi: Readers Speak (And Vent) On The Issues Of The Day And That's A Good Thing 

Time for another enjoyable edition of vox populi where readers chime in on the events of the day. We start off with reaction to May 7 blog featuring comments from Kathryn Carroll on how ABQ stands up to Tucson in the wake of the big economic slowdown:

Your writer was spot on. The Mid Rio Grande Council of Governments hosted a economic development session last week with political and business leaders from the four-county area. The city of Albuquerque didn’t send anyone and neither did Bernalillo County. There was a strong contingent from Rio Rancho, including its Mayor. The lack of energy, excitement and inspiration was noticeable. Heads were looking down at smart phones more than they were at the presentation. A few remarked on the lack of ambition, passion and leadership on economic issues. We simply have a disinterested, lackluster mayor and council. What are they doing? What are their plans? Who knows? In stark contrast, Mayor Rothschild in Tucson publishes his plans on the city’s web page and citizens can track his progress. Tucson appears open and interested in ideas and action. Albuquerque seems to just meander along.  Do the minimum to get reelected, don’t ruffle any feathers, keep your head down. It’s very disturbing

Reader Jeff Nordley writes:

Interesting comparison between Albuquerque and Tuscon. I can't help but note that the decline coincided with the election of a "pro-business" Republican to run our largest city and the election in 2010 of a scorched earth Republican to run our state. As there are certainly other factors at play, I am sure it is just a coincidence.

This anonymous reader has some firm opinions on equal pay for women:

The recent Equal Pay bill passed by the Albuquerque City Council should be retitled the Partial pay or Unequal Pay Revisited bill. What a disappointment for women in our community that self-described women's advocate, Martha Burk, actively supported less than 100% equal pay for women. She endorses this mushy, unenforceable, non-transparent ordinance to institutionalize the right to pay less?

So here is what we get. Mayor Berry gets a headline for his soon-to-be Governor campaign, City contractors still get to pay women less and get rewarded for it, and unequal pay gets celebrated as equal pay and a trend setter nationally? Even more unfortunate, Councillors Diane Gibson and Klarissa Pena were used as tools to craft the compromise. Councillor Gibson did exactly what her opponent in the last election, Janice Arnold Jones, would probably have done -- support the Republican Mayor but not the basic principle of Equal Pay. Is this the value her constituents voted for and more importantly, that she campaigned for?

Maybe it's not just a lack of leadership, maybe it's a lack of courage. On this issue, a backbone beats a wishbone every time.


Mayor Berry's reaction to the scandal involving former ABQ police Chief Ray Schultz and the "greasing" of a contract for Taser's police lapel cameras for APD brought reaction, Berry said "there will always be something like that in a city of this size.. . " Veteran NM journalist Wally Gordon wrote:

Joe, the mayor’s comment “there will always be something” sounds like an echo of former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's comment about US soldiers passively watching looting during the Iraq war: “Stuff happens.”

Reader David O'Neill wrote:

Can the taxpayers of Albuquerque sue the Mayor for specific performance? He's becoming a real embarrassment and has been for a while.  I've lived in several cities and monitored the politics of several. San Antonio, New Orleans before Katrina and Tucson. Killing a suspect every month for two years isn't normal, but so is nothing about APD and this (zero's) tenure as Mayor. He's becoming Baghdad Bob of the first Iraq war, or Nero maybe.

Former APD officer and now lawyer Tom Grover:

If a department's supervisor, commander, or even its very chief shows that its OK to put their thumb on the scale, rig a bid, or enrich themselves by virtue of the public office they hold, are they not modeling unethical behavior to all the line officers and detectives?

What does it say when the mayor orchestrates a press release between his personnel and the State Auditor only so that he will be out of town and can't face immediate questions?

What does it say when the city's chief administrative officer asserts that not only were there no issues with the Taser contract but everything was in compliance, when the gap between that statement and reality includes violations of criminal statutes?

Berry's comments about "there will always be something" regarding this mess is terrifying because he either simply does not understand that no, things like Dept. of Justice and criminal charges against a police chief are not "always something" that faces a city or he chooses not to appreciate the scale of this mess and the effect it is having on our city and region.

Another reader gets basic:

You've heard the term, "shit happens?" Berry seems to be saying "corruption happens."


Finally, a reader busts us for our incorrect use of the word "cement." in describing a photo of Gov. Martinez. We joked that she was pouring it in order to encase State Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez:

As a devoted reader I bring to your attention the error in your May 6 column. Gov. Susana Martinez wasn't pouring cement, she was pouring concrete, which contains cement, aggregate, sand and water, plus additives to strength and cure it depending on the environment. If she were pouring cement, she would have been covered in gray dust -- now that would have been a photo opp! As someone who spent far too much time as a college student pouring, mixing, testing, inspecting and even breaking concrete in massive pressure-test machines, I felt it my duty to set you straight.

More vox populi to come. . .

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Monday, May 11, 2015

Guv Seems To Want A Win Not A Deal On Special Legislative Session, Plus: Death Claims La Politica's Harry Pavlides; His Friends Remember 

Here's the problem. Gov. Martinez does not want a deal, she wants a win. A deal for a special one day legislative session to pass a $264 million capital outlay bill put on the table by state Senate Democrats could easily have been agreed to by the Fourth Floor with no one looking weak or eating crow. But the big construction bill--with widespread support across the state--is not enough. Martinez is now apparently holding out for yet another tax cut.

Unlike the capital outlay bill--the $5 million tax package would do very little to stimulate the economy--but it would give her that win over the Senate Dems.  And if she doesn't get what she wants she will likely tee up the ball for the '16 campaign and blame it all on the other side as her machine gears up for an attempt to color the Senate red.

Martinez pulled similar shenanigans during the last legislative session when confronted with a bipartisan compromise on driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants. More than a dozen Senate R's went for it but it wasn't good enough for her--because it it wasn't a "win." So what do you end up with? Plenty of slogans for a campaign but no results that improve lives.

Martinez has little to show for nearly five years at the helm. Unless she throws out those high heels she digs into the ground in favor of some sandals, her legacy will remain that familiar one liner: "The nation's first female Hispanic governor." Well, that and $1.87 will get you a coffee at Starbucks but it won't get you a $264 million capital outlay bill that would stimulate a still dragging economy.


Let's go to the Alligator pond for the behind-the-scenes machinations on the elusive special session.

Joe, the Senate Democratic caucus is solidly in support of the capital outlay package that Sen. John Arthur Smith, representatives of Republican House Speaker Don Tripp's office and the Governor's staff hammered out over the past two weeks of negotiations. It is a compromise on road construction financing and it restores many of the cuts that the House made in the Tribal, higher ed and senior citizen projects that the Senate had wanted.

The latest a special session could act within the legal time frame to permit the bond issue to move forward is May 18. Thus there is only a one week window for the Governor to call us in and for passage of the capital outlay package. Where is the sense of urgency that ought to be characterizing this situation? We are talking jobs that could be created, yet she waited six weeks before starting the negotiations and now we are up against a deadline that could have been easily averted.

There is no disagreement among the three parties (House, Senate and Governor's negotiating team) over the outlay package as it looks now. The hang-up could be her insistence on including the tax cut package and on making one dependent on the other. There is no similar urgency on those tax cuts. They could be debated in seven months when the 30-day session begins.

Also, the Democrats are concerned that if we pass the compromise capital outlay we need to have some protection against her waiting until we leave town and then vetoing pieces of it that she had originally agreed to. The level of trust is minuscule.


We're mourning the loss of of our old friend and veteran New Mexico political analyst, consultant and pollster Harry Pavlides. In recent years he suffered from a number of health ailments and died Friday in ABQ.

Harry,  a native of ABQ, a lifelong Democrat and ardent enviornmentalist was wacky, wise and quite wonderful. A whirling dervish, he inserted himself into political campaigns for over 40 years, consulting a who's who of candidates including Bill Richardson, Marty Chavez, Dave Cargo, Jerry Ortiz y Pino and many, many more. To them and to all who knew him he was an unforgettable character, with a zeal and zest for the game that burned until the end.

In the 80'--when we first met him--he was one of the state's top pollsters working for both the ABQ Tribune and KGGM-TV (now KRQE). Since its inception 12 years ago, he has been quoted frequently on this blog for his insights on all aspects of La Politica--our original Senior Alligator. When we didn't quite understand something we could always turn to Harry for the real meaning. So many times he made us look smarter than we were, understand more than we thought we could and forced us to have the patience to look closer when we wanted to look away. That was a great gift but not greater than his steadfast friendship. We will miss him deeply. Others also remember. . .

Veteran NM pollster Brian Sanderoff, a longtime friend of Harry's, said:

Harry had a brilliant political mind and could recount every state and national election contest going back to the 1960's. His political predictions and prognostications were nearly always correct. But despite his prowess as a consultant, Harry should best remembered for his generosity. He would give the shirt off his back to help the needy or
his friends, even when he could least afford it himself. Harry loved a good fight, whether it be to battle his long term illnesses or to take on one of his political antagonists.

Former ABQ Mayor Jim Baca:

Harry was one of those individuals who would just never give up on his dreams. Despite his health problems, he always saw a silver lining in every political campaign he worked on. He was one of the most interesting characters I have ever known.

ABQ State Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino recalled::

Harry was a man so consumed with politics that he could talk non-stop about a campaign, or a strategy while forgetting to eat or take his medicine. He was a never-ending fount of advice and an encyclopedia of information about New Mexico elections. And he was a loyal, rustworthy ally and friend.

He was happiest when working on an election: polling voters and analyzing the results; managing a field operation or advising a candidate on precinct-level strategy. Those were the days he was in his element, his mind racing almost as fast as his mouth, his energy level outstripping his body's ability to keep up.

But the last couple of years his infirmities sapped his strength and finally his joy. Unable to work at his usual breakneck pace, he still would call with campaign advice or legislative strategy. No one understood New Mexico politics better but it was his great sadness that a lifetime of offering blunt, honest opinions and of burning bridges with those who disagreed had at the end left him with only a small circle of intimates who understood him and used the priceless information he shared so readily.

I will miss Harry.  New Mexico has lost an under-appreciated gem. 

Harry Pavlides was 64.

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