Thursday, February 10, 2005

Avoiding Political Peril: Guv to Come with Election Bill; Plus, For Junkies Only; Bizarre Happenings At The Merry Roundhouse 

The Merry Roundhouse
Word from Santa Fe has Big Bill soon coming with an election "reform" package that the Dems hope will rob the R's of their dream of painting them as obstructionists when it comes to cleaning up the state's election messes. Big Bill's bill will propose a form of voter ID, but not stern enough to alienate hardcore opponents. The Big Guy and his party have been backed into the corner a bit on this one with the general public highly supportive of voter ID. Not so much because there has been a bunch of fraud shown, but because counting the votes and just running elections over the years has been such a mess they feel the whole system must be broken, including the ID part.

House Speaker Lujan and Majority Leader Martinez would rather wish the whole thing away by forming a commission to "study" the matter. But that only gives the R's more fodder so Big Bill has to come with something. The question now is whether he will fight for it or let it die and claim "we tried." Political consultant Eli Lee has been working this one for the Fourth Floor and downstairs Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino and his consultant Harry Pavlides have been badgering for a bill. The Guv's measure would likely be introduced by Elections Committee Chair Ed Sandoval.


Remember last year when Big Bill took all that flak from GOP Leader Hobbs and other R's over his plans to purchase a new state airplane? The Big Fella nixed the plan after public fall out, but now insiders say it may be back. Roswell State Sen. Tim Jennings, no friend of the Fourth Floor Fella, is looking at introducing a bill that would include all the "pork" Bill vetoed last year and Jennings would put money for the plane in the measure! The Guv could get his plane but Chaves County lawmakers, who bore the brunt of the vetoed capital outlay, would get their construction projects. Pretty clever, huh?

Wall-leaners tell me that a recent Dem caucus meeting was particularly grief-ridden as Dem senators anguished over the Guv's determination this year to dictate where most of the big construction projects will be placed in this years capital outlay bill. But, as usual, the issue comes down to who is going to stand up and be counted---besides Tim Jennings?


Did Farmington GOP State Senator Bill Sharer fall off the wagon? Something might have hit him on the head as he is proposing that New Mexicans convicted of DWI not be allowed to buy booze for five years. How about a compromise? If the Legislature passes this one, it promises not to meet for five years.


Readers commenting on my post this week about how Hispanics dominate the top tiers of NM politics pointed out that none of the reporters covering them for the major news organizations is Hispanic. Gil Gallegos of the ABQ Trib was the last one and he was scooped up by the Guv. What about the New Mexican's Steve Terrell? No one really knows Steve's background. He just showed up in Santa Fe years ago and started writing. His editors and fellow scribes are too fearful of the grizzled veteran to question him. He has, however, written sympathetically of Penitente rituals giving rise to speculation about his heritage.

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