Monday, February 14, 2005
New Mexico Gets 'Fitch-Slapped,' Judge's Vodka Run Ends Badly, And: Judge Brennan Gets A Gig, Plus: Denish Fires Back at R's & My Monday Bottom Lines
How sloshed do New Mexico's judges need to get before the head-in-the-sand State Supreme Court stands up and does something relevant? The DWI arrest of Socorro District Court Chief Judge Tom Fitch is number two on the judicial Richter scale which was set off last year when Bernalillo County Chief District Judge John Brennan was busted for driving while slammed and snorting coke on top of it. Fitch blew a .17, double the limit, after wrecking a state owned van just outside Santa Fe Friday before he was scheduled to appear before a Legislative committee. The judge's open bottle of vodka survived the crash.
The arrest is another major setback for the state's image and the efforts to bring New Mexico roadways into the 21st century. Will the 'high court' in Santa Fe finally see the light and institute some kind of program for judges who are washing down Bloody Mary's with their cheerios? Or are we going to hear more lame excuses that this is an "isolated case." If it is, the isolation ward is starting to fill up.
The same questions that haunted us in the infamous Brennan case haunt us here; where were Fitch's friends? His colleagues? His judicial superiors? The high court boss says he is trying to promote "integrity" in the state's judicial system. But first, how about some responsibility? No one seems to want to take that.
BRENNAN'S SOFT LANDING
There was a lot of outrage expressed over the mild sentencing Judge Brennan received for his well-publicized antics. A two day house arrest and no follow-up on where a sitting judge got his cocaine supply is a much better deal than you would probably ever get. Be that as it may, Brennan, according to legal insiders, is moving on and apparently not doing too badly, They say he is now working for the Maloof companies of California.
The billionaire family has extensive business interests including a major casino in Las Vegas, the Coors beer distributorship in ABQ and a sports franchise. Brennan is a longtime friend of family matriarch Colleen Maloof. Maloof's son, Phil, sought the ABQ Congressional seat as a Dem in 1998.
DIANE RETURNS FIRE
New Mexico Light Guv Diane Denish has been under the gun lately, but she's firing back. We blogged here Feb.9 that the R's are hoping to slow down the state's Number Two by sidetracking her prized preschool initiative for four year olds. They call it "daycare" and the $9 million to start it up a waste of money. Denish blasts back with this:
"There's a mountain of data and studies that show that pre-K programs lead to more student achievement, lower dropout rates and ultimately to taxpayer savings on the back end through juvenile justice savings and savings on special education programs. It's not daycare, it's giving our kids a good start to school.
I'd also like to note that Republican Governor Jeb Bush is a Pre-K champion and recently signed Florida's Pre-K program into law. Proof again that pre-K is simply the right thing to do and should transcend the political realm."
Denish continues to try to build her resume in anticipation of future political plans. A victory on this one would be big because of the controversy it has brought.
MY BOTTOM LINES
Jeff Siembieda will be off the tube but on the radio. The KRQE-TV news anchor's contract has not been renewed and he will be gone at the end of the month. But he will continue with what he likes best--talking sports--on 1310 AM in ABQ weekdays at 4 p.m.....Here's a cockfighting solution offered by a reader: Let the cocks wear gloves. Ok, no mind wandering on that one please.
Make our site, WWW.JOEMONAHAN.COM, one of your favorites and e-mail a link to interested friends. Interested in advertising to NM's large political community? E-mail me from the top right of this page, or call 505-243-4059 for details.
(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2005
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