Friday, September 23, 2005
Bizarre Deal Gives NM Two Treasurers; Questions Raised Over Big Bill's Power Play; Plus: AG Madrid Scored For Thanking Vigil For "Putting NM First"
"You can do anything you want until the courts say you can't." So summed up a former veteran legislator and lawyer upon hearing of the bizarre behind-closed-doors deal engineered by Big Bill, Attorney General Madrid and Sam Bregman, lawyer for indicted State Treasurer Robert Vigil. This one is a wonder to behold and is sure to become a legend in the now over four hundred year history of La Politica.
The deal, one of those "only in New Mexico moments," allows Vigil to "recuse" himself from his duties until his federal corruption case is resolved, but keep drawing his $85,000 a year salary. Also, Mr. And Mrs. New Mexico gets another Treasurer, one who would also be paid $85,000 a year to do the job Vigil was elected to do. Aren't they lucky?
WE'RE NOT DONE YET
Vigil & Bregman
The state constitution states that a vacancy in elected offices like the Treasurer shall be filled by the Governor. But Vigil won't resign so there is no vacancy. Still, Big Bill wants to appoint a second Treasurer to a non-vacant position and is asking the State Supreme Court to ratify the deal. According to KOAT-TV, he sees this as a "mere formality." Well, when you are as at ease as he is when consolidating power, it probably is. But for the people and political system of the state it's a major departure from the constitution and immediately had the Alligators on the move.
"This is carving new law out of thin air. The constitution clearly states there has to be a vacancy for the governor to appoint. But this deal lets Vigil and the politicians off the hook. The constitution provides a way to get rid of Robert Vigil. The State House could impeach him and he would immediately be forced to resign. But the politicians do not want to deal with it, don't want to assign responsibility, so we get this twisted, push-the-envelope approach," argued one.
Another Gator fretted that the Supreme Court would not slow down the governor: "They rolled over when he got rid of members of the Judicial Standards Commission, a move widely dubbed unconstitutional. But the all-Democrat court approved it without blinking. I suspect he will get his way here as well."
In fact, by the time you read this the deal may have already been done and New Mexico may have new constitutional law courtesy of the Governor and the AG, but not the people. (The Governor will ask the Legislatue to send a constitutional amendment to the voters to make the treasurer an appointed position).
"Normally, in the event of a prolonged absence the deputy treasurer would take over, but apparently there is no confidence in any of Vigil's appointees. Fair enough. A solution needs to be sought, but holding what amounts to a constitutional convention with a private lawyer and a corruption defendant is not the way to do it," said a Gator with a legislative background.
Another insider of a Republican bent hit AG Madrid's statement over the deal. Madrid said: "Our primary interest is to protect the state and ensure the effective management of the office of the state treasurer. That is why we appreciate Mr. Vigil putting the interests of New Mexico first by agreeing to be recused temporarily from office."
Our Alligator responded: "Putting the interests of New Mexico first? The statement is as galling as it is nauseating. Vigil could put the state first by doing the right thing and resigning. This is not putting the people first, this puts the people in a pickle." He exclaimed.
And A journalist type banged on Big Bill for saying the deal sets the stage for the "healing"to begin. "Healing? There is still blood oozing down the streets. You can't heal when the scab is still forming. And this is one damn ugly scab."
There is certainly more to come so stay tuned.
Email me your news and comments and keep the politics coming.
(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2005
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