Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Hope And Hell In New Orleans: NM Sheriff Blogs In, Plus: More Hurricane Fall Out, And: Mayoral Maneuvers; Stand By For News 

The massive political fallout from the calamity of Hurricane Katrina will continue for months, but for a group of New Mexicans camped in tents near the Mississippi River in New Orleans politics is a world away. The stark reality of death and untold human misery is front and center. I know many of you would like to be there to help. I know this because of the record amount of e-mail I have received. But we are well-represented. Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White, along with 35 of our deputies, scour the flood soaked streets of the Crescent City each day, desperately trying to persuade the last citizens to depart, to literally run for their lives. The air boats are steered by fisherman coated in body armor to fend off snipers. The drama can't be overstated. Late last night Sheriff White blogged in on an unreliable cell phone from a city he described as "so dark, it's disorienting."


"Joe, as a human being it hurts, it really hurts, but we have a job to do. Today we came across a floating body that was clearly a homicide victim. Normally, you would throw up the crime scene tape and call CSI. But we just float by seeking those who still live. Bodies are everywhere, but also thousands of survivors. We are saving hundreds. The reward is the thanks and the hugs the men get. But it is grim, very grim. I have never seen anything like it, no one has. Why do some people shoot at the boats? Who the hell knows? We have two deputies on each one for protection. We arrested guys rescuing people from homes and then going back and looting those same houses. The New Orleans police are saying 15,000 to 25,000 are dead. They only have one radio channel. There is no 911 service.

The cops are upset with those who walked away, but those still working are incredible. They're living in the precinct houses and only have the clothes on their back. Our people and the others here are going to get an express check-in from God for the work they have done," blogged an emotional and bone-weary sheriff as he and his men readied themselves for another night in sleeping bags. All the men volunteered. You can help too.


Back on the political front, Alligators were pointing out this press release from Senator Domenici as evidence of his continued tension with Big Bill after last month's battle over Cannon Air Force Base. The release, they point out, contains lavish praise for ABQ Mayor Marty for taking in New Orleans evacuees, but none for Big Bill who also played a major role. The slap at Big Bill, if that's what it was, came at the expense of GOP mayoral contender Brad Winter who is trying to take Marty down. But when you have a big fish to fry, you fry it.

And then there's the talk of the placement of the evacuees. Many will go to Roswell, Farmington and Clovis, all cities that are weak spots for the Guv. "Why is Santa Fe not helping?" E-mails one northern Gator. Let's just call this one interesting.


Rejoining the mayoral campaign trail, we find the Winter campaign, according to insiders, putting up about $8,000 for a cable TV buy, his first of the campaign. It touts him as the "independent Republican candidate." We are also receiving word that he will get help from the national GOP for a mailer. The question remains whether Winter will have the big money for a positive TV buy that does not involve the ethics charges he levels against Chavez in his first spot. "The commercial is well-produced and hits Marty effectively. The trouble is the "independent Republican" line. Does that go away? I think so, or else a lot of Dems, conservative Republicans and independents are going to turn away," analyzed one mayoral watcher.


Officials at the state investment council were holding their breath over that report that an Eclipse jet landed on its belly after landing gear apparently failed. After all, the state investment in the start-up company is over $20 million. Maybe they are relaxing a bit after this statement from Eclipse: "We have determined that no aircraft mechanical or electrical problems contributed to this event." In other words, it was pilot error, according to Eclipse. Still, the risk of this investment is evident to anyone with experience on Wall Street. This could be a real high flier or a crash landing. Don't say we didn't tell you.

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