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Thursday, November 10, 2005

It's A Travel Blog; Rep. Payne Set To Be Marty's Bus Boss, And: Big Bill Lives! The Plane Crash Rumor, Plus: He's Zapped Again For Frequent Flying 

ABQ's political odd couple are about to take it to a new level. Mayor Marty is set to hire GOP State Rep. Greg Payne as his new transit director, leaving Payne's far NE Heights seat to be filled with a replacement by the Dem controlled Bernalillo County Commission.

Reached late Wednesday, the high-profile Payne (blogger, radio host, newspaper columnist, political consultant and insurance salesman) deferred to the mayor, but did say the city's bus boss needs to bring more "efficiency" to the system and "better relationships with the blue collar workers" who run the shop.

"I'd like to see us do more with advertising on the buses as a means of making the system more self-supporting," offered Payne who is serving as head of the mayor's transition team on transit as Marty prepares for an unprecedented third, four year term starting December 1.

With Mayor Marty pushing to make light-rail a reality for the Big Duke City, Payne's plate will be full when he takes on his new gig which pays $90k plus a year. He currently works for Daniels Insurance, where his boss is Dem fund-raising heavy and UNM Regent Jamie Koch.

Dem Marty and R Payne have had their ups and downs over the years, but Payne, who served a four year term on the city council, was a key player in the mayor's recent re-elect.

Robert Gutierrez, union chief for over 300 bus and van drivers, told me Payne is "young, aggressive and smart" and said his experience as a councilor would be helpful to the department. Insiders say the current transit head has been given his walking papers.

But what about Payne's House seat which he was elected to in 04' replacing Joe Thompson and for which his performance earned him "Rookie of the Year" honors from the ABQ Chamber of Commerce? Payne said he would like to serve in the seat through next year's 30 day legislative session, but a final decision is up to the mayor. City employees are barred by law from serving in the Legislature.

So, will the county commission name a D as Payne's replacement, or go with an R who is most likely to keep the seat in the November 06' election? Stay tuned.

FOOTNOTE

Tim McGivern, Payne's old boss at the weekly Alibi, has been following the politicos on his new blog where he now opines regularly on personality and policy. Check him out.

DEATH RUMOR RATTLES ROUNDHOUSE
Alive!
What is it with Big Bill and the planes? The bad karma continued Wednesday as a rumor raced across Santa Fe and the nation's capital that our Guv's tenure on this planet had been ended in a Virginia plane crash, in which two persons did lose their lives, but fortunately (now, be nice R's) our Guv was not among them. (KOB-TV was all over this one.)

Big Bill's reassuring presence (his suit looked pretty good too) was soon on display at a news conference with Dem national chair Howard Dean and where afterwards--stop the presses--he told the ABQ Journal's Michael Coleman: "I am alive!"

(This being New Mexico, a long line of job-seekers formed at the door of Light Guv Diane Denish in the moments after the premature death rumor, but it immediately dissipated upon the rumor being quashed. The disappointed hopefuls retired to the Bull Ring to drown their sorrows. I also resumed doing the blog, after announcing that if Big Bill was dead there was no point of going on.)

SUN SHINES ON GUV

While the Guv was talking to the Journal's Coleman, it was the press he wasn't talking to that was giving him a very hard time. And it was about planes, but not just that controversial $5 million jet the state purchased for his use. The feisty Rio Grande Sun in Espanola has hit with a piece questioning the Guv's extensive use of three state planes saying he uses them for even short romps like Santa Fe to Los Alamos. (We bring it to you via Crosswinds Weekly).

The Sun, paving the way for the R Guv candidate next year, has asked for records showing why the Guv has been going where he's been going, including 13 trips to Ruidoso, some of them with horse racing-casino magnate and major friend of Bill, Paul Blanchard. It's tough stuff, with the Guv's staff curiously bunkered in and refusing to release some key info and pleading security considerations. This is another one where we need to stay tuned.

LUCKY AND THE ALLIGATOR

The following is from an Alligator-in-training, but it will be harmless if it turns out wrong and I will have a new reliable Gator if it turns out right.Here it is:

Santa Fe Dem State Rep. Luciano Lucky Varela will announce his candidacy for State Treasurer next week. The powerful lawmaker, in the Roundhouse since the 70's and chair of the Legislative Finance Committee, would be the first announced Dem candidate since Robert Vigil resigned. Vigil was indicted on more federal charges Wednesday.

An Alligator-in-training is not a lengthy stint. You are either right or you shall never be a Gator again. Let's see if this one makes the cut, or if Lucky's name is just being floated yet again for an open position.

Keep the insightful e-mail and news tips coming and, as always, thanks for tuning in.

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2005
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