Thursday, December 01, 2005

Duke City Doings: A Council Prez Prediction; Mayor Takes Oath Today, Plus: We Size Up His New #2; It's Your State Of The City Blog; No Ticket Needed 

ABQ liberals, given a stern whipping by ABQ Mayor Marty Chavez in the October city election, may get a consolation prize. According to City hall insiders, Councilor Martin Heinrich is poised to take over the council presidency when the new council and mayor take their seats.

"It appears Martin has five of the nine votes. Republican Craig Loy appears to be a vote short. At this time, the smart money is on Heinrich," reports our nose counter.

Dem Heinrich is playing it close to the vest, noting that it is another week before the vote and that he is not "ready to count his chickens before they hatch." That said, the SE Heights first term lawmaker sized up the factionalized council this way: "I think it will take some time to determine where enough consensus exists to craft good legislation."

Heinrich has been an even tempered solon, but an unabashed liberal whose possible presidency is raising the hackles of some in the biz community who are still miffed over his advocacy of a citywide minimum wage (It narrowly failed at the ballot box). Despite Mayor Marty's big win and the pro-growth politics it signifies, there are four councilors, including Heinrich, who can be counted on to slow down the hyperactive 11th floor.

The council prez is largely ceremonial and serves just one year. But he does get to appoint members to council committees and other government bodies, so there would be a chance for Heinrich to push his agenda.


When he takes the oath today for an unprecedented third, four year term, Mayor Chavez says he will be "liberated" because he is not running again and can make decisions without political consideration. It's true he's not running for mayor again. The City Charter says he can't. But does anyone really think the ultimate political animal is done with elective office for good? He ran for for Guv in 98' and has always kept his eye on the U.S. Senate. Insiders take with a a grain of salt his claim that there will be no politics in his future or in the decisions he makes in the next four years. Whether he will be successful at future political endeavors seems the more relevant question.


The Mayor's new number two, UNM public administration professor Bruce Perlman received his inauguration into public life this week when he was described in the papers as "a founder" of the infamous ABQPAC which landed the Mayor in so much hot water. The issue is not expected to be an obstacle to his confirmation by the city council, but Perlman has to wonder if the slogan will someday end up on his tombstone.

Perlman comes from the Ivory Tower and while lacking the lengthy government experience of predecessor James Lewis, the UNM bureaucracy has provided him plenty of opportunities to face down the Alligators. Now he will be knee-deep in them in one of the hottest seats in the city. The CAO-designate is known for his keen sense of humor which one surmises he will be calling on frequently in the challenging days ahead.

2009 OR BUST!

Sure, right now it's all Marty all the time. But it's never too early to get ready for the next mayor. 2009, here we come! Councilors Michael Cadigan and Ken Sanchez are already on the short-list. Both of them are from the West side.

The buzz around today's inauguration of Mayor Chavez is curiously sedate for a personality who is so front and center. Little advance publicity and no big parties like four years ago. Maybe after having the job so long he finds less of a need to shout about it--at least on opening night. Or maybe it's the absence being felt of social butterfly and ex-mayoral wife Margaret Chavez.


The state of the city is good, contentious as always, but good. The government supported economy chugs along, the city is clean and local government has been relatively scandal-free. (The bugaboo being the unsolved APD evidence room rip-off). For growth, Chavez's re-election means more of the same. And is that so bad? It's not like we are L.A.

The next four years will finally see settlement of the age-old road arguments--Paseo del Norte will be extended, an expanded Montano Bridge will be a done deal and more roads and schools will be built on the West side to accommodate growth. Why? Because we had an election where the arguments were aired and the people voted. Don't like it? There's another city election in just two years.

ABQ's biggest problem is the ongoing crime wave and the poor image it has spawned nationally. It has also been a considerable impediment to economic growth. Chavez has done about all he can in getting tough on crime. Now we face difficult social and economic issues to beat this problem. The mayor wants to butt in to the local education system which is the first line of defense against crime. He will get his head kicked in for it, but if he doesn't burn political capital on the number one issue, what's the point of having power?

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