Monday, December 12, 2005

"Little Robert" Plays With Big Bill And Scores; ABQ Westside Rejoices Over New Schools; It's A Tale Of Redemption on Your Monday Blog 

Robert Lucero
He stands just five feet and three inches, but it's hard to imagine any New Mexico politico riding higher these days than Robert Lucero. The ABQ Westside school board member has pulled off a deft public relations coup and helped deliver major league bacon in the form of two new high schools for his population exploding district. And because he engaged political master Big Bill in his power play, the Alligators of La Politica are taking notice. What did Lucero do?

What he did was help organize a "friendly" demonstration at a Big Bill ABQ book signing pleading for the Guv to cough up cash for the badly needed schools. The cajoling got the Guv over to Cibola High within days. Once there, Big Bill seized the opportunity presented by Lucero and company to live up to his own billing as the "Education Governor" and told ecstatic Westsiders they would get their schools. (The Legislature has to approve the entire $290 million statewide new school package).

Lucero, 47, was quick to hand out credit to neighborhood groups, the Guv and Westside legislators. But Lucero, who was laughed at and worse when he ran for ABQ mayor in 93', was the only politico to actually confront the Guv in such a public way and had previously called for a separate Westside school district if the schools were not built.

"He laid it on the line and he gets credit for it because he would have taken the hit if nothing happened. His re-election to the school board next year is a done deal." Said one ABQ Alligator.


Lucero, who works for Bernalillo County government managing information, has long ached to be a player, but the other six school board members have practically ostracized him. His detractors have called him a "demagogue" and "grandstander." But now he's a grandstander who helped deliver 115 million smackers and two new schools. The gratitude earned from thousands of students and their voting parents won't be short-lived.

"I was 6 feet, four inches tall before I took this job. They have pounded me down," joked the diminutive Lucero the other day. The self-described "conservative Democrat" said his future political plans are for school board only.

When the Guv announced the big school news, Lucero was unusually low-key. As the saying goes: "When you arrive, you don't have to shout about it."

Ira Robinson
Not many political careers are built on ABQ school board service. NM Court of Appeals judge Ira Robinson is about the only one who in the past generation has gone on to higher office. And Ira was Bernalillo County District Attorney before he went on the board....

Maybe current APS board member and Republican Gordon Rowe could become the second. His name, among several others, has surfaced as a possible replacement for ABQ GOP NE Heights State Rep. Greg Payne who is resigning to head the city's transit department at a salary of $96,000 a year.

And how about the power of ABQ's Westside? The numbers crunchers say nearly 10 percent of the statewide vote next year will come from there. Expect more, not less, goodies for the booming area.

Did you know...both Lucero and APS Board President Paula Maes have extensive backgrounds in broadcasting. Lucero toiled for years in the promotions department of ABQ public TV station KNME and Paula has been in the biz since the 70's. She now heads the NM Broadcasters Association.

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