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Monday, January 16, 2006

Holiday Blog Cleaning; Clearing Out The Clutter On The Eve Of Legislature 06' 

Martin Luther King
Today is a holiday and many of you political junkies are reading this from your homes where you may be clearing away clutter preparing for the year ahead or, in the case of you diehards, the 30 day Legislative session which starts at High Noon Tuesday. It's also a good day to do some blog cleaning, mark the holiday and get to some items that have been lost in the busy shuffle of the new year.

First, let me remind you to join me Tuesday for Big Bill's State of the State address on KNME-TV Channel 5. I will join the ABQ Trib's Kate Nelson for commentary on the speech and the legislative session to follow. It is scheduled to go off at noon, but always starts later. There will be a lot to cover and KNME is giving us a nice chunk of time to get the job done.

If you can't get to the tube, you can watch the speech from Big Bill's Web site. Now, if they can get that done, why not stream the Legislative floor sessions? Maybe if the Guv doesn't again veto such a measure when it reaches his desk, we can count on that in future years.

AFRICAN-AMERICAN POWER

Since we reported that James Lewis would seek the Dem nod for state treasurer, several readers pointed out that there is a second African-American seeking statewide office this year. He is George Bailey of Edgewood, a pastor with an impressive education background. Bailey decries the low rankings of New Mexico in education, but as of yet has not articulated a specific platform on how he would change that. He does, predictably enough, take a swipe at Big Bill and the state purchase of a $5.5 million jet airplane. While that may help get the R's unified around their eventual nominee, crucial swing voters and wavering Dems will want to hear specifics on policy. Will they get them?

It will be interesting to see if Bailey can muster enough support at the R's pre-primary convention to be placed on the ballot, or whether he's forced to get more petition signatures to win a ballot position. If they don't let him on, they take a hit for snubbing a minority. If they do let him on, he will probably pose little threat to Santa Fe M.D. James Damron who remains the party's probable nominee. Stay tuned.

FUTURE BLACK LEADERS?
Rep. Williams Stapleton
As for African-Americans in NM politics on this Martin Luther King Day, they can point to ABQ Dem State Rep. and Majority Whip Sheryl Williams Stapleton as a success, also, Steve Terrell of the New Mexican points out the House's other African American member is Jane Powdrell-Culbert, (R-Corrales) from the famous BBQ family, but there are no more examples, even though African-Americans make up about 3 percent of the state's population. There has been a NM Office of African-American Affairs since 99'. Dr. Harold Bailey (I don't believe he is related to the R Guv candidate) heads it up. But not much news has come from there, leaving one to wonder if enough is being done to advance its special mission.

Lewis, Stapleton and Powdrell-Culbert have been solid role models for a new generation of potential black New Mexico leaders, but those leaders have to be identified and groomed. Perhaps that is a task for the NM Office of African-American Affairs.

FROM MY MAIL BAG

KOAT-TV assignment editor Cary Schwaintz writes in a Xmas card (yes, still catching up from December): "Nine years on the desk and no mention on the blog." Well, we just took care of that, Cary.

And there's this note from ex-Guv Garrey Carruthers whose column on education, Hispanics and Native Americans we picked up January 3.

"We are just not setting high expectations with our young people these days and part of it may be the result of low parental expectations. I have advised that we begin to teach students in the early grades that you are not through until you finish college."

We got a ton of comment on Garrey's musings and mine. Some misunderstood it, but most got the major point that New Mexico needs to aggressively tackle the poor education performance of minority students. Why should another generation be denied full access to the American Dream?

POLITICIAN-BLOGGERS

We did some e-mail with liberal ABQ Dem State Sen. Dede Feldman a while back when she started up her new blog.

"Every year I send a printed constituent survey with questions about what's coming up in the legislature, but that's just once a year. Hopefully this will stimulate conversation on a more frequent basis and allow me to report back." e-mailed Feldman who chairs the Senate Public Affairs Committee and who will again this session devote considerable time to health issues.

Maybe she will encourage more Santa Fe politician-bloggers. Last year ex-ABQ GOP State Rep. Greg Payne blogged live from the House floor.

PETE AND BILL
Sen. Pete & Big Bill
Finally, maybe its not a bad day to give some kudos to the politicos since most of them are away. (I don't want to be accused of going soft.) That said, we take note of GOP NM Senator Pete Domenici's announcement Thursday chastising the Army Corp of Engineers for holding up the bridge projects for ABQ. We blogged that one heavily and the senator's heat should go a long way in finally getting the job done.

And yes, kudos to Big Bill. (No, I am not looking to join his ex-journalist heavy PR gang!) After reporting NM election results these many years, it was good to see his support for switching our state to all paper ballots counted by optical scanners. Having a statewide uniform system is long overdue. Senator Ortiz y Pino of ABQ also deserves a hand for getting this one through. After the Election Night nightmares we've had, this is real election reform everyone should give a chance.

Well, that's quite a boatload for a quiet day. Join me tomorrow as we get ready for Legislature 06'. And thanks for helping me clean up around here today.

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2006
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