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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

New Plan Surfaces To Relieve Overcrowded Schools; Can It Bail Out Big Bill? Plus: Jim Bibb; A "Rising Star" For The R's Or A Flash In The Pan? 

"Year of the Child"
The failure to secure funding for schools in fast growing suburbs on ABQ's Westside and in Dona Ana county was one of Big Bill's setbacks at the recent legislative session and, according to reliable sources, the Guv is now working feverishly to come through with the cash to build two new ABQ high schools and other schools in Dona Ana.

"There is serious talk about floating bonds for the schools that would be backed by the severance tax permanent fund. It would be a novel approach, but it appears to be legal and does not require the approval of the Legislature, only the Public School Capital Outlay Council," informed one source.

Before the session the Governor boasted that he would get nearly $300 million in money for new schools, but the lawmakers appropriated a paltry $90 million. After the rejection, APS school board member Robert Lucero infuriated the Guv by calling the session "The Year of the Spaceport," not "The Year of the Child" as touted by Big Bill.

One Westside activist determined to get those schools built circulated an e-mail that dragged the 08' Prez race into the fray.

"The Guv will not be dinged much in the upcoming election with his failure to get the critically needed funds to fix school overcrowding. His problem will come in selling his "educational Governor" status in his other campaign. One of his chief rivals is the former Governor of Virginia, who did find a way to build and fix that state's schools. If the Guv can't move New Mexico forward, how can he move America forward?" Questioned the activist.

It's a tough one for the chief exec because TV news has been playing the video where he pledged to come up with the money. The bond plan could be the way out. The Guv has issued executive orders to implement several of his proposals that were killed in Session 06.' Getting desperately needed schools built and fading the political heat in this election year may require him to again do an end run around opposing lawmakers.

THE ROARING TRAFFIC'S BOOM

Menawhile, the Guv may have an opportunity to pacify some of his Westside critics. And it comes from the R's. State Sen. Joe Carraro says $500,000 to four-lane the Paseo Del Norte road extension made it through the Legislature, as did another $300,000 secured by fellow GOP Senator Mark Boitano. The money is set loose if Big Bill signs off on it.

If the Guv does give the OK, it will also help Dem ABQ Mayor Marty with his Westside constituents. The mayor has said the city is short the cash for the four lane job. It was GOP U.S. Senator Domenici who recently came to the mayor's aid in winning four lanes for the Montano Bridge and now it's the two state GOP senators. The mayor has been the target of liberals who joke that he should switch to the Repubs, but why should he when he's already getting their help and Westside Dems say that's fine with them. Well, there is the matter of the Dem nomination for Guv in future years, but that's another story...

JIM BIBB DOES HIS BIDDING

He's a near perfect candidate on paper. And several of my Alligators who attended Saturday's GOP Bernalillo County pre-primary convention said attorney general candidate Jim Bibb broke through in person. They say he gave the crowd a red meat speech that faulted Dem AG Madrid for not pursuing a corruption case against indicted ex-Treasurers Vigil and Montoya,

"It was the one speech that had the crowd excited and was interrupted by applause several times," reported a Gator from the confab.

Bibb is a former assistant NM U.S. attorney, and a National Guard vet with Afghanistan experience. At 35, some of his backers are touting him as a new rising star for the R's.

But can University of New Mexico law grad Bibb break through and beat out rival former Bernalillo County District Attorney Bob Schwartz for the nomination? Schwartz has just finished a stint as top crime adviser to Big Bill.

"Bob was on the defensive about his service to the Governor and pointed to the tough crime measures he pursued while in Santa Fe. But Bibb comes without the baggage and his speech gave Bob's skeptics ammunition," reported another GOP Alligator who took in the Schwartz speech.

Of course, Bibb, the son-in-law law of former NM Dem Guv Toney Anaya could be said to have his own baggage. But his cuts both ways. His Hispanic connection gives him a tool that could be useful in the November election. Bibb's own father is a retired FBI agent living in Las Vegas, NM where the family has lived since the 1930's.

BIBB MEETS THE BLOG

I chatted up Bibb, a father of five, from his Santa Fe home Sunday afternoon to find out more. Is he a hard-right R, concerned with abortion, school prayer and gay marriage--the hot button issues that can divide a party? It didn't seem so as Bibb said he has not mentioned those issues on the trail and that prosecution of public corruption and homeland security are his top priorities.

He also noted his working connection to U.S. Attorney David Iglesias who narrowly lost the AG's race in 98' against Madrid. "Another 7,000 votes and he would have won. This race is winnable because, like then, there is no incumbent," Bibb asserted.

Bibb said he met Schwartz for the first time this weekend. He did not take the bait to launch some salvos at his rival. And why should he when former GOP Chair Dendahl and State Sen. "Lightning Rod" Adair are calling Schwartz way too liberal.

Bibb says he and wife Kristina have consulted with Grandpa Toney on political matters, but added: "We agree with Toney some time and disagree others. We all agree we have the greatest bunch of kids."

While they may not agree on all the issues, Bibb is launching his political career on the same trajectory as Toney who was about the same age when he won the AG's post in 74' and later went on to become Guv.

But if Bibb is a "rising star," he says it is not intentional. "I have never been interested in a political career, just in being attorney general."

So far Bibb has raised a respectable $50,000 for his effort. Judging by the reception he received Saturday and the resulting spin, more could be on its way. We'll keep you posted.

And keep us posted on your political news. E-mail it in from the link at the top of the page. Thanks for your company today. Let's do it again tomorrow.

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2006
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