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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

More From The Insiders On The Vigil Case, Plus: ABQ School Election Is Handicapped, And: There Is A Free Lunch--Enter The Blog Photo Contest 

Vigil & Bregman
It is now just a bit more than a month until the September 5th scheduled re-trial of ex-NM Treasurer Robert Vigil on corruption charges; a trial that could impact the November election. We blogged recently of plea bargain talks that insiders say have been conducted with Vigil's defense team, but broke down because of Vigil's insistence that he serve no jail time. The deal, according to a Junior Alligator, would have involved a year or more behind bars. Now, a Senior Alligator surfaces to update and correct Junior's original tip.

"The supervisors at the U.S. Attorney's office also rejected the deal. They wanted a minimum of 75 or 78 months or six years plus. Another stumbling point--Vigil does not want to testify against anyone else which any plea agreement would require. I think this has also been a major stumbling block.

The problem for Vigil is that if convicted he faces a minimum of 23 years, possibly more and he can be held responsible for the millions that (ex-state Treasurer) Montoya got in the scheme. Plus, he has the expense of a second trial." Informs the Senior Alligator to which we add our customary warning that only those directly involved in these matters could give a definitive confirmation and they aren't talking.

Vigil's first trial was a nail-biter with the jury ending up hung 11-1 for a conviction on one of the key charges. Vigil has repeatedly asserted his innocence. His attorney, Sam Bregman, says the Feds have politicized the case. As things stand today, Vigil and Bregman are going to get a second chance to prove those assertions. Stay tuned.

THAT OTHER HOT POTATO

And what about that political hot potato known as the federal grand jury investigation into the construction of two Bernalillo county courthouses and the metro jail; another legal tempest that could play a role in the fall elections?

The hive is buzzing and awaiting word of any indictments. Various politicos say "target letters" have been received by those the Feds are investigating, with one saying they went out in June. If there are indictments, any trials would likely be held well after the November election because of the number of witnesses involved.

All of this made those photos of Dem Governor Big Bill meeting with GOP U.S. Attorney Alberto Gonzales Tuesday in Santa Fe fascinating, Not a word was spoken publicly about these matters which are ultimately overseen by the U.S. Justice Department led by Gonzales, the boss of NM U.S. Attorney David Iglesias, but the elephant was in the room.

Gonzales is the first Hispanic U.S. attorney general, a point of pride for many southwesterners and also, perhaps, a rebuttal to the rumblings already being heard (and voiced here) that there is an ethnic factor in the government probes.

SOOTHSAYING WITH SANDEROFF

Pollster Brian Sanderoff says the chances of that ABQ public schools bond issue passing in the special September 19th election are pretty good, even though it would mean a sizable tax hike for property owners--$142 for a home valued at $200,000. Commenting on his recent poll, he said:

"I was surprised that there was only a 7 point drop in support after hearing the tax implications. I don't see anyone on the horizon to take on the tax increase except Mayor Chavez. If the Mayor were to oppose the increase because of his concerns regarding APS, it could definitely impact the election; however, it would be counter productive to the Mayor's stated objective to build more West side schools.” So blogged the veteran pollster who says 42% of city voters are very likely to pass the tax and another 21% somewhat likely.

Chavez has not said whether he will support the tax. His intense displeasure with city school performance (He was given more ammo Tuesday.) reflects the behind-the-scenes bitching in the business community of the Big Duke City, but the business groups routinely support school tax increases and are doing so this time.

One other point. Sanderoff says holding the election in mid-September rather than in November increases the chances of its passage because opponents are more likely to show up for the General Election than the special.

ENTER BLOG PHOTO CONTEST!


The blog photo contest unveiled yesterday is turning out to be a lot of fun. Some of the caption entires for the photo of Big Bill are on the wild side. OK, maybe the smutty side, but they are all fun. Take a look at the pic (below on Tuesday's blog) and join the fun by emailing your caption from the top of the page. The best two entrants get the free blog lunch, even a large order of chicharrones, if they like.

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2006
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