Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Guv Hug: Emotions Pour Forth As Big Bill & Senate Dem Meet; Big Bill Admits Mistakes; Sen. Grubesic Apologizes; Foes Hug; Exclusive Details Here 

Sen. Grubesic
Emotions poured forth at a frank and candid Saturday morning meeting between Governor Richardson and New Mexico state senate Democrats. The highlight came when Santa Fe Senator John Grubesic, who during last year's legislative session took to the senate floor and termed Big Bill a "flabby king" and then penned a nasty column about the Guv, openly apologized to the Governor who in turn hugged the senator as the rest of the high-powered politicos looked on approvingly.

Those exclusive details come from my Senior Alligators who say the one hour session at a conference room at a Socorro hotel was a stark contrast to when he last met with the Senate Dems during last year's legislative session and where he berated them for not approving all of his legislative agenda. Saturday the Guv told the senators he had sent them too crowded an agenda for a thirty day session and pledged to do a better job this time.

Another riveting exchange at the high-powered confab came when Big Bill and State Senator Bernadette Sanchez exchanged views on a payday loan bill; an issue she parted ways with the Guv on last year and which led to rancor between the two. Both said they wanted to work to get such legislation approved this year.

The caucus also discussed the Governor's proposed statewide minimum wage which went down in flames in the waning hours of Legislature 05' as southern senators rebelled, fearing it would harm the agricultural industry. The Alligators say Senator Mary Kay Papen and the Guv talked of a compromise that could exempt the chile industry and other agriculture from the minimum wage. No deal yet, but it appears the Guv now has a better shot of not getting shut out on this high-profile piece of legislation.


Big Bill
The Governor and Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez also discussed the lay of the land, with both men acting conciliatory towards one another and pledging cooperation, according to my top sources.

Big Bill, dressed casually, sat with the lawmakers who were gathered in a circle. It was not a new Big Bill, but the one who has successfully negotiated with foreign leaders around the globe as United Nations ambassador and special envoy, but often mysteriously missing when dealing with politicos here.

Mindful of his upcoming Prez campaign and his past mistakes, the Governor Saturday laid the groundwork for a less contentious session. Senators who in the past felt they were not getting the respect they were due were buoyed by the meeting. With a long two month session starting in mid-January, tempers are sure to flare and bodies tire. But the lines of communication between the Fourth Floor and the upper legislative chamber may now be less clogged. That means compromise is more likely. And in our system that's the magic word.


With the Guv going for peacemaker instead of landing haymakers with the solons, it raises the question of why he and/or his staff is apparently pushing to keep Deming State Sen. John Arthur Smith, Senate Finance Committee Vice-Chair, out of the chairmanship of the powerful committee to replace State Sen. Fidel.

The talk of another southerner taking the post, Roswell's Tim Jennings, isn't comforting to the Fourth Floor either. But the often fiscally conservative Jennings and Smith holding chair and vice-chair of the panel may be the check and balance taxpayers need as the billions of oil and gas royalties continue to pour into Santa Fe. If they aren't allowed to sometimes put on the brakes, who will? In other works, let Smith be Smith and Jennings be Jennings. And let either one of them head Senate Finance.


The rumors of more turnover in the Guv's cabinet continues unabated in the wake of the departure of Labor Secretary Conroy Chino. We blogged that the insiders expect at least one more. The ABQ Journal's Trip Jennings asked the Guv's' office about more turnover in the over 20 cabinet posts and they replied: "Not at this time." Those surely are not comforting words to those who already feel they are on bit of thin ice in their $100,000 plus a year jobs. For some, a second Big Bill term will not be delivering a second chance. Don't say we didn't tell you.

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