Monday, February 05, 2007

Dateline Santa Fe: Lobbyists In The Spotlight, Plus: Senator Martinez's Movida, And: Bug The Roundhouse! 

What is a top gun from the giant electric company, PNM, doing lobbying for the Governor? Inquiring minds wanted to know since PNM has a stake in a few pieces of legislation pending at the capitol, not the least of which is the Renewable Energy Transmission Act. The PNM heavy doing the backslapping on behalf of Big Bill is Art Hull, but the Fourth Floor says this is not a case of conflict:

"Hull is participating in PNM’s Loaned Executive program by working as a senior staffer in the Governor’s Office, which enables him to gain direct experience in how state government works...Because of his relationships with many legislators, Art is a valuable resource who acts as a liaison for the Governor on a broad number of issues. With the exception of the Governor’s proposed Renewable Energy Transmission Authority, Art is not lobbying on behalf of any of the Governor’s energy package." Says Fourth Floor officialdom.

The renewable energy act passed both houses of the Legislature last year, but a final bill combining both versions got lost in the last minute crunch, thus the do-over. It would position the state as an exporter of renewable energy sources such as wind, but opponents say it would also promote nuclear and coal power.


Lobbyist Ed Mahr may be second in seniority in that category, just behind his former partner Bob McBride. Mahr is working (or enduring) his 28th legislative session. He burst into the headlines recently when it ws reported he was hired by the Lottery Authority to help with their legislative package which included opposition to forcing the authority to spend an increased amount on educational scholarships and less on administration. Big Bill pulled the plug on Mahr's deal, but there's no hard feelings says the longtime wall-leaner:

"The Governor realizes I was in the middle on this. He and I spoke recently. We get along just fine" reports Democrat Mahr.

Oldtimers will remember that Mahr was the managing editor of the states largest newspaper, the ABQ Journal, back in the 70's. The gray-hair set will also note that the lobbyist served a stint as Secretary of Corrections. (The Mahr photo is courtesy of Jim Baca's blog.)


What does Espanola Senator Richard Martinez want? He certainly has asking rights of Big Bill after taking a walk on the controversial cockfighting issue and allowing it to pass the Senate Conservation Committee. If he had hung around and voted, there would be no chance for the controversial activity to be banned, thus giving prez hopeful Bill a campaign migraine. (Maybe Senator Richard had a bad cold, a family emergency or forgot the hearing!)

We're probably late in asking what Martinez wants for his Northern NM district. This cockfighting deal looks neatly pre-planned by the Guv and his legislative allies. And you have to say they have played a smooth political hand. Even Conservation Committee chairman Phil Griego is off the hook, getting to vote against banning cockfighting which he says is popular in his district, while having his committee vote for the ban.

Senator Mary Jane Garcia (D-Dona Ana) is getting accolades for sponsoring the bill, as she should, but if a ban makes it through, as expected, history will likely record this one as "The Martinez Movida." Our bottom line? Senator Martinez has either already gotten what he wants, or it's on the way.


There was $75,000 put up last year so all of you Legislature addicts could see your lawmakers in action just by turning on your computer and tapping into a video stream of the floor sessions. That way you could sit in your pajamas eating a jelly doughnut and not have to put on a tie or a dress and step foot in the Roundhouse. (Not that we don't do that already) So how come it hasn't happened? I checked with ABQ GOP State Senator Mark Boitano who has been key in getting this one going.

"...The Legislative Council Service said it wasn't going to happen this year. They are still working on designs, getting bids, etc. and intend to make it happen for the '08 session. Government works slowly." Boitano blogged.

We do look forward to seeing Senator Pinto singing the "Potato Song" live on the World Wide Web and the visage of Senator Carraro showing up for "Italian Day" draped in an opera cape. With characters like that, high ratings are guaranteed.


In a similar vein, an emailer asks why doesn't some enterprising reporter, blogger or troublemaker find a way to secretly record one of those House-Senate conference committees that are closed to the public and press? Would it really be illegal to tape a bunch of public officials gathered in a public building discussing public business, even if you had to hide a recording device to do it? Just asking. Not that anyone around here is going to up up bail money for whoever does it.

Keep us posted. Send your news and comments, anonymous or otherwise, from the email link at the top of the page.

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