Monday, February 26, 2007

U.S. Attorney Igleisas On His Ouster: It's Not About Performance; It's A "Political Fragging," Plus: An Electric Debate, And: On The Big Bill Beat 

Outgoing U.S. Attorney David Iglesias has had enough. He is telling supporters that recent U.S. Senate testimony citing his "job performance" and that of other fired U.S. attorneys as the reason for them getting the axe by the Bush administration is way out of line. In an email to a friend, he dubbed his dismissal "a political fragging" that cannot be pinned on his performance.

"I can provide reams of performance stats showing record immigration, narcotics and firearms prosecutions under my administration, not to mention a higher than national conviction rate. Not to mention the biggest political corruption cases in NM history--four indictments, four convictions.

"This is a political fragging, pure and simple. I'm OK with being asked to move on for political reasons, I'm NOT OK with the Department of Justice wrongfully testifying under oath to the Senate Judiciary Committee that I had performance issues..." So scorched the Gallup native and Santa Fe High graduate.

His reference to a "fragging" is a military term to describe the killing of an unpopular senior officer, typically with a hand grenade. Iglesias served as a Judge Advocate General (JAG) in the United States Naval Reserve and is the military defense attorney portrayed in the early 1990s movie "A Few Good Men."


The exact reason for the Iglesias departure remains shrouded in mystery. Five of the dismissed U.S. attorneys, including Iglesias, who received walking papers December 7 told reporters that they were not given any reason for their firings and had not been told of any performance problems.

Here in NM, legal and political Alligators pointed to Iglesias's prosecution of ex-Treasurer Vigil in which he managed to get a conviction, but only on one count of several dozen and only after a mistrial. Others attribute the dismissal to disgruntlement on the part of ABQ GOP Congresswoman Heather Wilson and others that Iglesias did not announce indictments during the '06 campaign regarding the federal corruption probe of the construction of two Bernalillo county courthouses. Indictments are still anticipated in the case which focuses on Democratic politicians,

As for the dismissal of the other U.S. attorneys, several of them were in the midst of investigations focusing on Republican politicians or their supporters. At that heated senate hearing, Justice cited poor performance for the firings, denying it was politics. Here's more from the Sunday New York Times.

Iglesias remains on the job, awaiting a replacement from the Bush White House. NM GOP Senator Pete Domenici has forwarded several names to the White House for consideration, including those of ABQ attorney Charles Peifer and '06 GOP attorney general candidate Jim Bibb. Legal beagles are saying Peifer appears to be a favorite because his legal experience dwarfs that of Bibb who is the son-in-law law of former Dem NM Governor Toney Anaya. Observers expected an announcement by now, but perhaps the controversy over the outgoing prosecutors has slowed the process. Stay tuned.


Not everyone saw it my way--actually quite a few didn't--when it came to my Friday riff on why PNM should be corralled by the Public Regulation Commission and prevented from imposing higher electricity rates for summer usage. Marc Christensen, PNM's director of corporate communications, blogged in with this opposing view:

"Why have rates that discourage high volume usage? In the long run, it will reduce pressure on ...rates..."Peak" consumption (in the summer during the hottest part of the day) is growing much faster than average. Generating power to meet peak demand is the most expensive form of electricity. It seems to us to be fairer to ask those customers choosing a lifestyle that involves using high volumes to pay for the cost of that choice...Consumers who use evaporative (as compared to refrigerated) air are not likely to hit the highest rates...We're not trying to dictate customer choices--we are saying that those who cause costs should pay for the costs...If we choose to drive an SUV (and I do) I pay the costs at the pump. I wouldn't expect those who drive more fuel-efficient vehicles to pay the costs for me. Why should it be any different when it comes to the cost of electricity?"

Well said, but the price of gasoline isn't based on what kind of car you drive. It's the same price for all which is how our current electric rates are structured. Should Marc and his fellow SUV drivers pay more for a gallon of gas? That's too much social engineering for my taste, but if people want restrictions, give the people what they want. Others disagreeing with me said I was fostering a pro-pollution policy by arguing for no restrictions on electricity usage. The debate will go on before the PRC for most of the year with a decision in the rate hike case coming by year's end.


Making a pitch for votes in Indian Country, Big Bill says it's time for a Secretary of Indian Affairs. There are Indian tribes scattered throughout the early primary states, including quite a few in California which is expected to move its primary up to March 5....The Richardson candidacy is evoking pride among the nation's Hispanics, but that doesn't mean the support of Hispanic leaders is there for the asking. Hillary Clinton is managing to pick many of them off, despite Bill's Hispanic roots...Foreign policy continues to be the Guv's strong suit. Over the weekend, the Washington Post made room on its opinion page for a piece penned by the former U.N. ambassador in which he argues "saber-rattling" is not a good way to get the Iranians to cooperate on its nuclear program and calls for "direct engagement."

More New Mexico politics right here tomorrow. Keep me posted by dropping your news and comments in the email via the link at the top of the page.

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