Friday, August 24, 2007
Another Shoe Drops In Metro Court Scandal; Big Bill Transport Boss Could Suffer, Plus: Clippings From The Blog Newsroom Floor
Faught & Guv
Political insiders are saying pressure may mount on NM Secretary of Transportation Rhonda Faught in light of a plot to defraud the agency that was revealed late Thursday. The feds announced the indictment of businessman Michael Murphy in connection with the ongoing investigation of the construction of the Bernalillo County Metro Courthouse and also news of the fraud plot. Faught came with immediate damage control just hours after word spread:
“I was recently made aware of allegations that Toby Martinez and Raul Parra may have been plotting to defraud taxpayers by manipulating a planned Department of Transportation District 5 relocation project in Santa Fe. That District 5 redevelopment project never moved forward, and I am confident that Martinez and Parra were not able to carry out the alleged scheme," Faught said in her news release.
“I was interviewed...and provided all information requested by the FBI. I had no knowledge of Parra’s alleged role with the developer, or the alleged conspiracy with Martinez related to the District 5 project. In fact, I approved the cancellation of the District 5 project earlier this year because we could not reach an agreement with the developer that was in the best interest of taxpayers.”
Before this, Faught was already under fire for this:
"Two men the state Transportation Department said weren't involved with its headquarters redevelopment project in Santa Fe flew with DOT officials on state aircraft to project meetings in Texas. Engineer Raul Parra and architect Roger Basarich flew with Toby Martinez, the project manager, and Transportation Secretary Rhonda Faught to Dallas on Jan. 20, 2005, according to aircraft-use records."
Cabinet secretaries have been shown the door for less. Faught's tenure is now fraught with danger.
FIXIN' A HOLE
That $1,000 a head ABQ Country Club dinner being sponsored by attorneys Turner and Margaret Branch and politico Ed Romero for Attorney General Gary King has a shot a wiping out most of Democrat King's campaign debt. The ABQ Journal, following up on our report, says King has $180,000 left on his original $330,000 debt.
FROM THE GUT
The recall effort against ABQ City Councilor Don Harris certainly has emotional fervor behind it, but my gut is starting to tell me that this is far from a done deal. I have no polling to back up my position, but no councilor has ever been recalled, and voters in his far NE Heights district may not be anxious to pull the trigger since they can always extract their revenge at the next election.
Also, expect Harris to come with the argument that if he is kicked off the council, it will mean Mayor Chavez gets to appoint a replacement, shifting the balance of power back toward the 11th floor as that would likely mean just five votes against the mayor instead of the current veto proof six. Stay tuned for further developments...
PETE AT 52%
No bounce for Pete. He remains mired in the low 50's in his latest approval rating from Survey USA, getting a 52% rating in August. His lowest in recent polling has been 51% and his highest 55%. Domenici's weakness started with the US Attorney scandal and has continued through his "switch" on the Iraq war. The drumbeat for Big Bill to get in this one if his Prez campaign fizzles will only grow louder if these numbers are not turned around. This could be the biggest and, so far, most under covered developing political story in a generation. But not here. Don't say we didn't tell you.
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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2007
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