Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Los Ranchos Mayor To Host President For Domenici Event, Plus: Date Set For ABQ Recall Election, And: Santa Fe Crime Wave; Our Continuing Coverage 

Mayor Abraham
The village of Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, estimated (population 5,416) is abuzz with the news of an upcoming presidential visit. My insiders confirm that when President Bush appears at a high-dollar reception for the re-election bid of NM GOP Senator Pete Domenici August 27th he will do so at the home of Los Ranchos Mayor Larry Abraham.

"I am honored that the President will be coming and that I am able to help Pete," commented Abraham when reached late Monday, He deferred further comment to the White House. (The Domenici invite is here.)

An interesting twist is that Abraham is not a Republican. He is an independent who was elected mayor of the enclave, located in the heart of Bernalillo county's North Valley, in March of '04. He has announced he will seek a second term in '08. Abraham says he has no higher political ambitions other than winning re-election as mayor of the village which counts many self-described Democratic liberals among its residents.

Intentional or not, having an independent host a Domenici fund-raiser isn't a bad idea as it is independents and Democrats who have defected in droves from the senator's camp, sending his approval rating down to a historically low 51% before rebounding to 55% in the latest Survey USA poll. Some Republicans, however, may not be ecstatic that their host is not of the party of the elephant.


Abraham and his wife will host the President and Pete at the mayoral home located on an affluent stretch of Rio Grande Boulevard. Entry to the event is for the stock option crowd, with a price of $5,000 for one ticket that includes a photo with the Prez. For $1,000 you get a ticket, but no Kodak moment.

The White House has not said yet if Bush will have any other official or political events while in the ABQ area.

It is rare that the President goes to an individual New Mexican's home when here for political or official purposes so those attending the Domenici reception are going to share a more intimate atmosphere with the chief executive. That won't matter much to the anti-war protesters who these days follow the President everywhere. They are sure to be part of the bucolic North Valley scenery when a presidential motorcade makes its first ever stop in the little village of Los Ranchos.

A final thought. Having the President at a private home rather than a public site means tight media management. TV exposure can be kept to a minimum. And with Bush's unpopularity, Domenici wants to raise money, not his profile as a longtime friend of the Prez.


It seems Los Ranchos is the area hot spot this summer. Not only will President Bush visit there later this month, but on Monday Hollywood delivered a fake President to the village as famed actor-director Kevin Costner was there for his new movie "Swing Vote." A scene featuring a presidential motorcade was filmed on Rio Grande. Actors Kelsey Grammer and Dennis Hopper play presidential candidates. We presume their popularity ratings remain high.


Meanwhile, USA Vice-President Dick Cheney made his Monday visit to the Duke City somewhat of a stealth one. He gave a morning speech at the ABQ Marriott to a Marine group and jetted out of town immediately after. Cheney urged the Marines to support of the no-end-in-sight Iraq war. In large measure it has been the war that has sent Cheney's approval rating plummeting to 28%, replacing Dan Quayle as the most unpopular vice-president in recent history.

It was an official visit so there was no politicking on the part of the Veep, although our Alligators report NM GOP chair Allen Weh was among those greeting Cheney at the airport, but did not attend his hotel speech.


For only the second time since the modern form of government was adopted in '74, ABQ voters will be asked to vote in a recall election of a city councilor, and it will happen at the regular city election October 2nd.

There was no late night hanky-panky and the council voted shortly before 11 p.m. Monday to have the recall of District Nine Councilor Don Harris at the regular election, allaying concerns of fiscal conservatives that the council would move for an expensive special election.

Voters in the far NE Heights district will be given special paper ballots to decide whether Republican Harris should be recalled and the remainder of his term filled out by a mayoral appointee. The councilor has promised a vigorous fight to keep his seat in the face of a campaign that accuses him of ethical violations surrounding his campaign finance reporting.


Santa Fe residents have more reason to be nervous about their city's leadership and its commitment to breaking the back of a crime wave that has seen an outbreak of all sorts crime and a downright epidemic in residential burglary. So why is Santa Fe Police Chief Eric Johnson still trying to spin downward the harm being caused?

Commenting on the dramatic spike in residential break-ins in one city neighborhood, Johnson told the New Mexican: "Percentages can be deceiving... Five hundred fifty percent sounds really bad, and it’s higher than we want, but it’s really not that significant. It went from four to 26.”

From four to 26 is "not that significant?" That raises the questionsof how much crime Chief Johnson and Mayor David Coss are willing to accommodate. Isn't their job to intimidate and drive out the criminal element, not coddle it?

Coss won credit for acknowledging the depth of the problem in his recent state of the city address, but unless there is a change in the head-in-the-sand attitude throughout Santa Fe's governmental hierarchy, our historic capital remains in peril of becoming not only a permanent high-rent district but a high-crime one, too. That's a bleak future for residents there and not a happy legacy for a mayor or a police chief.


Some would argue that the Santa Fe city council is part of that somnambulant hierarchy. City elections are slated for March of next year. One incumbent has decided not to run, guaranteeing one new voice. Will there be others?

Fortunately, an in-depth look by the Sunday New York Times at Santa Fe and how it is changing did not include any mention of the current crime wave. But it did contain insights on how the City Different is shedding old ways as it begins another century as an international tourist destination.

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