Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday Clippings From My Blog Newsroom Floor; Muted Xmas Party Scene, Plus: Las Cruces Mayor Polled; A Grand Jury Primer, And: Some Holiday Dancin' 

Christmas is still Christmas, but if you've noticed that some of the usual big parties have disappeared, you're not alone. The sour economy was the reason given for the cancelation of one of the season's notable annual bashes for the ABQ legal and political set. Well-known ABQ trial lawyers Turner and Margaret Branch sent out the card posted here (click to read) to notify would-be holiday celebrants that because of "recent economic difficulties we are once again postponing the annual Branch Christmas Party." The couple says the money for a Xmas party would be better spent to help New Mexico families in need. They say they are donating the party money to local charity. These are not days of wine of roses and while potential partygoers may be disappointed, the Branches are in tune with the times--and with the spirit of the season.


Local and national media are getting hit particularly hard in this economic downturn. We told you recently about how southeastern NM was losing its local nightly newscasts from KBIM-TV. ABQ'S KRQE-TV, which operates KBIM in Roswell. said the long-running news broadcasts were cut to save money. Now insiders say that will mean "seven or eight" layoffs in Roswell.

ABQ's KOB-TV has laid off nearly a dozen employees and canceled its 4 p.m. newscast. The ABQ Journal has announced that its employees will not get Xmas bonuses this year. And there could be more media layoffs when we turn the calender to 2009.


Sometimes our blog newsroom clippings end up under a deep pile. Take this one. We commissioned polling for key races in Dona Ana County back on October 22.. We also measured the popularity of various political figures, including Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima, but we lost track of the numbers. We have finally dug them out. The poll was taken in Dona Ana County, not just Las Cruces where Mayor Ken was elected, so we think his favorable number may be a couple of points light. Graham Bass of Positive Contacts Consulting, whose firm conducted the survey, has comments below the numbers.

How would you rate your opinion of Mayor Ken Miyagishima? (266 Dona Ana County surveys)

Fav-------------- 116---43.6%
Unfav----------- 65----24.4%
No Opinion-----85---31.9%

Mayor Miyagishima does well, but he is by no means Mr. Popularity. He has a lot of headroom to improve his image ...He could be a good candidate for higher office.


ABQ attorney Jon Barela, appointed to fill a vacant ABQ School Board seat, says he will not seek election to the position in February. Barela is also the current vice-chairman of the NM Republican Party. On that front, Farmington's Allen McCulloch has made official his run for chairman of the party. In a letter to supporters, McCulloch says he is running because Republicans must stop the "progressive Democrat organizations from making anymore gains in Santa Fe." He adds: "I am committed to ensuring our county chairs, activists and legislators have a seat at the NM Republican table."


Outgoing southern NM GOP Congressman Steve Pearce is weighing a bid for party chair at the January 10 meeting, but there is no firm decision, according to insiders.


The Legal Beagles chime in on the technicals behind this week's big story--the federal probe of an alleged pay to play scheme in Big Bill's administration. Several of them say there needs to be a clearer explanation of the grand jury process involved. Here's a primer from one of them:

No grand jury was convened to investigate this specific case. (Some) stories imply that the grand jury is "investigating." They are not investigating. The U.S. Attorney's office presents evidence to the grand jury when it seeks an indictment. The U.S. Attorney can also request that the grand jury issue subpoenas. The U.S. Attorney can seek immunity for witnesses testifying before the grand jury, who appear for a few moments and then are debriefed by prosecutors and federal agents.

In the NM federal district there are "standing" grand juries. There can be as many as two or three (one is usually in Las Cruces) meeting every week. A new grand jury will be empaneled in January...There is no "special" grand jury investigating the GRIP bond deals.

The Alligators, the Legal Beagles and the Media Mavens are all weighing in on this one. We'll keep you posted.


We blogged a couple of weeks ago that Seantor Payne of ABQ was headed for a leadership slot in Santa Fe. From the AP:

State Sen. Stuart Ingle of Portales will continue as the Senate Republican leader when the Legislature meets next month, GOP senators decided Thursday. Ingle had no challenger for the position he has held since 2001. The new minority whip will be William Payne of Albuquerque. He will succeed Leonard Lee Rawson of Las Cruces, a veteran lawmaker who lost his seat in November to a Democrat.


Happy Holidays. Grab your partner and let's swing under the tree. Take it away, Frank....

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