Thursday, March 12, 2009

Time Again For Toney; Former Guv Tapped For Obama Era, Plus: GOP Grumbling, And: Bipartisan Upset Over ABQ Mass Murder; Your Thursday Blog Is Up Now 

Toney Anaya
We brought up former Governor Tony Anaya (1983-86) Monday when we blogged what some are calling the "Screw the Media" party thrown on behalf of former Big Bill aide Dave Contarino, but we didn't expect the former Guv to be back in the limelight. But he is. Anaya has been tapped by Big Bill for a new job.

Governor Richardson announced the creation of the New Mexico Office of Recovery and Reinvestment. The temporary office will oversee spending of the $1.8 billion in federal stimulus money expected to be invested in New Mexico during the next two years...Richardson appointed former Governor Toney Anaya to lead the office, which will work closely with state agencies to facilitate access to funding, assist with compliance, and promote transparency throughout the process.

Toney, an attorney by trade, will be paid $35,000 for his work which will last through June.


We had mentioned Monday that Anaya, a native of Moriarty, had an administration in which no members had been indicted, even though we recall there was plenty of trouble. Our Legal Beagles quickly pointed out the indictment if Anaya State Investment Officer Phil Troutman. Now the Beagles remind us of the case of John Ramming, an attorney and close aide to Toney who was indicted and convicted for mishandling flood relief money. We knew John as did everyone in the early 80's Santa Fe political scene. He died in an auto accident in '96. At the time, the ABQ Journal's Larry Calloway --now retired--recalled the Ramming affair:

Gov. Toney Anaya made him director of special projects, including disaster assistance..But things began to look funny. At one point Anaya declared a flood disaster before it occurred. In the end, Ramming was among those convicted in a never-untangled mess of kickbacks and fraud on disaster-relief contracts. Anaya in his last month in office pardoned his former aide on 12 of 13 counts. Ramming subsequently served a year in a minimum-security prison out of state...

And our Beagles this week also mentioned the 1980's indictment of Toney's brother, Mike Anaya, but we should add details on that one. One of our Alligators remembers clearly:

That indictment was a travesty. It had to do with a $10,000 check to some education campaign Toney had going, and Mike deposited it in the wrong account where it sat for a day or two, before he realized the mistake and put it in the right account.

We read in the Wall Street Journal recently that officials say seven percent of all federal contracts can be expected to be lost to fraud. Anaya, 67, may want to concentrate on the "promote transparency" portion of his new job description.

Rail Runner
Toney never did have much luck with the press, as witnessed by the fact that we've been blogging this week about wrongdoing in his administration even as Bill prepared to put him back in the public eye. But that aside, some Governors are as easily forgotten as yesterday's breakfast, but Toney Anaya was not forgettable nor was he irrelevant.

Anaya was scorned when he proposed a high-speed bullet train between ABQ and Santa Fe, but the idea he birthed is now essentially a reality with the opening of the Rail Runner. And in one of the most controversial actions ever taken by a Governor, in his final days as Governor Anaya commuted the death sentences of all the prisoners on the state's death row. And what's happening today? The Legislature appears ready to send the current Governor a bill repealing the death penalty.

Anaya was relevant because he was a thinker. But that doesn't mean he was popular. Anaya was perhaps the most unpopular Governor in state history. When he concluded his term, we recall an ABQ Journal survey that had him at about 13 per cent approval. Still, he wanted that train and he wanted the death penalty repealed. Anaya has lived long enough to see history bend his way, a bittersweet conclusion for one of the more spirited warriors who graced the stage of La Politica.

Bill & Di
Some Santa Fe Alligators were wondering why Light Guv Diane Denish wasn't tapped for the post Anaya was given. She has a lot of experience and the position would have given her Guv campaign a boost. The state's # 2 was given a smaller piece of the action by Big Bill:

...Denish will join an advisory group, led by Governor Richardson’s Science adviser Tom Bowles that will focus specifically on accessing a share of the billions of dollars available through the competitive grants process. The Lieutenant Governor will work to ensure that rural communities will have an opportunity to participate in the process.

The state House has already decided how to use $332 million of the stimulus--it will go to seal up the budget shortfall for the budget year that starts July 1st.


Where is the new executive director of the NM Republican Party? So ask a number of GOP watchers who point out it has been well over a month since Chairman Harvey Yates began looking for a new ED. We're told the position is being filled in the interim by Bernalillo County GOP Chairman Ryan Cangliosi. Meanwhile, Whitney Cheshire who was hired temporarily for the ED post by former NM GOP Chair Allen Weh, is now communications director for the party.

Earl Greer, who once challenged Weh for the chairmanship, tells us he and other R's hoping for change from Yates are "disappointed" that there has not been a shake-out of the old faces at the party which took one of its worst beatings in history in 2008. But getting new faces and new party members isn't easy when your party has been bombarded into near irrelevance. Yates has said he is looking nationally for an executive director who will manage the day to day affairs of the GOP.

And for what it's worth. We've been getting e-mail about the state of the GOP's Web site--lots of dead links and outdated info. While we're on the topic, here's the state Dems site.

Sen. Rue
Former ABQ Mayor Jim Baca comments on the discovery of that mass murder grave--the work of an apparent serial killer--on ABQ's West side:

I know police work is tough but this shows that a reassessment of practices and procedures at local law enforcement agencies might be a good idea. It doesn't mean any one is guilty of malfeasance, it just means that some scrutiny is due. So far, I haven't heard the Mayor, City Council, Sheriff or County Commission calling for such an effort.

Either have we, but Baca's viewpoint received a boost in the state Senate Wednesday as ABQ area Dem State Senator Linda Lopez, Westside area Dem Senator Bernadette Sanchez and GOP Senator Sander Rue introduced a tough worded Senate Memorial about the thirteen women whose bodies have been unearthed. Rue had some especially hard-hitting words for law enforcement:

Local law enforcement owes us an explanation as to how this case has been handled and reported to the public. While we are being told that whoever may have been responsible for the growing list of the missing is no longer active, we have no assurance that this is so. We could simply be seeing a shift of violence and victimization from one place to another.

When Jim Baca and Sander Rue agree, you have a bipartisan issue. ABQ Police Chief Schultz and Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White have reason to take notice.


Our blog on how some are questioning Congressman Ben Ray Lujan's heavy emphasis on "green jobs," perhaps to the exclusion of other issues, brought this retort from Stephen Reed who worked on Lujan's campaign:

I'm surprised you would suggest (Rep. Lujan) start tackling oil and natural gas exploration. Wasn't it the reliance on tax revenues from oil and gas that helped mire the state budget? With gas and oil volatile commodities, renewable energy makes perfect sense for the Northern district. As for the working women who need help in this economy, I'm sure they'd be very happy to see decreased energy prices when winter rolls around because energy companies have new sources of energy...Also, what better way to stall the downsizing of Los Alamos Labs than by shifting their mission to improve renewable technology....?

Yes, oil and gas are not necessarily the wave of the future, but they are still highly important to our present. It's an issue the congressman representing San Juan County needs on his plate.Working women will indeed be glad to see lower prices but, as we originally blogged, they would be even happier to have jobs. Is green technology really going to deliver many? As for Los Alamos, this corner has long been sceptical--and so far correct--in doubting the ability of the Labs to attract "green" money from Congress. If Ben Ray can prove us wrong, more power to him.

Thanks for the thoughts, Stephen.

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