Thursday, April 30, 2009

Big Bill's Polls Bottom Out; Now The Long Climb Back? Plus: More Kilmer Stuff, And: Flip-Flopping Over Jerome Block 

They say it's not how you start, it's how you finish, and how New Mexico's dominant politician finishes his second four year gubernatorial term is more than a parlor game. If his approval rating continues to languish, it could taint the campaign of his would-be Democratic successor and give the down and out Republicans a chance to get in the game. For now, Big Bill remains below the important 50 per cent mark, but it appears his bout of unpopularity has bottomed out. In the latest SurveyUSA poll taken Tuesday, April 28, the governor wins the approval of 46 percent of those polled, up from 42 percent in a March survey. Oh, for the heady days of 60 percent plus love fests!

The margin of error in the survey is about four percent so we won't read too much into the bounce, other than that he appears to have reached his low point. Richardson has been busy traveling the state and his media profile has been higher in recent weeks, including a well-publicized meeting with the pope in Rome, perhaps bumping his numbers.

While Democrats want to see the Guv above 50 percent so the 2010 campaign doesn't become a referendum on Richardson's pay to play problems, the governor is looking even further down the line--to history and his legacy. If the generation of New Mexicans who experienced the Richardson years do not give him a thumbs up, it could influence what is thought of him by future generations.


The President comes with a 63 percent NM approval rating in the April SurveyUSA, a solid number after three months on the job. Independents, a key group, give Obama a 61 percent approval rating.


The Guv took some action Wednesday regarding the State Investment Council ethics issues that he hopes will show him getting ahead of the curve.


It turns out this is NOT a Val Kilmer blog. In our first draft, we said it apparently was authored by Kilmer. It is affiliated with the lifestyle magazine, Living Life...Boomer Style. The writing is a compilation of previous interviews with Kilmer
. There is now a note on the blog from fan author Shelli Carlisle saying it is her personal blog, and not Val's. In any event, we'll keep Shelli's blog up for your viewing pleasure...

The other popular state political parlor game is whether or not actor Val Kilmer will seek the 2010 Dem guv nomination. That game is back on this week. There's a new blog, called "Val Kilmer ~ The Real Deal," which waxes poetic over New Mexico's natural beauty, but does not talk about Val's policies or future plans. There is a comment on the blog lamenting the negative tone of the press coverage Kilmer's possible guv run has received, but no other political references.

Here's some samples from the three blog entries posted so far

I think spiritual perception comes from a natural and healthy relationship to the land and I've had that. I get an easy, automatic sense of myself in nature, a wholeness I feel nowhere else.

When you get involved with love, there’s always something big to learn about life. The reality of love is that it’s hard to do...

Kilmer has put his northern ranch up for sale, leaving the speculators to wonder what his next move will be.

Kilmer was reported in February to have hired McMahon Squire and Associates in the D.C. area as communications consultants, made several appearances at the recent session of the Legislature and then went dark. Maybe Val is thinking: Being in politics is like being in love, it is hard to do.


What would have been the first face-off in the 2009 ABQ mayoral contest Wednesday night turned out to be a bust. Republican RJ Berry said he was unable to attend because he was out of a town on a long-scheduled trip with the NM Amigos. Incumbent Mayor Marty Chavez was playing hide the ball and said he wouldn't go to the AFSCME forum because he has yet to "officially" announce his candidacy. Richard Romero was the only one of the three qualified candidates to show.

For Chavez, delaying the start of the campaign is smart politics. He is ahead and doesn't need any publicity. It is about five months until the October 6 election. If the past is an indication, there will be a couple dozen forums and media debates that the candidates will be invited to. Only when Chavez shows up will they matter, or when his not showing up becomes a political issue. But guess what? Mr. and Mrs. Albuquerque are not exactly clamoring yet to see a bunch of politicians yammer at each other, not after what they went through just last year.

Historically, ABQ mayor contests have been abbreviated affairs with about five or six weeks of intense campaigning. With the three mayoral candidates all taking public financing and getting just $328,000 to run their efforts, the campaign will stay low key in the paid media until September. That is unless third party groups start sending out paid literature early.


Ken Schultz
No one campaigned harder to become Mayor of ABQ than Ken Schultz, and it worked. He inched by Jim Baca in the '85 race, an epic clash that divided the city. But it was all downhill from there, with Schultz's administration dragged down by ethics issues. He lost his bid for re-election in 1989 and twenty years later in a federal courtroom , the Schultz saga ended. On Wednesday he was sentenced to five years probation and $50,000 in fines for his role in the Metro Courthouse scandal in which he was a bagman, delivering bribe money from an architect to politicos. Schultz helped the prosecution to avoid prison time.

The sentencing was done by Senior Federal Judge John Conway who in the 1970's was the Republican state Senate leader. He called sentencing Schultz one of the hardest acts he has had as a federal judge.

I'm very sorry you've gotten hung up in this," Conway said. "I take no pleasure sentencing you."It's a sad, sad day."

One of the Alligators wondered why Judge Conway was finding it so hard to sentence Schultz. He reminded us that Conway was a long ago ally of Schultz and even received a city contract when Ken was mayor.

Judge Conway was given a contract under Mayor Schultz as an "oversight" attorney to oversee complaints made against the ABQ police department.

Yes, that Alligator is of the Senior variety and was in the game during the Schultz years. They don't forget, do they?

Meantime, US Attorney Greg Fouratt did not find the day hard at all. He unloaded his holster on the steps of the federal courthouse.

"He (Schultz) was a seedy lobbyist, he was a shadowy bagman and now he's a convicted felon." Fired Fouratt.

According to TV news, Schultz told the court he had "lost half his stomach" because of ulcers. As we blogged back in November of 2008, Schultz and his wife Diane now live in Nevada where he consults for a contractors group, but does not lobby.

Ken Schultz came here from Chicago, opened a car dealership that made him a celebrity and became the only city councilor to manage to ever get elected Mayor. Current Mayor Marty Chavez recently took down the official photograph of Schultz in the gallery of mayors at City Hall, as if removing the photo would somehow cleanse the city of Schultz's sins. It won't. You can't hide history, nor should it be denied.

Sen. Cisneros
There seems to be some flip-flopping going on in the intrigue over indicted NM Public Regulation Commissioner Jerome Block, Jr. First, Northern Dem State Senator Carlos Cisneros calls on block to resign from the PRC. "Resignation would be appropriate.” Fighting the charges will divert Block’s attention from his duties as Commissioner, Cisneros suggested. “It’s in the best interest of the public to resign."

But that was then, and this is now:

Several legislators...are questioning whether the eight felony counts contained in the indictment against Block are warranted, since he already paid an $11,700 fine to the Secretary of State's Office for improper public campaign expenditures.

“You can't convict a person twice,” said Sen. Carlos Cisneros, D-Questa. “If it's the same (allegation), he should not have to defend himself again. Whether he gets convicted or not, I think it needs to be addressed.”

Hmmm. Did Carlos and Jerome sign some kind of peace pact?

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