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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Search On For New NM US Marshal, Plus: ABQ & Rio Rancho City Hall Doings, And: Former ABQ Mayor Declared Nonperson By Mayor Marty 

Conrad Candelaria
One of our Alligators checks in with the news that NM US Senators Bingaman and Udall and their respective staff chiefs recently interviewed nine candidates for the US Marshal's post here. They will narrow that down to a handful before making a final recommendation to the White House which will make the appointment, subject to Senate confirmation. Among those interviewed--according to our Gator---was Conrad Candelaria. He is listed on the West Side Commander for the ABQ Police Department.

The Marshal slot is a plum federal position, responsible for providing security to the federal courts and judges and also tracking federal fugitives. The post has been held since early 2002 by Gordon Eden, who worked with GOP NM Governor Gary Johnson before winning the appointment from President Bush. We're told Eden was one those interviewed by the Democratic Senators, but it is widely expected that a Dem will get the choice slot. A decision should come before mid-year.

HELP NOT WANTED

Don't look for a new chief of staff on the 11th floor of ABQ City Hall to replace Bianca Ortiz Wertheim who left the post to becomes state director for Dem Senator Udall. Insiders say Mayor Chavez, up for re-election this year, is unlikely to fill the $80,000 a year job. With the city under the financial gun--the projected deficit for the fiscal year starting in July could be over $50 million--the decision is not surprising. Chavez did take some heat recently for filling the $75,000 position of transportation czar when that job became vacant. Chavez has submitted a budget that calls for no layoffs, but also calls for not filling vacant positions--except, of course, transportation czars.

Meanwhile, at City Hall in Rio Rancho the recession has hit home., One of the TV stations reported this week--we forget which one-- that the city is asking some employees to take voluntary furloughs to help make ends meet. Rio Rancho has been slammed by the layoffs at Intel--it's largest employer--where in the past year or so full-time jobs have gone from 5,200 down to about the 3,000 level. Rio Rancho is being dubbed the foreclosure capital of the state. One out of 32 homes went south there in 2008. And to think a couple of years ago we were writing about how Rio Rancho seemed to be beating ABQ in building up their economy.

If things are so tight in Rio Rancho, why are they paying $102,000 for a development director? In this environment can't the city negotiate a better deal, especially when the leading candidate is a double dipper? The question goes to City Manager James Jimenez and Rio Rancho Mayor Tom Swisstack and the city council which will probably approve the appointment today.

MAYOR SCHULTZ--NONPERSON?

Former ABQ Mayor Ken Schultz will be sentenced April 29 for his role in the Bernalillo County Metro Court corruption scandal. Schultz pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of mail fraud in connection with the scandal that ended with former State Senate powerhouse going to federal prison. Schultz now lives in Nevada.

Mayor Chavez recently defended to KOB-TV's Stuart Dyson his decision to take the former mayor's portrait down from the mayoral gallery at city hall, saying Schultz pleading to a felony was his justification. But Schultz was not convicted of a crime while mayor, and besides, if we were to start taking down politicians portraits because of seedy behavior, we could end up with white walls and no pictures.

Back to the current mayor and this year's October 6 election. We are still at three candidates and likely to stay that way unless "green developer" Rob Dickson can pull a rabbit out of his hat, not to mention over 6,500 petition signatures needed to get on the ballot. Dickson reports he has collected 1,000 of the needed John Hancocks. Chavez, Richard Romero and RJ Berry are all expected to submit more than enough signatures to qualify when the deadline hits April 28.

MOVING AND SHAKING
Rep. McCoy
Insiders don't expect GOP State Rep. Kathy McCoy to seek a fourth term in the Legislature. They see her running in 2010 for the Bernalillo County Commission seat held by Michael Brasher. McCoy, whose Bernalillo County East Mountain area district also includes portions of two other counties, has long been interested in environmental issues. She could have a major impact in that area as a commissioner. Brasher is term limited and likely to seek the ABQ City Council seat held by fellow Republican Don Harris. If Brasher were to beat Harris, the remaining year on his commission term would be filled by appointment from the Governor.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2009
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