Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday Clippings From Our Newsroom Floor: Lots Of Presidential Leftovers, And: Sandia Labs' Big Birthday; How It Matters 

In what used to pass for normal times there would be no confusion or speculation on whether President Obama would meet privately with Big Bill when visiting New Mexico. But these are not normal times and the spin, scurrying and frenzy over what would happen occurred before, during and after the event.

The AP had reported that Richardson had scored a private meeting with Obama and one insider reporting here that he had breakfast with the President at the Marriott Hotel in ABQ"s uptown where Obama spent the night. But the ABQ Journal reported: "Richardson met White House officials at the president's hotel in Albuquerque and rode over to Rio Rancho in the motorcade, but the meeting took place at the event, Richardson spokesman Pahl Shipley said. And that 10 minute meeting was held with other politicos."

Richardson rode in the presidential motorcade, but did not ride in the President's car in that motorcade to and from Rio Rancho High School where Obama held his credit card town hall meeting. As we anticipated, old pros Obama and Richardson showed not one iota of tension with Obama announcing from the stage that Bill was "one of the finest governors in the country." It was no surprise at all that Richardson or other politicos were not on the stage with Obama at this national policy event. That would have lent it the air of a campaign event, something the White House would naturally want to avoid.

There was that odd AP photograph (shown here at the top) that surfaced showing the power duo apparently ending a handshake and in which Bill looked as if he did not want to let go of the nation's #1. That prompted KKOB-AM radio personality Bob Clark to offer this caption:

"OK, Bill. It's time to go..."

A couple of anonymous readers offered their own captions:

"Presidential Snub," said one.

"It's over, Bill." Offered a Senior Alligator as a caption.

Although we think the pic caught the end of the handshake, not the beginning and it may have just looked like Obama was trying to get the heck away from Bill.

Another reader headlined the power pic:

"I am so very sorry almighty powerful ruler. Can I kiss your ring?"

Well, if he is still looking to get a job with the administration, the Guv might at least have been thinking that.


It was the first meeting between Obama and Big Bill since the guv withdrew as commerce secretary nominee because of the federal grand jury investigation into pay to play allegations. With that as a backdrop, it was interesting to see that Santa Fe attorney John Pound was among those selected to meet with Obama in one of the political groups. Pound was there because he chaired Obama's campaign for the 2008 NM Dem Prez caucus, but it was lost on no one that Pound is also considered a leading candidate to become the new US attorney for NM, replacing the Republican who currently holds the office and who is leading the investigation into Big Bill's activities.

Another notable on hand for an Obama greeting was State Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez. He was there in his role as Senate leader but it could not have been lost on the President's team that Sanchez is nearing a run for governor and could give Diane Denish her first announced Democratic primary opposition. Another State Senator, Dem freshman John Sapien of Sandoval County, also got to meet briefly with Obama.

Another US attorney hopeful, ABQ public safety chief Pete Dinelli, was also able to shake the president's hand when he attended the event with top state law enforcement officers. And yet another possible for the top job, ABQ Dem State Rep. Al Park, was included in the "clutch" of politicos that met Obama right after his speech. Al agreed to send us the pic he had taken with the Prez when it is received from the White House.


No stops for lunch or an "impromptu" meet and greet at a retail outlet along the presidential motorcade? That was the most surprising development to us of the Prez's first-ever visit to Rio Rancho.

These events are highly choreographed for television. This one went off like clock work for the viewing audience And it was a big one. All three major network ABQ TV affiliates ended up broadcasting the Obama event live and streaming it on their Web sites.

Obama caused a flurry of excitement at the Marriott hotel in uptown ABQ. The presidential entourage arrived there after midnight. Obama's plane landed at 11:50 Wednesday night and went wheels up at 12:44 p.m. Thursday. But thirteen--the number of hours he was here--did not turn out to be an unlucky number. Rio Rancho Mayor Swisstack and many volunteers made sure of that. The Richardson cabinet debacle gave NM some lousy PR with the Prez, but the locals in Sandoval County sweetened things up. That can't hurt us when White House attention turns to matters effecting the Land of Enchantment.


Some of the Guv's sympathizers took issue with our contention (paranoid?) that the Guv was stealing some of Obama's thunder by slating a news conference with aging superstar actor Robert Redford just hours after Obama had left Rio Rancho. They said the Guv probably was not trying to take spotlight away from the Prez, but that Redford is notoriously hard to schedule and they had to go when they had him. Perhaps. But we'll need more evidence before we admit our conspiracy theory was the result of our genetic weakness for such matters. The announcement wasn't the kind of thing that couldn't have waited.


We had some trouble posting which Lujan was the one who was at one of two group political meetings held backstage with Obama. For the record, it was NM House Speaker Ben Lujan, not his son, Congressman Ben Ray Lujan, who was in D.C. along with the rest of the state's congressional delegation. Also, late word came to us that Sandoval County area freshman Dem State Senator John Sapien was among those who got in to briefly mix it up with the Prez. For sure, he got a picture.


We noted recently that the Obama budget proposes $60 million for renewable energy programs for Sandia Labs, a big increase over the previous budget, but that's a drop in the bucket in the overall budget and nowhere near enough to make up for the flat outlook for the labs. A Sandia reader comments:

...Sandia Labs is indeed deeply involved with energy research. Sadly it doesn't get much attention here...Although there are indeed cuts in federal funds for Sandia programs, cooperative efforts with the private sector are off-setting those cuts somewhat. One specific technology Sandia is essentially leading the global effort on is the Sunshine to Petrol Program. Imagine utilizing solar energy to transform water to gasoline. Yes, it can be done and it's conceivably only 10 years away from commercial viability. Here's an article on it.


Big money goes into ABQ's Sandia Labs, but there's a lot of give-back in the culture of the nuclear weapons research lab marking its 60th birthday this month. We've sat on various boards and taken part in community functions over the years and invariably someone representing Sandia is a participant. Usually they are darn bright, too. It's not just the economic impact of this storied institution that is of importance to the metro area, but the "give back" that is ingrained in the Sandia culture that has really helped advance the quality of life here on many different levels.

In this new era, Sandia will shrink some or stay static, but we doubt their commitment to improving the city that gave it birth will shrink. It's a major reason why Sandia's future is of major interest to La Politica.

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