Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Celebrity YouTube Scolding: Bobby Unser Tackles ABQ City Councilor, Plus: Big Bill: In The White House Dog House Or Not?, Also: More Light Guv Chatter 

A very public celebrity scolding of ABQ City Councilor Michael Cadigan was administered by three time Indy 500 winner and ABQ native Bobby Unser at a groundbreaking for a $60 million ABQ West Side shopping center. The whole episode was caught on video. And like everything else these days, it has made its way onto YouTube.

"What he was trying to do was kill the West Side!" Unser said of Cadigan before a gathering that included ABQ Mayor Chavez and City Councilors Benton and Sanchez.

The public tongue lashing of Cadigan--who is seeking a third term this October to the council--came at the groundbreaking ceremony last Thursday for the Unser Crossing development--a new shopping center at Unser and Central on the far West Side. Cadigan opposed it because as first proposed the developer that Unser and his brother Al Unser sold the land to did not have to pay the city certain impact fees. The Unsers sold land their family had held for decades for about $15 million.

Cadigan ripped the development as a political deal, but in the end the project won approval and a Lowe's Home Improvement store and CVS pharmacy, among other retail stores, are now under construction.

Councilor Ken Sanchez, who represents the area, says the developer agreed to pay $1.8 million in impact fees that might have been waived in exchange for the city doing $1.8 million in improvements near the center such as lighting and sidewalks. The Unsers made their money when they sold the land, not from the development. But in case anyone missed that point--Bobby Unser--to use some racing parlance--decided to "drive" the point home.


Is Big Bill in the dog house with the White House or not? Hard to say. It's also hard to know how Bill's latest foray onto the foreign policy field impacts what could be his administration's precarious legal standing in the state. There are two schools of thought. The first is that Monday's "Today Show" appearance by the Guv and the floating of his name on CNN for a possible diplomatic mission to North Korea to negotiate the release of two US journalists shows that the Obama administration is working with the Guv. That school says the President has given the go ahead for Richardson's involvement and therefore the threat of indictments of Richardson or top members of his staff no longer exists. (Comments on Richardson and "Today" video are here.)

The second school says the media buzz has no bearing at all on the federal probe, that Richardson has been to North Korea on rescue missions before and as a former UN ambassador it is natural for him to be called for comment. That school also argues the Obama administration is not going to get anywhere near the legal troubles of this Governor in the new and tougher national ethical climate that prevails.

Richardson said Monday: "The administration has reached out to me for advice and I've spoken with the families."

The White House moved to cool any envoy talk with the AP reporting:

A senior Obama administration official said Richardson and (former VP Al) Gore had been in contact with the White House and State Department about potential next steps, including possibly sending an envoy...But the official stressed that no decisions had been made on how to proceed and said neither Gore nor Richardson had been asked to go.

If Richardson gets named by the Administration for an official North Korea gig, the adherents to the first school of thought will grow even louder that Richardson and his underlings are out of legal danger, but then that's the school that also said his Commerce Secretary nomination was a no-brainer.

What we do know, according to media reports, is that the CDR bond investigation is complete and a decision on whether there will be any indictments in the federal case is in the hands of US Attorney General Eric Holder. How's that for an old-fashioned hot potato?


Another angle to our Monday blog noting that all the 2010 Dem candidates for lieutenant governor are so far Hispanic and that might create an opportunity for a conservative, southern Anglo Dem. A new name surfaced. Friends of new ABQ Dem State Senator Tim Eichenberg floated him as a possible contender for the #2 spot. They point out that like the rest of the state senators seeking the post, he is not up for re-election for three years and would not have to risk his senate seat to make the light guv run. They say he is mulling it over. Also, they point out he has personal resources to finance a campaign. There are some questions about that scenario. Tim is not from the south and can't classifed as conservative. There is also the issue of possible negative constituent fallout for running for another office so soon after taking the Senate seat. But that's what summer is for--to think over the chess game to come.


GOP Guv candidate Allen Weh has launched a bare-bones Web site so potential supporters have a place to volunteer and/or make donations. He says it will be enhanced as the campaign progresses. Weh's slogan on the site is "Energy and Imagination for New Mexico." That's pretty good, but what happened to "Think Different," the slogan Weh originally unveiled and which is the same as the Apple computer slogan of yore? Also, the Web site's designers might want to think a wee bit different. You have to wait a while to access it as a script appears that states: "Flash is loading your page."....

Dem mayoral candidate Richard Romero took a big body blow when AFSCME--the union that represents some 3,500 city workers--decided for the first time to endorse ABQ Mayor Chavez for re-election. Now Romero says he has a consolation prize: The New Mexico Teamsters Union has endorsed his candidacy. Still, murmurs about a change in direction of the Romero campaign persist in the wake of the big union setback. We'll keep you posted.

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