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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Making A List And Checking It Twice; "The Richardson 59" Continued, Plus: The Adams Chronicles; Readers Join High Pay Dispute, And: My Bottom Lines 

Checking the list
We're making a list and we're checking it twice, but it's not the one we're sending to Santa. This list reveals one of the best kept secrets in New Mexico--but fast becoming one of the worst kept: Who are the 59 political appointees Big Bill let go as part of the state's effort to balance the deficit choked budget? The Guv has refused to release the names saying it would not be dignified to do so. Media efforts to get the names released have been met with a legal stiff arm, but our reliable readers and Alligators have so far pegged 15 of the 59. We asked them to keep the names coming (email in any you have) and they delivered. Here's the latest from our exclusive list:

One of the highest paid exempts to be given the axe is Stephen Easley. He earns about $95,000 a year as the chief information officer for the Department of Public Safety. One Republican legislator told us on background that Easley's departure is a "big loss." This legislator also complained that most of the exempt employees they are hearing about losing their jobs are mid-level state workers, not the big kahunas making over $85,000 a year and whose jobs are not "mission" critical.

Attorney Pilar Vaile, deputy director of the Public Employee Relations Board, is another exempt losing their job. She made about $62,000 a year. Our insider says Vaile has been an independent director and wonders if the Guv's list targets exempt employees who have not been as loyal to him and his minions as he would like. It's reasonable speculation because by not releasing the list, the Guv is acting as if the state has something to hide.

Shanon Riley makes the hit list. She's is a lawyer for the NM National Guard, paid about $70,000 a year. Riley is a former prosecutor in the Bernalillo County District Attorney's office. She didn't have much longevity in her current post which may have made her vulnerable to the axe.

Darla Aiken an administrative assistant in the ABQ office of the NM Commission on the Status of Women is another of the exempt employees who will receive their last paycheck at the end of the month. She was making about $39,000 a year.

We blogged Monday that former ABQ State Rep. Delano Garcia was one of those taken out, but we did not know his position. Now we do. Garcia was a $61,000 a year military liaison with the NM National Guard.

That now gives us 19 of "The Richardson 59." If you can help us fill out the the list, feel free to email . A complete list of current exempt state employees and their salaries and agency affiliation is available here.

THE ADAMS CHRONICLES

Speaking of salaries, that $147,000 former ABQ chief administrative officer Ed Adams continues to pull down, despite being reassigned to a lower level position in the city, is bringing reaction. KOB-TV and the Journal hit the story this week, reporting that Mayor Berry asked Ed to take a $10,000 salary cut in his new position at the municipal development department, but Ed refused. He produced a contract he had inked with the Chavez administrative prohibiting the city from cutting his pay if and when he left his post as CAO.

Reader Rob on ABQ's Nob Hill comes with this:

Adams typifies why people look suspiciously at anyone who works within government... Adams' $147,000 could be used to help hire younger, smarter, and harder-working professionals who would improve the city. There is a very fine line between experience and stagnation, and someone who refuses to help the new administration by taking a pay cut should be shown the door. Thousands of New Mexicans have lost their jobs and Mr. Adams' lack of courtesy or decency should earn him a place in the unemployment line with all the New Mexicans who pay his salary.

But Barry Bitzer, who served s ABQ Mayor Chavez's chief of staff and worked closely with Adams comes with a different take:

I've worked with Ed Adams. I don't like his call to take no pay cut, but I also remember Ed's unique ability to make major projects come in on time, on budget, look good and work right. Think Isotopes Park or Montano Bridge. If Ed had also been in charge of the Courthouse or county jail projects, taxpayers would be millions better off for it.


BYE TO BACA

Former ABQ Mayor Jim Baca is retiring from his $90,000 a year state job. The Guv's office says:

...New Mexico’s Natural Resources Trustee Jim Baca is retiring effective December 31st...Governor Richardson announced he has appointed Environment Secretary Ron Curry to serve as interim Trustee...Richardson is asking Secretary Curry to take on this responsibility, in addition to his duties as Secretary of the NM Environment Department, in order to save taxpayer dollars...Richardson will consider appointing a full time trustee when state revenues improve.

Baca has been a fixture in NM government since the 1970's. He plans to be even more of a curmudgeon in retirement.

MY BOTTOM LINES


Will the bankruptcy of Citadel Broadcasting, owner of 50,000 watt radio talker KKOB-AM, have an impact on the on-air staff? Not for now, says one of our radio insiders:

Morning host Bob Clark, afternoon host Jim Villanucci, and everyone in the news department is safe--for now--despite the Citadel bankruptcy.


And from KRQE-TV news comes word that reporter Dave Bohman will head out to take a job in the Scranton, PA market.

No new cars for new Mayor Berry or chief administrative officer Dave Campbell. RJ's city fleet car has over 40,000 miles on it and Dave's Tahoe is nearing the 100,000 mile mark. But they are still doing better than thousands of unemployed Duke City residents and they know it...

Former ABQ Dem State Rep. Dan Silva tells us he has opened an Italian restaurant at the site of the old Gruet restaurant on Montgomery--not to be confused with the also recently closed Gruet Steakhouse on Nob Hill. We can tell you Dan will dole out the food in a nonpartisan manner--he did the catering for a recent party for GOP Governor candidate Doug Turner.

This is indeed the home of New Mexico politics. Email your news and comments.

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2009
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