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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Darren's Flirting With Susana Raises Eyebrows, Plus: Weh Sucks Di Into Squabble, Also: Update From The Rio Rancho Beat 

Insiders say ABQ Mayor RJ Berry has discouraged staffers from getting involved in the Republican Guv primary, but that isn't stopping Darren White, his public safety director, from surfacing in a big way on behalf of Susana Martinez as she begins her push into big Bernalillo County. White has written a fund-raising letter on behalf of the Dona Ana County District attorney and is featured prominently in a glossy mail piece and posted with this blog. (Click to enlarge.)

Mayor Berry has stayed neutral in the five way primary. White, the former Bernalillo County sheriff, endorsed Martinez shortly before going to work for the city. Martinez's mail piece is careful not to mention that White is the current public safety director and the fund-raising letter White wrote simply has his name as the title, not his official position.

But his prominent role for Martinez is riling the other campaigns who believe the public safety director should adhere to the mayor's neutrality. They want Berry to rein him in. Besides, they ask, shouldn't the top law enforcement manager in the city stay out of partisan politics?

Whatever the case, Martinez needs to break through here and is obviously expecting White to do some heavy lifting for her.

CAMPAIGN MEDIA

We continue to track for you the major element of Campaign '10--the TV spending. Some tidbits from our media Gators--a 30 second spot on the 6 PM KOAT news is going for $330. On KOB-TV, the 6 pm news is being sold to the candidates for $450 and on KRQE-TV's 5:3o pm news the price is $300. The noon news on KOB fetches $125 a pop and the noon news on KRQE goes for $200. These prices seem to us to be down considerably from the glory years.

THE GALLUP PARADE

Allen Weh is sucking Diane Denish into a public argument. That's good for Weh, but questionable for the lieutenant governor who is soon to be the Dem nominee for Governor. Di says Allen's latest TV ad charging that she used 2003 federal stimulus money to pay for the state jet to take her to Gallup is inaccurate. The flight was paid for with state general fund money, not federal money as Weh's ad states, she says. But to angry voters it's all taxpayer money they see being burned up in that vapor trail left behind by the state jet.

But there's more. Weh continues his jet offensive with this:

Lt. Governor Diane Denish and her husband took the state plane to Farmington to attend a fundraiser and political event for Democrat US Senate candidate Tom Udall during the 2008 campaign season. She paid for the trip out of federal stimulus money entrusted to her care.

But Di says Weh has told another whopper:

The host of the fundraiser, Mark Biel of Farmington, confirmed that Diane did not attend the event. Diane never attended the Udall fundraiser. The post-it note on which the fund-raiser was mentioned was an FYI about other events happening in the Four Corners area at the time she was there.


Maybe Weh isn't concerned too much about accuracy now, but if he continues it will catch up with him. Meanwhile, R's who love their red meat are probably eating all this up. And those R's are still Weh's target because for all the bravado, he has still not wrapped up the GOP nomination.

Beating up on Denish and stretching the truth to do it isn't going to hurt him in a GOP primary. But it again raises the question of why Weh is in this position. It's because his four rivals firmly believe that the first one to attack Weh will suffer a backlash and end any chance they have at securing the nomination. And that leads us to our next item....

PREDICTION CORNER

Veteran Republican political consultant, former ABQ city councilor and ex-city transit chief Greg Payne says if no one is up on the air attacking Allen Weh by the first weekend in May, Weh will win the GOP Guv nomination on June 1. That first weekend starts this Saturday.

RIO RANCHO BEAT

Back to the Rio Rancho budget mess and we see that Mayor Tom Swisstack has parted company with his city manager, James Jimenez, and recommends furloughs and salary cuts for city employees for the budget year starting July 1. The city faces a $3.6 million deficit.

We wondered here why the city was proposing a quarter cent increase in the gross receipts tax when it was not asking for any sacrifice from its work force. The plan that will now go to the city council would have city employees choose between a salary cut of one percent or a three day furlough. Police and firemen would take a three-quarters percent pay cut.

However, Swisstack is still recommending that quarter cent gross receipts tax, even though the city is in the middle of a brutal recession. He says Rio Rancho is so tapped out increased taxes are necessary. He will also support installing those often dreaded red light cameras to raise revenue, saying they will substitute for additional police manpower that can't be funded.

Swisstack's dire budget message stands in contrast to his recent boosterism that Rio Rancho, by attracting new business, will soon be booming again. Don't count on it. The housing crash hit the city particularly hard and while some new jobs are coming on line, it will be years before their area gets back to its previous employment levels.

The city council could still try to avoid raising taxes in this downturn, and we think they should. But with Swisstack coming around on city employees sharing the pain, the tax hike may be easier for City of Vision residents to swallow.

LIKE A SHADOW

The new economic reality moves across the state like a slow moving shadow. Now word comes of 16 lost jobs in the Los Lunas school system, south of ABQ. It's a story being repeated statewide. These government job losses are often bewildering to behold. They have been at the foundation of the economy here since the end of WWII.

CHICHARRONES COMPLAINT

Reader Juan Massey writes in about our recent chicharrones debate:

Joe, I'm guilty as charged of being a "purist pendejo" when it comes to the Spanish language: Singular for Chicharrones is ChicharrĂ³n, not Chicharrone. Thank you; it's just that I am as amused about the debate as I am peeved about the spelling everytime I read your blog.

Hey, Juan, you expect a lot from a Gringo from Pennsylvania, but we'll keep trying.

NO BEST FRIEND?

Brian Colon is a gift that keeps giving when it comes to blogging photos. First we had the Dem lieutenant governor candidate setting of a tempest in the chicharrone pot when he was photographed stirring the pork morsels with a metal paddle, not the wooden paddle that traditionalists swear by. We had plenty of debate on that.

Now Brian is back on the blog courtesy of a reader who shows the candidate posing with a dog who looks as if it would rather be anywhere else than with Brian. We're sure Colon rivals Lawrence Rael or Joe Campos would like their turn at writing a cut line for that pic. but we'll just speculate that Colon is a cat person and leave it at that. (Of course, if you have a cut line, feel free to email it in.)

This is the home of New Mexico politics. Email your news and comments, anonymously if you wish.

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