Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Going But Not Yet Forgotten; Big Bill Interchange Eyed, Plus: Progressives Play Poodle To R German Shepherd, And: Readers Write Of Hector, Gary & More 

Here's an eyebrow raiser from the obscure NM State Transportation Commission and its agenda for Thursday's meeting:

Resolution No. 2010-07--Dedicating the Interstate 40/Coors Interchange in Bernalillo County as the “Governor Bill Richardson Interchange.”

Hey, Bill was instrumental in getting the busy intersection rebuilt, but isn't that the same intersection that former GOP ABQ Congresswoman Heather Wilson also helped get built with millions in federal funding? She's now chair of Susana Martinez's transition committee and has been tangling with Bill. Naming this busy intersection after him gives her another reason to fume.

Longtime Bill backer Johnny Cope is chairman of the transportation commission. Maybe he can amend the resolution so they can put a picture of Bill and Heather at the intersection? On second thought, that's not a good idea. We don't need to add to ABQ's graffiti problem.


ABQ US Dem Rep. Martin Heinrich managed to survive a tough re-election challenge, but one of his main benefactors in DC did not. Rep. Ike Skelton, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee was defeated
last Thursday. Heinrich grew up in the Missouri district Skelton represents. His family was friendly with Skelton's and that helped when Heinrich was elected in 2008. He won a slot on the Skelton committee which is so important to New Mexico's defense establishment.

Skelton, 78, and several other longtime Dem members on the panel also were evicted by the voters. Heinrich is expected to stay on the committee where he climbs the seniority ladder a couple of notches.


Rep. Stewart
They're still talking about that close call--52 to 48--that veteran State Rep. Mimi Stewart had Election Night. Republican newcomer Antoinette Marie Baca--a tea party type--came ever so close to a seat in the Roundhouse. Stewart may have Martin Heinrich to thank that we are not writing her political obituary. The ABQ Dem congressman's campaign brought out so many Obama type voters in the mid-Heights to rescue him from a strong challenge from Republican Jon Barela that he probably pulled Mimi to victory as well.


It's hard to see much light for New Mexico progressives like Mimi Stewart. They had their heads handed to them this cycle. In fact, they have to worry about a conservative Governor and more conservative Legislature launching efforts to repeal medical marijuana, reinstating the death penalty and cutting their favorite social services programs. Every dog has their day, they say. Today the progressives are the poodle to the conservatives German Shepherd.


When Steve Pearce goes back to the US House he will go back as a freshman--but only technically. Under the rules, the former southern NM GOP lawmaker keeps the six years of seniority he accumulated when he held the job prior to running for the US Senate in 2008. Insiders say Pearce hopes to parlay that seniority into a plum spot on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. A third of the bills that originate in the House go before that panel. No wonder members of that committee have a much easier time raising campaign donations.


That report we picked up on from TV news revealing that the office of State Auditor Hector Balderas has toted up over $150,000 in legal fees in his battle with fellow Democrat and Attorney General Gary King, brings comments from ABQ attorney Rosario D. Vega Lynn:

The media loves low-hanging fruit. For example, this statement from your blog:

Balderas, who has been embroiled in a multi-year behind-the-scenes court battle with fellow Democrat and Attorney General Gary King, has accumulated a stunning legal bill of $150,000 as he fights with Gary in court. Hector first authorized $50,000 for the outside law firm because his office has only one staff attorney. But that amount has now grown to $155,000 and the meter is still running.”

If anyone asked state Risk Management to provide a full summary of all payments made to privately contracted attorneys, you are going to see a lot more than this amount. In fact, the typical yearly payment per case by Risk Management averages $150K – this includes departments that have more than one attorney. Multiply that by the number of cases being handled by these firms and you have millions – not thousands.

Thanks, Rosario. You raise the question of whether Governor-elect Martinez will conduct a review of the millions in state legal contracts as she seeks ways to balance the budget.

Meanwhile, King came with this as he prepares for a second four year term and a possible 2014 Guv run:

...I will continue this office’s fight against public corruption. Much was said by others about my efforts to combat corruption during the political season, unfortunately, much of it was false and/or misleading....Investigating and prosecuting corruption will always be a top priority and it will be done...with as much speed as the legal system will allow.

Both Hector and Gary are fighting to keep the high ground on fighting public corruption. Competition can be a good thing.


Some more from the reader mailbag and the dean of New Mexico lobbyists--Bob McBride:

I write concerning the prohibition on legislators from assuming certain positions in government. I was the probably the last legislator who was impacted by this. In 1975, I was a State Senator. Governor Jerry Apodaca appointed me to District Judge in ABQ. Then-Attorney General Toney Anaya challenged the appointment. The matter went before the Supreme Court where they correctly decided that I could not hold the position and I was ousted. I served for all of six months.

The people decisively defeated a Constitutional Amendment Nov. 2 to allow such appointments. I voted against it as well. I think the people were right.

Appreciate that recollection, Bob.

And reader Jim McCroy gets a word in on Dem State Rep. Joe Cervantes pursuing a coalition with House R's in an effort to topple Dem Speaker Ben Lujan:

Joe, you said: "But hold on. There will be enormous pressure placed on Cervantes by labor unions, trial lawyers and other Dem interest groups for him to stop any coup of longtime Speaker Ben Lujan. Will he want to endure that pressure?"

I hope so. The future belongs to the brave. I think the election results point to the need to reduce the influence of these groups. Replacing Lujan helps do that. Government is broke and we have to recognize it.

State House Dems will caucus Saturday, to choose leaders for the upcoming legislative session. We blogged that the meeting was Sunday. The final vote on who will be Speaker will be held on Jan 18, the opening day of the Legislature.


Democrat Stephanie DuBois of Otero County writes of her friend Las Cruces area State Senator Mary Jane Garcia, 73, who is recovering from a September mugging in ABQ:

I talked to Senator Garcia Monday and she has gotten good reports from all of her doctors. She is looking forward to attending the Senate Democratic caucus and an upcoming interim committee meeting.

Senator Garcia has been majority whip of the Senate since 1996. A little known fact--she received a masters degree in anthropology from New Mexico State University in 1985 when she was 48.

And from the transition committee for Governor-elect Martinez:

The committee announces the first leg of Lieutenant Governor-elect John Sanchez’s statewide listening tour commencing in Albuquerque and Rio Rancho on Tuesday, November 16th at 9:00 a.m. at Tour Team Technologies, 1400 Eubank Boulevard, SE ABQ. At 10:00 a.m. WESST Enterprise Center 609 Broadway Boulevard, NE ABQ

At Rio Rancho at 2:00 p.m. at Rio Rancho Printing 408 Frontage Road, NE. At 3:00 p.m. Destiny Center 4401 Northern Boulevard, NE Rio Rancho

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