Thursday, February 17, 2011
Bad Timing: Appeals Court Judge Busted For DWI While Court Cuts Debated, Plus: The Needle And The North; Rep. Lujan's Turn At Bat
It's all hands on decks as Santa Fe gets closer to talking turkey about the budget. Everyone is trying to keep the scissors away from their hair, including the courts. We have two views, starting with reader Judith Binder:
ABQ Metro Judge Frank Sedillo spoke at the League of Women Voters of Central New Mexico luncheon and one of his topics included the great need for judicial services and that state government should not short-change the judiciary.
A number of judges hold clinics to provide free legal services where needed. And recently judges contributed from their own salaries to help pay their clerks to keep the court running. Another point is that funding drug courts saves the state more money than incarcerating law breakers. We need to increase the number of these Courts along with staff support.
But a Senior Alligator bites back with this:
The judges want more money! Ha! New Mexico has a gilded judiciary thanks to all the lawyers in the legislature and a jalopy legal system. If the judges want more money they can start with a cut in pay, more contribution to their gilded pension and no retirement until 65.
And right in the middle of this heated debate comes word that NM Court of Appeals Judge Robert Robles has been busted on suspicion of DWI. That ought to help get public support for money for the courts. Not.
And as far as Robles staying on the bench after this? Don't bet your breathalyzer on it.
THE NEEDLE & THE NORTH
The congressman may need many more of these to make a dent in the generations-old drug epidemic in Rio Arriba and other northern counties, but it's a start:
Congressman Ben Ray Luján is hosting a Substance Abuse Prevention Community Workshop on Tuesday, February 22. The workshop will build on the Drug Summit that Luján convened last year, where treatment providers, federal agencies, community leaders, and law enforcement discussed how to fight substance abuse.
Tuesday’s workshop will bring together families, youth, and community organizations to discuss substance abuse prevention and community collaboration. (5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Pablo Roybal Elementary School1574 State Road 502 Santa Fe, NM).
Heroin and other drug addictions remain a fact of life in many of the small villages in Lujan's northern district. Rio Arriba County has for years led the nation in heroin overdose deaths.
We've made some progress, but this is a stubborn 50 year old problem. It is now in the lap of Lujan, 38, whose youth and energy it is hoped can make a difference.
And is new state Department of Health Secretary Catherine Torres going to be active on this?
The economists can tell us the recession is over here, but the worst of the budget cutting is still to come for some governments. For the city of Santa Fe in the budget year that begins July 1, the anticipated deficit is now nearly $8 million. That's out of a total budget of around $72 million--or well over 10 percent. Now that's a deficit.
Santa Fe has been hammered by fewer and more frugal tourists, the slow-motion crash of real estate and the freeze on state government hiring. They have kept believing that it would turn around, but it hasn't and now the restructuring of the city government there is unavoidable.
BREWER AND MARTINEZ
Susana and Jan are night and day. So concludes syndicated columnist Ruben Navarrette in comparing New Mexico's governor with Arizona on the hot button topic of immigration.
The Governor hasn't been shy in borrowing ideas from Florida to improve public education here, so how about taking a tip from the Sunshine State when it comes to developing a space industry?
There's no foot-dragging there.
This may not have a great chance of passing, but it illustrates that if New Mexico is going to back off its incentives for the film industry, there are plenty of others who will pick up the slack. From Denver:
Two state legislators want to attract filmmakers to Colorado by bolstering an incentive fund for movie producers with a proposal to add a 10-cent fee to all movie tickets sold in the state. The lawmakers argue having more movies filmed in Colorado would boost local economies and help promote tourism to the state.However, the idea appears destined to face a tough test from opponents who see the proposal as another tax burden, not a fee.
Movie supporters for a Santa Fe media day Wednesday.
It's hard to say with any certainty that the 25% film rebate incentive will survive the session, especially with State Senator John Arthur "Dr. No" Smith lurking. But we think the odds tilt toward keeping it on the books at least for another year---if Senator Keller's transparency bill is approved.
From Dem State Senator Pete Campos on how much the state needs to really fix things up:
There are still $3.7 billion worth of projects – not including school projects – that are waiting for funding, according to the state’s Infrastructure Capital Improvement Plan. The state has less than $250 million to devote to those projects this year.
For our friends who are fond of saying, "Government doesn't create jobs," we submit the following for their consideration:
PORTALES, N.M. (AP) - More than 600 new housing units are expected to be built at Cannon Air Force Base by a private contractor beginning next year. The company that wins the contract to build the homes also will be expected to renovate 361 existing base housing units.
Meanwhile, back at the jobs recession:
Southwest Airlines Co. said part of its website crashed after thousands of job seekers went online for information about flight attendant jobs. Media reports said the the company began taking flight attendant applications for the first time in two years on Monday.
From Attorney General Gary King's office about having more info available on the individual bills being introduced in Santa Fe:
(Here is) a new public records project the AG's office is doing. For the first time in state history the public can get a firsthand look at something that is normally closed-door. The records have always been available on request but how do you know what to ask for it you don't know it exists? Sure, some of them finally make it to the legislative site, but we are providing them typically the same day that they are finished. We even have legislators calling wanting to know what the link is.
Legal Beagles and other interested parties can check out the 2010 annual report from Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenberg here
From the Guv:
Governor Martinez announced that she has named Eugene Moser as Director of the State Personnel Office. Moser most recently served as the Director of Human Resources for the City of Albuquerque. He previously held the positions of Principal Analyst for the New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee, Chief Administrative Officer of First Choice Community Healthcare, and Administrator for Human Resources at the University of New Mexico Hospital.
GIVE ME A COTTONWOOD
It is definitely time for some downtime around here. We corrected the PPP poll numbers on GOP southern NM Congressman Steve Pearce Wednesday, but we had a word error. Once and for all, Pearce's statewide approval is 35%. His disapproval is 44%. Okay, now we're going to sit under a cottonwood and count clouds.
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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2011
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