Thursday, May 19, 2011

Alligator Strike: Oops! Prosecutor Chandler Gave Campaign Donation To Big Bill, Plus: Reader Ideas For New Economy, And: A Bunch Of Baloney 

Chandler & Bill
What's this? Republican special prosecutor Matt Chandler giving campaign money to former Democratic Governor Richardson--the man he now implies was at the center of a pay-to-play scheme to appoint Las Cruces area judges? That's right.

A check of campaign records reveals that in 2005 Chandler, the Clovis area district attorney, donated $50 to Richardson's re-election campaign.

Of course, no one is saying there was any pay-to-play over that fifty bucks. And Matt, who was the 2010 GOP nominee for NM attorney general, must have simply not been aware of the evil designs Bill had on the state's judiciary at the time. Right?

Hey, hold on, Matt. Doesn't that sound like some of the defense we might hear from the indicted Judge Murphy?

Still, even Dems will grudgingly admit that the R's have made an aggressive bet on their rising star. If Matt mops up on this case, his chances of becoming attorney general in 2014--if he runs-- can only be helped. That's just a reminder to keep those D's from chortling too much over Matt's lost love for Big Bill.

Back to Matt's money for Bill. It isn't as if he doesn't have any Dem DNA in his blood. His dad, the estimable Caleb Chandler, a Clovis political veteran and former chief of police there, ran for the US House in the early 80's. And he was the Democratic nominee running against incumbent Republican Joe Skeen. He later served in the state Senate for a dozen years ending in 1989. He later became a Republican and is currently vice-chairman of the Curry County Commission.

Young Matt, a '94 Clovis High graduate, is in for some rough sledding, but he is fortunate to have his dad's steady political shoulder to lean on.


Former GOP NM Gov. Gary Johnson may have gotten high when he learned that his quixotic bid for the GOP presidential nomination was endorsed by country music legend and fellow pot legalization advocate Willie Nelson But then Johnson was dropped swiftly to the ground with this news:

Johnson’s Our America Initiative PAC has been suspended by the Utah Department of Commerce Consumer Protection Division for failure to file its first-quarter financial report. As a result of the May 12th suspension, it is unlawful for the PAC to “solicit, request, promote, advertise, or sponsor a charitable solicitation in Utah until the registration is reinstated.

Now word comes that Willie Nelson is backtracking on his endorsement of Johnson, saying he is pledged to Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich if he makes the run. They call that smoker's remorse.


That list of ideas we ran Wednesday to get the state out of its economic stall prompted several readers to point out something we did not include. Homer Robinson writes:

Joe, I would add to your list the need to boost incentives for the development of alternative energy--both production facilities and companies to develop and install wind, solar and geothermal systems. We are incredibly rich in the resources needed to power those systems, and should be a hub for both R&D and manufacturing. Letting this great next wave of economic development pass us by (to the benefit of our equally well-situated neighbor states) would be malpractice of the highest order.

Agree with you, Homer. Texas has nothing over us when it comes to sunshine (or most other stuff).

Reader Joe Barela is in the solar biz:

I agree that we need some inspiration, dreams and vision from our leaders especially in the area of economic development. I can imagine the day when New Mexico has the ability to export solar technology and electricity--when small businesses in New Mexico are the innovators and manufacturers of best solar technology in the world.

The state needs to take a leadership role and identify projects, provide economic incentives, and job creation programs to install solar electric and solar thermal systems. Just imagine ten years from now, that all public buildings, schools, and thousands of home owners might be able to use the sun. Just imagine that someday in our distant future, our children can actually stay in New Mexico, go to college here and work in an industry full of promise and hope.

Our state has done much to stimulate the solar and other alternative energies. Congressman Ben Ray Lujan has been especially focused on this. But we need leadership to renew the conversation, enthusiasm and momentum.


Reader Danny Hernandez says he was perplexed by one of our suggestions to kick-start the economy:

I don't understand how a dental school at UNM will stimulate the economy. I get that we need more dentists and some from the proposed school would stay, but it wouldn't create a whole new economic class and certainly not create any core economic activity. It would give us a few more dentists. The only thing I get is that more dentists means better credibility as a first-world state.Can you elucidate?

We see it much like the medical and law schools--broadening the professional class in the state. And you are correct that the signal it sends about what we want to be is more profound than the actual economic impact of the school. The short answer is it raises our sights.


Speaking of Texas, unlike NM, they have had to raid their rainy day funds as they wrestle with their economic woes:

Gov. Rick Perry and House leaders agreed to use $3.2 billion from the state's reserve fund to close a deficit in the current budget, according to a statement from Perry's office. The announcement clears the way for an end to a stalemate between the Republican governor and House conservatives on the one hand, and Rep. Jim Pitts, the House's chief budget writer. The Rainy Day Fund, which is expected to have a balance of $9.4 billion at the end of the next budget period, is made up of revenue from oil and gas taxes....

That's a whopping draw down of about 35 percent.

New Mexico's Permanent Funds currently total about $14 billion. We get millions in interest income from them by withdrawing about 5 percent a year. Our investments generally outperform that level so unlike Texas, we don't eat into the principal. As a result, our funds have grown through the decades, making New Mexico a national leader in how to do it right.

On the flip side, we are dealing with a scandal in which millions of dollars were paid to third parties who helped giant hedge funds persuade the State Investment Council to invest with them. But it is important to point out that he money paid to those third parties came from the companies winning the investment--not from the Permanent Funds themselves.


And it is incumbent upon us to wade back into the relatively esoteric waters of employment levels at Kirtland Air Force Base and in particular the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center (AFOTEC).

That's because a Senior Alligator wrote here May 11 that several hundred of those jobs have been lost. That set off supporters of former Congresswoman Heather Wilson who blamed the employment drop on her departure as well as that of GOP Senator Domenici. The back and forth drew the attention of Greg Bloom, the state director for NM senior Senator Jeff Bingaman who comes with the research that shows the employment fall off at AFOTEC is actually very small:

In reference to your post about AFOTEC"

AFOTEC has never had 600 people at KAFB. That is close to the size of the organization in its entirety. AFOTEC was at 288 positions at KAFB. KAFB lost 91 AFOTEC jobs but then had approximately 55 positions added back. This means the total decline was 36 positions. This is not insignificant but we understand that the Air Force needs to move people around occasionally.

The big picture shows clearly the growth that the congressional delegation has been able to support at KAFB and our other Air Force bases:
In FY10 New Mexico saw 499 military and 219 civilian positions added to Cannon, Holloman and Kirtland. In FY11 442 military and 78 civilian positions were added to these three same bases. KAFB has added 272 military and 223 civilian positions since FY09.

Our labs will also see increases of hundreds of millions of dollars due to the New START Treaty and the President’s and delegation’s support of these facilities.

So it looks as if the "Who Lost AFOTEC" debate fizzles. But funding levels for the state's military bases and national labs will surely come up again as we inch closer to the Senate and US House races.


Who says those baloney sandwiches famously favored by Chuck Franco, hubby of Governor Martinez, are necessarily downscale fare? The news:

Drugs are not the only contraband smugglers try to sneak across the border. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers discovered nearly 400 pounds of bologna hidden in a pickup truck.

People regularly try to smuggle the Mexican lunch meat into the U.S. for relatives to resell to customers who have a craving for baloney from south of the border.
The driver stashed the 35 rolls of the popular “Chimex” brand baloney behind the seat of his 2003 Dodge Ram pickup truck.

Being from the border region we assume First Gent Chuck is well aware of and a sometimes consumer of the first-class baloney. That's a relief because we didn't want to get stuck with that Oscar Mayer stuff when we had lunch at the Mansion with the Guv and Chuck.

What a threesome we'll make--and with a nice jar of Grey Poupon right in the middle.

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