Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Redistricting: No Way Out? Plus: Alligators Analyze Possible Berry Camera Veto, Also: A Fighting King And Diane Vs. Dianne 

The conventional wisdom is overwhelming in believing that Governor Martinez is hell-bent on vetoing whatever legislative redistricting plan lands on her desk at the September special session. But there are more than three million reasons for the new Guv to try hard to cut a deal:

If redistricting ends up in court and the state loses a legal challenge, as happened 10 years ago, it could cost taxpayers millions of dollars in legal fees. Following the 2001 redistricting and subsequent legal actions, the state had to pay $2.9 million in legal fees for various groups that sued the state, Legislative Council Service staff said. In addition, the state had to spend about $653,000 on its own lawyers.

And redistricting gridlock would probably cost even more today. And who would be the lawyers and consultants who get those lucrative state contracts in this feeble economic environment? That will be closely watched.

The onus isn't only on the Governor. Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez and House Speaker Lujan have relationships that are pretty much nonexistent with the Fourth Floor. But they need to at least try to forge a compromise.

The special session session itself will cost taxpayers $50,000 a day. If the early chatter of gridlock has it right, Mr. and Mrs. New Mexico might feel we should just send the matter directly to the judges. Come on, Santa Fe. Let's make a deal.


Speaking of vetoes, Alligators and insiders (there is a difference) say the odds are that Mayor Berry will veto a city council measure to place the controversial red light camera program on the Oct. 4 city election ballot. The council voted 5 to 4 Monday night to put the matter before voters, but they would need six votes to override a Berry veto. The council has already voted to continue the program so the vote would be purely "advisory." How's that for leadership? In any event....

Berry would take a hit with anti-government types for any veto, but if he allows a vote those same kind of anti-incumbent voters could turn out in larger numbers than usual and put at risk incumbent GOP Councilor Trudy Jones. She faces a challenge from former GOP Councilor Greg Payne. If independent Republican Payne gets elected he could endanger Berry's governing majority on the council.

In addition, rousing voters over the red light cameras might also get them in a mood to vote against city bonds. The bond issues that are eventually proposed will be critical. Berry is already under attack for considering "fun" or "boutique" projects for the Oct. ballot.

As for Jones, she voted against putting the camera program to voters. Even if Berry vetoes the plan, Payne is sure to use that vote to try to still rile up the anti-government types and drive them to the polls.


Back on the redistricting, veteran Dem political consultant Harry Pavlides says the major stumbling block to a deal could be a battle over the state House lines:

Right now the R's have 33 seats and are going to argue the redistricting should keep them at that total, but Dems argue that the R's only have about 32 percent of the voters statewide and that Republicans made their 2010 gains based in a low-turn out "aberration" election. Redistricting should be based on current voter registration and voter history over the last decade, not one election.

Sure, redistricting is complicated, but it's that kind of cut-to-the-chase analysis that makes yer little ol' blog the "Must-Read" for state political coverage here in New Mexico and around the USA. Read on....


After being targeted in what might be argued as an over-the-top editorial in the Santa Fe New Mexican, a newspaper traditionally friendly toward him. Democratic Attorney General Gary King says through his spokesman's blog that he will soon have a detailed answer to the fierce criticism he is enduring from the ink-stained wretches:

The comments and criticisms of Gary King are not only based on obvious misinformation, but they are personal attacks on the character of the man. And yes, these lies are hurtful to me. Not just because I work for the Attorney General, but because I know the person he is and the real dedication he has for serving the people of New Mexico.

AG King will publicly address his critics’ concerns very soon. He’ll talk about what really has happened in the Vigil-Giron case, including the truth about alleged conflicts; he will discuss the AGO’s involvement in the so-called whistleblower Foy case and alleged conflicts; and to the extent allowed, anything else anyone interested in the truth wants to know. I am curious to see if those with the loudest mouths about their own twisted perceptions will be interested in the rest of the story. Details to follow.

King's spokesman is Phil Sisneros and has been since Gary came to office in 2009. Many of you will remember him as "Phil the Bean," a longtime and popular radio personality on KKOB-FM in ABQ.

King comes from a different era when political combat was spirited but not as vociferous. His Governor-father navigated the same calm political seas. Now he needs to adapt to rougher waters.

It's not only the attorney general segments of the press are going ballistic over. They are also ratcheting up the rhetoric against the US attorney's office for not indicting former Governor Richardson. Insiders say that years-old investigation still continues. In the background, the worst economic environment the state has faced in modern history grinds on with only minor relief. Surely that plays a part in prompting the sometimes shrill cries that scalps be paraded in the public square.


A final note on this. We said in the first draft of the Tuesday blog that all the Governors eligible to seek two, four year terms in a row were successful in doing so. But that is not so. Bruce King was defeated when he sought re-election in 1994 to Republican Gary Johnson who went on to be re-elected in 1998. Bill Richardson was elected to two four year terms--in 2002 and 2006.

The law allowing Governors to seek two, four year terms took effect with the 1990 election. Before that, they were allowed only one four year term at a time. We probably forgot King's history because we remember him as Governor from 1971-75 and again from '79-83. Both times he was not eligible for re-election and both times he sat on the bench for four years and waited to run again. King held three four year Guv terms between 1971 and 1995. He was the state's longest serving Governor and for our money a pretty darn good one most of the time.


Former NM GOP Chairman John Lattauzio boasted on last Friday's blog of the performance of Sec. of State Dianna Duran when she was Otero County clerk. But former Dem. Lt. Governor Diane Denish sees it from a different angle:

With all due respect to Mr. Lattauzio, but the job of County Clerk for Dianna Duran or any other clerk does not mean changing the majority registration of the County from one party to another. This suggests she has been influencing folks who register to vote. The goal is to keep efficient records, process accurate and timely registrations, use taxpayer funds appropriately and run fair and impartial elections. It would be of interest to see how many of the "files" she has turned over to DPS are Democrats and how many are Republicans. One last note: State Police are chronically short-handed. Is this really a better use of their time than protecting the community and responding to critical need and emergencies?

Denish has been pretty quiet since losing the 2010 Guv's race, but she continues to weigh a run for the Dem nod for the ABQ US House seat.

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