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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Bear Market? For Sure--Bruin Ambles Around Guv's House, Plus: Dianna Duran Blames Media For Woes And Gets Busted, And: More From the Busy City Beat 

Holy Cow! How many times have we told Susana the bear market in this state's economy is not over? Now the critter actually shows up at the door of the Guv's Mansion and there's surveillance tape to prove it.

The bear is seen on a late evening trek, ambling along on a Mansion sidewalk with a pace that is best described as confident and intent.

And why not? The Great Bear has gotten everything he wanted out of this enchanted land the past three years or more. And what that bear wants is more unemployment, more deficits and even lower home prices for New Mexicans.

He's a nasty bruin.

Maybe this is a new tradition, like Groundhog Day when the critter comes out of his hole to predict whether winter will continue. A New Mexico bear will now come around to forecast future economic conditions. If he runs away, it means the economy goes up, but if he lingers over the gubernatorial trash cans, look out, it's six more months of bad biz. (Hey, he probably would do a better job than those economists over at the LFC).

We sure hope the bear wasn't trying to visit Governor Susana to thank her for his continued presence in the New Mexican economy, but we know she can shoo him from her door by getting on the stick and promoting a solid economic program.

Meantime, First Dude Chuck Franco got everything under control. He threw that big old bad bear a handful of Oscar Mayer baloney and off he went---at least for now.


DURAN IN THE DOGHOUSE

Like Mayor Berry, new Republican Secretary of State Dianna Duran might want to think about showing some independence from the hard-right of the GOP. Why? Because like Berry she is getting crushed by them. But also like Berry she blames the media for her problems. She is trying to walk back her investigation of 64,000 voter files, saying that it is not a voter fraud investigation after all. She says the media fostered "misunderstanding." Say what?

Duran touted it as a voter fraud investigation when she first announced the over-the-top probe. Let's bring in those ink-stained wretches for the bust. First, Walt Rubel of the Las Cruces Sun News:

If I were cynical, I'd suggest that with the investigation several weeks old, Duran now realizes there will be no voter fraud uncovered, and is walking back her original allegations. Of course, I've got no evidence of that. But when it comes to the issue of voter fraud, who needs evidence?

And from the ABQ Journal who were stiff-armed on a public records request from Dianna, just like Big Bill used to do:

Duran has surely heard the well-worn phrase “seeing is believing.” And seeing her office redact line after line after line in letter after letter in her investigation of irregularities in voter files does not position her in the eyes of the public as the champion of transparency she claimed to be while campaigning....

Voters elected Duran to deliver an election process they could believe in. To gauge her progress so far, all they can do is read between her pages and pages of redacted lines.


If Dianna doesn't break free from her hard-right captors she's going to get pushed over the political cliff. Or was she already pushed over?

Former Dem Sec. of State Mary Herrera who Duran ousted last year by claiming Mary was a corrupt cover-up artist is watching all of this from the sidelines and on her new blog---Mary Herrera Cares!. She's pretty good at it, too.

And before the black ops start up in the email, yes, I have known Mary for a hundred years and once did a bit of consulting work for her. Hey, didn't we just do the same today for Dianna? And it was free of charge.

WHITE WATCH

He's gone, but not forgotten. The reverberations from the scandal that forced ABQ Public Safety Director Darren White into retirement continued in the new week. Mayor Berry, beefing up his initial position, told KOAT-TV Monday that he now wants to replace White and keep the PSO. It could be the next big battle at City Hall as the four Dem city councilors think the position's usefulness is over. We get inklings that some R's on the council agree. If Berry loses any one of them, he loses.

Pete Dinelli, PSO under Mayor Chavez, says the post should be done away with. If it was the city would save several hundred thousand dollars.

The investigation of the White affair is still a hot button topic. Could it lead to a criminal probe? There's talk of that as the report from the city's Independent Review Officer comes Friday. The Dems on the council continue to work for an outside investigation of White's action at the scene of his wife's auto accident, saying an in-house probe will not restore confidence. Two GOP councilors--Harris and Jones--have also voiced support for an outside investigation.

As for Darren's financial health now that he is out of a job, KOB-TV did a report on that:

The Human Resources director at city hall said White is not under a contract, so the city is not obligated to give him any sort of payout. The Public Employees Retirement Association or PERA is in charge of White's retirement.

A PERA spokesperson said White has not filed to start receiving his pensionand that they cannot release any information at this time.Human Resources Director Vincent Yermal said while the city is not forking out any retirement pay, they are held by one obligation. "He would have the right to his earned unused vacation and that's afforded to all employees under the personnel rules and regulations," Yermal said.

READER REACT


From the email and former TV news reporter and current public relations consultant Edward Calabaza. He comments on the Darren White affair that blew a hole through the credibility of the city's leadership:

My first reaction was "what are they thinking?" It was uncomfortable to watch, especially Rob Perry spouting off about HIPAA regs. (They are federal rules governing the release of private medical information). HIPAA doesn't cover public records like a police report or fire department report. And to have the police chief get involved and suppress a police report because of grammatical errors speaks volumes about the cover-up at high levels. If every police report were suppressed because of grammatical errors the city's budget would be in the black from all the paper saved.

But what was most disappointing was that these public servants and elected leader(s) actually had a brainstorming session and decided "this is the way to go." Clearly, no one in that room had a clue of how to deal with a crisis situation. No one had a clear strategy other than "we're gonna bully our way out of this one." And if this is the best they can offer, then what else are they screwing up downtown?

FOLLOW-UP

We blogged in our first draft Monday that GOP US Senate contender John Sanchez had not filed his first campaign report with the FEC on time. His campaign said he did file on time, but the Senate reports are often not posted right away. But unlike the other candidates, Sanchez did not put out a news release announcing his quarterly fund-raising total and cash on hand as the July 15th deadline arrived. The AP, in giving fund-raising totals for the other candidates, reported, as we did, that Sanchez's numbers were "unavailable."

Monday morning Sanchez reported "$246,530 cash on hand and $311,987 raised in just 26 business days since filing official paperwork with the Federal Election Commission."

Sanchez, who owns a roofing company. has never been shy about loaning himself funds and he did it again, coming with a $200,000 loan to kick-start his effort.

A more precise picture of how Sanchez's candidacy is doing financially will come when the current quarter fund-raising totals are reported in September.


NO VOTUS INTERRUPTUS

No surprise here. ABQ District Court Judge Nan Nash is not going to force the city to redistrict its nine city council districts and delay the Oct. 4 city election. The ACLU had sued the city for failing to redistrict following the 2010 census, but the city said new public financing deadlines for candidates made it difficult to get the job done. Here's her full decision.

Judge Nash said if she stopped the Oct. 4 election it would result in "considerable expense, disruption and confusion." We reluctantly agree, but fret that ABQ did not get its job done on time. Chief Administrative Officer Perry says we probably need a City Charter amendment spelling out exactly how we do the task following each census. Agreed.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2011
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