Friday, July 22, 2011
We're getting blowback from some Republican business owners who are none too happy with Governor Martinez's announcement that the state will randomly check the residency of 10,000 undocumented immigrants who have driver's licenses. The state is requiring that they report to a special office to prove that they still live here.
Remember, these immigrants dominate the housing and construction businesses and are a major presence in the ranching and agriculture industries. Getting them driver's licenses has helped get them jobs that most New Mexicans don't want. There's money on the line for these business owners if they start losing workers because they have trouble keeping their license.
Martinez was unable to get the Legislature to repeal the driver's license law in the last session and she will bring it up again in a special September session. It has become her cause célèbre, even as the state's overall economic problems continue to dominate voter concerns.
Readers come with insights, questioning the practicality and the legality of the latest plan to crack down. We start with Javier Martinez:
Hi Joe, So the Governor is sending 10,000 letters to drivers licensed under NM's 2003 driver's license law, chosen at random, who are then asked to show up in person at the specially created MVD office in ABQ for the purpose of verifying their residency. A few concerns come to mind:
People move. I myself have moved 7 times the last 8 years and not once did I self-report to MVD. All the while I kept my NM license, with a very old address. Immigrants move as well, probably more than most, because immigrants tend to rent and market forces will always drive people to where the rent is cheaper. While some may move out of state, most do not. How is the Guv going to make sure that the letters mailed reach their intended recipients?
When immigrants move, they seldom fill out a change of address form. These are people who for the most part live under the radar--and they want to keep it that way. I suspect that the guv is going to get a whole lot of no shows because people did not receive the letter.
The Guv is banking on 40-50% no shows to claim that those who did not show up are charlatans who are living out of state and who came to NM solely to get a license. What's worst is that the media have not once asked these questions! Not to mention the price tag of this whole thing--she's hiring 10 temporary employees and dedicating 3 full time MVD managers to work on this.
Keep up the good work. We need your reporting now more than ever.
Reader Hank Nusbaum comes with this angle:
As soon as the foreign national driver's license letters go out, I hope you will get and print one. That's mainly to see exactly what they say, but also for entertainment since The State isn't known for its clarity or literacy!
And can New Mexico just send out letters requiring people to come in? I'm pretty sure the Soviet Union could do this, but is there actually a state law that establishes this authority? There's quite a bit of "folk law" in this state where agencies just assume they have powers that they actually don't have.
Thanks for the great columns! It's been quite a summer!
We will post that letter as soon as we get it, Hank.
As for this summer, this place has been on fire---in the forests and on the politics beat.
We received a number of emails regarding our blog analyzing the controversy over the power accumulated in the Martinez administration by political consultant Jay McCleskey. Here's a sample:
I've been hearing about the divisive Jay McCleskey and the purge from the Martinez camp of anyone even mildly moderate for months now, but Susana is a few beats behind the band, Joe.
Public opinion is turning away from absolutists and the rabid bite-anyone-who gets-in-the-way ideologues who last year believed they could roll into Washington, Santa Fe or elsewhere and make Tea Party magical thinking happen.
The party is over. Americans are at the point where they simply want something workable to be worked out. They want a deal, not doctrine.
Jay McCleskey is old news, his tactics threadbare. It would behoove the governor of New Mexico to recognize that she has a chance to start fresh. The swing back to the middle has begun.
Another reader, who claims inside info, took issue with our statement that Gov. Martinez Chief of Staff Keith Gardner is "in the Jay camp."
Keith is definitely not in the Jay camp. Neither was Matt Kennicott and that's why he is no longer on the Governor's staff and was placed at Human Services. Also, did you know that Alexis Valdez Darnell, now the director of operations for the Governor is the daughter of Alex Valdez, the Secretary of Health under former GOP Governor Gary Johnson?
Valdez Darnell, as we blogged this week, is the wife of Guv communications director Scott Darnell. They don't put out press releases about that stuff, do they?
As far as Gardner being in the Jay camp or not, we based that on sourcing. Is there tension between Gardner and McCleskey? If there is, it might be good for this Governor who has had to see herself described as being Governor in name only and McCleskey presiding over a shadow government.
THE BEAR TRUTH
We had some fun this week when an apparently hungry bear showed up at the Governor's Santa Fe Mansion in the dark of night and was caught on surveillance tape. We likened his appearance to the Bear Market still gripping the state's economy. That drew this response from reader Spiro Vassilopoulos:
Joe: On the bear: He showed up at Susanna's house but hasn't left any physical "evidence," It will come. Moody's rating agency talking about downgrading the US debt credit rating is a joke.
The following is not funny:
The five states -- Maryland, New Mexico, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia -- could all lose their Triple A rating if the U.S. rating is downgraded, Moody's said Tuesday.
The above says we remain a client state of the Federal government.
Back to the reader mailbag and Ellen Wedum of Cloudcroft who makes a good point about that polls we ran this week showing a vast majority of Americans favoring an increase in taxes on upper income taxpayers as one way to tackle the deficit:
"...72 percent--said they favored the idea of raising taxes on those making $250,000 or more to help shrink the debt. "
This actually means $250,000 or more of taxable income (adjusted gross income), line 43 or so on this year's form. It makes quite a difference, as there are all sorts of deductions and tax credits out there for sharp CPAs to take advantage of for their clients.
And on top of that, Ellen, the higher rate would take effect only on taxable dollars over $250,000 or on $200,000 for singles.
HE LIKES IT
Dear Joe: I love your political blog. It is written with thoughtfulness and candor and is always entertaining! I now live in South Florida thus I don’t obtain a great deal of news about New Mexico Politics. New Mexico Politics is a sport like none other. The high drama, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. The nicknames such as Smiley and Lucky are names that are burned into your brain!
Your blog is without biases and states the truth of what is going on in the Land of Enchantment. Reading your blog is the first thing I look forward to everyday before I check my e mail or speak to my staff! I am not sure if this is an actual quote, but did Tip O’Neil once quip: “If you want a master’s degree in politics go to DC, if you want a PhD in politics go to New Mexico”? Thanks again for a wonderful Blog!
It's a privilege to do it, Sanjiv. We do have a few biases on certain issues, but we wear them on our sleeve and that's the difference.
As far as New Mexico politics, you got it right. What other state provides so much material that you can write a daily and meaty political blog? Viva La Politica!
Thanks for tuning in, Sanjiv, and everyone else from here and around the USA.
From Albuquerque, I'm Joe Monahan reporting.
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