Friday, August 26, 2011
Blogging New Mexico
Friday has arrived and with it a chance to clean up some clippings from our newsroom floor...
Now that the state jet has been sold for $2.5 million is that the last of the news from old Governor Big Bill? The administration has taken an eight month joyride on his record, blaming him for running a corrupt and pampered regime. But like the state jet, that narrative is running out of fuel. Soon the new administration will be forced to take full ownership of state government. Then what?....
The Alligators are tripping the alarm bells over a possible wire job when it comes to replacing ABQ GOP State Senator Kent Cravens. The leading name to surface is Mark Moores, the executive director of the New Mexico Dental Association, the very job that Cravens had not too long ago. Is Kent trying to control life after his soon to be announced political death? A check of state campaign records shows the dental association PAC donated $10,000 to Cravens in 2010. Cravens has not yet made his resignation official, but family and friends confirm that he will soon become the legislative affairs director for the NM Oil and Gas Association.
The Cravens district includes Bernalillo and Sandoval Counties. Those county commissions will provide names to Governor Martinez who will pick the Cravens replacement. Moores will have to manage to get on that list if he is to take Cravens seat. But there's another question lingering as the jockeying begins over this: If Cravens has to resign his seat because he is hooking up with a trade association, why should the Guv pick someone whose day job is also with an association?
NEW MONEY MAN
It's not a whole lot of fun managing a budget when there's no money. So it was for Rick May, the head of the state Department of Finance Administration, who headed toward the exits after less than a year on the job. He's being replaced by Tom Clifford, a longtime government economist who has been working for the tax department and served for a number of years at the Legislative Finance Committee.
Clifford earned high marks in those jobs, but there are concerns that he tilts too conservative in a time when the state needs to start looking for ways to jump start its economy. The concern is that Clifford will be too heavy-handed with the budget scissors. As for May, he moves over to director of the NM Finance Authority Maybe that won't be as painful for him.
NO OPPONENT, PLEASE
Democratic Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg does not want a Republican opponent when she seeks her fourth, four year term in 2012. Her news:
Three leaders of a Chinese crime ring that helped secure New Mexico driver’s licenses for over 60 illegal immigrants from out of state by using fraudulent documents are facing over 1,150 counts of felony charges. An Albuquerque grand jury today returned indictments against Gordon Leong, Tin Cheung and Alex Cheung on 386 counts each on charges of fraud, forgery, conspiracy; making false affidavit perjury; and altered, forged or fictitious license.
The licenses for illegals is the GOP Holy Grail for '12. Kari is toeing the line. So far, no big names have emerged to take her on--either Republican or Dem.
IS THAT ENOUGH?
The Tourism Department is looking for some new ideas on how to promote the state so they are going to put out to bid the state advertising contract to see what comes in. Not a bad idea, but the advertising budget is a measly $2.5 million. That's for a state that is one of the iconic tourist locations in North America. Shouldn't Santa Fe beef that up? More tourists means more profits and jobs for our local businesses and more gross receipts taxes coming into the state treasury.
The tourist season around here has been pretty dead, with ABQ's Old Town doing little and Santa Fe's hotel occupancy rate flat to down. Indian Market, however, did seem to have a good run.
Mayor Berry is preparing to spend $20 million to fix up the outside of the ABQ Convention Center which is emptier than a swimming pool in January. The fix-up is overdue but what the center really needs to do, according to some business people we consulted, is to lower its convention rates and the hotel rates surrounding the center. It's all about competing in a new and tougher environment.
A PAC MAN
Dem Michael Corwin comes with a new political action committee to debunk conservatives because "campaigns are too conservative about doing what needs to be done. It does mean that my opposition-research days are done though since I can't coordinate with any campaign or the party."....
One of our "Alligators" sent us this pic, but forgot to send their usual tidbits of political news along with it. But it is from that rarest of creature--a "Senior Alligator"--so we're still appreciative.
By the way, a Senior Alligator is at least 45 years old, has at least two decades of New Mexico political experience and has contributed at least two major stories to the blog. And you thought there were no more mountains to climb...
That's it for this week. Thanks for stopping by.
Reporting to you from Albuquerque, I'm Joe Monahan.
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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2011
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