Wednesday, August 17, 2011
New Mexico's Latest Corruption Poster Boy Can't Own Up; Block Vows To Stay, Plus: Susana & The Bishops, And: ABQ Heroin Havoc
Why can't the daddy of Jerome Block Jr., a longtime politico himself, take his wayward son to the woodshed and tell him it is time to go? Or are we going to get mired down in an expensive impeachment proceeding that everyone knows will end with Junior being ousted? Block, a self-admitted prescription drug addict who is charged with pilfering from taxpayers everything from gasoline to chimichangas, has got his back up and is refusing to heed calls for his resignation from both sides of the political aisle.
The 34 year old Democratic Public Regulation Commissioner is a walking billboard for how not to run a government, but apparently he wants to hang on to that nice $90,000 a year salary and says he will let the legal process play out.
Daddy Block, we know you've had your own set of charges to deal with, but can't you talk some sense into your boy? Because if you can't or if he doesn't come to his senses on his own, what awaits us isn't pretty.
Santa Fe Dem State Rep. Brian Egolf, an attorney and member of the judiciary committee, says impeaching Block--which will have to be done if he won't resign--is a long and winding road:
There will have to be House committee hearings where the Committee's counsel and Block's counsel will get opportunities to present witnesses and evidence. Then, if the articles of impeachment go to the floor, there will be a briefer presentation to members there. Then the whole thing moves to the Senate, which will conduct a full-blown trial. Block will get an opportunity to cross-examine all House witnesses, and the House managers will get to cross-examine all Block witnesses. All due process provisions will attach, I presume, so it's not a quick process. Then the senators deliberate and vote. I think a three week process is very realistic, given all the steps...
Three weeks? And how much money? Well, Brian, we don't think anyone should be railroaded, but if Jerome Jr. continues to throw his middle finger at the state someone ought to grab it, bend it and do it as quickly as possible. Right now, that someone is Daddy Block. (Or that big bad political daddy and Speaker of the House Ben Lujan).
The Block case, as sensational as it is, would cause little collateral damage to his Democratic Party if he would just go away. But news cycle after news cycle this guy is grabbing the headlines. What a political gift for Republican Governor Martinez, who made state corruption a banner issue in last year's campaign.
SUSANA AND THE BISHOPS
Despite opinion polls showing the vast majority of New Mexicans agree with the Guv and support repealing the law that allows illegal immigrants to get driver's licenses, the three Catholic bishops in the state are united in supporting the licenses. (Their full letter here.)
The bishops support could help state Senate Democrats who are feeling increased pressure to reverse themselves and approve the repeal in the upcoming special legislative session--something they refused to do when they handed Martinez a major legislative defeat last session.
Martinez is well-aware of the opposition, but she is not hearing it personally. Our Alligators report that the bishops--led by Archbishop Michael Sheehan--have been unable to meet with the Governor. Three different dinner meetings were arranged with her, but all three were canceled by her office.
Maybe they ought to try lunch?
Dem Bernalillo County Commissioner Michelle Lujan Grisham made her formal entrance into the ABQ US House race Monday, saying "a band of right wing radicals in Congress has hijacked our country."
The full announcement, courtesy of newsman Peter St. Cyr, is here.
All three Dem congressional hopefuls--Lujan Grisham, Eric Griego and Marty Chavez--are serving up fire and brimstone in these unsettled economic times. Insiders think the quality of the staffs that these contenders line up will have an important role in who ultimately wins the nod.
This is has got to be the most depressing news we've encountered in a while. An 18 year old student at La Cueva High School--dies of a heroin overdose:
Cameron Weiss, the son of Curtis and Jennifer Weiss and brother of Kaitlyn Weiss passed away on August 13, 2011. He was 18 years old. Cameron was a fun-loving person who had a good heart and loved and cared about his family and friends. His friends describe him as someone who would give them the shirt off his back, a person who lifted spirits and had a smile that you would never forget.
There are recurring news reports about heroin use in the city's school system. La Cueva is the most affluent of the city's schools so this is not linked to poverty.
The ABQ Public School Board and Superintendent Brooks have the public's support to get heavy-handed in addressing the scourge. One hopes the death of Cameron Weiss will light a fire under them and save other students from a similar fate. And can we hear from Mayor Berry on this?
Reader Rosalie Montano comes with some insights on the latest politics brewing at Bernalilo County:
An investigation is being conducted of Bernalillo County Assessor Karen Montoya who is proposing to delete 27 employees from her office. Is this not what taxpayers want--the waste to be eliminated? She is doing her job and the County Commission does not support her because they are receiving calls from all the disgruntled employees and their families.
During elections we hear how all the candidates are going to eliminate the waste. Here we have an elected official who is trying to be accountable to the public and she is being accused of not treating the employees right. She inherited these employees who were political hires before she became Assessor. Where is the support for accountability?
Montoya says the bear market in real estate and construction means she needs fewer employees. An outside firm has been retained to investigate claims of retaliation made by employees against Montoya as reason for their possible termination.
This is a good example of what a bad economy can do to a political landscape:
There are now as many independent voters as Democrats (34% each) --the first time this has occurred in more than two decades of Pew Research Center surveys, and, by all indications, the highest percent independent since party identification was first measured in the late 1930s. While the number identifying as Republicans has remained relatively flat (28% in both 2008 and 2011), more independent voters lean to the GOP than did so in 2008 (16% now, 11% then)....
THE BACK STORY
About that endorsement of Dem US Senate candidate Hector Balderas by Cuauhtémoc “Temo” Figueroa who served as National Latino Vote Director for President Obama’s 2008 general election campaign, an Alligator informs:
Temo's endorsement is an old legacy of his relationship with political consultants and Balderas supporters Amanda Cooper and Caroline Buerkle. Temo fell out of favor with the Obama folks after the campaign.
And what about those five AFSCME union locals--heavy with Hispanics-- that broke with their national brethren and endorsed Hector over Rep. Martin Heinrich:
The defiance of the northern union locals and Temo against national AFSCME is part of a larger set of differences with Carter Bundy, the political and legislative director for AFSCME in New Mexico. But Bundy still has the pull.
Heinrich secured the AFSCME national endorsement back in April.
THE BOTTOM LINES
Talk about generosity. Or is it? Politicos report that Dem State Senator Tim Eichenberg is telling the main players in the legislative redistricting to go ahead and carve up his ABQ NE Heights seat any way they see fit. Is it magnanimity that led Tim to that decision or will he be leaving the Senate to seek another office--like Public Regulation Commission?
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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2011
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