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Tuesday, October 04, 2011

To The Voters Now; City Wraps Up Voting Today On Key Issues; Mayor's Bond Plan In Spotlight, Plus: Congress Battle; Michelle & The Men 

Will there be a taxpayer rebellion or will voters routinely approve the many bond issues on today's city election ballot? We'll find that out tonight as well as what Mr. & Mrs. Albuquerque think about continuing those controversial red light cameras.

Reports show that Redflex, the company that runs the program, came with over $140,000 to win public support for the cameras. But it will be Mayor Berry's two special bond requests that will be most in the spotlight. That's $25 million to rebuild the Paso Del Norte/I-25 interchange and another $25 million to build a controversial sportsplex. Was Berry forceful enough in convincing the public to vote for his "ABQ: The Plan"? Did the opposition do enough to get the word out against the plan?

There are also two contested city council races on the ballot today that will keep election watchers tuned in.

The polls close at 7 p.m., although it appears that well over half the vote has already been cast early or absentee.

BLOGGING FROM WHERE?

As timing would have it we'll be traveling overseas when the city election results come in this evening. The plan is to blog the results and provide some analysis for you from the Venice, Italy airport. We'll get in there Wednesday morning so you should be hearing from us. If not, our Gondola took the wrong turn.

We'll be in Europe this week and next and out of the breaking news loop. But we'll provide you with some pre-cooked daily blogging to satisfy your political cravings. Now, before we say "Ciao," let's get to the latest action....

THE CONGRESS BATTLE
Lujan Grisham

The conventional wisdom on the three way race for the Dem nomination for the ABQ congressional seat is that Bernalillo County Commissioner Michelle Lujan Grisham is running third and that the front runners are former ABQ Mayor Marty Chavez and State Senator Eric Griego. If that's the case--and Lujan Grisham would disagree mightily--who does she hurt the most? Judging by this early endorsement from liberal ABQ State Rep. Gail Chasey Beam, Michelle may take votes away from Eric Griego:

Not only was Michelle an early and vocal supporter of the repeal of the death penalty, she has inspired me and other lawmakers to improve the economic future for New Mexico. I cannot imagine a better person than Michelle Lujan Grisham to fight for us and represent New Mexico families in Congress.

But Lujan Grisham is not defined as a down-the-line liberal like Greigo. She has pull with senior citizens, for example. That appeal could slow down Marty Chavez.

For Lujan Grisham the job is to post some solid fund-raising numbers and get the pundits thinking she is no longer running in third.

GOP ACTION

On the GOP side prominent Republican Tom Tinnin recently held a fund-raiser for City Councilor Dan Lewis. That was taken as a sign in some quarters that Jon Barela will not make a late entry into the contest.

Lewis and former State Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones are the two GOP contenders so far. It's not too late for Barela, the 2010 GOP nominee and current economic development secretary, to get in the race but it would have been much easier a couple of months ago. The side bets still have Barela staying on the sidelines. We'll see...

Speaking of the economic development department, here's a news tip from one of our Alligators in the vicinity:

I was just informed about what I see as the Economic Development Department's poorly veiled efforts to circumvent the Governor's ban on salary increases and promotions for classified employees. The department has asked the State Personnel Office to analyze the work of its employees to determine if their increased workloads and/or new assignments warrant pay increases.


You won't be hearing complaints about economic development from many Democratic legislators since State Representative Bobbie Gonzales' son and a couple other family members are employed in that small department...

Interesting stuff. There is a great partisan divide in Santa Fe, but when it comes to packing the state payroll, it's business as usual--a bipartisan party. Speaking of which..

BARING SOME TEETH


The ABQ Journal is starting to show some teeth--albeit maybe baby teeth--when it comes to covering the Martinez administration, now nine months old. The ink-stained wretches came with a front-pager questioning fund-raising on behalf of the Guv during the recent special legislative session and then came with another headline grabber that questions the hiring of Stephanie Gardner at the Public Education Department. She's the wife of Martinez chief of staff Keith Gardner, a former Roswell state representative..

The Gardners are trying their best to battle back, but the perception is often the reality. The story details what could easily be taken for a wire job in getting Stephanie's gig. How could you expect charges of nepotism not to arise in a case like this? The difference is that it is now receiving coverage.

The lessons here? You're not going to sell fishwrappers if the pages drip with honey for those in power. And if your pillow mate is going on the state payroll, don't be surprised to see punches get thrown.

THAT'S IT?

They can splash it on the front page, they can have the town crier yell it out and they can put it above the urinals at the local bars for everyone to read. But it all amounts to the same thing--the judicial bribery case against Las Cruces District Court Judge Michael Murphy is a sorry mess. Need proof? Look at this recent anti-climatic news lead:

The Las Cruces judge whose secret recordings helped trigger bribery charges against a fellow jurist also recorded the local chief judge, other court personnel and a woman who said she had spoken to Gov. Bill Richardson about a judicial misconduct complaint.


As Peggy Lee crooned, "Is that all there is?" A judge has already dismissed most of the charges against Murphy. It looks as if Clovis area District Attorney and Special Prosecutor Matt Chandler is throwing the long ball here to try to salvage something. He has the press on his side, but apparently not the law. Former Big Bill spokesman Gilbert Gallegos unloads:

“This is total lunacy from a discredited and moribund investigation trying to revive itself with rumors and innuendo."


Well, we won't be that hard on Matt, but his case looks about as meaty as a vegetarian buffet.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2011
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