Monday, December 19, 2011
More Details On Feds Case Against Big Bill; Trying To "Taint A Jury?" Plus: The Great Bear Still Hunts; His Tracks In Rio Rancho And On APS
Sympathizers of Big Bill say all those leaks from the Federal grand jury investigating the former NM governor are politically motivated and destined to "taint the jury" in the event Richardson is indicted for allegedly having a sexual relationship with a state worker and arranging to have her paid off with $250,000 in hush money.
Fair or unfair, the former Guv, a master of the power play, finds the tables have been turned on him. He has been forced into a defensive silence as the leaks--more like a Niagara waterfall--continue unabated. And, of course, the Alligators get the details from the insiders that you've been waiting for. Here's what they are telling us:
--The woman who accuses Richardson of coercing into having a sexual affair started in state government at a salary of about $12 an hour. She was later hired to an exempt position for about $65,000. Exempt employees serve at the pleasure of the Governor.
--The "affair" the ex-Guv allegedly had with her was brief--lasting a month or two. She ran into trouble when she was arrested for DWI and apparently lost her job as a result. Her entreaties for help from Richardson went unanswered and that's when she threatened to go to the press, specifically Hustler Magazine.
--It was 2007 and at the time Richardson was seeking the Dem presidential nomination. Her threats, our insiders say, put the wheels in motion for a $250,000 payment that was routed to her lawyer from a bank in Mexico. A key question is where that money came from. If it can be determined it was campaign money, Richardson would be in very legal hot water.
--Another key question: What Richardson advisers and/or attorneys arranged for the money transfer, if there was indeed one? Several Richardson associates have been granted immunity in exchange for their grand jury testimony, according to various media reports.
--The woman in question is in her late thirties and lives in ABQ. She divorced her husband after the Richardson affair blaming it, in part, for the break-up. She has since remarried, lives in ABQ and is said to be nine months pregnant by her new husband.
--The ABQ Journal--and we assume other media outlets--are aware of the woman's name but have refrained from publishing it because she asserts she is the victim of sexual harassment.
And there you have it with the caveat that these are anonymous sources, but ones with good track records for reliability.
And then there's apparently that other Federal grand jury investigation into this:
Daskalos family members and businesses contributed at least $130,000 to Gov. Bill Richardson's re-election campaign several months after state transportation officials helped the family get rare direct access to Paseo del Norte for a shopping-center project.
Jimmy Daskalos was spotted last week going into the grand jury room as was Amanda Cooper, a longtime political consultant to Big Bill and the step-daughter of Dem US Senator Tom Udall. Do you think Tom is reading each and every press clipping on this case? You betcha.
The rapid deconstruction of Bill Richardson from a top form political player and effective Governor into a skirt-chasing sleaze may be more of a personal tragedy for him than an event of overriding political importance. Or at least that's the hope in elite circles of the New Mexican Democratic Party.
Because Richardson no longer holds power and his popularity has already sunk below 30 percent in at least one opinion poll, top Dems don't see his legal problems haunting them much in election year 2012. Still, there are possible angles for the R's.
Foremost, is the ties Dem US Senate candidate and US Rep. Martin Heinrich has to Richardson. He was hired by Bill to become the state's natural resources trustee. R's could try to stretch that relationship into guilt by association.
ABQ Dem congressional candidate and State Senator Eric Griego was also given a job by Richardson. He worked for the state economic development department. And former Mayor Chavez, also seeking the Dem congressional nod, has long established ties to Bill, The other candidate--Michelle Lujan Grisham--was hired as a cabinet secretary for Richardson. She ended that stint on poor terms with Bill.
THE GREAT BEAR
The Great Bear Market continues to ravage Rio Rancho--home to the Late Great Housing Bubble:
...Hundreds of empty homes are neglected and run down...Now, the city is taking action to force the owners of the foreclosed properties, namely banks, to clean up the mess. There are more than 600 foreclosed properties all over Rio Rancho and most of them are owned by banks of financial institutions....The City Council passed an ordinance that mandates all foreclosed properties must be registered, inspected and maintained regularly.
It will be years (decades?) before Rio Rancho returns to anywhere the growth rate it experienced in the go-go years.
And look at this: ABQ Public Schools can't figure out why there are 1,000 fewer students enrolled this year. Some think it could be the first sign of a population retrenchment or stagnation in the state's largest city brought about by...you guessed it...The Great Bear Market:
Albuquerque Public Schools is looking at a net loss of just over 1,000 students, and that could mean lopping off more millions from a budget that has already been shrinking in the Great Recession. So far, nobody really knows where the 1,013 students went. They are not showing up in charter school enrollment. APS is checking with other school districts to see if families have moved to Rio Rancho, or Los Lunas, or some other towns.
The epic economic downturn has called into question the state slogan, "It grows as it goes." How much growth will there really be here in the future? We seem to finally be adding some jobs after three years of losing them, but a new economic boom here seems as distant as the Milky Way.
THE FEDS AND US
The economic engine of the state--federal spending--continues to chug along--at least until October of 2012. Senators Bingaman and Udall pronounced themselves satisfied with the funding for Sandia and Los Alamos Labs contained in a big spending bill that has now passed the Congress and keeps the government funded for the next nine months.
Los Alamos does take a $100 million hit as funding for a controversial construction project that has been called into question, but then there is a 5% increase in overall funding for the National Nuclear Security Administration through which the Labs are funded. There was earlier talk of an even larger increase.
Still, this is pretty good news that the Senators bring and on which Senator Bingaman will conclude his political career next year. As for what lurks beyond 2012, well that's when get things murky. We will lose Bingaman's seniority and there may be continued pressure on overall federal spending that could impact the state.
THE BOTTOM LINES
We received word late Sunday of the passing of Barbara Wold, a founder of the well-known liberal Web site Democracy for New Mexico. She had been suffering from cancer. ABQ Dem US Rep. Martin Heinrich issued this statement:
I was deeply saddened to learn of Democracy for New Mexico co-founder Barb Wold's passing. We lost a champion of worthy causes and a friend to so many--including myself. Her spirit and fierce commitment to making our community better will be sorely missed. Julie and I will continue to keep her family and life partner, MaryEllen Broderick, in our thoughts and prayers.
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