Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Michelle Stirs Up The Chicharrone Pot, But Not Her Campaign, Plus: More On The Mary Han Mystery, And: Readers Join The Econ Watch 

We're on the 2012 campaign trail and we take you to deep into the ABQ South Valley, one of the birthplaces of La Politica and where the centuries old Matanza tradition is alive and well.

Here's ABQ Dem congressional candidate Michelle Lujan Grisham giving it her best to show her bona fides at the chicharrone pot. Although the stirring paddle she is grasping seems taller than the diminutive candidate, it is wooden--not metal--a Matanza no-no.

Judging by the look on her face, Michelle may not plan on partaking of any of the juicy pork morsels, but the two characters supervising her work seem pleased that they've found someone to share the load.

Grisham faces Republican Janice Arnold-Jones in the race to replace Dem Congressman Martin Heinrich who is seeking the open US Senate seat, but you would hardly know it. She is only this week putting up her first TV spot and while Arnold-Jones has been on the air, her campaign purse is not bulging so the ad buy has not been very noticeable.

Grisham's campaign says her first TV ad starts airing Wednesday. It's a soft bio spot. It is interesting, however, that she says of the Medicare program that "when America makes a promise we should keep it." One of Janice's ads also makes a play for the senior crowd by calling Medicare a "sacred promise." Grisham is a former director of the state agency on aging and isn't about to cede the senior vote. (There's also a Spanish language version of this ad).

Grisham is comfortably ahead in all the polls and the seat is ranked "likely Democrat" by the pundits, but shouldn't she be flexing more muscle and running a higher profile race--just in case? We put that question to a veteran Dem political consultant:

She is keeping it simple and that is the way to go. Janice has little money and has also had a hard time defining herself. One minute she is trying to slip away from the Paul Ryan budget, saying the cuts it contains are "frightening" for the New Mexico national labs and in the next she is embracing the Ryan way.  Grisham may not be running an electrifying campaign, but she is making no mistakes. The debates will give Janice a chance, but not much of one...

The troubles Arnold-Jones has within her own party have been well-chronicled here. Some conservatives find her too moderate and she has been ignored by Governor Martinez. Maybe that's what drove her to make this controversial statement about public funding for birth control:

"Is it my obligation to pay for your recreational sex? No, it’s not,” Arnold-Jones said, referring to a moderator’s question about whether limits should be placed on insurance coverage of women’s reproductive services, such as birth control and abortion.

That leap to the right is what they call the wrong move at the wrong time. Arnold-Jones' only hope of pulling the upset is to become more of a centrist than Michelle. Making it worse, she came with that recreational sex statement soon after releasing a pretty effective ad that took note of how her brother died of AIDS. Like the man said, if Janice can't figure out who she is, how can the public?


Mary Han
One of the extreme examples of the out-of-control culture at the ABQ police department came when Mary Han, 53, lay dead in her car in her garage in 2010 and top law enforcement officials apparently began snapping pictures of her corpse with their cell phone cameras. Kinda like tourists at Yellowstone guffawing with cameras clicking as a bear wanders close:
(Law enforcement) arrived there shortly after longtime law partner (and new state Supreme Court justice) Paul Kennedy found Han in the front seat of her car in the garage and pronounced her death an "accidental suicide." Some  of those officials allegedly used their city issued cellphones to take photos that day possibly at Han's home. Six of them are listed in Nash's order, with their titles or positions at the time: Deputy Chiefs Allen  Banks and Beth Paiz; crime lab director Marc Adams; Sgt. Trish Hoffman; city Public Safety Director Darren White and spokesman, TJ Wilham....

So what happened to the macabre photos of Han, a 1985 graduate of the UNM School of Law?

According to affidavits provided by the city, most of those city issued  phones have vanished. Adams' phone was broken and replaced June 1, 2011.  Banks received a new phone that day as well. Hoffman received a new  phone Aug. 30, 2011. Paiz got hers Sept. 2, 2011. Yet on Aug. 8, 2011...(District Court Judge Nan) Nash has now agreed to (a) request for the city to provide any  property cards kept on those missing cellphones and an affidavit from  the APD property manager explaining the procedure used to track and  dispose of city issued cellphones, the supposition being that such items  don't simply vanish into thin air....

Shouldn't it be Chief Schultz and APD coming forward with a complete report and also a complete investigation of the suspicious death of Han? Why does it take a court order to get at the truth?

Judge Nash has a lot on her shoulders here and it sure appears she could use some help. That's where the United States Department of Justice comes in--or doesn't. DOJ has already been asked to investigate the city's numerous fatal police shootings, but the malpractice in Mary Han's death reveals the need for a wide net to be cast bv Justice. The vast majority of our hard working ABQ police officers deserve that much as do our citizens.


We don't know what kind of campaign Republican Paul Kennedy is going to run in his effort to retain the vacant NM Supreme Court seat he was appointed to by Governor Martinez. He will be the underdog in the race against Democrat nominee and District Court Judge Barbara Vigil because no Republican has been elected to the high court since the 80's.

However, if we are going to have one of those negative slugfests financed for Kennedy by one of the Guv's political action committees then there is no reason that Justice Kennedy's pronouncement of  Han's death as an "accidental suicide" should not be subjected to the full heat of the campaign. We're just sayin'...


Readers respond to our continuing coverage of the Bear Market that continues to tear at ABQ and New Mexico even as it eases in surrounding states. Katarina Borodina of La Cienega, NM, writes

 According to the latest report from the State Treasurer's website, New Mexico has $1 billion of bond proceeds sitting in the bank, ready to be spent on projects throughout the state. That money was raised through the sale of bonds and  projects are identified for each dollar raised. It seems to me that $1 billion in construction spending could do quite a bit of help in this ugly economy. I think the Governor should urge those departments and agencies to "use it or lose it.".

Her Department of Finance and Board of Finance need to get serious about these projects. She should get DFA Secretary Tim Clifford to get to the bottom of this ridiculous situation.  In addition to not spending, we are paying interest on these bonds--paying interest on money which is just sitting in the Treasurer's "bank"? What good does sitting on a huge pile of money do when our state is continuing to rise in the poverty tables?  We have projects identified and the only thing stopping them is red tape--red tape created by our own government. 

Our Governor--like our national politicians--needs to realize that the real issue here is jobs, jobs, jobs. $1 billion in spending (even over 3 years) would make a difference. The multiplier effect would help all of us within the state. 

Sure, the inside baseball world of politics is fun and exciting, but lets get beyond the blood-sport and make a difference for average New Mexicans. Thanks, Joe, I read you every day. Orale!

Thanks for that info, Katarina. Santa Fe has the ability to get the ball rolling so the private sector can begin a recovery, but there is a dated fiscal conservatism prevailing in the hallways of the Roundhouse and the Legislative Finance Committee that is keeping us from moving forward--way down as we are reminded by reader Joan Fenicle who sends this:

Last year, 7.2% of families in New Mexico earned less than $10,000, a larger proportion than in any state but Mississippi and Louisiana. In addition, 21.5% of residents lived below the poverty line, well above the national rate of 15.9%. As a result of poverty and limited job benefits, many New Mexicans cannot afford health insurance. Last year, 19.8% of the state’s residents were uninsured. This was significantly higher than the national rate of 15.1% even though the cost of healthcare in New Mexico was slightly below the national average.


Reader reaction now to the big story on the Monday blog--how the Governor has unleashed her political consultant to go for broke in trying to oust Dem state Senate Leader Tim Jennings of Roswell. Dem Stephanie DuBois comes with this:

This stuff on Jennings and (Senate Majority Leader) Sanchez and the Governor's very obvious intrusion into the election process should give the electorate food for thought. Does my vote really count when the election is being manipulated by an elected official who is trying to get rid of two senators who stand in the way of her punitive agenda? Her concentration should be on job creation and learning how to govern in a way that befits the position of leading a state into the future...

We also covered the Governor's involvement in the Sanchez and Jennings races with KOB-TV.

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