Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Minimum Wage Hike Appears Safe From Politicos, Plus: Susana's Southern Flank Shows A Crack, And: Death Calls for Judge Bob Schwartz, Colorful Character Of La Politica 

Let's start things off today with an update on the minimum wage matter...

ABQ GOP City Councilor Dan Lewis tells us he will not attempt a move to nullify voter approval of the dollar an hour pay hike for the lowest paid among us. TV news reported he and City Council President Trudy Jones were mulling over such a move, despite the measure winning the support of 66% of city voters last Tuesday.

While Lewis says he and Jones are not going to introduce any measure before the nine member council to repeal the increase, he says he is watching for any court actions that could take the measure off the books.

Lewis, Jones and ABQ GOP mayor all fought approval of the minimum wage increase, arguing it would be bad for business. But with overwhelming popular support it would be political suicide for Mayor Berry if he allowed a repeal measure to go through.

There are five R's on the council. Will there soon be six? Mayor Berry gets to name a replacement for Dem City Councilor Debbie O'Malley who won a seat last week on the Bernalillo County Commission. Whether it be a Dem or an R, Berry could get himself a veto proof majority of six on the council, if that new councilor he appoints is true to him.


Is Susana's southern flank showing cracks? Her hometown newspaper--assessing the election results in which the Guv suffered a number of stinging setbacks--says its time for her to drop the "my way or the highway" approach and start negotiating with the Legislature:

Gov. Martinez remains...highly popular among New Mexico voters...But that popularity has not translated to effectiveness. The governor has not been able to move the Legislature on her most important bills. And, she was not able to move voters on Tuesday to give her a more receptive Legislature.This election has served to weaken, not strengthen, the governor. She still has the veto pen, of course, and has proven that she is more than willing to use it. But, that only gives her the authority to stop legislation. To actually get anything done in the next two years, the governor will need to start building coalitions and alliances, including members of both parties.

Martinez will have a difficult time making peace with a number of legislators because she became personally involved in the campaigns against them--unlike any other modern governor before her.

Santa Fe is a poisoned well and you drink from it at your own risk.


Our Monday coverage of that plum $125,000 a year job landed at University of New Mexico Hiopsial by Martinez outgoing Deputy Chief of Staff Ryan Cangiolosi drew the email. A sample:

Someone ought to compile a list of all the crony jobs created by the Martinez Administration because it seems like it's the only job creation  they've actually done. In addition to the new post for Cangiolosi at UNMH, there's the job of general manager at the Downs at ABQ now held by former ABQ Public Safety Director Darren White, and jobs for White's friends at the State Fair where the Downs is located--Dan Mourning as fair director and former ABQ City Councilor Sally Mayer in administration there. And then there is Sally's daughter as head of the state tourism department, jobs for the spouses of Martinez Chief of Staff Keith Gardner and press aide Scott Darnell...And those are the ones we know of!

Another reader writes:

Joe: The system is flawed and friends appointing friends to political jobs is not exactly a new practice. The saving grace is that Ryan is a competent guy and whatever the task, he'll do a good job.


Bob Schwartz
A couple of years ago we were called to jury duty downtown and found ourselves in the courtroom of ABQ District Judge Bob Schwartz. He asked us and the other prospective jurors if anyone on the panel was personally acquainted with him. We raised our hand and he inquired how we knew him. Well, he knew and I knew that we had known one another since the 80's. I replied that I had helped run the 2001 mayoral campaign of Democrat Marty Chavez and he was the chief Republican foe who we beat. Pausing for a moment and apparently thinking how he could keep me as a prospective juror, he quipped. "Okay, but you personally didn't say bad things about me, did you?"

So it was with Schwartz, 62, who TV news reported died Monday from pneumonia while undergoing treatment for a broken leg he sustained when he tripped over his dog at his home (apparently the same dog that made news when it bit Schwartz a while back. The newspaper said he fell while working in his backyard).

Schwartz, a quick wit with a keen and sometimes biting sense of humor, was elected to two terms as Bernalillo County district attorney, serving from '89 to '97, a time in which you would often see him personally prosecute cases. He first went to work for the DA's office in the 70's under Dem Ira Robinson and later became Chief Deputy DA under Republican Steve Schiff who later was elected to the US House from ABQ. He was a Democrat from Philadelphia but he switched to R so he could be elected DA.

He was adept at making headlines as a prosecutor as well as for his personal life. His self-admitted bouts with drug addiction and a personal fling with a public defender in 2010 while serving as a district judge were among the more notable. The latter led to a reprimand from the NM Supreme Court.

When he left the DA's office in the 90's he was adrift. He wrote a newspaper column and did a radio show. He was rescued by Governor Richardson, a Democrat who named Schwartz his crime czar. That wasn't a good fit so Bill made him a district judge which he served as until his death.

Schwartz was a brash, sometimes arrogant personality but always deeply engaged with the state of affairs in New Mexico. Despite a topsy-turvy private life, he served his community effectively and with distinction and diligence. He now passes into the book of La Politica, where he will be prominently featured along side this state's most colorful political characters.

(Former Governor Richardson released this statement on the passing of Schwartz:

Bob Schwartz was a crime fighter to the core. As a District Attorney and as a Judge he always sought rightful justice and protections for victims.  As my Crime Advisor he was involved in significant anti-crime legislation involving DWI “three strikes you're out” and victims relief.  He was also a colorful character who loved life.  Needless to say he will be sorely missed.”

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