Friday, November 16, 2012

On To '14; NM Senate Race Not Yet Top Tier Contest, Plus: Foley Vs. Sanderoff; Feud Over Polling Ends With Egg On One Of Their Faces, And: Of Seaplanes In New Mexico 

The pundits have put 2012 behind them and are already turning their attention to the 2014 campaign when Dem US Senator Tom Udall will seek a second term. The WaPo's predictor comes with the paper's top 10 Senate races to watch, but it doesn't include New Mexico's. That may be because no prominent Republican is sending clear signals they will run or is out on the field raising money.

We did note a recent newspaper op-ed piece from State Economic Development Director Jon Barela that was co-signed by Democratic State Senator George Munoz. Is that Barela's first attempt at luring Dems to his side in anticipation of taking on Udall in '14?

And Munoz snuggling with Barela surely caught the eye of Dem Senate leaders who are working feverishly to avoid a coalition of Dems and R's selecting a new Senate President Pro Tem.

Besides Barela, others on our short list as possible GOP Senate contenders are Lt. Governor John Sanchez and Clovis area District Attorney Matt Chandler who is also a '14 possible for attorney general. Southern GOP Congressman Steve Pearce is off the list based on our insider info.


Former Roswell GOP State Rep. Dan Foley went ballistic on KNME-TV in the closing days of Campaign '12, claiming that the polling model used by noted ABQ pollster Brian Sanderoff of Research & Polling on the US Senate race was all wrong--that he skewed his polling model in favor of Dems and Hispanics. Foley further asserted that  Heather Wilson's final internal poll showing her tied with Dem Martin Heinrich was the real deal and that Wilson was positioned to win the race.

Well, it turns out Foley is the one with egg on his face, not Sanderoff. The poll showing Wilson tied with Heinrich was widely dismissed in the political community and turned out to be not only wrong, but not even in the ball park. Heinrich won by a comfortable margin of 50 to 45 with 3 for independent Jon Barrie.

Sanderoff's final US Senate poll--released Oct. 29--had Heinrich at 50%, Wilson at 42% and Barrie at 3%. Undecided was 6%. Wilson's internal poll showed a 46 to 46  tie with Heinrich, with Barrie getting 3. 

Wilson's poll was conducted by Glen Bolger of Public Opinion Strategies (POS). POS is a Republican polling firm that employs Nicole McCleskey, wife of Guv political consultant Jay McCleskey who ran the Reform NM Now PAC that spent millions here on legislative races. Finance reports shows that McCleskey spent heavily for POS polling.

POS come with a mea culpa on their poor polling performance in the presidential race although we haven't seen anything specifically about the flawed POS Wilson survey that she used to raise money from in the late days of the campaign.

Sanderoff has polled the state more than anyone and for a number of decades. He has had a few misses, but his record is one of the best in the nation. In fact, New York Times polling guru Nate Silver did a post-election survey of the most accurate pollsters for the November presidential election. Sanderoff's Research and Polling ranked number 9 among the 90 polling firms.

Of course, Foley and Jay know all this. They just don't want you to. And that's another reason we are here.


Roybal Caballero
Did you catch this one?

A complaint filed with the state claims Patricia Roybal Caballero, District 13 House of Representatives elect, ran ineligibly. She took the November  election, winning the seat over Jose Orozco with 72 percent of the votes. The complaint alleges in part, "The address that she is residing in is on Carlos Rey Drive, which falls in New Mexico House District 14, which means she ran for a district that she does not live in, which made her ineligible to run for New Mexico House District 13." 

On Roybal Caballero's voter registration form and declaration of candidacy, she lists an address on Camino San Martin NW. That location falls under District 13. Target 7 went there multiple times but never found evidence that Roybal Caballero lives there. A family opened the door, but none of them had the last name of Roybal Caballero. Neighbors said they've never seen Roybal Caballero...

So what would happen if Roybal Caballero was ruled ineligible to serve? Well, the Bernalillo County Commission would appoint a replacement. But she's a Dem. Isn't the commission currently controlled by the Republicans. Yes, it is, but the majority will go back to the Dems when Debbie O'Malley is sworn in as a new commissioner in early December. That means the worst case scenario for the Dems--the R's taking over this heavy Dem seat--is probably off the table


Reader Mike Emerson writes:

Joe, Since you frequently mention the issues surrounding the Spaceport, I think it’s important to look at the overall messaging in NM about the aerospace industry and its impact on the economy.   

There are several good things happening such as the creation a few years ago of the Aerospace Engineering program at NMSU. Another promising effort is the creation of the NM Aviation Aerospace Association. Unfortunately, parts of state government are creating the perception that NM is not friendly to the aviation and aerospace community.

Now, there is a little-noticed piece of legislation proposed by the State Parks Division banning Seaplane and Floatplane operations on state lakes and waterways. The uninformed person might say “Who cares?"  How many seaplanes are in NM?” Turns out it’s a big deal nationally because you cannot fly a floatplane from east to west in the winter without landing somewhere in NM.     

The links here and here show that the powerful national general aviation associations and lobbying groups are very aware of this proposal and are wondering what the heck is going on in NM.

NMDOT’s Aviation Division feels this is a bad idea and spoke out against it in the public meeting in October.  So, we have two departments that report to the executive branch at odds over legislation that sends the wrong message to the industry and hurts local businesses in places like Elephant Butte.     

I’m a private pilot. NM is known widely for its wonderful flying climate and facilities, so it pains me to see us viewed in a negative light by the national aviation community. Whether it’s a good idea or not, why couldn’t the representatives of these two departments talked to each other first about the pros and cons of the proposal, instead of making us look foolish in the eyes of the general aviation industry and community during a public meeting?


Services are scheduled this Sunday for ABQ District Court Judge Bob Schwartz who died this week at 62:

The funeral service for state district judge Bob Schwartz will be held at 1:30p.m. Sunday at Congregation Albert, 3800 Louisiana NE. Schwartz, who also served Bernalillo County District Attorney, died Monday at a Rio Rancho hospital.In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Dismas House of New Mexico.

A reader sends this on the local economy:

"Economy, to god-damned hell with the economy! We have no economy. In fact, we don't need an economy. I don't have to show you any stinking economy, you god-damned cabrón and chinga tu madre!"--a paraphrase from B. Traven's 1927 novel The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.

That's it for this week. Thanks for your company.

Reporting this week from Tuscon and Albuquerque, I'm Joe Monahan

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Jobs Recession Lurks As Mayor Gives State of City, Plus: Catching The Redeye To NYC, A New US Attorney Coming, And: How About A Choclatier Governor? 

Mayor Berry
ABQ GOP Mayor RJ Berry has presided over the worst recession and resultant loss of jobs in the city's modern history, so with his 2013 re-election bid staring him in the face it was no surprise to find the Mayor working  to shore up his economic bona fides in his annual State of the City address Wednesday.

In a bit of irony, Berry announced that $5 million clawed back to city coffers from a solar company that went bust using city incentives could be reinvested in economic development, including expanded marketing programs and workforce development programs. The City Council would have to approve.

The mayor did mention the elephant in the room--the loss of government jobs at all levels and the threat of losing more of them if federal spending is cut. He says we must protect them. But what about a more specific action plan to influence DC? (Complete transcript here.)

Any incumbent would be vulnerable for re-election considering the state of the city's economy, but Berry has been blessed with one of the quietest city councils ever, a mainstream media that is solidly in his corner, and a Democratic opposition (when there is one) that is ineffective--to put it politely.

It will be up to his Dem opponents to start making the contrast and point out the potholes of his administration--including the controversy-marred police department. As of now there are no official candidates in the race to replace him.


The Mayor also announced in his speech Wednesday that Jet Blue Airlines will begin nonstop flights from ABQ to New York City's JFK. The last nonstop flights from ABQ to NYC were in 2008.

That's good news for the city and it needs it. But don't get your Big Apple tee shirt out yet. Jet Blue is only going to offer one flight a day to NYC--and it will depart at Midnight. Well, it's right on time for the freshest bagels in New York, but maybe not for a biz meeting right away...Meanwhile,

Look at the decline in international air travel we've had from the Sunport:

In Albuquerque the flow of international travel decreased 11.5 percent between 2003 and 2011. In 2003, Albuquerque had 219,233 international passengers departing and arriving at the Albuquerque International Sunport. In 2011 that number dropped to 194,035.

Berry could have his hands full defending his economic record next year if tough opponents emerge, but we don't think they'll be attacking him for the city's management of the Sunport. The place is nearly spotless each time we visit, the staff is helpful, parking is ample and the permanent artwork is sensational. It is a fitting gateway to visitors to the Land of Enchantment and the maintenance staff and management of the facility win a hat tip for their dedication.


Michael Mendoza of Washington, D.C. writes:

Hi Joe, I am the President of the NM State Society of Washington DC and a Las Cruces native who lives in the DC area. I am an active reader of your blog and appreciate being able to stay connected to things going on back home.

Our big event every 4 years is an Inaugural Ball, which we will be having on Saturday, January 19th at the Carnegie Institute of Science in Washington DC.  We are ironing out a few details of the event but general information can be found here.

Sounds like fun, Michael. Do you think one of those super PAC has some leftover cash we could use to get out there?


Keeping it in DC, here's the first pic of  Dem NM Senator-elect Martin Heinrich with Senate Majority leader Harry Reid. Other incoming freshmen are also pictured with the Dem leader.

Heinrich told us election night he will try to win a spot on the Senate Armed Services Committee, a panel important to defense funding in the state.

For you history buffs, Heinrich takes over from Dem Senator Jeff Bingaman what is known as "the Catron Seat," so named because the seat was first held, in 1912, by Thomas Catron, a Republican who at one time was the largest land owner in New Mexico.

Democrat Tom Udall, himself only a freshman like Heinrich, becomes the state's senior Senator in January when Bingaman departs. The state's seniority is at a low ebb, but there is a Dem in the White House to match our two Dem Senators. That might help when the budget axe starts getting thrown around again.


As senior Senator Udall is going to have a lot to say about who the next US Attorney will be for New Mexico. Yes, we're going to need one. The news:

 U.S. Senators  Bingaman and Udall applauded President Obama’s nomination of Kenneth Gonzales to the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico. He would replace long-time U.S. District Court Chief Judge Bruce D. Black, who retired in October. Gonzales currently serves as the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Mexico.  Prior to his appointment, he served for more than ten years as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in both the Las Cruces and Albuquerque branches.  

You know the US attorney's office--the one that was going to indict Big Bill for the last five years but never did. Send us your nominations. Hey, how about ABQ attorney Pete Dinelli trying for it again? He was among those applying when Gonzales was selected. He says he is mulling over a '13 bid for Mayor, but US Attorney is a powerful post.


How about a chocolatier on the Fourth Floor? The place would be a lot sweeter we suppose with bowls of candy handy for visitors. Well, Chuck Higgins, who owns a Santa Fe candy store, says he is toying with the idea of a Dem Guv run. His website has more info on him. You can file this potential candidacy under "G" for gadfly, but Santa Fe over the years has produced a number of entertaining politicos. Also, we keep thinking about the hot chocolate we had in Paris earlier this year. If Chuck can cook up a batch equal to that, he might get more support than we think.


Warm up the black helicopters because we're taking a spin and our passenger is Governor Martinez deputy chief of staff Ryan Cangiolosi, soon to be the $125,000 executive projects director at the University of New Mexico Hospital. It's a brand new position created just for...well...we'll hold back on that. To the helipad fellow conspirators!:

Joe, UNMH has been trying desperately to get approval to build a new 90 bed hospital at a cost of $146 million - money that comes from surplus property tax dollars. UNMH's difficulty moving forward stems from questions of a) is there an actual need for (another) expansion of UNMH and, b) could the $146 million be used more effectively or even returned to property tax payers as a refund? Apparently the Board of Finance is concerned too because they voted the UNMH proposal down last week on a 3-2 vote. Within no time, however, UNMH made the decision to hire Ryan Cangioloisi - the Governor's assistant chief of staff - into a brand new $125,000 a year job.  Now, having just been voted down, the UNMH proposal is back on the Board of Finance agenda for Nov. 26.  Cangiolosi's first day at his new job is Nov. 19 - a week before the potential re-vote.

Maybe all of this is coincidence but anyone remotely familiar with La Politica knows that coincidences like these tend to be thought out well ahead of time...

Coincidence? Well, maybe. But that's no fun. Okay, the copters are running low on fuel, set them down. Yeah, over there in Area 51.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Senate Pro Tem Primer: What Is It & Why It Matters; Dyson Games The Action, Plus: Driver's Licenses On Tap Yet Again, But It's Still The Jobs; How The Blog Sees It 

Senators Jennings & Sanchez
Ask most people what a Pro Tem is and they might say a temporary employee of some kind, but in the lexicon of La Politica the phrase is loaded with history, power and promise. Democratic State Senator Tim Jennings of Roswell will relinquish the title of Senate President Pro Tem when the next legislative session convenes in January, the result of his failed re-election bid, and that has set off a scramble over who will take his place.

The most important point to take away from the Nov. 6 election when it comes to the Legislature is the power spurt it bestowed on Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez. By being directly attacked by the acolytes of the Governor and withstanding their barrage of negative campaigning, the Belen Democrat emerged as the giant killer. As Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino put it: "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

The multi-million dollar campaign run against the Senate and House Dems by the Guv's political adviser has served to unite the Senate behind Sanchez's leadership. If he wants to enhance that power--and who would not--he will look to have the Senate Dem caucus choose a Pro Tem who can work with him and will listen to him. The caucus will ultimately decide how much power they will let Sanchez have.

It is the majority leader who decides what legislation will be considered in the 42 member Senate. The Pro Tem has the power to decide what committees a Senator sits on. With control of the flow of legislation and committee chairman friendly to him, Sanchez could become a Senate leader rivaling the influence that Senator Manny Aragon wielded in the body.

While the Senate has 25 Dems, it still has 17 Republicans. If they can get a handful of Dems to come with them on some issues they could split the Dems. Sanchez still has a lot of work to do in presenting a unified Democratic message to the state.


Senators Pete Campos of Las Vegas,  Linda Lopez of ABQ and Carlos Cisneros of Taos County are all looking at the Pro Tem position. But there's a problem for the Dems. The coalition could be back under the banner of none other than Senator John Arthur "Dr. No" Smith. He is sounding more and more like a hopeful coalition leader.  Only a handful of Dem votes combining with all the Republicans would be needed to give the Pro Tem job to Smith. That coalition could then form to block any legislation that is not to the conservatives liking--just as it did when Senator Jennings led the same coalition. It would be good news for Governor Martinez, but dreadful for the state Democratic Party which has been unable to clearly define itself to state voters.

If Leader Sanchez is outmaneuvered or acquiesces to a conservative coalition for the Pro Tem post, he is going to lose momentum from the election which show a state whose major population centers are growing increasingly blue. But if the Dems can't start sending a blue agenda to the Guv for her to sign or veto she will continue to coast along. Until the Democratic Party provides a plausible contrast with Martinez and forces her to make decisions that burn political capital, they are peddling a bicycle that stays stationary.

There is still hope among nonconservative Dems that Smith could veer a bit to the center as a result of the beating he saw the Governor administer to his old friend Jennings and others. We'll have to wait and see.

Cisneros has deep support among the state's progressives, Lopez is an experienced female Hispanic who matches up well against Governor Martinez. Campos, a professional educator, could be a consensus candidate--able to work easily with both sides of the aisle while retaining allegiance to Sanchez.

And before we forget. There's also an opening for Senate Majority Whip now that Mary Jane Garcia has been defeated. Lopez might be in the running for that if she can't do Pro Tem and still wants in the leadership circle.


Monahan & Dyson
Veteran KOB-TV newsman Stuart Dyson worked for the State Senate leadership for a number of years and comes with this primer on Senate politics and the Pro Tem:

Joe, The Pro Tem is a powerful position. He or she runs the Committees Committee which controls other committee chairmanships and the membership of each committee. In the Legislature this is the whole ball game. Issues gain momentum or fizzle depending on committee votes--and the chairmen of those committees frequently determine whether a bill lives or dies.

The President Pro Tem does not have the power of the Speaker of the House who controls the flow of legislation but he does wield enormous power in a remote and somewhat mysterious way because of this control over the committee hierarchy. The Senate is designed to thwart the ambition of any leader who would attempt total control.

Manny Aragon had a lot to do with strengthening the function of the Pro Tem and Senator Richard Romero inherited it and modified it in the 2001 coalition of D's and R's that gave Manny the boot. The reign of  Pro Tem Ben Altamirano may have been a return to the older style, but anybody who ever underestimated Ben's abilities must surely have paid a dear price for that mistake.

Tim Jennings put together another Dem and R coalition like the one that backed Romero, only with more support from fellow moderate Democrats. He ran the Senate in a fair and collegial manner during some difficult times. Tim had been in the doghouse before--banished as Majority Leader in a treacherous backroom deal that Senator Aragon cooked up after Romero booted him out of the Pro Tem job. Tim also stood up courageously to what he considered excessive power plays by Gov. Bill Richardson. The payback from his own party was bitter but Tim endured it and came back to run the Senate...

He will tower as a giant in the history of our Legislature, granted it's a history only a few of us really know or care about.

Well done, Stu. You pretty much nailed it--except the part about only a few caring. There are people across the state who deeply care and are glad to have that insider take on what makes our State Senate tick.


How about the fourth time being the charm? Come January the Guv will again ask that the Legislature repeal the law allowing undocumented immigrants to get a state driver's license. It will have no problem in the House. But what about the Senate where it's been repeatedly rejected? The news:

The Senate rejected the governor's measure in 2011 on a 24-17 vote. Only two Democrats joined Republicans in voting to scrap the current license policy. One Democratic senator didn't vote but likely would have opposed the governor's proposal. In contrast to last year, Martinez could gain four votes in the Senate because of newly elected members. If there were a 21-21 tie vote in the Senate, Republican Lt. Gov. John Sanchez could cast the deciding vote.

That sounds good for the Guv, but the bill has to get to the floor for a vote. And that's decided by her arch-enemy Majority Leader Michael Sanchez.

Maybe the lawmakers finally tire of the battle and send her the repeal. Or maybe they send her a compromise bill and let her veto it. Or maybe it is given a quiet funeral and never brought to the Senate floor.

The license issue has been this Governor's top agenda item, despite an economy that has continued to head south on her watch. Over 70% of the public supports repeal, but that doesn't mean they share the Governor's apparent opinion that it is the most important issue facing the state.

One way or another, it would be good to have this issue off the table so we could move on to more important topics. But would we? The Guv's political team came with TV spots in the November election that accused Senate leaders of being soft on child killers. Not exactly a jobs or education message.

The administration is run as a permanent political campaign because its most influential advisers are political consultants. That's good for getting elected, but not good for governing. But you already knew that...


Our impression is that the Governor is enamored with her standing as the nation's first female Hispanic governor and that she is going to hit the road a lot in the months ahead, spurred on by her political adviser Jay McCleskey. The news:

Switching from campaign mode to gubernatorial affairs, Gov. Susana Martinez traveled to Nevada to take part in the Republican Governors Association’s annual conference. The three-day conference begins today. Martinez, who serves on the RGA’s executive committee along with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and others, is scheduled to stay in Las Vegas until Saturday.Her travel costs will be covered by the Republican Governors Association, Martinez political adviser Jay McCleskey said.

And why not. It's much more pleasent to go where folks praise you than to deal with the knotty problem of the state Senate. Like we said, look for a busy out-of-state travel schedule in the year ahead.


And then there's the "social promotion" bill. The Guv will take a fourth bite out of the apple on that one as well. But it already appears headed to the cemetery:

State Rep. Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque, says Martinez's state-mandated retention plan was a copycat of a failed system in Florida. A former teacher, Stewart, right, said legislators in January had a bill on reading that was mostly good. It would have added money and staff to help kids from pre-kindergarten through third grade become good readers. The snag was the provision the governor wanted to force retentions, leaving parents without a say-so.

And we're going to have 60 days of this come January? Teacher, can we be excused?


So we argue over driver's licenses and social promotion in the face of the ongoing economic carnage. Here's the the latest:

On Numbers analyzed employment trends in all 102 metros with populations above 500,000. Eighty-five lost jobs between September 2007 and the same month this year, while only 17 posted increases. The five-year span began just before the recession’s arrival in December 2007. The study period ended in September 2012...The Albuquerque metro area lost 28,200 private-sector jobs during the period, or 8.9 percent. The job loss ranks the area 75th-worst and the percentage loss 91st-worst out of the 102 metros analyzed. The Albuquerque metro area had 316,800 private-sector jobs when the recession began and had 288,600 in September 2012.

Many of those private jobs are actually contractors with federal government contracts that have disappeared. The very backbone of this state's economy--government employment--is being whittled away. The conservative think tanks and media say its fine--the jobs can be replaced by a vibrant private sector. But they aren't.

Economic stagnation has become the expected here. There is little fight in the business, political or media establishments. Fighting to retain government jobs and funding is somehow viewed as moral turpitude, but what is truly amoral is the ease at which this state is giving up.

It is a pipe dream to believe that we are is going to attract a large swath of high-paying private sector jobs to replace those being lost in the government sector without massive investment in our disadvantaged population--perhaps as much as half our population. Until then, you get phone center jobs.

The socio-economic crisis that we face--and have repeatedly blogged about--is not attractive to major companies or to small businesses that need an educated work force.

It would be wonderful if cutting taxes was akin to waving a magic wand. Cut the taxes in half and suddenly thousands of jobs appear. That sophomoric view of economic development makes for a good sound bite, but little else.

The jobs will come when the state's society is seen as more livable. That means better schools, a better educated work force, less poverty, less crime, less drug addiction, less teen pregnancy, less suicide and less domestic violence.

With good-paying jobs evaporating everywhere because of the global economic slowdown, our job is made doubly difficult by our human capital crisis. We are going to have to double-down in our efforts to resolve it or we will continue to languish at the bottom of the economic barrel.


Readers react to the news of well-known ABQ District Court Judge Bob Schwartz of which we blogged Tuesday:

Joe, Thanks for, "He served his community effectively and with distinction and diligence." Truly, well stated enough for an epitaph. Would that other jurists possessed his wit, compassion and understanding of the law's tenets.  Maybe we'll have a statue of Bob in a roundabout at the corner of Lomas and Fourth streets. Thanks again for the mention about Bob Schwartz.  He'll be missed more than most.

And another:

Two Bob Schwartz quotes, both uttered on the Bernalillo Courthouse steps to the media while he was District Attorney, following a jury trial and a sentencing:

"Today justice was served--with an apple in its mouth..."

"We’ve checked an actuarial table, and the defendant's sentence is just about right..."

I’m going to miss him.

Thanks for the memories.

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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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Monday, November 12, 2012

The Cangiolosi Coup: Cronyism Or Competence? Departure Of Martinez Deputy Chief For Plum UNM Job Raises Questions, Plus: Voter Nullification; Popular Minimum Wage Hike Already Eyed For Repeal By GOP Councilors 

Ryan Cangiolosi
Remember under Big Bill when his press flack Billy Sparks was given a nice plum job at the University of New Mexico Hospital and the ensuing controversy was front-paged day after day? Well, here we go again, except this time when Governor Martinez deputy chief of staff Ryan Cangiolosi, 41, landed what appears to be a similarly politically inspired post, the news was back-paged. Is that because Sparks lacked a college degree at the time or is the press more kindly to Susan than to Bill? You be the judge.

But first here's the Cangiolosi news about his new $125,000 gig followed by more analysis that you aren't getting elsewhere:

Cangiolosi will become executive projects director for UNM’s Health Sciences Center, a newly created position intended to oversee organizational development projects for the wing of the university directing the hospital, medical research and health professional education programs. Cangiolosi said he hopes the new position will allow him to spend more time with his teenage daughter, in part by ending the commute between Santa Fe and his Albuquerque home...Cangiolosi will continue to work for the Governor’s Office until his Nov. 19 start date at UNM,

Cangiolosi found himself caught up in emailgate this year when emails between him and Downs at ABQ attorney Pat Rogers were disclosed. They dealt with the awarding of a 25 year racino lease--a lease that the Downs won but is under investigation for possible bid-rigging by the attorney general.

Ironically, Rogers also emailed Ryan and other top administration officials about making sure the Guv's office had plenty of input on the selection of new UNM president.

And then there is Ryan's relationship with former NM GOP Chairman Harvey Yates, Jr. Ryan worked for Yates' private companies before going to work for Martinez. Yates and Martinez recently had a falling out when in the Nov. 6 election she successfully went after Dem State Senator Tim Jennings. Yates publicly supported Dem Jennings and asked that the Guv's political consultants have "their wings clipped."

Cangiolosi may be able to hide out at UNM but emailgate could bring him back into the spotlight.


$125,000 a year taxpayer jobs are highly sought after in poor New Mexico so it's no surprise that we heard from one of the applicants who was not successful in getting the job Cangiolosi landed:

Mr. Monahan, I'm one of the 19 applicants for the UNM Hospital job--the job that Ryan Cangiolosi got.  For legal reasons, I can't reveal too much more about me other than parts of my background because I'm in the process of filing a grievance in light of the hiring of this unqualified person.

I have well over a decade of finance and management consulting experience. I have an MBA from a top 15 school. I moved to New Mexico with my husband 6 years ago and have mostly worked out of state because there aren't many jobs here that pay what I believe I'm worth.

This is why I was excited when a decent job was posted at UNMH...I believed I was an extremely competitive candidate given my business background. I didn't get the job obviously and word started getting around that the offer was made to a senior government official.

It wasn't until I read the newspaper that I learned the person hired was Ryan Cangiolosi. I have been politically active and have heard his name before (in your blog), but this was the first time I felt compelled to Google him. What I found was this: an extremely weak resume that in no way matches my skills and education. If I could send you my resume (which as I've explained that I cannot yet do ) you would see a difference. I have asked friends and they confirm that his real resume is even more weak than what's portrayed on this online profile. He's an aspiring gospel singer who has gotten his jobs by attaching himself with politically connected people.

As a New Mexican, I feel like I've been screwed out of a job I was more than qualified for due to politics. I've been told about cronyism here but this is the first time I've experienced it for myself and it sure doesn't feel good.

If this is the way UNMH makes hiring decisions, then it's no doubt why people are scrutinizing the need for a new hospital. I'm not saying it's not needed, but it seems that there's waste, fraud and abuse inside New Mexico's flagship hospital system.  When my lawyer gives me the green light to do so, I plan to approach members of the State Board of Finance about this.

Yes, I'm mad and yes I'm bitter.  But as an educated woman, I believe I have a right to be. Thank you in advance for allowing me to share my story with you.

We appreciate your sharing. We're not saying your beef with UNMH is legitimate but the questions you raise are--and they deserve coverage--not relegated to C-1 without questioning.

When Sparks was hired we and others made no bones about it--it was a blatant political hire and Sparks took heat. Over the years, he has showed adeptness at the job and Cangiolosi may follow in his footsteps, but for the Martinez administration to not take a hit--like Richardson--seems to reveal bias.

But that's why we're here. To bring to bear the fair, balanced and critical news coverage that the public demands.


We think Ryan may not be the only top dog to leave the Fourth Floor in the post-election weeks. Chief of Staff Keith Gardner could be next to flee to a high-paying, under-the-radar gig. His usefulness to the Governor is being called into question by both sides of the political aisle after the release of audio tapes in which Gardner called Senate President Pro Tem Tim Jennings "a cocksucker" and in which he displayed an overall demeanor that destroyed his credibility.

The first top gun to leave Susana was Brian Moore, a former legislator who served as a deputy chief of staff but was sent into Washington DC exile when Gardner and Ryan asserted themselves along with political consultant Jay McCleskey. He is no longer in the DC job but the widely respected Moore could be just what Susana needs if she wants to recover from the punishment she received Election Night and the punishment that is sure to come from a revenge  minded Legislature. 


Mayor Berry
If ABQ's Republican Mayor RJ Berry doesn't want to put a big fat target on his back when he seeks re-election next year he ought to run--not walk--away from this outlandish proposal. It would have the City Council and Mayor nullify the results of the Nov. 6 election in which over 66% of the voters approved a dollar an hour increase in the minimum wage:

According to city legal staff, repealing or amending the new minimum wage hike could be done with a simple majority of city councilors and the mayor's approval...Council President Trudy Jones, Councilor Dan Lewis and Mayor Richard J. Berry were all on the record before Tuesday's vote as being opposed to a minimum-wage hike. With five city councilors considered friendly to the mayor... the votes may be there for a repeal.

...Jones and Lewis said they are looking at...repealing the hike but did not commit to moving ahead with...The mayor's spokesperson could not answer whether or not Berry would sign a repeal... "The mayor has not received any information or had any conversations with city council regarding this matter."

What election returns are Republican Councilors Lewis and Jones reading? If their repeal talk is a trial balloon, considered it shot down. If not, Republican Mayor Berry is about to make Democrats salivate over the possibility of his defying the public and opening a path for them to take back the mayor's office.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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