Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Susana Says Santa Fe Ride is "Very Smooth"; Why She's Right, Plus: Are Days Numbered For APD Chief Schultz? City Establishment Seems To Be Turning, And: Former UNM President Chris Garcia Blogs Of Prostitution Case  

With the 60 day session of the New Mexico Legislature nearly at its midway point, Governor Martinez describes it as "very smooth." And that's not wishful thinking on her part. It is smooth indeed for her because the majority Democrats in the state Senate remain split and have been unable to score any points against her.

This is promising for Martinez who will likely get a compromise on the driver's license issue, a spaceport liability bill and a few minor items and call the session a success.

Unless the Dems can put her feet to the fire, left on the table untouched will be her chief vulnerability--the woeful state economy.

The feebleness of the Dems was presented in stark relief this week when their own Senate Finance Committee Chairman John Arthur Smith actually said it might be possible to give Martinez some of the corporate income tax cut she wants. That will probably die in the House but still.....

Say what?

President Obama and the Dems just passed a tax boost on the most wealthy Americans and New Mexico is talking about cutting corporate taxes?

The great disconnect between the November election results when Obama scored a landslide here and the Dems picked up seats in the state House continues to define this session. No one is rocking the boat in Santa Fe so the public is paying scant attention.  For Susana that is indeed "very smooth" sailing. Now, as for after the session and if this economy continues to deteriorate....well.....


Chief Ray Schultz
With a mayoral election fast approaching in ABQ, the political ride is a bit bumpier as some ripples are seen over the economy as well as the troubled leadership of the ABQ Police Department.

Will APD Chief Ray Schultz still be around come October when voters cast ballots and decide whether to re-elect Mayor Richard Berry?

The noose could tighten on Schultz as the Department of Justice investigation into the practices of APD picks up speed. This week Schultz, chief since 2005, is being questioned by the media about his out-of-state-travel expenses. It doesn't look like as if there were any abuses there, but one of the Senior Alligators poked through the report and came with this:

One of the more intriguing aspects of the Journal story detailing Chief Schultz's extensive national travel (while many would argue the police department he's charged with running was falling apart) was buried:

"On some of the trips, other city officials accompanied Schultz. Their names were redacted without explanation from the documents provided to the Journal."


Why did Schultz not release the names of his travelling companions?

At least two women who work for the Chief--Karen Fischer and Joanna Hammond--accompanied him to the International Association of Chief's of Police conference in San Diego, CA just a few months ago. The conference ran from September 29 - October 3, 2012 with Fischer and Hammond leaving the morning of September 27 and returning the evening of October 4.  Everyone attending the San Diego trip received full city pay.

Why this information has to be dug out like it was a state secret speaks to the culture of APD. It's not just the numerous fatal police shootings that brought the US Justice Department here--it is the culture of a department that lurches from one misstep to another.

This story could be the business and media establishment finally signaling that it's time for Berry to throw in the towel on Schultz. The DOJ probe is a major black eye for the city and it is not good for business--especially when the city has the worst economy in generations and trying to bring business in here.

We see this long and deep travel story on Schultz as the first gentle push toward the door. If Ray doesn't take the hint, watch for shoving to begin in earnest.


Attention New Mexico Hispanics, Roger Ailes and conservative Fox News say they want you. Really:

“. . . .The contributions being made by Latinos are extraordinary, and we need to talk about them . . .  And then there’s the term “illegal immigration,” which Ailes, a former adviser to three Republican presidents, thinks the party should veer away from. . . .

Meanwhile, liberal Dem US Senator Martin Heinrich says he wants you too:

Heinrich announced that he will join the Senate Democratic Hispanic Task Force. The mission of the task force is to increase communication between Hispanic leaders and senators to ensure that the issues of the Hispanic community are addressed. . . Retired Senator Jeff Bingaman established the task force in 1989 and served as chairman for 20 years.“I’m proud to join the Hispanic Task Force and I look forward to continuing Senator Bingaman’s legacy. . .  said Sen. Heinrich. . . .

With their newfound interest in Hispanics, maybe Martin should ask Fox News to let him make his announcement there?


Following up on the Monday blog. The NYT says:

President Obama will use his State of the Union speech (tonight) to reinvigorate one of his signature national security objectives--drastically reducing nuclear arsenals around the world--after securing agreement in recent months with the United States military that the American nuclear force can be cut in size by roughly a third. 

But now we get this in:

President Obama isn't expected to announce any new proposals regarding nuclear disarmament during his State of the Union on Tuesday, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Monday.
The comments follow a New York Times report suggesting the president would use his annual address to Congress to build support for cutting the nation's deployed nuclear arsenal by about a third, to about 1,000 warheads.

ABQ business leader Sherman McCorkle tells us the 20 state group that he is helping to set up to protect the US nuclear budget has common interests and the funds we receive for our nuclear programs are not up for grabs. He offered as an example North Dakota which has numerous missile silos whereas New Mexico has none (or at least one anyone is aware of). We expressed concern Monday that going in with the other 19 states could dilute our effort.

A far as the overall funding for the defense and energy establishment here, we still believe the state needs a more concerted effort in DC to protect that funding.


Did you know this about Chuck Hagel, soon to be the US Secretary of Defense? It's from a meeting he had with Senator Tom Udall. Here's Udall:

During our conversation about New Mexico’s military bases, I was interested to learn that he was stationed at both White Sands and Fort Bliss before serving in Vietnam. He is well aware of the important contributions our bases make in our national security efforts, and spoke highly of the communities and geography --which are second to none for training.

Okay, that's a start.


Chris Garcia (ABQ Journal)
In his first public comment since the State Supreme Court gave him a big win in the prostitution case the state brought against him, former University of New Mexico President Chris Gracia responds to reader email that came in to the blog:
May I help “Reader John Bussanich” (a professor of philosophy at UNM) with his vision?  In your blog of February 8th he was quoted as writing that he “sees no lawsuit coming” and it was “hard to see” that I was defamed. 

From his comments, it is clear that he has either a prejudicial view of my situation or a lack of knowledge of US jurisprudence, or both. How can he possibly have insight into what actions, such as formal complaints or lawsuits, might be forthcoming? Certainly he only knows what the police allegations were and how those charges have been parroted and embellished by the muck-raking media. He cannot know if the APD investigation was flawed, nor how their allegations might have been exaggerated, distorted or even falsified.

He has not even been exposed to the defense’s side of the story. So he must be basing his suppositions solely on the prosecution’s allegations. Surely he must believe that those who are charged with breaking a law in the US have the right to present their side of the case against those levying the charges. How is Bussanich so certain that I was involved in trafficking “info concerning prostitution” without even hearing the other side of the case?

Does Bussanich not accept that one of the basic tenets of the US legal system is the presumption of innocence of the accused until and unless proven otherwise? Perhaps some knowledge of basic American judicial-legal theory might help clarify his vision.

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