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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Matt's Miss: Special Prosecutor Chandler Fails To Nail Big Bill, Plus: The Guns Of Santa Fe; More On Who Shot Gun Control, And: APD Changes Put Under The Scope 

Martinez & Matt
Big Bill
You mean Big Bill didn't stuff his deep pockets with envelopes full of cash in exchange for handing out judgeships down in Las Cruces? How could that be?

For two years an unquestioning media reported that charge and others with straight faces and led the public to believe that Clovis area District Attorney Matt Chandler--special prosecutor in the case--was about to become the state's next Elliot Ness, but his sojurn to Cruces ended with a whimper. More specifically, Judge Michael Murphy--the chief culprit in Chandler's tale--copped a plea bargain to a vague misdemeanor and Chandler headed back to Curry County.

Chandler is mulling over another run for the GOP nod for attorney general next year (he was the 2010 GOP nominee and lost to Dem Gary King) and no doubt was primed to use the Murphy case as exhibit A as to why he should be the state's chief law enforcement official. He can scratch that idea. The judge in the Murphy case--Leslie Smith--thought as our Alligators did--that Matt was out in the outer limits on this one:

When Chandler began explaining the basis of the misdemeanor charge, and making a case that Murphy had tried to solicit donations from prospective judicial candidates, Smith said: “If all this is true, what are we doing with this misdemeanor charge?”

Judge Smith, you want to do some blogging? You sound just like our Alligators when they got wind of Matt's backtracking.

(Actually, there is a blogger in Las Cruces who covered the case and opined: "If the Murphy case was a football game, Special Prosecutor Matt Chandler and Susana Martinez lost 42-3").

Well, Matt can forget about making the Murphy case his ticket to Santa Fe and the ink-stained wretches can forget their dream story of having ex-Guv Big Bill in the dock, fumbling to explain what he did with his ill-gotten gains because...well...it was all a dream.

It's true that Bill left office with "pay-to-play"as his middle name. That's because of the millions in campaign cash he raised for his Guv and presidential campaigns. Contributors kept showing up with state contracts. Still, Bill never was charged with a crime and possible pay-to-play is far from foreign in our Enchanted Land which leads us to this...

PAYING AND PLAYING

The paper did a fine job in revealing that:

(Top state officials) have allowed oil and gas companies in southeastern New Mexico to skip state inspections of electrical systems for oil and gas well projects over the past 10 months.


But the 1,500 word missive did not mention that the oil and gas industry contributed over $1 million of the $7.4 million Governor Martinez collected for her 2010 Guv run.

What? No connection between the skipped inspections and the cash? Perhaps not, but it is exactly the kind of possible connection that was repeatedly pointed out when Big Bill was at the helm.

Are there any oil and gas company firms or their owners on Susana's donor list who benefited from the skipped inspections? A fair question, no?

We couldn't tell a goose from a gander, but when they say what's good for one is good for the other, we get it.

THE GUNS OF SANTA FE

A blog debate has focused on the failure of a major gun control bill in the recent session of the Legislature and exactly how it met its demise. Supporters say the bill would have closed the gun show loophole. Miranda Viscoli of New Mexicans for Gun Safety joins us with this dispatch with her insider take of the political power playing:

I worked hard with New Mexicans for Gun Safety on HB 77 and I assure you that (ABQ Dem) State Senator Daniel Ivey-Soto went to bed with the NRA to add amendments in the Public Affairs Committee that effectively killed the bill by tying it up for two days. He knew what he was doing.

He took two crucial days while he was courted by the NRA representative. (ABQ Dem) State Rep. Miguel Garcia--the bill's House sponsor--said to me the night the amendments were added that this would kill the bill.

Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez actually told Ivey-Soto to stop holding this bill up. When I spoke with Senator Sanchez on the Friday night before the session ended he said it died when we lost those two days with Ivey-Soto in committee  and at this point it would just be a filibuster that he did not have time for.

 In addition, when the bill finally went to Senate Judiciary it was Senator Sanchez who told Senator Richard Martinez--chairman of the committee--that it needed to be heard right away as this bill deserved a vote. I spoke with Senator Sanchez after the session ended. He was quite emotional when he said to our group to not give up on this fight. In the end, I really feel strongly from the actions I observed that Senator Ivey-Soto is the one who held the bill up.

Ivey-Soto represents a swath of ABQ's NE Heights. He was elected last November, defeating former GOP State Senator 53% to 47%. The district was previously represented by Dem Tim Eichenberg.

Viscoli also penned a piece for the Santa Fe newspaper on this. And here's a piece from the NRA celebrating the failure of the bill.

THE POLICE BEAT

Berry & Schultz
Keeping it in the law and order arena, we call in retired APD Seargent Dan Klein for the next one. First, the news from lame-duck APD Chief Ray Schultz:

The Albuquerque Police Department plans to increase its ranks of police service aides--civilian employees who aren't sworn police officers but who perform some of the same duties. Chief Ray Schultz says the department wants to increase the number of aides to 60 from the current 21.

And now Klein's analysis:

In the Journal's news story Schultz admits that APD response times are almost 2 minutes slower (to priority calls) than they were 2 1/2 years ago. Wow. Then Schultz said hiring changes (requiring college which was tried and failed in 1999) has caused APD to hire only around 20 new officers the last 2 years. Then Schultz admitted that APD is below1,000 sworn officers, at least 120 below authorized strength. But instead of admitting the college requirement was a bad idea, Schultz and Mayor Berry plan to hire more civilian PSA and "maybe" create a third way people can get into the police academy. This will not work either.

The college idea needs to be dumped. Over the last 2 years we have lost over 120 officers and only hired 20, so we are at 980 officers. We might consider making the minimum age requirement 24 or 25. I have found maturity and life experience create better problem solvers, not 60 hours of college.

APD is so far below manpower levels that response times are dramatically up, putting citizens and officers in danger. And now instead of admitting their change doesn't work, they decide to keep the college requirement and add civilian PSA's--those who can't make arrests--to try to bandage the bleeding. I like the PSA program but our issue is how we hire more and better cops. Berry needs to admit this entire plan was a failure and start over, or wait until the October election and let the voters start things over.

Thanks for that, Dan. Opposing views are welcomed.

We dubbed Chief Schultz a "lame duck" because he has announced his intention to retire before the October mayoral election.

THE BOTTOM LINES

A reader writes:

I met a fairy who said she would grant me one wish. Immediately I said, "I want to live forever."
"Sorry," said the fairy, "I'm not allowed to grant eternal life." "OK," I said, "Then, I want to die after Congress gets some work done." 

"You crafty bastard," said the fairy.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2013 
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