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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Martinez Summers In Colorado While Dems Wonder How To Beat Her, Plus: Susana's Hit On Behavioral Health Money; Is There A Pattern? And: Dateline Mosquero  

Aspen
Governor Martinez will spend most of this week in Aspen, at a summer session for the Republican Governors Association. It doesn't get much friendlier for Susana. The group gave her $1.3 million for her 2010 campaign and more is likely in the pipeline from the group for her '14 run...

Martinez's potent fund-raising ability could be keeping potential challengers on the bench, although the leadership bench these days is pretty shallow.

ABQ Dem state Senator Linda Lopez is one Dem Guv contender, but she has never been a big fund-raiser. It could present a problem for her . But one of our Alligators, reacting to Lopez tackling the Governor recently on the awarding of the ABQ Downs racino lease, comes with this:

As Susana and the GOP proved in 2010, and it's truer today than ever, it's all about the match-up. Why did the GOP leadership throw its popular former state chairman (Allen Weh) under the bus for an obscure Hispanic, female, former Dem and district attorney out of Las Cruces?  Simple, they wanted to win, and it was no secret that Lt. Gov. Denish (who despite all the Richardson baggage was still trouncing Weh in the polls) did not have the best relationship with the majority Hispanic wing of the Democratic party.  It's all about the match-up. Now, the question today is--has the DPNM leadership learned anything here?  

And no doubt Lopez will be using that argument as she campaigns for the nomination against Attorney General Gary King. So far they are the only two announced Dem Guv candidates.

A PATTERN?

A reader writes of the storm over the Martinez administration cutting off funding to 15 providers of health services for New Mexicans getting treatment for drug addiction, suicide prevention and other mental health issues. The administration says there may be overcharging and fraud in the delivery of the services. Our reader says:

--Governor Martinez and her education secretary designate accused school districts across New Mexico of gaming the system" regarding special education funding. Only they weren't. 

--They arrested and charged John Duff with securities fraud and racketeering and fired Rick May at NMFA when a special audit by the state auditors' office found no money missing and a grand jury subsequently refused to indict Duff on a single count. 

--Now we have the administration accusing mental health service providers with widespread fraud and unilaterally cutting off their funding. The administration has refused to allow the providers to even know what they are actually accused of and won't even give a copy of their "audit" that is supposed to show this alleged fraud to the state auditor's office whose job it is to root out fraud. 

Does anyone see a pattern here?

Martinez's shut off of funds for the mental health programs has divided Attorney General King and State Auditor Hector Balderas.

King is on the Guv's hit list as he seeks the Dem nod for Guv. Balderas is on the hit list because he is running for attorney general and Martinez is expected to back Clovis area GOP District Attorney Matt
Chandler.

BIG BILL UPDATE

Remember that story about former Governor Big Bill having a state worker paid $250,000 in order to avoid having her file a sex harrassment suit against him. The case was investigated by a federal grand jury which ended its probe with no indictments. Now some background info has surfaced on the probe. Nothing earth shaking but interesting. And in December 2011 we blogged what our sources told us about the relationship

RIEDEL AND SUSANA

Riedel
A number of attorneys in the past couple of weeks have asked us to mention this next item but we got stacked up so we're late. But here it is:

New Mexico's Public Defender Commission is brand new, but it is off to a controversial start because of a challenge to one member's qualifications. Republican Gov. Susana Martinez appointed longtime prosecutor Susan Riedel to the commission, a decision that at least two Democrats in the Legislature say violated the law.Riedel, 54, worked as an assistant under Martinez when Martinez was the district attorney of Dona Ana County. Less than two months after Martinez took office as governor in 2011, she appointed Riedel to a district court judgeship. Riedel lost her seat on the bench in last fall's election and has since retired from practicing law.

The administration insists Riedel is qualified. One of  our Legal Beagles disagrees:

This is a cynical maneuver by the Governor  to maintain her control when it has been removed by the voters and the legislature. Even if it doesn’t matter to some, to those who believe in the importance of effective criminal defense, this is just an effort by the fox to stay in the hen house despite the rule of law. Nobody close to this situation thinks of Riedel as anything other than the Gov’s assistant, like she was for many years in the Dona Ana County District Attorney's’s office.

Two state legislators have written to Martinez asking her to rescind the Riedel appointment and the Las Cruces newspaper has editorialized against the appointment. But we may have to wait until the legislative session in January to see how this plays out. 

DATELINE MOSQUERO

From the Mosquero County Courthouse in Harding County, reader Pete Callahan comments on the depopulating of rural New Mexico:

Hey Joe. Not all rural counties and towns are losing population. Harding County is one of four Counties in the State to gain in population recently, up 1.7%. That was an increase of 12 people from 696 to 707 hardy souls. Thought you’d like to know.

A population explosion in Harding County? Quick, someone call the Sierra Club.

THE PIT

Reader Rodger Beimer writes of our view that the $60 million spent remodeling the UNM Pit could have been better spent building an entirely new basketball arena:

Sharpen your pencil. Your estimate of a new arena cost is way too low. A quick Google found a new arena in downtown Lincoln. 15,000 seats = $179 Million. It would appear the University of Nebraska basketball will be primary tenant. It’s part of a $344 Million development to include housing, retail, etc…the same kind of thing Albuquerque talked about years ago – and couldn’t/wouldn’t/didn’t do.

JIMMY BASON

A reader in Santa Fe writes:

Joe, Overshadowed by the recent passing of former NM Governor Dave Cargo was the July 2 death of Jimmy Bason of Hillsboro. He was a former president of the NM Cattlegrowers Association and a friend of all in the ranching community. He was also the subject of western author Max Evan’s “Superbull” and the real father of the Spaceport (according to state Senator John Arthur Smith). See the Frank dubois blog, The Westerner for more.

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