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Tuesday, July 02, 2013

More Media Heat For Guv Over Refusal To Release Records, Plus: Early Campaigning For '14 Dem Guv Nod, And: San Juan Super Bear Extracts Severe Toll; It's All Here From New Mexico's #1 

More media heat for Governor Martinez over her refusal to release complete expense and travel records for a controversial 2011 Louisiana hunting trip taken by her husband Chuck Franco and two state policemen.

Over on the conservative east side, the Clovis News Journal joins the drumbeat for full disclosure. The newspaper editorializes that by digging her heels in, Martinez risks creating a "political nightmare:"

...Martinez has a public-relations problem that could become her political nightmare if she doesn’t come clean on simple records requests. Martinez needs to disclose details of an expensive security detail in 2012 that cost taxpayers more than $33,500 to pay for more than 1,600 hours of overtime worked by state police. And while she’s providing those answers, she should provide proof of who paid for a six-day alligator-hunting trip by her husband, Chuck Franco, in 2011. She should lay it all out there in the interest of full transparency.

Some Martinez foes or doubters suspect a connection exists between this trip and the winner of a bid to run an Albuquerque racetrack. Some of those bidders just happen to live in the state Franco visited, Louisiana. That is why the public has a right to know whether a connection exists and words without documents are not good enough, Gov. Martinez.

Both matters are drawing attention throughout New Mexico. It is a distraction to the governor and her team as long as the questions and potential suspicions linger. Martinez can eliminate any appearance of impropriety, whether it involves security detail costs for the governor or for members of her family, by responding fully and providing any necessary supporting documents. Full disclosure is the price people must pay when they hold a well-compensated job paid for by taxpayers.


How about that? And from Clovis.

We had to chuckle when someone on Twitter described an arcane article about opening up meetings of the New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange as "kicking some ass." No, that's easy pickings.

The Clovis newspaper--in the heart of Martinez country and vulnerable to business pulling the plug on them--went all in on the real story impacting open government in this state.

The "pretend" journalists--financed by out-of-state corporate (and cautious) largesse--ought to read it twice and pin it on the wall. Better yet, why don't they come out and play in the real world? Well, there are risks, aren't there?

Back in that real world, The AP is asking for expense reports for the Governor's security detail for the three months leading up to last year's presidential election under the Inspection of Public Records Act (IPRA).

The administration says "security" is the reason for not giving up those records as well as the full expense and travel records for her husband's Louisiana hunting trip.

(We're still waiting for someone or some group to file an IPRA request specifically for the Franco trip records. Anyone out there?)

The potential nightmare for Martinez is that this still below-the-radar event begins to burst into public consciousnesses and questions about her integrity take hold as voters wonder if she has something to hide.

Obviously, saying gubernatorial security could be compromised by showing who lodged and fed Franco and his security detail during a two year old hunting trip that the Governor did not take part in  isn't going to wash.

THE COMING CAMPAIGN

Sen. Lopez (Stephen Jones)
If the ABQ Downs deal blows up or emailgate--featuring a number of former Martinez campaign staffers--results in a political inferno, ABQ Dem state Senator Linda Lopez hopes to take advantage.

She hasn't said anything about the various controversies flaring up in Santa Fe or the administration's deteriorating relationship with the media, but she is out on the campaign trail.

Here she is pictured speaking this past weekend before the  Doña Ana County Federation of Democratic Women in Las Cruces.

Lopez, along with Attorney General Gary King, have both officially announce their candidacies for the 2014 Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

The March pre-primary convention to place Dem Guv candidates on the June '14 primary ballot is still far off, but beginning to come into sight.

Since Martinez has sported approval ratings north of 60%, there has not been that much interest in the Dem nomination contest, but the value of that nomination--seen as worth little six months ago--has gone up considerably because of the rough political patches the Governor is now encountering.

Will others join the fray because of them? Stay tuned.

SAN JUAN SUPER BEAR

Our friends in Farmington continued to get slammed by the San Juan County Super Bear. The latest:

Natural gas production in northwest New Mexico decreased 15.8 percent during the first three months of 2013, continuing a years-long decline that has rippled across the San Juan Basin. Perhaps most discouraging for the basin's sprawling oil and gas industry, oil production--a source of some hope--was also down by 12.3 percent, according to the (state)...This year is on track to mark the seventh consecutive year of declining gas production in northwest New Mexico. Oil production also fell to 227,553 barrels, down from 259,548 barrels during the first quarter of 2012. That's a reversal after two years of climbing oil production.

It's hard to believe now but when we were on the news desk back in the 80's the price of oil plunged to around $10 a barrel. That created mayhem with state finances which depend heavily on a high price to boost royalties.

With the oil boom in SE NM causing a housing shortage and forcing hotel prices in some places to over $200 a night, are we about to peak out and head down again?

IN MEMORY OF

NM senior Senator Tom Udall--a native of Tucson--comes with this remembrance of the 19 firefighters who gave their lives Sunday while fighting a blaze about 80 miles northwest of Phoenix:

They are heroes who put themselves in harm's way for the safety of others. New Mexicans are especially thankful for their assistance fighting the recent Thompson Ridge Fire in our state. We will never forget them, and our hearts and prayers go out to their loved ones. All of New Mexico understands the risks firefighters face, and as we remember the sacrifice of the 19 who gave their lives this week, we'll be doing everything we can to support all the firefighters battling dangerous fires in our state and around the nation.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer called the loss "unbearable."

Gov. Martinez has ordered flags flown at half-staff in honor of the 19 firefighters. The governor issued an executive order for flags to be lowered from Tuesday through sunset on Friday.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2013. Not for reproduction without permission of the author
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