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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Tale Of Two Guvs: Big Bill Called "Disgraced" By GOP But It Doesn't Seem That Way, And: Ethics Group Names Susana One Of USA's "Worst Governors, Plus: NM Dems Break Gatorgate Silence And Throw In "Elkgate" 

You Know Who
In his most recent missive NM GOP Chairman John Billingsley refers to former Dem Governor Bill Richardson as disgraced" and warns Dems about using him to raise campaign money. So how disgraced is Richardson?

Well, here he is Sunday appearing before millions of Americans on NBC's "Meet the Press" where he discussed--among other things--national immigration policy.

If that's a state of "disgrace," we bet most of Billingsley's GOP candidates would be glad to have it.

Or maybe not. Governor Martinez has no doubt had numerous invitations to appear on national network news programs like "Meet the Press." But she has demurred. (No, Fox News doesn't count.) She's not in a state of disgrace, but she apparently does not feel ready yet to move in the same circles as Big Bill.

Richardson may not be "disgraced" but that's not to say he is popular in the state he formerly led. He left here with approval ratings in the 30's. Most of that was due to his collecting massive campaign contributions for his Guv and presidential campaigns and as a result being investigated for "pay to play."

Richardson lost a cabinet appointment as a result of the probes, but none of the federal grand juries said to have probed Richardson returned any indictments against him or his inner circle.

And speaking of allegations of pay to play....

ONE OF THE WORST?

Governor Martinez, usually the recipient of glowing national coverage, gets the flip side as a well-known ethics watchdog group adds her to their list of the nation's worst governors. The controversial ABQ Downs racino lease deal and the use of private email to conduct public business are among the chief reasons for the designation:

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) named Gov. Martinez one of the worst governors in America. Martinez’s administration is facing multiple investigations. The state attorney general is investigating her office’s use of a state agency for political purposes, while federal and state authorities appear to be investigating the process by which she awarded a major contract to a campaign contributor. Gov. Martinez’s administration has also faced repeated allegations of deliberately using private email accounts to shield official business from the public. Her actions have earned her a spot in the latest edition of CREW’s Worst Governors in America report, an examination of shady and unethical conduct by the nation’s governors.

The NM Attorney General’s office is investigating whether Martinez’s administration violated state law when her political advisor (Jay McCleskey) asked the Public Education Department to compile a list of non-union teachers to counter union material regarding the administration’s proposed education reforms. After devoting substantial resources toward compiling the list, the department’s spokesman circulated it to officials in the Martinez administration using private and campaign email addresses.

Additionally, the FBI and state agencies appear to be examining whether Gov. Martinez improperly awarded a state contract to a combination racetrack and casino (the ABQ Downs) whose executives and employees have made substantial donations to her campaign and political action committee. In December 2011, the state awarded a 25-year lease to the Downs at Albuquerque to continue operating on state fair grounds. After an unusually hurried request for proposals, a selection committee appointed by Gov. Martinez chose the Downs’ bid, despite a history of problems with the company’s performance...The losing company filed a protest with the state, which was denied. However, leaked emails show Gov. Martinez’s staff made contact with lawyers for the Downs while the selection process was ongoing.

CREW names 18 of the USA's governors to their "worst list." CREW, based in DC, says it is nonpartisan. Republican activists say it is anti-GOP.

GATORGATE (AND ELKGATE?)

The state Dem Party and its Chairman Sam Bregman have been taking hits for being silent on Gatorgate--the Franco Louisiana alligator hunting trip paid in part by taxpayers. Now the party breaks that silence with this posting on Facebook.

The Dems come with a new angle about a possible link between the First Gent's trip and the 25 year lease that the Martinez administration was in the process of awarding to the ABQ Downs at the time of the adventure. Two of the Downs' owners live in Louisiana. From the D's:

Governor Martinez, did you thoroughly research the alligator permits used on this trip and were they used in exchange for elk permits in New Mexico? If so, who was the individual that originally owned these permits and were they connected to the Dirty Downs scandal?

Say what? Now we're going to have "Elkgate" on the list with Gatorgate? And emailgate? Now that's entertainment.

The Party also asks that over $3,000 in expenses for the two state policemen who accompanied Franco be repaid to the state by the Guv.

And ABQ metro area Dem State Rep. Stephen Easley comes with a rarity--a comment from a state legislator on the ongoing Gatorgate saga, specifically the announcement from NM State Police Chief Robert Shilling that he will retire at the end of the month:

I have known and worked with Robert Shilling for several years. He is a good and rigorously honest man. I have no special information on this, but I suspect that one of the reasons for his "retirement" is that he grew weary of being required by his superiors to try to defend people and events connected to the Gatorgate scandal--people and events he fundamentally did not believe in or approve of. His departure is a big loss for New Mexico.

Shilling took a major hit to his credibility as he tried to explain why he allowed two state cops to be paid to guard the vacationing husband of the governor. If he was indeed tired of defending his superiors over Gatorgate, why didn't Shilling just say so? Now he leaves under a shadow.

ABOUT LEVI

A reader writes of the not guilty verdict in the sensational murder trial of former ABQ police officer Levi Chavez:

People I have spoken with have asked who at APD should be held accountable for the "swingers club" culture that this trial exposed. Let me think. Who indeed should be held responsible for something that adversely effects an entire department and city? Well we know who Mayor Berry has never held accountable---the Chief of Police.

The trial revealed that Chavez had numerous mistresses and that sexual affairs among married APD officers have been widespread. There has been no coverage in the media on how that culture has impacted the department.

Numerous fatal police shootings are the subject of a US Justice Department civil rights investigation.

Police Chief Schultz has said he will be retiring soon, but has not set a departure date.

THE MONEY PIT

First this news and then a reader react:

UNM Athletic Director Paul Krebs said the business model for the rebuild of The Pit two years ago, which cost about $45 million, was “predicated on a naming gift for The Pit. So far that hasn’t happened, and “we have struggled mightily,” Krebs said. The debt service on the stadium’s remodel costs the Athletic Department about $3 million annually, he said. Without a naming rights deal, the school will continue to struggle.“Our model is unsustainable,” he said. Overall, Krebs said, the school is looking for a $10 million naming gift from a family foundation or a company...

To which reader Mick suggests:

How about "The NM Taxpayers' Money Pit?" I'm just saying. We've already paid for it, why not recognize our efforts by naming it after us?

Thanks, Mick. We're sure Mr. and Mrs. New Mexico would appreciate the "honor."

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