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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Mayor Races Spice Up Summer La Politica: In Santa Fe Ex Dem Chair Gonzales Out Of Closet; In ABQ Dinelli Ups Ante In Han Mystery; Calls For Special Grand Jury, Plus: Even More NM Politics  

Javier Gonzales
It's the campaign action in two mayoral races spicing up this summer's La Politica.

How about former NM Dem Party Chairman Javier Gonzales coming out of the closet and announcing that he is gay? That sure got the chatter going in the City Different where Gonzales will soon announce his candidacy for mayor.

Gonzales will be joining numerous others in seeking to succeed Mayor David Coss in Santa Fe. Does he get the lion's share of the large gay vote in the city and thus get propelled to the top of the heap in a multi-candidate race.

(When I ran into Gonzales last week at the annual dinner/auction for the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, he told me he will be making the mayoral run).

He was already considered a front-runner for the job and announcing his sexual orientation--something that few insiders in politics didn't already know--is not going to hold him back.

Javier's out-of-the-closet moment came just as the Dona Ana County clerk was announcing that same-sex couples there can now receive marriage licenses. The times are changing rapidly....

MARY AND THE MAYOR

Santa Fe votes for a new mayor next March, but here in ABQ the mayoral election is October 8 and it's finally heating up.

Dem Pete Dinelli--a decided underdog in his race against incumbent Mayor Berry--threw some fuel on the fire by calling for a special grand jury and a special prosecutor to investigate the mysterious 2010 death of ABQ civil rights attorney Mary Han.

He blames Berry and APD for botching the investigation. Berry says it is "appalling" that Dinelli would use the Han case for political gain.

Attorney General King says the medical ruling that Han's death was a suicide should be changed to "undetermined." A parade of police officials were at the Han death scene viewing the body and some of them taking photos with their cellphones. It has come to be regarded as a low point in APD history.

But who will answer Dinelli's call for a special investigation to determine exactly how Han died--and most important--if she was murdered? The attorney general? The Bernalillo County district attorney or the US Attorney? AG King says he will consider it but that's not the same as doing it.

For Dinelli, it's an issue one our Alligators says he should consider putting in a TV ad:

Everyone gets this--especially women. No one has been disciplined by Berry or held accountable. Why not?

The third candidate in the mayoral race--Republican Pal Heh--is also piling on Berry. He says about the Justice Department civil rights probe of APD:

While I appreciate that the US Department of Justice is conducting their own investigation, there needs to be a public inquiry into the actions and inactions of current and former top department and city leaders as they relate to many high profile incidents involving APD and the city” stated mayoral candidate Paul Heh. “While it’s not unusual for any department to be faced with controversy, the scale of the events facing APD and the city of Albuquerque over the last few years is truly almost beyond comprehension.”

GARY AND GAYS

Why didn't Gary King follow-up last week's tough stance on the Mary Han case with a more clear and definitive position on gay marriage--one that could start rallying the Dem base for him and also put the GOP Governor on the defensive? (She says send the gay marriage issue to NM voters).

King is apparently assuming a low-turnout election and does not want to upset conservatives in the rural SE and northern Catholics. But he may be assuming too much--that he thinks he is within shouting distance of Martinez. He may not be--at least not right now.

She maintains a high  approval rating north of 60%. And beating any incumbent demands aggressive plays--not safe ones.

Here's some of the language King came with in light of the Dona Ana marriage license decision:

We previously advised that it was not a good idea to issue the marriage licenses to same sex couples due to the uncertain status of state law. We do not have authority over county clerks in NM. We do not intend to bring any action against the Doña Ana County Clerk. 


Our position that the current law is unconstitutional remains unchanged and presents a barrier for us to bring any sort of court action now that would stop him from issuing the marriage licenses. As the situation evolves, we will determine our response at the appropriate time.  It is a lot safer course for same sex couples to wait until the NM Supreme Court rules before moving forward...

It sounds as though Gary wants to deal with the gay marriage issue as much as he wants to eat a plate full of spinach.

King sent a jolt of electricity through the Dems with his assertion that the Han case should not be classified as a suicide, but he has to keep the juices flowing. Or maybe State Senator Linda Lopez or another Dem rival starts stealing his thunder on gay marriage and an array of other issues?

POLITICAL THEATER?

Reader Stephanie DuBois writes:

Joe, on Tuesday night KRQE-TV had  a lengthy story about the governor's sister. The promotion for the piece showed the Governor with her  developmentally disabled sister and said that she had kept her sister out of public view until now. I know families that have a similar situation and struggle with it everyday. Not only monetarily but just facing the challenges that come with caring for a disabled loved one

The Governor has cut the funding for how many families in this situation in New Mexico? This is purely political theater by exploiting her disabled sister before her second bid for Governor.

The families I know would not embarrass themselves nor their loved ones by parading around their disabled charges. If the Governor's handlers thinks this shows a gentler, kinder and softer side to the public to get votes. I don't think it will sit well with those families that are feeling the pain of her not so gentler, kinder cuts that had help families in the situation she is in.

Thanks for that, Stephanie.

USING THE MEDIA

Meanwhile, the media also continues to be used by the administration to selectively leak information from an audit of 15  behavioral health organizations. Those organizations have had their Medicaid funding frozen amid allegations of fraud and abuse. Five Arizona groups have been brought in to take over.

First it was a news report about the salaries of some of the executives at one of the health nonprofits. and now this report about an employee of another who receives an allowance for using his personal air plane.

The administration nor the attorney general will release the audit the state paid for. That leaves us with these selective media trials with information obviously being leaked by Susana's team so they can bolster support for their controversial decision.

The freezing of the funds without anything amounting to due process has sparked outrage and dissent. Was it justified? Is there indeed widespread fraud? According to the Governor, we are supposed to believe there is because she says so. Not everyone agrees. Here are ten unanswered questions about the freeze.

And then there's this: The Legislative Finance Committee votes 15 to 1 against transferring monies to the Arizona companies. The administration can do it anyway, but the fact that Martinez Democrats like John Arthur Smith voted against Susana on this one rings the bill that she could pay a political price for this mess.

THE BOTTOM LINES

They're going to throw a grand party in Roswell tonight for former NM Democratic State Senator Tim Jennings. He was defeated in the 2012 cycle but has been a longtime community favorite and some 500 politicos from both sides of the aisle are expected to show up at the Roswell Civic Center to roast the rancher. All proceeds to benefit Big Brothers/Big Sisters of SE NM. The events starts at 5 p.m.

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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