Monday, November 11, 2013

Behind The Brooks Outburst; It Didn't Come Out Of The Blue, Plus: Death Claims John Dendahl; Fiery Republican Remembered 

Brooks, Skandera & Martinez
The same week that Twitter unveiled its initial public offering on the US stock market, ABQ Public Schools Superintendent Winston Brooks saw himself offered up to the public for a loud round of catcalls and derision.

Twitter's stock may have soared on its opening day, but Brooks was no fan. He quietly closed his Twitter account and began serving a three day suspension imposed by the APS school board for untoward comments he posted on the site.

You would think after reams of news copy (too much of it?) there isn't much left to say. But there is.

For example, there's this question: what was the full context of Brooks flying off the handle and tweeting of the public education secretary, "moo, moo, oink oink?"

Well, no one around here has a PhD in psychology but we do have the best political analysts this side of the Sandias. One of them explains that Brooks did not just wake up one morning and decide today is the day I am going barnyard:

What Winston Brooks did was wrong, but we had to see it coming. Since the Red Apple awards in the spring of 2009 when she indicted him at a public event, Gov. Martinez has made it a mission to terrorize Brooks. 

Martinez's political machine has led a campaign, including assaulting him just recently in thousands of paid direct mail pieces. I don't think any school superintendent in the state has had this kind of long-term assault leveled against them. And for what? I'm sure there are other superintendents in state who don't bow to the Governor but do they receive this kind of treatment? But after years of beating him down, Brooks predictably broke down and erred in sending a tweet. 

Anyone who knows Brooks knows he is not some irate bully, he's rather mild-mannered and unassuming.  

Someone needs to stand up to Martinez and call this what it is--the politics of personal destruction. At some point, Martinez will go too far and someone will stand up to her bullying tactics. But this was her MO as a prosecutor. No matter how lowly, unassuming or pitiful the individual is who has slighted her, she'll drag them out in the public square and pummel the person for all to see.

It has been pointed out that in recent years Brooks has faced three sex discrimination lawsuits and also has communications issues apart from the Tweeting outburst. All his missteps can't be said to be prompted by the political attacks on him.

But it's negligent not to report that for perhaps the first time in our state's politics. a non elected official has been subjected to intense negative paid political advertising, financed by a dark money group with extremely close ties to Governor Martinez.

It's like a linebacker dragging a fan in the bleachers onto the field and telling him to suit up.

We know Brooks violated his boundaries and rightly paid the price. Now where are the boundaries for the bullies?


There was rarely a dull moment when John Dendahl held forth as the chief Republican warrior of New Mexico politics. He used a bazooka even when a pistol would do the job.

Dendahl, who died Saturday in Colorado of leukemia, delivered nearly constant body blows to state Democrats with a twinkle in his eye and the zeal of a true believer.

The former NM GOP chairman and 2006 Republican gubernatorial nominee will be remembered for giving state Republicans more backbone and strengthening the party's numbers in the state legislature.

The Santa Fe native will also be remembered for getting the 2006 GOP nomination for Governor and then suffering the biggest loss in New Mexico gubernatorial history when Governor Richardson trounced him by garnering 68% of the vote.

Dendahl's political career actually peaked in 2000 when he and his team engineered the defeat of Democratic state House Speaker Raymond Sanchez. It was a major political coup that energized the party and the conservative movement.

Three years later Dendahl, who supported GOP Governor Gary Johnson's call for drug legalization, was ousted from his chairmanship by those who disagreed and elected ABQ State Senator Ramsay Gorham. It was the end of an eight year reign for Dendahl and the beginning of a deep and bitter split in the GOP that still reverberates today.

(Johnson and Dendahl advocated the legalization of marijuana and reducing penalties for the use of other drugs. Some media reports said Dendahl advocated "decriminalization.")

Dendahl, a business executive, loved to ski the slopes here, but in 2007 he retreated to the Denver area, embittered by the NM political scene and his humiliation at the hands of Richardson who he had taken to calling a "pandering liar." In a swan song op-ed piece the fiery Dendhal blamed the people of New Mexico for their woes--including the corruption he railed against.

But as death arrived for Dendahl he had to take heart that his beloved Republican Party controlled the state Senate with a coalition of conservative Democrats, that only a few seats separated the R's from the majority in the state House and that a Republican Governor was embarking on a re-election campaign.

In sport John Dendahl was a champion NCAA skier and a member of the 1960 Olympic Ski team. In his political life he came up short for the gold, but he got the silver and as a result his own chapter in the never ending book of La Politica.

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